Returning the Favor

Returning the Favor
I didn’t actually go to Alex’s fancy apartment, his fucking friend had me running again. Who the fuck did she think she was? But the fact that she was looking for him was also concerning.

I eventually made it back to my apartment where my brothers were laughing in the kitchen. “You better not be making a mess.” I shouted from the doorway.

Rider laughed. “Would we do that, big brother?” he said as he was tossing flour all over his black shirt.

I rolled my eyes, “I hope you didn’t ruin your shirt.”

Rider looked down and grinned. “I just got back from the gym. It’s gross anyway.” He came up to me smear his sweat and flour covered fingers in my face. I leaned away from him with a disgusted face and he laughed.

That was my little brother? Laker was making something and it smelled good. “Whatchya making?” I asked.

“I’m throwing a little twist on your garlic lemon chicken, making it a thicker sauce and creamer. I know carbs, but not everyone is afraid of them.”

I grinned. “I’m not afraid of them, they defile this temple.” I flexed an arm and leg for them but without shorts on the effect was lost. Though both of my brothers laughed.

Laker rolled his eyes, “Such an egomaniac.”

I nodded. “You betcha, you got what I do, you flaunt it.” I said flinging my hoodie from my shoulders. It fell to the floor and Rider started counting out loud.

He got to four before I was bending down to pick it up. I sighed. “Yeah, yeah, I got it.”

Rider laughed, “It’s okay bro. I’m just teasing. Ryan stopped by left a bunch of things on your bed, he didn’t want us snooping through it out here I guess.”

“It’s vampire business, the less you know the better!” I said.

Laker asked from the kitchen, “What if we want to hunt?”

“We’ll talk about that when you are eighteen.” I said.

“Why then?” Rider asked.

“Because then your Dad can’t say no. You’ll have to go back to school though.” I said.

“Just like college. A crash course in monsters and fighting.”

“And killing.” I corrected.

Their eyes went wide and I nodded as I headed for my room. “Call me when dinner is ready.” I said shutting the door behind me.

As I was walking I started texting Alex. I really needed to talk to him.

N: Need to talk. Are you okay? Just saw your fake friend, what a piece of work!

I didn’t expect to get an answer so when I was inside my room I set my phone on the nightstand and when I looked up I saw there was a stack of paper sitting on my bed. Fuck! I needed a shower, but Ant’s favor was staring me in the face now, and with a sigh I sat down on my bed and grabbed the top few pages and started browsing through it.

There were security images of a man stealing a book from an office.

Among the fragments on paper, Ant had been able to get an ID on the man. He was one Deacon LeClaire, he’d was out on parole and already had a warrant for his arrest for hopping state lines. He wasn’t human, I could see that from his pictures. He was a dragon. And he was stealing from vampires. This was not good. There were all sorts of politics involved. I wondered if Ant knew he was a dragon.

I made a note on that as I flipped through more things. I’d have to see if he was in the Venatori registry, but I couldn’t do that from here, I didn’t have an inside connection. That was the only drawback I had run across to living outside the compound so far.

Ant must have gotten Sage to track the guys credit card or had facial recognition following him, but they didn’t have a destination at present. They hadn’t seen him in a few days. Nothing was coming up. I wondered how long Ant had been tracking him, I can’t imagine Cari would go on vacation with this guy on the loose. Unless she didn’t know about it. A secret. I didn’t like secrets, it was like lying. And I hated lying. I sighed. Ant better not expect me to keep this a secret from his mother.

I threw all of the sightings locations and threw them on to the mapping software Sage and conveniently installed on my computer and all the other information that he’d pulled in. It was good having a hacker friend. I had a bunch of Last Phoenix data I started plugging in. Dragons, and vampires and I had a hunch that there were other factions of supernatural involved in this – probably even Venatori. I wondered how deep it truly ran.

The map was of the whole United States, there were even some things in Europe that came up. I didn’t like this. Ant wanted me to do my thing. So I needed to find the pattern. Where was he going? They didn’t know where he was right now which means he probably shifted his appearance. That was a problem with Dragons, they didn’t have to have the same human form, most did for a few years before the necessity to change for society demanded they change names and faces. It was harder for vampires to do that. Most of them moved from city to city every 10 years or so. Weres lived longer, but they tended to age more like humans. I think the oldest therian recorded was 150. So still unusual, but easier to stay in the same place.

I stared at the pins on the maps on and off between reading some of the other documents that Ant had supplied me. Most of it was on the guys arrests. He was a thief. But he’d never actually gotten caught for it. He was good at his profession, most dragons were. Years and years to do perfect it.

Laker stuck his head in, “Dinner’s ready.”

I nodded, “Uh huh.” I said as I kept reading and working through the dots on the map. It wasn’t something I could force. My gift didn’t work like magic. It was as much a logic puzzle as it was a pattern. I had to find other information on the man, like where he called home. Where they had caught him, and why? Most Dragons were caught near home because the cops recognized them.

Twenty minutes after Laker had told me dinner was ready he was carrying a plate into my room. “You hungry?”

I looked up from my computer and my stomach growled. “Yeah I guess so.”

“I know it’s out of sync, but it’s good.” He said. “Rider is learning to be a good cook.”

I smiled at my brother as I took the plate from him and grabbed a brussel sprout that my brother had coated in his creamy lemon and garlic sauce. Laker was leaving. “Hey.” He stopped and turned around, “Give my compliments to the chef.”

Laker beamed with pride. “I will.” He didn’t shut the door behind me and Fee sauntered in from the kitchen licking her lips and circling my feet.

“What didn’t they feed you?” I asked.

She shot her tail up and then snubbed the boys. Rider pushed the door open, “You really liked it?” He was excited.

I nodded. “I do. I take it Fee did too?”

Rider looked at the cat pushing against my plate. “Yeah she wanted more, but I didn’t give it to her, i didn’t know the rules on seconds. We don’t want our girl to get fat.” Rider was watching the strange looking cat and she threw her butt in the air at my brother and walked over the papers.

“Fee!” I scowled and tossed her across the room with a quick push of air. “I did’t do it. Go piss on them not me!”

She hissed and jumped on the window sill and scratched at the window. “Ophelia, I will leave you outside for the night if you don’t stop right now.” She didn’t listen and scratched more.

Rider sighed, “I’ll give her more.”

“No you won’t.” I said. “She can’t behave and wants to be a cat then she doesn’t get any more to eat. Dry kibble for her for the week.”

Rider giggled. “She doesn’t think you are serious.” He said as she was scratching again.

I stood up quickly and grabbed the stupid cat but her middle and she growled and hissed at me. Her body was rigid and she was trying to scratch me. “I don’t know what’s gotten into you.” I opened the sliding glass door to the balcony and I tossed her into a chair. I pulled a bowl and added water to it in mid-air as it floated towards me and I set it down on the floor. Then I shut the glass door and wove a box of air around her so she couldn’t jump from the balcony or scratch the door. “You can stay outside!”

Fee tried to escape and when she realized what was going on she howled. I threw up a sound barrier around her so she wouldn’t bother the neighbors. She’d learn. I wasn’t going to deal with a pissy cat right now I had enough problems.

Rider and Laker closed the curtains on the glass door. “If it’s open you’ll take her out. And she’s in trouble. It’s what Mom would do to us.”

I laughed. “Mom would throw you outside?”

“Well no, but you get the idea.”

I nodded, yeah I guess I did. “Rider,” I patted my brother on the shoulder, “Great job.” I tapped my other brother on his shoulder, “Good job. I know you helped.”

Laker beamed at me. “We both cooked. It was Rider’s idea though, so I wanted him to get the credit.”

I grinned. “You were too happy I liked it.”

He smiled. “Thanks bro.” Rider was beaming too.

“You both did good. I’m going to miss you after this month. I’m going to grab a shower, maybe we can hang afterwards.”

“You are working, Nox. We are okay. We were going to hit a movie with some of the guys we met on the court.”

“Friends? Or more?” I asked.

Rider and Laker both blushed, “Friends, there are no girls coming. We promise.”

“And I’m assuming you don’t have any feelings for these boys?”

They both shook their heads still blushing. “We don’t like boys, Nox.”

“Just making sure.” I smiled. “Whatever rules your Dad has, you know they apply here right?”

“We know. Dad was clear, no girls while we were with you. He didn’t want us learning anything from you. He called you some kind of player! He wouldn’t elaborate though. I think he was keeping a secret for someone else.” Rider said.

Laker added, “Yeah, he never said why he didn’t want us learning from you. It had nothing to do with you liking boys though.”

I smiled, “It’s okay if you do you know.”

“We don’t. At least I don’t.” Rider said.

Laker didn’t answer. I smiled at him, “It’s okay to not know too. If you have questions, about anything I’m here. Both of you.”

Laker laughed, “That’s what Dad is afraid of I think.”

“Well, I’m here. Be safe and don’t do anything stupid. And if you do have sex, make sure you have condoms, there is a stash in my bedside drawer feel free to take some if you need them.” I didn’t say anything more as I headed in my room. I’d leave them with the embarrassment I’d put them through. I hope they really did understand I’d be there for them for anything.

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