2011-2012 Annals Era
> Annals of Fear 2 >
1. Pride and Prejudice
2. Good Fight
6. Leaders in their Field
7. Waltz for Mello and Matt
8. Pure Morning
9. Returning to the Scene
10. Secret Knowledge
11. The Drums of War
12. The Beyond Birthday Route
13. Wrong Notes
14. Alpha Males
15. Dangerous Information
16. They Became my Family
17. Away with the Faeries
18. Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt
19. Yes, I Dwell in Hell
21. It's Judgment That Defeats Us
22. I Am Somebody's Mother!
23. There Were Rats
25. Acts of War
26. Y Gwir yn Erbyn y Byd
27. Taken Back
29. True Watari
30. The Hour Strikes
31. Black Mirror
32. Whom Does the Grail Serve
33. Por Favor
34. In Search of the Holy Grail
35. The Screaming
36. Thistle and Weeds
37. The Dying of the Light
38. Awfully Real
39. The Lost Boys
40. The Rock of Ages
42. A Guilty Conscience Grows
43. The Cavalry Comes
44. A Leader of Men
45. They Will Find You
47. A Vote of No Confidence
48. Stones Taught Me to Fly
49. The Last Resort
53. I Chose the Angels
54. Filthy Lucre
55. Woman of the Fey
56. Who Heals the Wounds
57. Puppets and Puppeteers
58. Descent into the Underworld
59. Into the Madness
62. The Once and Future King
63. Dog Eat Dog
"It is a truth universally acknowledged," Mello quipped, staring out of the Camero's windscreen from the passenger seat, "that a Watari sleuth in possession of an unsolved case, must be in want of a resolution." They had parked up slightly down the slope, but had already been noticed. Mello gestured and Matt drove them up the road and into a parking bay. Another three cars were parked alongside them. One was recognisably Deontic's BMW, but neither of the other two had been identified. Century was standing on a low, grey stone wall ahead of them talking with an exceptionally tall woman. He pointed at Mello and Matt; the woman staring at them with a piercing gaze. "Is that the infamous Sian?"
Matt sucked on his cigarette. "Sian's mother?"
"I bloody hope not. This shouldn't turn into a family day out at the seaside. Century, of all people, knows the severity of the situation." Mello opened the car door and stepped out onto the tarmac. The wind rose, brisk, salty and cold, from the vast expanse of ocean at his back. There was a good hundred yards down the hill before the beach even began, but the sound of the waves crashing in from Cardigan Bay was still loud. From one of the chalets behind Century and the woman, Deontic emerged, snug within a long, padded coat. Mello waved to her as he joined the couple. "Greetings."
Century smiled, looking altogether too happy for someone who had nearly been killed on this case just two months before. "Thank you for coming." He nodded towards Matt, who had slouched into position just behind his husband. "I wasn't sure that you would."
"Of course I would." Mello nodded to the lady, in a brief show of courtesy. "It's a mostly unsolved case." His eyes held a question for Century, which the Welshman quickly interpreted.
"Kiana, may I introduce you to Mello."
Mello felt the surprise spark in his own expression, despite his attempt to suppress it. He knew that name. Kiana surveyed him with a cold defiance. Mello stared at her and held out his hand. Her handshake was quick, but firm. Mello stated calmly enough, "Charmed to meet you." He indicated towards the redhead behind him. "This is my husband, Matt." Mello watched as Kiana didn't even reach out in a futile attempt to shake Matt's hand. Instead, she just gripped the collar of her thick, black wrap. It was pinned together with an ornate, Celtic patterned brooch, but the wind was still attempting to take it. Matt, predictably enough, hadn't stepped forward. Kiana had known that would happen, Mello noted. She had been briefed about the pair of them. Mello injected the slightest warning edge to his tone. "You are not here with Century."
"No." She began, but was interupted by a voice cutting through from the open doorway of a chalet directly behind.
"She's with me." Fenian stepped into view, his arms folded across his chest. "And I'm here for Century's sake."
Mello nodded, his tone sharp, "I wasn't told that you'd be here." He smiled at Deontic, who was anxiously hovering on the edge of their little group. "You were obviously informed that I'd be here." His nod to Kiana this time was a little more ostentatious. "Whatever you've heard about me is probably true. But on the bright side, it's also hopefully behind us." He reached back to take Matt's hand. "So where are we bunking up?"
Deontic rushed forward. "We thought we'd put you in the southernmost chalet. Just there." She didn't seem to know what to do once she was level with them, so Mello simply leaned forward and kissed her cheek. "Oh."
"Good morning, Dee. You're well?" Mello asked pleasantly.
"Yes." She hurried off towards the chalet in question. It was at the end of a cluster of five of them, arranged in a squat semi-circle, with a second storey of chalets above. The three central blocks faced the strip of weather-beaten turf common to them all, then the wall, the lower-levelled car park and onto the slope down to the shore. The two at either end were at right-angles, facing each other across the turf. It was into one of these that Deontic disappeared. Mello nodded to Century and Kiana, glanced once at Fenian, then towed Matt into Deontic's wake. She stood just inside the door, with the rigid professionalism that Mello had learned was her way of expressing nervousness. "I hope this is suitable for your needs."
Mello cupped her bicep gently, with a firm smile. His gaze took in the double bed and the small kitchenette beyond. It would only be good for making hot drinks, though there was a tiny refrigerator for snacks. A large window overlooked the ocean, while a door presumably led to the bathroom. Taking in the dimensions of the chalet, he guessed that the second door merely led to a cupboard. It was basic, but adequate. "It's great, Dee. Why is Fenian here?"
"Kiana's a psychic and a witch."
It was the wrong answer. Mello blinked. Beside him, Matt smirked. Mello glanced at him. "What?"
Matt leaned back and closed the front door, shutting Deontic in with them. He still looked amused. "She is Fenian's girlfriend?" Matt asked, with a half-laugh punctuating the question. "Really?"
Mello nodded, while Deontic felt the need to verbally affirm it. She whispered. "Yes."
"She's about 40."
Deontic grimaced. "Please don't. Hal's already..." She caught Mello's stare and shifted almost imperceptibly backwards. "What?"
"Hal's met her?"
Deontic nodded. "You told me to bring someone I trusted and you said that that had better not be Luigi."
Mello's head rose like a merecat. His question held a note of exclamation, "Hal's here?"
"In the chalet opposite this one. On the other end."
Mello grinned, released Matt's hand and turned on his heel. He pulled open their front door and raced across the pathway. Century, Kiana and Fenian had slunk away, though the middle chalet's door was still ajar. It didn't take a detective of his calibre to deduce that they were inside; probably discussing Kiana's first impressions of him, based on whatever witchy nonsense she had gained from shaking his hand. Mello stopped in front of Hal's door and hammered on it. Inside, the buzz of a hairdryer abruptly ended and footsteps heralded the front door being opened. Hal looked into Mello's grinning face. "Hello, Mello."
He pushed inside. "You're here."
"Evidently so." She closed the door after him. "Wammy's House is looked after. I was due holiday and..."
"Fuck that, you're here." Mello beamed.
She surveyed him with a blithe amusement. "This pleases you?"
"Hell yes." He hurried to the window and peered out through the net curtain. "It means that I have intelligent conversation and an ally. What did you think of Fenian's girlfriend?"
Hal breathed a small chuckle and returned to blow-drying her hair. She spoke loudly over it. "What makes you think I'd take your side over any other Watari alumni?"
Mello peered sidewards at her, his smile was infectious. "Because they're all freaks and we go way back."
Hal shook her head. They didn't speak again, until the hairdryer was switched off. Then she asked, "Why am I intelligent conversation in this company? You brought Matt with you, didn't you?"
"Yeah." It was the barest wince, but Hal caught it and watched him carefully. Mello just shrugged in response to the unasked question. "Has Century brought anyone?"
Hal joined him at the window, but there was nothing to see. "Who are we spying on?"
Mello put an arm around her back, which caused Hal's eyebrows to rise. "This was a good choice for our lodgings. We can all see everyone's front doors and windows. So it's you and me flanking them. Fenian in the middle. That's the three people most likely to be armed in their strategic places. Which chalet is Deontic in?"
"Next to mine. Century is between you and Fenian."
"Fuck that. Deontic and Century can swop."
Hal frowned. "Why? They've already settled in."
"Because Century can have a glass up the wall and report mine and Matt's conversations to Fenian. Deontic would view that as cheating."
Hal's frown deepened. "You've lost me. Why would Century want to eavesdrop on you?"
"Because he can." Mello squeezed her briefly, in a one-armed, companiable hug. "I'm glad you're here."
"Ok, spit it out." Hal turned slightly to watch his expression. "What's up between you and Matt?"
"We're fine." Mello stated firmly, but his eyes had hardened.
He hesitated, then pulled a chocolate bar out of his pocket and unwrapped it. "We're fine."
"He's not happy about being in Wales again?"
Mello chewed thoughtfully on his chocolate. His gaze was distracted by Century leaving Fenian and Kiana's chalet to knock on Deontic's door. To Mello's surprise, Deontic opened it. "I thought Dee was with Matt." His eyes shifted to take in his own closed front door. "Ok, I'd better be getting back over there." His arm dropped from Hal's back and he skirted her to head towards the door.
He stopped and glanced back, then seemed to make up his mind. It came out in a rush. "Last time we were here, I said something to him that I shouldn't have. We're fine." Mello nodded to emphasise the point. "Totally fine. We're not on the rocks or anything. Both too addicted to each other for that. But Mail, God knows I love him, but he can be a right royal pain in the ass, you know?" He flashed a smile, as if to say that he meant nothing by that. "It took a month and a half to even get him to admit he was still bothered by what I said. It's probably going to take the next two years for me to convince him that our relationship is solid." Mello's gloved hand reached for the latch. "And it is solid, Hal. I just wish that we weren't straight back in the place where I said it to him."
"If you need to talk..."
"Yeah." Mello opened the door and strode out, but he was soon back, peeping around it. "Good to have you here, Hal. That's made my day."
"Glad to see that I'm such an asset in your life."
Mello winked at her and smiled, before taking off at a run back across the turf. Century's lilting tones sang across the distance towards him. "Mello! Take this." He tried to take a box from Deontic, but she held tightly onto it. "Stop treating me like I'm glass."
"Stop having heart-attacks then." She countered.
"One heart-attack. One." Century tutted, as Deontic strode past him. "Hardly infirm, is it?"
Mello had paused, an anxious glance at his own closed front door. He waited for Deontic to reach him. "What is it?"
"Bread, milk, chocolate..." She began, but Mello took the box from her and he could see what was in there. "But we're going to order our actual meals in. Century's got a wad of take-away menus."
"Oh good. The taste of home." Mello flashed a quick smile. "Thanks for these. I'm going to get us unpacked, then you can give us the full tour of the amenities." He took a step away from her.
Century gestured to the chalets above. "All up there. The whole block, we have. Each one has all the equipment that we ordered. Like little offices, they are."
"Great." Mello nodded, then injected a little more warmth. "That's really good. Thanks for organising it, Century."
The teenager frowned. "Of course I organised it. It's my case."
Mello had been gradually heading towards his chalet. He stopped now to cast a derisive look at Century. "I'm not working for you. I'm here as my own man. If anything, we're here on an equal footing, but the moment that it's necessary, I'm taking the lead." Deontic rolled her eyes. Century grit his teeth and said nothing. Mello flashed them a final smile. "So that's understood. I'm going to unpack." He continued the final few paces to his front door and pushed it with his hip. It was shut fast, but Matt had heard him. There was a shuffling and a creak inside, then the door was open. Mello surveyed his husband with a quizzical look, but pushed inside, kicking the front door shut behind him. His eyes raked the scene. None of their stuff had been brought inside, except the bag which Matt had carried in initially over his shoulder. From that, Matt had already extracted his laptop and had apparently been in the process of checking his e-mails. The laptop sat discarded, with the lead trailing across the carpet into a socket. Mello nodded and took the box of groceries into the kitchenette area. He watched Matt return to the edge of the bed and pick up the laptop again. "Mail."
Matt looked up. Mello strode across and caught his husband's chin in one hand. He lifted Matt's face and leaned down to kiss him tenderly on the lips. Mello drew away, his gaze searching Matt's eyes for any sign of ire. Matt raised his eyebrows behind the orange goggles. "¿Qué?"
Mello smiled, "Te amo."
"Let's get the stuff out of the car." Mello wheeled away. "I want us unpacked and established as soon as possible, because I need to sort Fenian out."
"He is a complication that I really didn't need." Mello opened the door and peered out at the deserted turf again. "Where's my key to this door? Have I got one?"
"I've got one."
"Well don't forget it then." Mello warned and raced off towards the car with its trailer attached to the rear. In front of him, the grey ocean roared against the rocky beach. Mello briefly considered the likelihood of fucking Matt down on the sand sometime soon, but it looked bloody cold. There was also hardly any sand and that only a smear cut through with a black pigment. His mind returned swiftly to the situation in hand. This whole expedition had all the hallmarks of something that was going to turn political. Matt was beside him, already unlocking the trailer door. Mello reached for his chocolate again. "Mail, you will tell me if you're getting anxious, won't you?"
Matt snorted, as he opened the trailer door and climbed inside. "Way to project emotion, Mello." As an afterthought, he added, "Calm down. It'll be alright. I won't let Fenian pick on you."
Mello snapped off a strip of chocolate and held it in his mouth to bite back his retort. He stashed the rest inside his pocket and silently received the first of their stuff. It would be different this time. This time they were prepared.
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2011-2012 Annals Era
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