Disclaimer: The DaVinci Code characters and premise belong to Dan Brown, and the movieverse world belongs to someone else as well. OC's and the plot are mine.
A/N: The beliefs expressed in this fic are not mine; rather, they are what I perceive to be the beliefs of the characters. This fic is intended to begin at the end of the movie (not the book!) and it is the companion piece to SEATBELT. Upcoming chapters will make more sense if you've read that first (it's short! Don't be afraid!).
Murder suspects, even cleared, never erase the stigma. Fugitives have even less chance of doing so. And in the previous day, Robert Langdon, Professor of Religious Symbology at Harvard University, had been both of these to France.
So the eyes watched, unaware of anything but their focus. Unaware of each other; one set benevolent, the other malign.
It was too soon to tell, after all, if he was wholly innocent. Strange things had happened in the last thirty-six hours. Explanations were needed. And even more questions arose.
So the eyes watched.
It was too soon to tell, after all, the extent of what he knew. Jacques Saunière had taken the secret of the Holy Grail to his grave. But the Louvre's curator had chosen Langdon for some as-yet-unknown reason. And that was reason enough to track his every movement.
So the eyes watched.
After a long moment, Langdon rose from where he knelt. Two fingers traced the brass disc marking the Rose Line atop Le Pyramide Inversèe, before the dark-haired man walked carefully off the skylight and onto pavement.
All the way back to his hotel, the eyes observed as Robert Langdon drew the shades and made ready for sleep, too long denied.
One set of eyes settled in for the night watch, but the other moved. Through back doors and the hotel lobby, past other eyes in the camouflage of confidence and a clerk's modest clothing. Up the back stairs, away from the wary eyes that held no ill intent and would likely interfere to protect the Professor. Quiet through early hours and carpeted halls, he would take his quarry by surprise.
Silent and with a master keycard, he expected Langdon to be deeply asleep; so exhausted that the chloroformed kerchief in hand was only a precaution.
He was unprepared to find the man awake, staring once more at a page in a book. Awake, and wary with the adventures of the last day.
"Monsieur Langdon?" the man attempted to excuse his abrupt entrance.
"Yes?" The Sacré Féminin hit the small endtable. Langdon approached, blue eyes tired. The clerk hid his glee.
"There is a small problem with your credit card down at the front desk." His accent was a bare trace of Calais through the English words.
Puzzlement wrinkled Langdon's brow. Suspicion gleamed in blue eyes; with catlike quickness, the clerk darted at him. The professor stumbled back from the swift advance, but not quickly enough to avoid the blow that sent him staggering against the bed. The clerk leapt for him, but Langdon rolled away, gaining his feet as crimson bloodied his split lip.
Bedclothes tangled his feet as the clerk raced over the mattress; Langdon fought back, with all the terror and adrenaline of a man cornered. But the hotel's soundproofing was expensive, and no one heard his shouts for help.
It took more than he expected to subdue the professor, but mere minutes later the clerk was leaning over Langdon as the man kicked up from the floor. One hand restrained struggling wrists, the other clamped smothering cloth over nose and mouth. He was half on top of the fighting man, watching carefully as Langdon strained for breath and blue eyes became dazed with the cloying sweetness of chloroform.
He left the man breathing through the kerchief for a good moment longer, just to be certain. The professor was not what he had expected; he would take no chances. After that, it was the work of a moment to put to rights the room, pack the few remaining belongings, and make a phone call to the front desk as he shucked his clothes in favor of a change. His uncle, he explained, needed to leave for the airport immediately; there had been a sudden family emergency. But he had taken his sleeping pills before receiving the call, and what was a dutiful nephew to do but request a wheelchair from the front desk…
He had ten minutes to make another phone call.
"I have the package." Spoken Latin was lost to scholars, but not to them.
"There were no problems, I trust."
"None, your Grace."
"And you are on your way." It wasn't a question.
"Momentarily." The man who was not a clerk paused. "And the Council of Shadows?"
A breath in his ear. "You have nothing to fear." The line went dead.
He arranged Langdon carefully on the bed, cleaning the professor's split lip and putting the room to rights. It didn't require much, simply righting a toppled endtable and shoving an armchair to its previous position. The next few steps to the plan were at least less physically taxing. A taxi would not be hard to obtain; and then it was a simple matter of transporting the unconscious man to the heart of Opus Dei.
No one would find him there.
The man who was not a clerk smiled as hotel staff rang the bell. "Thank you so much," he gushed. "My uncle is a heavy sleeper once he has taken his medication."
The bellboy nodded politely. "Do you require any assistance, sir?"
An arm under Langdon's back, and another under his knees, the man who was not a clerk hesitated, feigning embarrassment. "Actually, if you could -"
The two managed to lift the unconscious Langdon into the chair, and the man who was not a clerk sighed as they waited for the elevator. "Thank you. We really must hurry; the plane leaves quite soon and we cannot miss the flight. An emergency – a horrible accident – my uncle will be glad to be home when he awakens."
"Please don't forget to check out before you go," the young man reminded him. "It would be a shame if the hotel billed you for nights you didn't enjoy in Paris."
The man who was not a clerk nodded, thoughtfully. "Thank you. In all the rush, I'd almost forgotten."
When the doors opened, he moved to the front desk and scribbled a signature on the credit card receipt before loading professor and suitcase into a taxicab. Several moments' drive brought them to the bolt-hole of a house he had leased in the city. From there, it was only to pay the driver before all pretenses were dropped. As soon as the cab was out of sight, he returned to the house and securely tied the still-unconscious professor. Then, he loaded the limp body into the back of his own car, prepared to drive through the night.
And so it was not until the keynote speaker left a large seminar waiting for over an hour the following morning that anyone noticed Professor Robert Langdon was missing.