Summary: It's been a few weeks since the fiasco with the Mjolnir and the brother's are working their next job. Cal's convinced Goodfellow to tag along when the job throws them another curveball. Follow-up to "The Mjolnir".
AN: Thanks again to Amy and Dana for helping me with this chapter. You guys are awesome!
"This place is a fucking dump," I grumbled.
"You were expecting something extravagant?" Niko's brow twitched upward as he asked the question. Obviously someone was expecting this spectacular view.
"Well I wouldn't go that far, but this place looks like it's about to fall over." Goodfellow's murmured understatement wasn't unheard by either of us. We just chose to ignore him.
Looking at the building I couldn't figure out how the hell it was still standing, never mind why it was still standing. The old building was three stories high and it'd be pushing it to say that there were more than two windows actually still intact. The door was boarded up in a sad attempt to keep people out, and I could see some sort of wrinkled notice pinned to the crisscrossed boards. It was more than likely telling people to stay that hell out, but it was a waste of paper considering that if someone or something wanted in, using the front door wasn't exactly a necessity.
Now the windows? Those were more practical, and it looked like they had been pretty useful for easy entry… although I had no clue who the hell would be stupid enough to go inside. There were whole sections of wall missing, broken bricks and glass scattered below on the ground. Looking at the missing pieces reminded me of a warped game of Jenga. Remove one more piece and it would all come tumbling down.
I was pretty sure the space could be used for something a little more useful, too. I was thinking somewhere along the lines of a Chinese restaurant, maybe a pizza place… My stomach made a gurgling noise at the thought of food. I'd have to bribe Nik to get something on the way back to the apartment later. I was all for taking risks, but even I wasn't stupid enough to get near what was in our fridge, never mind eat it.
"Why the hell does our client care about this shitty place anyway? This mess isn't suitable for the rats never mind anything living… or not-so-living in this case." I wrinkled my nose at the unidentifiable pile of slime my sneaker had just got sucked into. The shoe came close to becoming the first casualty as I took a step forward and it almost stayed behind, sticky puke colored strands stretching from the ground to the bottom of my shoe. It was freaking gross. Our second job and I was already considering asking for a damn raise – or a career change.
Niko sighed. "I believe it's the fact that the Balaur is using Mr. Rachis' own clients for nourishment and subsequently hurting his business that has him more than a little annoyed with his new neighbor. This place doesn't belong to our client, but it is the current residence of tonight's job."
"Like that oversized bag of feathers has never snacked on a person or two in his time," Robin scoffed. "His kind would gladly eat a human as the main course. They've only recently realized that it is much more entertaining to take their money than it is to eat them."
Niko raised a golden eyebrow. "Was that your conclusion as well?"
"Me?" He pointed to himself and shivered dramatically. "Absolutely not. The day I eat a human is the day I shop at the local thrift store."
And that would be a cold day in hell. Nothing good could come from Loman in a thrift store.
I snorted. "So I guess you were a leaves and sticks kinda guy then, huh? 'Cause I have to say, I can't imagine you being a harpoon wielding hunter of animals back in the good ol' days."
Niko snorted, and Robin gave me an annoyed look. "I did not eat sticks… well, not that I can remember anyway." Goodfellow looked lost in thought for a moment, and I could only shake my head. I couldn't imagine being around for as long as he had. It was kind of freaky to think that you'd been around so long you couldn't even remember what the hell you used to eat before the days of drive-thru's and five star restaurants.
Before we could continue with the odd topic, Niko held his index finger up to his lips and motioned for us to follow him around the side of the dilapidated building.
It was a tight squeeze between the rusted chain link fence and the dirty bricks holding up the old store… well, it could have been a store. A long, long time ago. Maybe.
Robin made a disgusted face at the smear of dirt across his left shoulder and I could only smirk, much to his annoyance. Too caught up with Goodfellow's wardrobe I didn't notice the broken glass under my feet until it was crunching into the pavement beneath my sneakers and my brother was throwing me a sharp glare. I shrugged and he rolled his eyes.
"Watch out for that," Robin whispered sarcastically while pointing down at the glass.
I jabbed him in the ribs and shot back, "No shit, jackass."
My brother sighed and continued walking. "Why we even bother to be subtle I have no clue."
I smirked. "Because it's a good plan. It's just that Robin's big mouth usually ruins it."
"My big mouth?" The puck scowled indignantly. "You are about as stealthy as a rhinoceros, and you blame my mouth for the fact that the bad guys can hear us coming from a mile away?"
"Bad guys?" I raised a brow and couldn't keep the grin off my face. "And you say I'm the child?"
The puck growled and I was quite proud of my accomplishment. It wasn't easy to ruffle Goodfellow's feathers and it was providing a good distraction. It was one more thing to keep my mind from what had only happened a few weeks before. This was an easy job, and I had Loman to annoy. Keeping those two things in mind I squeezed passed Robin, ignoring his cursing, and followed the path my brother had taken. Niko was focused on the job and I could tell that he was scouting the area, determining his plan of action to get this done as quickly and as easily as possible – and preferably with no bloodshed on our part.
A few more yards and I caught up with my brother, Robin not far behind me.
"I haven't seen nor heard anything, but if I had to guess I'd say down there would be our best bet."
I groaned when I saw where Niko was pointing. It was a door that undoubtedly led down to the basement. As if the outside of the rickety building wasn't ominous enough, now he wanted to go inside – and into the basement no less. I didn't feel safe standing next to it, never mind under it.
"You've got to be shitting me." Even as the words left my mouth I knew it was useless. Robin shot a smirk in my direction and followed my brother's lead. I could read the teasing in the puck's eyes, and with a huff of annoyance I followed them to the door. When I got there my brother was already crouching down, working to pick the lock on the rotted door. We may not be subtle, but there was no need send out an announcement that the party had arrived.
The rusted lock made a stuttered but soft click, and Niko turned the knob, gently pushing the door open. Of course there were no lights. And too bad for me my unnaturally strong sense of smell didn't come with night vision. That was more Niko's field, and I had to wonder, not for the first time, what the hell was in my brother's DNA as he gracefully made his was down the stairs and into the darkened basement.
Of course, Robin followed behind him with little difficulty, but me? I had to hold onto the doorframe just so I wouldn't topple down the flight of stairs after my first blind step. The dull street lamp had helped us find our way back here, but once we had cleared the corner and made our way to the door our only light was the sporadic rays from the moon as the dark grey clouds passed.
It also didn't help that the stairs were unnaturally steep. It would be just my luck to trip, fall, and break something.
"This is ridiculous," I complained. The faint shush I got in return could have come from my brother or Robin, I wasn't sure. There was another faint click and a thin line of light shone from a small flashlight in Goodfellow's hand. I shot the puck a hard glare. "I'm stumbling around like a blind man and you've got a flashlight?"
"I could always take out my cell phone and call Puff the Magic Dragon." There was no mistaking the heavy sarcasm in Robin's voice. "If we're going to completely bypass all attempts of sneaking up on the Balaur, we might as well go all out."
I was trying to remember why I had wanted the puck to come along again.
Oh, that's right... It was the possibility of a repeat performance with the psychotic mystic priestesses and the power tools from hell that had encouraged me to invite him, but fucking hell if Loman wasn't getting on my last nerve. This was supposed to be an easy job, but I could see that Goodfellow was starting to get twitchy as hell. His shoulders were tense, and from what I could see it would take a crow bar to get the flashlight pried from his fingers. I could practically feel the tension radiating from the puck, and I had to admit it was making me more than a little nervous.
"What the hell is your problem? You were fine until we found the door down here. What changed?" Something was off and it didn't sit well with me. My palms were sweaty, and my fingers were itching to grab the glock I had tucked in my waist band. I already had a white-knuckled grip on the eight inch blade in my hand, but the gun was my security blanket.
Robin didn't say anything, just faced the other way and kept walking. I caught Niko's eyes in the limited light and I could see the slight shrug of his shoulders and the curious glance he sent the puck's way.
We walked down the hallway and into a larger room. It seemed like the room could have been used for storage at one time, but it was hard to tell now. The air had the damp, musty smell that all basements seemed to have and I wrinkled my nose. What did surprise me was that other than the usual smells of an old cellar, I couldn't smell anything out of the ordinary. If our buddy was using this place as his humble abode, I couldn't tell, and that fact was a little more unnerving than I was willing to admit.
The silence was only permeated by the steady drip from the leaky pipes, and I waved a hand in front of my face as the spider webs hanging from the ceiling clung to my skin.
Goodfellow was in the lead with the flash light, and I was bringing up the rear. Things were still pretty quiet, too quiet, but I used the opportunity to look at my brother. His stone-faced features would give nothing away to anyone else, but I could read my brother like a book.
All of Niko's senses were tuned in to our surroundings. The sounds, or lack thereof, the smell, what little we could see, and I caught a quick glimpse of silver from my brother's katana in the small shadows coming from the dim light of the flashlight. Niko was always on guard, the picture of perfect attention and keen awareness, but at the moment he was as lost as I was. The sudden change in Goodfellow's mood was odd, and more than a little unsettling.
"Robin, if there's something not right here it would be greatly appreciated if you would share with the class." Niko's tone was light, but there was no mistaking that he expected an honest answer.
The puck stopped and his gaze jumped from me to Niko. He gave a quick shrug of his shoulder.
"I'm not sure," he sighed, "but something doesn't seem right. These things are dumb, there's no denying that they barely have one brain cell shared between whatever brains are rattling around in their heads, but we've all but put on the flashing neon lights announcing our arrival, and still… nothing. I was expecting the Balaur to make an appearance by now."
I was clueless. I knew this thing was some kind of miniature dragon with flippers, but I didn't know the specifics – that's what Niko was for. He had briefed Robin on the way over here, so the puck had a good idea of what the game plan was.
My brother was just about to say something when there was an odd slipping and tapping noise that seemed to come from all around the room. My gaze snapped in one direction and I saw Niko do the same. I couldn't see a thing. The light coming from Goodfellow's small flashlight didn't illuminate anything more than a few feet past our own faces. I was just about to turn towards the other direction when I found myself airborne once again that night.
This was really getting ridiculous.
It was bad enough that my brother had an annoying tendency to send me flying across the room, I didn't need this piece of shit to join in too. My squawk of surprise was cut off when the large thing connected with my chest, and I grunted when I landed in a heap against the far wall.
I caught a quick glimpse of rubbery gray skin, and a big mass of lumbering flesh during my flight. I was starting to think miniature wasn't the appropriate word to use in describing this dragon. It wasn't big-as-a-house huge, but I had no freaking clue how it could fit down here never mind actually move.
I shifted my legs a little and I was pretty sure by the cool wetness seeping into my pants that I had landed in a puddle. And wasn't that just freaking awesome? How the word 'fun' had ever managed to make it past my lips in reference to this job, I had no idea. This shit wasn't fun. It was, however, pissing me off, and the slight pulling in my back muscles only managed to irritate me more. Tomorrow I'd be walking like the grandpa I'd accused Niko of being.
Readjusting my grip on the gun that was still locked in my fist with an iron hold, I was just about to push myself up from the floor when a large slimy snout appeared in front of my face and a cool puff of air blew my hair out of my eyes.
Up close and personal with the Loch Ness Monster's long lost cousin. My night was complete.
Groaning, my head fell back against the concrete wall, and away from the big freaking nose. My ass was already getting soggy; I didn't need Nessie's snots on my face.
My gaze shifted to the side and I realized that not only had I landed in the stupid puddle, I had also managed to get stuck between one wall and a shit load of old wooden crates. I wasn't looking forward to a swim through the sea of wooden boxes, but my odds of going through the brick wall were pretty damn slim.
Ignoring that little hurdle, I moved on to option number two.
I couldn't see my brother or Robin in the darkness of the basement, and I couldn't hear them either, but that didn't surprise me. When the shit hit the fan, there was no brushing off the skills that were necessary in this job. We had come in thinking this would be easy, and didn't bother being quiet about what we were doing. But now… now I was stuck between the proverbial rock and a hard place, and if my brother didn't want to be heard, he wouldn't be.
I wasn't exactly comfortable with this thing invading my bubble of personal space, but I had my gun in one hand and a big brother that was undoubtedly sneaking up behind the Balaur to reassure me. It was a tossup, which of the two was more lethal. I wasn't exactly in the best position to debate that, but I did know one thing for sure…
We were in for a long damn night.
Thanks for reading! I hope you guys liked this chapter!
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