Comfortably seated on a rocking chair, surrounded by throw pillows and wrapped in a warm, soft blanket, Angus was reading on the balcony of the apartment his father rent in a luxury residential complex situated in downtown New York City. The early morning breeze was running through the kid’s long hair, cooling his face.
Since his departure from Scotland, almost two weeks earlier, he was feeling much better, both physically and mentally. The pain diminished considerably, it was a lot more bearable, and that made Angus to be less lethargic. He resumed all the daily activities, getting back to his studious, serene self, ready to explore the city and visit his main attractions.
The boy put the book aside, starting to think about the change in his Uncle Roone’s attitude towards him, from the moment he chose New York as the destination of their trip. He was warmer, closer to his nephew, but Angus didn’t make any illusions, knowing the man was acting that way out of temporary gratitude, not out of love for him.
Ever since he was a little boy, the teen was painfully aware of his delicate health and fragile constitution, two major flaws in Roone’s eyes. He was nothing like his father, didn’t have strong, muscular arms, sculptured torso, or a broad chest covered in thick, fiery red hair.
Closing his eyes, Angus let out a small sound, half-sigh, half-whimper, pulling the blanket up to the tip of his nose. The rocking chair, with the pile of soft throw pillows, was perfect for a short nap that would recharge him with energy, keeping the less happy thoughts away. Right after breakfast, he was planning to ask for his father’s permission to explore the surroundings in the company of his sister Morgana.
In his room, standing in front of the huge window that offered a splendid panoramic view over the city, Roone was thinking about the visions he had over the two weeks since the family moved to New York City. One of them, spoke about the successor, but it was quite confusing. Until then, the druid only saw a young man with wavy, fiery red hair and intense green eyes, his face blurred.
Things changed over the past few days, when the image of a blond man, with medium-long hair and ardent, turquoise eyes hidden behind thick-rimmed glasses started to overlap over that of the redhead. An immense spiritual force was radiating from him, so powerful, that Roone felt it through the haze of the vision. The druid couldn’t explain why or how, but in his heart, he knew the man was somehow connected to him and his whole family.
While the vision of the blond overlapping with that of the successor was somewhat troubling and confusing, there was another one that made Roone very happy, as it showed Angus holding two twin boys in his arms. The voices whispered him that the babies were fathered by his nephew, which filled the druid’s heart with joy and affection for the frail boy with sad eyes and a delicate health.
All the doctors who had him in their care at different points in his life shook their heads skeptically, saying he won’t live more than twenty years, and Roone knew they were all right. That was the spirits’ and deities’ punishment for him foolishly ignoring their warnings. And yet, they decided to show benevolence to the boy, allowing him to procreate before his time would be up.
”Uncle, are you in there?” Angus’s suave voice brought the druid back to the immediate reality. ”Can I talk to you for a minute?”
”Yes, of course, laddie. Come on in, it’s open,” Roone spoke in an affectionate voice, the same one he used with Rory, when his brother was a teenager.
”I knocked two times and you didn’t answer, so I thought…nevermind,” Angus stepped inside, a shy smile on his lips. ”Dad and Morgana will go on a tour of the medical schools, but I don’t feel like accompanying them. Can I take Brody and visit some monuments and other historical buildings? I won’t go too far, promise,” the boy lowered his gaze.
Roone’s first impulse was to give the boy a negative answer, but a discrete swish in the air, only he could sense, made him change his mind. ”Of course, dear lad. I know you won’t go too far, you are not the adventurous type,” he smiled, patting his nephew on the shoulder. ”Besides, Brody has an extraordinary sense of orientation and a sweet tongue, among other gifts.”
”Thank you very much, uncle,” Angus’ ethereal beautiful face brightened, his emerald-green eyes shining with excitement. ”I won’t make you worry, promise,” the boy said as he closed the door.
Roone had serious doubts about the not worrying part, something was telling him that it was going to be quite on the contrary. On the other hand, the druid feared that he risked to ignore the deities’ message again, if he would try to prevent the upcoming events from happening. ”Please, keep the boy safe,” he prayed, a tear rolling down his cheek.
Angus was lost in awe, looking at yet another landmark on his list, the Chester A. Arthur House, the combination of elegance and simplicity impressed him in the most pleasant way. Escorted by the ever-patient Brody, in his double quality of chauffeur and bodyguard, the boy already visited the 69th Regiment Armory, the Bayard-Condict Building, the Carnegie Hall, the Chamber of Commerce Building and the Carnegie Hall.
However, at some point, Angus got tired of the asphalt jungle and asked Brody to go to Central Park, the city’s green lung, the attraction mentioned in each and every tourist guide. The long walk trough the sea of lush green trees and bushes reminded him of the forests surrounding Torridon Hall, but it was a sweet nostalgia, not the overwhelming sadness the kid imagined he would have felt while being away from home.
The grumble of their stomachs announced Angus and his companion that it was lunch time, so they stopped from their long walk and sat on a bench, devouring the sandwiches Brody, in his wisdom and precaution, made and took with them. With a satisfied smile on his austere face, the man left the bench, heading to the nearest trash can, when a ghostly silhouette appeared from the bushes, stealing his wallet.
Letting out a long, elaborate curse in Gaelic, the man started to chase the thief, leaving a dizzy, confused Angus behind. Suddenly, everything started to spin around the teenager, as he desperately tried find his phone and call the police. The thief must have stolen it, too, because he couldn’t find it. Lightheaded, the kid was about to fall to the ground, when two hands caught him, and a soft, masculine voice started to talk to him.
”Are you alright, kid? You don’t look so well, poor soul. What happened to you? Did someone try to harm you?” the questions were flowing one after another, in a worried tone.
”No…yes…I don’t know,” Angus blinked confused. ”My uncle is wrong, that man is not the successor. You have to tell him, he’ll believe you,” the teen grabbed the man’s hand, squeezing it for dear life.
”OK, let’s start this the right way,” the man took the kid in his arms, laying him on the bench. ”What’s your name and where do you live?”
”They stole Brody’s wallet and my phone,” the red-haired boy started, ”then he chased them, and I was left alone. My name’s Angus. I’m very scared, please don’t leave me,” he pleaded in a whispered voice.
”I won’t,” the man spoke in the same warm, reassuring voice. ”I’m Ardan MacNamara, and I’ll help you get home. What’s your last name and where do you live?”
”I don’t know,” the kid blinked again, confusion and pain written on his face, ”I don’t remember anything, my mind’s blank,” he rolled on one side, curled into a small ball and started to cry.
”Don’t cry, please, everything will be alright,” Ardan crouched down and started to rub soothing circles on the teen’s back, until his muscles became less tensed. ”By the name of all gods, kid, you are as hot as a furnace,” he exclaimed, after lightly touching Angus’s forehead. Now we really have to go.”
Taking the kid in his arms, Ardan rushed to his car, laying his precious cargo on the backseat, as comfortable as he could. The fever was rising at an alarming rate, and the man couldn’t explain what was causing it, he never saw something like that in the kids he rescued from the filthy claws of those who forced them into prostitution.
Maybe, Ardan thought, casting a glance at the fragile form laying on the backseat of his car, the boy was one of the scared, often wounded magical creatures who kept appearing from nowhere. They were all helpless, broken, running away from something or someone or simply seeking refuge from a world they didn’t understand.
Human or supernatural creature, that poor boy was in dire need of help, and the base’s infirmary was the right place to get it. Ardan was driving as fast as the rules allowed him, because breaking them by getting over the speed limit wouldn’t do any good for the kid, who’d started to thrash his head, and speaking incoherently.
”Lothier, go to the infirmary and tell the guys to be ready for a patient with high fever, who’s also delirious. Is Spitfire there?”
”No, he and Doctor Ross were called to the Institute by Doctor Rayne, something about a major discovery in treating the heart conditions considered life-endangering,” the chief of security explained. ”Avigdor is on duty, though, the poor bat never sleeps.”
”Excellent, he’s perfect for the job, as I suspect the boy is a magical creature,” Ardan answered, getting Angus out of the vehicle. ”Oh, message Gaspard, too, the kiddo here could use some energy transfer.”
”I bet that our resident incubus is already at the infirmary,” Lothier smiled affectionately, as he did every time Landon and Carlin’s mate came into discussion.
”There’s no point in announcing Avigdor, then, most likely Gaspard took care of that, too,” Ardan nodded in approval, getting into the passage that lead to the infirmary.
”Let’s see what we have here,” a young man in his mid twenties greeted the two men from one of the examination rooms. He helped Ardan to get Angus on the edge of the table, in sitting position, and started to undress him.
”He’s burning like fire, I suggest packing him in ice, to reduce the fever,” Avigdor turned to one of the medicine students who were volunteering at the base. ”No, wait,” he stopped the young man, putting his hand on the teen’s forehead, a wave of nausea rippling through him. ”I want to have a word with you,” he turned to Ardan and Lothier, ”in private.”
”What’s wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” the chief of the base’s security tried a joke. ”You saw something in there, didn’t you?”
”Yes,” Avigdor made visible efforts to talk, ”that poor kid is pregnant with twins, and they are the result of a rape.”