In which Peyton takes Austin on a mission and winds up being put in charge of guarding an old friend.
The dip in the bed woke her.
Her hand instantly went for the knife. Belatedly Peyton remembered that the knife would do her no good and that the reason for the bed dipping meant her no harm. Arms snaked around her waist and she found herself pulled against a broad chest. Sleepily Peyton smiled and released her grip on the knife. An affectionate chuckle had his chest rumbling against her back and Peyton sighed, turning her body over and pressing her face into his t-shirt.
“Mornin’ darlin,” came the low greeting. She made a sound of acknowledgement, “go back to sleep. You’ve got a couple hours yet.”
Mumbling a reply Peyton sighed as his arms tightened fractionally around her. Being in Austin’s embrace made her feel tiny in the best possible sense of the word and right now she was more than content to be wrapped up in the security of his embrace. Content enough to staunchly ignore the theme from Star Wars that chimed through their bedroom. Even when the phone silenced and then began to ring again.
“You want to get that?” the hybrid asked her. Peyton made a sound of protest, “might be important,” Austin said. Peyton ignored him and focused on going back to sleep when she felt him shift and a moment later the ringing ceased, “Peyton’s phone,” Austin’s voice came, “hey,” he said, “yeah, hold on,” Peyton felt the phone pressed to her cheek, “its for you darlin.”
“What?” Peyton demanded sleepily.
“Get up,” isaac said shortly, “you’ve got a delivery on it’s way.”
There were some things that never changed. Apparently the ability to wake up at the voice on the other end of the phone was one of them. Instantly Peyton was awake, pushing herself up. Lights clicked on and she blinked a few times to adjust. Swinging her legs over the side of the bed she pushed herself to her feet as Isaac gave her details about where, when and who. As he did that Peyton went to her drawer and pulled on clothes, switching the phone to the other side.
“Put another colocasia line around your boytoy,” Isaac said, “have faith.”
The line went dead and Peyton felt as though she had been dumped in ice. Another line of colocasia meant there was a powerful witch involved. Powerful and either very dark or very unstable. Setting the phone down she grabbed a brush and swiped it through her hair before braiding it as she toed on shoes. In the mirror Austin met her eyes. He was sitting on the edge of the bed and thought the rational part of Peyton knew he was both fully capable of taking care of himself and that he didn’t need to sleep, the rest of her just wanted to tell him to lie down and crawl back under the covers with him. Sighing she shook her head and ducked out of the bedroom into the living room, sliding knives into holsters.
“This gonna take long?”
Tightening her fingers on a knife, Peyton glanced back at Austin. He was standing in the doorway with his arms folded over his chest, watching her carefully. The question sounded rough coming from him but Peyton could hear the underlying worry. Tension had been building and they had been fighting over stupid things again until one night when somehow he wound up admitting that he was scared of something happening to her before they could make good on their promises together. Peyton had never realized that he might be worried about her. She had tried to explain that she was competent—no, she was more than competent but Austin had shook his head and said she could be the best witch hunter in the world and he’d still be worrying about her.
Some deep prideful part of her was a little hurt at the idea that he thought she couldn’t take care of herself. It was just to the left of the part of her that thought there was still some pity reason he stayed with her. So Peyton did her best to smother them with the fact that one of the things that made Austin who he was was that he wanted to protect the people he loved. Even if they could protect themselves. Walking over to the closet by the door, Peyton grabbed her sword and turned back to look at Austin.
“You wanna come?” she offered.
Surprise flared on the hybrid’s face and Peyton founder herself hard pressed not to smile. When the truth had come out she had practically thrown everything she was in his face. Austin had been the quieter one. He had been the one afraid she was going to run away. The role reversal had been totally shocking to her. She didn’t remember how she said ‘hybrid’ or the way she looked at Niklaus with such venom, but Austin did. When he found the records she had been keeping of the hybrid attacks from back then and the notes she had made, it had lead to their biggest fight, one that had her showing up on Kaylee’s doorstep sobbing at two in the morning.
But Austin was a man of his word and before she could figure out how to apologize he had lured her to the apartment. Which he had covered in violets. He bought her a filing cabinet for her stuff and she bought another fridge and filled it with blood bags. Since then they still fought, but the fear of him leaving was gone. She had tried to temper her impatience for him, showing him the same courtesy and letting him share in his own time. As she looked at him she wondered if she had pushed too far. If perhaps this was not a good idea. Well, actually it wasn’t. Not by a longshot. She opened her mouth to say something when he gave a jerking nod and vanished before reappearing with his clothes on.
“This okay?” he asked.
“It’s fine,” she said, “come on we’re taking my car,” she said. They headed for the garage and she continued, “just try to stay out of sight. And if you have to use any of that—” she said motioning towards him, “you’re a witch.”
“Those people you’re fightin must be really stupid if they think i’m a witch.”
“They are but remember they don’t know about vampires or hybrids and I doubt you’ll be shapeshifting.”
Austin shook his head as he slid into the passenger seat of her car. Peyton squeezed his hand sympathetically and smiled. For her the hardest thing to comprehend was that Austin had put himself through the agony of the transformation because of her. Because she insisted on chaining him up. His earlier words on the floor of the cellar made a lot more sense. As did hers. Because she did still love him. More so if that was possible, since the last pieces she had been holding back out of fear were gone. That fear was gone. Making a sharp turn, Peyton stopped the car and looked at him.
“Get in the back or hide in the woods. I don’t want them seeing you until they have to.”
Austin looked at her for a moment before leaning over and kissing her fiercely. Peyton twisted in her seat to get a better angle, her hand fisting in his shirt and holding him close for a moment before she pushed him back and looked up at him. His eyes held hers before they darted to her swollen lips and he smiled.
“The woods,” she said, “go.”
“See you in a bit, darlin,” he said before vanishing in a burst of speed.
Peyton smiled as the door closed before pulling down the visor and opening the mirror. She definitely looked like she had just been kissed. Sighing she closed it and pushed it back up. At least it was dark out. Putting the car into gear she pressed the gas and drove towards the meeting place. Three identical black cars were parked there, all bearing the same ‘nondescript’ look that the Council was known for thinking people actually fell for. Perhaps the saddest thing was that they did. Shaking her head Peyton parked the car and stepped out.
Four men got out as well, mirroring her movements with military precision. Peyton looked at them closely. She was still not certain of who was friend or foe. Or even how many members the resistance actually had. But she trusted Isaac. Stepping forward, she wasn’t surprised when one of the men matched her steps until they stood in the middle.
“Did you come alone?” he asked.
“No,” she said.
“Good,” he replied, “you’ll need some help.”
Peyton gave a curt nod, trying not to frown as he turned and walked back to his car. He opened the door and reached inside before dragging a slender figure out of the back. Peyton barely kept the surprise off her face as the man dragged him forward. He was clearly injured and judging from the way his feet moved he was either drugged or exhausted. The sack over his head kept her from knowing who he was, but as she watched the way he staggered over Peyton got the nauseating feeling that she knew exactly who the man was. Forcing herself to be steady Peyton walked over and slid a hand through the man’s bound arms.
The deliverer looked at her for a moment before nodding. The four turned and departed without another word. Peyton half carried and half dragged the man towards her car. The only sounds he made were grunts as his left ankle hit the ground, jarring an injury. Pulling open the door Peyton reached down and yanked the sack off his head. He blinked up at her in the moonlight and Peyton felt her patience snap as she stared down at him. Especially when his eyes flared with surprise and then narrowed with hate at the sight of her. If his jaw hadn’t been wired shut, Peyton was sure he would have been screaming obscenities at her.
Then again not everyone had a hybrid boyfriend to heal them.
“It’s alright,” Peyton called, “you can come out now.”
In an instant Austin was by her side peering down at the man. Perhaps it was the drugs or the exhaustion or the short walk on what looked like a severely sprained or fractured ankle. But whatever the reason the sight of super speed was too much and a moment later the man’s eyes rolled up and without another word he fainted dead away. Peyton sighed and shook her head, grabbing his legs and getting them inside the car before closing the door and turning to look at Austin.
“You know him, darlin?” he asked.
“Yeah,” Peyton said, “I’m the one who broke his jaw.”