But hey, I have to do some fanfic for you lot sometime. Not like anyone else is doing any -___-
For the record: You're all awesome. No, really. I know I've been busy and all, but I'm coming back, ever so slowly.
Anyhow; This ff is placed right after my last piece, the short story where Mar had been killed. You know, Amy, the assassin, pchow-pchow, Mar dies/explosion, steals Israel's jacket...You should read it. It's not that long xD
(And yes, I have borrowed a few lines from books/movies. But they're really good lines :D)
Darkness. Then footsteps, lightly tapping and getting closer, closer. The light clicks on, right above my head, drawing my eyes to it. The moment I look up, squinting, I know I’m in trouble. There isn’t even a guy leaning against the corner, trying to play bad cop. There isn’t a guy smiling and offering me a cup of coffee. There’s just one man in a suit, with a folder in his arms that he isn’t looking at. He’s looking at me, raising his eyebrows and looking as if I have a note stuck to my forehead that I haven’t noticed yet.
He chuckles and opens the folder, flicking through the pages as if nothing really catches his eye. Either there’s nothing worth looking at in the folder, they have no solid information on me, or, as I fear, it’s all bad, causing him to not look surprised at any particular bit.
“Well, you sure got yourself into a huge mess, didn’t ya?” He tells me with an Irish accent, dragging up a chair like my own and smacking himself right down in front of me. Unlike my chair, his doesn’t have handcuffs chaining the occupant’s wrists to the chair arms.
“Care to let me loosen the shackles around my hands a bit, Mr…?”
"Smith,” the man in the suit tells me. “And no, I think you’re comfortable enough as you are.”
“Smith, huh?” I ask. “Well, isn’t that original. How are you, Mr Smith?”
His first blow collides into my unshaven jaw, not hard enough to break it, but enough to snap my head backwards. He hits me in my gut and if it weren’t for the restraints holding me, I would have collapsed onto the ground in a wheezing fit.
“Neither of us have time for pleasantries, Israel. Just tell us how it happened, from the start.”
I look into his eyes, oddly not knowing what to say. I suppose I should tell him. That’d be the right thing to do. Not the best for me. But the right thing, for everyone.
I nod, and start talking.
It was 2:00am. Exactly ten hours after March Pathway’s funeral had finished and I had trudged to the manor and locked the door of my room. I had collapsed into a chair where a full bottle and two shot glasses sat within easy reach.
The bottle was empty now, I realised as my hands shook to pick it up and pour another shot. ‘Fight now, mourn later’, everyone I knew said. All the time. She had said it once or twice, I remember. Well, now was the time to mourn. Or was it over now? The funeral had passed by in the blink of an eye. People had looked to me to say something as the casket was being lowered. I had only stared at the wooden handle of my umbrella and imagined hitting something with it, hard.
The coffin had been empty. There was nothing left at the site of the explosion.
My gaze had followed along to the sleeve of the borrowed jacket I was wearing. It was black and from Ghastly, and felt strangely uncomfortable in every way. I hadn’t gotten my coat back from Amy when she took it and disappeared in France. I had wondered where she was. Probably sitting at home with a smile on her face as she counted the huge envelope of money she would have received for the assassination of Carl Nulty.
At the funeral, when everyone had left and I was thinking those thoughts, my head snapped upwards and for a moment, I saw her standing on the next hill over, silhouetted against the still-bright overcast sky. A hundred metres away and our eyes had locked. I hadn’t needed to read the future to know what would happen next. She teleported away, like always, and she didn’t reappear.
I recalled all of this as I sat in my leather chair, missing my friend and my jacket, staring at the empty bottle and the empty glass in my hand.
There was a tiny but unmistakable sound from somewhere behind me. I swivelled the chair around and gave the door a look over. The sound was coming from the door knob. It was jiggling around. Not being twisted, but moving discreetly, this way and that.
I groaned and wished the effects of the alcohol was stronger. Being magical seemed to affect how easy it was for me to get drunk. To put it simply, I needed a lot more beers to feel a buzz than the average person.
Pushing myself to my feet, I used the desk to support myself and move my way towards the door. The doorknob was still spinning, and seemed to be glowing a faint green. I sighed and unlocked it, then opened the door quickly, already knowing who I would find.
Kallista Pendragon was crouching there, a small incantation book in hand, reciting a long lost language and waving her hand breezily. The doorknob was still green.
“You could have just knocked,” I told her wearily, startling her into reality. She saw the door was already unlocked and open and stood up, pocketing the book.
“I did!” she said “And when you didn’t answer, I picked the lock.”
“Listen, whatever you have to say, I’m really quite drunk and just want to stare out the window all night…”
Kal gave me a look and pushed past me, into my room. She snagged a plastic bag and started throwing all of the junk I had strewn across the floor. Notes, scrunched up letters and discarded beer bottles. She threw it behind her and it flew past my head and out into the hallway.
“You’re not that drunk, Israel, and we both know it,” she told me. I moved to the window while she sat back on the desk. “Talk to me. I knew her, too.”
But I couldn’t. There was nothing more to say, it seemed, than to cast our prayers and move on. Despite that old saying, no-one seemed to pay attention much to it. No-one mourned, anymore. They just added names to the ever-growing death toll of people they loved.
Yet there were still tears on my cheeks and welling in my aging eyes when I spoke. “Can’t believe it. I just can’t. That was my fault for bringing her out there.”
Kallista started to respond. My eyes were looking out to the heavy rain outside, and the occasional flash of lightning. One such thing arced through the night and I could see for a split moment, a figure in the rain, holding a small heap of material in their hands. Another flash and the person leant over and hung the pile over the fence to the manor, and then disappeared.
Kallista had already started talking but I wasn’t listening. I turned as fast as I could and slid over the surface of my desk, hit the floor with both feet and sprinted out of the room. Kal was shouting and following me, but that didn’t matter. I jumped the rail to the stairs and landed heavily on my feet. And then I was running again, moving as fast as I could through empty corridors to get to the front doors. Upon reaching them I put my shoulder to one and it opened outwards into the rain.
I couldn’t see anything at first. The rain was a blanket of water that covered everything and fell as hard as rocks. I couldn’t hear myself breathing over the sound of the rain pattering over everything. Kallista arrived behind me, asking me what was happening. I walked steadily onwards and reached the fence.
Heaped over it was my leather trenchcoat, the one that I hadn’t seen since Amy disappeared that day by the Seine. I slowly put one arm in the sleeve and pulled the rest of the jacket over it. Kallista saw me in it and fire appeared in her hand, sizzling all raindrops around it.
“Is Amy here? Israel?!”
“She’s gone,” I told her. “Long gone.”
“Oh.” The flame slowly went out. “Well…at least you got the jacket back. At least she isn’t after you or anything.”
I placed my hands in my pockets, and the left one found a tiny scrap of paper. My fist clenched over it, somehow knowing what it would be.
“Yeah. At least there’s that.”
I put the thought of the paper to a different part of my mind as I made it to the living room of the Manor and collapsed down in it. Kallista, faithful to the last moment, helped me sit down and gave me a blanket to use. She walked out and once again, all was silent, save the pattering of the rain against window in front of me.
I awoke several hours later to morning light streaming through the same window from before. The living room was empty except for me. The grandfather clock in the corner told me it was 10:08am. I knew everyone was awake, I could almost hear them breathing quietly. But they were in their rooms. No-one wanted to get up and face a day without the company of someone like Mar.
There was a noise from the kitchen. I checked the future and groaned aloud. I had to get up. Slowly, I got to my feet and walked on straining feet to the next room. Bridget Whiplash was leaning on the kitchen counter, a cup of tea warming her hands.
There was a pistol on the table. I assumed it was hers, and didn’t ask about it.
“Can barely taste it,” I heard Bridget mutter.
“The tea,” she told me. “Been alive so long, some flavours just seem to be too bland to be recognised.”
There was a pause, in which I sighed and got a cup from the cupboard and started making some tea for myself. Bridget pulled out a small tin hip flask and emptied half of its contents into her tea. I took it from the counter where she had left it and used the rest of the bottle for my own drink.
She sipped and smiled, her eyes glowing. “Better.”
I sipped and tried not to cough it out. I guessed vampires needed liquor that strong to feel anything.
So I gulped down the liquid fire and made it stay down. Suddenly, the pistol on the table leapt into Bridget’s hands and she was firing at the window, the bullets spreading cobweb cracks all over before it finally shattered. She kept shooting.
I spat out the tea. “What the hell?!” I made a grab for the pistol and tried to pull it away. She gave me a light push, waving her gun back and forward as she surveyed the world outside the window. She was scanning it, although I didn’t know what for.
“What are you doing?” I asked her, draining my tea cup and slamming it onto the table. I could hear footsteps thudding down the staircase somewhere behind me. “Bridget?”
She didn’t answer me at first. Her eyes were the deepest red as she regarded the trees outside from the iron sights of her pistol. “It was that girl. The assassin. Standing out there, looking at me. She’s gone now.”
I sighed and while she was busy slowly lowering her gun, I drank her tea as well, and moved to the sink with both of them. Bridget waited for the smoke to dissipate from the barrel of the gun before pulling back the slide a couple of times and emptying the ammo clip straight into the bin, as if it was a normal occurrence to shoot out the window and put the cartridge in the garbage.
“I suppose you’re a follower of the phrase ‘Shoot first, questions later’, right?” I told her, when I had finished washing the cups. I dried my hands and put my hands in my pockets, looking for my old silver lighter. Just opening and closing it would help me beat stress.
“I think she had enough chances to talk from everyone before she killed Mar, don’t you?” Bridget said, venom lacing her voice. “And that was my tea. I needed that.”
My right hand found the silver lighter, and I took it out, starting to flick it open and then flick it shut. My left hand found the tiny scrap of paper and I instantly remembered. I stopped flicking the lighter open and shut.
Bridget was inspecting her handiwork, picking up shards of glass from the window sill and crushing the occasional one. I slowly drew the paper out of my pocket and read the address. It was a shady bar from some street I hadn’t heard of. I flicked the lighter open and sparked a flame with it, burning the paper in my hands. Before the flame reached my fingers and burnt them, I threw the blackened paper in the bin and flicked the lighter shut.
“Why was she here, anyway?” Bridget asked me absentmindedly when she flicked the glass shard she held out through the gap where the window had been.
“No idea,” I lied, pocketing the lighter. I walked out, grabbed my keys, and went to my van.
The bar was uninviting, to say the least. It sat at the end of a street barely used by anyone, and the doors seemed to be boarded over with wooden planks.
There was music playing out of it, though, and when I kicked down the door, rotten planks and all, I noticed that they at least tried to light the place up with dim, low-watt globes plugged around the room. My double barrel shotgun was in hand and I trained it on the first person to move, a burly man who stood up in a hurry when he spotted me.
“Sit down,” I ordered him, and flipped my aim around to the next person. Everyone had stood up at my arrival, and slowly sat back in their seats when they saw the gun. But there was one table in the corner where no-one stood up in alarm. They had hats pulled low and swished their drinks around in their old glasses, not really looking at anyone. I kept my eye on them, as I reached the bar. My gun was still in my hand, and although I didn’t quite shove it in the face of the barman, I still held it aimed more or less in his direction.
I ordered a drink and when he slid it across the bar to me, I grabbed it and walked back to the group I had seen in the first place, the one that didn’t stand up when I burst in with my gun. I sipped my drink and stood in front of them, one hand holding my shotgun, the other holding the glass.
“Amy Hawkeye,” I told them. “Where is she?”
“Who wants to know?”
It was a man on the right with dark curly hair and a bowler hat over it. He had a playing card twirling around in his fingers. It was the Jack of Spades.
“Eelizzium? Who the hell is that?”
“Me,” I told them. “It’s a good name. I like it. Doubt it’s worse than yours.”
The man with the card looked at me with an eyebrow raised. He chuckled and spoke. “My name’s Jack. Just Jack, that’s all. Jack of Spades, Jack of all trades, Jack-with-a-plan, Jack.”
“Alright then, Jack. Where’s Amy?”
“Don’t know an Amy,” Jack said. “You going to piss off now?”
“Nah,” I replied. “You know an Amy. I’m a friend. Now, where is she?”
“Nah,” I replied. “You know an Amy. I’m a friend. Now, where is she?”
Jack rolled his eyes and leant backwards into his seat. The other men in the booth sniggered. I placed the twin barrels of my gun straight down on the table. Jack’s expression turned into a sneer as he regarded the weapon. In a rush he stood up and grabbed my lapels, pushing me away from the booth.
“You dare to shove that gun in my face? This is my bar, Elysium. Mine. That means that everyone here backs me up when I want, for whatever reason I want.” He spat on my jacket. “Now, I don’t know where this Amy is, so maybe I think it’s time you got the hell away from my bar. Understand?”
I moved my hands around slowly and uncurled his fingers off of my lapel, lowering them to his sides. I dusted off my jacket and his own. “I understand perfectly, Jack. And of course, it was wrong of me to speak to a fine gentlemen like yourself, with your…” I paused and looked him up and down critically. “…very fine hat.”
My sarcasm was wasted on him, but maybe not his colleagues. One of them started to slide his hand into his coat, reaching underneath his armpit…
I stepped back from Jack and smiled widely at him. “Well, I would love to stay and chat, but as you suggested, I really should be going-” I turned around to leave, so I could work my way around the back of the bar and find another way in, and possibly where Amy was. I ran straight into the huge chest of a seven foot giant, who grabbed my arms and swung me around to face Jack again. The man seemed to almost break my upper arms in his vice-like grip. My shotgun clattered to the floor.
The colleague of Jack who had reached for a gun before now drew it out carefully and rested it on his lap. He beckoned for Jack’s attention.
Jack leant over to hear what the man had to say. After some steady whispering, Jack grinned and straightened up. “Well now,” he told me. “Looks like you won’t be leaving as soon as we thought. Marcus here has an excellent idea for some good old fashioned fun.”
“Hey, I can stay for some fun. What are we going to play? Drink until you drop? Darts?” I said. “I love darts.”
“By fun, we mean pain,” Marcus explained brightly. “Keep cutting until you drop, try and remove your kneecaps by brute force, that kind of thing…”
“Hate you” I silently mouthed at Marcus, while Jack pulled a switch blade out and tapped it on my temple thoughtfully.
“So,” Jack said, “let’s see what colour your insides are.”
Moments before Jack gutted me, a voice sounded from somewhere near the bar. “That’s enough, Jack.”
Silence, except for the giant breathing heavily on my neck as he held my arms together. Jack had his eyes closed, and the blade was still inches from my belly. He sighed slowly and pocketed it. His left hand did a sharp motion in the air and the man holding me let go of my arms. Marcus put his gun back under his jacket, and everything seemed to go back to normal.
I gave a quick wave to Jack and his crew and holstered my shotgun before turning around. And there she was, her pistol tucked into her belt and her hand resting on it.
“Hi,” Amy Hawkeye said to me.
I punched her with everything I could muster, every anger and sorrow-filled thought, every hour spent the previous night thinking about March’s death, every taunting moment she had put me through and now decided to act like everything was alright.
Amy fell awkwardly onto the ground, tripping over her own feet in her haste to escape. She tried to teleport but I wouldn’t let her, slamming punch after punch down onto her unprotected self. She had killed Mar. Punch. She had killed the three innocents in the apartment. Punch, punch, punch. She had killed countless others.
I raised my fist for another blow. I could see she wasn’t even defending herself. Even now that I had stopped, she wasn’t trying to teleport away. She coughed up blood and spittle at my feet and raised her eyes to stare at my kneecaps. She was purposely not looking at me.
“Why?” I asked her, feeding as much venom into my voice as possible. “Why were you so persistent to contact me?”
She didn’t answer. My knees must have seemed extremely interesting.
“Eyes up here, Amy.” She seemed to realise for the first time that I was there. Her eyes met mine.
I went to ask the question again, but she cut me off.
“Because any enemy is better than not having a friend.”
“I’m afraid I haven’t heard of that one. Are you sure you don’t mean ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’?”
“I know what I mean, Israel,” she looked drained. My rage was diminishing, looking at her on the ground like that, hurt. Because of me.
The entire building had fallen silent, but I barely realised. I made up my mind and hoisted her to unsteady feet and half-dragged her to a free booth in the corner. She had passed out by the time I lowered her into a cushioned seat.
I sat down opposite her, and someone hit the ‘play’ button on the music system, and talk slowly began again. Me, I waited for her to finally awake. When she did, I guessed it was time for answers.
“Alright,” I said softly, a contrast to my actions earlier. “Why do you want to talk to me? What could you possibly need to say after coming to all this trouble to get me alone?”
She shook her head. “Not here. Go somewhere else, it isn’t secure.”
“No,” I replied, the venom creeping back into my voice, “I’m not going anywhere with you until I hear some answers. No-where’s safe. This is good enough.”
“You house is safe,” she whispered sullenly, but left it at that. I waited and watched as she took a napkin from the table and folded it to dab a cut I had given her under her eye. I wondered if she was trying to make me feel sorry for what I had done. I only had to remember Mar, and the apologies about to come out of my mouth shrivelled away.
She finished cleaning the cut. “There is a man, Israel, who preys on mages like you and me. He is collector, of sorts. His one aim in life is to add as many mage’s powers to his…his…”
“Collection?” I offered. She was looking quite sick. I registered this but didn’t think anything of it.
“Yes. He’s a mortal, he has no magic of his own. But as far as I know, he’s got this contraption that allows him to reap the magic from others, quite literally steal their power and harness it in an item of his choosing.”
I scratched the stubble on my chin. “Sounds like necromancy.”
“Exactly like it.”
“What’s his name?” I asked her.
She looked away and bit her lip. “John Smith.”
“No,” I said, planting my hands on the table to show her I was ready to leave her here. “What’s his real name?”
She looked back at me and sighed. “Lucas Lucatero.”
“Haven’t heard of him.”
She seemed to brighten up a bit at this, all though the greyish colour in her cheeks still remained. “That’s good. Lucas doesn’t have a reputation for being friendly.”
The sound system finally changed song. I started to look around slowly, eyes wandering over the bar’s occupants. They seemed normal enough. They were all mages, obviously. It was the way they moved and held themselves in their seats.
“Where do I fit into this, Amy?” I asked her, still looking around.
“Lucas was after your friend, March Pathway.” Even her name affected me. I flinched, and already could feel some of my anger slowly returning. “He has never found a shapeshifter before. I didn’t know his intentions until too late. And so, with March gone at my hands, his attention found me, a teleporter.”
She spoke about it all so easily, as if killing Mar had been just a little bump along the path of her life.
Suddenly, I realised what it was all about. “You want me to help you,” I said. “You want me to help you take out this Lucas, to save your own arse. Even after all of the lives you’ve ended, including the one of a dear friend of mine.”
Amy tried a weak smile. “I don’t have many powerful friends, Israel. I only have Jack and his small band of men. Even then, they’re just hired mercs. It’s like I said… Any enemy is better than no friends.”
I stood up. “How about this? I give you the finger-” I did. “-and then I leave you alone to your short, sad life.” I started walking.
“Israel, wait,” she called desperately. “I’m sorry. But you can’t go.”
I turned around, frustrated. There didn’t seem to be anyone stopping me. “Why the hell not?”
She looked away. “Because it’s too late. Now they know about you, too.”
The windows on every side of the bar smashed open at the same time, and small military-green cylinders bounced into the floor. There was only a split second for everyone to recognise them as flashbangs, and then my vision went white and my hearing disappeared to be replaced with a high pitched whining sound.
I stumbled forward and my hands found a table to steady myself with. My hearing was starting to slowly return and I could hear gunshots and grunts of pain. My eyes were no longer blinded so I blinked them a few times and took in the scene around me.
The mages occupying the bar were all fighting for their life against what looked like suited-up acrobats. They were lithe and carried small fully automatic sub machine guns that they swung back and forward to carve through the ranks of the mages.
There was a shout at my left and Marcus ran past, firing his gun repeatedly. The bullets pinged off of an acrobat’s helmet and I recognised them as hired Cleavers. Their suits were a dark black and their scythes were no-where to be seen. Instead, I glimpsed long, simple blades strapped to their back for hacking and slashing.
Their suits seemed to be a cheaper make than the average Cleaver, however, because after one or two hits from Marcus’ gun, they were falling and clutching at their wounds. I shook my head to focus myself, and whipped around to see two of the hired Cleavers sprinting towards me. My shotgun was in my hand and I fired it directly at the closest one.
The buckshot caught him in the chest and he went down. When the blue wave of energy erupted from my gun, knocking down every glass on the tables in front of me, the second Cleaver seemed to know it was coming and twisted into the air to avoid it by centimetres.
He landed in front of me and without pause pulled his blade from his back and brought it down into my raised arm. I yelled as it bit down to the bone and then Amy was there, grabbing the Cleaver’s head and bashing the butt of her pistol into it. He moved around too fast for me to follow as he zipped his sword around to attack Amy. But she had teleported behind me and grabbed my arm, pulling me back and firing her pistol repeatedly.
“What the hell do you mean, ‘Now they know about you too’?!”
Amy looked up from reloading her pistol in time to answer. She spoke as if I was a young child who didn’t understand something. “Their helmets are very advanced, Israel.”
“How advanced?” I yelled at her.
“They’re connected to a multitude of databases,” she said. “The moment one of these people looks at you, they are presented with names, powers, height, skills- everything they need to gain an upper hand.”
I stopped what I was doing. That meant the Cleaver I was strangling under my arm was allowed some respite.
“I’m sorry, Israel,” she continued. “They know who you are. You’re no doubt going to be targeted now. You can’t back out.”
I snapped the Cleaver’s frail neck and let him drop to the ground. “You just brought a whole lot of hell into my life, Amy.”
“Yeah,” she agreed, shooting the man behind me. “Welcome to my world.”
Mr Smith interrupts my story. “That’ll be all for today,” he says, and walks to the door at the far end of the room. The lights switch off, and I’m left there in the dark again, where the howling nightmares in my mind terrorize me freely and without relent.