Kaori sat just outside the general's tent, ostentatiously to keep an ear out on the health conditions of his patient. In truth, it had more to do with keeping said patient - and the young man alone in there with him - alive. He was willing to admit he wasn't the greatest of fighters, but he could still hold his own if needs be.
And, lately more often than not, he thought glumly, needs be.
Violet eyes cast warily around what was visible of the camp. Soldiers sat huddled around fires, hands held out to the flames and wings tucked close to their bodies for warmth as they sat and talked and laughed amongst themselves. He frowned, trying to think when he'd last been around so many servants of the gods, if he'd ever been around half this many without bloodshed being involved.
Aniki, I hope you know what you're doing, he thought darkly. I don't like this, aniki. I don't like it at all here... A wave of reassurance broke through his worry, and he couldn't hold back a faint smile. I'll stay. Don't worry about that, aniki.
Voices outside his body drew his attention for the voice in his head he could almost hear. The two new voices were vaguely familiar, not people he knew well but people he knew all the same. He opened violet eyes, unaware he'd even closed them in the first place, and carefully took in the two men approaching him.
Both were tall, though the redhead topped his companion by a few inches. The blond, on the other hand, was a bit more built than the redhead. The redhead was grinning and laughing, while the blond wore an impressive frown. Both wore the light armor favored by high generals in the gods' armies, and both had large off-white wings tucked behind their bodies. The redhead's voice reached him first, slightly nasal and rich with amusement; obviously he found something funny. The blond remained impassive, scowl intact as he muttered, "It's not that funny."
It took every bit of willpower Kaori possessed to keep from reaching for a weapon. He was in their camp; it would be suicide to attack them. And what if Aniki chose to side with the gods? He could ruin everything by acting impulsively now. Still, he couldn't stifle the tension that sang into his limbs, tension that held him as taunt as a strung bowstring as he stared at them.
A wave of the Other swept over him again, this time words whispering through his mind. ~Relax, Kaori. Relax, and I'll deal with them as soon as I get there. They're just archangels. Even if they wanted to hurt you, they wouldn't do it so near Enjeru. You're safe. You're safe, and I'll be there soon.~ It was almost hard to resist smiling as he thought of Aniki saying those words to him in person; it had been so long since he'd needed to be comforted like that.
The frown on the blond's face grew as he stopped, taking in Kaori standing just outside the general's tent. Kaori was realistic enough to know the general could see just how nervous he was to be standing between the two of them and Enjeru and Aku, but even if he wanted to, he could not make himself budge. His feet felt frozen to the spot. "What are you doing here?" the blond demanded.
"I -" he began, faltering .
The redhead sighed mightily, dropping his hand on the blond's shoulder; it didn't escape his notice that, though the blond started very slightly at the contact, he did not otherwise object to it. "Michael," the other man sighed again, "give the boy a break." The man's eyes glanced over to meet his. "Are you the one who healed Enjeru?"
"Aa... yeah, I am," he answered quietly.
"Then thank you. He may be a prickly bastard, but he's too damn cute to let die."
The beginnings of a smile tugged at the corners of Kaori's mouth reluctantly. "You're welcome." The redhead seemed tolerable, maybe even nice, and he'd hate to have to fight against him, he could tell that much already.
"I'm Gabriel." He nodded at the blond. "That's Michael. And you are...?"
"Kaori. My name is Kaori."
"Kaori. Nice name. So, how did you manage to bring our Enjeru back?"
He shrugged. "Just some stuff I learned a long time ago."
Gabriel winked at him. "Couldn't have been that long ago." He found himself returning the smile, the man's sweet but flirtatious manner disarming him in a way only Aniki could do. "I guess we were just lucky you showed up when you did then."
He bit his lip, glancing down at the ground, then back up at Gabriel. "I'd heard I might need to be here." One red eyebrow went up in a silent question. "My - Aniki told me."
Both the blond's eyebrows shot up, surprise alleviating some of the scowl on his face. "'Aniki'?" he echoed.
He could almost feel the shuttered look coming into his eyes, feel himself closing up, except for that quiet, soothing presence in the back of his mind. 'I'll be there soon, Kao-sweet.' The nickname broke through the cold that had begun to settle on him, and he had to hold back another grin. 'Just tell them I'll be there soon and leave it at that. Walk away if you have to. Just don't let them get to you.'
He focused his eyes on the men in front of him. "He'll be here soon. He had some things that needed to be taken care of before he could get here."
"So he sent you ahead of him?" Gabriel inquired not unkindly. He hesitated then nodded his response. "Good of you to do that."
Kaori smiled, small and tight, offering the redhead a shrug. "He asked. Now, if you'll excuse me..." He sidestepped past the two of them and kept walking till he was out of their sight.
"I don't trust him."
Gabriel turned back to face his companion. "You don't trust anyone," he teased. A particularly vicious glare settled on the blond's face, wiping the amusement from his tone. "More than usual?"
Michael was silent for a moment. "Maybe," he finally relented. "I don't like the sound of this other person showing up. Not now."
Gabriel carefully leaned against a thin tree, crossing his arms over his chest. "Kaori doesn't seem like the type to trust a dangerous person."
"Maybe not dangerous to him..."
"But dangerous to us," Gabriel finished the sentiment. He was thoughtfully silent for a moment then conceded, "You've got a point... again. But all the same, it wouldn't be wise to cut our ties with Kaori off-hand. If nothing else, he's very useful as a healer. He brought Enjeru back from death's door after all, and without a scar to show for it." He glanced at Michael, as if gauging his mood before trying to lighten it. "And not even a token from the River Styx for us either. Unfeeling bastard."
"You don't come with an off switch, do you?"
29 February 2004
*winces* Sorry for the long delay in updating. I have no excuses except that I lost interest in writing everything but my novel. Is that a decent excuse?
"I've been a bad, bad girl
I've been careless with a delicate man
And it's a sad, sad world
When a girl will break a boy
Just because she can"
-"Criminal", Fiona Apple