The wound on Matthias’s shoulder was already healed. Danial put his hands back in his lap. His own wounds still stung. He sighed. “Do you know anyone who could teach me?”
“Only witch I know that isn’t bad news is Rosa.” Matthias shook his head.
“But what if they’d had silver or something?” Daniel looked up at him.
“It would have to be enchanted.”
“It’s a cabal.”
“Fair point.” Matthias nodded. “But all silver does is make it so I can’t use the wolf to heal. Enchanted silver affects me the way an ordinary bullet would you, unless it’s been seriously enchanted. Witches that can do that are like unicorns.”
“So, it’s not like kyptonite.” Daniel nodded, then shook his head. “Kryptonite is that stuff that affects Superman —”
“Kid I know what the hell kryptonite is. I was tuned into the radio for the first broadcast of the meteor in ‘43.”
Daniel started laughing. “You sound like somebody’s grandpa. Did you have to walk to school uphill both ways?”
“In the snow, with barbed wire wrapped around my feet for traction.” Matthias nodded.
“But you’ve never heard of Harry Potter?” Anna stuck her head out of her alcove. “Or My Little Ponies?”
“No, cause I’m not a twelve-year-old girl.” Matthias shook his head at her.
“Hey.” Daniel glared.
“Where to now, boss?” Matthias raised an eyebrow.
“You said you know a place we could hole up for a while.” Daniel nodded. “Roundabout trip there, then, in case they are following. Anna’s starting to show a little, so it might be best if we hole up until…” He sighed. “Until it’s born or we get a lead on this ‘broken angel’.”
“Good plan.” Matthias nodded. “Pretty much exactly what I’d advise you to do.”
He brought his knees up to him. “This place is safe?”
“Assuming the old wards are still up. Anna might be able to set them that way if they aren’t. Foundations will still be there.”
“So why were you out at that cabin instead of…” Daniel frowned.
“That’s, uh…” Matthias shrugged. “You know that saying, ‘you can’t go home again’?”
“Oh.” Daniel sighed. “Yeah.” He nodded. “Guess I do.”
“Hey…” Matthias reached over and put and arm around him. “You did good.”
“I did?” He blinked.
“You didn’t panic, you didn’t give up intel, and you kept your head down.” Matthias nodded. “You did good.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about Grace.”
“I haven’t exactly given you a lot of reason to trust me lately.” Matthias leaned back.
“I do trust you.” Daniel leaned on him. “Anna was safe. You didn’t have to come back for me.”
“Yeah.” Matthias tightened his arm around Daniel’s shoulders. “I did.” He shrugged. “I mean, I can’t exactly get paid if you’re…”
“Ass.” Daniel chuckled. “Thanks, Matthias.”
Matthias looked down at the young man asleep next to him. This was stupid. He’d have the law after him again, and for what? It wasn’t like he actually was going to get paid for this, and taking on a cabal was just… It was fucking suicide. There was no pay off. He’d never recoup the money he’d already spent, let alone turn a profit. A week of quiet and then back into a mess, and for what? Some thief who’d…
Daniel mumbled in his sleep, and Matthias put a hand on his arm. The young man stilled again, sinking back into more comfortable slumber. Some thief. A kid with more guts then he’d seen in a long time. Most he knew would have walked away, if not sold their sister out entirely.
He lay back down. Daniel snuggled into him, and he put an arm around Daniel, pulling him in closer. Then he closed his eyes, and went to sleep.
“You watched all those movies.”
“Of course I watched all the movies.” Matthias shook his head.
“But you didn’t know who Harry Potter was.” Daniel scratched his head.
“He’s that wizard thing with the broom.” Matthias turned the windshield wipers on as he drove down the highway.
“That’s technically correct and yet so far from accurate I don’t even know where to start.” Daniel sighed. “What about the Superman ones?”
“First one was good.”
“Do you mean Superman Returns or Man of Steel, cause Man of Steel wasn’t bad but —”
“Jesus fuck.” Matthias winced. “Have you never heard of Kirk Alyn?”
“What about George Reeves? Christopher Reeves.”
“Uh…” Daniel frowned. “The second one sounds familiar.” He shook his head. “What about Batman?’
“We found some shrapnel, part of a plane that went down.” Matthias twitched a shoulder. “Frank noted one piece looked kind of bat shaped, and filed it down on the march. I used it to take out a Nazi holed up in a bunker with a machine gun.” He smiled. “So they made me a half dozen more.”
Daniel laughed. “I would have figured you for more ‘Incredible Hulk’ than ‘Batman’.” He gave Matthias a contemplative look.
“Hulk didn’t debut until ‘62.”
“Show was good. Movies sucked.” Matthias changed lanes to go around a truck. “Liked Ruffalo’s take though.”
“I liked Thor. He was the best part of those movies.”
“I think you’re forgetting Captain America.”
“I will pull over this circus right now.”
“Though the Captain could at least budge the hammer, I suppose.”
“Budge?” Matthias shook his head. “He wielded it.”
“Did not. He just managed to wiggle it a little. Vision was the one that picked it up.”
“You are aware there are these things called ‘comics’ right?” Matthias sighed. “They predate the movies by decades.”
“Not really.” Daniel shrugged. “But then, I’m not older than electricity.”
“Elec…” Matthias glared at him. “That was the fucking 1800s, jackass.”
“I thought that was still steam.”
“You’re going to pay for that later.”
“Looking forward to it.” Daniel grinned.
Daniel chuckled as Anna raked the pile of cash toward herself. “What’s she up to now?”
“Ten grand.” Matthias glared.
“And she started with…” Daniel frowned.
“The hundred she stole out of your wallet.”
“Anna.” Daniel glared at her.
“What?” She looked down at the pile of money in front of her and handed him a wad of it. “Here.”
“Think anyone will buy her being eighteen?” Daniel frowned. “We could head into Vegas.”
“I can’t go to Vegas.” Matthias shook his head.
“There was a thing and a dragon and I don’t want to talk about it.” Matthias started shuffling the cards.
“Wait, dragons are real?” Daniel raised an eyebrow.
“I said I don’t want to talk about it.”
“If you knew she stole the money, why did you let her play in the first place?”
“I was trying to teach her a lesson about gambling.” Matthias tossed a bill into the pile. “I raise.”
“I see your raise, and reraise.” Anna tossed in two bills.
“Yeah.” Daniel nodded. “She’s definitely learned something alright.”
“Tell me you lost fifteen thousand dollars to my sister on purpose.” Daniel took his shirt off.
“That’s the annoying part.” Matthias shook his head. “I didn’t.” He shrugged, then gave Daniel a slightly apologetic look. “Also I told her I’d take her to get her ears pierced.”
“What?” Daniel turned toward him. “Why?”
“I told her I’d say I was her father so she could get it done.”
“Yeah, but why’d you agree to that in the first place?”
Matthias frowned slightly. “Huh.”
“No, it’s just…” He shook his head. “I can’t quite recall how the subject came up.” He finished unbuttoning his shirt.
“She…” Daniel froze, staring at him for a moment. A slight chill went down his spine. Then he grabbed his shirt and yanked it back on.
“Daniel?” Matthias blinked as Daniel walked past him to head back into the camper.
He banged his hand on the door of Anna’s alcove. “Anna?”
It took a moment for her to open the door and give him a bleary eyed look. “What?”
“Did you whammy Matthias?”
Her eyes widened and she flinched a little. “No.”
“You’re lying. Anna.” Daniel stared at her. He looked over his shoulder to see Matthias had entered the camper. A furious look was starting to come over Matthias’s face. A horrified thought came to him. “Anna, how long have you been…”
“I had to.” Anna started shaking her head. “Danny, I had to.”
“How long?” Matthias’s fists clenched. “How long have you been in my head?”
“I had to…” Anna started to cry.
“How fucking long have you been in my head?” Matthias’s eyes were starting to turn golden.
“Oh god, Anna.” Daniel shook his head.
“She’s been controlling…” Matthias growled.
“I didn’t…” Anna hiccuped. “I just…”
“Just what?” Daniel felt tears of his own threatening.
“I just make him stop when he starts thinking that helping us is a bad idea.” Anna shook her head. “I just push a little. That’s all. We need him, Danny.”
Daniel stared at her before turning to look at Matthias. Matthias was staring at them, his eyes all the way golden. “Matthias…”
“She’s been…” Matthias took a deep breath. “She’s been messing with my head.”
A snarl of rage answered him, and he saw a flash of fang. Then Matthias turned around and left the camper. Daniel ran to the door just in time to see a massive gray wolf vanish into the night.
He stared across the camper at Daniel. His hands itched as his fists tried to turn into claws, to rend and tear and… She’d been in his mind. Matthias started to take a step forward before he quite realized what it was he was about to do. He needed to…
Matthias turned and went through the camper door. The wolf took him over almost before his feet had touched the ground. He let the wild instinct guide him, to take him away from anything human before he lost control entirely.
Daniel sat down across from Anna. Her eyes were red-rimmed, and her breath was hitched. He felt a bit like crying himself. “I’m sorry.” Anna’a voice was small.
“Have you been controlling me too?” He couldn’t meet her eyes.
“It won’t work on you, cause you’re a witch too.” She wiped at her nose. “Rosa ‘splained it.”
“Gifts come in two parts, light and dark.” Anna took a deep breath. “I can take things out of people’s head, know what they’re thinking about, and…” She sniffled. “And I can put things in. Like how you can put healing in but if you really wanted to you could take it out.”
He stared down at his hands. If what she was saying was right… He didn’t want to think about it. “Anna.”
“Will he come back?” She wrapped her arms around herself.
“I don’t know.” Daniel swallowed. It was likely if Matthias did return, it would just be to collect what was his. Which was pretty much everything they had. “Anna, when did you start…” If she’d been controlling Matthias from the beginning, then… Then what the fuck did that make him? Whore he could handle. The idea that Matthias hadn’t been… He felt sick.
“When he learned about the cabal.” Anna sniffled. “He started to think that the contract wasn’t valid and I made him stop.”
“They shot him, Anna.” Daniel stared at her. “He had to kill eight people to…” He shook his head. “He lost his house and his…” He slammed his hands palm down on the table, and she flinched. “We cost him everything. He did it all for us because you…”
“Not all.’ Anna started crying again. “I didn’t make him like you.”
“You think that makes it better?” Tears trickled down his own cheeks. “Oh god, Anna…”
“I’m sorry.” She sobbed. “I’m sorry.”
He managed a bit of fitful sleep, and crawled out of bed just after sunrise. Anna was still in her alcove. Daniel sighed and began taking stock. He had a very large amount of cash, some guns that he couldn’t really use that were probably illegal anyway, no usable ID, and he wasn’t entirely sure what state he was in. At least he had his set of keys to the truck and camper. He opened the camper door, hoping for a moment that he’d find Matthias on the other side. The rest area was close to empty.
By the time he got back from the building with a copy of the highway map, Anna had emerged from her alcove. She looked miserable. “He didn’t come back.”
“I think maybe we should head back to Rosa.” Daniel sighed. “She mentioned having contacts who could help us.”
“She could teach me. Her gift isn’t quite the same but its close.” Anna nodded. “She said I could do more.”
“Did she know what you were doing to Matthias?” Daniel frowned.
“I don’t think so.” Anna shook her head.
“Alright.” Daniel exhaled. “We’ll wait here a few more…” He sighed. “Then you can call her and let her know we’re coming.”