The Path of Fate
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By: Callan Griffiths
Part One: Fates’ Cruel Hand
The old wooden door of the Machtos Coffee House never saw it coming, but then again, neither did the occupants whom dwelled inside. Because as a sneakered foot flung the door open, it was soon to see that all was not well as the figure that stumbled in behind the foot was obviously not all right. He was a rather tall man, standing around 6’4 in height with whatever physique he had hidden behind a baggy blue and white hoodie and a pair of black cargo pants. He looked around frantically with deep blue eyes from behind his thin rimmed glasses perched atop his small nose for something, someone. One arm hung limply while the other was reaching over his chest and clutching the limp arm, a large blood spot covering and most likely ruining the white sleeves of the hoodie. “I…I need help” He said in a shaky voice, his frame lumbering over to the bar where he fell into a seat and proceeded to shiver heavily. His eyes seemed to be going in and out of focus while he stared at the bartop, muttering something incoherent under his breath. All that could be made out was “Sara….they..they took her..” and nothing more.
Within a few moments a man quickly made his way across from his seat by the window over to the hurt man who was speaking to himself in what seemed to be his own language. “You need help sir?” He asked the man at the bar, trying to get his attention and focus towards him. The mans’ head snapped towards him and he licked his lips and nodded. “Y-yes…I think I am hurt I um…fell” He said softly, pulling his hand away from his arm where the blood spot was.
“Alright pal, I am James, an E.M.T, I will get you fixed up real quick. But first I am going to need you to take off that hoodie” He said in a calm, collective voice, but inside he was rolling his eyes. No one ever ‘fell’ and hurt themselves, especially not that bad. The man nodded his head in agreeance, introducing himself as well. “ My name is Jacent.” He said as he slipped his hoodie up and over his head, wincing as for a second he had forgotten that he was injured. James took out his small E.M.T. bag that he had with him at all times and began to look at the wound. Cleaning it away with gauze and checking it with a small flashlight. “ Hmm,” He said as he looked at the wound, “ Seems to be a bullet grazed you.” Jacent’s eyes filled with worry as he looked at the E.M.T. , afraid that he might be getting a ride to the police station soon after this. The male noticed the worry in his eyes and gave a friendly smiled as he spoke. “Don’t worry, this can be our little secret.” He winked towards Jacent, taking out a sterilized needle and thread. “This might…no this WILL hurt…. A lot.” He reached down and took Jacent’s arm firmly in his own, he had to hold him tight, and the body would try to get away from the pain. Jacent looked the other way, not wanting to watch the needle splitting and then stitching together his tissue and flesh. He winced as the needle went in and clenched his teeth tightly as he felt the skin being tugged through his flesh, the pain searing in his mind. Soon it became too much for him, and he had to pull his attention to his memories to try and escape it, but what he saw was not much better.
It was earlier this afternoon, before he was shot at and before he met James. He was walking with his girlfriend, Sara, down the streets of Sunset Blvd. It was suppose to be his day off of work, he wouldn’t have to go to the club and DJ tonight, so it was just him and Sara. But things, they just didn’t go right. For almost an hour they walked and window-shopped, Sara pointing out and giving hints to things she wanted while he pretended to not notice, but took them down mentally in his mind. The entire time, even though he smiled, he felt as if he was being watched that another pair of eyes was following him around. Sure enough, just like every other time he had this kind of hunch, he was right. As they turned the corner onto Main St. and made there way towards the little French café ‘Le Durban’ that Sara loved so much, he ran right into someone, or a few of some ones. He couldn’t see who they were, they kept their faces masked. But he knew who it was, he knew because of the cologne he wore, always so strong. It was Bryant, his old best friend, or ex friend. They had met one day at the Crazy 88’s club and since then they had been best friends. That was nine years ago, they had been 15 years old then. It seemed like they always did everything together. When Jacent was sad, Bryant was there to comfort him. When Bryant needed help, Jacent would come to fix what was wrong. Nothing could separate them, or that was what Jacent thought until Bryant fell in with the ‘wrong crowd’, the ‘drug crowd’. Soon his entire life was drugs, and he lost sight of the hopes and dreams that he use to talk so highly about. ‘ I want us to become a famous DJ duo, Jacent!’ was what he would always say. But soon it was all about the drugs, and there was no time for Jacent. Then one day, Bryant got busted and was put away for 6 years for ‘possession with the intent to sell’. Now he was out early after only 3 ½ years, crazy how easy it is to get paroled in this judicial system isn’t it? “But why would he take Sara? Why would he do this to me? What did I do to him”? All these questions ran through Jacent’s mind, until he was snapped back into reality by James speaking, “Alright, all done!”.
Jacent shook his head, clearing himself from the horrible memories that had haunted him since earlier today. Looking down at his arm, his eyes widened to see that it had not only been stitched up, but also dressed with gauze and medical tape. “Wow, you did a great job. Thank you so much!” He complimented James and stood up, gingerly sliding his hoodie back on to his frame. Saying his final farewells and good-byes, Jacent turned and made his way towards the door. He had to find Bryant, he had to track him down and find out what was wrong.
But it wouldn’t take long for Jacent to find him because Bryant was the one who found him first. Jacent’s head perked up and he looked at the door as he heard a yell from outside say "GO IN THERE AND DRAG HIS FILTHY WORTHLESS ASS OUT HERE!” Jacent took a step back as two large men stormed through the door and encircled him, trapping him from escape at all. They grabbed Jacent’s arms and gave strong tugs, dragging him outside where he came face to face with Bryant. Jacent quirked a brow as he saw him cough and wipe blood off on the edge of his shirt, was Bryant sick? Looking up at Bryant, simply because Bryant was easily half a foot taller than he was, Jacent sneered as he peered into those cold cyan eyes. “ Bryant, just the man I was looking for.” He smirked and looked back and forth. “ Why did you take Sara, and why did your lap dogs fire at me.” He motioned towards the injury he was sporting on his arm. “Friends don’t do this to each other.”
"Friends also don't back stab each other, Jacent. " Bryant’s words were coarse, slurred almost, the result of the back of his throat and nasal tissue being slightly burned from the coke. Jacent shivered as he felt the grip of the two males tightening upon his arms. Those eyes continued to stare him down, and Jacent could of sworn he saw a taunting smirk play on Jacent’s lips. A wave of Bryant’s thick hand and the men in unison tossed Jacent just to land at the metal bound shoe of his..best friend. Jacent gasped as he hit the pavement hard, hands barely catching himself before his head would connect with that steel toed boot. “Betray you? B-but Bryant, I never betrayed you. What are you talking about?” He looked up at him, his own deep blue eyes almost seeming to sparkle with honesty. Jacent didn’t bother to get up, there would be no point in that. It would just end up with him hitting the ground once more, and this time he didn’t know if he could catch himself. “Bryant please, you just got out of prison, we should be celebrating with a few brewskies!”
Bryant laughed loudly to that, almost howling in laugher as he opened those eyes. Momentary laughter was replaced by the stern look glazing his eyes. "Sinners never know why they are in hell, until they look into Satans eyes.. the eyes that will pave your trail of fate. Tell me Jacent," Bryant spoke softly, his eyes narrowed as he slowly shifted his weight and pulled out his 9mm Semi Automatic Glock Pistol and placed in right in between Jacent’s vision. Jacent let out a small whimper noise and tried to focus past the cold steel of the barrel. "Now tell me Jacent, what fate do you see staring down the barrel of the gun?" Bryant’s words were shaky thought almost demanding in a sick sense. A coy smirk formed on Bryant’s harshly chapped lips, and he shook his head and drew back the gun. “Yet, that wouldn’t be fair.” Jacent could do nothing but stare and watch, eyes for a few moments intent on the gun, making sure Bryant wouldn’t have another one of his drug endued anger flares and just pull the trigger, ending his life on the pavement right there. “What are you talking about Bryant? This is me, Jacent! We are old friends!” Jacent drew himself to his feet now, grunting as the two men shoved him down onto his knees once more. He gave each of them a scowling look before he spat out to Bryant, “Why don’t you call off your pathetic lackeys and tell me what you did with Sara!”
"Because that'd be to easy now wouldn’t it Jacent? What kind of a sport would I be if I just GAVE you the prize.. " He chuckled and took a step back to look down at Jacent, Shaking his head slightly before speaking out in a low rumbled tone " How does it feel? To be head DJ now? Aye Jacent, isn’t the fame wonderful?” Now it all made sense to Jacent, he connected all the parts in his mind, as he knew what this was about. Bryant glanced to the side, and his muscles tensed with a shiver before he turned metal bound heel into the soil, turning up some dust onto Jacent’s face, speaking before Jacent could. "Let's settle this like men, I'll meet you at Ashrins Beach at sundown. Heh, I always wanted to say that.” He said under his breath before turning to look over his shoulder at the bend down Jacent. “And we’ll settle it there.” He said, beginning to turn back around. But Jacent stopped Bryant before he could go, standing up and grabbing Bryant’s shoulder. “Is this what this is about? You think I took your job! Is that what you want from me? We were suppose to be a duo Bryant, but you threw that all away when you got into drugs. You got put away for a reason Bryant, realize that! You were dealing drugs on street corners and in school blacktop’s! I am the head DJ at the Crazy 88s because you left, I earned that position Bryant. Now give Sara back, this doesn’t have to end in some macho gun fight!” Jacent was practically yelling at the top of his lungs, but clenched his teeth as he tried to calm himself the best he could. The hand that was on Bryant’s shoulder trembled softly.
And with a snap of Bryant’s muscles his hand almost yet rather gracefully swung when he turned around. Back handing poor Jacent in the jaw rather roughly as he watched him fall to the ground. Bryant moved over and crouched beside him in a rage grabbing the collar of Jacent’s shirt with both balled fists and bringing it up close so he could feel the heated breath from his mouth pouring over Jacent’s face " Dou.. Dou!? We were supposed to be a duo in the Business Jacent. You were slick, we could of got around ANYTHING with you on the team Jacent. The cops wouldn't have a clue where to start. But no, NO! You had to throw our friendship out the door! This business which could of made you rich, OUT the window. Just for a girl! Do you think it didn't hurt me to watch Hailey leave me? She always wanted you, and that was why she left me! THAT is what you did wrong!" He released his fists and pushed him into the soil only to huff loudly. Muscles tense, ached. He looked weak but his body seemed to be driving him on. The poison coursing through his veins pushing him forward. " If you’re not there, your little play thing gets it. " Bryant spat out, turning and snapping his fingers. The two men and Bryant turned and walked off back down the street whence they came. Jacent was left sitting there, his jaw bruised from the harsh backhand that Bryant had administered to him. “ No, wait Bryant!” Jacent said, forcing himself to his feet and staring towards him. “Don’t do this, don’t do this to Sara and I. We don’t deserve this!” Jacent yelled down the street. Bryant turned his head and spoke barely loud enough for Jacent to hear. “ Don’t blame me Jacent. Blame yourself, or God.” He then turned and went off down the street, heavy boots thumping against the pavement. Jacent shook softly as he turned and began to walk off back towards the apartment that Sara and himself shared. His body ached, his mind was racing, but through it all one thing shouted clear. One of them was going to die tonight.
Part 2: Take Me Home
Evening - the time when they say the darker creatures of the world came alive. But this was the time that Jacent was usually coming alive, when the club was coming alive. Jacent’s feet softly crunched against the soft sand as he walked down the beach, everything looked so familiar, yet so different from the days of Bryant’s and his own childhood. He was wearing a black wife-beater and the same pair of pants as before. His gauze has a bit of a blood spot on it, but it wasn’t something he was going to worry about changing. After all, he might be dead within the hour. He stopped now, his eyes looking at a certain spot on one of the many hills of the beach. To everyone but himself and Bryant it was just a normal hill, but to those two, it was where they had thrived. It was where they thought up their music, it was where they talked about bad relationships and hopeful dreams, and now, now it would be where they spoke their last words to each other. This was the place they would meet, he knew this was the spot where Bryant was waiting for him at.
Towards the edge of the beach, where the water met the sand in a slick graceful motion, up turning the shells Bryant stood. Those cyan eyes of Bryant’s stared forward into the ripples of the ocean. The breeze brushed back slick long strands of raven black hair as he looked down now. Bryant’s hand worked as if it were a machine, or wasn't him. A slight tighten of muscles and he grit his teeth, right hand tossing away the needle into those soft current waves as it washed it back. He turned his attention now, hearing the footsteps of his friends. Though his vision slightly blurred, he saw him and smirked, rolling his sleeve down as he spoke, " Glad you made it, Jacent."
Jacent shivered as he saw what Bryant was doing to himself and at the tone of his voice as he spoke to him. He shook his head and stepped forward towards Bryant, looking at him with those deep blue eyes of his. “ Please Bryant, it doesn’t have to be this way. Just let Sara and myself go, and leave us alone. I can help you Bryant, we can get you some help. You can go to get cleaned up, or you can leave town. Los Angeles is just one city you know? Chicago, New York, Miami, New Orleans, there are so many other places where you can rebuild.” He tried to reason with Bryant, tried to find some way to get out of one of them dying.
“ You just don’t get it do you Jacent!” Bryant yelled, pulling out the 9mm that was at his side and shaking it at Jacent wildly. “ This isn’t about that, this goes far beyond just friends and a job. You took Hailey from me! She left me for you! You took the one thing I cared about most in life from me!”
“ Your wrong Bryant! She didn’t leave you because she wanted to be with me. She left me because you had a simple choice, the drugs or her, and you chose the drugs. You weren’t yourself Bryant!” Jacent yelled right back at him, and that was when it hit him. Bryant hadn’t been himself back then, and he still wasn’t himself now. This wasn’t his best friend anymore, this wasn’t his brother or his pal. The man that he had idolized and clung on to the hopes of seeing again was no longer inside of that body. It had been tossed aside, beaten down and destroyed by years of drug addiction. There was no Bryant anymore, just the husk of his former self. “Fine Bryant…. you win….”
“That is what I thought Jacent,” Bryant grinned as he spoke, “now, we do this at nine paces. Take nine paces and wait for me to yell draw. You can trust me enough not to shoot you in the back right. Sara is beyond that hill over there, all nice and tied up like a present. Go to her, that is, if you live.” He chuckled softly as Jacent nodded and reached down to his side, pulling forth his own firearm. It was a Desert Eagle, an heirloom passed down from his father to himself. He had spent the entire afternoon lamenting over his life and cleaning the gun, and now it held one bullet in its chamber, one single bullet.
The two males moved up towards each other’s, their boots crunching the sand below them as they met in the middle of the small beach that had been their home away from home so many years ago. Jacent nodded his head, and Bryant turned around. And now it all began.. the beginning of the end.
Step one, the sand crunched beneath Bryant’s steel toed boots. A grin on his face quickly faded to that of grim determination. Images flashed through his mind like a movie theater playing out the best and worst moments of his life. Step two, him and Jacent were out on the beach, and each of them had a six pack. They talked of hopes, dreams, fears, horrors, and wondered if the convenient store they had stolen these from had security cameras. Step three, he was sitting on his bed at his old apartment, his arms wrapped tightly around Hailey’s waist. He was begging her not go, for her not to leave him. Step four, the cold, harsh slap across his face as Hailey walked away from him, leaving him for the last and final time. Step five…step six…step seven…step eight..like the Crazy 88’s club where he had met Jacent. The death march was almost over now, and one of them would be going to meet their maker. Step nine..nine lives on a cat, and someone’s time was almost up. One of them would die tonight.
The same was happening over with Jacent as he slowly took those nine steps that could be his last. To think, the place where his best memories were at would be the place that his worst would be. Step by step, the images of his life flashed through his mind. Of his mother, of his father, of his entire family, they went by so quickly. But then the images of moments that were not all too long ago began to flash by, and everything moved in slow motion. There Jacent was, his arms wrapped around Hailey, holding her as she sobbed. Bryant had hit her in one of his drug enduced rages, and she had run to Jacent for comfort and support. What could he do but hold her and tell her that everything would be all right. Another step, another memory, this time it was Sara who stood out in his mind. They had just spent their first night together, made love for the very first time. As he held her in his strong embrace, trying to hide her not only from the cold and darkness of the evening, but the entire world, he knew that she was the one. Perhaps this was how Bryant had felt for Hailey, a long, long time ago. The last step, and the last memory came into his mind, that of Bryant. He was coming out of his home in handcuffs, being taken to a nearby police car. He would never forget the look that Bryant gave him and the words that he mouthed to him, “Help Me”. This was the one time that Jacent’s quick mind and silver tongue couldn’t help Bryant, it was the one time he couldn’t be there for his best friend. The final step came, and he stood there, stone solid as his finger was on the trigger and his brow trickled with sweat. The beach was eerily quiet, only the sounds of the waves crashing against the sand broke the murky nights quiet whisper. To think that so very soon, it would all be shattered by gunshots. Jacent took in a deep breath and prepared himself for what was to come.
“DRAW!” Bryant screamed, and they both wheeled around in unison. To one who was watching, their movements that seemed to be choreographed, that seemed to be done by some sick puppeteer above, may find these last, fleeting moments of these two peoples friendships to be almost beautiful. As if they were doing a dance of betrayal, of friendship, of love, and that it was the farewell performance for one of the two stars of the show. Three shots rang out through the night air, causing a muffled scream to come from over top the sand hill, obviously from the bound and gagged Sara.
Jacent stood there, staring and watching Bryant, the end of his gun smoking, as was Bryant’s. “W-what….why isn’t one of us dead.” He thought to himself, trying to think of a reason that this was possible. That was when the surge of pain rushed through him and Jacent let out a gasp. His gun dropped from his hand and he fell to his knees. But wait, what about Bryant, what had happened to the bullet he had fired at him. He looked up at him, taking in a deep gulp of breath as his hands went to where he was shot in the side. Looking down, he saw the moonlight sparkling off of the wet blood that seeped from the wound. Back up his eyes went, just in time to catch the eyesight of Bryant. They weren’t distant, they were something else. He looked down at his chest, and Jacent shook his head in confusion. Looking down, he noticed it now, a single red bullet hole that was on the left side of his chest. “W-what…what have you done Jacent.” Bryant said in a voice that was not the same as it had been a few minutes ago. It wasn’t harsh or cold like steel, it was the voice of the Bryant he had know. “Bryant! Bryant I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!” Jacent sobbed out, beginning to crawl forward in the sand, but he would never reach his friend in time. He only could watch in horror as his best friend slumped forward and whispered out one final word as he exhaled his final breath… “H-Hailey…..” and then that last breath escaped him, and his best friend was gone.
“Bryant, no, what have I done.” Jacent whispered as he crawled up to him, not even thinking about the own pain that surged throughout his body. The tide was beginning to come in, and it washed up along Bryant’s body, pushing in pure and clear, and leaving tainted with the red blood of his fallen brother. Jacent stared at him for a few moments before he gasped and stumbled to his feet. “ Sara!” He yelled, moving towards the hill that Bryant said that she would be behind. He lost his footing and fell to his hands and knees, sobbing as he crawled up and over, rolling down and into the small frame of his love. He quickly untied her and undid the gag and whispered. “It’s okay hunny, I am here, I am here.”
Jacent embraced her and held her frame close to his. Eventually they moved up the hill and watched as the tide slowly washed over the still frame of Bryant. “It’s strange, it is almost like the waves are washing away his sins and preparing him for the otherworld. A place where he can be free of drugs, finally free of the addiction.” Jacent whispered as he held Sara close to him.
They stayed there, Jacent and Sara, watching as the tide slowly pulled the lifeless form of Bryant out to sea. Taking him into its’ warm, salty embrace. Perhaps to take him down his last path, where he could finally be happy. Jacent struggled to watch as his frame floated off until it was mearly a small speck on the ocean blue. There was no coming back from this, he would never see Bryant again, never share another word with him. It was over, it was all finally over. “Take me home Jacent.” Sara said to him. Jacent nodded and turned, walking off down the sands back towards his home, towards their home.
Part 3: A Farewell to Friends
It was three months since the incident had happened, and it was another warm evening, just like that fateful one had been. Jacent was sitting out on the same hill that he had watch Bryant’s body drift off into the ocean from. He sat there, a six pack of beer beside him. It was almost like old times, except Bryant was not there, and he had legally purchased this alcohol. “It’s strange Bryant,” Jacent said, taking a sip from his beer, “ I come out here, to this place, and I find myself most at peace.” He grinned, looking up at the sparkling stars that hovered above in the nighttime sky. “You were almost like two people Bryant, one was the friend that I grew up with, the friend that I trusted and let into my home. The other side was the monster, the drugs that took over and eventually killed the side of you that I called my friend.” He laid back, shoving his beer into the sand and looking up at the stars that painted a canvas of whites and blacks above him.
“ I know you are up there Bryant, watching over me somewhere.” Jacent said as he grinned, his fingers drawing a few grains of sand into his hand and then letting them fall free. “You have helped me realize just how harsh the world can be, how misunderstood one person can be, and how it can hurt them and others.” Jacent stood up now, brushing the sand off of his frame and then picking up the remnants of the six pack. “ Wherever you are Bryant, I just want you to know that I miss you, and that I know you are watching over me, watching over Sara.” Jacent said, beginning to turn and walk away before he stopped and looked up at the heavens. “You know, you said before, that the devil was going to pave my trail of fate. If that is true, Bryant, then I’m not afraid.” He chuckled and shook his head, before continuing to walk, speaking as he went. “You know, it sounds silly, but I know that as I walk on that path, your right beside me. Every step, every curve, every bump in the road, you are there with me. Thank you Bryant, thank you for walking beside me…my friend.”
Itachi: You lack power....do you know why?
Itachi: Because you lack it....hatred.