There was no outward indication that Sean’s statement had surprised Ocelot. He merely stopped and continued to regard the younger man with a gaze that was hard to read. “Oh?” was all he said.
Sean nodded. “My name’s Sean Hunter. It’s a long story, but my parents—well, I thought they were my parents, anyway—died, and I found a birth certificate with your name and picture on it. I’ve been looking for you.”
For a long moment Ocelot didn’t say anything. He left the room and Sean heard the click of the door’s lock being engaged, then he came back and sat down on one of the benches. “I thought you’d probably show up one of these days,” he said quietly.
Sean’s eyes widened. “So—it’s true?” It seemed too easy after all the trouble he’d been through on the search. “You’re—”
Ocelot took a deep breath and held up his hands. He looked inexplicably tired. “Slow down, kid. Why don’t you give me the whole story, okay?”
“That was what I was hoping you’d give me.” Sean protested. “I don’t even know the whole story.” He was still convinced there was something wrong here—this man looked too young to be his father, but clearly he was acting like the revelation hadn’t been a surprise.
“Sit down,” Ocelot said, patting the bench. “There is a story here and you’ll hear it, but we gotta do this right. There’s a lot more to it than I think you suspect.” He looked around the dojo as if seeing it for the first time, then sighed again. “Like I said—why don’t you start by telling me what you know, what happened.”
Sean looked at him a bit suspiciously, but finally nodded. Slowly, he told Ocelot the story of his life, his parents, and what had happened after their deaths. By the time he was done, he was shaking. Ocelot listened silently, his face showing no emotion. “That’s it,” Sean said at last, fighting to get his voice under control. “My whole life’s been a big lie. Nobody ever bothered to tell me I was adopted, and finding something like that without expecting it—” He shook his head.
Ocelot nodded. “Yeah, that’s gotta be rough,” he agreed. Almost under his breath, he said, “They weren’t supposed to keep anything like that, dammit...but this’d be about the right time...”
“Look,” Sean said, bringing his gaze up to meet Ocelot’s. “If you really are my father, I think you owe me—I don’t know—some kind of explanation. Like for why you gave me up, why nobody ever told me I was adopted—”
Ocelot held up his hands. “Hold on. You gotta give me a little time here, kid. This isn’t what I was expecting at all today.”
“Well, I didn’t exactly expect what I found, either.” He looked Ocelot in the eyes, studying their pale, ice-blue depths. “I want to know. I’m not leaving here until I do. And what about my mother—Juliana? Is she around here too?”
Ocelot stood, and Sean didn’t miss the brief odd look that crossed his face at the mention of the name. “Here’s what I want you to do,” Ocelot said at last. “I need to make a few calls. You’re right—you deserve to know what’s going on. But you have to trust me. Like I said, there’s more to it than you know, even now.”
“Is she alive?” Sean demanded.
Long pause, followed by a slow exhale. “Yeah.”
“Is she really my mother?”
Ocelot gave him a hard look. “Sean, I’m not kidding here. I promise—you’ll find out everything. But you’re gonna have to let me do this my way, okay? Leave a number where I can reach you, and I’ll call you back tonight. After I’ve talked to some people.”
Sean glared at him. “So what are you gonna do, run away again? Disappear so I’ll never find you?” He stood, slamming his fist into one of the practice pads. “Listen, Dad—if you don’t want me around, just tell me and I’m outta here. I don’t need this drek. I want to know what’s going on, and I want to know now.”
“I can’t tell you now,” Ocelot said. There was the subtlest hint of strain in his voice, but it was hard to tell whether he was keeping his own temper in check or just having a hard time saying what he was saying. “I know this sounds like bullshit to you, but you’re gonna have to trust me. The whole story’s not mine to tell, and I have to get in touch with somebody else before we can go on.”
Ocelot sighed. “No. Yes. She’s one of the people I have to call.”
“So you do know where she is.”
He nodded. “Yeah.”
Sean stalked around the room. He couldn’t stand still anymore. “I don’t get this. You know, and you’re gonna call her—that makes sense. But why do I have to go away? Why can’t you just call her now and we can all get together? What else is there going on here?”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” Ocelot said wryly. He shook his head. “I hate to keep repeating myself, but this is the way it’s gotta be. I give you my word that I’m not gonna run off, and that I will call you tonight after I get in touch with people. You’re just gonna have to believe me.”
Sean stopped, sighed. “I guess you wouldn’t be much of a father if I couldn’t believe you, would you? But then again, you did get rid of me when I was a baby, so—”
Ocelot was there, instantly, gripping his shoulder hard enough to hurt a little. His eyes flashed. “Listen up, kid. We did not get rid of you. You’ll see what a stupid thing that is to say when you get the whole story. But that ain’t the way it happened. That much I can tell you now.”
“Why, then?” Sean met him glare for glare. “Why didn’t you keep me?”
Ocelot sighed. “Okay,” he said quietly after a pause. “I’ll tell you one more thing, and then you’re gonna have to go. That’s it. Scan?”
He didn’t appear to notice the sullenness in Sean’s tone. “What we did, we did for your own safety. That’s the truth. Look at me and tell me I’m lying to you.”
Sean looked into the pale blue cat eyes and couldn’t do it. He lowered his head. “Okay,” he said. “I’ll tell you where I am. But if you don’t call—”
“I’ll call, Sean. I promise.”
Sean gave him his LTG number and the name of the place he was staying. “When are you gonna call?”
“You’ll hear from me by 20:00 tonight. Even if I can’t get hold of ‘em, I’ll call. But I think it won’t be a problem.”
Sean nodded. He still looked a little suspicious, but managed to keep it under control. “Okay, then. I’ll wait to hear.” He turned to go.
Sean turned back. “Yeah?”
“Listen—don’t spread this around, okay?”
His lips curled in a bitter little smile. “Why? Are you ashamed of me?”
Ocelot bowed his head, suddenly looking every bit the age he was supposed to be. “No, kid. Not at all. It’s the safety thing again. Once you get the whole story, you can do whatever you want with it. But keep it quiet until then. I’m just askin’. It’s for your safety, not mine.”
Sean was getting more and more confused by the minute, but he decided to let it go. “Okay,” he said grudgingly. “I’ll keep quiet until tonight. After that—we’ll see.” He turned once again and stalked down the hall. At the end, before he opened the door, he called back, “See you tonight—Dad.”
The door closed behind him, so he didn’t get to see Ocelot finally release the pent-up energy in his muscles by doing his best to put his foot through one of the walls.
Sean drove a little too fast heading back to his room at the residential motel, but he didn’t go directly there. Instead, he cruised around San Francisco for an hour or so, not caring where he was going or where he ended up. His mind was spinning, trying to make sense of what had happened, but it couldn’t put everything into perspective.
Ocelot had obviously admitted to being his father, but why all the secrecy? Why the talk of phone calls and personal safety? He could understand why Ocelot would want to tell his mother about his reappearance (Sean was inexplicably sad that it seemed like the two of them were no longer together) but what was the need for calling one or more third parties. Lawyers, maybe? What did shadowrunners need with lawyers? But his father wasn’t a shadowrunner anymore, he was a martial arts instructor. Sean wondered what his mother was doing; was she still a shadowrunner? Was she in town? Was that why his own safety was at risk? He knew that shadowrunners ran with some dangerous people—frag, they were some dangerous people—so he supposed it might not be safe for their enemies to know of his existence. But he could take care of himself. Ocelot had seen that. Why the secrets?
Another thought struck him, suddenly, drawing his gaze quickly up to his rearview mirror: Did this have anything to do with the man who’d been following him? But there was no sign of anyone suspicious back there, and he remembered that he still wasn’t certain that anyone actually was following him. He sighed, turning his attention back to driving. He had enough to worry about without manufacturing more.
When Sean finally made it back to the motel (after having to stop twice to re-check his map and reorient himself after getting lost), he shook his head quickly to clear it of all the flying thoughts. He pulled into his parking space and got out of the car. He supposed that despite all the thinking he’d been doing, it really wasn’t all that worthwhile to dwell on trying to solve the puzzle, since with any luck he’d get the whole story tonight. That was if Ocelot had told the truth, of course. He wondered if he had been a fool to trust him, if he should have insisted on staying—
He slid his magkey into the door lock and stalked into the room, shucking off his jacket and flinging it over the nearest chair. Right now all he wanted was a nice long shower and—
There was a man in the room.
His quick perceptions instantly got the details—human, dressed in a suit, looked somewhat familiar, holding a gun—before his reflexes took over and he spun, intending to run back to the door and outside.
He nearly ran into the other man who had moved out of the shadows behind him. The second man raised another gun. There was a little thwip and Sean felt a sting in his side. As his legs turned to rubber and he fell, his last two thoughts were of recognition—the man had been one who’d followed him back in Seattle, and of regret—now after all the work he’d done he would never get to hear the story of his real parents.
Copyright ©2001-2003 R. King-Nitschke. The Shadowrun universe is the property of Wizkids.
No part of this story may be reproduced without permission from the author.