Remembrance: written by Kora Knight & Raven Foxx
"Ulterior Motives... on Every Front"
Anton can tell Pops is in fine form the minute he enters the great hall. The male is railing at another poor schmuck with eyes flashing flames of murder.
Hiding a smirk, Anton walks around the piles of debris littering the floor from Dad’s earlier explosion. He glances around to the cowering forms and wonders where Zayta is. She’s walking a very fine line staying MIA like this.
Taking a seat in one of the few chairs still intact, he waits for Seth to finish his current tantrum.
Seth pivots around and glares at Anton, his angel’s absence riding him hard. “Where is she?” he snarls. “Where is Zayta? And why has she not brought me news!”
When Anton just shrugs, Seth stalks over and spills his weary weight into his throne. “Speak Anton,” he mutters, breathing deep. “Tell me what's on your mind.”
His eyes narrow on the boy, daring him to push him too far—to the point where Seth will no longer have three children but two. The rage inside him is like a boiling vat of lava, ever growing hotter. The pain from Jazz’s betrayal—for that was how he sees it─ is so sharp that he’s surprised he isn’t dead sprawled atop the hard, stone floor.
Stroking his goatee, Anton regards his father’s agitated state.
Again, he shrugs. “Just wondering what has your panties in such a twist.”
He tilts his head, studying his father’s face—and the emotions flickering across it. Anton scowls. So his assumptions about the angel are true. His father does have it bad for him. A rare jealous streak tears through his body, followed by an anger so hot his veins bulge visibly as he clenches his fists. “Holy fuck, Father. You have feelings for this angel?”
Seth sneers coldly. “Like there is anything in me that allows for feelings.”
He shakes his head and irritably waves Anton’s accusations away. “It doesn't fucking matter. What does matter is that someone helped my pet escape.” He levels his son with a glower. “You will go find where Zayta is hiding—and she is hiding. She knows she is to blame for this!”
He shoves from his seat to begin pacing anew. “If she hadn't let her guard down, hadn't been so weak, this wouldn't have happened.”
He pivots around and approaches his son. Palming his cheek, he holds Anton’s eyes. “You are the only one I can trust to do my will,” he whispers softly, showing a moment of tenderness. “Find him, Anton. Let me know where he's hiding. And Zayta, too, for she deserves her due punishment. Be a good boy, my son,” he murmurs, stroking Anton’s cheek, “and do as your father asks. Do not fail me as all the others have.”
His son seems to calm at his touch. Nodding, Anton rises to his feet and heads for the door. Seth watches him as he settles back into his chair. Absently, his hand rises to rest atop his chest. Soon his son would be gone and Seth would be forced once again to feel. And oh, how he felt—like a blade buried in his heart. And a newly reborn heart, at that, awakened by the angel's touch. Now that heart struggles to beat, to live inside a blackened coffin.
Dropping his hand back to the arm of his throne, he closes his eyes and tries to forget. If only he could. Abruptly, his head jerks up as something occurs to him.
“Wait,” he snarls across the room at his son. “You have something yet to tell me.”
Inside the doorway, Anton stops and turns around. By the fresh sneer on his dad’s face, he can tell their endearing moment is over.
“What,” he drawls. “You want to know how your beloved pet got free?” He shrugs casually. “He knocked Zayta out. Caught her unaware.”
Narrowing his eyes at Anton’s nonchalant answer, Seth glares at his good-for-nothing son. “Listen here, you little prick. I highly doubt Zayta is innocent in this. Look how long it took her to turn Jazz in!”
His jaw clenches tight. “You are to spy on Jazz's family,” he grits, “and find out anything you can about him. And do not,” he hisses, “forget to make Zayta pay for her fuck up. Now get the hell out of my sight!”
Anton turns away, forcing himself to leave before he says what he really thinks. Besides, anything his father said is always short lived, and Anton isn’t holding out any damn hope that he’ll ever change. Not bothering to respond, he flashes out of the fortress to the city.
* * *
Sprawled out on the living room couch, Jazz lays listening to his phone’s playlist, his eyes securely shut. He loves how mere earbuds help him block everything out. After all the shit he’s been through lately, he welcomes the internal solitude.
God, he feels like hell.
His front pocket vibrates with an incoming text. Scowling, he digs into his jeans and pulls out his cell. The message from an old friend of his and Jared’s has him lifting a curious brow. He sits up and tugs his earbuds out, then gets to his feet with a groan. He aches all over from the lack of Seth’s blood.
Padding down the hall, he raps on Jared's door. “Yo, Jare. You get a text from Lachlan, too? He needs to talk to us. I get the feeling it’s important.”
Jared’s smooth timbre emanates from behind the door. “Yeah, okay. I’ll be ready to go in three.”
Jazz nods, turning to head farther down the hall. He can hear Janel humming as she works in the kitchen, but the smell of whatever she’s cooking makes his stomach turn.
He’s going to have to eat something sooner or later.
Janel turns from her pot of homemade soup when Jazz enters the room. “Why does Lachlan want to talk to us?”
Jazz shrugs soberly. “Fuck if I know.”
She turns off the pot, washes her hands and grabs a dish towel to dry them. “I guess we’ll find out soon enough.”
Jared walks in a second later. His siblings are waiting for him, identical frowns of confusion etching their faces. He bets anything he's sporting the exact same expression. “As none of us clearly have any idea what this is about, I guess we’d better get going.”
A few minutes later, they take to the skies, Jazz’s ambiguous disposition bringing an awkward silence with them.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take them long to get to Lachlan’s penthouse on the other side of town.
The male is waiting for them on his balcony, a weary expression on his face.
He claps hands with the brothers and kisses Janel’s knuckles. “Good to see you all again. Thanks for coming.” Turning, he leads the way inside. “I’ll try to make this as quick as possible.” He gestures toward the couch and the angels promptly take a seat. “Unfortunately,” he sighs, settling into his recliner, “I’m going to need your special services.” He gives them a pointed look. “Specifically, your angel services.”
Jazz raises a brow, his friend’s expression and tone sending his red flags waving. Sitting up straighter, he flicks a look to his siblings, then turns back to Lachlan and clears his throat. “Angel business is gonna cost you extra.”
His wry attempt to make the man smile crashes and burns. Instead, Lachlan frowns.
Jazz does, too, absently wiping his clammy forehead. “Fuck. I'm so not liking the vibe you’re giving. Just spit it out. What exactly’s going down?”
Lachlan scrubs his face, then runs a hand through his hair. “I’m hoping you guys are familiar with goblins. As it were, they’re coming out of the woodwork in my homeland, Scotland, threatening to wage war. They’ve made their intensions all too clear: to take over my people’s land, no matter what the cost. Utter destruction of the country is imminent if we don’t find a way to stop them.” His face turns utterly grim. "Not to mention that the death toll will be staggering.”
He looks at Jazz. “If you’re willing to help us, I’ll cover your flight over, accommodations, and anything else you need.” A tired smile curves his lips. “And yes, you’ll be paid handsomely for your efforts.”
Mouth agape, Jazz is still grappling with the first part of Lachlan’s spiel. “Goblins? Are you for real?”
Lachlan gives him a somber nod.
Jazz looks to his siblings again, rubbing his tender thighs. Janel's mouth has dropped open too, and Jared’s raking a hand through his hair.
Jazz grimaces and turns back to Lachlan. “Geez. Okay. So. Um...”
Head starting to pound, he can barely wrap his brain around the severity of his friend’s situation. But then his valor kicks in, trumping all his physical pain. He can tell the same sense of duty has come online with his siblings, too, with the way they both just squared their shoulders in unison.
Jazz nods to them in solidarity. “I think I can speak for all of us when I say we can do no other than offer our help. We are, after all, defenders of the human race. Our obligation to them will always be first and foremost.”
Lachlan exhales in clear relief. “A friend of mine is helping gather allies. Then we’ll establish a game plan.” A genuine smile of gratitude curved his lips. “No words can express how much I appreciate this.”
His gaze moves to Jared and Janel, his smile fading. “I know as mission angels your abilities are vast, but do not misunderstand; by their sheer numbers alone, you will surely be pushed to your limits.”
He stands, a fresh air of optimism steeling his shoulders. The angels stand, too. Offering Jazz his hand, Lachlan’s timbre dips low with emotion. “Thank you, my friend.” He smiles, his Scottish brogue stronger than usual. “My people and I will forever be in your debt.”
* * *
Anton flashes to an alleyway deep in downtown Soho. Gnashing his teeth, he stalks forward, sullenly scanning his surroundings. The last thing he feels like doing is hunting down his father’s play toy. Why bother? Hell, he'd rather the angel stay wherever the fuck he’s currently holed up.
Hunching his shoulders, he decides he'd better walk off his anger—that’s like a boil on his ass—before he looks for dear old dad’s pet.
Jazz grimaces, exiting his apartment building and taking a left. He hopes like a hell a walk in the cold evening air will help him deal with his growing withdraw pangs. Taking to the backstreets, a fresh shudder racks him. He hisses out a curse. Maybe if he can find a few demons to face off with it’ll distract him for at least a few minutes.
Please let him find some fucking demons...
Cutting the next left into an alleyway, he stalks briskly and—freezes dead in his tracks. Anton is a good twenty yards down, and he hasn’t seen Jazz yet.
Jazz's heart pumps faster. His mouth begins to salivate. That Anton’s simply in the same blood line as Seth makes Jazz want to attack the fucker—bite into his friggin’ neck and furiously guzzle.
Jazz's mind clouds.
Such gnawing pain.
And need. So biting and brutal.
Before he knows what he’s doing, he stalks toward the vampire.
Anton's head whips around. The male glares at him, watching as he approaches.
Just a few feet away now, Jazz smirks darkly and comes to a stop. “S'up, asshole. Fancy seeing you here.”
Anton narrows his eyes. “Well, well. Already out looking for a new sugar daddy to take care of your ass?”
Jazz chuckles, the sound strained even to him. “You have no idea. As a matter of fact, it’s kinda perfect timing that I've bumped into you.”
Anton crosses his arms and raises a dickish brow. Jazz knows that if he wants to pull this off he's going to need the element of surprise.
He strikes without warning.
Anton’s eyes go wide as Jazz slams him against the building, pinning the male’s shoulders with determined hands. Before Anton can suck in a breath, Jazz is lock-jawed onto his neck—just like Jazz had seen Seth attack his prey…
The memory makes him shiver as his blunt teeth sink deep. Vampire blood gushes feverishly into his mouth.
Jazz grimaces at the taste—so similar to Seth’s and yet so different. Not nearly as savory, but still he swallows, even as he struggles to keep a very pissed off male from moving. Thank fuck he has his angel strength back. The playing fields are now evenly leveled.
Anton snarls in his ear as he fights to break free. Jazz growls in warning, like a junkie defending his newest score. He swallows faster, knowing his time is quickly coming to an end. Anton is downright irate.
Finally, the vampire shoves him away and slams his fist into Jazz's face.
Jazz stumbles back, grimacing in frustration. “Fuck! That barely took off the edge! Why!? Why did that barely help at all!”
Anton glares down at him like he’s a demented crack head. “You fucktard,” he snarls. “I'm not your major food source.” Jazz clamors to his feet. Anton hits him hard again, knocking him right back down to the asphalt ground. “Do that again,” he bites out, wiping the blood from his neck, “and I will kill your stupid sorry ass.”
Jazz groans miserably, thumbing his freshly split lip.
With confusion, rage, and frustration razing his insides, he frowns up at the vampire. “Your father did this to me. I can’t function anymore.” He gets to his feet again. “I leave for Scotland soon, to be part of World War Three, and if I can’t concentrate on the fight, my ass is toast.” He flicks a grim look. “We're battling a goblin invasion of all things. I need fucking clarity.”
Anton rolls his eyes. “Like I care.” He gestures irritably. “Just get the fuck down the road, or dear ole dad will chain your ass to the wall again and never keep you out of his sight.”
Jazz’s frown deepens.
Anton wipes his neck again. “You just had to bite me,” he growls. “Now I’ll probably get angel rabies or some shit.”
Jazz snorts indignantly.
Anton smirks and shakes his head. “I think you want to go back to Pops,” he murmurs, stepping a little closer. “I'll take you there gladly. You know you’re his favorite pet.”
He looks down at Jazz’s shaking hands. Jazz balls them into angry fists.
“You’re like a crack addict,” Anton grunts in disgust. “You need him.”
His words send Jazz reeling, but he can’t get his feet to retreat. Bristling, emotions in chaos, he actually considers Anton's offer.
What the fuck is wrong with him?!
He jerks backward and shakes his head. “No. Fuck that. Besides, I need to help my siblings. My friends. I have to be there for them.” His distraught gaze meets Anton’s. “And your dad wouldn’t ever let me go.”
He closes his eyes and drags in a breath, then drags a clammy hand through his hair. “I can’t go back there,” he groans. “If the goblins don’t kill me, that place eventually would.” He shakes his head again, taking another step away. “Fuck it. Your blood is better than nothing. It’s taking off the burn at least.” He nods. “Yeah, it'll do.” A humorless chuckle rattles in his chest. “It'll have to do.”
Anton sneers. “I hope to hell it makes you puke.”
Curling his lip, he flips Jazz off, then turns and walks away. He’ll tell his father his little play toy went to Scotland.
As miserable as Pops has made Anton’s life, he doesn't deserve to have his angel back.
Let him deal.
*Guest writer for Anton: Alicia Dawn
*Guest writer for Jared: Olga G.
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