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Hammerin' Nails

Corbin Black

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The sputter of the engine caused Corbin to grimace a bit. The fact that he’d wrecked his bike irritated him a bit more every time he thought about it and every time the engine sputtered he thought about the fact that he’d wrecked his bike. He cruised around downtown Boston for about an hour trying to understand the streets and local ‘wild life’ until he turned off into the lower income section of the city.

The concrete jungle was a welcome place for him, it reminded him of Vegas, his home. Loud music caught his attention, even over the roar of his failing bike’s motor. A small scrap yard conveniently labeled ‘Nails’s Scrapyard & Body Shop’ caught his attention and without hesitation he pulled his Harley right up into the open garage door that led into the garage’s proper.

One car, an old beat up Gremlin that was three shades of primer, was up on a hydraulic lift while a second, an old 1970 Barracuda that had certainly seen better days, was parked on a second lift that wasn’t raised. An old boom box with its fair share of cigarette burns, spilled paint marks and faded stickers blared away “Psychedelic Mordor “, a metal band out of Southern California that was known for speed metal riffs and fantasy lyrics of men versus gods and creatures of myth. Corbin huffed a smirk at the irony in the owner’s choice of music.

His leg swung over the bike as he continued to take in his surroundings. Cold steel knocked the back of his head and a ‘click’ was heard even over the music. “I’ve got nothing to steal, and I don’t know you asshole, so this better be good or I’ll blow your fucking head off and feed you to the dogs out back. They’ll never find a body.” The voice was certainly feminine but forceful and confident in a way that was rare.

He turned around but didn’t make any effort to raise his hands. He was pretty sure if she was going to kill him she would’ve by now, or that if it got to that point he’d be able to dodge a bullet… at point blank range… concluding that path of thinking, he slowly lifted his hands up a bit to show her he wasn’t armed. “Your customer relations skills really suck, you know that?” His voice was akin to a dark whisper shared by dark wanderer types the world over.

He was surprised at what he saw though: a slender, tall and rather attractive young woman holding a Desert Eagle just an inch from his face. Perfectly curved hips were hugged by grease stained cargo pants and a black studded belt complimented her exposed, sweat damp, midriff where her grease streaked tank top covered a pair of ‘C’ tits so perfectly shaped they had to be fake. Her full lips were pursed with determination as the hazy fluorescent lights and smoke from the thick cigar pinched between the fingers muted the wild shade of orange that her short, spiky hair was dyed.

I love being me. This Scion gig kicks ass. The smirking darkling thought as he glared upon his Grease-Monkey Goddess. “I wrecked my bike. You do work on them?”

She glanced to the bike for the briefest of moments before locking her glare back on the stranger before he had the chance to catch her off guard. Had Corbin wanted to, in the ‘briefest of moments’ he could have had her disarmed and on her ass wondering how she got there, but he didn’t work like that. She was just a pretty girl in a shitty part of town apparently trying to make a living; couldn’t fault her for protecting her own. “We’re closed. Get the hell out of here!”

He sighed and shrugged and continued to play it cool. The Scion turned and walked out of the garage into the muggy Boston night. The music cut off a few seconds later and he could hear her approaching the open garage door.

“Hey!” She shouted out into the neighborhood. “You’re forgetting your ride asshole!”

Corbin spun about and threw his arms out wide. “I just said I wrecked it. It’s shot and needs work. Can’t ride a bike that don’t run, hun.”

She looked confused, although the gun was at her side now she kept a firm grip on it nonetheless. “That’s a Harley Davidson VRSCDX Night Rod Special. Only fourteen hundred were made a couple years ago. You don’t just abandon a bike like this. Are you fuckin’ stupid or something?”

He shrugged. “What’s a guy to do, Lady? Seriously, in this part of town, walking that bike around’ll only get me shot, but doing the smart thing and taking it to the closest body shop will also apparently get me shot. Like I said, it don’t run so it’s no good to me. Keep it.” He took a few steps backward and then spun about again and walked on.

She looked to the motorcycle; it was a beauty sure enough. Matte black finish with chrome highlights that just made it gleam like a large diamond encased in a chunk of coal. Then she sighed. “Hey, hold up.” She tucked the gun behind her back into her waistline. “Look, uh, whoever you are, I’ll take a look at it but it’s late, so you better have cash. Seventy-five an hour, non negotiable.”

He stopped and grinned. He’d been pit fighting with killers for years; she didn’t have the eyes for it. She could talk the talk and carry herself well enough, but her eyes showed she wasn’t hardened enough to kill a guy, or turn him loose in the bad neighborhood without first trying to clean her conscious about the matter.

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The icebox rattled open as dozens of amber bottles jingled a greeting to the hand that reached in to acquire one. “You wanna beer?” She asked Corbin. He’d returned to the garage and was off away from the lifts by a workbench that seemed to double as a makeshift place to catch meals.

“Depends,” he asked in his low, macho whispery voice as he grinned sarcastically. He rolled his thick leather jacket off his shoulders and wrapped it about the back of a chair. The black tank top he wore was tight against his tone warrior’s body. Tribal tattoos were woven down his arms spreading out across his arms from the interlaced Celtic knot work that mantled his shoulders. “That cost extra too?”

“First one’s free.” She managed a smirk as she tossed the bottle across the shop becoming slightly perplexed when Corbin caught the bottle without even looking up placing his jacket down and popped the twist-cap with his thumb like it was a bottle opener. He looked strong, sure, but that strong? “Name’s ‘Nails’.”

“Corbin Black.” He replied tipping back the bottle.

She knelt by the bike looking over the damage. She shook her head and trailed her hand across the some of the damage. “Fuck did you do to this thing?”

“Swerved to avoid hitting a woman on I-90.” He walked over to where she was, talking as he approached. “Not that it mattered. She turned out to be a ghost. Just my luck.”

“A ghost?” She scoffed. “Bullshit.”

He shrugged. “Not here to convince you sweetheart, I know what it was and I know what happened. That’s all that matters.”

“One,” she stood up and flipped him the bird about as casually as one could. “Don’t call me ‘sweetheart’. Two, I don’t believe in ghosts.” She went to her tools and started looking for the fist few she’d need to get the work started.

Corbin grinned. “Yeah, I know how you feel. I used to not believe in em’ either. Then I realized that just because I don’t believe in something doesn’t mean it can’t believe in me. I could tell some stories that’d blow yer mind, trust me.”

“I got all night.” She said with a smile, flipping a ratchet in her hand with a light toss in the air.

Nails went to work while Corbin explained all there was to know. She laughed several times and even looked at him like he was crazy more times than he could count, but still his story rolled off his tongue with such confidence and matter-of-factness that soon she found herself giving him the benefit of the doubt. He told her of battling harpies off the coast of Seattle that had laired in the sound, therianthropes that he battled in the urban sprawl of Las Vegas’s back alleys and zombies that dwelled in it’s sewers and of course, his battle with Amaron of Atlas, the earth giant he recently defeated in Arizona.

“…so that’s pretty much it. I need-”

“To find this gateway to the Underworld so you can usher the dead to their resting place?” She was leaning against one of the garage’s supports now having forgotten the bike about ten minutes ago when the battle with the therianthropes got interesting.

“Pretty much, yep.” He nodded, tightening his lip a bit. The label on his beer had seen better days, having been scratched away completely during the story time.

“And you’re the son of a God,” She asked, pointing to him through crossed arms as she started walking over to him. “Adopted by another God to protect us and… the World, from Titans and their spawn?”

“That’s pretty much the gist of it, yeah.” He grinned as she closed the final few steps between them. “With the sundering of their prison our world became their stomping ground. We Scions are here to protect you, well, I am anyway.”

Maybe it was what he said, or how he said it, but the more she heard his voice the more she believed him. He had an almost noble bearing about him, a sense of honor and integrity that, the more one was around him, the heavier it seemed to fall upon them. She couldn’t believe what she’d heard tonight but there was something that told her that he’d help her with her problems.

Like Corbin, Nails has spent her life growing up on the streets and learned how things really worked: she had to fight for everything, because no one was going to hand it to her. She had problems that someone like Corbin might be able to handle for her, but like the dark Scion she currently had as a guest, she had no idea how to ask for help.

“Never had my own guardian angel,” she said softly. The urban tone of authority and hardened street life seemed to disappear. She sighed and rolled her eyes, smirking a bit. “God, I can’t believe I’m actually buying your bullshit.”

“I’m not trying to sell you on it Nails. I’ll do what I do, from place to place and the lives of the people I touch will either be the better or worse for it, but it won’t change the truth.” Gently his thumb rubbed her cheeks smearing aside a small abound of grit and sweat that blemished her unusually lovely features. “You uhh, got a little bit of uhh… something on you.”

Normally any man that touched her without her permission would have been beaten to a pulp, in fact, her instinct was to head butt him the moment he touched her. She didn’t and she had no idea why. He was beautiful now that she stood so close. His perfectly toned body, exotic tattoos, and when one could see beneath the dark mask of hair he wore to obscure his face he was gorgeous, by mortal standards at any rate. “If I needed help, would you help me?”

“It’s what I do.” He set the bottle down on the roof of the car he leaned against. “Least I could do for someone fixing my ride. So whatcha got? Local gangs giving you trouble? Ex-lover causing problems for you? Some dude wanna date you and telling him ‘no’ just doesn’t seem to be working? Mafia got a price on your head?”

Her eyebrow quirked a bit and an amused grin set into her features. “You sound like this kinda thing happens all the time. Take on the Mafia a lot have you?”

“Once or twice. You’d be surprised what Fate throws at me. Being a Scion means I’m a trouble magnet. Everywhere I go, trouble follows.” He shrugged, passing it off like it really was an everyday thing.

“Oh, so now I’m trouble.” she shot back, folding her arms.

“Some of the people I meet are trouble some just have trouble.” He grinned. “You look like a bit of both, but trouble ain’t looked as good as you in a long time. So what’s nipping at your heels?”

“About six months ago I took out a loan from a local guy, business was slow and was going to lose the garage. I love this place, ya know? I fought my whole life to make this place mine.” Her voice was somber and almost nostalgic, carrying with it the tone of a speaker whose mind was reminiscing on events of the past while at the same time trying to explain her plight. “Anyway, this guy, Kang, I was making my payments no problem, even with the interest, so a few months ago the dickhead jacks the payments and the interest up so high that I basically have the choice of ‘pay him and not pay the bills’ or ‘pay the bills and his goons come and break my knees’. So, I’ve paid the bills.”

“You talked to him about it?” Corbin asked. It was a dumb question; he knew loan sharks and other assorted greedy bastards rarely ever played nice once they felt like the ‘owned’ someone.

“Yeah, for all the good it did.” Her hands rested on her hips. “Typical asshole, three times a week I can head over to his place, suck him off and let him fuck me and film it. Depending on my performance he’ll knock a little off the interest.”

“Or not and let his boys show up and beat you until you submit, then you end up with a debt you can’t pay, fuckin a guy you hate until he gets bored with you. Either way your life or your business suffers and you get treated like a whore.”

“Exactly.” She looked him over. “Heard this one before?”

“Don’t take a genius to do the math.” He rocked off the car and stood up tall and straight leaving very little room between them. “You want me to talk to him?”

“Can you fight? I’d prefer you ripped his dick off and made him choke on it.” She fumed her opinion with anger and unfiltered requests.

“I’m not an assassin for hire Nails.” The Scion’s voice carried the weight of honor with it and a stern tone that told her that a few ground rules were coming. Not that they were needed, most of this stuff always ended up the same with the bad guys shooting at him and him kicking their ass all over the place. “I’ll go have a chat with him. Whether or not he ends up in a coma is entirely up to him. Fair enough?”

“Yeah. Fair enough.” She sighed, still a bit frustrated about the whole mess every time she thought about it. She knew better than to go to Kang for money, but sometimes when people are desperate they don’t make the best choices for themselves, but the more she thought about bringing Corbin into her problems the more her stomach tightened. “Look, I’m sorry. I really shouldn’t be asking you to do this for me. Appreciate it though, I got myself into this mess, I’ll find someway out of it. Really, you don’t need to get invol-”

Gently his finger pressed on her lips silencing her apprehension. “Nails, this is what I do, I help people. I know it’s hard to understand in this day and age, but sometimes we all wish we had a guardian angel, well, you got one. I want to help, so please, let me help.”

He’d just met this woman about three hours ago, so when she threw her arms around him and silently thanked him he wasn’t really sure how to take it except to just hold her in return. After several silent moments she looked up at him and a tense moment came between them as neither seemed to want to let go.

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The morning sun peered in through a crack in the curtains, directly into Nails’s still sleeping eyes. She winced and groaned a few times as she lay fatigued and content on her stomach with a sheet barely covering her athletic body, but the scent of fresh brewed coffee lured her mind to a happier place, a caffeine place. Eventually she was up and about wandering about naked in an apartment that appeared as if the maid had had the day off for a long time. She made it to the kitchen and found a sign near the fresh pot of coffee that read: coffee?

“Shit.” She seethed. “I can’t believe I fucked him. Great, this is just fuckin great… what four, five hours,” Her mind flashed back to the night before in a vivid reminder of all the things they did with, and to, each other and she couldn’t remember the last time she’d slept that damn good. She whined, “This is going to get awkward.”

As morning greeted Boston, Corbin greeted them both. Nails’s apartment was directly above her garage on the second floor but amid the roofs air conditioning unit and ventilation he watched the sun rise with calm meditative breathing in a rhythmic pattern that relax his body and mind. Soon he was in motion, powerful katas that drove his maneuvers forward with power and force. Every muscle flexed and tensed as the speed and grace with which the maneuvers were performed spoke volumes for what they could do to something they struck.

Sweat glistened across his bare back and chest and his mantle tattoo almost seemed to be alive as his body expanded and contracted with rhythmic breathing and a symphony of motion.

“The Morrigan picks her warriors well, I see.” Came the sound of a voice drown in contentment. He looked back to see Nails leaning in the doorway her short, multicolored hair still amp from the shower in an impressive arrangement of spikes. She was wrapped in the sheet from her bed. She cut to the chase. “We need to talk.”

“Last night should not have happened, you don’t go sleeping with guys you just met and us getting involved will only complicate our lives?” Hands on his hips, he took a few short, fatigued breaths squinting slightly as morning sun shined in his eyes. “Something like that?”

“Something like that, and quit assuming you know everything.” She stepped out into the light of the Boston morning. Corbin still could not believe this woman, with a body like hers, was fixing up old cars and running a junkyard. “I’m not going to say last night shouldn’t have happen, we apparently needed it. They way you were running the gauntlet sure as hell made it seemed like you hadn’t had any in awhile and I was on you like white on rice. We’re adults, and if two adult wanna fuck for hours that’s their business.”

“Fair enough.” He sighed, cracking his neck and stretching a bit. “But?”

“But, that’s it. It was just sex. Damn good sex, but sex nonetheless. So, we leave it at that. Deal?” She offered her hand to politely seal the deal.

Corbin smiled and accepted her hand. “That mean we can’t do it again sometime?”

“I didn’t say that.” A mischievous smile formed on tightened lips. “But I will go make us some breakfast, which I’ll have you know, I don’t do for just any man I sleep with within a few hours of meeting him.” She winked and spun about heading back to the doorway to the stairs.

His eyes were locked on the sway of one fine ass covered only by a sheet that left little to his imagination. “So, Nails, what’s your real name anyway?”

“Sex wasn’t that good Scion.” She pulled the door closed and he could see the grin on her lips even if he couldn’t see her face. “Food’ll be ready in about twenty or so.”

The Scion laughed and scooped his shirt up. After breakfast and a shower he thought it might be time to pa a visit to this Kang guy.

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