Authors Note: After dabbling in the world of Cal and Niko, Beth and I decided to write a joint multi-fic. This is our attempt at doing so. we hope you like it.
Warning: Set after Nightlife but before Moonshine. Spoilers only for Nightlife.
Summary: It should have been a simple job. However Cal and Niko find themselves caught up in something more dangerous than they could ever have imagined.
Disclaimer: We don't own any of the characters, blah, blah, blah, words.
By Ames449 and bb1028
I was born a monster. Ok, so that was hardly a newsflash. I'd known I was different since the day I was born. I was a freak, a genetic experiment, an abomination. I was evil wrapped and packaged in human form. I'd seen things that most people wouldn't have believed, shit, I'd been things that most people wouldn't have believed. Yeah, trust me when I tell you possession isn't little girls puking pea soup and Darkling… he hadn't been the latent spirit of the devil - he'd been worse.
For one hellish week I'd wreaked havoc, and I'm not talking about teenage rebellion, joyriding, under-age-drinking havoc. I'm talking about real crap your pants, end of the world stuff.
They say money can buy anything in the Big Apple… they weren't wrong. For the right price I'd found two werewolves and sent them after George. That was bad enough, but I'd done worse. I'd tried to kill my brother – and nearly succeeded. I thanked anyone who would listen daily that I had failed. Life without Niko…? Well, there wasn't life without Niko. Not any life I was willing to partake in anyway. I'd also tried to destroy the human race… Yeah, I'd been a real bastard under Darkling's thrall. The problem was I had been awake for all of it. I'd known exactly what was happening. I just hadn't been able to stop it. If having an Auphe for a father hadn't screwed me up enough already then this shit had definitely clocked up the therapy sessions at a rapid rate. I was fucked up beyond professional help.
It played on my mind constantly – what I had done under Darkling's control. It played on my mind because a part of me had enjoyed it, and if that didn't make me a monster then I don't know what the hell did. Niko said it wasn't me, that they were Darkling's feelings, not mine, but I was having a hard time separating the two. They were my memories, they were my emotions. It was all me. Not that I would ever let my brother know I thought that. Niko… god, he didn't blame me for a damn thing. Even when I had tried to kill him. Even when I had tried to destroy the world. Nik would have smacked me upside the head if he knew what I was thinking, but even my brother couldn't save me from my own mind. I had been a monster in that week. Even he couldn't deny that.
Rafferty had laid his healing mojo on me after Darkling had vacated my body. Not that he had left willingly. Rafferty had killed me. For a whole second I had been clinically dead. That still gave me chills thinking about it. Dead… gone… non-existent. Then he had brought me back. Shit and if that didn't still screw with my head on a daily basis. Darkling had fled my body at that point. Yeah, no honour amongst thieves – and homicidal bastards. Sure, he was prepared to let me die, but he was a little more protective of his own mortality. He'd not been content to let it lie there though. He was a persistent asshole, but when I'd finally finished with him there hadn't been enough left to identify the little shit. But Raff? What he had done for me…? It made it bearable… just. My memories might have faded like a painting left in the sun, but I still knew what I had done. Nothing could change that. In a maudlin way I didn't want that to change. It reminded me of what I could become, and there was no way in hell I was letting that happen again.
"You keep frowning like that, Cal, and your face will get stuck that way."
I stopped my barefoot stroll across the kitchen to glance up at my brother. Niko was sitting at the table, a bowl of what I could only describe as rabbit food in front of him. I loved my brother, but I had no idea how he survived on that crap. He had to be constantly hungry.
Pushing dark hair out of my face, I picked my feet back up and moved to rummage in the fridge.
It had been a month. A whole stinking month since Darkling's demise. It seemed longer somehow. We both had baggage that we were dragging behind our sorry asses, but Niko was better at carrying his. Me? I was trying to hold myself together, and failing miserably. But brooding… it wasn't allowed. Not while Niko was around. Not if I wanted to keep my ass from getting paddled.
"Yeah, but I'll still be pretty in the morning." I threw out the half-hearted response, finally locating something in the fridge that looked almost edible. Almost.
Moving over to the table, I sank into one of the empty chairs placing the suspicious looking food in front of me. Niko eyed it gravely before raising his gaze to me.
"I believe that curry is one step from evolving into an intelligent species, little brother."
"Do I bad mouth your eating habits?" I asked, purposely digging my fork into the odd coloured slop and shovelling it into my mouth with a grin. Niko pulled a disgusted face.
"Frequently." Niko raised his brow as I took another fork full. "Your immune system amazes me, Cal. How you don't contract dysentery at least once a day, I don't know."
"Guess I'm just lucky." I smirked.
My brother sighed wearily.
"Speaking of lucky, we've got a case."
My fork halted mid-shovel as I raised my gaze to my brother.
"Already? Man, that was quick."
Niko merely shrugged. "Promise has contacts."
No kidding. She had to have contacts. I figured you didn't live as long as Promise had without picking up some acquaintances along the way and to be honest we were going to need those networks. Niko and I brought a whole new meaning to the phrase anti-social.
"So what's the job?" I asked, genuinely interested.
After Darkling's rampage across New York money had pretty much become an issue immediately. I wasn't exactly fired from my bar job but I figured that my boss being gutted and brutally murdered put me in the unemployment queue anyway. Not only that but Niko wasn't ready to let me venture out into the big wide world alone yet. Ok so the Auphe were obliterated but it didn't mean other nasties couldn't get their scary claws into me and, although my brother wouldn't admit it, he wasn't ready to face losing me again. I couldn't blame him; I felt the same about him.
So we had come up with a plan – or rather Nik and Promise had come up with a plan and I'd turned up when all the paper work had been completed. I wasn't much for hard work. In fact I resented anything more taxing than flicking through the TV channels. Yeah I was a lazy bastard, but that was hardly a revelation.
Our Agency was designed to do all those jobs that most people didn't want to do. You've got a wraith tearing up your local nature park? Sure, we'll get rid of it. You've got a werewolf humping the crap out of your Labrador every morning? No problem. For the right price we would solve all your preternatural issues – we'd solve all your every day crap too. This job was the first we had had since we opened for business so I had to admit I was feeling a little nervous about the whole thing. Our track record with the preternatural world wasn't exactly glowing with feel-good vibes.
"We're heading out to the airport in an hour." Niko said.
"You planning on taking me to Vegas? I didn't even realise you knew how to gamble, Cyrano." I shook my head in mock dismay before a wicked smirk graced my lips. "You do know there will be drinking and probably a degree of inappropriate -"
"Cal." Niko cut me off sternly. "Please, take your mind out of the gutter just for a few minutes. I know it's asking a lot, but humour me."
I sighed, but couldn't help but grin. "Fine. Ok so this job?"
"We're picking up a package from the airport and delivering it to our client."
I raised a brow. "When in the hell did we become Fed-ex?"
Niko got to his feet and snatched my bowl of slop from under my nose before I could argue. Dumping the contents in the bin, he rooted in the cupboard for a moment before casually placing a cereal bar in front on me. I eyed it distastefully.
"What's this?" I demanded suspiciously. Surely he didn't expect me to eat it? Moot point, it was Niko. Of course he expected me to eat it. Hell, he probably expected me to enjoy it.
"It's called food, Cal." Niko stated as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. I was still debating whether or not bird seed could actually be considered a food group. "You really should look up the word at some point. It might prevent you from eating meals that could be potentially used as biological warfare."
I dropped my fork onto the empty table with a scowl and pushed the bar away from me. "I think I'll take a rain check on that, Nik."
My brother merely shrugged before giving my shoulder a gentle squeeze. "We leave in five minutes."
Reluctantly I pushed myself to my feet and hauled my ass to my bedroom to change. I was ready in three minutes. I'd learnt in the past that keeping my brother waiting wasn't a good idea. He classed tardiness as a mortal sin and Niko's idea of punishment left a lot to be desired. I might not have been book-smart but I wasn't stupid. I knew better than to push my luck.
My brother was waiting in the living room. He was tucking his katana beneath his long coat as I stepped into the room. I swear to god that damn coat could have given Mary Poppins a run for her creepy-freaky ass. It never ceased to amaze me the amount of stuff Niko had stashed underneath it. He could have pulled a friggin' speedboat out, and set it up on the Hudson. I wouldn't have batted an eyelid.
"So this delivery…? Any idea what it is?" I asked curiously, pulling my own jacket on, my eyes on my brother. Niko nodded slowly.
"We're picking up a package. It's some kind of family heirloom as far as I know but our client said it's incredibly valuable. She would pick it up herself but Promise said she is elderly."
I gave him an incredulous look. "We're being paid to pick up some old bauble for grandma?"
Maybe this gig would have its perks after all. Babysitting some old piece of junk and being paid for it was going to be a walk in the park… well, providing that park wasn't Central Park we would be ok.
"Don't worry little brother. It won't be too strenuous." Niko assured me with a faint twinkle of mirth in his grey eyes. "You'll barely break a sweat, I promise."
"Yeah, yeah, just stand there and look pretty. I get it." I replied absently, already moving to follow Niko as he made his way to the front door. "How much is the old codger coughing up for this 'go-fetch' job?" I asked.
Niko gave me a disapproving look. Ok, so perhaps it was disrespectful to refer to grandma as an old codger, but I wasn't exactly rolling in good manners – even on my best day. Not that Nik hadn't tried to beat that into my head, but I was a stubborn asshole. Besides, what was it they said about old dogs? Oh yeah, you can't teach them to keep their paws off the damn table. Forget new tricks, all the treats in the world weren't going to make me roll over and have my belly scratched.
Nik didn't respond to my question, however. Instead he waited for me to step out of the apartment before he closed the door behind me. I did notice the slight arch of his brow.
"If you move any slower I might decide to Fed-ex you to the airport instead." His lip curled upwards at the corner. "You would at least arrive on time that way."
I grinned widely. "Keep your panties on, Cyrano. I'm coming. It's not like the damn package is going to grow legs and walk out of there before we get there."
Niko snorted under his breath but started the four flights down to the lobby. All in all I was feeling pretty good about this job. After facing the Auphe anything else was child's play. I didn't realise how wrong I was.
Hindsight… what a bitch that was.