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Signs of change by Chika

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Story Notes:
This will cross over with 'Unknown Blood' a LOT. But this is Dwayne's story, not David's. Some situations will be present, some will be new. So if you don't want to see the same situations through different eyes, please consider yourself forewarned.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Dollar watch- At the turn of the century, middle class folk could buy a pocket or wrist watch for about a dollar, allowing them to tell the time. Wrist watches were considered 'feminine' at this time.
The first sign to Dwayne Mathers that life was going downhill was when he wrote that letter to his little sister.

Isabelle lived in Arizona with their father. Dwayne had moved to the little town of Santa Carla six months before for work, finding it in the hotel built just a few years before, the Riolta. He lived in a very small townhouse on the outskirts of the city, but he managed to scrounge up enough money to buy the paper and stamps to write Isabelle every week. His last letter had been written to her on the seventh of April, 1906 He had received no response, which he found odd, until he found a letter to him a week later from a law firm, telling him that his sister and father had died in a fire. The house was gone, all that was left of his family, gone, his life blown to the wind as ashes.

It wasn’t the first fire his family had suffered. When he had been a small boy, their house had caught fire, and his mother died in the blaze. Everyone else had survived unhurt. He hardly remembered his mother, he had been two when the fire started and had no pictures of her. His father drank too often to tell him anything.

It had been him and Isabelle, usually, alone. There was the nanny, but she did little other than keep them from getting killed.

He had been eager to leave the home he shared with his father. Isabelle would live there until she found a husband. Well, Dwayne thought bitterly, she’ll never be able to prove how loving she was to children of her own.

He withdrew from his thoughts and looked out over the desk. The sunlight streamed through large windows in the front. He actually wasn’t fond of those windows, like so many of his coworkers. The darkness, where the light didn’t hit, was less painful on the eyes for one, and secondly, he had always been partial to the mysteries of the night. He liked the moon. One could look at it without burning their eyes. Dwayne was thankful that a pillar blocked the front desk from most of the sunlight, saving his poor eyes.

He bent down to the documents in front of him. The Herkins couple would be checking out, and a gentleman would be checking in. That would be on his lunch break, though. Another clerk would be more than capable of handling that.

Dwayne checked the dollar watch in his pocket. Ten minutes. Ten minutes until he could leave and go to the staff room, eat, and spend a scant minute or two relaxing before continuing work.

He eventually went on his lunch break. Over his meagre meal of soup-thin soup, at that -he reread a letter that had come yesterday. His father had racked up numerous large debts before his fiery demise, and what was salvaged was taken to cover them. Little had survived, though: some of Isabelle’s jewellery, inherited from her mother, silverware, little things. Dwayne closed his eyes. There had been money in a bank, of course, but that was gone, too. The silverware he cared little for, but Isabelle had cherished the jewellery. She had told the servant they employed that she would polish it as needed. She would spend hours in her little bedroom, polishing each gem and piece until they glowed.

And now those pieces, like her, were gone.

He had no money to visit for their funerals. Dwayne and his grandparents had never gotten on well-His father had been estranged from both sides of the family. They were organizing the funerals, and he knew that even if he had any money, he wouldn’t have been invited. But once he had saved up some money, maybe he could visit Isabelle’s grave. To see what remained of her body, or rather, ashes, was something he would like to do.

He sighed and stood. There would be just enough time to relax before his lunchtime ended.

There was little activity that afternoon. Since it was April, the hotel wasn’t as busy as it was in the summer, and check in and out time had passed. Nevertheless, there was a man and his young daughter who checked in. The clerk coming off duty whispered in his ear.

“They know Mr. Hargreaves,” he informed Dwayne. “So treat them well. The man’s Mr. Willows. Lady’s Emily.Be respectful.”

That was the rule; respect the ones who knew the boss.

Mr. Willows, he was told later by the same clerk, came off as being gruff-which he did. He was a large man, very tall and broad. Even so, he was very gentlemanly and polite-if he was treated well. Emily was not quite twenty, but was of marrying age and her father was always on the lookout for a man that they both liked.

The remainder of his day was uneventful, and he breathed a sigh of relaxation as he prepared his things to leave.

A bellhop who had come off at the same time bounced in. He flashed Dwayne a smile. “Heard the rumours? Someone’s actually buying part of the old Prewer land.”

The Prewer land had been the home to an old man that was known only as Mr. Prewer. Rumours went that he died some odd fifty years before, leaving his property-two acres of undeveloped land-to be ignored. Some joked that his grouchy old ghost haunted it.

“That’s a surprise.”

The bellhop nodded in agreement. “Poor man doesn’t know what he’s getting. Apparently he’s coming down next week to check it out.” The bellhop clocked out and nodded at him. “I suppose I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Dwayne raised his hand farewell to the bellhop and finished gathering the few things he had brought with him, before leaving himself. The twilight sun spread across the sky in a carmine haze, the brightness slowly being replaced by the dark ink of nighttime. Perhaps he would go for a walk before returning to his home.

The waves crashed on the rocks, the repetitive sound a lulling melody to his ears. The wind whipped his short black locks. Yes, this time of day was peaceful-the heat of the day and the sun’s intenseness had faded, leaving behind a serene period of cooled air and pleasant conversations. He loved it.

Sea lions frolicked in a small inlet as the night made its full advance. Dwayne was halfway home by the time stars sparkled overhead, the moon three-quarters full and teasingly bright. When it was full, the light would be silver and brilliant, a nice change from the fiery scream that the sun projected. The moon would give off a cool radiance that Isabelle had always loved. She would come into his room, her dark hair down long on her back, long fingers holding up the hem of her nightdress. They would sit on his bed, just staring out at the sky over Phoenix, until Isabelle’s head drooped onto his shoulder, fast asleep. He would gently pick her up and murmur softly into her ear as he carried her into her room and tucked her under her blankets.

But that was gone now.

Dwayne bumped into someone without realizing. “My apologies,” the man said. Dwayne looked up at him, for he was a good bit taller than him. Their eyes met for a moment. “I should have been looking to see where we were going.”

Dwayne nodded in response. He really wasn’t in any mood to be having a conversation with this man.

The man seemed to get the hint. “Well, I suppose I should get going. I’m supposed to be at my restaurant by now. Good evening.”

“Good bye,” Dwayne echoed, already lost again to the waves.

The man hurried off, turning a corner with a smile. That boy would do nicely, from his quick foray into his mind. Quite nice indeed.

Dwayne was home a short while later, a small candle giving light to the main room of his home. It was a tiny home, with just four rooms. His bedroom, a bathroom, kitchen, and main living area. It was all he could afford, and even then, it was barely paid for each month. His father had only once sent money to help him cover the payment, and that had been last month. He would have to work a lot to pay the mortgage this month.

Supper was more of the soup he’d had for lunch. The nanny his father had hired had ceased to be a nanny by the time he was twelve, becoming his father’s personal pleasure assistant. No more did she cook for his father’s children; Dwayne and Isabelle together snuck into the kitchen and learned how to cook for themselves. She would smile after each meal, exclaiming that she loved her brother’s cooking.

Yes, his life had mostly revolved around caring for Isabelle, ensuring that she grew up to be a young and happy woman. But that part of his life had ended when she saw him off on the train to California. And he would never see her again.

With a sigh, Dwayne blew out the candle and went to bed.
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