Answers

She closed her lips over the smile and stared straight ahead instead. Phoenix locked the safe-door behind us and I went straight down the centre aisle and out without waiting. Meena and Willow were sat on a separate sofa each, talking, and looked up when I came in.

“About time, where’s Phoenix?”

I heard Shadow walk in behind me, and saw them both look up at her. Willow smiled at her, but Meena did so more tightly and had a look of distrust in her eyes. Both murmured, “Hello, Shadow,” as she glided to a stop. It seemed she didn’t want to wrinkle her dress by sitting down. I was too tense to sit still, so I leaned against the arm of the sofa on the opposite side from Shadow. I didn‘t know if she‘d noticed this - she simply stood like a Greek goddess statue, except she was slowly blinking her long-lashed eyes.

Phoenix came through and closed the double doors before sitting down next to Meena, who shifted over to make room.

“Are you going to answer our questions?” Meena said, reluctantly. I wondered why she was hesitant now, as the only thing that was different was that Shadow was now here. Maybe that was it. She obviously didn’t trust Shadow in the slightest. I would have to ask her what the history was between them - Willow seemed perfectly all right with the situation, looking to Shadow expectantly rather than Phoenix, though it was him who she’d asked the question originally.

“Is there anyone recorded from a family called Marx?” she asked. Phoenix pulled a face, knowing she’d diverted from the more important - though she hadn’t divulged why it was so - question she had asked earlier. I could only think it was because she didn’t want to ask it in front of - or indeed to - Shadow, for the same reasons she didn’t find her trustworthy. Shadow herself was perfectly composed, oblivious to Meena’s thoughts about her.

“Marx? I don’t believe so. I’m sure I’ve heard the name somewhere, but it’s not in this Archive. Possibly it is in the Archive in Los Angeles; it sounds like a common family name over in the States.”

Meena nodded, but the expression on her face made me realise she hadn’t expected to hear otherwise.

“Well, if you’re sure,” she said, moving to get up. Automatically Willow and I did too. Shadow inclined her head.

“Yes, I am positive. Phoenix will show you out, if that‘s all, because we‘re going to be quite busy this evening.”

Her voice had gone a little colder than the smooth soft tone she had been using previously.

“Right.”

Meena just sounded downright sarcastic. Nobody took her up on it, though. Shadow simply turned and went back into the assassin’s trade room. She didn’t look the type to jump on men down dark alleys and cut their throats, but - I suddenly remembered that incident, again, the golden-eyed black-clad assassin. He couldn’t have had anything to do with Shadow and Phoenix though. It was the man on the train, wasn’t it, who had had the same eyes?

I realised that I had only assumed it was - I had no real proof except for the fact that his eyes were the same colour. But really, it could have been anyone. Not Shadow, her eyes were a steely ice blue. And Phoenix? Well, I had never seen the colour of his eyes. Somewhere, though, I knew it wasn’t him. The person had erased my memory, and Phoenix didn’t have the power to do that, like William had. Wait, didn’t only Guardians have that power?

Phoenix was just opening the door to usher Meena and Willow out when I finally moved.

“What happens to Guardians when they stop being Guardians?” I blurted out. All three stopped to look back at me in puzzlement. Willow answered the question though, if a little ungraciously.

“They don’t. It’s not like they can just quit the day job. The only way a Guardian stops being a Guardian is if he is killed, which is very unlikely with all the extra skills and enhanced everything they have.”

“Hasn’t there ever been a Guardian that just went free?”

Meena took a step back into the room, her forehead creasing with worry.

“Yes. One Guardian ran away. He took out two others and a couple of normal Immortals on his way out, too. He went on to establish quite a name for himself, even after the Eternals found him again. Tenebrus.”

She studied my non-reaction and nodded. “I thought you knew. How did you know to ask that?”

“That man on the train, the one who attacked that informer. It wasn’t a Bloodwolf. It was Tenebrus.”

The End

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