AC: Bush43 Dailiy Week Two

Jason Kenney jasonkenney at
Mon Jun 12 07:23:24 PDT 2006

Artifice Comics -

Starters, in case you missed it over the weekend, check this out:

BUSH43: "WALK UNAFRAID" | a prologue
words - Jacob Milnestein
art - Jericho Vilar


Ah, week two begins.  And it's a milestone, BUSH43 #25!  Wow!  So I'm
going to take a moment to thank the behind the scenes that have really
made all of this Bush43 Daily stuff possible.  The biggest thanks goes
out to Ian Astheimer for his help over the years not just in general
conversations concerning Bush43 and other creative projects (as well as
the attractiveness of his mother) but for his thurough editing of
Bush43 Daily.  Yes, every installment you've seen has gone through his
hands first.  All that perfect punctuation?  His doing.  I just write
the things.  Thanks to Jacob Milnestein for his comments and the almost
daily chats we've been having as of late that have really helped to
keep me inspired.  Also for his amazing script that the always kick ass
Jericho Vilar turned into a great comic for this whole thing.  Thanks,

And thanks to you, the readers, for reading this day in and day out.
It's all for you, after all.

Now, without further ado...


BUSH43 #25
By Jason S. Kenney


I tried to move after him, stumbled, and fell, my legs telling me that
they were done for the night.  I barely caught myself on the steps,
preventing a nasty meeting of my face and the stairs.

"Where'd he go?" I heard, and I looked up to see Cassandra in the

She seemed suddenly very sober herself.

"I... I don't know," I said, as I tried to stand.  She came down the
stairs and grabbed onto my shoulders, helping to turn me over, so I
could at least sit.  "He got the jump on me."

"Can you walk?" she asked, as she looked me over, her hands gently
probing my body for breaks, or at least that's what I told myself.

"Just need a second," I said, as I tried to get my breath and think.

"What's going on?" asked a new voice from up the stairs.

"Just a little accident," shouted Cassandra.

"I'm not drunk!" I shouted up with a forced slur, trying my best to
back her up.

There was no response, so I assumed it worked.

"Let's get you inside," she said, standing and helping me get to my

"Sure," I said, but not really feeling it, staring at my hands in my
lap, the drip, drip, dripping blood into my palms.

"Is my nose bleeding?" I asked, unable to keep the surprise out of my
voice, unable to reach up and check for myself.

Maybe I was still drunk.

"C'mon, Jeffery," she said, tugging on my arm.  "Come upstairs."

"Yeah," I said, still staring at my hands and then deciding she was
probably right.

I wiped my hands in my lap and then reach for the handrail, pulling
myself to my feet.

"Damn, I got blood on the..."

"We'll clean it up," she said, holding my arm, holding me up, holding
me awake.

"'Kay," I said, staring at the smudge of blood I left on the handrail.

I started up the steps, one at a time, eternity between each step, the
world between each step.

And then, we were at the top.

And then, I was on my hands and knees, coughing, hacking, watching me
fall to the floor in crimson spats.

Cassandra said something, something I missed, too enthralled with the
patterns forming and flowing on the floor between my hands.

"Okay," I said with a stiff nod that jostled more blood to the floor.
I inhaled deeply through my mouth, a sucking noise, almost a slurping
noise of air through blood, and I pushed up and back onto my knees;
then, one foot at a time, I got to my feet.

I held my wrist up to my nose, nodded again, and started to walk
unassisted out of the stairwell, stopping and turning to the elevators
instead of down the hall to her apartment.

"What are you doing?" she asked, as I jabbed at the elevator button.

"I have to fix this," I said, not looking at her, just pressing my
wrist harder against my nose.

"Jeffery," she said, resting a hand on my arm.  "Please, come inside.
Let's get you cleaned up first."

"I have to go.  I have to leave.  I can't stay here.  I have to find

I was just talking, saying things as they came to mind, and I stopped,
as I heard myself, tried to collect myself.

Why was Simon here?

This isn't right.  This isn't safe.  I should have never come up here.

My stomach.  My stomach was grinding, screaming, attacking me from the
inside out.

Copper taste in my mouth, crimson, dark, deep red blood.

I was a mess.

This is my life, modern art on the floor of a stairwell.

Why the hell am I flipping out?

"Jeffery," Cassandra said again, her hand squeezing my arm. "Please."

I closed my eyes.  Hung my head.

I just wanted to go home.

But, there was no place for me to call home.  There hadn't been for a
year now.

This is my life.  And, I have absolutely no control over it.

I am destined to work a job forced on me by someone who could kill me
on a whim.  I am destined to be ambushed in the apartment of a woman
that tried to kill me and who I was then trying to have sex with.

I am destined to be beaten all because I want to prevent the same from
happening to others.

I am destined to be destroyed by this city.

The elevator opened, but I didn't move; Cassandra didn't move, her hand
on my arm.

I'm so tired.

"Okay," I said, opening my eyes, raising my head, the elevator doors
closing without me.

I looked to Cassandra and did my best to grin.

"Am I sexy or what?"

She didn't reply; she didn't even crack a smile.  She turned away,
grabbed my free hand so gently, so tenderly, and she led me back to her
apartment, opened the door, and led me inside.


"I thought you were invincible?" she said, as I winced at the washcloth
she dabbed at my nose.

I sat on her toilet, doing my best not to touch anything that couldn't
be wiped off.  The tiled room was deemed more appropriate than the
leather couches in the carpeted living room.

"Invulnerable, not invincible."

"So, why are you bleeding all over my bathroom?"

"I seem to be prone to electrical shocks, being tossed down a flight of
stairs and breaking my fall with my face."

Her smirk told me I wasn't funny.

"I don't think it's broken," she said, as she gently tapped my nose.

"Yeah, I didn't feel anything happen," I said, reaching up to tap it
some myself.  "So," I said as she stood up and rinsed the washcloth in
the sink. "You know Simon?"

"Barely," she said quickly, her eyes narrowing, her voice a little
harsh.  "We worked together.  He was a gopher at the office about a
year back, before he went off and got his ass thrown in jail for his
little power stint."

"So, why was he here?"

"How should I know?" she said, crouching in front of me again, going at
the blood on my face.

"I can get..." I started to say, reaching for the washcloth which she
jerked away.

"Little fucker stalked me while at the job," she said, attacking my
face.  "I lost count of the number of messages he left me, the number
of times flowers showed up at my door."

"But, he's such a charming guy," I said with a wince.  "When's the last
time you saw him?"

"Why are you grilling me on this?" she asked, stopping with my face and
glaring at me.

"I'm not," I said, and I wasn't.  "I'm just trying to figure out why
some bad guy I've run into a few times happens to be in your apartment
when I stop by."

"You ARE accusing me!" she shouted, dropping back on her rear to sit on
the floor across from me.  "Asshole, I'm sitting on the goddamn
bathroom floor taking care of you..."

"No, no, damn it," I said, my hands up as I tried to calm her.  "No,
I'm just, I'm sorry, wrong words."

"Where do you know him from?" she asked, her voice laced with

"Same way I know you," I said.  "Only I've run into him three or four
times now.  Never like this, though."

"Oh, so you don't usually find your villains in the apartments of
ladies you're trying to screw?"

"No, I mean..."  What the hell did she mean by that?  "I mean," I said,
not bothering with that other thought. "He was different this time.
Stronger.  He doesn't normally get the drop on me like that.  Like
this."  I gestured to the mess I was.

"Well, I've done about all I can," she said.  "You're free to take a
shower.  I may have some sweatpants that'll fit you."

"I was kinda thinking about walking home like this," I said.  "Maybe
stumble or drag a leg, pull off this whole Thriller thing or

"Take a shower, jackass," she said, tossing the washcloth at me and
getting to her feet.

"Yeah, yeah," I said, as I stood up and pulled my undershirt over my

"Jesus," she said, still standing across from me, her eyes on my torso.
 "Those look fresh."

I looked down at the scars on my chest, the scars on my stomach.

The scars only about a month old.

"Well, they kinda are."

She reached up quickly, but her fingers stopped inches from my chest
and moved slowly, cautiously, gently touching and then trailing the
long scar that stretched diagonally across my chest.

"That was actually the best of them," I said, her eyes moving up to
meet mine for a moment and then moving back to my torso.  "These other
ones--" I said, taking her hand, moving her fingers from each one with
each word. "--went all the way through."

Her eyes met mine again, and I smirked slightly.  Show off.

I turned around.


Her fingers traced lines on my back, shorter, but there.  A chill raced
up my spine, the sensation a mix of pain and something I couldn't quite

Scratch that.  I could place it.  Just couldn't name it.  Or didn't
want to name it.

"I thought you were invulnerable?" she said, soft, close.

"I seem to be prone to swords wielded by angels," I said.

And then, I stiffened.

Her lips lightly caressed the scar higher up on my back, the wound Anna
Romanova gave me to tell me I was hired.

"Does it hurt?" she asked, her breath along my back, moving down.

"Not right now it doesn't," I said, my voice barely audible.  "Not when
you do that."

I don't know if she heard me.  I don't know if it mattered.

"When I do what?" she asked softly.

Her lips on my lower back.  Her lips on my scars.


"Yeah," I breathed more than said.

Christ, what was I doing here?

"Cassandra," I said, stepping forward and away from those lips and
turning around, moving back, farther away, trying to collect myself.
"I... I don't think this..."

She closed in on me; a finger pressed to my lips.

"Jeffery," she said, a playful yet mischievous smile playing on her
lips. "You're thinking too much."

"If I had a nickel for every time I heard that," I said with a smirk as
I leaned back. "I'd have a nickel."

And, she kissed me, deep and aggressive.  And, it took me a moment, but
soon I was giving it right back.

We broke apart, stayed separated by less than an inch, our breath
mixing, as it raced out of our lips.

"Want help with that shower?" she asked; her eyes closed, her eyelids
seeming to tremble as she spoke.

How could I say no?

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