|Guardian: Chapter Three
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|Author:||Sihaya [ Fri Jul 20, 2012 7:45 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Guardian: Chapter Three|
Chapter Three: Guardian
"I love this city," Delia gushed, dragging Venus along by the hand until they reached her favourite café, on the Rue Ravignan. The others followed at a more leisurely pace.
"A good thing you had an excuse to come here on the boss' dime, then," Cleatus smiled.
“Yes!” Delia cheered. “And he's promised he'll take me shopping when we're done with the last auction.”
“The advantages of being the sweetheart of one of the wealthiest men on the planet,” Rose smiled.
“I'm not his sweetheart,” Delia blushed.
“When a man suggests he'll take you shopping, he's wooing you,” Noah assured her, “and it was about time Titus pulled his head out of his taco. He'll ask you between a piece of Desigual and a caffè latte.”
Delia blushed even deeper and giggled.
Cleatus surveyed the menu. “How much time do we have?”
“A little over an hour and a half,” Venus said, checking her watch.
“No time for a full menu then... Choices, choices.”
“It's a lot quieter without Teddy and the kids,” Rose said.
“I'm sure not missing Mooch, though,” Noah scoffed.
“It is a little weird without an enforcer, though,” Delia said.
“We've got our own mechanic,” Noah said, thumping Edgar on the back.
“Not to mention Noah can prattle his way out of pretty much everything,” Cleatus deadpanned.
Noah balked at that and the others roared with laughter.
“I miss this when we're on other jobs,” Venus smiled.
“We don't take other jobs, anymore,” Rose confessed.
“Not like we need to, anyway, with what they pay” Cleatus said.
“I take every job I can,” Venus said. “I really want to find it.”
“I never took other jobs to begin with. There's only so much 'adventuring' you can fit in with a teacher's position,” Delia said.
“Our own personal Indiana Jones,” Noah smiled. “Just a little less kick-ass.”
“It's not like we're completely helpless anyway,” Venus said.
“I still feel better knowing we're here with you,” Edgar heard himself say. You're going soft, you daft lizard.
Noah leaned in to kiss his neck. “I'm glad you're here with me, too.”
Cleatus started coughing dramatically. “PDA! PDA!”
Rose elbowed him. “Eat your dinner before you have to leave half of it,” she said sternly. Cleatus winked at Venus and Delia and ate his dinner.
“Is it true Rocko and Valerie ran off together?” Noah asked.
“More like he dragged her off,” Delia smirked. “He got tired of getting blown off so he planned a surprise vacation and packed her bags for her. The way Titus tells it he had to actually pry her organiser from her.”
“A lot of oblivious people are suddenly pairing off,” Cleatus told Rose seriously. “There must have been something in the water in Germany.”
“Hey!” Delia shrieked, and tossed some of her rice down the back of his shirt, making him shriek, and the others roar again.
They ate and joked and paid and rushed and only barely made it to the auction in time. They'd actually traced the family to Vanessa and had proceeded to get their hands on every document and artefact she'd left behind. Nothing had led them to anything regarding the key, Library or the Dragons, as Edgar had expected, or to new avenues of investigation. This afternoon they were buying the last piece of art they'd been able to trace back to Vanessa, and Edgar had to choke back his laughter when he realised that the only connection there was between the painting and the Dragons was that he had given it to Vanessa for her 75th birthday.
They hid their grins behind their hands when Delia and Venus got really swept up in the bidding and were practically jumping up every time they raised their bid, while the other potential buyers were very calm and dignified about it. Still, it paid off, and two hours later they were carrying the painting back to their hotel by the Jardin des Tuileries.
“It's so beautiful!”Delia gushed, “Maybe Titus'll let me keep it if it turns out to be a bust!”
“I'm sure he will, unless Ameer insist on a resale to save his investment,” Cleatus chuckled. “When do they arrive?”
“Tomorrow,” Noah said. “Always late for the party.”
“Drinks after we check the painting over?” Rose suggested.
“Sounds good. You guys don't need us to help with that, right?” Noah said. He was met with four identical grins and an embarrassed groan from Edgar.
“Have fun. See you in an hour or two?” Cleatus said with an eyebrow waggle.
“Oh, shush it,” Rose said, elbowing him for good measure, and swiped her keycard. Venus and Delia giggled, and Noah grabbed Edgar's hand and dragged him inside their own room next door.
“You're incorrigible,” Edgar scolded.
Noah pressed him up against the wall. “Is that code for incredibly sexy?”
“Only in your overblown ego's mind,” Edgar said, grabbing a fistful of Noah's shirt and hair and kissing him passionately. “It's been fourteen hours too many since I last had you.”
“Don't say things like that,” Noah moaned. “Or at least wait until you're naked in my bed before you do.”
“Right here,” Edgar breathed, “take me right here.”
“Edgar,” Noah said.
“That's the idea, I believe,” Edgar smirked. “Now get to it, lover...”
“I love you so much,” Noah said, and yanked Edgar's shirt over his head.
They fumbled with their clothes until they were naked and Noah had Edgar hoisted up against the wall with his legs wrapped around him, tongues tangled and fingers spreading him open until he was begging for more in languages Noah sure as hell didn't speak.
Noah drove into him hard and fast and dirty and Edgar shouted and screamed and threatened bodily harm if Noah were to stop, until they came as hard as they'd been going and far, far too soon for their liking.
“Bedroom for another round?” Edgar suggested breathlessly.
“Sure,” Noah panted, trying to hold up Edgar's weight as well as his own, “as soon as I get my knees to unbuckle.”
They heard a crash coming from next door.
Men shouted in broken English, there was a shot and Delia screamed.
“Sober,” Noah swore, and they broke apart, pulled their trousers on as fast as they could, fumbled for the weapons hidden in their jackets and room.
“You get everyone out and I'll deal with the intruders,” Edgar said. Noah grunted in reply and they rushed down the hall and into Rose and Cleatus' room.
Noah tackled one of the intruders to the ground, bashed his head into the tiles a few times while shouting at Cleatus to grab Rose and squeeze past them. Edgar had knelt right inside the door frame and shot the other two visible assailants. Cleatus dragged Rose outside and pushed her into the elevator car, then ran back. Noah shot his unconscious opponent in the head and ran to Delia, who sat cradling Venus to her chest and wailed hysterically. Edgar checked to make sure the three men were really dead. Cleatus came rushing back in and together he and Noah managed to make Delia let go of Venus' limp body, and Cleatus lifted her up. She clung to him and cried desperately.
“Take her and Rose and get to the lobby. Call and ambulance and Titus,” Edgar ordered. “I assume they were after our newest possessions?”
“Yeah. I know that one guy,” Noah said, pointing over his shoulder, “he's a key hunter. They must have thought we were onto something.”
“Hide everything and help Venus until the medics get here,” Cleatus said. “Noah, you're going to need to talk us out of this.”
“I'll be right down,” he replied.
Cleatus ran off and Noah grabbed as many of Vanessa's belongings as he could to stash them in their room instead. Edgar made a quick sweep of the suite to make sure no one else was hiding there and ran back to Venus.
“Venus! Hey love, wake up. Venus?” He checked her over methodically. There was no way the ambulance would make it in time, and he didn't have healing magic like others of his kind. She was done for.
Venus groaned softly and opened her eyes. “Did I just get shot?” she whispered.
“Yes, love,” Edgar replied.
“Am I going to die?” she asked calmly.
“Yes,” he admitted softly.
She teared up. “I wanted to see it so badly,” she whimpered.
“Venus,” he said softly, “look at me, darling.”
Edgar relaxed his hold on himself, let himself breathe, did what came natural. He let his power flow out, grabbed hold of the flow of time around himself and stopped it, let his true form shine through.
“Look at me, darling. It's all true.”
She looked up at him, wrapped up in the bubble where time still flowed on with him, saw his hair the colours of a clouded sky, eyes the colour of blood, luminescent skin with scales shimmering through.
“Oh, Edgar,” she gasped. “Are you?..”
“Yes, love. I'm the Guardian.”
“Where is the key?” she begged. “What about the Library? Oh, Edgar, you're a Dragon...”
“The key is with me, darling. Remember? No Dragon ever lets the key leave his person,” he smiled.
“The Library...” she managed, but her eyes were starting to droop and her voice had grown feeble.
“Let's go take a look, shall we?” he said softly.
He carefully picked her up and willed an entrance to the Library. She gasped and whimpered in awe as he carried her over the threshold. She breathed in as deeply as she still could to smell the tomes and the magic that permeated them, reached out trembling fingers to caress their spines and looked up with tear-filled eyes to see the stained glass ceilings, watch golden light stream in from an invisible source, listened to the heartbeat of the Dragon carrying her around as if she weighed absolutely nothing; until her breathing faltered, her eyes saw nothing anymore and her own heartbeats ran out.
Edgar carried her out again, laid her out on the floor, closed her broken eyes and kissed her forehead. “Bye, love,” he whispered, and pulled everything back inside, set time in motion once more.
“Edgar!” Noah screamed from down the hall, “There was another one!”
Edgar jumped up and whirled around, gun ready, but the other guy was faster and stabbed his serrated knife cleanly between Edgar's ribs, straight into his heart. He grunted in annoyance, put his gun against the man's head and popped off three bullets.
The man slumped to the floor, dragging the knife down with him and ripping away a good chunk of Edgar's intercostal muscle.
Edgar inspected the wound in dismay. That's going to take hours to heal...
Noah came barging in, saw Edgar and the blood pouring out of his chest and rushed up to him in a blind panic, pulled him down on the ground, ripped off his own shirt to try and stem the blood flow.
“Edgar, oh gods, hang in there, the ambulance is going to be here right away!” he cried, tears streaming down his face. He pressed down on the wound as hard as he could.
I guess this is where you tell him, Edgar thought to himself.
“Noah, it's okay, I'm going to be fine,” he said, carding his fingers through Noah's hair.
Noah shook his head and tried not to hyperventilate.
“I swear I'll be all right,” Edgar said, wrapping a hand round the back of Noah's neck. “Look at the wound, Noah. Just look.” He had to use his free hand to get Noah to pull his away. “See? I'll be fine, Noah. I told you you're not getting rid of me again, lover. Noah?”
“It's healing,” Noah gritted through clenched teeth. “I can see the flesh knitting together in front of my eyes. I can see scales on your skin!”
Edgar had expected to see a lot of things in Noah's eyes when he looked back up at him. Relief. Confusion. Surprise. Disbelief. Love. But not blind rage. Not disgust, and betrayal.
“You're one of them,” Noah growled. “Did you think it was funny, screwing us over from the inside? Did you kill friends of mine, mechanic? Did you enjoy sleeping with the enemy?”
“Noah!” Edgar shouted. “That's not...”
But before he had a chance to finish his sentence, Noah had grabbed his shoulders and bashed his head into the floor.
“Where is the key?” he yelled. “Where is that bloody key?”
Edgar brought his hands to his head to try and get the spinning to stop, stretching the wound.
“What...” Noah gasped.
Next thing Edgar knew, Noah had his fingers in his wound, digging around. His blood turned to ice.
“Noah, don't. It's me, damn it! Noah, nothing's changed, nothing has to change between us. Noah, please don't, please, Noah, Noah, I lov...”
Noah didn't listen. He grabbed the knife lying on the floor and cut the wound open again, grabbed one of Edgar's ribs and snapped it aside and Edgar screamed louder than he'd ever done before in his life. Noah ripped the key out of his muscle tissue and held it up to the light. Then he tucked it away, wrapped his hands around Edgar's neck and squeezed.
“Edgar you, Dragon. We have your key, and we'll take your Library, and you can go to hell. This world belongs to us. I hope you enjoyed your fun while it lasted.”
Edgar didn't even bother fighting him off. He couldn't be killed this way, and none of it mattered anyway. Not when it was Noah. Not when he'd lost the key, not when it had happened like this. It had all been a massively stupid idea in the first place, joining the enemy to keep up with how close they were. He figured he'd never get surprised like Ayubu and Abel had been. Then again, if he'd had a Protector with him, they might have pulled it off. Then again, if he hadn't been stupid enough to fall in love with a human, a mortal man, a Edgaring key hunter... Water under the bridge.
Cleatus came back into the room, stood dumbfounded and finally dragged Noah off of Edgar.
“He's a Dragon. He had the key the whole time. I've got the key, Cleatus.”
“Edgaring Kouros. Titus is on his way. We're going to be very rich men. I need to get back to Rose and Delia. Stage it so it seems they all killed each other and get the hell down, all right?”
“Done,” Noah said.
“I love you,” Edgar wheezed when Cleatus had left. Somehow it was very important to say it one more time.
“Another lie is not going to save you,” Noah said, picking up the knife again. “So, you can heal from stab wounds. Bet you can't heal this.”
“Noah, please, please, No...”
Noah snapped Edgar's neck and slit his throat, so deep there was hardly anything more than his broken spine connecting his head to the rest of his body.
Ten minutes later a spotless Noah joined the other hunters in the hotel bar. Titus and Ameer were set to arrive any minute, and the ambulance just came wailing up the street, two police cars behind it. Delia was very pale but had managed to get a hold of herself for now.
“It's taken care of,” he said calmly.
“On our end, too,” Rose said, “we've called the Twins and they made it so our room was under someone else's name – and credit card. They also cleaned out Venus' and... Edgar's... ID's. Nothing to connect them to any of us in any way. We're safe.” She leaned in over the table and whispered urgently. “Show it to me. I need to know this was worth it.” Delia leaned in too, gripping the edge of the table so tightly her hands turned white. Noah took the key out of his jacket's inner pocket and slid it across the table.
“It's really real,” Delia said, tearing up again, “We have it now and she never got to see it...” She threw herself at Rose who held her tight and tried to calm her down again. Noah pocketed the key.
“We should get out of here while we can,” Cleatus said. “The police might want to question everyone in here and we really don't need that right now.”
“You guys go. I want to hang around and make sure they wheel all the bodies out of there,” Noah said.
“All right,” Cleatus said, slapping Noah on the back. We'll go to Ameer's hotel of choice and book a room there.” He hugged Delia to his side, and he and Rose each picked up one of the bags Noah had packed, with all paper, electronics, the auction objects and other things that might look even more suspicious than the rest of the room with four bodies and a dead couple.
Noah moved to the bar and knocked back stiff drink after drink, until the police let the paramedics role out the bodies of the other hunters, and finally Venus', and Edgar's. Then he had Edgar's favourite drink, pressed the heels of his hands to his eyes, sobbed quietly once, and disappeared.
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