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Now you may be wondering, who was wearing the bolo tie? Me or the shark? Answer: YES!
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They were watching him.

((B044 Steve Dobson: Start))

Everyone was.

In a way, he was famous now. Except, he corrected himself, not really - not just from a certain point of view. His name was down, come what may. Strapped into seat J2 and both engines on fire. A footnote was the least he could aspire to Steve Dobson, sliced open by... well, he couldn't say. Someone he never expected for sure. Maybe some leadership kid trying to get back to the world they poured themselves into. Just as likely someone who just went along with life and for whatever reason when the chips were down found it in themselves to burn everything else around them. Someone like -

Well, he wasn't necessarily just a footnote.

So he'd taken stock and tried to stand with his ears stacked over his shoulders and his hips. Opened his bag and he'd thought about Chris and he tested the weight of the sickle in one hand. Thought about his parents. Clenched his fingers and zipped the bag back over the thing like he was filling a grave. Took extra care not to slice his fingers off while he pointedly ignored images of parting flesh and spurting blood running rampant in his mind.

But that was then. This was one of those ephemeral "now"s he suspected he might run a shortage of soon. And he hadn't really thought about what to do; it seemed like one of those things that was just done. He headed for the ocean. Regardless of his sense of direction, it wouldn't be hard to find. That was a good one. Start with something you know. If it really was all happening, and his stomach tilted at the inevitable dispelling of his flicking doubt, he could simply walk in any direction to get there.

Besides, it seemed reasonable. Peaceful, maybe, except for the birds, and relaxing, except he hadn't ever realized how thick the stench of salt could stain the air. And, well... expected. Boy forty-four gathered his gear and set off for the ocean to collect himself. Until, fill in the blank here.

Until someone spoke.

His vision flicked back and forth. Nobody whose company he exactly savored. And Steve himself, he realized with a start, was totally open. Totally exposed. Just staring over the waves like a man entranced. And that little insane part of his brain thought, nobody worth telling about would fall so quickly and so early. They'd do something bold. Like nothing at all.

And so he stood and stared and tried not to let his eyes wander back, and even fought a bit against the flickers of a crazy little smile. If Brad wanted his privacy, Steve would let him crawl away or whatever. He could go pretend that something like privacy existed any more. But if not, well, it was time for B044 to encounter his first friend or his last enemy. Steve was about to see how much of a footnote he amounted to.



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