Eyes of Magic
Rise of the Unseelie #3
He's defective. Damaged. Malcolm knows he is. How could he not be, after a year of torture in the belly of a goblins' nest? The only magic he can do is the Touch, a perverted magic he despises and learned at the end of a whip. Every one else in the Glamour Club has loads of magic, but not him. He doesn't fit it. But if he can't find his magic, and his place among the Sidhe, then where could he go? And what if those that enslaved him before came after him again?
Kieran slammed into the fey in his way, shoving them aside in his scramble. “Boss!” He bashed into the dancers as he tore his way across the dance floor. “Bloody hell, get out of the way!”
Donovan hadn’t seen the young Sidhe run this frantically since the vampires hunting him were just two steps behind. As he held up a hand, Kieran skidded to a halt just shy of crashing into the table. “Did Bryce catch something on fire again?”
“No,” Kieran gestured wildly back the way he’d come. “Hurry! The kid’s awake. He’s absolutely freaking out! They’re shouting for you!”
Where Kieran had to run over those who’d been in his way, all the fey of the Glamour Club parted before Donovan. In his excitement, Kieran jogged ahead in fits and starts and then bounced with his impatience as he waited for Donovan to catch up. All the while, he kept repeating himself. “I was next door. All this scuffling and shouting. I heard screaming. Dawn shouting for me to get you. ‘Kieran, get Donovan! Get him now!’ and stuff like that. So I did. I can still hear them hollering at each other. Come on! Hurry!”
The earthborn bounded up the steps to the second floor three at a time. Even as they entered the hallway, Donovan heard the shouting for himself.
“Just calm down!” Dawn yelled. “Just put it down!”
“Stay away from me!” the young man shouted over her. “Where’s the man?” Something crashed with the shattering of glass. Furiously, he cried, “Don’t come near me!”
Kieran peeked around the open doorway, but Donovan gripped his shoulder and maneuvered him aside so he could pass. He crossed the threshold into the flat that was laid out similarly to the others on this floor. The generous studio design was divided into a living room to the right and a kitchen on the left. With hands upraised, Dawn approached the young man she’d cornered. Even as the lad slashed the air between them with a carving knife to force her back, he struggled with the latch on the window, intent upon escape, even though the drop from this height would probably snap a bone.
The healer obviously didn’t realize it, but she was taking the exact wrong approach, putting herself and the young man in danger. Her uplifted hands didn’t prove to him that she was unarmed as much as her intent to snatch away his weapon if given the opportunity. Such an attempt would assuredly result in a serious injury to one or both of them. Already, the shards of a busted ceramic lamp and variety of other debris littered the floor. Apparently, he’d pitched anything within reach to drive her back. Donovan ordered, “Dawn, get out.”
To her credit, she didn’t argue. She backed away and then pushed Kieran from the doorway out into the hall with her, leaving the door standing ajar.
Donovan leaned against the arm of the sofa, not blocking the boy’s path if he wanted to make for the door himself. The shouting had certainly only heightened everyone’s anxiety, escalating already intense emotions. He spoke with calm authority. “You wanted to see me?”
Already, the boy held the knife at a lower angle. Donovan was fairly certain the lad’s name was Malcolm, though they hadn’t been able to confirm that. Between Dawn’s healing sedation and the lad’s own blood loss and exhaustion, he’d been unconscious for the three days since Donovan brought him here. Given the boy’s mistrustful and panicky demeanor, Donovan thought revealing what he knew about Malcolm and his family might only upset him further. Better to leave some things unspoken.
Even though all the Sidhe were, by their very nature, beautiful creatures, Malcolm was gaunt. The only clothing he wore was a pair of grey pajama shorts, and those hung low about his hipbones. Being underfed and malnourished wasn’t the worst he’d suffered. His back was a mess of scars, so much so that not even the tip of a finger could rest upon an unmarred spot. Those scars were old, healed over before rescue. The worst damage had been to his wrists, and the lad still wore the bandages around them that Dawn had fashioned days ago. Half hidden under his unruly hair, Malcolm’s dark, frantic eyes fixed on Donovan. “You brought me here. I remember you. You killed the vampires and you brought me here.”
“That is true.” Donovan waited, as patient as the very earth that was his element.
The knife trembled from the sudden tension in the young man’s body. “She… She…” He pointed toward the door.
“Her name is Dawn.”
“She…” Malcolm raised his hand before his face and shook it, attempting to express something he couldn’t articulate. “My head. She was…” He shook the hand before his face again. “Messing… Messing with me.”
“Dawn’s a healer.”
“No! She messed with me! Making…” He jiggled the hand before his face.
“She made you sleep.”
“Yes!” His outcry was a mixture of hurt and fury. “I don’t want it! I don’t want her messing with me!”
“Dawn will never make you sleep again. She won’t touch you, unless you ask it of her,” Donovan stated with finality, knowing that Dawn was within earshot and would take his promise as an order. “When you came here you were very weak. You’d lost a lot of blood. Dawn helped heal you.”
“You have magic.” Malcolm said it like an accusation. “Made those rocks bash into the vampires. I saw it. So what do you want with me?”
“I’m called Donovan. I’m Sidhe, like you. Dawn,” he nodded toward the door, “she’s also Sidhe. As is Kieran, the other young man you saw.” He lingered for a beat, letting things sink in. “This place is called the Glamour Club and it’s a safe haven for Sidhe.”
The astonished confusion on Malcolm’s face was priceless. He’d not gone from one type of captivity to another, as he’d clearly feared. Donovan continued, “This flat belongs to you, if you want it. No vampires can find you here. No goblins, either. You’re safe here. This, I promise you.”
The knife had lowered, but Malcolm didn’t look quite ready to relinquish it yet.
Donovan asked, “What’s your name?”
The hand that wasn’t clutching the knife handle pumped opened and closed repeatedly. A nervous movement, like pacing. He was struggling to process this change of circumstances and not ready to believe.
“They stole a lot away from you, didn’t they?” Donovan waited for him to nod, but those watchful, dark eyes just remained fixed upon him, shining with moisture. “But they didn’t take away this.” He tapped his finger to his chest, over his heart. “No matter how hard they tried. No matter what they did. You are Sidhe. You are one of the most magical beings to have ever existed.”
The young man shook his head to this, eyes downcast. His fingers stroked his throat as he made a sound of strangled emotion, unable to even speak of pain too raw and too recent.
“Kieran.” Donovan summoned the young Sidhe from the hallway. Kieran obliged him, stepping into the room three steps and stopping when Donovan raised his hand. He didn’t want him invading the buffer Malcolm yet required to feel safe enough not to plummet out the window. “Would you mind sharing a little about your experience? How you came to be here and what it’s been like for you?”
Malcolm lifted his head, intent on hearing what Kieran might reveal.
“Oh, hey, sure. No problem.” Kieran smiled brightly at Malcolm, not seeming the least put off by the knife. “So, like, my parents just up and disappeared when I was fourteen. I just came home one day and they were gone. I knew this Brownie family and they thought it might have been foul play. Like wizards or werewolves or something. I never did find out one way or another. Anyhow, the Brownies thought I’d be better off making myself scarce, so they took me ‘round to Waterford and dumped me off there. I was settee surfing for a while, staying with different people. I got in with a gang of fellows and we bashed around some.” Kieran shrugged his shoulders. “Sometimes you do what you have to so you have cash enough to eat, right?
“Anyway, didn’t take long for these vamps to find out about me. They’d come around every so often. Beat the crap out of me and chomp on me, then leave me a bloody mess ‘til they got it in their heads to come ‘round again. Only, a few months ago, Donovan comes along, scares them off before they can even get a fang in me. Brought me here, where I hang out in the club and with the other fey. I’m learning to get a handle on my magic. Pretty much, that’s it.”
Kieran gestured toward the side of his neck and then at Malcolm’s where the vampire bite was not entirely healed. “I see you’re a member of the same club. Does that make us blood brothers?” He smirked. “Us fang-bangers got to stick together. Just sayin’.”
Donovan raised an eyebrow at Kieran’s cheeky approach, but he appreciated the effort to make a connection with the skittish youth. And for what it was worth, Malcolm had only a relaxed grip on the knife now as it hung by his side. They were getting through to him a little at a time. “Kieran’s nineteen, just a few years older than you?”
“If you’re both agreeable, I suggest we have Kieran help you settle in. What do you think? You never mentioned your name. Would you entrust us with it?”
He muttered it like a secret. “Malcolm.”
“Good to have you with us, Malcolm.”
Even as Donovan started for the door, Dawn blocked the threshold, her arms against the doorframe to barricade it. “You’re not leaving Kieran here alone with him, are you?” She hissed, “He’s dangerous.”
Of course, Kieran heard her. “Nah. If he really wanted to hurt someone he’d have used his magic, not a knife. Bryce would have set this whole place ablazin’ if he was upset. So that goes to show you Malcolm’s got his magic under control. Otherwise, he’d be lashing out with it. Right, mate? What is your aspect of magic, anyway?”
Kieran had a point. Untrained Sidhe couldn’t control their aspect of magic and yet Malcolm, who by all accounts was untrained, hadn’t demonstrated any. Donovan turned back toward the room and Dawn slipped in next to him. Malcolm spastically clenched and unclenched his empty hand again. He’d moved back into the corner, further away from them and closer to the window. His teeth clenched and he breathed hard between them. Donovan regarded him thoughtfully for a moment. When Tiernan Kilgrave first informed Donovan about this young Sidhe, he’d mentioned that he was providing the Touch for over fifty enchanted humans. That hadn’t been by Malcolm’s choice. The silver burns and whip marks proved that, as much as the sheer anxiety caused by just the mention of magic.
The details of Malcolm’s ordeal needn’t be public knowledge, unless the boy chose to share it. Donovan spoke carefully, so Malcolm would understand without giving away specifics to the others. “All the Sidhe are capable of three common abilities. Glamour, teleportation, and the Touch. We each also possess a single aspect of magic that is uniquely our own. Kieran isn’t asking about the Touch or those other common talents. He’s curious as to your personal magical gift.”
“Bang on.” Kieran grinned and nodded with his easy friendliness. “Like, what’s something you’ve made happen? Something you’re drawn to and that responds to you.”
Malcolm crossed his arms, the knife still in one hand, although seemingly forgotten. He shrugged and made a sound that Donovan translated into ‘I don’t know.’
“The trauma could have stunted his magic.” Dawn flinched at the look Donovan cut at her, but she persisted. “What? I’m just saying. Silver’s a poison. Constant exposure over time may have caused permanent damage.” Her assessing look at the undernourished youth who still held the knife he’d threatened her with wasn’t exceedingly compassionate. “Or the retardation of his magic could be psychological.”
“I’m not retarded!” Malcolm snapped.
“I didn’t say you were!” Dawn yelled back. “I said your magic was!”
“Dawn!” Donovan jerked his head toward the door. “I’ll let you know if your healing skills or your opinions are needed. Go!”
She cast up her hands in frustration and stomped out. Donovan watched her go, making sure she actually left and didn’t loiter in the hall. The healer was ill-accustomed to being treated with distrust. Not after the fairies with whom she’d spent most of her short years had worshiped and fawned over her. Despite her healing proficiency, she wasn’t much older than the boys. Malcolm’s reaction left her sore and snappish and not at all conducive to resolving the situation.
“We’ll sort out the magic issue later. Right now, Malcolm, why don’t you clean up and change. Kieran will fix you something to eat. When you’re ready, you can come down to the club and we’ll chat some more.” Donovan gave them both a nod of encouragement, giving no outwards indication that Malcolm’s lack of magic might concern him.