Julian put his arm around Jenny and she gave him a dark look. It was well after midnight and they were leaning against the hood of the car Marcus had 'acquired' to replace the rental they'd lost. Jenny didn't want to know how he'd gotten it. Though the hood of the car was warm, Jenny was cold; chilled by her fear and anxiety. Not to mention that there was an odd, unseasonable chill in the Las Vegas air.
Chills aside, Jenny was still ticked at him. Julian, that is. It was shortly after sunset, and only a couple long hours since that awkward call from her mom, that Julian had suddenly appeared in the kitchen, freaking out everyone and saying Jenny needed to come with him to Vegas. And then the arguing had started. Jenny still wasn't sure how her friends had finally agreed to let him take her (and how he'd finally convinced her to come, as a matter of fact). She just knew that it happened sometime around Julian having to duck a flying orange and Marcus coming in, giggling as he pulled the cookie jar off the top of the fridge, and settling in to watch.
Jenny sighed. Just another bump in the emotional rollercoaster that was this past week.
It wasn't until they were alone, and Jenny's temper had finally broken enough for her to snap at him, that he deigned to say that they were going to see a neutral party who might be able to convince the Elders to leave them alone. Jenny had her doubts, but if it worked…that'd be great. Right?
She still couldn't shake the feeling that Julian was hiding something from her. What he could be hiding, Jenny didn't know. But she had a feeling that it was bad. Maybe this neutral person wasn't so neutral, after all.
A flash of light startled Jenny out of her thoughts. A boy with scruffy brown hair had taken a picture of the building behind them…meaning they were probably in the shot. Julian frowned at the boy, somehow turning from lazily arrogant to dangerous in all of three seconds.
"Sorry," the boy muttered, a blush staining his cheeks. But as he turned away Jenny could have sworn his eyes were momentarily gold. Or…maybe it was just the camera's after image still ingrained into her eyes.
The breeze picked up and Jenny shivered, pulling Julian's duster jacket closer to her and all but snuggling into it.
"Uh…when is this…guy coming?" she asked nervously.
Julian's only answer was, "Soon."
Jenny's hands found their way into the jacket pockets and one wrapped involuntarily around the hilt of the knife hidden there. If she needed it…Jenny sincerely hoped she wouldn't.
"Jenny," Julian said, suddenly alert.
Jenny froze. A tall cloaked figure was headed their way. This is it, she thought. What it was and if it would be good or bad, she didn't know.
As the figure approached, Jenny felt a slight prickle of alarm; not quite fear, but an unsettling all the same. Julian moved slightly in front of her as if to shield Jenny from…anything that may randomly jump out at her. Jenny peeked over his shoulder and was able to take in a few things about the man…thing. It wasn't very tall (probably Jenny's height or a tiny bit taller), thin, and shrouded in a black cloak that seemed both several sizes too big and like it had been dragged out of a mediaeval movie set. In one gloved hand, it was holding tightly to the leash of a large dog (a Golden Retriever, Jenny decided). And in the other hand, it was holding onto a cane, white at the top and red at the bottom like a blind man's cane. Jenny couldn't see anything else. Not his skin color, hair color, or eye color. Nothing. What-who is this guy?
Jenny's eyes fell on the dog and cane again, and she confusedly breathed, "He's blind?"
Julian gave a little half-shrug. "At times. Whatever you do, Jenny, don't look into his eyes."
Jenny wasn't quite sure how to respond to that. A thousand more questions burst into her mind. Why shouldn't she? Was he a shadow man? If he was a shadow man how did he become blind? How could anyone be blind 'at times'? If he wasn't blind, what did he need the dog for? And who exactly was he in the first place? Another questions burst into her mind and made her glance around. Where was Marcus?
She remembered the boy who'd taken the picture and her head turned quickly in the direction he'd gone. Marcus….
The tapping of the man's cane on cement stopped and, for a moment, the only sound, other than the usual sounds of Las Vegas, was the scrabbling of the dog's claws against the pavement as it tried to sniff Jenny and Julian. Jenny watched the man apprehensively. Was he going to attack them?
"Meduine," Julian said softly and with a surprising amount of scorn.
Jenny expected a bad reaction, but she heard something she hadn't expected: a wheezy, nearly hacking sound. The man, Meduine, was laughing. Jenny felt her green eyes go wide and her eyebrows rise. Julian didn't seem bothered by it and Jenny had to wonder if there was a joke she was missing.
"You've got yourself in a deep shit hole this time, boy," Meduine said and a shiver cascaded over Jenny's spine. His voice was creepy; whispery like wind in a high mountain and yet somehow reminiscent of when the twin girls would speak in The Shining.
Julian's incredibly blue eyes narrowed fractionally. Jenny hazarded to guess that he didn't take being called 'boy' very well.
Meduine settled himself on a concrete bench, his laughter fading as he tugged on the dog's leash. The silence pressed painfully on Jenny's ears until she wanted to scream for them to say something, anything. The dog continued to whine and scratch at the floor.
"So-That's enough Griffin!" The dog sat down and was still. "So, you must be the infamous Jenny Thornton."
Infamous? Jenny opened her mouth to talk when Julian cut her off.
"Don't talk to her, don't direct any questions to her. That wasn't part of the deal."
"Actually," Meduine said oddly, his creepy voice going soft. "We never mentioned specifics regarding conversation, boy. You-" he turned back to Jenny "-come."
He raised a gloved hand and gestured for her to come closer. Almost as though a hook had been attached to her, Jenny was dragged forward. She stopped just in front of Meduine, her green eyes firmly on her feet and the cracked cement beneath them.
Just behind her, the dog was growling like a rabid wolf.
Jenny's heart gave a loud and unpleasant thump. She felt a twist of premonition in her stomach. Her legs refused to move. Oh no.
"Ég enn sé ekki hvað þú sérð í hana, drengur," Meduine whispered.
Jenny could feel his eyes on her. And it scared her.
"Ekki snerta hana." Julian's voice was a growl and full of darkly sinister promise. Somehow, Julian's protectiveness made her feel…better. Safer.
"I'm not," Meduine replied slyly, abruptly switching back to English. He waved Jenny away as if he was afraid of being contaminated by her.
Feeling suddenly returned to Jenny's legs and she stumbled back into Julian's reach.
"Are we going to get this over with?" Julian asked, sounding tired.
Meduine shifted slightly on his bench. Somehow, Jenny could tell he wasn't satisfied that Julian hadn't taken his bait. "You're theory is sound," he said with a bored sigh. "But he is just one person, you would still need to come up with a second trade akin to the power of the one being replaced."
Jenny frowned, really not getting what he was talking about. Julian inclined his head slightly, his icy hair falling into his eyes. Somehow, he managed to look arrogant, bored, and surprised all at once. Jenny's frown deepened as, once again, she realized she was being left out of something.
"He thinks he can rename himself as a god and challenge us," Meduine continued thoughtfully, hate dripping from every syllable. His tone made he grip the knife in her pocket tighter. "We can hardly wait to be rid of the petulant brat."
A storm was brewing in Julian's blue eyes. In a strangely calm voice, he said, "And you won't carve him out…why, again?"
Meduine's voice was subdued as he growled, "Verin. It's all personal with him, as you know. Just as it's personal with you. He would love to get his hands on you, boy," he added somewhat cheerfully.
The look Julian gave him was nearly benevolent. Nearly.
Jenny was extremely confused. She had no idea who they were talking about, but was too on edge (not to mention sure that it wouldn't be taken well) to ask. That feeling only increased as she felt Meduine's eyes on her once more. The girl shivered involuntarily as the air around both shadow men turned gelid once more.
The silence seemed to roar in Jenny's ears.
Jenny? an oddly familiar voice whispered in her mind.
"Griffin," Meduine whispered, nearly too low to hear.
The same moment Jenny bolted for the outside dining area of a nearby restaurant, a whirl of sharp teeth and claws leapt for them. Jenny scrambled away. Trying not to slip and fall like one of the girls in Dee's horror movies. She knew something, or some one, was following her, but she didn't dare look back…just in case.
Adrenalin pounded through her veins as her feet pounded the pavement. The girl wound between heavy looking, glass-topped tables, purposely knocking them over behind her without any thought to how expensive they would be to replace. Maybe she would find a way to apologize to the owners later…if she didn't die now.
A muffled oof made Jenny turn around. Meduine had crashed into some invisible wall.
Now would be a good time to run, Jenny.
Ignoring the stitch developing in her side, Jenny started down the sidewalk again. She simultaneously dragged the knife out of its sheath and the coat's pocket. So much for not needing it.
Meduine was at her side in an instant; he abruptly jerked her backwards, causing several things to happen in quick succession. The knife in Jenny's hand plunged deeply into his chest and the shadow man's cloak slipped off. Jenny found she couldn't hold back a gasp. He was like a corpse, but his eyes…those eyes Julian had warned her to never look into were like mirrors. Jenny tried to back away, staring horrified into his eyes, but her legs wouldn't move. It was as thought she was slowly turning to stone….
Lines of black spread over his face like charred veins that burst open and into flame. Meduine's mouth opened in a silent scream as a large burst of energy exploded from his decimated body, sending Jenny flying.
She landed painfully on the sidewalk, wondering if it was her imagination that she'd thought she'd heard her rib crack. Jenny didn't get up off the ground, though, as the knife fell with a clatter onto the cool pavement. It was unmarred by blood or flame. A pair of shiny boots came into her line of sight; their owner knelt down next to her. She blinked in surprise when a green candy box was lowered in front of her. The girl tilted her head up, her green eyes taking in a pair of violet jeans, a black velvet jacket, and a t-shirt before looking into Marcus's face. He was more cheerful than Jenny had ever seen him.
He shook the box slightly. "Mike and Ike?"
AN: I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Some feedback would be lovely. =) Thank you everyone for your previous, wonderfully delicious reviews. Au revior, ma belles. Please review if you can.
Mandidawna: Heh, you're welcome. :3 I'm glad you didn't find them OOC, and I'm glad I thought up something you've never seen before. It's really difficult to come up with original fanfic ideas. :S Hope you enjoy this chappie.