|Crossing Epilogue: Dragon
Author: Guede Mazaka
Dean parted the curtains and peered down at the street, then turned back to Fred, who was lying on the couch. "The man's still there."
"Masons. I knew about them, and still couldn't do anything."
Harsh, and Dean could almost taste the bitterness in the other man's words. He suppressed a sigh and leaned against the wall, eying Fred with some concern. Over the past three months, the other man's mood had degenerated almost to the low point at which Dean had first met him. And a few nights, Godley had even dragged him home, reeking of opium.
Of course, now Dean gave a damn whether Fred went and smoked himself to death. "That one-she got away, didn't she? With the baby?"
Fred wasn't to be cheered, it seemed, because he only gave a sarcastic snort and curled up in a corner of the sofa. Dean clenched his fists, but restrained himself and instead looked out the window again. He pressed his forehead to the rough cloth of the drapes, then shoved them aside. If the bastards were going to be around, then he wanted a good view of them.
In point of fact, what he saw was the watcher's backside as he was soundly sent packing by a tall, familiar figure in black. "Fred…"
But when he pivoted back, the other man was already gone, hallway door flung open. Dean cursed and ran out after Fred, barely remembering to yank the door shut as he went.
* * *
Ahmed had just climbed the second step of the staircase when something human-sized rushed into him and clung. Shuddering breath warmed his collar, and lips ghosted repeatedly over his jaw and throat.
Barely a half-minute later, Dean skidded to a halt before them. He slumped down the last steps, panting, and promptly tucked himself into the arm Ahmed offered.
"Take us out of here," Fred breathed, begging tone twisting Ahmed's gut.
"Now," Dean added. He rubbed his cheek against Ahmed's, the eyepiece of his glasses jabbing rather deep, but Ahmed barely noticed.
Faith was a strange, strange thing, and very different from trust. Ahmed had thought that they would wait, but he hadn't been certain that they would continue to believe in him. Not after he'd left them to murder and treachery, knowing it and unable to hold back the flood.
As if Fred had heard Ahmed's thoughts, the other man raised his head and produced a wavering but genuine smile. "You did what was needed for preservation of life, and not for preservation of doctrine. I think I understand why you had to go. But now…"
"You're free to come, and I'm free to take you," Ahmed said, his voice so rough he could sharpen his sword on it. He bent down to kiss each of them, and felt memory pale to reality. "Go get your things. G's waiting with the coach."
* * *
An ordinary chain bookstore. Bright, well-stocked, obligatory café tucked next to the visual media aisles. Ahmed didn't particularly like the coffee in such places, so he'd stopped by a small shop and gotten a few cups of fairly decent brew, two of which he was carrying back with him.
"You know that's not allowed," G snickered as she held the door for him. "Not that anyone's going to notice, it being us."
"Anything?" he asked, ignoring her playful jeers.
She shrugged and slid her hands into the pockets of her tight jeans. Which most people in the store were watching, instead of what Ahmed was carrying. "Bodies around the world, though they're all criminals so no one particularly cares. I'm still working on tracking the swords."
"Sword. Just worry about the one in Japan. The woman's carrying two; she took her former lover's with her. The one left in El Paso has been taken care of." He snorted at her wide grin. "Yes, your friend and his companions are very efficient. If too gun-happy for my tastes."
They rounded the corner of the mystery fiction and emerged in a small alcove devoted to works on the supernatural. Fred was draped over a large armchair, apparently asleep, while Dean was sitting next to him, reading a thick book on demonology. Ahmed set the coffee down on a stepstool and kissed the furrow between Dean's eyebrows, then picked up Fred and flopped the man into his lap so he could sit. While G burst into silent giggles, Fred drowsily rearranged himself and cuddled against Ahmed's chest. "It's in America," he murmured. "Someone just lost a head in California."
"I can't believe people buy this nonsense." Dean poked an accusing finger at the pages, then grabbed his coffee and slurped some up. "It's not even consistent within a single chapter."
"That's why we usually drop you off in some archive," G lazily commented. "Then you're too busy trying to steal the books to criticize."
He flipped a rude gesture at her, then tossed the book off to the side. "Are we going?"
"Yes. We're going," Ahmed replied. As he and Fred stood, he flipped a small volume at Dean. "Something I know you haven't read yet."
"Poetry?" Dean was already scanning the first lines as he walked up to Ahmed's side, letting the other man steer him around the store.
"Mine." Ahmed stepped into the sunlight and paused, smiling, before he moved on.