Ahhhh!!! I'm so glad I finally got this up! It took me forever to get it all written and then my dear beta, bunnyb and I were having issues with email. Stupid but loveable computers. Enjoy. In case anyone's forgotten ~*~ indicates a flashback which is always in third person. Also all French can be easily understood as regular conversation between a waiter and customer.although I suspect you all could've figured that out without my assistance.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~* ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


Les Oiseaux is in a nice, rather touristy area of Nice. Granted, the touristy part would normally prevent me from thinking of it as nice. But considering who I'm meeting today (as I'm decently sure he will show) the presence of swarms of bumbling innocents should make things a good deal safer. Only a complete idiot starts a fight in a tourist district. And while Mr. Gregory may be a slimy, immoral, impatient asshole he's not an idiot. Or at least that's what I'm betting on. And I'm rarely wrong about these things.
All the same I would really hate for today to be that one time I have read someone completely wrong. So I'm not sitting close to the square, and a glamour has changed my hair to a deep brown. I'm wearing sunglasses and a chic little golden tan pantsuit. I even left the stilettos at home. The square has cobblestones, and even I'm not that good at running in heels. Of course I'm also carrying two different guns, with a third hidden under the table, and a wire. The wire is there to convince Nick and Alicia about what kind of trouble they're actually in, although they've been told it's so I can get backup easily. Presumably I won't need it, but a girl can never be too careful.
I have the unfashionably American habit of taking my coffee black, so I haven't added the provided cream and sugar to it. Nor have I ordered any pastries. I'm just sitting here scanning the square, hoping he'll decide to show. I want this taken care of so that I can get back to dealing with life as it really is. And over on the other side I see a tall man moving out of the shadows, surrounded by two oafs. Oh very inconspicuous Gregory. If I didn't know better I'd think he was afraid of lil' ol' me. How sad.
I remember hearing Michael described as being a very attractive man for his late forties. So it shouldn't surprise me that his brother is also fairly attractive. I think Nick gets his blonde looks from this side of the family, because the man who is coming across the square has silvery blonde hair, which is, so far as I can tell cut close to the head. He walks fast, his bodyguards trailing just behind. How silly of me not to specify alone. But then, if I had, he might not of come.
He stands at the entrance to the café, searching the restaurant for me. While we've never met I'm sure he's scanned my dossier. Unfortunate for him that I don't currently look like myself. Raising one hand I wave him over to me, and at his bodyguard's prompting, he goes. Evidently he doesn't register movement very well, if his bodyguard has to tell him I'm waving.
He must be rather warm in the dark grey suit, as it's warmer here than it was in New York, despite the heat wave we were all suffering through. He sits across from me, also wearing sunglasses.
"Where's Ms. Flemmings?"
"I am."
"No you're not. Ms. Flemmings is five ten, white blonde, with grey eyes, and."
"Haven't you ever heard of personal glamour?"
"So you are a witch. Interesting. I'd discounted those rumors. Is that how you managed to heal yourself so well then?"
"Oh yes. And if you ever send second rate idiots like that after me again I'll be much less agreeable."
The bodyguard on the right stiffens. So he was the one who was shooting at me yesterday. What good fun.
"Technically they weren't sent after you. They were sent to get rid of my nephew and his girlfriend, since I don't seem to be able to trust outside help anymore."
"So sorry to have inconvenienced you. I do hope you'll find it in your heart to forgive me," I dislike discussing this matter with his two bodyguards so close by, and for all that I've just insulted him, he wasn't that bad of a shot. I'm better of course, but not that much. "And, if you wouldn't mind our talking alone, we might be able to come to a solution that fits both of our needs."
"Ah, but you see, I'm not so sure I trust you."
"Exactly my problem with you. How about I give all the weapons I'm carrying to your trigger happy friend there and then they go wait at a nearby table."
I'm no fool. I may dislike lying, but I won't leave myself defenseless. I'll give him every weapon I'm carrying. Just not the one stuck underneath the chair.
"And I'm just supposed to take your word for it?"
"I thought you wanted them out of the way sooner rather than later. If I'm in charge the matter will be taken care of. I just didn't like your methods earlier."
"You're an assassin. It's not your business to care about my methods."
"Not a word more until your gorillas disappear. Or I will. It's up to you really."
I can tell he's just itching to call my bluff. Probably almost as anxious to do that as he is to get his family problems taken care of. But he'll do whatever he can to secure his own personal safety, and his bodyguards won't accompany him to prison, which is where I'm assuming he'll be headed if this whole Alicia ordeal isn't taken care of soon. So I'm hardly surprised when he nods to his apes in suits. One holds out his hand and I hand over my napkin, which just so happens to be covering two guns, one I'm less fond of, and another that I fully plan on getting back from him, and a knife. And then they walk to the other side of the café and sit down.
"So. Why is it that you want them dead in the first place?"
"That's none of your concern."
"It is if you want my help."
"What I want is for you to kill them. It's that simple. You don't need to know why. We've already covered this."
"So I'm curious. Indulge me, or I'll just have to come up with my own ideas and tell the police those. I think I could come up with a fairly reasonable story. And I know I'm good at fabricating evidence. No doubt almost as good as you are."
He looks almost frightened of me. I'm not surprised. I can be very intimidating when I want to be. No one word in that sentence was particularly fear inspiring. It was much more the full effect of my dead eyes, my twist of a smile, and the complete lack of emotion in my voice. We both know I'll do it, and it scares the shit out of him. Poor man.
"I think you already know."
"Oh I know you killed him, I just don't know why."
"The fucking idiot was about to lose us everything. He was talking about how his new little love had made him rethink things, that the way we were doing business was wrong, that we'd destroyed lives, and he wanted to make things right. And of course the only way for him to do that was to shell out a few billion dollars to the government and the effected families. I couldn't let him do it, but I wasn't about to take the fall for it. It should have been a painfully easy thing to take care of, but you seem determined to fuck things up for me."
I nod understandingly, and catch the eye of a waiter. I feel like I need another boost of caffeine and a chocolate croissant.
"Je voudrais une tasse de caffe et un croissant au chocolate."
"Oui, Madame."
"After I eat there's something you need to see."
I've decided a nice little family reunion is in order here. And who can blame me? A little chaos is just what a girl needs after breakfast. Although from the look Theodore is giving me I'm not sure he agrees. What a pity.
"So, how are you enjoying Nice?"
"I'm not here to make small talk Ms. Flemmings."
"Oh, but I am. Besides I thought you didn't want to continue discussing your tendency towards fratricide. So to continue, have you been enjoying the weather or are Mediterranean summers a tad bit overheated for your tastes? I myself find it marginally less humid than New York before I left, and therefore more bearable, but I'm longing for mid November. There's just something very refreshing about the fall, don't you think?"
"I've always preferred winter myself."
"Really. So do I. Do you think that says anything about your personal life? Is it possible that our mutual fondness for the coldest and most barren of months implies something about the state of our souls?"
He's blanching. He didn't expect the conversation to take a philosophical tone. Neither was I. But seeing this sophisticated career man so obviously uncomfortable is quite entertaining. And it feels like I haven't been having enough fun lately. What is that line from 'The Shining'? "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"? Yes that's it and it's time for me to play, and I like to win when I'm playing games.
"I can't speak for the state of your soul, although from what I've heard you no longer have one. But mine is fine."
"Is it? After you've killed your own brother and attempted to kill his fiancée and treasured son of your only sister multiple times, not to mention the many other deaths that I'm sure could be laid at your door? And all for a few dollars. I'd say you're soul is as far from fine as it gets. You'll be spending eternity with me, and we won't be in heaven.
Provided you believe in that whole religious concept of course. What religion are you anyway? I recall Nick was raised Catholic, but for some reason I have trouble picturing you as an altar boy. But then I imagine you were quite pretty as a child. Is that why you are the way you are now? A little church sanctioned abuse as a child?"
Can I help it if I've started to let the malice creep into my tone? I always have had a low opinion of Christianity, but then I wasn't truly raised as one. I suspect, considering how Nick was raised, that the same can't be said for Theo here, and everyone knows Catholics never get over their guilt complex. As he's stopped turning pale, and his cheeks are burning red with a flush of anger instead, I think I guessed right. I do hope he doesn't actually make a scene. That would not be following the plan at all.
But before he has the chance to do anything I might regret the waiter comes to my aid, bringing my coffee and food. He's an attractive sort of man, and if I had a bit more time I might amuse myself by flirting with him. As I don't, I let my appreciation for his curly light brown hair and clean features linger in my eyes as I brush my fingers against his as I take the cup of coffee from him. I smile as I say, in a slightly huskier tone of voice,
He'll be watching our table from now on, and I'll be able to get the bill when I want it. Actually judging from the look on his face, I could probably get the whole meal for free, but there's no need for that.
"Calm down, Theo darling. I'm just having some fun with you."
He starts at my little pet name, the look in his eyes morphing from anger to something darker. He's picturing my death, probably a painful one. It's the kind of cold hate and bloodlust that only fills the eyes of a killer, and I wonder if he'd actually killed people before his brother. I would've pegged him as the type to order his goons to dispatch his problems, but now I'm reconsidering. He would like nothing more than to see my life blood flow from me right now, but he won't act on his desires.
He's too smart for that. I'm a dangerous unknown. He suspects, for good reason, that I'm not on his side, but that doesn't mean I'm his enemy. And I know he's heard enough about me to know that he doesn't want to be my enemy. I don't have many outright enemies. They're all dead, as I don't like the idea of allowing a potential problem live a day longer than it has too. In fact once this is all over, if he's still alive, I can guarantee I won't be allowing him to live long in prison. Too dangerous.
"Would you like some? Chocolate croissants are a personal favorite of mine, but I think I could find it in me to share."
"I'll pass."
"Suit yourself."
Luckily the coffee is just warm enough to be drinkable, but not scalding hot. It's not nearly as good as American coffee in my humble opinion, but it will do. I've heard the tea is better in Europe, but since I never get it, I wouldn't know. Theodore is restless though, and I decide I need to hurry up my meal, and so cut down on the conversation, contenting myself with watching him. He's regained some of his composure and has hidden the deep hatred I glimpsed only moments ago, and is now giving me mildly annoyed looks out of the corner of his eye, while tapping his foot against the table.
I finish my last sip of coffee only moments after savoring the last bit of flaky pastry and bitter chocolate. I've succeeded in hurrying without looking like I have. It's something that sounds easier than it is, and it took me a decently long time to gain the ability. But Theo and I have had enough of chit-chat. It's time to get down to the real reason he's here, and we both know it. So I raise a hand, summoning my charming waiter, and say,
"L'additon, s'il vous plait."
He nods, going to get it for me. In the meantime I busy myself by removing the gun from underneath the table, and placing it on my person. I have the feeling I won't get my weapons back just because we're changing locales. The bill isn't very much and I leave the waiter a large tip for a European café, but he was such an obliging man. I stand up, noting the speed and surprising grace with which the goons make their way back over to their boss, once again becoming his shadow. I proceed out of the café, knowing they're following me, and pretending that having the three of them at my back doesn't worry me.
We're headed to the Cathedral, my assumption being that he won't dare risk a gunfight in such a public place. It's just across the square, and there's a line to get in. We don't wait in it. I detest lines and so walk to a side door, where I convince a guard to let me in with a few extra Euros. If everything is going according to plan Nick should be just inside, covered by Norris. Although at the moment I'm not to sure I care whether or not he gets hurt. Not after that nasty little spat this morning.


Aurora wakes without Norris's warmth beside her, but that's fine but cause it's already getting too hot for comfort. She can almost smell breakfast, and as she is starving she decides to get some. There is no need to rummage for clothing or grab a sheet she decides. It's too hot, and it's not as if he hasn't seen it all.
He doesn't really respond to her state of undress when she comes in the room, just slides a cup of very black coffee towards her with a raised eyebrow. Just the way she likes it. She's tired enough that she doesn't say anything, just inhales the scent, and wishes it were cool enough to drink. Norris is making omelettes, and as he too is a good cook, she lets him. The silence is companionable enough, and for a few moments she can imagine that her life hasn't been falling apart before her eyes.
Alicia, or Carolyn, as she has just decided she would like to go by again comes into the kitchen, and Aurora notices, because she can feel the atmosphere changing.
"And you called me a slut. Why don't you just stop with these pathetic ploys of yours to get his attention? He doesn't want you."
She's trying her best to sound brave, like she actually believes what she says, but Aurora can see the fear and insecurity she's trying so hard to hide. But before she has a chance to rip the brat to shreds Nick comes in.
"I'd think about what you say Aurora. Jealousy isn't attractive."
"I'm not jealous, dear. Not of her anyway. If you want a pathetic weakling to deal with be my guest. But she's a risk, an insecure idiot who's wasting your time, and she merits no emotion other than disdain from me."
"She's twice the woman you are."
There's nothing Aurora can say to this. She's angry at him for saying it, and angry at herself, because somewhere along the way she's given him the power to hurt her. So she laughs, a cold bitter laugh that echoes in the suddenly quiet kitchen and saunters out, leaving her coffee on the counter.


Even with the quality of my night vision the sudden change from bright sunlight to the shadowed darkness of the cathedral is enough to make it hard to see. My eyes adjust, and I search the area for Nick and Carolyn. Norris won't allow himself to be seen. And then I see his fair hair as he steps out from behind a pillar. I'm not the only one who sees it either, judging from the quick inhalation of his uncle.
Which is when I feel it, the rush of magic, surrounding me and somehow twisting something about the cathedral. There is silence and hesitation, and time seems to be moving slower. And as I'm looking around for the source of this power surge that so closely mirrors my own magic all hell breaks loose.
I'm vaguely aware of the shots echoing and of Nick falling. I vaguely hear Carolyn's scream, and Gregory's shouting. But in this is all eclipsed by the other presence in the room. I can feel the spell floating in the air and I think I may even have an idea of what it is. The humans in the area are still moving like they can't see or hear the drama in their midst, and I'm not sure I know how to cast something like this. He, because somehow I know the wielder of this magic is a man, is blocking their perceptions, cleverly creating a completely different illusion of reality.
It's the kind of magic that makes me want to marvel at the beauty, and that sends my heart racing for fear of its power. I've never felt magic like this that wasn't my own. There's never been anyone whose magic has had the same darkness as mine, without having the taint of the grave alongside it. Whoever it is has to be on Theodore's side, and that means we're going to fight. While this is enough to terrify part of me, that's a small part. The rest is flying high on the thought that this could well be the fight of my life.
Now that I'm closer I can see him standing on the dais in front of the altar. I wonder if the people sitting in those pews know that evil is desecrating their place of worship. Because this figure dressed in black, emanating darkness is without a doubt evil, something not even I have managed to rate. For all my sins, I have never been that bad, that completely against the light. I don't know if I ever understood the difference until this moment, as I gaze at him.
He's covered in darkness. It could be some sort of illusion, but if it is I'm not strong enough to see past it. He stands there, eyes shut, with his arms raised to the heavens. Not in supplication, but in a gesture of complete power. He's wearing black pants and a collarless black shirt. I see the suit jacket neatly folded next to him. His hair is like mine I think, but more silver, where mine still looks human. And as he opens his eyes to look at me, I see a darker, more blackened silver than mine staring back at me. A silver that seems to be glowing.
"Welcome Cousin."
I realize he's young. Or at least he looks young. For the power I sense would be hard to accrue in as little time as he seems to have been alive. Because he looks no older than me.
"Cousin. We are all family amongst the Tri."
"That's nice. Maybe we can catch up, tell some stories about dear ol' Aunt Lillith later, because I think we have some fighting to do."
"Brave words for one so young. You have so little training to be so bold."
"I'm not that young, honey, and you don't look any older."
"Do you really wish a fight, child? Are you such a fool?"
I simply raise an eyebrow and curl that darkness around me, pulling up that tendril and throwing it towards him, willing it to cut and cut deep. And it does. I can feel the moment it slices through his shields, the moment it cuts into his power. And for a moment I feel the spell in the air lift.
It's a short moment. No one notices, no one makes a sound. But everyone stops. I mean people come to a dead stop. Nothing is moving, nothing is changing, except me as I feel a burst of magic in the air around me. My shields are strong, but they're nothing to this. They crumple around me, and everything pushes in on me, stabbing and pressing. I'm sure I'm screaming, or maybe I'm just trying. It's hard to tell. It goes on for too long, although I doubt it was longer than a moment. When it's over I'm lying crumpled at his feet, and I don't remember making my way over here.
It takes me far too long to realize that I didn't make it over there. He made it here. And he's crouched down to my level, tilting my head up so I meet his eyes. They're even more impressive from this view. And his skin is different too, like it's carved out of silver and pearl, shiny and glittery at the same time.
"I'm impressed. You've been trained. Nina said as much but I wasn't sure."
"Who the fuck is Nina?"
"You might not know her as that. I'll have to congratulate her on keeping an eye on you, you might've been quite uncontrollable without a little gentle molding on her part."
"Listen. I'm not in the mood to hear about this shit. Who is this Nina woman?"
"All in good time Chiel."
He lowers his lips to my forehead then, the slightest kiss, and I feel myself losing touch with reality.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~* ~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Ok. First of all.to those of you longing for some Marcel (which is to lullaby and sorcerer).He's coming back. In about two pages. Really. I've already written his first few lines, so don't worry. As if I could live without him for very long.

Also thank you to Mary and/or blank for the helpful grammatical stuff.assuming you read this far that is.

And I'm glad you're enjoying the story Nadine.

Bunnyb. What can I say? All mistakes are this girl's fault. Well not really. She's a wonderful beta though and my biggest fan (I'm hers too!!!) and I love her muchly. (Is that enough thanks for you? ( ; )

Thank you all readers and reviewers, and I promise all the stuff that you just read and went: "uhhhh?" after will be explained eventually. So you're not missing something, it was just a convenient place (for me) to end the chapter.