The door of the coffee shop swung inward just as Fianynlas reached for the handle. A broad shoulder bumped his chest, knocking him back a pace. The man’s hand lashed out, gripping Fianynlas’ shoulder to steady him.
“Sorry about that. I didna see you there.”
The pleasant burr of the man’s deep voice said Scotland. Fianynlas turned a narrow-eyed look on him, rubbing at the single droplet of hot coffee that had splashed from the cup in the man’s hand onto his cheek.
The Scotsman was handsome enough for a human. His features were strong and well-shaped, the small smile of apology on his lips a pleasant one. A head of thick black hair hung long enough to be tied neatly into a little tail at his nape. Other than his good looks, the only thing halfway remarkable about the man was in his gaze. Fianynlas had never seen mortal eyes quite as sad as the blue grey ones that met his now.
“Never mind.” Fianynlas said, stepping back out of the loosening hold on his shoulder. The feel of the man’s hand lingered on him after, as though the skin held some unnatural sort of heat that seared all the way through his clothing.
The man gave Fianynlas another little nod of apology. “Alright then. Dinna let any more oafs run over you comin’ through doors.” A brief smile tugged at the corner of his lips and he turned to vanish back into the crowd.
Fianynlas laid a hand on his shoulder, frowning at the warmth he found there. He scrubbed with his palm at the tingling sensation left on his skin. The feeling was familiar. Magic. Light Court magic. The mortal had been touched by fae, and not just touched. Imbued with enough magic that Fianynlas could feel it in his skin. Stepping to the side of the doors, he stared into the crowd where he’d last seen the man. Continue reading
Into the Wild Blue
Marius stayed true to his word. He went back to work. The doorstep he found himself on was not the workplace he had left when he took his leave. Marius wanted answers. The only place he knew that could provide him those adequately was the Occult Investigation Bureau.
Marius had little issues in locating the building in the heart of Vancouver. His weight shifted from one foot to the other as he listened to the hum of the elevator. Nervousness prickled at him. The elevator chimed his arrival to the correct floor. The door glided open. A spacious modern reception area greeted Marius. He paused a few steps towards the reception desk to stare at a painting hung over a couch.
“Saint John in the Wilderness, from the workshop of Leonardo Da Vinci.” Ronan said from behind Marius. “He is a favourite amongst the Little People.”
“Da Vinci?” Marius asked, turning swiftly to face Ronan. He hadn’t noticed Ronan, just the blonde lady at the desk talking quietly on the phone. Marius swallowed sharply, then smiled. He stuck his hand out to Ronan in greeting.
“No, Saint John.” Ronan shook Marius’ hand. “It is good to see you, Marius.”
Marius nodded. “Thanks. You too, Ronan.” Marius glanced back to the painting, curiosity getting the better of him. “Why Saint John? He’s a christian saint.”
Roland thumbed open his phone to check his email and scowled. There was nothing in the inbox that hadn’t been there the last five times he looked. He picked up his glass as the screen went black again. The whiskey swirled over his tongue. Roland gulped down the burn of the alcohol as he considered the situation. Three months he’d been in London, and he’d not heard a word yet from the Yard about his application.
The money wasn’t what concerned Roland. There were still months of safety net left in the account. The silence, however, made him wonder if he’d made some mistake in the identity he’d created. Maybe the world had already advanced too far for him to fabricate a new reality for himself. Roland took another sip and set the empty glass down on the wooden bar in front of him.
“Another?” The barman asked.
Nodding, Roland held up a single finger, then watched the amber liquid slowly fill the glass. The back of his neck prickled as he started to reach for it. Roland grabbed the phone instead, focusing his attention on the reflection of his face in the dark glass.
This feeling had lingered with him for months. Since his first week back in London he’d been plagued by the increasing certainty that someone was following him. Roland shifted the phone. The reflection of the small room showed dim and shadowy on the screen. He tilted the phone slightly to let himself see as much of the space around him as he could without making it too obvious.
The evening rush hadn’t yet begun. Only a few patrons filled the seats and once more Roland found himself baffled. He couldn’t recognize a single one. The sensation remained, sending unpleasant little thrills along his spine. Roland set the phone back down in front of him. He picked up the glass instead, swirling it once before he sipped.
No one had any reason to follow him. The tiny odd incidents that had plagued him for the last few months might have nothing to do with someone watching him presently. “But one an’ one dinna make three…” Continue reading
The Dawnrise Corporation’s top security team met Zencho at the airport. They were faces he knew well, a trio of men that regularly escorted him when residing in London. The team well knew the routine of getting Zencho through the airport with next to no hiccups. They weren’t off to a good start.
A photographer managed to slip the security ropes. His camera flashed the moment Zencho rounded the corner on the passenger boarding bridge. A string of curses left the man walking at his side. Marius was his neighbor on the plane since the unscheduled stop in Iceland to pick Zencho up. By the sounds of the choice words coming out of Marius, he was definitely not used to the life of fame and fortune.
A grin arched across Zencho’s face as he reached out to shake Marius’ hand. “Sorry about the camera. Wasn’t really expecting them this soon.”
Marius whistled low, a brief shake of his head made in disbelief. He shook Zencho’s hand in return. “Hey man, all good. Been a pleasure meeting you. You need help getting out of here?”
Zencho glanced over his shoulder. The three men dressed in black divided the crowd on their approach, forcing the handful of paparazzi back. Zencho often wondered just how much the photographers made off these candid shots of him if purchasing airfare to get past security didn’t hinder them in the least. “Nah, I’m good. Thanks, Marius. Make sure to give me a ring, yeah? Go out for a beer while you’re in London, maybe give you a bit of a tour of the sights.”
Sprouting from the Ashes
A droplet formed at the end of the human’s finger. Fianynlas watched with avid eyes as the drop slowly swelled and rounded, then fell, gleaming and perfect in the still air. The liquid shone for a moment where it landed, rich as garnet against the dark bark beneath.
The blood vanished, soaking into the bark as though it had never been. Power gathered heavy in the air like a storm. Fianynlas closed his eyes to savor the sensation. Energy hummed under his skin; potent, electric. A new tree sprouted. He heard the heaving of soil and creaking of bark as the trunk shot skyward. Fianynlas reveled in the feeling, as though each stretching branch and furling leaf was an extension of his own flesh.
The Heart Tree spread, branches reaching wider, and roots burrowing deep into the soil. Fianynlas smiled. Slowly, the surge settled but the power remained, steady and soft as the whisper of the leaves. The Forest grew. Fianynlas thrived along with it. The magic at his fingertips was stronger than the day before, dancing all the more eagerly at his whim.
Before the fire, Fianynlas had been a god within his borders. The Forest stretched far as eyes could see across his portion of Faerie. The entirety of his court had once easily gathered in the shade beneath the Heart Tree’s massive branches. The most beautiful of them all had shared his bed among the boughs. His lips curled with a fierce snarl as Fianynlas shoved the thought of Melanthian aside. Flames licked at his memories, agonizing and bitter as the betrayal.
Ava Steele lived in a two-bedroom apartment in an older high rise in the West End of Vancouver, a block off Davie Street. Marius discovered early in his living with her that life in the busy downtown core was far different from suburban Burnaby. He missed his quiet street and the forest he jogged through each morning.
Ronan’s advice in Marius staying with Ava proved accurate. Ava’s loving presence and her always bright smile had helped him immensely. Marius reacquainted himself with household chores during the leave of absence he took from CSIS. His sister worked full time so Marius thought it only fair that he take care of the house and meals. Ava hadn’t argued.
In truth, playing housekeeper gave him simple tasks to think about and focus on outside of missing his family and home. Each morning, Marius jogged down to Third Beach to watch the sun rise. Only as the sky lit in oranges and yellows did he give himself permission to think. When none but the seagulls and lapping waves could see the flow of tears wetting his cheeks or the mumbled prayers of forgiveness he told the rising sun. Marius started the trek back to the apartment by the time the dawn had calmed into blue grey skies.
The beach trips gradually helped, the need to cry turned into quiet contemplation of cresting waves. The hole in his heart dwindled in rawness, but still persistently ached. Marius recognized early on why healing evaded him. Until he discovered, one way or another, what had become of Issy, Marius had no chance in patching all the cracks.
Still, life marched on.
Every year Marius made it a point to take his sister out for her birthday. Ava named the place, and Marius footed the bill. This year, Ava selected a public house down on the corner of Denman and Davie Street with a view of the sea. This year, Ava didn’t bring her latest girlfriend. Instead, Ava and Marius dined together at a table on the outdoor patio. They ordered burgers and wedge cut fries, then settled into their usual rounds of birthday drinks. Fortunately, they could crawl back to Ava’s from the pub if necessary.
Roland sucked in a sharp breath. The metal table was cold as ice against his naked back. The skin on his arms prickled with the chill that came through the thin sheet covering him. His chest squeezed, his throat tightening with the desperate urge to cough. Roland gritted his teeth, forcing himself to listen in silence.
Moments stretched before he trusted the silence enough to breathe again. Roland lifted his hands to shove the sheet off of his face. He sat up, wincing at the chill of the air. A fit of coughing followed, painful and all too loud despite his best attempts to muffle it. Roland spat clotted blood into the sheet and swore.
He knew damn well where he was. Roland hardly even needed the quick glance around the room that showed him the morgue’s familiar white walls. A shrouded body rested on the neighboring table.
“Bloody fuckin’ hell.” Roland resisted the urge to slam his fist down on the metal table. He didn’t have the time to spare on venting his frustration and grief.
Roland gave the room another look over, this time far more careful in his observation. He was lucky to find the morgue empty, but he likely had minutes before whoever was on duty this evening returned. Roland didn’t want to be here when they did. An empty table would cause enough fuss without someone actually seeing him walk out.
Rubbing his hands over his arms, Roland frowned. The skin under his palms was fever warm despite the chill of the room. That warmth puzzled him, as it always did. Roland shoved the thought aside. He needed to get out.
A lab coat hung on the back of the desk chair. He slid from the table. Without the meager protection of the sheet, the kiss of cold air on his skin made him shiver. Roland wondered if Ellen was on duty. He hoped Keefe was wrong and she hadn’t really liked him.
Roland tugged the lab coat on, grateful when it slid over his shoulders with only a little tightness. This was definitely not Ellen’s lab coat. His mind fished for the other pathologist’s name. Exhaling sharply, Roland shoved the thought aside. It didn’t matter if he remembered now. At least the lab coat offered some small salve to his modesty. Continue reading