Cage Undone Part Four:
Disclaimers: Umm, Mine? Original story, not Uber even if I think two certain characters/actress types might do them justice.
Special thanks to Janet Satyshur for the Mick pub-crawl T-shirts and the way nifty new Irish pocket dictionary…my heart to J, J2 and Molly G for the love and faith. Gra to you three. And the Guinness cup is my new hot cocoa haven. Grin.
For Karly the special Froglet. She’s just a friend but she’s always been there and always will be.
In recollection of Ruthie…special horse that she was and still is in memory. I know, sounds silly to remember a horse, but she was a gentle soul. You just had to look in her big beautiful eyes to know who lived in there. I’m damned sorry I didn’t get there one more time to spoil you with your favorite treat, (Whatever we had in our hands). She was the only one who could tame the ‘boys’. Suz and Rennie, I am so sorry.
If you wish to say hi I’m at email@example.com
Blurred vision was her first clue that something was wrong. She tried to think, but there were so many blank spaces between thoughts and pain. So much pain it nearly crippled her. Panic so close to the surface until her fingers wrapped around metal oblong tags. Pulling them up she blinked until she could almost see. Quinn, Cage.
Quinn, Cage. “That’s me.” She just knew it. She swallowed and let her body try and relax against the cold concrete floor. “Who the feck am I?” She wondered and then the pain came again this time accompanied by nausea. She fought it for about a half a second then puked her guts out knowing the entire time that her head was going to explode. Oh, God.
She rolled over away from the bile on the floor and in doing so broke open the gash on her forehead; warmth flowed down in the form of blood. She brought her hand up to the cut and pressed hard, somehow knowing she had to. The nothing in her mind scared the hell out of her.
She shivered in the cold room on the floor for who knew how long until the sound of boots sounded outside. The metal door creaked open and she felt hands drag her up and out. She tried to keep her feet on the floor but nothing was working right, or at least how she thought it was supposed to. The hall seemed so damned long and all black doors bothered her even if she didn’t know why.
They dumped her on the floor of an office, and then yanked her onto a metal chair. Her head banged against the back of it. Blinking she tried to clear her mind.
“You are here why?” The man's voice was melodic and soft.
“Wish I knew at this point.” She answered with as little slur as possible.
“Is that an Americanism?” He asked.
“A what? I don’t know.” She blinked and tried to make out his features.
He muttered something to someone and a large quantity of cold water hit her full in the face. She sputtered the water from her face when she could breath. Don’t shake your head it hurts. She shook her head and nearly threw up again.
“Who are you? Why are you here?” his tone did not change.
“I wish I knew.” She answered honestly as she tried to clear her vision enough to glare at him. Being a hard ass she decided was hard to pull off when you couldn’t think.
“As you say in America, bullshit.” He waved his hand.
The blow came as a surprise and hurt even more than she thought possible. Rolling out of the chair she landed on the floor. Groaning she lifted herself up. Something, some whisper of the past made her move back into the chair. Her face hurt. She leaned back and glared at the blur in front of her.
“You can kick the shit out of me, but understand this…right now I don’t know anything.” She grinned and ignored the blood running over her teeth.
“So you are, as they say ‘a hard ass case’. No matter. My men know how to get answers. Perhaps they will beat you, and perhaps they will fuck you.” He threatened with a soft smile.
She let the thought filter in and then surprisingly laughed. “You really t’ink t’at will make me remember what’s not t’ere?” Even she did not know where the accent came from. “Then line them up and each one will come away with a beating. It might get me killed but I’m not sure it will matter to me.” She ground out. Pain flared on the right side of her face and she lurched the side, barely keeping her seat. Slowly she sat up.
A blur to her side started to move and was halted with the grunt from the desk. “You think you could outlast me, us?”
“All I know is that I’m telling you the truth. I don’t remember. Beat on me some more, have your men try to fuck me, whatever, I don’t fecking know.”
She could feel his eyes on her as the moments passed. “Cold room. If she’s playing a game we will know it soon.”
She was dragged up and out of the room as soon as the words were out of his mouth. Back down the hall with her head swimming from the blows. There were disjointed sounds from all around her. The ones that bothered her the most were the nearly soft sobs of women. She could hear them beyond the doors.
After what seemed like a very long dragging and a serious beat down, she woke to find her wrists tied to a steel crossbeam. Her toes barely touched the floor and her body, which already felt awful, was stretched out in a painful manner. A mist of cold water was continuous. She thought about how soaked her uniform was and decided that she must have been out for hours. “Cold room. Now I get it.” She closed her eye and tried to think, tried to ignore the pain, tried to ignore the blood.
“Cage. Come on Cage let me know you’re in there.” A soft voice drew her out.
“I’m here.” She answered out loud to the empty room. She thought she felt a soft hand brush the hair away from her forehead.
“You’re going to be all right. Just stay strong.” The voice murmured gently.
“Who am I?” Cage whispered.
“You are Cage Quinn. Captain. United States Army. You have a lot of friends and they are looking for you.”
“Are you my friend?” Cage slurred and tried to shift to ease the pain in her shoulders.
“Yes I am.”
The door squealing open and boots on the floor interrupted their conversation. Cage pried open her half good eye and watched the soldier in a filthy uniform slither in. He didn’t wait for the door to close before his hand was on his belt, tugging it open.
“Now we will see how fast you crumble. I will make you bleed and scream.” He boasted with a leer. “You will be better than those weak peasants. They gave in too early.”
Cage breathed slow and even. She gathered her strength and tried to remain relaxed as he reached into his trousers and stroked himself. He stepped closer his intent clear and something inside Cage twisted. As soon as he was in range she lifted and snapped her right foot forward, catching him full in the chest. His eyes rolled in his head a second after the thick snap of bone sounded. He sank to his knees and fell over dead. A moment later she was cut down and despite her pain she was fighting. The fight did not stop until her arm was yanked in a bad direction and dislocated. She screamed into the air. A hard boot to her head stopped the scream.
Sean Quinn watched from his place in heaven and shook his head. He turned his gaze to the angel to his right. “She needs you again.”
“I’ll go gladly.”
“We’re breaking the rules here, you might not be able to get back soon.” He warned.
She wiped the tears from his face. “She deserves comfort. I’ll be there for her as much as I can.”
The next few days were a blur of beatings, questions and the lack of answers. After each beating Cage shivered in pain and cold on the cement floor, comforted only by a voice that she was pretty sure existed only in her head.
“Shh…you’re okay now.” The soft voice soothed.
“Not going to make it.” Cage said the words out loud for the first time.
“Yes you are. Your granda won’t have anything less.”
One half good eye blinked. “Granda.” She almost smiled. “He was a good man. I can’t do this much longer.”
“You can and you will Cage Quinn.” The voice insisted.
Cage coughed and curled into a tight ball against the pain. “Dying inside. Two, maybe three more beatings and I’m worm meat.” She whispered. She did not feel the tears that started to roll down the sides of her face. “Are you an ghost?”
“Something like that.” Came the answer.
“You sound like Ellen. Can you let my folks know that I died a good soldier?” There was no begging in Cage’s voice just an honest request.
“You can tell them you are a good soldier.” The voice insisted.
Cage shook her head weakly. “Beatings are getting worse. They really don’t like me.” She rasped and coughed. “Not sure why.” She grinned and felt a new rush of blood spill from her lips. “At least I didn’t make it easy for them. Proved myself a pain in the ass black Irish Celt.”
“Your soldiers are looking for you. They will find you.”
“Hope it’s before dinner,” Cage whispered. “I’d love a burger right now. No onions but lots of cheese and mustard.” She shivered again when the boots sounded outside the door. She didn’t have the energy to fight as they dragged her up and back to the room.
They didn’t even bother asking her questions anymore. Her captor just stared at her until he shook his head and waved a hand. She was beyond feeling most of the blows. The one she did feel was the baton to the right side of her face. The sick crunching around her eye told her she was definitely hurt. It took every ounce of her will power not to scream, instead she growled like a caged animal. She dragged herself up off the floor. “That was fun, care to go again?” She rasped.
The toad behind the desk cleared his throat. “Consider that our parting gift. You will be returned to your military.”
Her smart-ass reply was cut off by the blow to the back of her head. She hit the ground hard oblivious to being dragged to a transport vehicle and dumped in the middle of a supply route.
Cage woke up in a sweat and tossed aside the blankets. “I fucking hate this.” She muttered out loud and walked into the bathroom. The cold water helped revive her even as the nightmare lingered. “Fuck.” She whispered harshly as the water cascaded over her body. If the only thing she forgot were those days she’d be happy. She stood there for a long time, not caring when the water ran cold. Her hands shook as she turned off the water. “What’s real?” she asked the air and sank to the floor of the shower. That was the problem, she knew, she did not know anymore what was real and what was a pill influenced maybe.
Olivia walked around the back of the Quinn cabin. She had tried the front door with no success and now she was venturing into the realm of snooping. If the person in question was considered a friend, could it be categorized as snooping, she wondered to herself. She glanced at the windows from time to time to make sure there was no one wandering in the cabin.
She smelled the smoke as she got to the back porch. Following her nose she found herself at the edge of the trees. Five steps forward and she was sure that she would enter a different world.
“What are you doing Olivia Shadow Wolf?” the question came from above.
Olivia nearly jumped out of her skin. When caught her breath she looked up. Cage was perched against the thick body of a tree and the extending branch that easily held her weight.
“You scared the shit out of me, you son of a bitch.” Olivia rasped in surprised anger.
“That’s inion actually.” Cage corrected gently as she tore her gaze away and looked into the dark of the night.
“What?” Olivia stopped short.
“Inion. Daughter in the Irish. Those of us proper Irish don’t call it Gaelic unless we are explaining it to those who don’t know better.” She half grinned. “You called me a son of a bitch, I am actually the daughter of a bitch. Doesn’t have the same ring to it I know, but true it is.”
Olivia shook her head. “You’ve lost your mind. And what the hell are you doing in that too damn tall tree?”
Cage sucked in a breath. “Peirspictiocht. Perspective. I needed a new one.”
Olivia nodded like it was the most normal of sentences. “So you needed to climb a tree to do that?”
“One time I was in Germany feeling very much like a bad ass during war games. We spooks were set up against some dumb ass MP’s,” she smiled softly. “And we followed the trail that was set for us. We rushed into their camp and fired off all our blanks, figuring we had wiped them all out. Imagine our surprise when the prey was sitting up in the trees. They picked us off like cordwood. Thank god it was just war games. I learned a damn good lesson that day.”
“What lesson is that?” Olivia wondered out loud as she kept her eyes locked on her friend.
“Never forget to look up.” Cage answered simply. “Besides up here, I can talk to the Gentleman Owl and make him feel more easy. I’m on his level; in his house.” As if to prove her point an owl hooted off to the right.
“And what does Gentleman Owl say to you tonight?” Olivia squinted as she asked the question.
“He says ‘watch your charges, watch your girls.” Cage answered as she dropped her small daypack to the ground. “Watch your six.”
“And you believe Gentleman Owl?” Olivia understood the message but not how or why the message was being delivered.
“You’re the one who told me he was a wise creature.”
Olivia nodded. “Almost every nation believes he is. Who am I to argue?”
“Who are you indeed?” Cage gave voice to her question. It was the question that had nagged her sleeping self since she had met the mixed nation woman.
“I thought you were housebroken.” Olivia changed the subject as she backed up to be able to see Cage in the tree a bit better.
“You missed lunch and you didn’t call.” Olivia let her disappointment leak out.
Cage deflated. “I’m sorry.” She whispered against the night. “I had a dream which I hope I never have again. It kind of threw me off.” She tried to explain.
“Enough to not call, enough to worry those of us who care about you?”
“Yeah,” Cage answered. “Enough to do that. Olivia what I’ve done in the past would make you sick. Don’t…”
“Don’t call you friend? Don’t care about you? Don’t what Cage Quinn? Tell me ‘cause I’m tired of guessing games.”
“I’m damaged goods Olivia Shadow Wolf, proud daughter of a mixed nation marriage.”
“As your brother taught me to say you are being an amaid.”
Cage nearly unseated herself with laughter. “He said I was an idiot?” She choked out.
“Yes and I think I agree with him.” Olivia shot back.
“Oh, I’m going to kill him.” Cage snorted.
“No you’re not. You are going to climb down and you are going to come talk to me.” Olivia said simply and turned. She walked to the back porch, sitting down on the top step.
“Hey, I’m not done here.” Cage said and found herself ignored. She watched as her friend turn her back and walk away. Don’t you know, don’t ever turn your back? “Olivia?”
Olivia did not answer; she just sat on the step patiently, which pissed Cage off to no end. FINE. Her mind fumed. Let’s see if she likes this. Cage dropped down from her perch without warning.
Olivia stood as she watched Cage drop from the branch sure she was going to have to call the paramedics to scoop up what was left. She was locked in place as Cage reached out and grabbed a lower branch to arrest her fall for just a second then let go again, and then grabbed the next lower branch, her eyes dark and full of arrogant anger until she let herself fall softly to the ground. She stalked to the top step of her back porch. She looked down at Olivia.
“Don’t ever challenge me. You won’t win.”
“Who says I ‘want’ to challenge you? You just seem to bring it out in me.” Olivia shook her head in frustration. “Damn it Quinn. You don’t need anyone to challenge you. You just like it when someone does. I don’t want to piss you off and at the same time I want to just hold you close when you self destruct.”
Cage stopped cold in her tracks. “What?”
“You heard me and maybe you don’t like it, but hell I said it so fecking live with it.” Olivia rambled in her anger and frustration.
Cage chuckled and then laughed for the first time all day. She sat down heavily on the top step still laughing. “Oh, God, you said ‘fecking’.” She rolled over with mirth. “I’ll make a good Irish woman of you yet.”
“Just wait till I give you the Comanche and Cherokee translation.” Olivia threatened weakly. She sat next to her laid out friend.
“I’m sorry.” Cage started and found her next words cut off as her throat tightened.
“You are gaiscioch, you are not supposed to be sorry.” Olivia snarled. “Don’t you think it’s time you acted like it?”
Cage did not have time to back step. “What?”
“Poor Cage,” Olivia had no control over the words that fell from her mouth. They belonged to someone else. “You got hit, you got hurt and you hurted for days for it, but they could nea kill you, could they?” she spat. “Too damned mean or too stubborn to kill, so now what will you do?”
“Granda?” Cage asked in a small voice.
“We must have picked wrong, gaiscioch.” It sounded like an insult and Cage bristled against the insult.
“I have not failed this family, or this name.” She shouted and gripped Olivia’s shoulders hard.
For a very long second Cage could have sworn that Olivia’s eyes were the steely hazel green mix of her granda.
“Who says?” The Native woman slurred with a sneer. The sneer was Cage’s undoing. It was the one expression her granda owned that she feared and hated at the same time. Disappointment mixed with distained in one fell swoop that could bring the toughest teenage wannabe thug to their knees.
Cage felt herself rebel. “I say. I am gaiscioch. By name, by birth and by damned demand of himfeckingself Sean Quinn. So what will you do with that old man?” she shouted in defiance.
Her answer was Olivia’s whimpered snuffle. The woman was curled up in a self-protective ball. Cage moved quickly and wrapped the woman up in her arms.
Damn, she’s like ice. Cage thought to herself and without further thought moved quickly. She struggled for a moment to lift her friend in her arms and walked carefully into the master bedroom. She laid her precious cargo on the bed and tugged the covers down quickly. Olivia’s shoes, socks, jeans and shirt were quickly discarded so that Cage could get her under the blankets. She tugged her outer clothes off and crawled under with her friend and pulled her close. She offered warmth, strength and faith as she wrapped her arms around the woman in a silent apology.
“Just be okay, please, just be okay.” She pleaded softly over and over again.
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