Her face freshly washed and scrubbed, it was hard to tell that Robin had ever been crying at all. She was shuffling about the room uneasily, even though it was hers and she was completely familiar with it. The only thing she was semi-unfamiliar with was the small pile of belongings at the foot of the bed that had not been there any other night. They were Amon's things, and after she'd come back into the room from the bathroom, he'd headed for it to do his nightly before bed things.
This was going to be a bit awkward, both of them going to bed at the same time. It wasn't as if they hadn't ever shared a bed before, but it had usually been under different circumstances—well, aside from that one night in Iceland, which had just been a complete fluke. Usually they were sharing a bed because the hotel only had one bed rooms left, or because sleeping in separate beds in separate rooms was too dangerous. On those nights either of them barely slept, always painfully aware of the other's presence on the opposite end of the bed; painfully aware of SOLOMON's presence breathing down their necks.
This was different. This was them voluntarily sharing a room, especially after last night… Robin, sighing, climbed into her—their—bed and snuggled under the covers, rolling to face the windows and the wall, her back to the door. She took the far end of the bed, leaving the side closest to the bedside table open for Amon. Moments later he re-entered the room and sorted through his belongings briefly. She felt the opposite end of the bed dip slightly with his weight as he sat down on it, and then seconds later he lay down slowly and almost stiffly. Robin sighed under her shelter of blankets and extinguished the candles and oil lamps in the room with a thought. Amon shifted at this and then fell still again.
Robin's mind lurched back and forth between the information Juliano had shared with them, the man in her bed, and Juliano himself. No new tears threatened her eyes; she'd seen her grandfather for the last time, and that was that. It could not be helped. She was a rogue witch, he was SOLOMON—it was inevitable that their ways would have parted permanently. Amon shifted again very subtly on the other side of the bed and Robin shifted herself to roll over and hazard a glance at him over the top of her blankets, her eyes squinting to see him in the darkness.
Amon was lying on top of the blankets, nearly fully dressed. The only thing that was missing was his socks and his boots. Robin blinked. It didn't look very comfortable. He was never going to get to sleep like that; not to mention that her room was much chillier than his, and he wasn't even under the blankets.
"Amon." Her voice was a murmur.
"Hmm." He made a noise in the darkness to indicate that he'd heard her.
"You can…make yourself comfortable," she suggested into the darkness, wondering if it sounded too…suggesting. "You needn't sleep like…that."
There was silence from Amon. He did not move, either.
"I don't mind," Robin added. "It isn't going to bother me. I would rather have you comfortable than awake all night, staring at the ceiling. Plus, it gets rather cold in my room, even with all of the blankets on…you may want to put yourself under the covers."
Amon still did not move, and Robin sighed and gave up, figuring that he was going to stay silent and immobile forever. Slowly he sat up and Robin blinked from her nest of blankets, startled that he'd moved. Unbuttoning the first few buttons of his shirt, he grasped the back of it and pulled it over his head, discarding it on the floor. A pause accompanied his next movement; he took off his belt and cast that onto the floor as well. Slowly and carefully he moved under the blankets, settling in on his side of the bed away from Robin.
The silence of two people attempting to go to sleep filled the room. Well, one person, anyway. Robin knew that she wasn't actively trying to go to sleep. She couldn't. She could hear Amon's breaths; see the back of his dark head merely two feet away from her own. She didn't want to go to sleep yet. She didn't want him to go to sleep yet. His proximity was encouraging her to speak to him, to try to pry down some of the walls around him.
"Amon?" she queried softly, and got a muffled sigh in response. "…are you still awake?" Several minutes had passed since the last words had been spoken.
"Yes," he replied, moving under the blankets.
"I'm glad I got to say goodbye to Juliano, like I did," she said, not really knowing why she was telling him this, but going on. It wasn't as if it was urgent, something he needed to know right then, but she wanted to talk to him. She wanted him to talk back. "I had never…never treated him like a real grandfather. It was never seemly for me to do so, and he never treated me as if I was his granddaughter. I suppose that he showed more interest in my welfare than that of the other convent sisters, but other than that…"
"It wouldn't have been seemly for him to favour you above the others, probably. Also, I think he knew that someday he was going to have to make decisions about your life," Amon said, his dark head unmoving. His hair on the pillow looked a dull kind of lustrous in the darkness and Robin's hands, immobile against her neck, itched to touch it. "Particularly the decision to end your life…it was better for him to keep you distant." His tone sounded different than it had when he had started to speak; it sounded as if he was talking about himself, not Juliano.
Robin bit her lip. "…you think the same, don't you?" Amon moved then, rolled over in place to look at her in the darkness. She could barely make out the features of his face but knew that he could probably see hers perfectly, and it made her feel vulnerable. He gazed at her evenly in simple silence for a moment.
"Maybe he kept you distant because he somehow intuitively knew that someday you'd have a talent for asking probing questions." His tone was serious, but there seemed to be some amused truth behind the words. Robin squirmed almost guiltily.
"Well…it's true, isn't it?" she persisted, and Amon sighed. "It's better for you and I to be distant from each other because you have to make decisions about my life, be my warden?"
"You said that you got to say goodbye to Juliano," Amon said suddenly, and Robin frowned at his less-than-graceful characteristic dodge of her question. "Do you really expect that you won't see him again?"
"Yes," she replied, still frowning. "…you didn't answer my question."
Another sigh came from Amon, and he rolled over, once again displaying the back of his head to her. "I know I didn't." Silence ensued as Robin waited for a more full explanation, but none was forthcoming. "We need to sleep, Robin."
She remained frowning for a few moments and then let her face relax, closing her eyes. "I suppose we do," she answered. He'd dodged her questions as was habit for him, but it seemed he hadn't dodged them with the grace or the ferocity that he once had. She burrowed further down into her blankets, her side of the bed. "Good night, then."
Consistent movement on the other side of the bed jarred Amon out of sleep. It didn't really jar him; his eyes opened and he stared at the room for a moment with his eyes adjusting to the darkness, his Craft compensating so that he could see more clearly. Rolling over slightly to look over his shoulder, he noticed a lump on the other side of the bed. The lump was Robin, buried to her ears in covers. Gooseflesh erupted on Amon's skin as the cold air of the room touched his bared neck and shoulder, and he looked around confusedly. Looking over at the windows, he narrowed his eyes more and just barely made out whiteness around the corner of a heavy curtain; whiteness and movement. Listening closely, he could hear the wind whistling around the house.
It had started to snow outside and the temperature outside had probably dropped dramatically. Robin's room was freezing cold.
His brain having processed all of this information, he turned his eyes back to the lump of fabric that was Robin. Close scrutiny revealed the Robin-lump to be moving continually, as if powered by a small engine. She was shivering, curled into herself under the blankets in an attempt to keep all the warmth close to her tiny body.
Amon sighed. Of course it would figure that he would conveniently wake up to such a heartbreaking scene. No one with half a heart could look upon the pitiful sight of the Robin-lump and not be compelled to take action. He rolled over and scooted some, reaching out for Robin under the blankets. He successfully moved her towards him some before she awoke and stiffened, startled. Half-formed, incoherent words escaped her mouth in a quiet semi-panic.
"It's just me." Amon pulled her to him and held her close against him, feeling her bare feet moving over his slack-covered shins. Her body still vibrated against him, her hands and feet ice cold. "Your shaking actually woke me up." He looked to where she had been lying before. "Do you always sleep on the side of the bed closest to the windows?"
Robin remained stiff and chattering in his arms for a moment before becoming sleepily grateful for the sudden source of warmth, her arms wrapping up around his neck without abandon. Her body pressed against his and for a split second it gave Amon pause, terrified of the situation and of his own mind, his hands paused deathly still on her back.
She's just cold. She's not trying to do anything. Your mind is the only thing making the situation awkward. Amon relaxed after a second and allowed her to cling to him, her shaking beginning to diminish. "I'm cold," she murmured, sounding soft and pitiful and still half-asleep.
"I know." One of her feet rubbed against his shin as if experimentally feeling the fabric of his pants. "I should sleep on that side of the bed from now on." Robin was squirming in his arms against him as if she simply enjoyed the sensation of contact.
"You're warm," she murmured, her arms slipping from around his neck to clasp against her chest, cuddling into him with hunched shoulders. The bumps of her spine, the curves of her ribs were under his hands, a casual reminder as to how tiny she really was. Amon didn't trust himself to talk for a moment.
"I know." It seemed to be all he could say. "I think you get so cold because you're so small," he added. God, could she feel his heart pounding? It wasn't as if this was the first time he'd held her in sleep, but this was the first time that they'd ever been in the state they were in, fresh on the tails of their newfound…whatever it was.
It wasn't anything, really. They hadn't admitted anything to one another, really; nor had they dramatically changed how they acted around one another. It wasn't as if they were in a relationship or anything. They were still ward and warden, only one of them had agreed to stop being such a bastard.
There was something that was decidedly un-ward-like about the way Robin's head was fitting against his neck, however; the way her hot breaths were fanning against his skin and making it very slightly moist with the condensation of breath. And there was something decidedly un-warden-like about the way Amon couldn't stop his arms and hands from giving her a supplemental little squeeze, almost as if his mind had simply wondered how her body would move at his urging.
"Amon," Robin breathed gently, and Amon's heart almost stopped to hear it. He swallowed against a dry throat.
"Yes?" he asked into her hair and found himself equally relieved and empty when she did not reply. She was asleep again, her brain feeding her mouth nonsense in slumber. What had you wanted to hear her say? If she had looked up to you just now and asked you to kiss her, asked you to make love to her—what would you have done? Is that what you would have wanted to hear from her?
Amon allowed his head to fall back to the pillow but not before he brushed one very quick, light kiss against an oblivious Robin's forehead—and then spent the next hour lying sober and awake, feeling like a lecherous criminal for even allowing himself that one moment of intimacy with an unaware Robin.
"Sleep well?" Nagira asked with savoured glee, watching his brother light a cigarette over the remnants of his breakfast. Sigrún chose that particular moment to conveniently absent herself from the table, wandering towards the kitchen with her plate in hand instead of waiting for one of the maids to come and retrieve it. Amon stared blankly at Nagira, the cigarette smoldering in his hand, an unbroken stream of smoke coming from his nostrils. He looked like a dragon trying to decide whether or not he was going to eat his victim.
"Look. I haven't a clue what you think is going on between Robin and I—although I'm sure if I used the grade-school part of my brain I could come up with some ideas. We are sharing a room, and yes, we are sharing a bed. Other than that there is nothing occurring." Amon blinked and calmly tapped some ash into a glass ashtray that sat near him. "That is that."
Nagira shrugged, masking a smile poorly. "Well, just curious. The dynamic has been a bit different, just so you know. Different enough that it's noticeable…and not just by me. Did you two have a talk, or something?"
Amon rolled his eyes in frustration, letting them come back down to rest on his brother's countenance with ill-masked annoyance. "You're worse than a little girl," Amon groused. "There is more to life than gossip about what is going on in mine," he added, to which Nagira laughed.
"Alright, alright," the lawyer said, raising his hands and admitting defeat—for the moment. "Sheesh. Don't get your panties in a bunch about it. Just curious, is all—you and everyone's favourite witch-kid do seem a bit more cuddly, is all."
"If 'cuddly' means nothing has changed, then you're right." Amon stood from the table, pushing his chair back and smashing the barely-smoked cigarette out in the ashtray. He walked towards the door, leaving a smiling Nagira to stare after him. On his way out the dining room door, Amon paused to hold it open for someone; Robin and another unnamed witch. Robin looked over to Amon briefly, managing a small smile. "Good morning," she greeted, to which Amon nodded, his face softened.
"Good morning," he replied, and then shot a quick look of shut the hell up at his brother, who watched the very brief interaction with amusement. Robin and the unnamed witch filtered into the dining room and Amon looked away from Nagira and left the room. The lawyer turned his smiling face to Robin and the other witch as they sat down, beginning to pick over the remnants of breakfast.
"There look to be fewer witches in the house, today," Amon remarked to Trygve, who nodded in agreement. His sister Sula trailed wordlessly after him as they entered the office room. Amon took a seat in front of Trygve's desk as the other man seated himself behind it, and Sula perched herself quietly on the corner of the desk.
"That is because there are," the bespectacled host replied. "Ten or so of our guests departed this morning for parts unknown to stir up trouble."
Amon's brow creased. "What do you mean?"
"Several of them decided to get a head start on their plan for distracting SOLOMON," Trygve explained, with a sigh. "Whether or not this is foolishness…only time will tell. I know that at least four or five of them were headed back to their home countries. The others, I think, were heading straight into Italy."
The creased brow had turned into an all-out incredulous scowl. "They're out of their minds. Italy? They are dead." Amon looked off at the wall in thought, then looked back to Trygve. "What sort of mayhem can a handful of witches cause in Italy, anyway? A handful against the homeland might of SOLOMON…complete and utter suicide."
"I believe," the silent woman spoke suddenly, in a heavily accented voice, "that they were meeting up with others along the way. I was to understand that if they succeeded in reaching Italy alive and rendezvousing with other witches, that they would send a postcard to the house." She offered a resigned, calm little shrug as an answer to Amon's continued incredulous look. "That was what I understood."
Trygve offered a similar shrug when Amon looked back to him. "Perhaps we should be grateful for the cover, if they succeed."
"Which they won't," Amon replied, darkly. "There is a damn good reason Robin and I have never gone anywhere near Italy in our travels. SOLOMON would probably smell us the moment we got close enough." He leaned back in his chair, elbow on the armrest and fist under his chin. "Do we want to go back to Iceland first? Or should we go to France first? Or Scotland?"
"I have ways of granting us safe passage into Iceland," Trygve replied, leaning forward on his desk. "We can go wherever you'd like, first. Oskari might not be in Iceland for much longer; perhaps we should go there first and act on our chance." Blonde eyebrows shrugged. "I suppose it just depends on who you'd like to kill first."
Amon sat in pensive silence, apparently pondering Trygve's statement. "We need more information first. Juliano gave us the locations, and while I'd like to trust Juliano completely…I've known the man for too long. I can't. I won't be swayed, like Robin, just because he's her grandfather." Grey eyes looked up to blue ones, behind glasses. "Work your contacts. See if you can ascertain the validity of Juliano's information…and try to do it as quickly and discreetly as possible. If we can get more information about all of this…" The ex-Hunter paused, rubbing at his chin. "…we'll go to Iceland first. It'll make an easy starting point for a relatively unobtrusive entry into Scotland. After that, we'll probably be hard pressed to make it back to the Continent without being noticed…"
Sula looked to her brother with her eyes only. Her head remained turned towards Amon. "I do not think we will be able to come back here, Trygve. I think we will need to relocate, after Oskari and Donald are dead. After that, the committee and SOLOMON will have to have known that it was us. We could go to America…"
Amon shook his head before Trygve could reply. "Too far. She's right, though. We're going to need somewhere to go…and I think it highly unlikely that we'll be able to bring this entire…entourage with us. We're going to have to break up, I think. We may have to consider going into France after we've obtained safer quarters than these."
Trygve opened his mouth to speak, his eyes flicking briefly to the door when it opened quietly and discreetly. Robin's head poked in, and she entered quickly as if she was a high schooler trying to sneak into class late and unnoticed. "We may lose the opportunity to get Julien, then."
"That may be." Amon noticed Robin as she was halfway to the empty chair next to him, and was momentarily distracted by her presence; a gap in his speech. "That may be," he reiterated, picking up his lost train of thought, "but we may have to take that loss. I'd say keeping all of us alive and safe is more important at this stage than trying to kill three birds with one stone. By the time we leave Scotland—Sula is right—chances are good that SOLOMON, at the committee's behest, will be right on our ass."
Robin looked confused, having come in right in the middle of plotting.
"I think I might know of somewhere for us to relocate to," Amon continued. "I will have to find out about it, however. In the meantime, you talk to who you know."
Sula's eyes slid back over to Amon after having rested on her brother for the last minute or so, judging his reactions. "What of the other witches here?"
"I will think of something for them to do." Amon looked over to Robin. "Iceland, Scotland, or France. Pick one."
Robin looked back to Amon with a completely and ironically innocent look on her face. "What does it matter?" she queried of him, plainly. "We're going to have to kill them all at some point or another—does order matter?"
Trygve and Sula regarded each other with a look that seemed to say well, she's right, as Amon looked at Robin in even blankness. He looked away abruptly, rubbing his eyes with a hand, his face squinting some.
"You've spent too much time around me," he said flatly, to which Robin offered him a helpless little look—not that he saw it.
Nagira found his brother and Sula sitting in the parlor that evening, talking. Admittedly, Nagira's first thought was that Robin would probably inwardly jealous if she'd walked in on it. His second thought was that Robin was too guileless for that; she'd walk in and just see Amon talking to Sula, not anything else that most other girls would read into the situation. He took a seat on the other side of the quiet Icelandic woman and offered a short nod at his brother as a greeting. "What's up?"
Amon lifted a half-empty glass at his brother vaguely, and shrugged. "Having a few drinks before we head out on our death mission tomorrow. I suppose you could say I'm enjoying the last bit of…normalcy we might have for a while."
Nagira nodded. "Yeah. It's pretty serious now, huh? We're going to be pretty much running for our lives after we start knocking off committee members."
"And there are a lot of us to be running," Sula commented to no one in particular, taking a drink from her own glass. "All of this worries me but we really have no choice."
"Eh, don't get all stressed about it," Nagira drawled, leaning back in his chair. He tapped a cigarette out of his pack and exhaled heavily. "We don't have much of a choice here. We're going to do what we're going to do and that's that. And," here Nagira lit his cigarette, "I made a few phone calls today. Our friends who decided to run off and take on SOLOMON themselves are going to have a little backup."
Amon perked considerably, regarding his brother suspiciously. "What did you do?"
"Talked to some cats in Japan and China, the Philippines and Australia. They might not be able to come to Europe and assist in distracting Hunters here, but they can sure stir up trouble back home. The idea is to stretch SOLOMON as thin as humanly possible." Nagira ignored his brother's look of disdain. "They'll send Hunters from HQ, and that just means less Hunters to deal with here."
Sula frowned. "SOLOMON is huge, Nagira. Losing a few Hunters to other countries will not make a difference to them."
"She's right." Amon was frowning as well, disapproving. "You are just going to cause more people to be killed. Leave your contacts and friends out of all of this, Nagira."
Nagira chuckled some, shaking his head. "You two underestimate my friends and their friends. It's going to be okay, trust me."
Amon looked skeptical but did not pursue the matter further, instead turning his attention back to his glass. He rubbed at an eye as if a bit tired or feeling a bit fuzzy from alcohol. Nagira noticed this and a small smile lit his face. "Tired, buddy?"
"I didn't sleep very well last night," Amon answered obliviously, but his face darkened a split second later when he realized what his brother had been insinuating and that he'd just thrown fuel on the fire. "The room Robin stays in is much colder than what I am used to, and the snow didn't help matters any."
"Two of you in a bed…you figure that'd be pretty warm." Nagira was smirking and Sula managed to hide a tiny smile behind one slim hand. Amon did not dignify Nagira's comment with a response.
"I just want to drink bourbon and relax," Amon said finally, completely off subject. "At least give me that before we go out tomorrow and start blowing heads in—or possibly having our heads blown in." He took another drink from his glass. "I actually want to go to bed tonight rather drunk, so I can fall asleep immediately and not agonize over plans over and over again in my head, worrying that we're going to get ourselves all killed."
There was relative silence after Amon's uncharacteristically open and revealing statement. Sula looked elsewhere and sipped from her own glass, as if she was trying to give Amon a moment to himself. Nagira looked over at his brother evenly and then got up, moving towards the decanter and a glass.
"You know, that sounds like a damn good plan there, buddy," he said jovially, toasting his brother. "Let's get started, then."
Robin emerged from the bathtub feeling kind of drowsy and vaguely numb all over. She'd obviously spent too long in the warm bathwater and it had affected her brain, somehow. She shuffled off to her—their—room and changed into a slip, fully intending to crawl into bed and go to sleep. It had been decided that they were going to Iceland tomorrow, the first stop in their war against the committee. If all went well, by either the end of tomorrow or the day after, Oskari would be dead.
In the days following his death, Donald and Julien would die. And maybe if they were lucky, they'd catch two committee members together and they could kill two birds with one stone.
Sighing, Robin laid down on the bed. She'd told herself that she wasn't going to think about all of that today, on this last day of comforting familiarity of routine and relative safety. Amon had even told her earlier in the day to just spend the day relaxing and not thinking about the journey they were about to embark upon. Now she was just so tired that she wanted to sleep, but was worried that if she laid there all she was going to do was obsess over plans.
She shivered. The room was very cold. A sudden knock at the door made her do more than shiver, it made her jump. "Yes?"
Nagira's head poked into the room, grinning. "Hey kid, you're missing the party."
Robin's eyebrow drew together in confusion as she sat up, looking at Nagira. "…party?"
"Yeah. Me, Amon-pissy-pants, Sula, Trygve, a bunch of other people…we're all having some drinks down in the parlor. You know, a kind of…goodbye party, maybe." He tilted his head at her. "You gonna come down?"
Internally Robin waffled between her desire to spend time with people—specifically Amon—and her drowsiness. Nagira waited and watched her and seemed shocked when she sighed, sinking back down onto her back on the bed. "Oh, no," she murmured, snuggling into the mattress somewhat. "I am so very tired…this may be my last chance to have a long, good night's sleep. I think I'll just stay here and go to bed."
The lawyer was visibly disappointed. "Are you sure? I think it'd make everyone happy if you came down for a bit."
Frowning, Robin allowed her eyes to drift closed and she rolled away from Nagira, away from the door. "I know…I'm just very tired. Tell everyone I'm sorry and that I'll see them in the morning. Have fun with everyone for me."
Her words didn't seem to cheer Nagira any or make him any less disappointed. "Okay, okay. Good night, kid."
It felt as if someone had thrown a sack of lead onto the other side of the bed, the side near the windows. The sudden heavy weight jarred Robin awake and startled her into breathless wariness until she felt the firm and rather assertive grip of a familiar arm around her middle, pulling her close without any other options. Previously breathless, she was positively asphyxiating when she realized it was Amon, in bed and fairly under the influence gauging from the aroma of liquor and smoke that drifted off him in invisible waves.
"You're going to bed now?" she asked in the dark silence and then mentally criticized herself for it. Of course he was; why else would he be in the bed?
"Why didn't you come down earlier?" Amon asked, the question breathed right into her hair. It made her heart skip a beat, her eyes widen. This was not Amon's normal tone of voice, this low, quiet thing. Usually when Amon spoke, he spoke to make you know he was speaking. This was as if he only wanted Robin to hear him, there in the dark of the room, her body pulled close to his.
"I was tired." Those were the only words that would come to her, feeling the slight sandpaper texture of Amon's cheek against the side of her face as he held her back to his front, his arms curled around her like she was a stuffed animal. He breathed deeply, almost as if he was inhaling her scent.
"I sent Nagira to get you." His nose found its way up to her hair, his mouth half open, the breath warm and heavy against her scalp—he was sniffing her. Robin was mostly frozen, excited and nervous and confused.
"I know. I was too tired to go downstairs." She was trying not to concentrate on the way Amon seemed to have gone a little crazy in sniffing her hair, his face burying in the long, loose locks that hung down the back of her neck, towards her shoulder blades. This was not normal Amon, not even normal drunk Amon—this was almost animal intimacy, like watching a mother cat with one of its kittens. Robin half expected Amon to bite into the back of her neck at any moment to drag her towards his side of the bed.
"I am drunk." It was a simple admittance from him, amidst the sniffing and…snuggling? Was that was he was doing into her hair, her neck? Robin's face was burning, her heart racing. Her body felt stiff, tense, immobile. Had she really been asleep all of thirty seconds ago? It was hard to believe so because she was so intensely awake right then, Amon's face and body seeking to meld into hers, somehow.
"Oh." Robin didn't know how to answer his statement. "Okay."
There was silence for a few heart-pounding moments as his arms tightened around her possessively, her mouth falling open to let out a breath—her bottom lip was trembling and she couldn't stop it.
"Am I scaring you?" Amon asked suddenly from within her hair, his arms wrapping around her completely in a bear hug from behind; the arm that wrapped underneath her came around far enough for his hand to rest on her hip. She swallowed.
"No," she breathed, and she wasn't sure if she was lying or not. If he was scaring her, it wasn't because she was frightened. It was because she was excited.
"Let's sleep. Tomorrow we go to Iceland." His words made Robin want to giggle, in a way—as if she'd be able to sleep with him hugging onto her like that, his face moving in her hair continually. Still, she could try, just to humour him. She could try to humour him in light of the fact that tomorrow their semi-normal lives would end and they'd be in more firmly in the shadow of death than they'd been during this whole long, crazy trip.
Awkward. That was a pretty firm, accurate way of describing how he felt as he sat there next to her on the plane, sat there surrounded by people who somehow seemed to cast him knowing looks every time his eyes shifted to them.
We know you're in love with her, and we know that your self control is crumbling faster than a sand castle in the incoming tide.
Or so their invisible, inaudible voices seemed to say to his brain. Amon rubbed at his eyes harshly, trying to ignore the dull ache in his head. Perhaps it had been good to cut loose a bit last night in good company, but perhaps not as loose as he had cut—he'd lost track of how much gin he'd drank after his brother had started to make drinks for him, remembered a lot of laughter and a lot of silly talk. Halfway remembered was his trek up the stairs; mostly remembered was his sudden, fevered need to take Robin in his arms and hold her, cuddle her close and feel the bumps of her tiny bones beneath his hands, to smell the orange and ginger in her hair and her skin. Memory nearly wholly failed him after that, after the grabbing and cuddling.
God only knew what he'd said to her as he laid there in that bed, holding her as if she'd run if he let go. She probably would have, if he had. Incidentally he got the impression that she hadn't slept that well last night due to his death-grip on her body. She had faint smudges under her eyes, her movements were sloppy and groggy. She was reduced to a girlish mess of blushing and averted eyes when he looked at her or said anything to her.
Nagira's eyes were smug and accusatory. Amon stared at the seatback in front of him, resisting the urge to groan. It was no good to have all of this floating around on his mind right before he went into what he could term battle, but he couldn't help it. Robin was right next to him, her head leaned against the window exhaustedly. Out the window there was nothing but clouds and greyness; she couldn't truly be interested in whatever she saw out there. She was simply trying to avoid interaction with him.
Oskari first. Donald next. Then Julien. It was simple enough, if they could run faster than SOLOMON.
"Hung over?" Sigrún asked of Amon from across the aisle, having watched him rub at his eyes until they watered. Amon looked over at her and thought for a moment, then tendered a small nod. She smiled weakly.
"Me too, kind of." She rubbed her hand over the downy blonde hair on Eirikur's head as he slept against her torso, thumb stuck into his mouth like some kind of plug. "I feel like an irresponsible teenager."
"Yeah." Amon agreed with that statement in more ways than one. He looked around them at their small group; Trygve, Sigrún, Eirikur, Sula, Beatrix, Helle, Nagira, Robin, himself. It wasn't exactly a small group, but it was much smaller than it had been earlier that day, before all the witches in the house had gone their separate ways. Despite Amon's wishes, the unofficial mission of every witch in the house as they left had been to occupy SOLOMON in any way, shape, or form that they could. He wanted to tell the witches to go home, to go back to their families and to forget that they'd ever met him and Robin but he knew that there was a fat fucking chance of that ever happening.
Lots of people were going to be dead by the time this was all said and done.
Amon cast a glance down to his pocket, where the lump of a cell phone resided. It was Finn's cell phone. It had not rung since the day Robin had died, since Amon had answered it and snarled at whoever had called—if he'd been thinking clearly, he would have not snapped at the other line and would have goaded them to speak. Nagira had procured traces off several of the numbers on the phone, pinned several of them down. They were almost certain that one of two was Oskari's number; somehow, they were hoping to pull a trace from that and see where he was.
"Do you feel alright?" the soft voice at his side asked suddenly, and Amon jerked his head around to look at Robin; her concerned, luminous green eyes, her fine, cornsilk hair falling around her hair in wisps despite her half-bun. Her golden, ethereal eyelashes fluttered at him as she blinked.
She was bewitching him and she wasn't even doing anything.
This was the beginning of the end.
"I'm fine." He managed a stiff, rusty half smile at her for reassurance—even though he wasn't quite sure why it was so important to him to reassure her that he was fine—and that alone seemed to surprise her into a pleased haze, her own mouth curving upwards at him warmly, her eyes alighting with the inner fire that didn't come from her craft but from the force of her emotions.
This girl was in love with him and his brain was currently mostly occupied with how he was going to kill Oskari and run from SOLOMON afterwards, and how much of a drunken ass he'd been the night before. Somewhere, somehow, there had to come some prioritizing and Amon didn't know how to do it.
"Look," he began very quietly, barely heard above the noise of plane engines and odd-cabin pressurization, "Iam sorry about last night."
Robin's look of pure glowing love turned into childish confusion. "Why?" she asked, just as quietly. "You didn't do anything wrong."
Amon looked around quickly without moving his head to see if anyone was listening in—namely his brother, who was sitting in the bank of seats behind them, next to Sula. "Yes, I did. I overstepped my bounds. I'm sorry."
The look of perfect, innocent confusion remained plastered on Robin's pretty face. "How can you have overstepped your bounds if I'm not insulted? I suppose I don't understand why you are apologizing."
His eyes looked at her levelly before he let out a tiny, mostly inaudible sigh. "This isn't the most opportune place to discuss it. Just know that I'm sorry." He forced his face away from her confused look and back to the seatback in front of him. Amon could feel the questioning verdant eyes boring into the side of his face for a few seconds longer before Robin's gaze returned to the vacant sky space of the window.
Back to Iceland they were headed.
"According to my contacts within the government and within SOLOMON itself, Oskari is still in the country—along with a handful of SOLOMON operatives," Trygve murmured in an undertone to Nagira and Sula as the group walked purposefully and briskly through the small airport. "The SOLOMON contacts are through Gróa; a holdover from the days when she used to work for them."
"Is that safe?" Nagira asked critically, his eyebrows cocked at Trygve. "To be in contact with SOLOMON in light of the circumstances?"
Resolutely the Icelandic man nodded his head, looking over to Nagira. "Robin's grandfather, I suppose, should be evidence of the prevailing quality of human beings to help one another—even those within SOLOMON can remember old friendships, old alliances. Gróa—Gods keep her in their halls—was well-liked and well-respected among her former colleagues."
Nagira looked ahead, continuing to walk, his brain mulling for a moment. "So, why did Gróa ever leave SOLOMON, anyway?" he queried.
"Because of me," Trygve answered, a bit sadly. "Look at how she got paid back."
Sula was deeply concerned suddenly, her hand upon her brother's arm as they walked. Incomprehensible Nordic babble came from her mouth as she spoke to her brother in a soothing tone—as soothing as Icelandic could sound—and Nagira looked away to give them privacy, even though he had no clue what the hell they were saying to one another. It just seemed like the proper thing to do. Allowing them their space, he slowed his step and fell back in line with his brother and Robin, casting a spare glance over at Amon. "So, Cochise, what're we gonna do after we flee the Continent like dogs with our tails between our legs?"
Amon bristled, as Nagira knew he would at the simile to dogs, but managed a civilized answer. "I'm working on it. Don't worry about it." Typically cryptic, typically Amon. A quick look at Robin revealed that she didn't appear outwardly—or at all—concerned about where they were going after all of this. Her fate, as far as she was concerned, was completely safe and well-guided in Amon's capable yet disturbed hands.
"Whatever," Nagira replied, already digging in his coat pocket for his pack of cigarettes as they approached the outside doors, bracing himself for the harsh, cold wind. "How're we gonna find this Oskari character, anyway?" he continued, looking at his brother skeptically. Amon was impassive as usual.
"I'm working on that as well. You shouldn't worry about that, either." Amon was either saying these things because he seriously was planning something or because he had absolutely no idea what he was going to do but didn't want to let on about it. Nagira rolled his eyes and stood there on the curb with the rest of the group as Sula tried to hail some taxis to take them to their hotel.
Everyone else was joined up in Trygve and Sigrún's room, sitting on bed-ends and chairs and discussing plans. Robin slipped away as discreetly as possible back to the room she was sharing with Amon to discover what was keeping him from the semi-meeting. He wasn't the most social of creatures but it was highly unusual for him to miss a tactics meeting of sorts.
Opening the door, she found him sitting on the bed with his laptop and some wires, a strange device and a cell phone. At first Robin thought it was his cell phone, but then she looked at it and recognized it as the cell phone that had once belonged to Finn. She cocked an eyebrow questioningly. "What are you doing?" she queried. "Everyone is in the other room, talking."
"If I can figure out which one of these numbers is Oskari's by cross-referencing it against the checks Nagira had run for him, we're not going to need to talk. We'll be able to locate Oskari by his phone records, by pinpointing the nearest cell phone tower that transmitted his incoming or outgoing calls. We might even be able to find him tonight, finish him off, and be out of the country before the end of the day."
Robin blinked in mild shock. "Um. Isn't that a bit of a rush?"
He looked up at her briefly, jarringly. "I want to start this as quickly as possible. Once either SOLOMON or the committee catches wind of what we're doing, they are going to try to make it as difficult as possible for us. I would rather hurry and complete objectives than try to slink around and act sneaky. They're probably already expecting retaliation beyond Finn for what they did to you."
She walked over to the bed, watching Amon manipulate the technology to his will as he always had been able to. Robin was somewhat of a dunce with all things electronic; she'd required extensive training in order to be able to use even the simplest of palm pilots and communicators. "I just don't know if it's wise to rush into a fight, guns blazing, when we're not sure of the circumstances. We don't even know if Oskari's still here…and if he is here, if he's here alone."
"It would be simplest for one or two people to go after him, once he's located," Amon went on as if he hadn't even heard Robin. "There are too many of us to go running after one man. It would be too conspicuous."
His comment drew a frown from Robin, her brows lowering. "It would be better to stick together, I think. Safety in numbers…on top of that, we don't even know what Oskari's Craft is. It could be something potentially difficult for only one or two people to handle." Realization lit on her face. "Unless one of the one or two people was me. I think, perhaps…" here Robin trailed off, perhaps worried about sounding prideful, "…handle any Craft that was thrown at me."
A snort issued from Amon. "Absolutely not. You're not going anywhere alone. You're not going anywhere with anyone else. You're too vital to all of this—you're going to stay put and let your soldiers do your dirty work for you, no matter what." He pretended to ignore Robin's look of teenage indignation. "That's final, Robin. We'll take care of it all. Your only concern is to stay safe and alive no matter what is happening."
Silence reigned momentarily as Robin tried to decipher what exactly Amon was doing with all the devices. "But…" She huffed. "Amon, I am the most powerful out of all of you. It seems foolishness to keep me in the reserves when I could be on the front line."
"Too great of a risk," he said simply, dismissively. He tapped at keys urgently and Robin craned her head to see, curious. "You should go back to talking with the others. They need your presence."
"What are you doing there?" Robin asked curiously, craning her head further to see the computer screen. Amon looked up at her suddenly, his eyes hard and purposeful.
"Go back to the others," he said, almost commanded. "Your presence is a morale-booster for them."
Their eyes locked for a moment as Robin slid hers from the computer screen to her warden's face. Her eyebrows began to lift in understanding as she gazed at him. Leaning back, Robin folded her thin arms over her chest, frowning in disapproval. "You intend to go after him by yourself, don't you?" she asked suddenly, bluntly. Amon merely stared at her and then turned back to his laptop, tapping away at the keys. She let her green eyes bore into him. "Aren't you?"
A noise like a frustrated sigh emerged from Amon and his tapping ceased, his head turning to look up at Robin. "No. No, I'm not."
Robin's face was skeptical and unconvinced, still frowning in concern. "You are lying to me, I think." She didn't seem to be ruffled by the darkening of his look. "Amon, if you consider it so important for me to stay behind and remain safe then you must see the risk in running off alone to take on a skilled Craft-user—one whose Craft you don't even know."
He was still staring at her with a look that spoke of angry guilt. Robin knew that he was planning to go off by himself; it was just such a typically Amon thing to do. "I don't know why you feel compelled to lecture me. I just told you that I am not planning on going off by myself."
She wanted to believe his words. She wanted to believe them so badly that it hurt her inside. Robin may have been the ward and Amon the warden but she was the Eve and he was one of the members of her entourage. She wasn't about to let him go running off into danger on her watch. "Then come to Trygve and Sigrún's room. Turn off the laptop and come to the meeting."
Their eyes were still linked in a wordless battle, the battle of their wills and the battle of truth versus deception. Amon did not speak, nor did he move. "Or," Robin continued, her voice like quiet steel, "promise me that you are not going to go off on your own. Swear to me."
That clinched it. Slowly, his eyes not leaving hers, Amon began to disconnect wires from the computer and the phone, taking things apart and putting things away. He closed the laptop slowly and evenly as if trying to keep himself from snapping and flying off into rage. "There." His voice was plain. "I'll come to their room. But I will not make promises that I am not sure that I can keep."
Something akin to ire bubbled in Robin. "If you go, I'll find you. I can do that. Easily."
Standing, her warden looked away from her, exhaling heavily. His hands came to rest on his hips as he looked over at a wall in disgruntlement, looking at it as if it owed him some sort of explanation. "No more talk of this. Let's go to their room. Come on."
Robin sensed that Amon was not going to give up his power over situations without a fight.
Rubbing at his eyes in bored frustration, Reznik rocked back and forth slightly in his desk chair. The voice coming from the phone pressed against his ear was droning on, all bad or kind of worthless news. That's all that seemed to come from SOLOMON, nowadays.
"Something's happening," the man on the other line said, sounding as frustrated as Reznik felt. "They're splitting up. We lost track of the main group, the one housing Robin Sena and Amon Novotne. We've dispatched intelligence agents to Japan to investigate the claims that Novotne's half-brother, Syunji Nagira, has taken an extended vacation to Europe."
Reznik swore, loudly, his hand slapping onto his desk. "I could have told you that Novotne's half-brother is along for the ride, you moron. I've met the man! You're doing exactly what they want you to do, you know that, right?" Silence came from the other line; confused, chastised silence. "You're spreading yourselves thin, making yourselves weak—I know the way these people's minds work, and that is exactly what they want you to do." The Czech man forced a calming breath out of his mouth and leaned back in his chair, closing his eyes. "Now, how exactly did you lose track of the main group? Trygve isn't that resourceful."
"We think that they had help from within," the man on the other line explained, a trifle sheepishly. "Recall that Gróa Guðmundsdóttir once worked for SOLOMON and that's how she became so well connected in the witch underground. We think that Trygve may have reached out to members still sympathetic to Gróa and what she stood for, and pumped them for information." A deep, worried breath came from the other line. "…we think that they may have had help from even higher up than that, as well."
Reznik scowled vehemently, his sharp features pulling into a look of almost animal fury. "That bastard. That bastard. I knew we should have done something about him long ago…"
"He's too high up," the man spoke, hurriedly. "You couldn't possibly go after Juliano—he sits on the High Council. He can do whatever he wants…not even you have the resources or the sway to go after him. And after all, it is common knowledge that he went to Japan after he'd ordered Novotne to Hunt Sena, and Novotne had gone rogue. It's common knowledge that he went there to…reestablish contact with his granddaughter, in a way."
The scowl was still plastered on Reznik's face. "Contact Oskari. Call him back from Iceland and tell him he has something to take care of in Italy for us."
"You can't be serious." The man's voice sounded horrified. "If you go after Juliano, you will only bring the wrath of SOLOMON upon you—"
"I think you're greatly disillusioned as to who controls who, in all of this," Reznik snapped, cutting the man off. "SOLOMON's wrath means no more to me than a fly bothers an elephant. Oskari should be more than done cleaning up in Iceland by now. Bring him back to the Continent."
The tinny voice of the man on the phone tittered. "We cannot reach Oskari."
If Reznik had been frustrated and angry before, he was approaching a minor explosive meltdown by that point. His jaw clenched; he was sick of these games. He was sick of little Robin Sena running round all of the world, running around like she had a right to be there—he was sick of her complicating his life. "What do you mean you cannot reach Oskari?"
"He hasn't answered his phone for a day or so. We last had him triangulated at…" The sound of shuffling papers. "…Gróa Guðmundsdóttir's house. Not only had we placed him there by a phone trace, but we have documented phone records of him stating he was there."
Reznik blinked. "He's just…sitting there? There's nothing left at that house; why would he be there?"
The man on the other line gave a silent yet somehow perceptible shrug. "We haven't been able to figure that out either. By all accounts he should have left Iceland yesterday. For some reason he is still there."
Realization lit up Reznik's features suddenly, like a lightbulb in a dark room. He swore, this time in Czech. "They're on their way to Iceland. They must be. Oskari would never wait there, wait there in Gróa's house unless he knew someone was coming." Reznik swore again, almost uncontrollably. "Damn that man and his sense of righteous battle honour!"
On the other end of the line, in Rome, the SOLOMON man was perplexed. "What now?"
"Oskari is waiting there for Sena and her little cohorts to find him," Reznik snapped, standing with purpose and fairly bursting through the doors of his study. "He's waiting for a battle and he isn't keeping contact with us because he knows I would disapprove of his actions at this point. Get your Hunters back on the line," he continued, grumbling at himself internally for 'stretching' SOLOMON yet more, "and tell them to get back to Iceland, if they're not still there. I will send some of my own people—if they are in Iceland and planning to try to take out Oskari, I will ensure that they will meet with a battle of epic proportions. Somehow Oskari caught wind of them coming to Iceland—probably through SOLOMON double-agents—and now he's waiting."
"If they're there, they may have already acted—"
"Do it! And start looking into Juliano!" Reznik shouted, and then brought the phone away from his ear, snapping it shut with a vengeance.
Who would have ever known that a fifteen year old girl could be such a problem?
It wasn't difficult to move from the bed without disturbing Robin.
Amon had purposely avoided sleeping anywhere near the slight girl in the hopes that she would not get too close to him and awaken confused and disgruntled at his departure.
They were sharing a bed in a hotel room, even though they didn't have to. They could have gotten two beds, if they'd wanted to. These thoughts plagued Amon's mind as he dressed quickly and silently in the pitch darkness, the sound of Robin's delicate sleep-breathing pounding in his hyper-sensitive ears. Now was not the time to contemplate the intricacies of he and Robin's relationship.
The keys to one of the rental vehicles had been easy enough to lift, earlier in the evening. In Trygve's room, the keys had laid upon one of the counters near the bathroom, in a heap. Amon, feigning needing to blow his nose, had silently and quickly lifted one of the pairs of keys from the counter with a subtly outstretched index finger, slipping them into his pocket before anyone had even noticed. No one would notice, considering all the keys were so close to one another and there would be no need for driving until tomorrow morning.
Guns, two of them. He'd loaded them and prepared them earlier that evening while Robin bathed, the noise of her running bath masking the sounds of him locking and loading and shuffling weaponry about.
Robin shifted in her sleep, a tiny movement; nevertheless it made Amon pause in cat-like stealth, dropping down low to the ground so that if she did open her eyes she would perhaps think he had just gone to the bathroom or something. No such reaction came out of her, however, and Amon stood again fluidly, looking over her sleeping form in the dark. Her arm and hand were outstretched, flung far from her body on the bed. His brain worried; she was searching in sleep for the form of his body. She already knew, on some deep level, that he was gone.
He finished his preparations and slipped out the door without a sound, feeling guilty and criminal but feeling responsible and noble at the same time.
He knew where that bastard was. And he was going to take care of it before anyone else even had a chance to think about it.
A/N: Yeah. This isn't the whole chapter that I'd originally wanted to post. There was more I wanted to write but basically I began to feel shitty for having not updated in so long, so I decided to just slap this up since it's at kind of a natural break in the story.
I'm bad, dude. I've been so damn busy lately that I've neglected writing and the intarweb in general. Sorry to all of the people who have been waiting about forever and a fucking day for an update…I've been mad busy, but I haven't forgotten about our darling little TDL characters. XDDDDDD