War: Chapter 11

Abigail stared for a moment.  Aside from both being very good looking men, there was no resemblance at all between the blond newcomer and Khait.  “I…”  She turned toward the others, and she noted the professor had gone pale.  “Uh…”

Professor Kravitz staggered a little, and Magda guided him to a chair.  The professor immediately started taking deep breaths while Magda looked at him in confusion.  “I’m not sure what just…”  Magda glanced at the blond man.  “Explain?”

“It’s uh…”  The blond man sighed.  “I’m sorry.”

“No, it’s…”  Khait slowly nodded and then stepped back before swallowing.  “You remember me.”

“Yes and no.”  The blond man gave him a gentle smile.  “Enough to know you’re my little brother.”  He smoothed the front of Khait’s shirt.  “Usariel.”

“Little…”  Things clicked, and then it was her turn to stagger.  She caught herself, then took a couple deep breaths.

Khait turned toward her and took her hand, pulling her a little closer before putting an arm around her waist.  “This is my girlfriend, Abigail.”

“Are you okay, Tomer?”  Magda was patting the professor’s back as he kept taking deep breaths.  He shook his head, his eyes wide.  Abigail couldn’t really blame him.

“It’s nice to meet you.”  The blond man held out a hand, and she took it.  His handshake was firm.  “I’m Gabriel.”

“Nice to…”  If Khait hadn’t had his arm around her, she might have ended up on the ground.  No wonder the professor was freaking out.  Khait’s brother was…  No.  Usariel’s brother was…  She swallowed.  “Gabriel.”  Then she looked at Khait.  “Gabriel?”

“Yes.”  Khait was smiling.  It slowly faded as he gave her a concerned look, then his eyes widened.  “Oh.  Shit.”  He turned back toward Gabriel.  “You.  What are you doing here?  How are you here?  Why are you here?  You shouldn’t be here.  All the seals are intact.  It’s against the rules for you to be here.”

“And yet, here I am.”  Gabriel shrugged.  “When it is time for me to know more, I will.  For now…”  He nodded to Khait, then glanced over at the others.  “Is the professor alright?”

“Really not sure.”  Magda exhaled.  Then she took a deep breath.  “So…”  She glanced from Gabriel to Khait and back again.  “The name isn’t a coincidence.  You’re actually Gabriel.”

“I thought you knew that already.”  Gabriel raised an eyebrow at her.

“Yeah, but like knowing a pan is hot versus actually putting your hand down on it…”  Magda sighed, then patted Professor Kravitz’s shoulder.  “It’s already, Tomer.  He is definitely one of the good guys.”

“Khait…”  Professor Kravitz looked up at him hopefully.  “Can you perhaps do that thing again where you make me not remember certain events?”

#

Khait sat down on the small bench, and put his arm around Abigail.  She leaned into him, and he breathed in the scent of her hair before kissing the top of her head.  Then his eyes went to where Gabriel was talking to Magda.  Gabriel was here.  Gabriel was here and…  And Gabriel wasn’t angry with him.  He felt another presence, and sighed.  “You weren’t going to tell me.”

You’ve a history of —”

“He’s our brother, Erilon.”  He leaned his head back, then glanced at where she stood, glowing in the eyes of a teenage girl.  “Who else knows he is here?”

Ryuu Ishi recognized him.”  Erilon folded her arms.  “He wasn’t hostile.”

He snorted.  Next to him, Abigail raised an eyebrow.  “I thought this Ryuu fellow was a dragon, and dragons were kind of the premiere badasses of the world.”

“Gabriel isn’t of the world.”  Khait smiled.

He is right now.  Khait, his shell is mortal.  He nearly died once already, and I’m not sure what the destruction of the shell would do to…”  Erilon sighed, and looked down.  “I was just trying to protect him.”

“From me.”  He looked away from her.  “You were trying to protect our brother, from me.”  He shook his head.  “And you were trying to protect me, by turning me over to an angry dragon.  Going out on a limb here, but have you considered that maybe people are safer when you aren’t protecting them?”

“Khait.”  Abigail put her hand on his shoulder.  “You were a very different person five hundred years ago.  Maybe you should consider whether the same is true for her.”

A different person?”  Erilon shook her head.  “He’s still —”

“Oh shut the fuck up.”  Abigail stood.  “He nearly had his soul ripped apart trying to save me and Bridget.  He was willing to sacrifice himself to save us.  Monsters…”  She drove a finger into Erilon’s chest.  “Don’t do things like that.”

He —”

“What color do Gabriel’s eyes glow?”  Abigail folded her arms as she starred Erilon down.

I don’t —”

“They are gold, aren’t they?”  She tapped her foot.

Yes.”  Erilon shrugged.  “But I fail to see —”

“When Khait nearly died protecting us, his eyes were gold.”  Abigail raised her chin and stared into Erilon’s glowing red eyes.

For a long moment, Erilon was silent.  He should get Abigail something nice.  Maybe a tiara.  She’d shut Erilon up.  Erilon turned toward him.  “You touched the power.  You…”  She stared at him, her head shaking slightly.  “How?”

“They were going to kill the woman I loved, and my best friend.”  Khait stood, putting his arm around Abigail.  “I…”  He laughed a little, then shrugged.  “I said please.”

You…”  Erilon looked at him, then gave him a small smile.  “You really love her?”

“Yes, Erilon.”  He turned toward Abigail, who smiled at him.  “I really do.”

She laughed, then gave a small shake of her head.  Then she shrugged, stepped forward, and to his surprise, she hugged Abigail.  “You do realize if you break my brother’s heart I will drag you into the fifth level of hell?”

“Only the fifth?”  He blinked at her as Abigail started laughing.

I’m still mad at you over Troy.”

“That…”  He glared at her.  “Was so not my fault.”

#

“If you’re a demon…”  Ash tilted his head.  “How come your voice doesn’t do the thing like Erilon’s does?”

“She’s incorporeal and has to use magic to speak.”  Khait shrugged.  “I have an actual physical body, because I never —”

We aren’t discussing that.”  Erilon glared from where she was reflected in the full length mirror.

Ash chuckled, then leaned back.  “So you can’t talk in our heads.”  Khait was surprisingly easy to talk to.  Part of him wondered if it was part of the Incubus’s powers.

“I can sense your desires and reinforce them, but no, actual telepathy like she does is not one of my skills.”  Khait gave Ash a contemplative look.

Don’t.”  Erilon immediately glared at him.

“I’m not going to hurt the boy, Erilon.”  Khait rolled his eyes.  “That would be at least a seven on the scale of bad.”

“At least.”  Abigail nodded, then frowned at the piece of paper she was writing on.  “Can you get an out of print book without stealing it from a collection, library, or museum?”

“Maybe?”  He raised an eyebrow.

“Okay, I’ll leave it on the list then.”  She passed the paper over to Khait.  “Get him these ones.”

Khait looked over the list, then looked up at Abigail.  “You know, if you want to kill him I could just drop these books on his head instead of you torturing him to death by making him read them.”

“I like geology.”  Ash chuckled.

“Alright then.”  Khait passed the list back to Abigail.  “Done.”

“Just like…”  Ash trailed off as Abigail pointed at the table behind him.  On it was a stack of textbooks.  He picked up the first.  “Archeology Essentials.”

“There are several more specific to geology and one devoted entirely to tracing trading patterns by the composition of clay samples in artifacts.  It’s fascinating.”  Abigail grinned at him.  When Khait opened his mouth, Abigail lightly smacked his elbow.  “Though I admit having a boyfriend who actually lived through most of Egypt’s most fascinating historical periods does make it easy to check my conclusions.”

“Wow.”  Ash laughed.  “My girlfriend is only four hundred.”

“It’s so weird, right?”  Abigail gave him a commiserative look.  “Does she ever pull the back in my day thing?”

“Only when I start complaining about what’s on the radio.”  Ash shrugged.  “She got to see the Beatles live.  Queen, too.”

“I tried to get Khait to take me to a Bowie concert, but apparently time travel is not one of his abilities.”  Abigail nodded.  “Ah well, at least he makes doing the shopping easy.”

“I’m standing…”  Khait gave her a playful glare.  “Right here.”

#

He caught a glimpse of a reflection in the mirror, then sighed.  “Knocking would be appreciated.”

“I’m sorry.”  Khait bowed his head.  “I just wanted…”  He sighed.

“To speak in private.”  Gabriel nodded.  “What do you want to talk about?”

“I don’t know.”  Khait shifted awkwardly.  “I, uh…”  He exhaled.  “I never thought I’d see any of you again.  I thought if I did it would be because…”  He rubbed the back of his neck.  “I spent a thousand years trying to get your attention and…”  He took a deep breath.  “Now you’re here and I have no idea what to say.”

“Ash was pretty thrilled about those books you and Abigail helped him get.”  Gabriel smiled.  “Thank you for that.”  He gestured at the chair, indicating Khait should sit.  “How did you and Abigail meet?”

“You…”  Khait sat down.  “That’s what you want to talk about?”

Gabriel exhaled.  “The thousand years you referenced…”  He shrugged.  “I don’t remember any of them.  From my perspective, I was born twenty-six years ago.  I’m a cop from Washington State.  I majored in psychology at a seminary school, and before that I went to a Catholic school where my aunts, both nuns, taught.  This other thing that I am is like the shadow of a dream.  I can’t grasp it enough to discuss it in any more than the most abstract of terms.”  He smiled.  “But…”  He sat on the edge of the bed.  “My little brother has a girlfriend he obviously adores.  And that…”  He nodded to Khait.  “Seems like it is worth discussing.”

#

“Let me get this straight…”  Michaels rubbed his forehead.  “Your kid brother carved graffiti on the inside of one of the pyramids of Giza while it was being built.”  When Gabriel nodded, Michaels took a deep breath.  “But he’s your little brother.  You’re twenty-six, and he predates the pyramids, but he’s your little brother.”

“I admit, I’m having a bit of difficulty with that part myself.”  Stephan chuckled, but didn’t look up from the book he’d borrowed from Ash.  Ash lay next to him, his head in Stephan’s lap, as he read one of the textbooks.

“That…”  Professor Kravitz stared at them.  “Is the part you are having problems with?”

“We’ve kind of have a few months to deal with the other thing, so we’re able to limit the existential crisis episodes to once or twice a week.”  Stephan shrugged.

“I just don’t ever think about the other thing.”  Michaels waved a hand.  “He’s still my asshat rookie partner.”

“Rookie?”  Gabriel raised an eyebrow.

“Yeah.”  Michaels lifted his chin, and poked Gabriel in the arm.  “Rookie.”

“Rookie.”  Gabriel folded his arms.”

“Rookie.”  Michaels lowered his head.

“Right.”  Gabriel shrugged.  Then he kicked off the side of the deck and tackled Michaels into the pool.

Professor Kravitz exhaled.  “I should have asked Khait for more pot while he was here.”

“Yeah…”  Stephan turned a page.  “I know that feeling.”

#

Giroux led him and Wren down a corridor.  Wren was practically bouncing with excitement.  Adam couldn’t help but feel trepidation.  Giroux was one of the highest ranking members of the Cabal, these days pretty much running the entirety of French operations, if not most of Europe.  He’d made good use of both Adam and Wren to cement that position.

The idea that they were being taken to meet Giroux superior was worrisome, especially as he didn’t know why.  Giroux’s superior had asked specifically to meet them.  Wren assumed it was because of her, as her ego was wont to do.  Adam was more than a little concerned it was because of him.  If they’d found out about Iggy and the others, then this was not going to be a pleasant meeting.

He half expected Giroux to kneel or something when they entered.  It sure as hell looked like a throne room.  Priceless artwork decorated the walls, including a couple works he recognized as stolen and a few others he just recognized.  Which meant the versions on display at the museum were probably the forgeries, as he couldn’t imagine any high ranking member of the Cabal settling for less than the originals.

Waiting for them was an older man in an elegant tailored suit.  There were no bodyguards.  Adam wasn’t sure if that was a good sign or a bad one.  Either they weren’t in trouble, or the man in front of them was out of their league and didn’t want witnesses.  One look at the man’s startlingly blue eyes and he was immediately certain it was the latter.  Giroux spoke up.  “Sir, this is Wren Tierney and Adam Wu.”

“A pleasure.”  The man stepped down from his small dais and came toward them, holding his hands out to Wren in a warm gesture.  “I’ve heard so much about you.”

“It’s an honor to meet you.”  Wren beamed at him.

“Sir.”  Adam inclined his head respectfully.  Doing otherwise would be a fatal mistake.

“This is the head of our organization…”  Giroux continued the introductions.  “Myrddin Emrys.”

So this was the head of the Cabal.  It was almost a relief to learn there actually was one.  Heads could be cut off.  “Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Emrys.”  Adam accepted the man’s handshake.

“The pleasure is all mine.”  The man smiled.  “But please…”  He released Adam’s hand.  “Call me Merlin.”

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