It was silent for a minute, then they all nodded. Phoenix looked back at the door Shadow had just glided through, then showed us out into the room where Arlis was sharpening an intimidating-looking kukri blade. He had a cestus on each forearm - I didn't have to wonder where he got his kit from.

Phoenix nodded to him, closing the door, then following us down the stairs into the generic corridor. We came to a stop by the doors we had come in through. Phoenix leaned his arm against the wall.

"Right. I know you dislike Shadow, Meena, but can't you be a bit more subtle about it? She is my business partner. And you could have said whatever it was you were going to say while she was there."

Meena shook her head. "She's manipulative. She would have stopped you telling us."

Phoenix didn't argue with that. "Fine. You wanted to know if anyone had viewed the Dé Chiré folder?"

She nodded, looking troubled. "Who was it?"

Phoenix glanced, almost unaware he was doing it, at Willow, before turning his head back to Meena.

"It was Lycan Gray. Why?"

Meena chewed her lip, also looking at Wiilow. "The most recent pages had been torn out. I don't know what they would have said, but someone had taken them. Did you know that?"

"No," Phoenx said, looking startled, and finally standing upright. "He's an Eternal, we don't review the files after someone so important has looked at them."

"What was he there for, did he say?"

Phoenix thought for a minute, then his clouded expression cleared and turned grim. "He was there to check your background, Ruby. He said he suspected that your mother might be getting an invitation from the Valkyries soon. He also wanted to check how up to date the Graymarks folder was."

"She got one all right, last night," I informed him. "Who are the Graymarks?"

He looked at me oddly. "Lycan's family, obviously. His son wanted a look at them too. He probably had a nosy in your file, too, Ruby. I'd bet it was him who stole those pages. He looked like a right little - "

"Lycan had a son?" Willow said, sounding stunned that she hadn't known such a crucial fact about the man who, until recently, she had basically adored. Phoenix nodded, and then Willow's expression of amazement darkened and she growled. I could see she'd been putting two and two together.

"Allan Marx," she spat through gritted teeth. "Lycan Gray. Graymarks. How stupid were we?"

Meena frowned as she realised what Willow was saying. "That little - "

I cut her off before she could utter her chosen expletive.

"So it was Lycan who put him onto us," I said coolly. "He was checking up on you two when we were at school, to make sure you were doing your job. Then after you busted out of the Citadel he decided to send his son after you to see what you were up to."

"That makes sense," Willow said grudgingly. "No wonder there was such a slow response from the Eternals. I'd have thought they'd have ambushed your house by now."

"Come one, you know that's not how they operate," Phoenix said, stifling a yawn. I was surprised - did vampires get tired? Or was he just trying to imply that he was bored of the conversation?

"As enlightening as this all was, I don't think Shadow's going to like it if I'm gone too long. As you so kindly say, Meena, she wouldn't want me to tell you anything. You're lucky I'm so gracious."

I hated that smile. It didn't matter that he'd been strangling or hugging me just a short while ago. "You owed me."

"What, for drinking your blood?" he said. "Au contraire, I do believe you owe me for saving your life."

"You almost killed me," I glared, feeling my hands ball up into fists. Wow, being an Infected really gave you a quick temper. Or maybe it was just Pheonix. It was too easy for him to get a rise out of me.

"Accidentally," he replied, tight-lipped. "And if you don't shut up about the whole thing, I might have to finish the job."

His face was white as he turned and began to walk away towards the stairs. Then in a flash he was gone. Vampires could move fast. No matter what he said, I still wasn't over it.

"Right. Well, now we know who Allan is," Meena said, bringing me back to the conversation. I turned away from the stairs where Phoenix had just disappeared. "We know that he actually has got some information on you, Ruby, because he's got those pages from your family's records."

"Just great," I enthused sarcastically. They both ignored this and walked back towards the door - the air rippled where the barrier had been before. We exited back into the alley and stood for a minute after Willow had closed the door.

"Right. So that trip was a little wasted, even though we did find out that there's something we need to find out."

"Okay," Willow muttered. "So there's something about your uncle and possibly your father on those pages."

Meena groaned and then sighed before saying reluctantly, "It looks like we need to pay Allan a visit."



The End

20 comments about this story Feed