Disclaimer: The following story uses characters out of a book series called Custodes Noctis. Used with permission.
Author's Notes: Written for Muffy Morrigan for her birthday a few months back. It is now completed, beta'd and will be posted one chapter per week. The story will also be posted on my live journal site. This is because in coming chapters there will be lyrics that cannot be posted here. I hope you enjoy.
Muffy thanks for letting me play in your sandbox and for betaing your own gift.
a Custodes Noctis Fanfiction
by infinite shadow
Talisman 1. Magical object: an object believed to give magical powers to somebody who carries or wears it, e.g. a stone or jewel
Talisman 2. Something with magical power: something believed to have magical properties
Galen was completely lost, encompassed by the riffs coming off of his guitar. It wasn't often he just let himself go and let the music guide him. Energy crackled around him, the buzz coming from the ecstatic crowd. He could feel his band, The Urban Werewolves, was more in the mood to jam than play the usual songs. So he just relaxed and let the music fly.
The crowd was going insane, bobbing and weaving to the music, shouting out lyrics when there were some. Their set had already gone two hours longer than planned and they couldn't seem to stop. The energy flowed off the Rat's Nest patrons and went directly into the band encouraging them to keep going. One song morphed into the other as the band easily followed his lead. Part of him couldn't believe it when they started playing Free Bird even as he had to make himself slow down to do it. Shaking his head at Flash, he could feel a slight confused, if happy, jangle through his connection with Rob, but the crowd was eating it up as if it was the finest thing that had ever been played.
A shout of harmony came out of Flash as he moved down stage. Galen saw the look of joy on his face and he shifted so their backs touched and they leaned back against each other as they played a little faster through the notes.
Sweat was dripping down his face from the harsh lights and the strain to keep playing but he didn't care. The energy surrounding them was so good, laced with nothing but happiness that he just couldn't help but play.
He felt a slight ripple of amusement through the connection with his brother. It was laced with a bit of a beer buzz and understanding. It had been so long since they had been this happy, with nothing hunting them, or them being hurt. He couldn't help but send back the joy he was feeling back along the connection.
He laughed out loud. He just couldn't help it. He wanted to continue to play like this for the rest of his life. He could get stuck right in this moment, but he knew it couldn't last. And no matter how much fun they were all having, he could feel the exhaustion of his band around him, playing off nothing but pure adrenaline. He was starting to feel little jolts of pain through his sore fingers, and he knew they had to stop after this song.
Galen pushed off of Flash and turned enough to give him a nod and get one in return. They played the notes of a verse and chorus two more times before nodding at each other a final time. Their guitars moved in sync, once, twice before the final chord and drum beat sailed across the air. For one second the crowd slowed as the music died and then they all erupted in shouts and cheers.
He looked down over the crowd as the house lights came up just a little and he searched for his brother in the darkness.
'Great set. I'm in the back,' Rob sent to him through their connection.
He almost laughed out loud again. 'Thanks, Brat. Be there in a minute.'
Galen was grinning and he wasn't sure he could ever stop as he pulled his guitar strap over his head and walked off stage. He knew even though nothing could be heard over the din from the crowd that Flash was right behind him. It had been one of the best nights ever but it hadn't started out that way.
Five hours earlier...
Galen pulled the order list out from under the cash register and looked it over. The store was tidy and he'd just finished sweeping the floor and dusting the shelves. With the shop empty of customers and five minutes to closing he moved over to the door intending to close up just a touch early. He spotted Becci across the street, leaning against the order window and waved.
He frowned. Becci just stared at him and a shiver ran through him. He was half way across the street before he even realized he'd left the Apothecary.
"Hey, Bec. How 'bout a coffee? Surprise me," he said easily as he got near enough of the window to be heard.
"Sorry, we're out," she said softly as she slightly shook her head and held up a hand to stop him two steps from her window. "Just closing up. Why don't you try Maverick's down the street? They've got really strong coffee just the way you like it and they're open real late."
"Yeah, ri..." Galen started to say as he opened himself just a little. He was hit was such a surge of fear and pain that he almost staggered back. He got a startling image of someone kneeling against the wall next to her knee holding a gun upwards at her. A second later a wave of greed and desire hit him so strong he almost couldn't speak. He cleared his throat as he closed the link down a bit. "Having trouble with that machine again, huh? Ok, no problem. Catch you tomorrow?"
"Sure," Becci said easily but the panic she sent out increased tenfold.
Galen started to walk away then turned back. "Oh, hey, that item you ordered from me? It's in. If your shift is over why don't you come over with me and pick it up? I can wait for you. The store's been quiet all afternoon," Galen said as he took a step forward and gave her a small smile. He tilted his head slightly at her and motioned at the wall.
"I... Ah... I," she mumbled as she looked behind him.
"Here you are. You left the store open," Rob said as he walked up and clapped his brother on the shoulder. "Hey, Becci."
"Bec's outta coffee. Machine's on the fritz again," Galen started to say but through the link he flashed the same picture he got from Becci's terrified mind.
'Leave, then circle around the other side and,' Galen started to say.
'And what? He'll be able to see me," Rob shot back.
'Fine. Suggestions then?'
'Move around to the corner by the door. Be ready to open it,' Rob sent to his brother.
'She keeps it locked. You know that,' Galen sent back impatiently.
'Not today. She must have forgotten. I can see it's unlocked from here. Just move slowly,' Rob said.
Rob gave Becci a softer smile. "Oh all right. You drive a hard bargain, girl. Although I have to say it's dirty pool to make me try cold coffee by keeping the real stuff from me. After all you've been on me for months to try it," he said as he glanced over at the machine churning slightly behind her.
Becci paled a bit more. "Yeah, ok," she whispered and slowly began to back away from the order window, then coughed to cover her surprise as she saw where Galen had moved.
"Ok, Bec? I thought you'd be all happy that I was trying the lame substitute that you keep selling to the poor guys that come here for the real thing," Rob said, trying to get her to relax. "Coffee places used to throw out cold coffee. It's unreal what people will buy today."
Galen watched from the side and opened the connection with his brother as far as it would go. 'I can't see her. I can barely see you. You've gotta tell me when to go in.'
'Not yet,' Rob sent back.
Becci turned and grabbed a large clear cup as she did. She placed it under the machine and reached for the handle on the machine that would pour out the drink.
Rob shouted as a figure dressed in a jean jacket and a hose over his head stood up. The back door slammed open and Galen yanked Becci out of the small hut. He ignored her startled scream and gasped as two gun shots rang out. He automatically crouched down, pulling her down with him. He pressed Becci between him and the cement bottom half of the building in case any other shots were fired.
Pain shot through his connection and he heard someone call out in pain.
'Rob!' Galen shouted through his connection. The pain increased and he began to feel light headed.
Becci's hands were tangled in Galen's shirt. He could hear her whispering something over and over. It took a moment for him to figure out she was telling herself she was fine. Then she was pressing her forehead into his shoulder and he automatically tightened his hold around her.
"Ok. I'm ok now. Galen? You alright?" Becci asked in a shaky voice. She was trembling and she'd gotten the coffee all over her hand. It was already warm and sticky making her grimace slightly at the feeling. "Hey, Galen, you ok?"
"Bec...ci?" Galen slurred out her name.
"Yeah. I got coffee all over me. I need to get cleaned up. Although I don't think it'll come out of this corset. It was my favourite one too," she said, giving a small shaky laugh. "Galen?"
Galen was panting trying to manage the pain that was coming through the connection. He blinked a couple of times before he realized what she was asking. But he wasn't getting up, or letting her up either, until Rob had the guy taken care of.
'I'm ok. He's down and out. He wasn't shooting at me. You guys ok?' Rob asked, his concern almost as overwhelming as the pain he was feeling.
Galen pulled back and sat down on the pavement. The heat of the summer that warmed the ground almost burned his skin through his jeans but all he could do was sit there.
"You're hurt," Becci said as she pulled at his t-shirt.
Galen tried to push her away, to keep her from looking at the wound.
"You guys ok over there?" Rob asked. "Police are on their way."
"He's hit, Rob. Galen's been hit and won't let me look at him."
'Galen, how bad?' Rob asked though their connection.
'I'm not ... Rob?'
Rob could feel waves of confusion through the connection that mixed with a weird disassociation with the things and people around him. "Galen? Hey, talk to me." It startled him that he couldn't feel his big brother's pain from his wound. He was the one who could shield Galen from what he was thinking and what he was doing. His older brother hadn't figured out how to do that yet.
"I think he hit his head when he pushed us down," Becci said.
Rob came over and crouched next to them. "Galen?" he asked out loud as Becci hurried back into the coffee shack. 'Come on man. You're freakin out Becci here. Talk to us.'
Galen slowly brought his head up and looked slightly unfocussed at his little brother. "Rob?"
"Ah, yeah," he answered slightly sarcastically with a little grin.
"He's bleeding," Becci said as she crouched on Galen's other side. She pressed a wad of napkins against his arm.
Rob gently felt around his brother's head and found a knot. He shook his head. 'Can't even rescue the damsel in distress without getting hurt, can you?' he sent affectionately.
"Rob?" Galen repeated as he frowned up at him.
"I've got you. You're ok," he answered softly as he sent calming waves through the connection. He pulled his fingers back and they came away coated with blood. He took some of the clean napkins from Becci and put them against where Galen was bleeding.
'I know. Workin' on it. Just do what I say, ok? You can give me grief later,' Rob said as he communicated silently then took Galen's hand and put it over the napkins. 'Ok. You remember how to heal?'
'Shut up,' Galen said as he glared up at his little brother.
'Now I know you'll live."
Then Galen's scowl disappeared as his face relaxed a bit. 'Heal what?'
Rob sighed and shook his head. 'You. Heal yourself. You've got to stop bleedin' before the cops arrive and want to call an ambulance. Move or we won't get you out of this. Mike's still on vacation for a few days, remember?' Rob cleared his throat."Hold it there; a little pressure will stop the bleeding. It's just a scratch."
"Mike?" Galen repeated through their connection as he tried to figure out who his brother was talking about. He didn't see their doctor friend anywhere. Was he there somewhere?
'Easy Galen,' Rob said and sent soothing energy to his brother. He could feel his anxiety and confusion rising. 'Just relax. Let me take care of this.'
'Rob? What happened?' Galen asked silently as he reached out and grabbed hold of his brother's arm.
'Just relax. I've got this, ok? Trust me.'
Galen closed his eyes and leaned back slightly. 'Yeah alright.'
"Will he be ok?" Becci asked softly, worry etched in her face.
"Oh yeah. Takes more than bad balance and a cement wall to take out an Emrys," Rob said ruefully to her and gave her a wink to make her relax a bit. But he was keeping an eye on his brother as he attempted to heal himself. He sighed and put a hand over his brother's heart and mumbled something about checking his heart rate. He couldn't actually heal his wounds but he could give him a bit of a boost that could help him focus so Galen could heal his wound.
A few minutes later the confusion in Galen's eyes disappeared and he focused on Rob. "Man what happened?"
"You hit your head while protecting Becci," Rob explained. "Stellar job by the way."
Galen ignored his brother's sarcasm and immediately looked at Becci who was strangling napkins in her hands. Even as he let Rob move his hand from his head to his arm, he swept a practiced eye over her looking for injury on his friend. Finding none, he forced himself to relax and let the healing flow into his arm to fix the wound there.
"I'm ok. Not a scratch," Becci said with a big smile. "Thanks to you."
Rob laughed softly.
'I'm makin notes, Brat,' Galen said through the link. 'But thanks.'
Rob shrugged. 'You good now?'
'Yeah, I think so.'
"How many fingers?" Rob asked as he held up his middle one.
"Love you too."
A grin lit up Rob's face. "Ok you're totally fine. Up you get twinkle toes."
Later that night at the Rat's Nest...
Galen opened the door to the dressing room that doubled as a storage room, and walked around a few beer kegs. "Hey."
"Hey yourself," Rob said.
"That was a great set," Becci said.
"Yeah. That last song was amazing," Sarah said as she looked at Flash.
"Yeah, well...," Flash said. "It was weird. It was like I didn't want to stop playing. That if I could play forever or something weird like that."
"Hey your fingers are bleeding," Galen said softly, then looked down at his own. Sure enough his fingers were also bleeding, the ends of his fingers torn open by the guitar strings. Burgundy streaks down his hand showed they'd been bleeding for a while and had dried from the creases in his palm to his arm.
"It was the crowd. I've never seen them so into it," Rob said, giving a look at Galen before he got up and grabbed two towels off a broken down desk. He tossed them over to his brother and Flash.
'What are you thinking?' Galen asked as he tried to stop the bleeding of his fingers and saw Flash do the same thing in his peripheral vision.
'I'm not sure. But there was a feeling, like the entire place had been drugged or something,' Rob said but shook his head. 'I just don't know by what.'
Flash saw the look between them and cleared his throat. "Hey would you guys mind getting us some beers?" he asked as he looked at Sarah and Becci.
"Sure we can do that," Becci said and shot Galen a wink. "It's the least I can do for my clumsy knight in shining armour."
"Oh, that's a riot," Galen said back to her with a bit of a laugh.
"Sure, that'd be great," Rob said.
"Thanks, ladies," Flash said as they left the room and closed the door behind them.
"Ok, so, what? I know that look," Flash said. "We've never played like that before. I mean we're good, but hell, that was right up there with Skynyrd. And we never play their songs. Where did that even come from?"
Galen shook his head. "I don't know. We've never even practiced it before."
"You sounded like you had. I mean it was nothing like you normally play but it was amazing," Rob said.
"What if it wasn't really us?" Flash asked slowly. "What if we were being ... Well... Played?"
Rob and Galen both looked at him for a second.
'Well, he's your friend.'
'He's in your band.'
'You keep encouraging him.'
'He has his moments.'
'He delivers coffee.'
"Stop that. I can tell you are making fun of me," Flash sighed. "Guys, come on. I'm not the only one who felt that buzzy tingly sensation, right?" Flash swallowed heavily and his eyebrows arched up into his forehead. "Right?"
"I bet he gets a tingly feeling when Sarah's around," Rob said with a laugh.
"I did feel something," Galen acknowledged. "Something odd, fuzzy, like someone else was in control of my fingers while I played ... Does that even make any sense?"
"You're thinking possession?" Rob asked softly.
"No, I don't think so," Galen said glancing at Flash. "I felt like me, just kinda supercharged?"
"Yeah," Flash said even as he frowned and shook his head. "And no. I … I didn't have to think about the notes. I always have to think about them, get them set in my head before we play or as we start."
"It's ok, Flash. I get it," Galen said at his friend's huff of frustration at not being able to clarify. "I know at one point I had this urge to play 'Jupiter' which is insane 'cause it's not like we a symphony here to back us up, and even though I knew that I had to struggle not to go there. You shouted 'Renegade' as you started the intro and we played that instead."
"Man, I wondered what that riff was you were starting," Flash said with a rueful grin.
"Do you know the history of this place?" Rob asked.
"No," Galen and Flash said at the same time.
"Well, if you guys are being possessed by a previous band or something we're gonna have find them and put the guys to rest properly. But we'll look into it in the morning and see what I can find out," Rob said. "Could be bad beer?"
"Doubt it," Flash said a little morosely. "If it were this entire place would be getting destroyed. Or we'd all be puking our guts out and no way would we have played like that."
"Spiked?" Galen asked as he looked at Rob.
"Nah. Flash would be destroying the room like he was on acid."
"That's not fair!" Flash growled as he stood up and glared at Rob. "I had a reaction to prescription medication."
"Riiiiiigggghhht. You keep telling yourself that," Rob said with a smile.
"Whatever," Flash mumbled as he sat back down and checked on his fingers.
They all looked over at the door as it opened. Sarah and Becci came in, followed by the rest of the band, Sean and Pete Miles.
'Oh good, the tainted beer is here,' Rob thought. 'Hey, maybe your next set could include some Chicago or Air Supply."
Galen snorted out a laugh before he could stop himself. 'Brat.' he said through the connection while looking innocently around the room.
Let me know what you think…