Nicole waited on the porch.
The kiss had been amazing, and she was fairly sure it was him, but that type of sharing would have to wait a few more days. He really didn’t smell that bad, his coat even smelled nice around her, but she needed a minute alone. Actually she needed about a week to think about things, but she knew he had nowhere else to go. He had lived with her family since he was eighteen. ‘Mage’, and ‘Underground Organization Leader’, weren’t very well paying jobs, especially in this world.
The shower was off already though, she could hear him on the stairs, skipping the seventh like always. He was being friendly to Nicky, and Annabelle on the way out. Something about the way Nicky spoke to him bugged her, but she just wrote it off as a return to character for him. Probably just did not trust Matt. Nicole really could not blame her brother, her own trust was in the air right now.
The mage popped out of the door with a slight grin that burst into a full shiny toothed smile, as their eyes met. Nicole stood, as he moved closer, his eyes on her lips again.
“Trying to drain the water heater?” she asked stepping away, her foot slipped, not catching on anything, and she fell. She screamed a little, but magic broke her fall, Matt floating down off the high porch to set her upright.
Annabelle’s bright red eyes were watching through a gap in the blinds, and the whole ‘romance movie’ bit was getting tiring. Nicole pushed Matt’s hand off her, and then grabbed one, dragging him around the side of the house.
“Warm water felt very good.” One hand slipped to her side, and she knocked it off. “I like where this is going.”
“No,” she said, and resisted the urge to smack him in the forehead. “No, you stop with the silver tongue for a bit. Let’s have adult talk.”
“I like adult talk.”
“Not going to tell you no all night,” she said.
“I’m not great at bills, or taxes.”
“I mean let’s talk about you, being back, and the ‘why’ of all this.”
“I think it’s something to do with Chark.”
“He back?” she asked.
“Shrink?” he asked back, and part of her wanted to slap him. Nicole nodded instead, pulling the magic together. She felt warm, as a bit of his golden energy helped push the spell. As soon as she was about 6 inches tall, he picked her up, and they floated over the fence.
“I couldn’t be tall for that?” He carried her into the shipping container they used as a room for newcomers. The light was off, but before she could turn it on, he tossed a single ball of gold light into the air. The orb split into four pieces that separated to cover the small space in a soft glow.
“Too much magic in your arms,” Matt said. “Hard to pull off my own.”
“Yeah, yeah,” she said, pushing out of his hands. Nicole grew, as she fell, ending up on the slightly damp mattress. Regret dropped, fast as he did, both landing far too close to her. She sat up, fast, in an attempt to push some of it away, but he moved. Wrestling was the wrong term for it, but they shifted a bit, his head ending up on her lap.
“You mad at me?” Matt asked after a moment of looking up at her.
“I’m not even sure you are ‘you’ yet.” She still put her hand on his hair. It was just a little thin, at the back. Nothing you could see, and she could never bring herself to tell him, but she remembered noticing it a little while after they started dating. “No sex stuff until then, at least.”
“Hurry,” he said sounding more like a child, than a powerful magic user.
“Chark?” she asked. Her hand moved up, finger held tight to flick his forehead.
“That doesn’t work,” he said. “No brain. Hollow.”
“Answer,” she said. “Otherwise, I’ll break your staff.”
“Forgot it, in the house. Haven’t had one in a while.”
“Jesus, MATT,” she yelled. “I’m not-.”
“You think they’d bring me back just cause I’m so pretty?” All his teeth in a quick flash, before he said, “Of course they’d do it for you, but I could never hope to shine so bright.” She twisted her lips, and looked away.
“You’re just lame, you know that?”
“I try,” he said, and then pulled a sheet of folded newspaper from his pocket. “Corvene got hit.”
“Fuck.” One hand pushed his head up, the other snatched the paper. Her eyes flashed back, and forth across the sheet. Eyebrows jumped, as her hand followed suit, landing on her mouth. “He killed them?”
“I guess,” he said. “Who else would be after the Codex?”
“We know it’s gone? Should we check?”
“What else would be there that could interest the people who brought me back? Especially in that backwater?”
“Fucking-,” she started, and continued on for a few minutes, standing to kick the metal wall a few times. Her curses became repetitive, and she was aware of it, but stopping seemed unjustified just yet.
A scream, a man’s cry of terror, from the house shut her up. Matt was out the door, bouncing off a car like a golden pinball, as he flew to the house.
Nicole followed, but he was already just a yellow light heading into the garage.
Matt burst through the door to the Kitchen, splintered wood filling the air.
Sliding across the kitchen table, he jumped through the open doorway to the living room. A snake standing on two powerful legs, with a bone crown shaped like a horn was waiting for him. It’s head barely reached the back of the couch.
No sign of Nicky, or the screamer. Fairy was gone too.
A long black tongue slipped from it’s mouth, a single straw size tube of darkness. It’s eyes were hooded, as it turned it’s head to the mage. It’s jaw dropped low, issuing a low growl. Twin fangs, wet, and razor edged dropped from the roof of its mouth. The crown lowered just a bit, as the hoods over its eyes began to pull open.
Just in time Matt covered his eyes, feeling the beast’s gaze anyway, as the ancient curse cut through him. Even through the closed eyelids, he could feel it like a sunlamp on his skin.
One hand in front of him, Matt made a soft shield of air. A resounding slam, as the king of snakes hit the construct. It held, but Matt was pushed into the wall from the force of the strike.
“BASILISK!” The mage called some magic to his voice, echoing it throughout the house, and yard. And street. Probably heard it in Seattle.
Another strike, and he felt fangs rake his arm as the shield broke. Cold where they sliced him, no pain; ice, and just a moment of pressure. Dropping to one knee, he blasted a soft stream of fire from his good hand. A screech of pain, and he chanced a quick flash of his eyes, to aim the next shot better. Golden fire, and the head was but burnt bone. The foul smell of roasted snake lingered, pungent in the large front room.
“Clear,” he said, magic boom again. His voice became a stream of clear water, as he spoke. “I’m bit….”
Nicole was through the door in a heartbeat, moving in lightning fast jerks. Sounds boomed through his head, as the world began to spin. The clock on the wall, a black cat, slowly came to life. Nicole watched it walk halfway out the door, before it grew wings. The creature disappeared into the dark, and her look was alarmed, at best, as she turned to him.
“On your back,” she said, and pulled him off the wall he had been leaning against. “All the way. What’s wrong with you?” Her voice turned to fire, spelling the words in a glorious arc over his head.
“Is the rest of the house clear?” Matt asked, trying to pull his senses together. “You forget the vodka?”
“Is he all right?” Annabelle asked. The fairy was above him, small wings disturbing the air in great gusts.
“I think he’s tripping,” she told him. “Mage’s aren’t great on drugs. Keep Nicky upstairs, he doesn’t have any defenses.”
“Is that a Crowner?”
“Matt killed it.”
“Got the couch too.”
“He’s all fucked up. Can you go catch the cat-clock before the neighbors see it?”
“Yes, Clan leader!” A military salute, from the little fairy. Matt wondered if he imagined the trail of colors dancing behind her.
“Matt? Matt? How messed up are you? Should I call Cowell, or an interventionist? Babe?” Nicole snapped her fingers, the motion billowing through the air. As it reached it apex, a new universe formed on the wave. It’s entirety lived out in front of the mage, from genesis, all the way through to the final blink of it’s last desperate star.
‘Probably, messed up,’ he decided, but words were a mountain too high for him in that moment.
Hope you’re enjoying it so far. Sorry this chapter is a bit late, but I made a last minute editing decision, and it took a while to get things together.