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[b HELLS KITCHEN, NYC]
Ross walked through the mess and shattered glass that had once been Dahlia and Eris’ apartment. When he woke up that morning and found the voicemail from Dahlia on his phone, he had hurried to their apartment to find it locked, with no answer. He called them from outside the door only to hear their phones ringing through the walls. He left, only to return with a few fellow officers, and the landlord who unlocked the door. They then couldn’t get in until they pushed and shoved as they soon discovered the couch was wedged up against the door. He had to climb in and what he found made his heart sink.
“DAHLIA!?” He had shouted into the apartment, making a b-line for her room. It was empty the bed unkept and her purse still sitting on her desk. The girls were nowhere to be found, their phones were still plugged into walls, but Dahlia’s he found on the floor in the living room. Their computers were smashed to pieces, and it looked like someone had ripped Dahlia’s camera apart and had shattered the expensive lenses.
The small apartment had been ransacked, and a window in Eris’ room was busted. Knowing Eris had a concealed carry and where she generally kept her single firearm, he had tried to find it but found that it along with her black leather jacket were gone. He and his fellow officers even found bullet holes in the walls around the fire escape. It left Ross to worry and to wonder what had happened to his girls. Running a hand through his blonde hair he looked around the apartment apprehensively as CSI arrived to take photos, and SVU did their basic search of the apartment. It was agreed there had been a struggle, and at some extent a break-in, leading to the girl’s disappearance. Ross was a mess with worry, and while others began to document evidence, he secluded himself in Dahlia’s room and sat down on a small vintage chair that sat at her vanity and desk. He looked around at everything. Someone had been searching for something. When they didn’t find it, had they taken Dahlia and Eris? He wasn’t sure, and it left him uneasy... What sort of story were they working on? With their computers destroyed there would be no hope of finding out now.
Looking at the mirror, he spotted a photo of Dahlia with Eris, the two of them were at Rockefeller Ice Skating and posing for the photo with goofy faces, but bright smiles. He felt his face twitch with a small smile, before he pulled the picture out of the mirror frame. “I’ll find you guys... I promise,” He murmured, and stood up. There was nothing more he could do here, but he could start going out and questioning the people that knew Eris and Dahlia. If the men that attacked Eris the other night had done this... perhaps it was more than just a random mugging. His worst fear, was that they had gotten involved with the same perps who were kidnapping all the people who had been going missing in Hell’s Kitchen.
Gaius listened to Dahlia’s views on what she might do, and her experiences so far. She was smart to be cautious and hesitant of his world and it only reminded him that his world wasn’t safe for her. Sure he might have been attracted to her, desired her, and wanted her near... but that couldn’t happen as long as she was in his world. Currently his greatest fear was that he would get her killed. At her sentiment about not being able to take any photographs he gave her a sad grin. Humans would no doubt think it was photoshopped, but it did give him an idea. Perhaps he could give her the story that she wanted, and still keep his world secret. It would be a delicate situation, and he didn’t know how well her friend could write, or if she’d be willing to bend the truth to make it easier for mortals to swallow.
“I’m sorry, as of now, photographic evidence can’t be allowed. I would, if I could, let you have your camera back, but I cannot.”
For a moment his gaze turned down the hall where he was sure Cornelius was listening in on their conversation. He didn’t want to risk the demon figuring out what his internal thoughts and desires were, or risk being removed from his case or having Dahlia removed from him. It was bad enough knowing that once this was over, she’d have no problems walking away and pretending that none of it ever happened. He agreed that Eris wouldn’t be the same. He wouldn’t put it past that one to come waltzing back to this world. Be it as a human companion to some creature, or finding a way to become one of them herself he wasn’t sure. He made no comment about how he might like to keep seeing Dahlia after all was said an done, knowing it might make her uncomfortable. With nothing more to say, he turned back to the computer and began to look for and leads.
Eris didn’t want to get out of the shower. It felt too good. The hot water helped to clean off her body, and clear away the fog in her head. She wanted to remember more of her nightmare. It had felt so real. Dahlia had been there, and so had something else. It was a dark presence that Eris couldn’t make out, much like the other details of her dream. All she knew was that whatever she dreamed of, it had threatened Dahlia and it had everything to do with what they were getting into. Eris would gladly sacrifice herself for Dahlia, as Gaius had pointed out, she was pure of heart. That had to be rare in this world with all its corruption and selfishness. Dahlia wasn’t like that, and Eris tried to be like her in that regard. Still, Eris chalked it up to the stress and lack of proper diet or sleep for the past few days and did her best to keep her anxiety from clawing its way to the surface.
She sat in the tub as the water fell over her, processing all that had happened. Mahlik’s warnings about human-trafficking, the ketamine, and the man from the Wicca shop. It was also rather daunting that she was working with the very men who had attacked her in the first place. The one thing she couldn’t seem to shake however, was the red eyes of Kael. She wasn’t sure what it was about them, but since she had laid eyes on them at the club she hadn’t been able to get them out of her head. She was a barrel of contradicting thoughts and emotions and it was exhausting her trying to figure out which thoughts and feelings to hold onto and which ones to let go. By the time the water ran cold though, she was feeling better and able to stand firmer.
Without anything to really change into and never one for modesty, Eris wrapped the extra large towel around her body and tucked it tightly, while she took a smaller one to dry her hair with. She stepped out into the hall only to come face to face with Kael’s brother.
“Pardon me,” he said stepping back to give her room. Eris managed to step out into the hall and glanced at him.
“You’re excused. Thanks for letting us crash here by the way,” She said trying to be polite to the best of her New Yorker abilities. Cornelius simply smiled at her and allowed her to go her way. She went to the living room just as Kael entered from his shopping excursion. He set several bags down on the table and Eris was quick to start peeking through everything. Kael looked exhausted, but not so much he couldn’t hand them each an item of jewelry. Gaius caught his easily and pocketed it with a simple thanks, while Eris looked to the delicate black choker in her hands to Kael. He said it would help disguise them if they had to go out. She couldn’t help but look back at the exhausted Kael and then back to the choker. It was a shame she couldn’t just wear it, she’d always wanted a choker like the one he’d given her.. but as she looked back at it, she saw a charm dangled from it. Had that been there when he gave it to her? A Golden Apple. She arched a brow at him wondering if this was a joke, but didn’t mention it and put it away in her pocket.
With a quick thanks, Eris took as many shopping bags as she could carry and pranced off to the back room to dress. She had blushed only for a moment when she found one of the bags contained panties and bras and knew that Kael had to have picked them out or a lady in the store did. She changed into the new clothes which consisted of a semi sheer black blouse and new sleek black jeans, which she paired with the new black pointed leather flats now in her possession. She looked cultured and mature... not anything like her grungy look she generally sported.
She re-emerged from the back, dressed and ready to start plotting with the others. Currently Gaius and the two Neu Brothers were debating how they were going to accumulate information.
“Is there a local bar or casino your type goes to?” Eris butt in, dropping into the sofa to sit beside Dahlia.
“I know you called yourself a functioning Alcoholic, but going to a bar is really not a good idea,” Gaius frowned at her. Eris only rolled her eyes and crossed her arms and her legs before staring the three men down.
“I ask again. Is there a Lore Bar where your kind likes to frequent? If they have regulars someone is bound to know something or someone.”
“And you know this how?” Cornelius asked.
Eris shrugged. “I’m a bartender. Want to know the juicy gossip in that area? Go where the locals go.”
“There is... one place...” Gaius said and glanced to Kael. For a moment it seemed he might be asking permission to continue, but this was Gaius and he did not ask for permission from anyone for anything.
“Then let’s go,” Eris said trying to light a fire in some of their pants. Gaius cringed and shook his head.
“Not that simple... we are in the city of Angels...” He could see Kael getting bristly at the realization, but it seemed Eris had a point and they had few to no options. “There’s one club, it’s owned by this districts Magister, and he’s an Angel, I doubt we will be welcomed...”
It was odd to Dahlia that most demons didn’t work in the way she was used to. From the sounds of it demons were all just fabulously wealthy. Money makes more money after all. Either way, she thought it must be nice to have a choice on whether or not you work. When it was a necessity it really limited your options. Survival comes before dreams, but that didn’t stop everyone, and certainly not her or Eris. Gaius went on to talk about the most likely culprits behind the attacks they had experienced. The Malumortis name got tossed around again. This time there were a few more details, but still not enough to tell her anything beyond what they wanted. That probably wasn’t a good sign, however it didn’t seem to be worrying the man seated at the computer any. In turn, Dahlia wouldn’t dwell on it either.
The dark eyed woman was moderately surprised when Gaius called back to continue chatting with her, and doubly so that he seemed to be interested in her wellbeing and plans for the future. [b “I am doing alright. It all hit me last night, so I’ve processed the brunt of it. But I’m kind of surprised how little my perspective on things has changed. It’s probably because I’ve been exposed to so little of what is going on.”] Let’s face it, all she’d seen is a bunch of humanoid demons and the like. They all seemed like regular people to her, save a few choice features. It wasn’t like she had run face to face with a dragon or a unicorn. Now that might be hard to swallow.
Honestly Dahlia hadn’t put much thought into anything passed getting home safe. Beyond that was a mystery to her as well, but here was a chance to think about it. Shifting on the cushion, she brought her arms up to rest her chin on as she thought. [b “Everyone we’ve met so far has been hostile to some extent.”] Even Kael and Gaius had attacked Eris upon first meeting, even if their intentions had been good she was still sour about it. [b “That makes it kind of hard to want to stick around. I don’t think I would look back once we got home… but Eris isn’t like me, she’s a thrill seeker.”] And this was one hell of an adrenaline rush. Chances were good that her friend would wander back to this side soon enough, inevitably it would bring Dahlia back too. But this was all speculation. [b “And it will be a shame not getting to photograph anything from your side. I bet there are plenty of fantastical sights and people that would be worth seeing and sharing. Even if humans think it’s photo-shopped they’ll get a kick out of it.”] She chuckled under her breath at the thought. Especially since she now knew it was Gaius’ job to stop that sort of thing.
Kael had been to this particular coven’s den a handful of times. The last being not so pleasant. Not due to anything on his part, but because there was some sort of squabbling within the clan itself. While witches usually stayed neutral within demon and human matters, they would wreak hell on one another. It just so happened his last visit had coincided with one of those incidents. Standing at the entrance he hoped it would have better luck this time, as haggling was not an option when these ladies were in a foul mood.
Stepping in, he looked around. The front end had been rearranged; apparently they were going with the guise of an antique shop these days. Kael kind of missed the smell of bread from the bakery they used to have as a cover up, even if this was more fitting. Walking around he kept an eye out for any signs to follow. It didn’t take long to see the symbol etched above the doorway where a ‘authorized personnel only’ sign hanged. Not hesitating he walked straight back. There he was met with an unfamiliar face. The young woman had a bored expression on her face, but it soon turned to one of skepticism when he entered the room. More likely than not, mortal patrons wandered in back blatantly ignoring the sign more often than the supernatural popped in.
Kael was quick to get to the point. [b “Hello, I am looking to get my hands on some glamor enchantments. Think you can help me out?”]
Immediately the girl’s face lit up as though she had been waiting a century for someone to ask just that. Without a word she, motioned for him to come closer. Following direction he came up to the counter. He chose then to be more specific in what he was looking for. [b “I need something to mask the human presence and replace it, preferably reusable. There is no telling how long till the situation will change.”] Kael kept finer details to himself, but tried to maintain a friendly atmosphere.
The witch nodded, her striking purple hair fluttering around her face in a short bob. His eyes followed her hand as it opened a shallow drawer toward the top of the counter. In it was an assortment of jewelry. Twirling her hand about she prompted him to take his pick.
The demon had to think a moment; in that time he had another idea. [b “Actually, I think I am going to need a couple other’s as well. Some that will do the opposite.”] Seeing as he had been spending more time amongst mortals he and Gaius might need to suit up as well. [b “Doesn’t have to be as thorough, but it’d be nice if it protected from the light and helped to blend in a bit better.”]
With that out, he made four selections. Each piece different, as groups with matching bobbles always attracted suspicion. There was an earing, a bangle, a ring, and a necklace. The last a thin choker, he thought it would suit Eris and that was of course the point of him taking all this time to pick these out.
Across the counter, the witch waved her finger. A black pen jumped up, dancing above a pad of paper jotting her price for him to see. The number was reasonable. Between what Gaius had given him, and what he had himself, Kael could manage it. That being the case, he didn’t bother trying to bring her down. Time was just as good as money right now. Nodding, he pulled out the coins. Setting them on the glass top, he called for her to proceed.
The process took only a few minutes per trinket and it was rather pretty. Each glowing red hot before returning to normal. When it was all said and done thanked the girl and took his leave with the charms in his pocket save the earring. On the way out he took the black stud earring and pushed it through his left ear. While they had been pierced some time ago, his ears appeared to have mostly closed up. Still, the pain was insignificant.
Within seconds his more demonic features seemed to fade away. His red eyes and the green tint when the light hit his hair both disappeared. They were replaced with a dull amber and black. In all honesty, he didn’t feel any different, at least not until he got outside. The sun, while somewhat annoying, felt harmless. This would definitely make his shopping trip easier.
Looking over the list Eris and Dahlia drew up, Kael was able to get almost everything with ease. Picking their clothes hung him up a little bit. But using a general rule of black for Eris and warm for Dahlia he was pretty sure he did alright. Worse come to worst they could come pick out their own outfits later. And with that his excursion was over.
Coming through the front door, Kael had bags hanging from both arms. Walking straight passed the foyer he entered the living area and unloaded everything onto the coffee table. This seemed to be the place to hang out, as that is where everyone was. [b “I got everything on the list, hopefully that will do it for a while.”]
Now that his hands were free, Kael pulled the stud from his ear and returned to his natural form. Taking the other glamor items from his pocket, he tossed the ring at Gaius. [b “Here, just in case we have to go out in the day again… And these are for you two.”] He handed the bracelet and necklace to Dahlia and Eris respectively. [b “Should just be a basic guise, that way if we end up taking you anywhere you will fit in.”] The words fell out of his mouth as he fell back into a chair. He was exhausted. Now that he had finally sat down the full weight of the magic he had spent caught up to him. Even with that, this was the first time he felt like he could relax in the last twenty-four hours. Something about being in a place so closely associated with home really helped.
Smiling at Kael as he came in, Dahlia was happy at the prospect of finally changing her clothes. But first she was handed some sort of bangle. Examining it carefully, it looked as though it was a regular old piece of jewelry, but no doubt there was more to it. The petite woman didn’t put it on she didn’t feel the need to, but she would show her gratitude. [b “Thank you.”]
“This is good news! I know that Eris can be a little difficult for some people to deal with, but I think you two will get along just fine when you get to know one another.”
Gaius arched a brow at that comment, not really sure if he believed that. He felt there would always be a tension between them, the chit was quick and while she hadn’t openly said anything; she was aware of Gaius’ lingering eyes.
“You are very optimistic,” He murmured turning his back on her and focusing on the computer screen. He was scrolling through boards and threads trying to find a hint at what Ursula was up to and who she was working for. It was a Paranormal members only website, that allowed all the members of lore to communicate to one another via the internet. He didn’t find anything on Ursula, but he did find an article about Atlas’ death. Before he could begin to read it, he heard Dahlia strike up conversation again. For a fleeting moment, his eyes flashed over to the safe house door, wondering when Kael would return. Gaius didn’t trust himself alone with the delicate human... he also didn’t want to leave her presence either. It was quite the conundrum.
She asked him what he did for a living, assuming demons lived similarly to humans. She wasn’t entirely wrong, but she wasn’t correct either. Steeling himself and his primal urges to sit down right beside her and take in her scent, he swiveled his seat around to face her. Hands folded tightly in his lap and thought of the best way to explain it to her.
“Well, I don’t technically have a job. Not many of us actually work, there’s really no pay in it. Most of us accumulate our wealth through investments. Those that do work are generally mercenaries, or work for the government. We do have to maintain our own laws and regulations to follow to maintain our anonymity from humans. However, as you noticed back at the hotel, Humans aren’t entirely forbidden. We have many allies who are humans.” He realized he hadn’t exactly answered her question and wondered how best to answer it. He did technically work, and while the pay wasn’t worth it, the reward of keeping the world in one piece and being able to travel it was.
“Technically you could say, Kael and I are government Agents. Sort of like CIA or M6. We make sure that the Lore Population remains a secret, and take out any that might threaten our way of life, we also deal with other threats from terrorist like organizations... like the one you and your friend have found yourself wrapped up with. We’re not certain though,” He quickly added. “We know that Hades’ daughter has connections to an underground organization that’s networking across the world. They’re old school, global damnation, animal sacrifices, virgin brides, mortals to eat... They want to reclaim the dark ages, basically,” he said with a wave of his hand.
He tried to make it sound like it wasn’t a big deal what the Malumortis wanted to achieve. They were in reality, a major threat... but he wasn’t about to let Dahlia know that.
“They’ve pulled stunts in the past, but have never been able to gain ground.” This time was different though, the malcontents were building up to something big, and Gaius wasn’t sure he wanted to find out what it was. Word about the shift in power of the Ruling Elite was already making headlines on the forums, but he was looking for conspiracy thoughts. They were usually closer to the truth than the reported ‘truth’.
Finally he looked over at her, his golden gaze somber and almost sad. He took in the sight of her, dark hair falling in waves, and intuitive eyes pinned on him. She seemed almost expectant for more, but Gaius had no more to tell. Perhaps Kael would be able to elaborate better than him. Gaius also feared how Dahlia would react if she knew just how dangerous the Malumortis truly was, so he thought it might be best to see how she was doing. Also, because he genuinely cared and wanted to know, this way he could find a way to make her more comfortable.
“What about you? How are you handling all this? I know it’s got to be rather... life changing,” He commented. “So it begs the question, do you believe you’ll be able to return to life as normal? Knowing what you know and what you’re soon to know about our world? Or do you think you might stay and become a part of it?”
Looking over the pair of mortals, their arrival in Los Angeles went about how he expected. Perhaps even a little better. Eris apologized, but Kael didn’t particularly mind. [b “Don’t worry about it. I’ll handle it in a bit.”] Then she was quickly off to Dahlia who appeared to still be having a rough go of it. When he was certain everyone was well enough to move, he suggested they relocate. [b “Let’s get somewhere more comfortable.”] This place was an exact replica of the last, so the room they entered in was rather unwelcoming. A better atmosphere would do wonders for an ailing person.
Taking up the lead, he corralled everyone to the living area. Along the way he described what was behind each of the doors. It was mainly an array of bedrooms, but it came him a chance to let everyone know where they would be staying. He and his brother would take the parents’ room, Gaius in Cornelius’, and the girls in his own. There really weren’t any personal touches to the spaces, but he would have to move some clothes and things so that everyone had room for their things. At least that is what he thought. Cornelius peeled off to take care of it instead. They must have been on the same page this once.
There was no time to get comfortable, before Gaius was tossing some coins his way. He wanted him to get in touch with the witches. [b “No problem… I just hope they are in a good mood today.”] The last time he had been in to visit some drama was going on in the coven. With any luck that would have passed by now, it had been a hundred years after all. But there was no saying until he actually got there.
Eris made no attempt to hide her surprise to find that witches were an actual thing. By now, he would have thought that she would have grown numb to it, but apparently not. Her astonishment every little thing was cute. Kael kept that fact to himself though. He doubted she would appreciate it.
With that exchange out of the way, he disappeared to the back for a bit to get things cleaned up. It was a simple task. Then he gathered up the list he had asked the mortals to make. Looking it over, it seemed simple enough. Donning the cap and glasses again, he was out of there.
Dahlia had taken up the couch. Lying there with her arms covering her face, her stomach was still upset. By this point she was regretting not throwing up. This was definitely one of those situations where it was better if you did, but it was too late now. Sighing, she listened as Eris inquired as to where she could get a cigarette. It quickly dissolved into her friend kicking up a fuss about smoking near Dahlia who couldn’t care less. But she let her do as she pleased, waving the two off as they excused themselves. She just hoped they didn’t kill each other without someone to mediate between them.
There was silence while the others were away. Dahlia pondered how well insulated these walls must have been if she couldn’t hear them or Cornelius down the hall. It was very different from their apartment where you could hear every creak on the flat level. Once again she found the quiet unsettling. It took her mind off the gross feeling in her gut, but she wasn’t sure which was worse between the two.
As her nausea was beginning to settle to a tolerable level, the two returned from out in the hall. Neither looked damage, so they must have avoided a death battle. That was good. She didn’t see much of Eris as she went straight to be restroom, but Gaius stuck around. Dahlia was glad to have the sound of his typing to fill the void. Even if it wasn’t much, it was something. Relaxing significantly, the sound of his voice nearly startled her when he spoke. Sitting up, she had to peak over the back of the couch to see him, although he wasn’t looking back.
The comment was double edged. She was excited to hear they would make an attempt to get along for the duration of their time together, however she had some issues with the wording of the last bit. The onyx-eyed woman had the sneaking suspicion Eris had pulled Gaius into some nonsense. She had the tendency to put Dahlia first when it came to dangerous situations. This was likely the culprit to the wariness the petite woman was feeling. Planning to keep an eye out for any of her friend’s risky behavior, she set the feeling aside for the moment. It wasn’t good to look a gift horse in the mouth, so she would take some time to celebrate the good news as well.
[b “This is good news!”] She perked up a bit as she talked. [b ”I know that Eris can be a little difficult for some people to deal with, but I think you two will get along just fine when you get to know one another.”] Sure she said this, but Dahlia didn’t really know much about the wrath demon either. It was a reckless sort of optimism. And besides, half the battle was Eris also putting in effort and if it was mutual agreement that should not be a problem. After all, the chaotic woman wasn’t one to go back on her promises. At least in Dahlia’s experience. So she was confident it would be OK now.
Being in a better mood and having something to distract her from her sour stomach helped a lot, so Dahlia wasn’t keen on letting the conversation drop. The man across the room seemed rather distant, but she decided to pursue the company anyway. It was infinitely better than going back to sitting in silence. [b “So, what do you do, like for a living? I mean I assume Demon society is enough like our own in that way….”] It had seemed like they were on some sort of mission by how he and Kael were talking about tracking down the medallion. She couldn’t think of any other reason they would assault and then stalk a couple of humans. Well, besides them being complete and utter assholes, but that didn’t seem to be the case. Either way she was curious to learn more about him and the world he was from.
Gaius shut the door to the washroom maybe a bit too harshly. He cursed himself, he really had to get his temper under control. Stressful situations were never good for a Wrath Demon. He didn’t like Mortals, the fragile fickle things that they were, but it was made worse by Eris’ arrogance. He had to wonder if she was the Goddess herself… she sure had the mouth to match the woman. Eris had been gone for nearly a millennia, so even Gaius knew that was impossible, but it did not retract from his desire to rip her tongue out, or at least use magic to seal her lips shut.
He took several deep breaths, his hands gripping the corners of the sink in a crushing grip that the marble began to crack under his hands. He tried to think calming thoughts, like how nice it was going to be to rip Ursula’s heart out and crush it in his hand. He thought about the feeling of blood under his blackened nails, the Dark Ages, Homemade Demon Ale, virgin and animal sacrifices, and feral kittens. Usually angry hissing black kittens always did it for Gaius, but he took it one step further and pictured Dahlia. He imagined her stroking his back and whispering calm things in his ear the way he’d seen her do with Eris. The effect was instantaneous. He felt the tension in his shoulders abate, and when he looked back in the mirror, his eyes were gleaming gold for an entirely different reason. There was no more denying it. Dahlia was his Female Fatal.
What a curse that Gaius’ fated female would be a mortal, as fragile and delicate as the flower she was so aptly named after. He reminded himself not to bother with it. The situation at hand was too dangerous for him to indulge in flights of fancy. Besides, and not to be cliche, but how could a Beauty like her ever love a Beast like him? He knew he was a monster. He’d done things… things he didn’t regret but knew would turn any Mortal’s stomach… unless they were a sadistic psychopath. He couldn’t let himself get distracted, and he couldn’t allow the loud mouthed Mortal, Eris to get under his skin. He did commend himself for having not killed her yet, and he felt he was redefining what Control meant for a Sin Demon like himself. There were seven of his kind, all of them prone to their sins, but then again he knew a Lust Demon that did just fine with managing her need for sex and desire. Hell, he knew a Glutton Demon that had started a diet. If that slob could cut back on his primal urges then, fuck it! So could Gaius!
With renewed determination Gaius exited the washroom to see the rest of them standing around and waiting for him. While Gaius might not have looked his usual cool and collected self, he was calm enough for them to continue, and his eyes had ceased their threatening glow. He followed the group down a dimly lit hall, unimpressed with all he saw, not unlike the two women ahead of him. He was used to safe houses and waylays, born of ancient and old magic he was in tune to the magic around him even as Kael instructed the women what to do and what would be happening.
They were hesitant, which was to be expected. Gaius stepped up bored enough with it all, and watched as Dahlia clung to Eris. The mortal looked nervous and afraid, and he didn’t blame her. Either of them, and though Eris did not show any fear, he knew it brimmed under that false facade. Kael warned them that teleportation could be hell on the body and while Gaius could teleport, he couldn’t go very far. Maybe across a city, but definitely not across a continent. Seeing the stress in Dahlia’s eyes as the runic lights began to glow with power he reached out to brush her arm.
“Don’t be afraid, it’s all going to be alright,” he told her, right before the pad swallowed them up and spit them back out.
ERIS felt her insides twisting and turning as she felt she was being picked apart molecule by molecule and then put back together the same way. It was pure darkness and flashing lights, a whirl of nothingness, like being slingshot into the void of space at faster than light speeds before an abrupt stop. Dahlia fell down beside her, even though Eris tried to keep her up, a feat not even Eris was able to manage. Dahlia looked sick and ready to vomit, but was keeping it together far better than Eris was. She stumbled off the pad, her equilibrium off and fell face first into the floor. Groaning and shivering, Eris wasn’t able to keep the contents of her stomach down the way Dahlia had managed to do. She managed to pick herself up enough to vomit on the floor. She didn’t have much in her stomach, but the coffee she drank certainly made for an interesting color. She heaved a breath sitting back and glanced sheepishly at Kael.
“Sorry,” She murmured. “You uhhh, weren’t joking.” She then looked over to Dahlia and saw she was still holding it together, and crawled over towards her. “Are you okay?” She asked and once Dahlia assured her that she was, Eris helped her to her feet. They were both shaky to stand, but managed with the support of one another, like all things they would get through this together.
They were led back into the living space of the safe house and Eris helped Dahlia to a sofa to sit down and catch her bearings, then she sat down beside her. Eris’ stomach was still turning and upset and so she leaned back in the seat and closed her eyes, brows furrowed in discomfort.
“You ladies handled that rather well,” Gaius commented as he shrugged out of his jacket and hung it from a peg on the wall. He turned towards Kael next, and reached into his pocket and offered up what looked like several gold coins -not unlike the medallion Eris had in her pocket. “Hey, can you do me a solid while you’re out? If you can’t, no big deal.” Gaius handed the gold to Kael. “There’s a Witches Coven here. See if you can’t purchase a couple of glamour spells to hide our mortals from prying eyes should the need for them to go in public arise.” Gaius glanced back at the two women and noticed Eris was now watching him with suspicion.
“Witches?” Eris asked. “Does this madness ever end?”
Gaius surprisingly shrugged, perhaps if he didn’t goad Eris as much as she did him it might endear him to Dahlia. “Perhaps not for you, but witches are generally neutral. They sell their magic to whoever can pay the price. Good, evil, it doesn’t matter to them. Magic is magic, and it’s all grey for them.”
“So, like mercenaries?” Eris asked. Gaius blinked, caught off guard by that, as if he’d never thought of it that way and turned to look at Eris somewhat impressed.
“Actually, yes. That would be a good comparison of them.” He turned from the women to Kael and let him know he’d be staying to keep an eye on the women while Kael went and got them clothes and a few other essentials.
Eris watched the men closely, and when Kael left she watched Gaius move towards a bookshelf to find something to pass the time with. As much as she didn’t want to leave Gaius alone with Dahlia, Eris desperately wanted a cigarette.
“Anywhere around here a girl can grab a smoke?” Gaius reached into his pocket, while he continued to browse the books and pulled a cigarette from his own pouch and handed it back to her. “In here?” Eris asked. She had seen Gaius smoke in his own place at the hotel, but she wasn’t about to smoke in someone else’s space. He turned and gave her a look, telling her he wasn’t about to let her out of his sight. With a groan, Eris turned it down and wasn’t going to smoke a cigarette next to Dahlia. Eris could destroy her own lungs, but she wasn’t going to do it to Dahlia. “I’m not smoking in the same room Dahlia is in,” She stated firmly. That made Gaius pause and he put the cigarette back in his pouch.
“Fair point,” he turned to Dahlia. “My apologies, if you don’t mind staying here for a moment.” Gaius gave a wave of his hand as he headed towards the door and, Eris jumped up to follow him out the door and into the tunnel.
In the darkness of the tunnel, Gaius’ eyes glowed like a cats, and he raised a cigarette, but Eris stopped him and instead held up a joint. “Peace offering?” She suggested. Gaius took the joint and sniffed it and slowly grinned.
“It smells like you have good taste,”
“I do,” She quipped and snatched it back before lighting it up, and handed it to Gaius. “So what’s your deal?” she asked watching Gaius take a drag.
“What do you mean?”
“You’re a demon right? What sort of demon are you?”
“The dangerous kind,” Gaius warned handing it back. Eris looked unconvinced and he rolled his eyes. “I a Deadly Sin. I am Wrath.” That caused Eris to snort.
“Sure you’re not Pride?” Gaius actually flashed a grin as they continued to pass the joint back and forth.
“Oh, you don’t want to meet a Pride. You think Donald Trump is the worlds biggest egomaniac-”
“Dude, yes!” Eris gasped. The Devil’s lettuce was doing its job. Gaius chuckled darkly.
“He can’t hold a candle to a true Demon of Pride. You won’t find them here on Earth. They think they’re too good to mingle among mortals.”
“They’re loss, humans are entertaining. Ever people watch?”
“I try to make it a point to not get involved or to close to mortals…” Eris smirked from her place and crossed her arms even as she took a drag off the joint.
“So what’s your excuse for being so kind to Dahlia?” Gaius choked on his smoke and began to cough. “I might be a mortal, but I’m not stupid. Something is up. You cater to her, and you spit at me.”
“She’s nicer than you are… and her heart is pure. You’re….” Eris arched a brow at him, almost challenging. “I don’t know what you are… but I do know you’re dangerous.” He handed her the end of the joint and Eris put it out before saving the last bit for later
“I can’t tell if that’s a compliment or not… but so far I think it’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.”
“You’re welcome?” Gaius tried and lit up a cigarette and then offered his lighter to Eris to light up her own.
“Look, I don’t trust you, but I’m willing to work with you and your friend. Dahlia is important to me, she’s the only person who’s ever cared about me. I know things are probably going to get even more dangerous. If it gets too dangerous… protect Dahlia.”
“What about you?”
“Doesn’t matter. She’s all that matters to me. You and your friend will keep her safe. This is all my fault, and I don’t want her getting hurt further than she already has.” Eris demanded, voice filled with passion. Gaius could see the truth in Eris’ eyes, and nodded. They both wanted the same thing… for Dahlia to be kept safe.
They returned back to the living space after their smoke break and Eris made a B-line for the bathroom so she could take a hot shower and rinse the grime of the other night off. Gaius sat down at a computer console and began to look through the security cameras, in an attempt to keep himself busy and away from Dahlia. However, there was no avoiding her, not when her scent filled the room, and he could hear her heart beating. “You’ll be pleased to know,” he began, his voice distracted and his eyes still on the computer as he talked to Dahlia. “Your friend and I have made a truce. We could see our arguing was causing you stress. We’ve both agreed to work together to make sure you make it home.”
Watching Cornelius get one hundred and ten percent shut down by Eris was about the best thing Kael had witnessed in his entire life. He even had to cover a smile when his brother looked back to him. But the action didn’t hide much, especially not from Cornelius’ keen eyes. The older male had been expecting something to this capacity when he heard his brother was dragging around a couple of mortals with him. So in the end it didn’t really matter.
Eris was cementing herself a place in his heart. The fondness was regrettable, but not because she was human. To him it was a matter of bad timing. With the situation being what it was. Any attempting to woo her would likely fall flat. Both because she was super on guard to everything the demons were doing, and it would make him feel like he was preying on someone who was stuck with no other options. Not exactly the type of character he wanted to peg himself as. For the time being he would focus on keeping everyone alive and maybe afterward he would stand a chance. If he was lucky.
When Cornelius was finished neither of the girls seemed to be particularly enamored with him, which was a good. There was no telling how Gaius would have reacted if Dahlia had shown interest in his brother. Although the situation still deteriorated when Eris and Gaius started to interact with one another. Getting anything done with those two together was going to be a challenge. Kael wasn’t looking forward to it, especially now that they would have to wait for Gaius to calm down before they went to LA.
Cornelius was surprised when Gaius pulled him into the fray. But he was more surprised at Eris’ moxie. He kept quiet. There wasn’t a reason for him to pick a side, and that seemed to be the same sentiment that the others were taking. Both Kael and the other human were silent as the more fiery pair went back and forth. Although Kael seemed to be growing irritated in his silence.
As for Dahlia she was anxious. Their dependency on these men was far too great for this. Not to mention the subject matter was something that worried her daily. One day Eris was going to get herself into trouble with that mouth, regardless of whether or not what she said was warranted. However, the incident passed quickly as the wrath demon removed himself from the situation. With him gone, she was free to turn to her friend with a disapproving expression. As Eris quickly worked to half-heartedly sooth her friend’s frustrations, the shorter woman accepted it with a sigh. After all, Eris hadn’t been the one to start the fight. But that left her painfully aware of the disparity between how Gaius treated the two of them. For the time being she would chalk it up to their strong personalities clashing. She didn’t have the energy to think about it any further than that.
Pushing up his glasses, Kael turned to Eris in order to answer her question. [b “Well, the plan was originally to go straight to Los Angles then make a run to get some things for the two of you. But now we have to wait for Gaius to chill before we move.”] The red-eyed man wasn’t about to be the one to push Gaius’ buttons any further. [b “Until then you could probably make a list of the things you want. Once we get over there and it is dark, I can go and grab it all.”] There was a chance they would want to go as well, but he hoped they would just let it go. Even if it is safer across the country there was still a chance they could run into problems. And if that happened it would be easier to move without hauling the women along.
Just as Kael was about to ask them to be as specific as possible, Cornelius butted in. [b “You really expect them to let [I you] pick out their clothes?”]
Staring at the other man exacerbated, Kael almost didn’t respond, but the expression on his brother’s face got under his skin. [b “What’s so bad about that?”]
To that it seemed that Cornelius had nothing to say, he just looked his younger sibling up and down before dropping it. Kael really wanted to smack him upside the head. He was so anal about the stupidest things.
Despite all the stress that had led up to that moment, Kael was finally able to relax. Having real security measures around helped see to that. Flopping on the couch, he took in the familiar layout. The place was set up like an apartment. It was spacious, at least more so than the hotel suit they had been in. All the safe houses were configured the same. So the next place would be identical to this one. And even though they would have traveled thousands of miles, it would feel as though they hadn’t gone anywhere.
Time passed relatively quickly there until Gaius emerged once again. With that Kael stood from his position on the couch. [b “Now that everyone is present, we can move on.”] With his words he motioned for everyone to follow him.
Walking down the hall, the carpet seemed to muffle everything. It was a great contrast to the hallway outside where everything reverberated. The dark haired demon corralled everyone into the final room. Flipping the lights on, the incandescent illumination fell on barren décor. Etched into the floor was an intricate series of circles. Archaic writing twisted around the shapes, seeming to pull them all together. This was how Cornelius had entered. The faint impression of ancient magic clung to the air.
[b “Everyone on the sigil.”] The mortals seemed hesitant so, Kael made sure to explain as he went along. [b “We are going to be traveling by lay line. Cornelius and I will activate it and we will be in LA nearly instantly. It’s old but reliable magic.”] Getting in position he signaled for his brother to wait. [b “Teleportation can be rough on the body. There is a chance you two will feel sick after this, but it won’t be anything too serious.”] Kael could remember his first time doing this; his stomach was upset for a few hours. His guess was it would be worse for humans, but there was no saying for certain. [b “Alright, here we go.”]
Kneeling down, the pair dragged their claws across their palms. The slow oozing blood was quickly pressed to the markings below. First the symbols began to glow, and then they were set in motion. Dancing about the floor the bright red glowing of the seal grew more and more intense until it was blinding white. Then there was darkness.
Gripping her arm tightly, Dahlia clung to Eris. No amount of explaining would do away with the fear she felt. Instead she would have to grin and bear it alongside her friend. A lot happened after they activated the seal, but there was hardly enough time to take it in. Not to mention her eyes were glued shut once the symbols started jumping about. It was pitch black up until someone hit the light switch. Dahlia wasn’t entirely sure who turned it on, because just as she went to check, it hit her. An intense wave of vertigo, almost like she just stepped off a record-breaking inversion coaster. The prickling sensation converged at her stomach. Falling to her knees she was trying desperately to hold down her breakfast. A feat she barely managed.
With nothing more to do, and an understanding that even if Eris and Dahlia couldn’t get their story out through their outlets, at least it might help Kael and Gaius’ world reclaim some semblance of sanity. Eris didn’t argue with Kael or Gaius about the possibilities, she was too busy watching Gaius more than graciously relinquish his coat for Dahlia. At her request he took it from her hands and held it up for her to wear.
“I should think you may borrow it as many times as you like. Why don’t you keep this until we can find you some new clothes?” He offered draping it over her shoulders and offering her a genteel grin. Kael made mention that Central Park was their goal for the time being, and Gaius opened the door for them to leave.
Eris exited the room after Kael and before Dahlia and Gaius, who took up the rear. She didn’t doubt for a moment that there wasn’t danger lurking around the corner. Kael had said it best: Humans generally didn’t leave this place once they entered. Which begged the question as to how the woman at the front desk survived this place. They didn’t make it to the stairwell when Eris saw a shadow move out of the corner of her eye. She jumped back, hand reaching to the waistband of her pants for her gun to stop whoever was reaching for her, when surprisingly Kael intervened. Her heart was pounding in her chest, and her eyes were wild with shock. The Vampire had reached for her, was still salivating at the mouth for her blood when Kael began to draw blood himself and issued a stern warning.
[b “If I ever so much as see you again, you’re dead. Got it?”] The Vampire got it, alright, and he took off as fast as he could the moment Kael let him go. Eris was able to gently sigh, letting go of some of the tension that had accumulated in her body. She looked to Dahlia who she was pleased to see was guarded protectively by Gaius. He had drawn her into his chest firmly with one arm around her and the other had drawn a silver dagger. ERis could only wonder where that had come from.
[b “Are you okay?”] The question caught her off guard and she looked at Kael uncertain, but managed a nod of her head.
“Yeah, I’m good.”
Gaius had his own concerns when the Vampire showed himself, and had quickly shielded Dahlia against his chest and was ready to stake the bastard if it came near her. His wrath had begun to uncoil dangerously, hungry to inflict damage to whoever dared to threaten his treasure. Pleased that Dahlia was well, and that Kael was quick to react, Gaius was able to relax somewhat, but he wouldn’t be able to relax until they made it to the safe house. From there it was underground to the subway, which left for a mostly uneventful leg of their trip. There was one rather desolate homeless man who had reached towards Dahlia asking for change. Gaius had to restrain himself from kicking the man back, but surprisingly, Dahlia’s compassion for the man touched him. Between Dahlia and Eris, they dug into their pockets and gave the man a few crumpled dollars. Everything they had left, and in return he blessed them and thanked them. Eris surprisingly shook his hand and gave the man a firm squeeze to his shoulder and told him: “Stay warm, brother.” Gaius found that interesting as he did not peg Eris as the compassionate sort, unless it had to do with Dahlia, but it appeared the two of them were more complex than what he was seeing on the surface.
The winter sun was bright and intense as it beamed down, that it was hard to believe that it was supposed to snow, or that it was only 30 degrees. The bright sun allowed for plenty of dark shadows to be cast and sure enough a figure was hiding in one, and Kael had seen it too. Together they kept their eyes open and made quick work to enter an old stone office building. Clearly built just before the Great Depression, like most things Loreans used. The Buildings were generally condemned and outdated, which made for a good cover as Mortals never used the buildings. Kael led the way, while Gaius ensured no one followed from behind and made sure every door they passed through was locked when he closed it.
“Just where are we going?” Eris eventually asked as they entered into a pitch black stairwell.
“Patience,” Gaius answered simply as the heavy door slammed shut behind him and shrouded them in darkness. “Ms. Dahlia,” He murmured taking her hand gently in his own. It was so small in comparison to his own, not including his claws. “Allow me to help you,” He said and helped her navigate the dark hall just as Kael helped Eris, who begrudgingly accepted his help.
From there it was up to Kael to get them through the security protocols, but when the second door began to open on its own, Gaius tensed and Kael stepped froward away from Eris, but Gaius was there to cull her back to safety with him, so Kael could confront whoever had broken into their safe house. Except it was no invader, it was: “Cornelius?” Gaius questioned softly, but at Eris and Dahlia’s confused look, he simply ushered them into the safety of the hideout while Kael and the newcomer bickered about family and logistics.
[b “Gaius.”] the man greeted. Gaius simply gave a nod of his head, and his general cold stare. He then turned his attention to Eris and Dahlia and apologized with a scripted statement, which Eris clearly wasn’t buying.
“That’s nice, so who are you?” Eris asked coldly and without care.
[b “I am Cornelius Neu, Kael’s older brother. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” He reached for her hand and Eris reach out with an intent to shake his hand, but he turned her wrist and kissed her knuckles, which caused Eris to arch a brow and wrinkle her nose.
“Ummm okay,” he winked at her then and Eris’ face twisted once more into grossed out confusion, and she subtly wiped her hand off on her pants. Gaius found it rather amusing that Eris was completely immune to Cornelius’ charm and manners. However, when he reached for Dahlia’s hand and kissed it, and she introduced herself, he felt himself take a steady breath, and his eyes gleamed dangerously in warning to Cornelius. The two women were oblivious to the subtle irritation in Gaius, but Cornelius saw it, which meant he was bound to figure out what Kael had not yet figured out himself, and what Gaius was refusing to let happen…
“Anyway,” Eris began and motioned towards her friend. “This is Dahlia, and I’m Eris. You the guy I’m supposed to talk to about getting us out of this mess?”
“Wouldn't be a mess if you’d just handed over the Medallion in the first place,” Gaius stated from behind her. Eris looked ready to murder him, but instead gave him a scathing look.
“Well excuse me for not allowing myself to be robbed at 3 in the morning in a back alleyway by two random creeps,” She spat back. Gaius curled his lip in irritation but instead of snapping back at her he looked at Cornelius. It seemed Eris was bouncing back to her same irritating self.
“As you can see this Mortal doesn’t have an air of caution or care when dealing with our kind, and is rather mouthy.”
“I don’t care for thieving scum is more like it,”
“You stole the Medallion first!”
“Um, no. Remember? That little shit stole it from Hade’s kid first? We just happened to find where he hid it, you tried to steal it,” she corrected with an impish grin. Gaius wanted the throttle her, it was clear those two were not likely to get along anytime soon.
“Your mouth is going to seriously-“
“What? Get me hurt?” Eris challenged back and scoffed. “Tell my something I don’t already know.”
“Are you crazy or something?” Gaius asked incredulously.
“I prefer the term Mentally Unstable.” At her comment Gaius looked to Cornelius.
“I give you the most irritating Mortal you will ever meet,” He spat and stepped away from them to collect his temper. “Must have a fucking death wish…” He growled storming past Kael and his brother to find a back room and steal a moment of privacy to collect himself.
Eris watched him go with disdain, but it was Dahlia’s expression that had her stopping. Gaius’ attentions to Dahlia hadn’t gone unnoticed by the overprotective friend. She’d be damned if she let Gaius get too close to Dahlia and do something unforgivable. He was a demon, they both were and while they said they wouldn’t hurt them; Eris couldn’t shake the feeling they were in a lion’s den.
“Sorry,” She shrugged towards Dahlia, though it was clear she wasn’t entirely sorry. “He’s just too easy to get riled up,” she explained. “So what do we do now? Dahlia and I can’t really move anywhere until we get some clothes and toiletries and it’s not like we can go back home, even if I give you the medallion now.’ ‘Eris was still kicking herself for not giving it up now. Maybe then they wouldn’t be in this mess.
[b “Well, yeah. Humans who come in here generally don’t come back out…”] The way he said it didn’t sound like he was trying to alarm them, but Dalia felt that way all the same. Especially since these probably weren’t your average young adult novel vampires they were dealing with. These were the real dangerous deal. And she didn’t want anything to do with it.
The petite woman watched as her friend stomached the information along with her breakfast. Eris clearly wasn’t happy about this, but she ceded to it all the same. She even went as far to hand back the medallion they had been guarding. Dahlia wasn’t sure if this was a show of trust or if she was just that worn down, but she felt bad for her friend. She must have been at her wits end.
Eris’ comment about the story made Dahlia smile. She wasn’t sure if the play on words was intentional, but it was incredibly fitting for what they were going through. Now more than ever she was kicking herself for not having her camera. At least then they would have some semblance of proof, even if everyone tried to debunk it. Sighing, she knew she was going to regret not having it for the rest of her life. Even if that wasn’t very long.
Listening as Gaius and Eris went back and forth again, Kael was glad that this time it was somewhat civil. Although he was surprised that after all of this she was still planning to get a story out. If nothing else she was tenacious, but he seriously doubted they would get away with trying to market these happenings to humanity. They wouldn’t be believed, and if for some reason they were, there were plenty of officials dedicated to putting a stop to it. After millennia of keeping things under wraps, demons had gotten pretty good at making sure the general human public was ignorant to their existence. But it did get him thinking. [b “You know, you probably won’t be able to get this out on your side, but it might just be beneficial to document things for ours.”] At the moment, the demon populace was being fed lies. Uncovering that would create more unrest. With that came a demand for the truth that would put their enemy at a disadvantage.
Glad that a consensus had been reached, Kael clapped his hands together. [b “We can talk that possibility out later, for now we need to get the ball rolling.”] Looking toward the door he had no doubt that the vampire was still lurking about. So long as he hadn’t brought any friends they wouldn’t have an issue… probably.
[b “Grab anything you think we will need. We won’t be coming back.”] As he spoke, Kael replaced the ball cap on his head and hung the sunglasses from his shirt collar. He wouldn’t need them quite yet. Aside from those things and Eve everything he had at the hotel was expendable. The mortals hadn’t really brought much of anything, so they were good to go, it came down to Gaius who he didn’t expect to take long. He was efficient.
Dahlia wasn’t looking forward to going back outside. While leaving was the best option, it was also the dead of winter. It was freezing. Glancing back to the coat she had borrowed from Gaius before she wondered if he would be opposed to her using it again. [b “Um… Would you mind if I borrowed this one more time?”] She pointed to the black article.
Soon things were in order and all four of them were ready. Standing at the door, Kael took up the lead. [b “We are heading towards central park. Should anything separate us, we meet there before going forward.”] Looking across everyone’s faces to see they understood he nodded and opened the door.
The immediate hall was clear, so he moved without hesitation but his guard was sky high. Kael wanted to get this over with, but he made sure not to walk too fast. The girl’s had shorter legs and he didn’t want to wear them out in case they had to make a break for it. An occasion that came quicker than expected, as they rounded the corner the bloodsucker was indeed lying in wait. He sprung forward at Eris, but the snake demon was quicker by far. His crushing grip squeezed at the vamp’s forearm, holding it in place with fingers just dangling out of reach of the woman’s shoulder.
The red-eyed man’s other hand came up around the inferior creature’s throat, nails digging in. [b “You are a thousand years too early to take anything from me.”] His voice was low, the words almost a growl. Fear sparked in the light haired vampire’s eyes as he spouted something about neutral territory. Kael nearly laughed in his face. [b “That was out the window as soon as you made the first move.”] That caused the leech to backtrack significantly. He started apologizing and blubbering for his life. It was truly pathetic. Sighing, Kael dug his claws in a little deeper. Deep red blood flowed slowly from the indentations onto his fingers. [b “If I ever so much as see you again, you’re dead. Got it?”] That seemed to be enough for the frightened monster. Dropping him, he skittered off down the hall lightning fast. Kael was left shaking the gore from his fingertips. The blood of the undead always reeked.
Turning back to Eris he asked, [b “Are you okay?”] He knew the guy hadn’t physically touched her, but the encounter still might have shaken her up. Once he knew she was good to go, which was for some reason important to him, they carried on. There were no more encounters to be had in the hotel, not even Zenya at her desk.
Before breaking out into daylight, Kael exchanged glasses. The darker ones protected his eyes from the direct light of the sun, at least to some extent. One thing they didn’t help with was blending in. To be frank he and Gaius stuck out like a pair of sore thumbs. A combination of how tall they were with the fact that they were the only two in the entire state of New York wearing sunglasses in midwinter made sure of that.
That being said no one gave them more than a passing glance, everyone was too busy to care about people being strange. Of course this worked to their advantage. What Kael wasn’t looking forward to was the shuttle ride. Jumping across rooftops was too conspicuous for broad daylight, so they had to travel like mortals. The thought of being trapped in a tin can underground was not appealing when they might have people tailing them. Despite his worries it wasn’t until they got off the subway that he started to sense something was off. Keeping collected he looked about to notice a small, thin figure in the shadows. Falling back some he matched stride with Gaius.
[b “We’re being watched, looks like it is just a scout, but keep on your toes.”] Unless he moved on them, they would continue as planned. For now it didn’t matter if they followed them; they wouldn’t be able to trace them after the warp. Kael kept that in mind as they came up on the main street adjacent to the massive park. They came up on an office building. It wasn’t particularly tall, but it was a touch menacing. It was the sort of place you didn’t expect to see people coming in or out of on a daily basis. However, inside there wasn’t much of anything. It was vacant and looked as though it hadn’t been touched in years. Just as well, as it probably hadn’t.
Leading the small crowd to the door that led to the stairwell, Kael tested it, but it didn’t budge. Whether it was locked or broken, he didn’t know, but he kicked it with enough force to break it from the top hinge. Holding it open, he let everyone else pass. [b “We’re headed for the bottom floor.] With that he slammed the thing back in place. If anyone tried to open it after them, they would hear it.
Taking up the rear now, the dark haired man kept looking back over his shoulder as they descended two floors underground. There laid a set of metal double door, he signaled for them to push through to the hall beyond them. There were no more lights at that point. It was pitch black. He and Gaius could see but Kael was certain the human’s could not. Coming up next to Eris, he grabbed her hand and brought it to his sleeve. [b “Hold on to me so you don’t trip.”]
The corridor went on for ages, and placed them right beneath the park itself. When it came to an end, he found what they were looking for. A keypad on the wall, deftly he typed in a long string of numbers. When he was through, a heavy sound of machinery came form behind the wall. Shortly after it began sliding to the side. A bright light shone through the opening causing him to squint. Kael entered first and urged the others to follow.
As soon as they were all in the alcove, he pressed a button on the wall and the door began to close. Once they were sealed in it was time for the biometrics on the opposite wall, but before he could engage them the secondary door began to open on its own. There was someone inside. Kael wasn’t sure how they got there, but he was ready to rip someone’s throat out by the time the door was wide enough for him to fit through. Rushing in he went straight for the control panel inside. It wasn’t far. There he found someone he wasn’t expecting, and while he wasn’t a threat, Kael wasn’t particularly happy to see him either. [b “What in the hell are you doing here?”]
The dark chocolate brunette looked similar to Kael, the most notable feature being their matching red eyes. [b “Is that any way to greet family?”] The man sighed. [b “Mother was worried, so I came to help out. Besides that, did you really think you would be able to transport four people on your own?”]
Cornelius made sure to greet the others as they appeared. [b “Gaius.”] He spoke the name with a smile and nod; he didn’t bother giving his own name here as they had met before albeit only in passing. The older Neu brother worked under Atlas’ administration just like his father. However Cornelius had been set in charge of demon affairs in Europe instead of the main office. And while he generally dressed the part for such a job, he wore informal clothes at the time being. That being said, the outfit itself accompanied by his horn-rimmed glasses made him look like a hipster.
From there he turned to the ladies, who he paid more attention to. [b “I’m sorry you two were dragged into this mess. We going to our best to get you back to your everyday lives as soon as possible.”] It was a very scripted comment, to be expected from someone so deeply dredged in politics. With that out of the way he introduced himself properly. [b “I am Cornelius Neu, Kael’s older brother. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”] One at a time he took their hands, kissing them lightly. A greeting he held onto even though it had become somewhat old fashioned.
The man took note of the other’s reactions as he interacted with the mortals. He had been expecting to ruffle Kael, even going as far to wink at Eris when he saw his brother stiffen. Kael had always been the type to flock towards humans; it was Gaius that surprised him. The situation was definitely not what he was expecting, but it was what it was.
It was the smell of coffee that eventually woke her up. Not the night terrors, Eris could vaguely remember if she’d even had one, or what it was about. They happened in times of great stress, and when she clearly wasn’t taking care of herself. She honestly could have kept sleeping but nothing woke her up faster than the smell of coffee. It was startling to wake up in a bed not her own, and as she looked around she asked herself: What the fuck…
The room was impersonal, with little to no decor to leave a clue as to who lived here. There were no photos, no trinkets, just a carving in the door frame full of glyphs and symbols Eris couldn’t make out. She had to think back to the night before to remember what had happened. Curious to affirm she wasn’t dreaming about jumping rooftops, freaks with fangs, or demonic shit; she reached into her coat pocket and felt cold steel. Slowly she removed her Ruger .35 from her pocket and groaned. It was the only firearm Eris owned, and she’d only fired it at the shooting range when she got it. From there it had sat in her room as a last line of defense, and for the years she’d had it she never reached for it until last night. She knew if she’d grabbed the Ruger, things were as fucked up as she feared they were. Quietly she put her shoes on, dressed as best she could and checked the safety before slipping the gun into the back waistband of her jeans.
Not sure what was behind that door, Eris slowly pushed it open with one hand hovering over her back to grab her gun if needed. Except it wasn’t needed as Dahlia was there with a mug of coffee, and what looked like French Toast. Eris instantly relaxed, but said nothing as she took the food and coffee. She silently followed Dahlia back into the familiar living room, and the events of last night solidified in her mind. It had happened, and it wasn’t a bad dream.
She sat down on the couch and glanced at the clock, and was shocked to see it was almost 3pm. Red was the one to do most of the talking. Eris simply ate for the sake of eating. All the while she listened without comment what was said. They had a plan and a lead, but it involved traveling to LA. NYC wasn’t safe anymore. Obviously. Eris knew they couldn’t stay, but before neither Dahlia or Eris had anywhere to go. They wanted to leave as soon as possible, preferably while there was still daylight. Eris could feel them all glancing at her, waiting, expecting a reaction of some kind… but Eris didn’t have the energy and instead sat there mulling over there words with a vacant expression and chewed mindlessly on her french toast. It was good. The coffee sucked, but Dahlia’s cooking was always superb. The woman could make anything out of nothing, and Eris had always found that an impressive talent. Considering, the only thing Eris was good at cooking was ramen noodles and well… coffee.
Before Eris could even form a thought to voice her opinion, a knock on the door had everyone tensing. Eris gripped her Fork tighter in her hand, ready to stab any creature threatening to come near her or Dahlia. Kael was the one to answer the room and Gaius had even moved to act as a second line of defense. Eris couldn’t make out much, but when Kael closed the door he cursed, [b “Lazy fucking leeches.”]
The demon didn’t bother to sit back down as she watched him rejoin the group. Even Gaius remained standing, and it made Eris uncomfortable. When he said leech… did he mean Vampires? Eris had no choice but to accept that. As it stood, stranger things had happened. He commented about how they needed to leave because they drew too much attention and Eris only shook her head.
“You mean, [i we] are drawing too much attention,” She said motioning to herself and Dahlia. “I don’t imagine humans are common occupants in this hotel.” She looked down at her half eaten plate of food and frowned, her short dark hair fell in her face and it was obvious she was fighting with herself to say what she was about to say. It was evident enough by how she seemed ready to bend her fork in half.
Finally she heaved a shaky breath and looked back at both of the demons before her. “I don’t want to go to LA, but I know the city isn’t safe for us right now… and all over this piece of junk.” She reached into her pocket and removed the medallion and looked it over, before she carelessly tossed it towards the coffee table. It landed with a soft clink against the wood.
“You realize it’s too late to relinquish that now, yes?” Gaius asked her. Eris glared at him.
“I’m aware. The damage is done and whether we want to be involved or not, we are now.” Gaius reached down for the coin and held it back out towards Eris.
“Then you realize that you both are now responsible for helping us fix things,” Eris reached out for the medallion, but held Gaius’ hand firm.
“Then you also realize that it’s now your responsibility to keep us alive long enough to get our story out. That’s what all of this is for.”
“No one will believe you,” Gaius warned. Eris glared back.
“Perhaps, but there are those who will believe and if not…” Eris looked to Dahlia then with a sad almost defeated expression. “At least it will be one hell of a story.”
Dahlia listened intently as Gaius told her what he thought the future held for the lot of them. It made her uneasy. LA was on the opposite side of the country. The thought of being so far from home was concerning. Not to mention she wasn’t sure how Eris was going to react to this news of them being dragged around. While there was a chance that she would be okay, or at the very least willing, to go, it was slim. Despite all this there was something inside her that made her trust in Gaius. Like if they stuck around him they might make it out of this. But then again she might just have been naïve. You kind of had to be to trust a demon, right? Either way, she wanted to sit down and talk to Eris about it properly when she woke.
If that hadn’t been surprising enough, now he was helping her make something to eat. The kitchen wasn’t particularly big, but it didn’t feel awkward. With the few ingredients there were she was able to throw together some basic French toast. Plus the strawberries would be good on top since they were missing syrup or anything else you would normally put on there. All the while she was working, she kept looking over to the demon that seemed to be content cutting the little red fruit. Maybe he was particularly fond of cooking? Dahlia was glad for the help, but found it odd that she was getting used to his presence so readily.
In the quiet, she found her mind wandering. It kept drifting back to a short while ago. Gaius had called her his flower. There was a lot going on so she hadn’t had to time to think about it properly, but now that things had calmed down she was dwelling on it. What a strange thing for him to say, but in the end she chalked it up to being the way he spoke. Kind of like how some people said hon, or sweetie a lot. The woman didn’t think it suited him, but to be fair she also didn’t know anything about him.
In the midst of taking one of the slices of toast from the pan, a familiar groan came from down the hall. It was a sound the petite woman knew well. Immediately dropping what she was doing, she bolted to the back room where Eris was. Her friend was engrossed in a night terror. At her side as fast as she could manage, Dahlia cradled her friend. Cooing at her to lull her out of her sleep. [b “Shh, shh, it’s okay… I’m here.”] The petite woman’s voice stayed quiet as not to elicit any more fear from Eris. Dahlia knew full well that it was usually unwise to wake a person this entrenched in a nightmare, but she couldn’t bear to see her in such a state. That being what it was, Dahlia had taken her fair share of hits doing this, however this time she was lucky.
When she woke, she cried and Dahlia held on to her tightly until she could fall back into a more restful sleep. Even when the dark eyed woman knew that her friend was asleep, she stayed a bit longer to gently pat and stroke her head. A comforting gesture that she couldn’t be sure would make it though while she dreamed. With that she silently returned to the door where Gaius was waiting.
[b “Everything alright?”]
Looking up to the tall man, his eyes glowed, a mesmerizing liquid gold standing out from the dim lit hall. Stopping a moment, she hadn’t expected him to ask. [b “Uh, yeah, this just kind of happens every once in a while.”] It was more likely when she was stressed, but that didn’t really matter. Dahlia would just need to be sure to be around when Eris slept. Just in case. [b “…Everything is going to be fine.”] The comment was more to convince herself than anything else.
Headed back to the kitchen, she paused again to see Kael standing at the end of the hall. His eyes gleamed as well, but not as brilliantly. Darkness was going to take some getting used to with these guys around. [b “She is okay.”] She repeated what she had said for the dark haired man. He turned back to whatever he had been doing with a nod after that.
Upon hearing the screaming coming from across the hotel room, Kael was at his feet with heart pounding. Before he could move the other mortal was already running to the back. Wanting to know what the hell was going on he followed, but kept some space. Curiosity pasted him there until Dahlia returned to confirm things were going to be okay. Relieved, he released all the tension that he didn’t know he had been holding onto with a sigh. Walking back to his chair, his heart rate was still slightly accelerated. The incident had stirred him up more than expected. The man wasn’t sure if it was the paranoia that someone had gotten in or the fact that he hadn’t been expecting to see Eris so shaken. He had a feeling that it was the latter, and it made him want to look after her a little closer.
Things calmed own after that. There wasn’t a whole lot for Kael to do until they were all up and ready to talk things out, but he did find himself looking back to the pair in the kitchenette. It was almost unnerving to see Gaius playing house like that. And what’s more he seemed to be enjoying it. At the very least he lacked the irritated expression that he donned for most activities. Whatever was going on there was getting out of hand. The snake demon wasn’t one to judge for most things, but this was not the time. It also wasn’t the time to bring it up, so he stayed silent.
A few more hours would pass before Dahlia resorting to making coffee in hopes that the aroma would rouse Eris. That’s what worked at home. The scheme seemed to do the trick here as well, because sleeping beauty was up shortly after. The petite woman didn’t ambush her immediately. Letting Eris wake up before bringing her a cup of the cheap hotel coffee and reheated stack of French toast.
Soon enough everyone was situated in the living area again and they could talk business. Kael led the conversation, as he wanted to get out of here as soon as possible. [b “We’ve got a more concrete plan…”] Three fourths of them already knew that, but he decided to start from the top for Eris’ sake. And so he faced her directly. She still looked tired. Once again he felt guilty for being one of the main reasons this was happening to her. [b “I got ahold of my people, things are pretty much what we suspected last night. Top brass is in an uproar, but we managed to find a lead.”] The man pushed up his glasses at his nose. [b “However, said lead is in LA.”] Kael treaded carefully here. Having this turn into a fiery mess first thing was not what he wanted. [b “Basically there is a more secure location nearby that we can use to get us out of town. New York City is a liability for all of us. Leaving will throw our pursuers off. We will have more freedom to plan and move… The situation may not be ideal for you, but it is the safest option, especially since we cannot tell how much longer we will be secure here.”] The red-eyed man was trying his best to frame it in a positive light and intentionally left out the option that the ladies could split off from them. Gaius had done a good enough job driving that home the night before. No need to go back to old bouts.
[b “I think it would be wise to leave as soon as possible. Daylight is going to allow us some cover. We should be able to move as one unit that way.”] That was beneficial for more than one reason. One, they could break off later if needed, and two, Kael would certainly be there to open the door.
As he waited to see how the woman reacted a low-pitched knocked came from the thick wooden door behind him. Kael stiffened. It came again, hastened this time. Whoever it was, they were impatient. Standing, just in the time it took for him to make it to the door they knocked a third time. Peering through the door, it was someone he didn’t recognize, a vampire. He clearly wasn’t a part of the team from the night before. The dark haired man decided turning him away would be faster than waiting for him to leave on his own. His kind had a tendency to fixate.
Unlocking the deadbolt, he slowly swung the door open toward himself. Kael’s grip was steel on the door handle as he braced himself there just in case their guest tried to press through. [b “Yes?”] The irritation was plain in his voice.
[b “Excuse me.”] The stranger at the door spoke through an overly suave filter, as though he was trying to get away with something. [b “I am with the maintenance team. We noticed a problem with some of our heaters. I am going door to door to check that everything is working, would you mind if I came in to have a look?”]
Judging by his expression, the fraud actually thought he was clever. Literally no one in their right mind would fall for that, still Kael played along. [b “Well, my heating is working just fine, but thank you for checking in.”] It was unlikely that would be the end of it, but with this being neutral territory it was best to try the civil route first.
A gleam of dissatisfaction came across his eyes, as he looked Kael up and down. The vamp promptly stood down. Kael closed the door with a satisfying click, locking it back up. He grumbled under his breath as he returned to the others. [b “Lazy fucking leeches.”]
The demon didn’t bother to sit back down. He spoke, arms crossed. [b “We are attracting too much attention here. We need to get out.”] No doubt that slimy bastard would be waiting for them to leave now. One more thing to deal with.
Kael had informed Gaius he had a few safe houses in mind. He also warned there would be issues, of course there would be, there always was. Nothing could be simple. Gaius had learned that very rarely was anything so simple. He’d been alive for lifetimes, long enough to learn that life was consistently inconsistent. Reaching an impasse on their plans and conversations, Gaius bid Kael to get some rest, the sun would be up soon and it would be wise for them to sleep for at least a few hours. Demons didn’t particularly need sleep, but a couple hours a day was more than enough.
Gaius only slept for a couple of hours before he woke up feeling rested and rejuvenated. He was still simmering a sour mood and temper, but that would never change. He was a Wrath Demon after all, and nothing could sooth him. He shuffled over to the window in the living area to have his morning cigarette, when he realized he was down to three. He cursed under his breath, as he tucked the butt between his lips and walked over to pour whiskey into his coffee mug. Coffee wasn’t needed, just the whiskey, and he sat down to sip at it while he watched the world go by from his window.
It was a little after one when he realized he’d been just sitting at the window, letting his mind mull over the events of the past week… mostly whatever effect he was experiencing since laying eyes on the small mortal. Speaking of his flower, she emerged silently from the bedroom, and he spotted as she set his coat over the back of the chair. He remained silent and unmoving, simply watching her. She didn’t even notice he was in the room, as she turned and headed right for the shower. He looked away and back outside when he heard the water running. Staring down into his mug of whiskey, he contemplated being honest with Kael. They were friends right? Except, Gaius had never been good at trusting people, Ursula was example enough. He’d thought he could trust her, that they had gone back far enough he could consider her a friend. It certainly went to show how a hundred years of one-sided friendship could turn in an instant. All the more reason not to be honest with Kael, or even bother trying to make a good impression on his favorite mortal… if he could help it.
He could hear the water smacking against the floor of the tub every time she wrung her hair out. A Mortal shouldn’t have been able to affect him with such trivial things. Gods, but he was a mess. He had a minor god to get in touch with, and send a message to Valhalla, hopefully at a decent price. Then the real hunting would begin… Ursula would pay for her deception. No one ever betrayed Gaius and lived to tell the tale, if the Valkyrie thought she was powerful enough to take him on, she was dead wrong. He was looking forward to taking her head.
Gaius had been deep in LaLaLand imagining all the things he could do to Ursula to cause her pain before he finally killed her, that he did not notice the shower had stopped. It was the gentle padding of bare feet on the tile of the kitchenette that caught him off guard. His head snapped up to see Dahlia, hair damp from her shower, and wearing the clothes he’d brought her here in.
“Good Morning,” He managed, and quickly corrected himself. “Or, I should say: Good Afternoon.”
[b “Um… Is there anything in the kitchen that I could make?” ] Gaius slipped down from his perch on the window sill and walked over towards her.
“I don’t have much,” he warned, but walked over to a small fridge and opened the door. “But there should be enough here to make something…”
They were cut off by the sound of the lock turning. Gaius was on alert, and moved with inhuman speed to block Dahlia from whoever was coming through the door. Gaius motioned for her to take cover, but the door opened and Kael entered, dressed like a mortal with his ball cap and sunglasses. Even Gaius was able to relax at seeing the demon.
“Oh good it’s just you,” he commented, though his tone withheld any true joy at knowing it was Kael. Gaius caught the package that was thrown at him and saw it was a burner phone. Smart, these would be helpful. Gaius went back to the task at hand while Kael began setting his phone up and promptly making calls. He turned back to Dahlia and welcomed her into the kitchen. “I have a few basics, and I know I have some strawberries in here.” Some was an understatement. The man had several packages of Strawberries, clearly a favorite of his. He took everything out of the fridge he thought Dahlia might want to eat and set it on the small counter. “Make yourself at home, my flower,” He said and turned just as Kael returned from his calls.
Kael was able to confirm their fears. Atlas had been murdered, and he was wanting to peg it on Desmond, a petulant child of a demon. From the sounds of their conversation, and what Kael had to say, they could find Desmond in LA. Gaius had to hide his smirk. He liked LA, it was a bustling city, lots of weirdos, and plenty of nonsense to get lost in. It didn’t diminish the truth that Asher was compromised and they still had Ursula to contend with. Perhaps getting out of town for now was the best plan. Gaius knew he’d follow Kael’s lead with this little leg of their trip.
Their speculation and planning was silence by a single question.
[b “Where exactly are we going to fit into all this?”] Gaius turned back to see Dahlia in his small kitchen looking at them exasperated. Gaius sensed a hint of fear as well coming from her, and a bit of need within himself. A desire to calm her. He turned and gave her a placating smile.
“You’ll fit in right at our sides. The safest place for our most valuable assets is for you to remain close. You’ll obviously be coming with us,” Gaius told her. “It’s my fault you two are stuck with us. I was the one who hired Ursula to get the Medallion back… not drag you both into a Lorean Conflict.” He confessed with a hint of genuine guilt. “We will be moving you to a Safe House. The people after you will not hesitate to kill you if they think for a moment you are impeding their work.” It was a clear warning, but also a promise to keep them safe. Gaius just hoped he’d relayed the message well enough. He hadn’t been particularly fond of upsetting Dahlia the night before. “So long as we can help it, we won’t let anything happen to you or your friend. You have my word,” Gaius said placing a hand over his chest and giving Dahlia a courteous nod of his head. “In the interim, let’s make you something to eat, we can discuss our travel plans when your friend wakes up.” Gaius said this more to Kael than he did Dahlia. He figured it would be best to discuss these things with the group as a whole, though he knew it would be easier to just make the plans and force the girls to follow them. The only other option was leaving them with a choice: flee to a safe house until his blows over, or stay around and wait to get caught or killed by whoever Ursula was working for. in truth, a part of him refused to give the women that option. He could tell that the pretty flower standing close by him would most likely follow her chaotic friend, who no doubt would chose to stay and keep the medallion. He couldn’t let that happen… he didn’t want to see such a lovely flower perish.
Gaius decided to help Dahlia cook up some food for herself and her friend, letting Kael do whatever it was he wanted. If Gaius was being honest he was enjoying his time cooking with Dahlia. She did the cooking, he simply cut up strawberries but it was strangely soothing being in her presence. Gaius knew this could get dangerous for him, and her if he didn’t nip this fascination in the butt soon. There wasn’t much conversation, and it remained relatively quiet up until they heard a moaning and strangled shout coming from the back room…
“Was that…” Gaius’ voice trailed off as sure enough it was Eris in the back room. It was no surprise how quickly Dahlia moved to the back room. Curiosity drove Gaius to follow and peer inside the room. Sure enough Eris was laid in the bed, her body covered in sweat and twitching. She was still asleep and suffering from a night terror. That was unexpected. Her head tossed, her arms twitched wanting to lash out, and her breathing was ragged. Incoherent words riddled in fear tumbled from her lips, the volume growing with each moment. Finally they could make out the words: No, leave her alone, stop, and nothing more as Dahlia and managed to cull Eris from her nightmare. The Mortal came awake with a shocked breath and wild eyes, which quickly filled with tears she struggled to swallow back. With ragged breath she said nothing and turned to Dahlia hiding in her arms. Perhaps, Eris was not as strong as she led them on to believe she was. Whatever it was though, Dahlia seemed versed in the infliction, and without much ado managed to put the woman back to much needed rest. Gaius was there to catch her at the door, the dark hall made his eyes seem to glow as he looked down at her. “Everything alright?” he asked softly so not to wake Eris up, but it was clear he was more concerned for Dahlia than her unstable friend.
Kael shrugged. If the Valkyrie didn’t come for her after that, he considered Ursula fair game. Warning would be given and it was up to them to take it or not. Although the dark haired demon was worried about the price that Gaius mentioned. Not money could be just about anything, depending on whom the contact was they could want anything from human sacrifice to your unborn child. The supernatural world was kind of open ended like that.
As much as he wanted to go back to his own room and pass out in an actual bed, he knew it would be unwise to unnecessarily split their forces. Kael was as skeptical as Gaius when it came to neutrality. If things got any worse it would all be out the window. No need to make it any easier on the enemy. [b “I have a place in mind, but there are some pros and cons.”] Thinking it over to make sure he wasn’t missing anything, Kael began to explain. [b “My family has safe houses tucked away all over the place. They are all on ley lines so we would be able to jump about between them.”] It was a feat that took some energy but it would put them under the radar enough to be able to formulate a plot and gather information without the hovering pests from before. [b “However, they are all fitted with biometrics, no one gets in or out without being in the system... So I would be the only one who could open the door.”] That had obvious potential for disaster. And that was all if the system hadn’t already somehow been breached. He doubted it, but there was always a chance and he wasn’t about to risk it.
The conversation dwindled from there. It gave him time to his thoughts. Using the information he had, he mulled over possible plans for the future.
Nodding gently, Dahlia wondered if they would be allowed to contact their officer friend. If not she was sure there would be yet another dispute about it. She wasn’t looking forward to it. The woman continued to rub her friend’s back well past her falling asleep. As tired as she was, sleep was more elusive. This place was unnaturally quiet. They were still in the middle of New York City, how could it be this eerily silent. All she had to ground herself was the slow, steady sound of Eris’ breathing.
There in the stillness, all the weight of their circumstances came down on her in full. Dahlia’s eyes filled with tears. Biting her lip, she stayed quiet. Waking Eris was the last thing she wanted to do. Her friend would only blame herself further, and none of this was her fault. Rolling over, she looked at the ceiling through blurry eyes. When there was no more room for the salty liquid, the tears flooded over. There was no stopping it. The small woman allowed herself to get it out of her system now albeit inaudibly. When her eyes ran dry, she felt better. Not that the situation had changed any, but there was relief in venting. Luckily enough it also zapped her of energy and Dahlia was able to fall asleep.
When she woke, it was one o’clock. Dahlia wasn’t sure how long she had slept. She didn’t know when she final fell asleep. Might as well have been a couple of hours ago with how exhausted she still was. Unfortunately, it seemed no matter now hard she tried to go back to sleep it wasn’t going to happen. That led to another problem. She really didn’t want to back out there. The woman had been rather brazen the night before and while she didn’t regret it, she also didn’t want to go and deal with whatever terrible mood had been brewing. Especially not by herself. However, the need for a restroom won out in the end.
Carefully she crawled out of bed, as not to disturb Eris. She was quiet as a mouse as she picked up the coat from before and left the room. One of the men was gone but the other was still up. Dahlia wondered if demons needed sleep at all, or it they were just so on edge that they couldn’t. She wasn’t curious enough to ask. Draping the jacket over the back of the couch, she looked about to locate the bathroom. Inside there was a pile of folded towels so she helped herself to the shower. All the grime and sweat from the club left her feeling gross. It would help her moral to be clean. Well, besides her clothes, but she could live with that.
The urge to go immediately back to the bedroom was hard to ignore. This wasn’t exactly the kind of situation you make small talk in, but there wasn’t a whole lot else for her to do. Gaze drifting to the kitchenette she remembered it had been a while since she last eaten. Stress had her stomach off, but it would be unwise to go without food. [b “Um… Is there anything in the kitchen that I could make?”] This place was clearly a hotel. There was no telling how long he had been here; she figured chances were slim that there was much of anything over there.
The sound of the door being tampered with caused Dahlia to freeze. Turning just enough to catch Kael to come through, she released all the tension that had taken ahold of her. As scary as it was to be here, she feared what lurked just outside even more.
Kael had taken off close to noon. Getting around during daylight was a pain in the ass, but it would afford him some cover. It was straight to the store and back for him. The mission was to get phones; just about everything else could wait. After all, there was a chance they would be skipping town.
Everything was busier than he was accustomed too, but it gave him the advantage of blending in, at least to some extent. He picked up three cheap phones. They needed to be able to drop them no problem at any time. This way he didn’t feel bad about it. The thin man got some strange looks from the girl checking him out. He wasn’t sure if it was the multitude of cell phones, or his looks but either way he didn’t appreciate it. After that it was back to the hotel. There were no incidents, but he doubted there weren’t eyes on him the entire time.
Walking into the room, one of the mortal’s was up. He ignored her, tossing one of the plastic packages at Gaius. [b “Here, we will probably have to ditch our regular phones when we move.”] Kael immediately began unwrapping and setting up one for himself as well. The third was a backup.
As soon as he had the device ready to go, the red-eyed man was inputting the number for the most likely location of his family. The line rang endlessly as he concluded they were not there. Sighing, he knew this meant he would be systematically trying numbers until one was picked up. Deft fingers flying over the analog buttons he moved on to the next one. It wasn’t till the sixth attempt that he got an answer. The smooth voice on the other end was a familiar one. They were in Spain.
[b “It’s me.”] Kael barely got the words out before he was being yelled at. [b “Yeah, yeah, I get it already.”] It continued for a little longer before he could go on. [b “So what information do you have?”] The conversation from there was tedious. Cornelius, his brother, wasn’t keen on freely giving intelligence. There was unfortunately a lot of give and take that led to him explaining what his own situation was. When he had gathered everything that there was to know, the conversation ended and he was able to come back to Gaius.
Taking the same seat as the night before he began to relay what he figured out. [b “Atlas was definitely murdered.”] The words came out irritated. This whole situation was less than ideal. [b “Apparently one of the interns they brought into the office ended up being an assassin. They don’t know anything about him, but he was introduced to through Asher Citra.”] Kael was pretty sure Asher was the treasurer or something to that extent. [b “He is a pretty straight laced guy, but his son Desmond, not so much. He hangs out with a darker crowd. I don’t think it would have been too hard for him or one of his friends to get the hit man’s name in Asher’s ear.”] Good guys like him were easily manipulated. Kael wasn’t sure if he was fit for politics, but Atlas was always one to give people a chance.
[b “We might be able to get information out of Desmond. Finding him won’t be an issue, he’s usually skulking about in LA and he isn’t exactly the low profile type.”] The bespectacled man very much doubted Desmond would change any of this after his buddies made a move. [b “If we can get to the shelter, transporting to California will be simple. Plus we can move more freely there. I think it is worth doing.”] It would be even better if they managed it in secret.
Dahlia could barely believe what she was hearing. They wanted to cross the continent and he was acting like it wasn’t a big deal. Did they plan on dragging them along in all this? She’d never even left the state. [b “Where exactly are we going to fit into all this?”]
Gaius and Eris were about to go blow for blow when Dahlia cut in. Her words and eyes were as sharp as knives, and they silenced Gaius quickly. Eris was cajoled by her petite friend to retire to bed, and Gaius watched as they both disappeared behind the door to his bedroom. Gaius stood fuming for a moment, grappling for control of his temper and his emotions which tended to flare in stressful situation. It only spiked for a moment hearing his partner whistle at him, and comment on his skills with the women. Gaius inhaled a lungful of smoke from his cigarette and simply glared back at his fellow demon.
Gaius welcomed the silence as he finished his cigarette and sat back down in his arm chair and stared at Kael.
“Ursula is going to be a problem.” They were both thinking it, but Gaius voiced it. Kael suggested tattling to her Coven about it, suggesting that if the Valkyrie were aware of her actions they might step in and handle her. Wishful thinking, Gaius knew, but he didn’t blame his partner for the suggestion -it was a good idea. If it had been any Valkyrie other than the Impetuous Ursula. ‘It’s not a bad idea, but for the little good it will do us. I’ve known Ursula for the better of three hundred years, she is not close with her sisters. They will not come for her, they haven’t done so by now, and have left her unprotected to her own fate. I know a guy who knows a guy that can get word to Valhalla for us, but it won’t come cheap… and I’m not talking money,” Gaius warned. It seemed they would have no choice in that matter, and Gaius had agreed to take on the task of contacting the Valkyrie. As for other plans, Kael thought it would be best to wait until he heard more from his family. For the moment they were at a standstill, they could go no further, but they couldn’t go back either. Gaius hated being stuck in a bad situation, he also didn’t want to inform Kael of his own fears regarding the small flower currently in his bed.
Unlike Kale’s breed of Demon, Demons of the Deadly Sins could have a fated mate. Lately, Gaius had been wondering if the tiny flower he’d been following the past few days was affecting him the way she was, because she was his fated mate. It was a nightmare to accept -a human as his mate? He’d kill her in the first coupling, and while he had been a master of restraint for centuries now, just her presence was enough to unravel it all. He simply had to keep reminding himself that at least the Medallion was under their protection. Ursula didn’t have it, and while he found the Incarnate, Eris to be irritating to a fault, he would commend her cleverness in tricking the rushed Valkyrie. He’d just never voice it out loud, just like he wouldn’t voice how he noticed Kael’s appreciation of the wily mortal’s foolish bravery.
Gaius stared at his partner with an intense look. It was back to business and it seemed it would be nothing but business until they had sorted this mess out. For now, a more important question loomed over them. “We need to make a plan to keep the mortals safe. No doubt someone will notice they’re missing with time, and we can not keep them here for more than a day or two. If things are as bad as I believe they might become, I don’t even think the Rules of Neutrality will keep them from attacking us in this place.”
Eris allowed Dahlia to drag her away from Gaius and into the spacious room with an equally spacious bed. For a fleeting moment Eris wondered why a man would need a bed that big for himself, but it passed as quickly as it came. Instead she shed herself of her pants, boots and jacket, while Dahlia tossed away the warm trench coat that belonged to Gaius. Neither said a word as they crawled into bed. Eris was angry with the two men on the other side of the door, with the world, and mostly with herself. A part of her blamed herself for the mess they had found themselves in. She’d always wanted an adventure, but this had never been what she had in mind.
She laid down under the sheets with her back to Dahlia, feeling too guilty and angry to face her at the moment. Yet when she felt Dahlia begin to gently tickle her back, Eris was taken back to years ago when they were green eared college kids. It was no guess that Eris had her own inner demons and mental illness, and while over the years she had learned to control her anxiety, there were times it threatened to break her steadfast control and take over. Eris sensed that Dahlia could sense it as well… an oncoming panic attack. Eris knew that if Dahlia had anything to say about it, she’d help sooth it out of existence. It never failed to work its magic over Eris. Like taming a wild beast, Dahlia had done the same with Eris. Each stroke gently sending Eris closer to much needed sleep. She was on the brink of that sleep when Dahlia whispered to her of what she’d done. Ross was bound to find their apartment a ransacked mess when he dropped by in the morning. She wondered if they would just be added to the ever growing list of missing persons in Hells Kitchen.
“We need to get word to him soon. He’s a good cop, I don’t want him getting mixed up in some otherworld bullshit,” Eris stated with a sleepy voice. “He needs… warned…” Eris yawned before Dahlia’s final stroke put her into a deep sleep. One that Eris was sure not to wake from until at least mid afternoon.
Just as she had expected, Eris swiftly objected. Dahlia stared at her expectantly. Of course she thought they should try and help. If the world went to hell in a hand basket they were not going to have anywhere to live. At least not any place safe. She kind of liked not having to worry about demon folk breaking into their house and kidnapping them. She nodded vigorously as her friend questioned her. Honestly, she conceded a lot quicker than normal. It was probably because she was so tired. There would likely be a follow up discussion later when it was just the two of them and they weren’t so dog-tired.
Dahlia entertained the idea of playing the role of bait, but figured with how apprehensive Eris was to just helping out it wasn’t likely to happen. Although when she thought about it, the smaller woman wouldn’t want her friend to put herself in danger either. Not willing to give up entirely, she threw out one last idea. [b “You are both demons or something, right? Doesn’t that mean there are places you can’t go, or at least would have a hard time getting? I’m sure there are places like that that we could assist.”]
No sooner than she spat out the thought, Kael shot it down. [b “While that is true, it is incredibly unlikely anything like that will come into play with what we are dealing with. Our opponents are like us. We should be fighting on equal ground when it comes to such restraints.”] The only real worry there was Ursula and she already knew the mortal’s faces. The man wasn’t too keen on the ladies helping either. If they got caught in the cross fire they wouldn’t survive and he didn’t want to deal with that guilt.
Mind whirling as she thought about Ursula, Dahlia wasn’t entirely sure what had happened to her. By the sound of how everyone was talking it was bad news. Another tidbit of information she would just have to do without for the time being. It was about then that Gaius decided to put everything on hold. From there things went downhill quickly. The realization of how trapped they really were seeped in, especially for Eris and she wasn’t dealing with it well. Distraught would be an understatement.
Dahlia found her friend’s apology unwarranted. But before she had the chance to say so, the yellow-eyed man jumped in. His comments did nothing more than agitate the situation, which snowballed between them. The bickering that stemmed from it was stressful, but she focused on keeping Eris from flying off the hinge.
There weren’t many immortals that would cross paths with someone like Gaius, so there was a sense of humor to it when the scrawny human tried. Kael was confident if the little one wasn’t between them they might have started throwing punches, or worse. He was glad for her presence, as he didn’t feel like deescalating anything. There was enough for him to worry about. Still, the comedy of it all made him smile. An expression he quickly stifled when any of them looked his way. God forbid they assume he was reveling in the chaos, just it's namesake.
Growing increasingly irritated herself, Dahlia cut in. [b “Is it really necessary to be such an ass about it?”] Her words and eyes were sharp. Unconfident that her comment would do little more than aggravate him, she wanted to distance them from the conflict before it got any worse. It was bad enough that she felt the need to jump in. She pulled on Eris’ arm, prompting them to stand in unison. The first of many steps to making an exit and sleeping. [b “Come on, let’s just go to bed.”] The petite woman finally took her glaring eyes from Gaius. Her gaze now shifting between Eris and the door leading back to the bed they’d been offered.
There was no incident after that. The women made their exit, Dahlia closing the door silently behind them. She had briefly contemplated slamming it. But ultimately decided that was too juvenile. Finally they had some relative peace. Lord knew if they could be heard in here, but at the very least the pair was away from prying eyes. It wasn’t till then that she remembered she was wearing Gaius’ jacket. She swiftly took it off and threw it on the nightstand.
Without hesitation, the two crawled in the big bed. It was comfortable and the sheets smelt clean. There was tons of room, but Dahlia stuck close to her friend. Nestled cozily behind her, she gently rubbed Eris’ back. She hoped it might release some of the stress she was carrying and help her sleep. After all, the woman had been up for just about two days straight. She needed the rest badly, but there was one last thing Dahlia felt she needed to share. She whispered lightly, keeping her voice to a tone that could be considered soothing. [b “I don’t know if it actually helps anything, but before we left, I left Ross a voice mail. It was vague but I think he will know something happened.”] Dahlia doubted he could help in any way, but there was comfort in knowing that someone was looking.
No sooner than the door shut, Kael whistled somewhat sarcastically. Perhaps seeing the girls act so defiantly gave him a little more courage, albeit stupidly so. [b “You managed to piss both of them off, smooth.”] It wasn’t that he particularly disagreed with anything his partner had said, but he also thought keeping the girls’ cooperative was in their best interest.
Kael let his fellow demon finish his cigarette. The silence was heavy, but he welcomed it. The slight edge it gave him kept his mind clear to try and think of their next move. First and foremost be wanted to deal with Ursula. That witch would likely serve as the most imminent threat. No doubt she was seething wherever she stood, hatching up her own plan. Not knowing what kind of resources were at her disposal was maddening.
Taking in a deep breath, he toyed with a couple bat-shit crazy ideas. Tossing them to the side before he then found something moderately less dangerous, although he still didn’t like it. There was a sense of cowardice to it, but he didn’t mind so long as it furthered their goal.
[b “You know, we could always just tattle on her.”] His words were somewhat lazy. Not knowing what sort of reaction he would receive made him hesitant. [b “We know the Valkyrie won’t want their sister to die. If we tipped them off that she is meddling in demon politics and liable to end up dead, they may track her down themselves. And if they don’t make a move, they can’t say anything if we take her out ourselves. It should cover our asses from both sides.”] Kael’s real worry was that there were more than two dimensions to this particular problem. There was also the fact that he didn’t know how to contact the Valkyrie, but Gaius seemed the type to have connections everywhere. After all, he had known how to reach Ursula.
Other than that he didn’t feel like there was a lot he could do at the moment. Too many unknowns. [b “I think we should hold off on any other concrete plans until I get ahold of either my dad or brother. When we go out I am going to pick up a burner phone just to be sure.”] Who knew who had already tapped into his personal phone. The thing was probably trash by now.
Leaning back in his chair, Kael sunk into the well broken in cushions. Staring up at the ceiling it was completely nondescript, a blank canvas to project his thoughts onto. [b “I guess I should have listened to Mara when I had the chance.”] Regret clung to his soft-spoken words. He had been so sure of what she was going to say, the red-eyed man didn’t bother to let her speak. And while he was still confident he knew what she was going to say, there was an ember of doubt smoldering in him.
Eris listened to all Kael had to say, and his affinity for Eve had not gone unnoticed. She was glad he had grabbed the snake, and even shocked to see it had taken to him far better than it had to her. Regardless, his words about Atlas, his death, the chaos their government and people were in, and not to mention it had something to do with Kael’s father. That was interesting, and only made Eris that much more curious. He was certain too, that the Valkyrie being involved meant whatever was coming was bound to be big.
[b “Although I can’t say for sure at this point, Ursula may have been working on her own.”]
“That’s more likely,” Gaius suddenly quipped, his own gaze looking at nothing in particular, but it was clear he’d been deep in thought.
“Why do you say that?” Eris asked curiously. Gaius finally moved his golden gaze from nothingness to Eris’ face.
“Because she was outcasted by her sisters centuries ago. Think of her as fallen from grace.” Eris frowned, but didn’t press further, and a heavy silence fell over the group until Dahlia spoke.
Dahlia wanted to know for sure, that no matter what they would have been dragged into this mess, but as Kael made clear -they couldn’t be certain. They didn’t have enough information as to what was going on in their world, that it was hard to tell how it might affect the human world. Something was obviously going on, and underhanded techniques sounded as if they were expected. That much was made clear by Ursula’s betrayal. Eris sat back while Dahlia posed her questions and spoke with the two demonic men, it allowed her eyes to roam around the room, but the thing she noticed most was the Demon Gaius, and how his gaze seemed to change the slightest when those golden eyes settled on Dahlia. Most might not have noticed it, but Eris did. She saw a flicker of something in their depths, and how his hand flexed the slightest to dig his nails into the couch when the Fan blew air from behind Dahlia into his direction. Was it a smell? Did they smell bad to demons? Or was there more the Wrath Demon wasn’t telling?
[b “Do either of you have any sort of plan where to go next with this? Is there anything we can do to help?” ] Dahlia asked and Eris’ face twisted into shocked disgust.
“Help them?” She blurted out with an almost scathing tone. She couldn’t believe- no, yes she could believe that Dahlia would offer such a thing. It was well within Dahlia’s character to be helpful to a fault. Eris supposed she could see why Dahlia wanted to help them, but that didn’t make it easier to swallow. If what they said was true and it could affect the Human world, then Eris knew she had an obligation to help as well -she just didn’t want to readily admit it. What had the world ever done for either of them? “You really want to help these two?” Eris asked, but Dahlia was firm in her decision and Eris was left to pout and concede. “Fine… We’ll help if we can.” She settled with and crossed her arms.
[b Gaius] had been deep in thought trying to piece everything together in his mind, when it seemed the two women were having a disagreement about helping. He wanted to laugh. They couldn’t help, they were weak, flimsy mortals that would die if the wrong creature so much as looked at them the wrong way. Gaius glanced over at Kael wondering if he had a plan. To be honest, they’d been so wrapped up securing the Medallion that they hadn’t taken the time to sit down and discuss what they would do in regards to Atlas’ death and the coup that had taken place right under their nose. He leaned back into the soft cushion of his favorite chair and allowed his brows to furrow and eyes narrow as he voiced his thoughts.
“We’ve been taking this one step at a time. We have the Medallion now -or rather… we have you,” he said and gave both Dahlia and Eris a pointed look. “I don’t see how either of you will be helpful, unless one of you enjoys playing bait,” he eyed Eris then, the only one probably ballsy enough to do it willingly. Surprisingly she made no comment and kept quiet. He was pretty sure he preferred her that way. “Ursula will want blood, we could trap her…” He halfheartedly suggested to Kael. “She’s bound to have intelligence on who’s behind the coup and Atlas’ death.” Getting Ursula to talk wouldn’t be easy though, you couldn’t torture an immortal for information the way you could a mortal. You had to find something they cared about and threaten it. As far as Gaius knew… Ursula cared for nothing and no one but who could pay the highest dollar. It likely meant his idea to trap and interrogate Ursula was moot, if they crossed her path again, they’d likely have to just kill her, and killing a valkyrie was not an easy task.
Valkyrie could only be killed one of two ways; from a broken heart cause by a loved one, or beheading -like most immortals could be destroyed. If they didn’t take her head, she’d just regenerate and come back for them again and again. Personally, he didn’t want either of the mortals to taste Ursula’s claws, or her lightning. There was also the risk of incurring the wrath of other Valkyries. They might have ostracized Ursula, but he highly doubted that meant she didn’t have their support if she was murdered. No, Gaius knew then, if they intended to kill Ursula, they’d have to engage her in combat to legitimize them killing her. He certainly wasn’t about to suggest bringing in anyone else either after her betrayal… and here he’d thought they were at least friends.
He looked over at the women once more, and saw the exhaustion in their eyes. They needed to sleep. They still had alcohol flowing through their blood, and his pretty flower looked ready to fall over. The Harpy looked like she could keep going and stay up all night to plot and scheme, but he was pretty certain now that they were so close and she seemed particularly calm about everything that something wasn’t clicked into place correctly in her head.
“I think,” Gaius began, “that before we continue with this conversation you ladies should get some sleep. You may both take my bed in the back room,” He pointed across the living space to a set of double doors. “You’re safe here. This is what’s called Neutral territory.”
“Yeah? And what does that mean for us?” Eris demanded.
“Warring factions can not make a move on these grounds or lose their privileges to use and enjoy any and all neutral locations. No one lasts very long once they break the rules of Neutrality,” Gaius informed them. “In the morning we will attempt to find you both some clothes, in the meantime, rest and get comfortable, because you won’t be allowed to leave this Complex for a while…” he warned and reached forward for his cigarettes on the coffee table and proceeded to light one up. “I’m afraid there’s not much else either of you two can do to help-“
“I’m really sorry I got us into this…” Gaius frowned at the soft sound of Eris’ voice -it was clear that Eris blamed herself to an extent for dragging her best friend into this mess.
“What’s done is done.” Gaius rose to his feet and walked over to the windows of the living space and looked out at the twinkling cityscape.
“That much is obvious, but you can’t really intend to keep up locked up in here,” Eris tried. Gaius didn’t look back from where he stood, his mind was too cluttered and running too quickly.
“Then leave,” Gaius challenged. “Walk out those doors and we’ll see if you even make it back to your neighborhood… which I can promise you, you won’t. They’re watching your apartment now, just waiting for you to foolishly return. They will stop at nothing to collect that Medallion, and if they even think for a moment you’re still carrying it around, they will slit your throat where you stand.” Gaius said all of this very calmly and as if it were simply fact. Which it was, but Gaius knew he could speak this way to Eris and not alarm her, but she would understand. “And you’re a fool if you think that gun you’re carrying is going to protect you from them.”
“I can smell the powder in the bullets.” He shrugged.
“This is kidnapping,” Eris tried, and Gaius smirked.
“Call it what you want, but in here you get to stay alive, out there you’re as good as dead. You’ll be tossed among the other strange deaths and disappearances you were investigating to begin with. Full Circle. That should make you happy,” he mocked. Eris grit her teeth ready to snap back, but Dahlia managed to calm Eris and keep her quiet. “You should listen more to your friend. She wants to see that you keep breathing.” He exhaled a lungful of smoke and finally turned to face them again. “Fact is you’re alive because we bothered to help you, now you’re in our domain and you will follow our rules if you ever want to walk out those doors as free women.”
‘Is that a threat?” Eris growled, growing more angry with every moment.
“No, it’s a promise,” Gaius stated plainly and without an ounce of remorse.
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