[AC] BUSH43 #60
jasonkenney at gmail.com
Mon Jul 31 18:05:31 PDT 2006
Artifice Comics - http://www.artificecomics.com
Welcome to the end of Bush43 Daily. For every weekday over the last
two months I've crammed a dose of Bush43 down your virtual throat and
I'd like to thank you for your time. Hope you all enjoyed it as much
as I did.
By Jason Kenney
Part of me hoped she wouldn't answer. Most of me prayed she would.
It was late by the time I found myself outside of the hotel room
Cassandra said she was staying in. She had been brief on the phone and
hesitant when I asked to see her, but she told me, so I went.
My stomach had been relatively calm for a while now, though I still had
one hand rubbing it.
I took a deep breath and rang the doorbell again.
She opened it in mid-ring.
"Patience is a virtue," she said, as she leaned against the doorframe
with crossed arms, as she glared at me.
"Time is money," I said with a weak smirk. "Or something like that."
We both stood silent for a moment before I cleared my throat.
"I'm sorry to bother you so late, Cass," I said, cramming my hands in
my pockets and looking at my feet. "Isiah said you called, and I just
wanted to check in on you."
"Do you want to come in?"
"Would you mind?"
She stepped aside, and I walked in.
"Where have you been?" she asked, as she closed the door and walked
past me and into the living room of the suite that had to be larger
than her apartment.
"I don't know for sure," I said, as I looked around.
"You don't know where you've been?" she asked, as she sat and still
glared at me.
"I woke up this morning in some run down apartment in the Paper
District, which, by the way, I have heard is scheduled for demolition
by Millennium Man. If you want to know."
"I've heard that. It's been five days, Jeffery, and you don't know
where you've been?"
"No," I said, as I sat on the couch across from her. "I remember the
Siege Engine, and then I'm waking up in some dump with my stomach
hating life but put back together more or less."
"Let me see it."
"Show me your scar."
"Do you not trust me when I say I got gutted again?"
"Fine then," she said with a dismissive wave, as she looked away.
"How have you been?" I asked. "Where have you been?"
"I took a break," she said without looking at me.
"Hopefully not to the same beach I did."
She smirked a bit.
"Your friend's awfully creative."
"He gets it from me."
"I doubt that," she said, looking back to me.
"Are you okay, Cass?"
She lost the smirk and sighed, as she looked down and thought.
"Why are you here, Jeffery?"
"To check up on you."
"But, why?" she asked, as she met my eyes with hers. "Shouldn't you be
checking up on the rest of the city?"
"Not in my condition."
"So, now you're going to take time off? With everything that's going
on, you're now going to take a breather?"
"Jeffery, this is your chance."
"Chance to do what, Cass? Get myself killed? I don't know what's
going on. I don't know who I can trust. I'm in absolutely no position
to do much of anything right now but wait, heal up, and take stock of
"They're talking about war, Jeffery!"
"They've also tried to kill me, Cass," I shouted back, as I got to my
feet. "Both sides, multiple times! I don't know who's on my side on
this, Cassandra; I can't just go barging into City Hall and throw my
imaginary weight around anymore. Anna put her sword through me,
goddamn it! Last time I saw Victoria, she tried to kill me. Manly
hasn't been right in the damn head since Churchill, and the others...
Christ, the others don't stand a chance."
Shit. Too late now. I closed my eyes and hung my head.
"Victoria Burke is Mysteria," I said. "Michael Manly is Millennium
Man. I don't trust them to do what's necessary, but I also know damn
well I can't stand up to either of them. And, if Millennium Man is
back, if he's on Anna's side..." I hesitated and took a deep breath.
I opened my eyes and looked at my open hands.
"I'm trying, Cass, I really am. I just... I don't know what to do
anymore. I'm no good to this city dead, but, hell, I don't know if I'm
any good for it alive."
I looked up, as she stood and stepped toward me, stopped close, and
hesitated before reaching up with one hand and putting it on my cheek.
"I'm only one man, Cass. One man who's urinating blood and can hardly
walk without needing to ball up in the fetal position and cry himself
"Don't give up, Jeffery. Not now."
"I'm not giving up, Cass," I said, as I reached up and placed my hand
on hers. "I'm far from giving up. I'm playing it smart."
"Then, why are you here?" she asked with a smirk.
"Because I was worried sick about you."
"There's a whole city you should be worried about."
"I've gotta start somewhere."
We shared a smirk.
"I know things are awkward between us, Cass," I said, as I took her
hand off my cheek and held it with both of my hands. "I know that this
is nowhere near what anyone might consider a normal start to a
relationship. But, I care about you. I really do."
"Jeffery..." she said, shaking her head, as she looked away from me.
"Are you okay, Cass?"
"I'll be fine, Jeffery," she said, as she hung her head.
"Cass," I said, as I moved down and tried to look her in the eyes. "Are
She leaned into me and started to cry.
I wrapped my arms around her and held her close, hoping it was
"I'm sorry," she said into my chest.
"It's okay, Cass," I said, rubbing her back. "It's okay."
She sobbed for a few moments before taking a deep breath.
"For what?" I asked.
"For coming back."
I kissed the top of her head.
"You're not going to get rid of me that easily."
"I just love the monotone nature of your voice," I said, as I leaned
back on the couch, phone to my ear. "I could sit and listen to you
reading the phonebook all day."
"I am glad to hear you are doing well, Jeffery," Alfonse said on the
"More or less. How are you doing?"
"I am well enough."
"Miss Burke is... busy. Things have been moving very quickly since
your incident last week, Jeffery."
"So, I've heard. Sorry to get right into it, but how are things
looking on that shipment?"
"They will have most of the material requested here by tomorrow night."
"They are rushing what they can because they fear the window into
Pacific City is closing very quickly. It will also come at a premium
"Three fold the previous estimate."
"Damn. Can I afford it?"
"Yes, though you should expect a lot less of what was requested than
they had originally promised."
"Why the sudden rush? What's going on that I don't know about?"
"They are very concerned about this talk of war and rightfully so."
"Is there more to it than that?"
"I am sure there is a good amount of information that we are not aware
"Okay. Where is everything happening tomorrow?"
"I will not know until the morning."
"All right," I said, leaning forward and starting to rub the back of my
neck with my free hand. "I'm going to be staying with Cass for at
least the next day or so, so call me here," I said, giving him the
number for Cass's hotel room.
"I take it things between you and Miss Trellis are better now?"
"We're working on it," I said. "Call me as soon as you know what's up
with the shipment. If you can't reach me by, say, noon, call Officer
Michael Self and tell him that Bush sent you." I gave him Self's
number. "Don't tell him who you are; just tell him where to get the
"I believe I can handle it just fine, Jeffery," said Alfonse.
"Nothing to be sorry for. How are you doing?"
"I'm okay, Alfonse."
"I'll have to fill you in later," I said. "But, I was wondering if you
could do me another favor?"
Cassandra didn't ask what I was doing, just said good night when I told
her I'd be back, and left it at that.
I had said I was going to lay low and evaluate the situation, and,
while doing what I was about to do may not have been me laying low, it
was certainly me evaluating the situation.
The doorman of the apartment building recognized me from the
television, so he trusted me. The couple twenties I slipped him
certainly didn't hurt his telling me where to go and waving me on.
I took the stairs, pacing myself, as I went, testing my stomach, as I
took my time to work through my head just what I was doing.
This was crazy.
But, it needed to be done.
I made it to the door to the apartment I was looking for and hesitated.
I took a deep breath and shook my head.
"Here goes nothing," I said to myself aloud, and I knocked.
Nearly two o'clock in the morning, and the door was still answered,
opening almost as wide as the chain would let it, as the person on the
other side peered out.
"Yes?" asked a voice I always found to be very lovely, soft yet
"I'm sorry to trouble you so late, Miss Darling," I said, as her eyes
suddenly widened, registering who I was. "But, I was wondering if
Michael might be in?"
"One moment," Regina Darling said, closing the door. I heard the chain
slide, and then she opened the door all the way.
She tightened her robe, as she looked me up and down for a moment, and
I had to resist doing the same to her.
"He's actually not here," she said after a brief moment.
"Damn," I said and immediately mentally kicked myself for saying out
loud. "Do you know where I might be able to find him?"
She hesitated and swallowed hard, her eyes looking down briefly before
coming back to mine.
"I don't," she said with a slight shake of her head. "I haven't seen
him for a couple days."
"Okay," I said with a nod. "Well, I'm sorry to have bothered you, Miss
"Mister Carter," she said very quick, as I started to turn away,
reaching out and gently grabbing my arm. "Jeffery," she said with a
weak smirk. "Would you like some tea?"
"Thank you," I said, as she handed me a cup balanced on a saucer and
then sat herself in a chair across the coffee table from where I sat on
She just stared at me, as I lifted my cup and blew on its contents for
a moment before taking a sip and nodding, as I set it back down.
"Very good, thank you," I said, as I looked into my tea.
"Are you okay?" she asked, and I looked up to her.
It took me a moment to respond, trying to figure out what to say.
"I'm fine," I said after clearing my throat.
"It's just that we don't know each other one bit," she said, as she
stirred her tea. "And, you've been missing for the better part of a
week and suddenly turn up on my doorstep. I wonder if everything is
"Well," I said, as I set my tea on the coffee table. "You tell me, Miss
Darling. Is everything alright?"
She smirked and shook her head.
"Fair enough, Mister Carter."
"Please, call me Jeffery."
"Then, call me Regina."
"You'll have to excuse me if I don't. I have a habit of being very
polite when I'm not sure what to say."
I smiled and hoped she would in return, which she did, thank God.
Lighten the mood, figure out what the hell you're doing here, get out.
"Why are you looking for Michael?" Regina asked, as she brought her tea
to her lips and took a sip.
"I heard that he was back, more or less, and wanted to find him."
"I suppose you can't just go ask the Mayor, can you?"
"I get the feeling I'm not welcome in City Hall anymore," I said with a
smirk. "But, I may have to test that out in the near future."
"Why do you want to find him, though?" she asked, as she leaned forward
and set her tea on the table, ever the reporter with all the questions.
"I'm not sure exactly," I said, as I scratched my cheek and thought.
"I just..." I took a deep breath and hung my head, looked into my
empty hands, and sighed again. "Miss Darling, a lot has happened in
the few days I've been gone, and I'm very worried about what's to
come." I looked back up to her. "I need to know where this city's
heroes stand. I'm pretty sure on most of them, but Michael..."
I shook my head and looked back to my hands.
"I think I've spoken with him a total of five minutes in my life," I
said. "He's Millennium Man, he's supposed to be the big guy, and I've
only seen him in person twice. I don't know what to make of him; I
don't know what he's thinking or what he's doing and at a time like
this. That's not good; that's dangerous."
It then dawned on me that she might have no idea what I was talking
I looked up to her and grinned.
"I'm Bush43 by the way."
"I know," she said. "Before you even started at City Hall."
"Burke's function in February?"
"Your fight with the Siege Engine," Regina said, as she picked up her
tea and took another sip. "Enough of your mask was gone that I got a
good enough look at your face. It was only a matter of a bit of
research after that."
"Wow, I wonder how many other folks did that research?"
"I'm good at what I do, Jeffery," Regina said, as she set her tea down
and adjusted her robe, as she sat back up. "I followed your signal
once and met your friend in the Dick Cheney mask."
"You followed that?" She nodded. "Why?"
"I was looking for you."
"Huh," I said, hanging my head, a little stunned. "Honestly, I
followed it once and then smashed it to bits." I looked up to her
quick. "I didn't want that kid getting hurt. You put up a beacon like
that, you might as well beg for a bad guy to come beat you up."
"I don't fault you," Regina said, cocking her head, as she studied me.
"I'm sorry," I said, hanging my head again. "I'm trying to justify a
lot of what I'm doing lately."
"Trying to convince yourself of something?"
"Of a lot of things. That's kind what I was looking for Michael for
She sighed and shook her head. "Well, I don't know what to tell you,
Jeffery. I really wish I knew what he was thinking, but I don't.
Michael's been... distant lately."
"Does he follow Romanov's orders?"
"I don't know," she said, biting her lower lip. "I don't think he's
listening to much of anyone lately."
"Is he sane?"
She looked at me confused.
"Is he rational?" I reworded. "I mean, is he flipping out, or is he
pretty level headed at the moment?"
"He's lost, Jeffery."
She looked down and into her lap, swallowing hard, looking like she was
holding back tears.
"You're worried about him, aren't you?" I asked.
"Worried sick," she said, taking a deep breath and looking back to me
with a forced smile. "But, I do what I must."
She cleared her throat and reached for her tea.
"So, what are you going to do now, Jeffery?"
"I'm not sure yet," I said. "That's another thing I wanted to talk to
Michael about. I'm still trying to figure out what all has happened
since Thursday and what I can do now."
"People are leaving the city, you know."
"I assumed as much."
"They don't feel safe anymore."
"They haven't for a while."
"They did when there were heroes they could rely on."
"And, that was how long ago?"
"About five days."
I shook and hung my head.
"Jeffery, you were doing something for this city and these people that
hasn't been done in months."
"It was all superficial. I was sticking my finger in the dike."
"You were doing something. In and out of the mask. You gave the
people hope. But, when the Mayor turned on you like he did, in and out
of the mask, the people gave up."
"I guess that's where I need to start, then," I said, looking up to
More information about the racc