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Calling Card
#11
A knock at the door sounded and Sage unfolded himself from the floor with two sandwiches in hand. "That's probably Raffe."

Sage hurried to the door. Ana and Christian moved only in so much as to sit back down when he'd gotten up to answer the door. He jogged to the door and threw it open with a bright smile. "Raffe!" He held out a sandwich. "I'm Sage." It was only then that he looked at Nox's boyfriend and frowned. "You look like shit!"

Sage grabbed Raffe by the wrist and dragged him inside. "Does Nox know you are sick?" Considering Nox had been gone for so long, it wasn't likely he'd have left if Raffe were sick -- not this sick. So Nox didn't know. It was a stupid question. "Nevermind. I know that answer. You sure you are up for this? It's a long walk?" Sage giggled. "We could take a wagon."

Sage pulled Raffe into the study that they were renovating and introduced everyone. "Ana Christian you remember Raffe. And this is Cruz." He pointed his friend. Sage leaned in and whispered to Raffe. "He can maybe talk you through it better than Nox. I know Nox is a rough teacher."
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#12
They didn't have to wait long before there was a knock on the door and Sage was up and rushing to the door like he'd met Nox's friend before. But he hadn't. Ana and Christian had, but Sage felt like he knew everyone he stalked. It was one of his oddities.

The man who entered had a thick scar around his neck and a mop of curly hair. He definitely didn't look like he belonged in the area. Cruz hoped he hadn't had any issues. His mother was on her feet the moment she saw Raffe and started dotting on him. "Oh darling, don't you look terrible. Come sit. Eat."

"I hope you didn't have any issues getting here. Next time we can send a car. Any friend of Nox's is welcome at any time, right Mom?"

His mother looked at him and nodded. "Of course Cruz. Raffe, our offer is always extended for you and Nox. Any time for as long as you'd like. Downstairs is almost exactly like Nox left it. And of course there are more welcoming rooms in the house."

Christian stood up and put his hand on his mother's shoulder and smiled. "Ana, you are being overbearing again."

She turned and looked up at her husband -- a strange new thing to say -- and smiled. "He's is just getting over being sick. Like Cruz, darling.
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#13
Raffe blinked when the door burst open. He wasn’t sure if it was just the fever making everything garish, or if the man revealed really was that bouncy. A sandwich was thrust out like a welcome gift, and Raffe took it, confused. He was still staring at it dumbly when his other wrist was seized and he was pulled over the threshold. “A wagon?” he repeated. For some reason the image rolled over and over in his head. Fortunately his feet kept moving in the meantime. He blinked a few more times to clear his thoughts, but didn’t manage to answer any of the many questions. Also fortunately, Sage managed to answer most of them himself.

In the study he tried to pull his wits together. Sage’s whispered advice was acknowledged, but he said nothing in return, just took a small breath and offered half a smile before he turned to greet the others. The problem wasn’t Nox or his teaching methods, but scratching at the true obstacle made his stomach clench. Instead he directed his attention to Ana and Christian’s welcome, and greeted Cruz, responding to their niceties politely. Raffe was used to being the one who did the looking after, not the one being looked after. Ana’s mothering made his chest hurt. The kindness and concern was a little overwhelming.

“Looks worse than it is,” he assured finally. A little shame burned his cheeks; he felt unkempt, even more so in their sumptuous surroundings. He knew none of the people who called this place home cared, but the insecurity clawed anyhow. It sobered him. He glanced at Sage. “We should go,” he said. Worry plucked at already frayed edges. “I just want to find him.”

Or find out what had happened to him.

The possibility made him want to throw up, but he tamped it down. Meanwhile his phone gave a plaintive beep, and he dug it into his fumbling grasp with a surprised blink. The message made his legs watery before he’d even processed what it said, and he sank into a chair. Emotion spilled into his chest like a maelstrom, and his face sank into his hands, eyes burning raw. Somewhere deep down, he’d been convinced Nox was dead. The relief was so strong it was painful.
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#14
Raffe collapsed into a share and Ana's fussing grew worse. Sage just giggle softly "Nox is fine. His wallet's been pinging for a while, and I got a message from him. He's fine."

Cruz looked over at Sage. "You still gonna help?" Cruz pulled his coin out of his pocket and rolled it in his fingers.

Sage nodded. "Of course. We can go to the tent city and ask around."
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#15
Nox's boyfriend was at least cute. Sage seemed to be in a titter as he rocked back on his heels. And when Raffe looked at his walled Sage giggled and was more gleeful than he'd been before. Raffe collapsed into the chair.

His mother made a frantic effort to comfort to him. She waved her hand and Christian brought a glass of water. Ana took a hand from Raffe's face and placed the glass in it. "Drink darling."

Thankfully Sage was still willing help. "That's good. We'll make sure Raffe is good before we go." Cruz fumbled the coin in his hand and caressed the edges and felt a little longing for what it meant. "That's if he wants to go still. Nox won't be home for more hours if he just got singal back, right?"

Sage nodded. "Right, and I think the Ascendancy will mobilize and debreif, he doesn't strick me as letting thing sit idle and get forgotten."
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#16
Ana plucked one of his hands free. Tears blotched Raffe’s face, and he didn’t look up, but he did wrap his palm around the offered glass of water. It was the kind of emotional outburst that had gotten him beaten on as a kid, at least until he’d learned to defend himself. At least no one questioned it; he wasn’t sure how he’d explain all the shitty baggage knocking around in his skull, and nor did he really want to. The overwhelming nature of it surprised even him. He thought he’d laid those demons to rest years ago.

He squeezed Ana’s arm, offered a slim smile for her kindness. Then he sat up, scrubbed a hand over his head, and took a breath. Cruz and Sage were talking amongst themselves. Raffe tapped out a quick reply, You’ve no idea how relieved I am to hear it. Stay safe. See you soon, before he shoved the phone back in his pocket. He pressed the cool glass against one cheek, then took a gulp and stood. He had no idea what they were talking about beyond the ominous vagaries of Sage’s earlier message, but he spied the trinket in Cruz’s palm, and it left a weighty feeling in his stomach. Maybe that was just the sickness talking.

“Going where, exactly?” He hedged the question a little, but his gaze dipped to the coin Cruz held with a frown. He was aware of Ana and Christian in his periphery. Ekeziel’s coins could be good and bad both, depending on who you were and what you asked. They could even be benign, little more than an entertaining diversion. But he was rarely benevolent to wealth.
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#17
[[ Sage doesn't have much to add ]]

Everyone let Raffe be except his mother. He was full of emotion and rightfully so. But when he came around he took a small interest in their conversation. Cruz held up the coin. "I'm looking for where this leads. I found it in a crack in the bathroom at Manifesto."

Cruz rolled the coin in his fingers a few times. "Only lead I have is it' leads to the underground so I figured we could check out the underground tent city and see what we could find."

And if that didn't pan out he might have to figure out a way to find that Z character and press him deeper for what he knew. He'd seen something. And he wasn't about to say.
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