Summary: Our favourite tortured boys are back in this third and final instalment in which they try to outrun Hell.
Notes: See chapter 1 for disclaimer warnings and related info. Thanks for reading and commenting and as always enjoy.
In all my existence, I’ve never felt so blind. I seem to be able to shift on the coil, barely, but each time I’ve tried to give myself up to the Light, it’s like I hit an invisible barrier—as if I’m too human to be allowed back into Heaven, which might be exactly the case.
For hours I’ve searched, shifting along the Florida coast looking for a needle in a haystack, and each shift has taken a little more out of me. In the end, it’s all been for nothing. I’ve yet to pick up any trace of Jack.
Of two things I’m certain. One: he’s not alone because he got into a car. Two: he left with whoever has him on the pretense of going home to help Maggie.
I’m standing at a rest area on the side of the road somewhere in the Western Isles when the phone in my pocket buzzes. I pull it out and look at the caller ID, hoping for Jack. Instead, it’s Hope. “Yes,” I answer.
“What is it, Hope?”
“I think Jack … I think I saw him get into a car with a boy.”
“Tell me everything you remember.”
She hesitates. “It’s all just so foggy.” I wait through her long pause. “He was outside his window … and he said he was going for a walk on the beach, but then he went toward the road and there was a car … and a boy.”
“What did the boy look like?”
“He was kind of far away, but … I think he looked like Jack—the same hair, anyway. Ianto thinks it could have been Gray.”
“Gray,” I whisper under my breath. It makes sense. I’m not sure how he found him, but if anyone could convince his to go with him, it would be Gray.
“Thanks, Hope. This is a big help. Where is Ianto?”
“We’re at the airport.”
“I’m going with him. This is my fault.”
I shake my head at the guilt in her voice. Heaven knows I’ve done more than my share of screwing up. “I’ll see you there,” I say as I disconnect. I breathe deep, mustering every ounce of celestial might I can, and shift to Jack’s house, knowing this shift might be my last. I know there’s no guarantee that he’ll ever get that far, but there’s someone there who can get to the Board and find him.
I materialise on my hands and knees in the shadows next to Jack’s garage and can’t stop the groan that erupts from my chest. I wipe beads of sweat off my face with the back of my hand as I haul myself to my feet and start when my wrist comes away bloody. I pull off my T-shirt and press it to my face to staunch the flow of blood from my nose, cursing myself under my breath.
“You stink of demon. I’d have thought the stench would have worn off your fiery friend by now.”
Even though I broadcast that I was here, essentially calling him to me, I still jump at Aaron’s voice behind me. I’ve been over and over this, trying to find another way. But, in the end, I don’t have a better solution.
“Aaron,” I say, tossing my bloody T-shirt aside without looking up. Even so, I can hear the smirk in his voice when he answers.
“To what do I owe the honour of your radiant presence, oh omnipotent one?”
I turn to look at him then. “What is the status here?”
“Are you checking up on me?” he says, his smarminess giving way to incredulity.
“I’m here to speak with Daniel.” I brush past him on my way into the garage to look for something to wear. “But I need you to do something for me,” I add, offhand.
“I’m not your errand boy, John. In case you’ve forgotten, I have a charge—”
I spin on him. “I’m shifting your assignment. I need you to watch Jack for me.”
He stares for a long moment, trying to read me. “Something’s going on,” he says slowly, looking me over more closely with narrowed eyes.
I do the best I can to look like I’ve got it together. “I just need you to check the Board for Jack and keep an eye on him. Of course, if you can’t manage that…”
“I’m not fond of the Western Isles,” he says.
“He’s not there anymore. I think he’s on his way here.” I realise my slip as soon as it’s out of my mouth.
“You think? Isn’t it your job to know?”
“Go! Or I’ll find someone else who can handle it!”
He grumbles and fades out with a glare as sharp as a razor blade.
I jerk my head around at the rustle in the bushes near the house, expecting Russell—or worse—and I breathe a sigh of relief when a cat streaks across the ten feet between the house and the detached garage, disappearing around the corner. My eyes glide up the white siding of the house and to the trees outside Jack’s second-story window. No sign of Naburus.
I go into the garage and find a shirt hanging on a hook near the door. It’s too small, but I pull it over my head anyway and push up the sleeves. I hurry to the front door, every step jarring my broken body, and ring the bell, breathing hard.
When it opens, Grace’s serious face is peering back at me. “Oh…” she says, her eyes widening.
“Hello, Grace. I need to speak with your father. Is he in?”
She just stares back, wide-eyed, for a long moment before blinking. “Oh, my … Um … okay. Come in.”
I step through the door and she just stands a moment longer, staring.
I look down at her, and she inhales sharply when I touch her arm. “You know what I am, don’t you?”
“This is really important, Grace. Can you please get your father?”
She nods again and turns for the kitchen just as Maggie appears at the top of the stairs.
“Hi John,” she beams. She skips down the steps and stops in front of me. “You know Jack’s not here, right?”
“I do. I was hoping to speak with your father.”
Her eyebrows shoot up into her dark fringe. “About Jack?”
I smile at her. “I suppose so.”
She scrunches her face. “You’re not gonna ask him if you can, like, date him or anything? You know he’s with Ianto?”
“I’ve seen them,” I say, then scrutinise her. “Maggie, have you met a boy named Russell?”
Her eyes widen slightly, and she glances past me at the family room. “How do you know about Russell?” she says in a near whisper.
“Listen, I know how this is going to sound. You barely know me and I’m about to go all big brother on you, but he’s dangerous.”
A smile ticks the corners of her mouth and she opens it to say something, but I nip it. She needs to know this is serious.
“You know what happened to Owen,” I say holding her gaze.
She goes pale and nods.
“Russell was partly responsible for it. You need to steer clear of him, Maggie. I’m begging you.” I work to keep my voice calm. No need to scare her more than necessary.
She backs off a step, wide-eyed and looking a little green. “Okay…”
“Okay,” I repeat as Daniel strides across the living room, a sense of urgency in his step.
He glances between Maggie and me. “Hey, Maggs, sweetie. Why don’t you go clean up your mess in the kitchen?”
She nods and heads to where Jack’s mum is perched in the kitchen doorway with Grace peeking around from behind her.
“Ma’am,” I say with a nod.
Jack’s mother smiles, but her eyes are cautious.
“John’s just checking in, sweetheart,” Daniel says, reaching for the doorknob. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
He pulls the door open and we step through into the night.
“How much does she know?” I ask as soon as the door’s closed behind us.
His expression is edged with guilt, but his words are defensive. “She needed to know.”
I nod. “She did. Does she know how much danger Jack is in?”
His eyes drop. “I didn’t want to worry her too much.” He sighs deeply and steels himself before looking back up. “Has something happened?”
“Have you heard anything from Jack?” I try to keep my voice neutral, but I’m fairly certain that I don’t succeed.
“Not for a few days,” he says, his eyes searching my face. “Is everything okay?”
“He’s missing. I need to know right away if you hear from him.”
His eyes narrow. “What aren’t you telling me? Why can’t you just find him?”
I can’t hold his gaze as I shake my head. “I don’t know.” Which isn’t a lie. I don’t know if it’s because my powers are failing, or if he’s being Shielded by the other side, somehow. “I’m fairly certain he’s on his way back here.” I don’t add that, depending on who he’s with, he might never make it. “I’ve got Aaron working on something, and I’m going to stay here until we’re able to locate him.”
The paternal concern is clear in his eyes. “Find him, John.”
“I will,” I say, and pray to God I’m not lying.
“I’m frightened for my girls.” He stares at his shoes. “You know about Grace—her ability?” he asks.
I nod. “She can see auras.”
“But, Maggie…” he starts, then trails off, at a loss for words.
“What about Maggie?” I ask, feeling dread sitting like a stone in my stomach.
He shakes his head. “I can’t figure it out. Anytime she’s upset, lightbulbs start popping.” He shakes his head again, slower. “Something to do with electromagnetic fields, maybe?” he muses.
“Maybe,” I say, trying not to be obvious as I scrutinise him. He clearly doesn’t realise how unusual it is for even one Nephil child of a Grigori to have gifts. Forget three. Which leaves me wondering about this gene pool. “What about Mary and Kate?”
He shrugs. “Mary’s a born peacekeeper, but I haven’t noticed anything else. Kate…” He taps his finger on his chin as he thinks. “I’ve always found her draining—like she sucks all the energy out of a person.” He squints at me. “Do you think there’s something to that?”
“I don’t know,” I answer, but my bet is on yes.
He turns and, with one last pleading glance over his shoulder, disappears into the house.
I slide around back and call for Aaron, who appears at my side effortlessly and without his signature smirk.
“Where is he?” I ask, unable to keep the urgency out of my voice.
He shakes his head. “I don’t know.”
I just stare at him, unable to speak or even breathe as panic chokes me.
He shrugs. “I checked the Board. He’s not on it.”