A/N: Hey everybody! Yeah, I know I should be working on "Storm" and some other projects but I totally blame Muffy and Merisha for this little outburst of creativity. *grins*
It's my first real attempt to write a Custodes Noctis story and I'm still a little unsure about it.
This story is probably a two-shot, so there is one more chap to go. ^^
For the timeline: The story plays two months after Muffy's second book "The Hunt".
My hugest thanks to Enkidu07 for beta'ing this. Honey, you're amazing and I'm so so happy to have you! And a special Thank You to Muffy for patiently answering all my questions and encouraging me in moments of doubts.
Disclaimer: Nope, don't own them. Everything belongs to Muffy Morrigan. :)
And now have fun reading! :o)
Your Hand In Mine
Rob woke with a start, for a moment he wasn't sure what had woken him. He blinked, rubbing a hand over his face, before trying in vain to ease the knotted muscles in his back and neck.
The soft lamp light gently kept the darkness of the night at bay.
Rob glanced around the room. He had no clue of how late or early it was. He looked down at the books, texts, and translations that were scattered all over the table.
Stretching, he was about to stand when a sudden wave of pain and confusion crashed over him through the bond, made him almost double over.
"Galen!" He tried to reach out both mentally and verbally but didn't get an answer.
Since their fight against the feorhbealu two months ago his gift had been compromised, their bond almost muted. It was still a struggle, though lately it seemed like his gift ever so slowly started to return. But for him to feel Galen's raw emotions right now had to mean that something was really wrong.
He stormed out of his room, crossing the few feet to his brother's room with two steps. But even before the harsh overhead light illuminated the room, he knew that it was empty.
A loud crash echoed through the apartment. Rob was sure it had come from the shop.
Hitting the light of the shop, Rob noticed three things at the same time – Galen was sitting pale and with closed eyes against one of the shelves, candles and splinters from a broken glass around him, and the front door was half open letting the cold night air slowly seep in. For the first time he was really aware of his missing weapon, his sword still upstairs in his room – damn.
"Galen!" Rob kneeled down next to his brother carefully to avoid any shattered glass. He felt for a pulse before shaking his shoulder not too gently.
Rob could still feel the raw emotions that were radiating off of his brother. It felt distant and hazy but the bond was there nevertheless.
Galen groaned, his eyes fluttering but not opening.
"Gods Galen, you're scaring me here. Wake up!" At the first glance he couldn't find any major injuries. A few shallow cuts from flying glass splinters, but nothing more. But then again – what the hell was Galen doing down here in the middle of the night, only in PJ-pants and a black T-shirt? And, why was the shop door standing open?
The shop door – he had almost forgotten about it.
Assured that Galen was okay for the moment, Rob stood and walked to the door, peering out into the darkness of the wee hours. Everything seemed calm; at least for a normal eye.
Not for the first time he wished his sight would work again.
If he concentrated he could see blurry shapes, auras and colors but everything was hazy and out of focus.
He felt the beginning of a major headache building behind his eyes. Using his gift was still exhausting.
Sighing, he turned and went back inside the shop. He made sure the door was locked before he crouched down next to Galen again.
"Galen, wake up." Rob shook him, harder this time.
Galen groaned. He shifted lightly before eventually blinking slowly.
"Hey," Rob's shoulders sagged with relief. "you with me?" He eyed his brother, concerned. Galen was still pale, his eyes glassy and slightly out of focus. Rob fought to ignore the slowly growing knot of dread inside his stomach. Something was wrong.
Galen suddenly sat up with a start, his wild gaze darting around the room.
"Where is he? Where… He… he was here. He –" He tried to stand up, his hand landing on a ragged piece of glass, his arm giving out under him. Blood started to run freely down his palm.
"Whoa, hey," Rob steadied him, a worried frown on his face.
He felt his heart beat painfully fast inside his throat, his stomach knotted. "Galen, calm down." He grabbed his brother's chin with his free hand, forcing him to focus. The skin beneath his fingers felt warmer than it should have been. "Where is who? It's just you and me here." Rob emphasized, seeing understanding blossom inside the other man's eyes. "What happened? What are you doing down here?"
"It's okay. I'm fine," Galen took a calming breath. He looked a little more with it now, though Rob knew that it was more for his benefit. The bond was still wide open and, even with his gift still somewhat shot to hell, he could pick up on the anxiety that was coming off of his brother.
Rob fished a tissue out of his pocket and pressed it on the wound the shard of glass had caused on Galen's hand.
"Galen what happened? You called me, didn't you?" It was what had woken him in the first place, he remembered now.
Galen leaned back against the shelf, shivering slightly. He ran his good hand over his face and through his hair. "I… I'm not sure, Rob. Something," he was searching for words, "called me. It was like sleepwalking. Everything was hazy. A part of me knew that I shouldn't go down here but I was still going."
"You opened the door?" It was more a statement then a real question.
Galen nodded, rubbing a hand over his eyes. A small frown appeared on his brow. "I think I did." He suddenly looked tired and ill. "There … there was this man standing there."
Rob's head shot up. An alarmed look crossed his face. "What man? Could you see who or what he was? Did he hurt you? Do you know what he wanted?"
Nothing made any sense. Who would attack like this? Why wouldn't he attack both of them? And, why forcing Galen to open the door in the middle of the night? Why not just march into the shop and pretend to be a customer before striking out?
Rob let his gaze move through the room. Nothing seemed stolen or out of place, the broken glass and scattered candles on the floor were the result of Galen stumbling against the shelves. The only thing he knew for a fact was that whatever or whoever this guy was, he had to be powerful.
A small grin tugged at Galen's lips. "One question at a time, Brat." His breath hitched slightly. "No, I couldn't see him. It was too dark. He was just standing in front of me. Except for –" He trailed off.
"Except for what?"
Galen shook his head. "I don't know. I think he grabbed my arm for a second but maybe I just imagined that."
Rob eyed his brother closely, searching for any traces of blood or injury but, except for some small cuts, he seemed fine. Well, okay, fine maybe wasn't the right expression. Galen looked sick. He was hiding something, Rob was sure of it.
"We need to find out who this man was and what kind of spell he used to get me down here." Galen made an attempt to stand.
"First of all we need to get you off of the floor and out of the cold." Rob grinned a little forcefully, helping Galen to his feet. The bond was almost muted again – Galen was blocking him, which never was a good sign, especially not now. "We need more information – details about the man or it will be like the search for the proverbial needle in a haystack."
Galen's grin was shaky. "I thought you love research, Brat." His voice sounded strained.
"I do." Rob steadied his brother as he swayed, the worried frown on his face deepened. "Galen, are you alright?" Concern colored his words, made him sound younger than he was.
Their eyes met for a second.
"I –" Galen suddenly doubled over, moaning in pain.
"Rob, something is wrong," he panted. "I… something is blocking the healing. I can't…" He groaned in pain, his knees starting to buckle.
"Whoa, Galen, hang on." Rob fought to keep his brother upright, feeling the warmth that radiated off of him.
Damn, what the hell was going on?
"Hurts." Galen pressed out between clenched teeth. His knees fully gave out under him.
"Damn it, what's going on?" Rob kneeled with Galen. Panic blossomed inside his chest. Seeing his big brother like this made him terrified.
"P-poison?" Galen asked breathlessly.
"Poison? But how and why?" Rob asked dumbfounded, his thoughts were racing.
"Dunno." Galen moaned in pain. "I don't feel so good," he rasped, his breathing fast and uneven, his forehead coming to a rest on Rob's shoulder.