Hi everyone. I know I haven't posted anything here in a very very long time, basically because I haven't been writing for a very very long time! But I'm slowly getting back into it. This story is a one-shot short set before the Angel of Darkness, just after Kurtis' father has died. I basically wanted to explore his feelings of guilt and sadness at losing his father, and the song I use here, 'Hurt' by Johnny Cash, seemed to fit his mood perfectly. I highly recommend the song to anyone who hasn't heard it. :)

Also, I'd like to say a big warm thankyou to everyone who has been reading and reviewingmy other stories.Believe it or notI am currently working on getting Salvation back off the ground, so hopefully I will have something new to submit before too long. Thanks for all your vast amounts of patience!


HURT

I was in Baltimore, a city I didn't know at all, in the first bar I had found. My parents had moved out here from Salt Lake City almost ten years earlier, but I had never visited them.

After the wake I had walked without aim until I ended up here, slumped on a stool with both elbows on the bar, staring at the hot tip of my cigarette as it edged towards my fingers. The look on my face must have warned the bar staff against trying to coax any conversation from me. My second Jack Daniel's arrived silently in a squat round glass, replacing the crumpled bill I had laid on the bar. Until that song began I had hardly noticed music playing, just barely registering the sounds around me through a fog of disbelief. But this song was different.

A few simple bars of acoustic guitar, and then the rumbling, dustbowl voice of Johnny Cash joined them. I recognised that voice immediately from years of my mother playing his scratchy old records in our house in Utah when I was a child. Even my father, who didn't care much for popular music of any kind, could sometimes be heard humming along from behind the big dark door to his office. But his voice was sad now, sad and tired and old, and it caught me by surprise to hear the sorrow in my own heart coming through in his words. It took a few more moments before I realised that I already knew this song.

I hurt myself today
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain
The only thing that's real.

I looked up sharply at the jukebox as though some trick were being played on me. Johnny Cash, the Man in Black of country and western? Singing Nine Inch Nails? I sat up and listened harder.

The needle tears a hole
That old familiar sting
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything.

I heard those words and it was as though the last fifteen years just dropped away. Back in Utah, I was a modern kid struggling in a world of secrecy and tradition, part of a sect that I barely understood, told to obey the rules of a God I didn't believe in. Nine Inch Nails played a large and loud part in the years of my teenage rebellion. I felt a strong connection to the music, with its unrelenting intensity that bordered on viciousness, and to Trent Reznor himself, whose voice resonated with the same pain and despair that I felt when I looked at my surroundings. His rage was my rage. And when my anger at my father got too much for me and I left home, I even took the singer's name as my own, becoming Kurtis Trent. This song, Hurt, had reflected perfectly how I felt at that time: broken, misunderstood and all alone in the world. What I failed to realise was how much I hurt others in return.

What have I become?
My sweetest friend
Everyone I know
Goes away in the end.

My whole body felt suddenly hollow. There was a black void inside my chest that felt as though it could suck all of the world into it and yet never be filled. The truth loomed over me, stark and cruel: I no longer had a father; he was gone forever, and with him a part of my soul. I would have to live the rest of my life knowing that I had broken our bond. As I stared into the whiskey I realised how my absence from his life must have crushed him. He was not an emotional or expressive man, and I had hated him for his unkindness, but now I saw that I had grown into an unkind, unexpressive man myself, and I still felt this pain acutely. My father's only son left his life, and did so willingly, something that must have wounded him deeper than I could ever have imagined in my bullish, angry teens.

You could have it all
My empire of dirt
I will let you down
I will make you hurt.

Cash's voice echoed around the dark chamber within me like a desert wind, enhancing the emptiness rather than filling it. Hot tears stung my eyes but I refused to let them fall. There I was, a man once again alone in the world, left with the legacy of a father I had rejected. A legacy I could no more abandon than I could embrace it willingly. All I had fought against in my past, my ancestry, my gifts, the very blood that ran through my veins, and now I stood facing it once again. It had all been for nothing. I couldn't escape who I was, not with a fake name or a French passport or a long line of killings. If only I had stayed and been the man my parents wanted me to be then I would not be so drastically unprepared for the task that now awaited me.

If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way.

The song continued, guitar and piano audibly shaking now under the assault of Cash's hands, the strings of both instruments trembling as though an almighty storm were brewing. I looked at the backpack on the seat beside me, thinking of the package that lay inside. It contained a weapon I had expected never to lay eyes nor hands on ever again. A symbol of my youth and the order – the family – I had abandoned.. Although it was out of sight I could feel its connection to me, hear its whisper in my hidden senses. I knew it would respond to my touch the way it had back then, knew the old power would flood back into me as soon as my fingers slid through the holes in that warm, magical metal. But I was afraid, and I was alone. As I drained my glass and swallowed the last of the sourness, I understood that I would not survive this storm without my anger, the rage that comes out of senseless loss.

The rage of being hurt.