Author's Note: Hey there! I'm a big fan of credit where credit is due so I really feel that this is very important.
A Giant thanks to Aranatta, who brainstormed with me every free moment we had (and sometimes when we were busy) at home on the couch, in the grocery store, in the middle of Wal-Mart getting weird looks from old people, in the car, making dinner . . .well you get the idea. His unflinching concrit sent me to many a rewrite, but it always came out for the better and WG is better for him. I'm already driving him up the wall with the sequel and as always, he's wonderfully patient and wonderfully creative. There's no better brainstorm buddy out there!
Also to MKOLO, my beta who put up with editing entire chapters in advance, only to have me scrap them and start over. Who IMed with me for hours on end, tweaking dialogue and getting the pop culture just right. Her rocksteady support and enthusiam are the main reasons that Waiting Game got finished. There were several chapters that got completed because of her and her alone. She dealt with betaing two and three chapters at a time, endless late night emails, and horrible, horrible puns, through it all she remained upbeat, positive and encouraging. I couldn't ask for a better beta, or a better friend. I don't tell her enough how much I love her an how much I appreciate everything she does.
Thanks to Irishjeeper, who found me on livejournal and offically became WGs pimp. I've lost count of how many times she's reccommended WG to someone who was looking for a fic to read and I adore her for that. She's an intelligent, beautiful person inside and out.
Also to archerlove, my angst-monitor. Making sure it's just painful enough . . .
And thanks, of course, to every out there in PCLand who read and reviewed (Arcie Lee, SnTAngel - Shizuka-naTenshi, Just-a-moment, ArraMidnight, Blue Eyes At Night, Reid's Girl, penscratch, Saru San, Lady Starhawk, St.Stephen's, La Flamingo, so.it.goes., Ohio-isn'tfor-lovers, frkykorngirl, Esyla, star7166, gostlcards, Shila, Aiden, Elizabeth, Mally, meggo, SomniculusFaber, Miss Panther, saoi, Twisted Ivy, Elaine, Catchy Turn, nanotech, Threll, Samantha Bridges, Goddess of Rage, Anthem Aeneid, iheartconnor, bookwormFFW, Jess, Sheiado, and, of course, chloecat)
You guys' kind words and support are the reason I wrote Waiting Game and I appreciate each and every review, they make my day and keep me going when I don't particularly want to. To show my undying appreciation:
" Conn?" Murphy's voice had broken through the road hypnosis and into his thoughts. Looking, he saw his twin lighting two cigarettes, smiling around them. "Ye might want to pay attention ta the road." Murphy had said conversationally.
"Christ!" Connor had jerked the wheel, bringing the battered Ford back to the proper lane. "Why didn't ye fuckin' say something?"
"I just fuckin' did, didn't I?" Murphy had rolled his eyes, offering Connor a cigarette.
Taking the fag from his brother's fingers and inhaling a gratifying lungful of smoke, Connor barely had time to catch a glimpse of his twin reaching for the steering wheel before his cigarette had exploded.
"Ye fuck!" Connor had tossed the ruined smoke out of the window and wiped at the black he knew was coating his face. "Where in Christ's fuckin' name did ye get fuckin' cigarette loads?"
Whooping with laughter, Murphy had simply shaken his head, carefully keeping the car on the road from the passenger seat, while Connor sputtered and swore.
"Ye should see yer fuckin' face!" His twin had hooted. "Ye look like a fuckin' cartoon!"
Swatting Murphy's hands away from the wheel, Connor had regained control of the car, calling his brother every detestable name he could think of, much to Murphy's amusement. Adding insult to injury, he'd then had to walk into the motel they had chosen for the night and rent a room, looking like his ACME stick of fucking dynamite had malfunctioned.
Despite his irritation with his twin's prank, Connor had felt a tiny twinge of relief seeing the sparkle in Murphy's eyes. That sparkle meant that they would be all right, more importantly, that Murphy would be all right.
Now, several hundred miles, one church, and a shit apartment later, Connor watched his twin stretch out on the couch, already starting to drift back to sleep. Glancing at the soggy pizza in his hand, he couldn't stop an evil grin from spreading across his face.
His aim as true as it was with a gun, Connor lobbed the drooping slice at his twin, chuckling as it smacked him squarely in the face. Murphy yelped, bolting upright, tomato sauce smearing his features and spattering his hair, a single slice of pepperoni sticking stubbornly to his forehead.
"Ye fuck!" he gasped, swiping at the mess sliding down his cheeks and neck. "That's fuckin' cold!"
Connor barely heard his brother's heated insults, doubled over with laughter. Revenge was a wonderful, wonderful thing, especially served cold right from the refrigerator.
"Ye should see yer fuckin' face!" he whooped, laughing all the harder when Murphy launched himself off of the couch, tackling him and mashing the remains of the pizza into his hair.
Maire loved the city at night. She was out later than she should have been, especially in this part of town, but the day had been warm and the spring lighting couldn't have been more perfect.
Carefully juggling a camera in one hand and balancing Sasha on her hip with the other, she decided that it was time to head home. Sasha was a filthy mess from her adventures at the park and she still needed to get dinner made before putting the baby to bed for the night.
"Mah!" Sasha announced, waving her disposable camera and pointing a chubby finger at her mother.
Maire beamed her cheesiest grin at her baby and a moment later was blinded by the disposable's flash. The camera was one of Sasha's favorite things, and had been since she was old enough to push the button, one thing she had inherited from her mother. Most of the time Maire developed pictures of the floor or of her daughter's thumbs and shoes, but occasionally she discovered some amazing shots that Sasha had taken. Plus, it allowed her to take her own photos in peace.
Pausing on the bridge that led to their neighborhood, Maire stopped, awestruck at the full moon that was rising over the water. "Wow," she whispered. "Do you see that, baby?"
A wide smile and a spit bubble in her ear told her that her daughter was as impressed with the view as she was.
Carefully setting Sasha on her feet and unsuccessfully trying to smooth the unruly mess of blond, Maire lifted her camera, deftly centering the image.
"You take a couple of pictures with Mommy, okay?"
The disposable's flash and Sasha's giggle answered her and Maire smiled down at her daughter. Sometimes, when Sasha looked up at her just so, Maire swore that she could see Martin beside his sister, smiling an identical smile.
The shot was ideal and so was the lighting; the moon was fat and flawlessly white, casting a shimmering reflection over the fathomless depths of water. This was going to be a picture worthy of a frame, she was certain.
Already making plans for mats and frames, Maire let the camera hang around her neck and reached out for Sasha.
And found nothing.
Instantly her heart picked up it's pace, pounding harder against her ribs as she glanced around looking for the chubby silhouette that would identify her daughter.
"Baby?" she called. "Sasha?"
From several feet down the bridge there was the flash of a camera and an unmistakable giggle.
"Sasha!" Maire called again, heading toward where she had seen the flash.
Sasha was there, halfway back down the bridge, happily waving her camera and Maire breathed a sigh of relief, feeling her stomach work its way back up from her shoes and wondered if she was the single worst mother in the world for letting her daughter wander off alone in the dark.
"Mah!" Sasha squealed, snapping another picture.
"Come on, Baby." Maire said, extending her hand. "Time to go home."
"Omh?" Sasha inquired, raising the camera again.
The disposable flashed and Maire gasped as it illuminated a group of men several feet away on the bridge. There were at least four of them, all gathered around a fifth who was on his knees.
" y vertiendo con almas estará siempre. In Nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti."
Their words were carried on the wind, meaningless yet full of significance. Another flash from Sasha's camera accompanied a sound that was not unlike a champagne bottle being uncorked and all the men turned as one to look at her.
All except for the fifth man, who was now lying in a pool of gore at the feet of the others.
"Hey!" one of the men shouted, reaching into his jacket.
"Oh my God." The words came out in a rush of fear and adrenaline as she swept Sasha into her arms, running away from the grisly scene as fast as she could.
Oh god, oh god, oh god, oh god . . .
She heard another champagne bottle pop and felt the wind of something whizzing past her ear.
They were shooting at her. Oh dear God, they were shooting at her and the baby.
Another gallon of adrenaline dumped itself into her veins and she crushed Sasha to her chest, shielding her daughter with her own body as best she could, and redoubling her pace.
They were right behind her and another bullet went speeding by. Maire knew she should be screaming for help, but all of her oxygen was focused solely on keeping her upright and moving. She couldn't stop running; if she stopped, they would kill her just like they had killed that man. They would kill her and then they would kill her daughter.
Thanks Again to all of you out there in PCLand.