Mistrust makes life difficult. Trust makes it risky.
Eventually, the magic stopped. Cars came out for the daily commute to work and coffee and monotony.
She sighed, and looked at her new… partner? Companion? It didn’t matter for now. He looked exhausted, and she felt… guilty? She realised she hadn’t felt guilty in so long. She’d felt hardly anything because of someone else in so long.
So, she sat him down on the sofa in her living room, and went back into the study to collect her notes about this endless puzzle. She was still having trouble believing that that purple tome was the secret key to unlocking the myth of the Last Great Immortals. Mentioned only in old books and the odd pictogram, but mainly in fables of warning, most dismissed them as nothing but that. Almost all told her that it was a stupid thing to do, chasing stories and going on wild goose-chases with an intellect like hers. But she loved the stories, the detective work involved in stitching together entire stories from the smallest piece of evidence. And nothing had intrigued her more than that of the Last Great Immortals. She meandered back into the room, a folder full of paper cradled in her arms, and smiled sadly.
He was curled up in a deep sleep on the sofa, one hand reaching for the floor. Her lips twitched, unsure whether to smile at how calm he looked, or frown at disgust for herself. She covered him in a blanket from her spare room, and placed his glasses on the table nearby. He muttered something unintelligible in his sleep as she’d taken them off. She would have placed him on the bed if she was strong enough. She quickly wrote a note in her messy scrawl, and, after a moment’s hesitation, had placed her key on top. Slipping the folder in her bag, she paused at the door for another look. She hadn’t wanted to drug him, but it was necessary. He couldn’t know where she was going, no one could. And he needed his sleep. So why did she feel so guilty? The door locked behind her.
It had turned out, as she had found out during that night, that Niall had heard rumours of numerous assassins and other such paid killers to go after one man. The odd thing about this old man was that every single assassin that had gotten close to claiming the bounty had turned up safe and sound at either prisons, home sanctuaries, or the current residence of their mother, heads full of peaceful intentions. They had called up a grumpy Gepard Valk, and, after he’d ran out of jokes for what they were really doing, had assured them he’d heard the same. In fact, even private detectives (all with shady morals) had been hired in bulk as well. At that point she knew where she’d have to go, and wasn’t looking forwards to it.
Niall had woken up not too soon after she had left, and his eyes were immediately drawn to the note and key on the ornate antique coffee table in front of him.
I’ve just gone out for a bit, you dropped off on the sofa you were so tired. It seemed a shame to wake you. The key is for here, bring it with you and call me if you go back to the shop.
I’ll be back soon.
Yours – Venice
He sighed, put his glasses on, and went to make himself some breakfast. It was a Thursday, so he could wait for a while before opening the shop.
About an hour later, the intercom buzzed. “Ven? Veeeeeeeeeeennnnnnnnnniiiiiiiiiiiiiiiccccccccccceee? I wanna come up! Can you unlock the door, ooooooh, what does this button do? ZZZZZZPPPXXXXXXXKKKK”
Niall trudged downstairs to open the door, it sounded like Kallista had broken something. Again. He wasn’t sure what could of even broken, but it was best to be on the safe side when it came to Kal.
He unlocked the door, and a girl with sparkling eyes and shining hair wrenched him into a hug,
“Niall! Hey, where’s Venolicious?” still grappling him in a surprisingly bone crushing hug, she looked over his shoulder at the staircase. And then at the ceiling. And the floor. And then behind her.
He wheezed and waved his arms best he could and she let him go, beaming as was her fashion, but with less of a spring than usual, and her grin seemed forced.
“Kal, what’s happened?” he asked worriedly and turning to head back upstairs. Kal was known for occasionally getting upset other things no one else would; a ‘lost’ bunny, or a forgotten shoe abandoned on a street corner. This seemed different though.
“Kal, do you want me to call Ven? She’s not here… I think she’s at Chinas, probably.” while he closed the door she scampered up the stairs to Venice’s apartment. When he followed her up he found her sitting on his sofa wrapped up in the blanket he’d been sleeping under, with only her face and the toes of her socks peeping out. He went over to the kitchen and made her some jasmine tea. He couldn’t stand the stuff, but it sold ok back at the Broken Spine, and Ven swore by it. He handed it to Kal, who sniffed it, took a sip, and then glared at him.
“I’ll make you a cup of hot chocolate instead shall I?” she nodded and handed the cup over, poking her tongue out. While he was searching the cupboards for biscuits with the right level of sugar content (too low and she wouldn’t touch them, too high and she’d be bouncing of the walls for hours. Literally.) He wondered what she could be here to talk to Venice about. Scary girly things probably.
Half an hour later, Venice still hadn’t turned up, and wasn’t answering her phone either.
He was sitting next to Kal on the sofa, dunking cheap ginger biscuits into her hot chocolate, watching ‘Father Ted’ when the phone rang.
“Hello this is Niall Montblanc, this is the Broken Spine how may I… wait, I mean, this is Venice Rains number, she’s not here right now…”
“Niall!? Feck, seriously, isn’t that paedophilia? I mean, yeah, sure, I…” Niall interrupted his friend before he could continue
“Shut up Gepard! Yeah, she’s not here. And we didn’t spend the night together! I mean, we did, but not like that!”
“Whatever. I’m coming over anyway. SEE YA NORN!”
Ten minutes or so later, Gepard Valk turned up, banging on the door noisily.
“NIALL? MONTBLAAANNCCC! OPEN THE DOOR NORN BOY! Is Rain back yet? I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED…! OPEEENNNNN!!” Niall wrenched open the door, eyes slitted.
“What do you want Valk?” he asked harshly. Gepard glared back.
Then, looking around quickly, they hugged.
“Missed you bro.”
They heard a snap of a shutter and a flash of light from up the stairs. Kal was standing at the top with a camera in hand, laughing best she could with a sprinkle covered ice lolly in her mouth.
“No, YOU shh!”
“NO, you shh!” Gepard and Kal were sitting at opposite ends of the sofa, bickering, with Niall sitting in the middle of them, staring at the television. He had given up attempting to listen to it anyway, as they’d been at it for the last five minutes, and showed no signs of tiring. The phone rang, but only for one ring. Obviously, someone had picked it up. He went round into the kitchen, and finally saw Venice, phone clasped to one ear, the other hand closing the window she had just climbed in from.
“Hey Ven…” She smiled at him, but held up a finger. He nodded, and leant against the doorframe, watching her pace. Eventually, after saying very little, but promising something to the unknown caller, she nodded to herself and hung up, head hung.
“Yes?” she turned to him, looking straight into his eyes, the steely blue of hers reflecting into his hazel.
“Do you trust me?”