The ‘ordeal’ or loading his chair into the back of one of the trucks and then out again was a good reason as to why Jack rarely left Zion. But they did. And what a sight it must have been to see the two gents dressed in old times clothes (Jack hadn’t bothered with modern attire), an antique car and wheelchair. At least Zion had already established itself as ‘vintage’ carnival, which helped explain somethings.
Jack wheeled his chair down the road, accompanied by Kieran. He wasn’t sure what he was looking for, but the last time he’d been in New Orleans he had met a magi. Granted, they were most likely long gone but the hope that there was someone in town who could help was there. As they passed many shops, they came across one that was tucked between two that Jack actually recognized. “Goddamn, it’s still ‘ere.” He said, set in get on of the door. “Must be family owned?”
Kieran never wanted to go into town. He feared to see what the future held, but that wasn’t important now because three words had been uttered between them and Kieran would do just about anything for Jack. When they approached the shop he stood and stared at it for a moment. The whole place made him uneasy, like at any moment pure chaos could erupt and for Kieran, things needed order. His eyebrow raised as Jack blasphemed but he knew he was a good person in his heart so he wouldn’t say anything about it. “I don’t like the look of this place.” He said a bit grumpily and crossed his arms over his chest.
Kieran wasn’t ever like this, not really unless he was being disturbed in his work but Jack didn’t get to see this side of him often. “Are ye sure this is the way to go?” He asked Jack, placing a hand on his shoulder.
“I dun know how I got us here. And I really dun know how to get us back.” He said softly, in case anyone overheard. “If I can find someone who can help… sides, magic ain’t nuthin t’be scareda normal.” Jack insisted. “But I do need ya t’get th’door.” He added with a small smile.
A small smile played on his lips as he grabbed the handle of the door to allow Jack to go inside ahead of him. “Aye, Sir.” He teased and followed his boyfriend inside. He was weary of being here, weary of seeing something awful happen to Jack. After what happened last month, he was frightened of losing him again.
Jack nodded and pushed his chair into the store. His nose was immediately assaulted with the smell of spices, things sorcerers needed for spells- those who couldn’t draw straight from the world around. A young woman sat behind the counter and greeted them. She seemed a little taken back by their clothing and Jack’s chair, but was pleasant nonetheless. “Hi, can I help you find anything in particular?” She asked.
Wheeling up to the woman he nodded. “Hope so. Maybe. Sounds a bit odd prolly, but this the same place that used t’be done by Owen Tarley?” He asked, glancing back to Kieran to make sure he was okay.
The woman seemed a bit surprised by the question and she nodded. “He was my grandpere. Passed when I was just a bae.” She arched a brow at him. “How’d you hear about him?”
Jack frowned slightly, the magi had been his hope. “Sorry t’hear of his passing. He was a good man.” He said before thinking. The woman appeared older than him, so if she had been a baby when Owen had passed there would be no way Jack should know him. “I mean I’d heard he was a good guy. I’m just gonna look around a bit.” He gestured to the store.
“Yea, okay.” She clearly didn’t believe him. “Let me know if you need any help.”
As the woman walked away and they made their way further into the shop, Kieran looked around wearily. “How do ye suppose we go about this?” He tried so hard to hide his skepticism but he always did tend to wear his heart on his sleeve. His arms remained crossed over his chest and he peered around to assess any unnoticeable threats.
He wished himself to be more open but he couldn’t help how much he feared for Jack’s safety and he’d do anything to make sure the man was alright. Especially now that there was a much darker presence around Zion. He could feel it, could see the dim soul who walked into the carnival. Kieran didn’t want to be alone around him and he definitely didn’t want Jack around him either, and coming into town without Zion's protection was extremely risky. “Don’t ye think Blackstone should be here instead of ye?” Sure, maybe he wasn’t the one who manipulated time but it would have made Kieran feel better.
Jack wasn’t even sure what he was looking for. Had no idea what would help. It made Kieran’s comments stab a little as it almost called out his inept feeling- even if he didn’t mean it that way. “And do what?” Jack asked, probably a bit harsher than he’d have liked. “He’s not the one who did this. He could cast an illusion and make everyone think we’re back home but that wouldn’do much t’fix my mess.” His hand moved to his neck as he found a section of books, maybe… but no, as he looked at them they appeared to be mass produced drivel designed to make people think they could do magic with some fancy words and a crystal.
He put one of the books back with frustration. “I got us stuck here. I messed up. Kristoph is never gon forgive me.” He’d been avoiding the man he viewed as an uncle figure, someone who’d taken him in, then been there when he’d lost everything. So many at Zion had been supportive, but Kristoph had been the one to help encourage him to continue selling his art- make it something special. “I gotta find a way back.”
Suddenly every bad feeling he’d felt went away except for one, regret. Regret that he’d made Jack think like that. He kneeled in front of him as he listened to the way he blamed himself for all that happened. A hand came to his face to gently stroke his cheek. “This is not yer fault, Jack. Ye could’ve never known this would happen.” His eyes searched Jack’s but he knew no matter how much he tried, Jack still hated himself for it.
Deciding it was time to take matters into his own hands, Kieran leaned up to press a quick kiss to Jack's forehead before returning to the woman in the shop. They spoke quietly for a moment, she let out a soft yelp and then a gasp. Then she walked to the front of the store and turned the open sign around, locking the doors. “Come with me.” She said to Kieran and Jack.
The thing that made it all worse was that not only did his spell bring them to a different time, but that he’d failed to prevent the men in black from taking Edi. He scowled at the books as Kieran moved away and then furrowed his brow when he returned. “Huh?” Jack followed his boyfriend.
As they followed her into the back room he smiled down at Jack. “I told ye I’d do anything for ye.” He replied and held the door to the back room open so that he could roll through. There were boxes of inventory and a small desk with a light. One chair behind the desk and the other in front. This is where Kieran sat as she regarded them both.
“What did you do?” Jack whispered, but didn’t have time to get an answer before the woman sat there.
“So, first, how do you know my grandpere?” She asked, her arms crossed, eyeing Kieran. “He died before you were born.”
Jack rubbed his neck and looked at her with a look. “Well, not exactly… which was why we were lookin’ for his help.” He said, trying not to give so much away it could scare her or risk them. But he had to be honest if they wanted help.
The woman’s eyes opened wide as the realization hit her. Connecting the pieces of his chair, their clothing and her grandfather. “You’re… not from around here, are you?” She looked between the men.
Jack shook his head.
Kieran watched the interaction with interest and while he was glad Jack didn’t have to say what had happened he wasn’t sure they could trust this woman. After what had happened he was extremely cautious. “It’s true.” Kieran confirmed with her, letting his hand absentmindedly come to Jack’s. “And we’d like very much to go back.”
“And I know Owen- your grandad- knew stuff. Not the same exactly, but I’d been hoping he had some ideas.” Jack informed.
The woman rubbed her arm and seemed to ponder something, “He…” She moved to a shelf behind her desk and pulled out a metal box, it was old. Placing it on her desk she opened it and pulled out two books wrapped in leather to help protect them from the elements. “He wrote these. I read them, but have never been able to make out what he’s talking about in them. I always thought it was because he was more advanced… but if you did what you say you did… maybe it’s because I just can’t do what he did, but maybe you can.” She handed the books to Jack. “I don’t know if these would help… but it’s all I can offer.”
Jack glanced to Kieran before looking at one of the books. At a glance, he talked about leylines and it seemed to talk about different ways he accessed them. It was like he’d put into writing what Jack did when he cast magic. “Thank you.” He said, shaking her hand. “Really… so many of us thank you.” He opened the bag next to him and slipped the books inside, much to the woman’s shock. The bag was clearly too small to fit the books, but somehow he’d managed to do it. If anything it did more to convince her that letting him have her grandfather’s books was the right thing to do.
Standing from where he sat he gave the woman a firm nod with a silent thank you and watched as she rubbed her arm where no scar appeared to be. “Thank ye ma’am” he added and opened the back door to let Jack exit the small back room before him. Jack didn’t need to know what he did, all that mattered was that he got what he was looking for.
When they’d finally made it out he let out a breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. “Well, that solves at least one problem hopefully. Suppose we should be getting back.” This new world wasn’t like anything he’d seen before and he wasn’t sure he’d liked it.
“I’m not sure it’s going to solve anything, but it may help.” Jack replied. “Let’s go ho-”
They weren’t in full view of the store anymore, but they could see it. A man came from the other direction and approached the store. Kismet had Jack turning his head at just the right moment to catch him. Quickly, he grabbed Kieran’s arm to keep him from moving any further. The Magi almost held his breath as the stranger entered the store, waiting for him to look up.
Kieran looked down at Jack after witnessing the man walk into the store. “What? What is it?” He asked. He’d heard Jack recount the story many times but he hadn’t been there to witness any of it himself and his direction relied solely on Jack. Something in gut told him this had to do with what happened back at Zion.
“That…” Jack spoke only after the man was out of sight. “That was th’one who took Edi.”
He began to slowly walk toward the side of the building to peer toward the shop from a less noticeable angle. “Are ye sure?” He asked Jack as he led them over there. The man was still in the shop but loud shouting could be heard coming from inside.
Jack wheeled around the corner as well and nodded. “I caught a look of his face when…” When Edi had lit it up as she was captured. “I’m sure. It’s him.” Jack peered around the corner. “Dun sound like a happy person.” He commented sarcastically as he frowned. “We can’t let ‘im disappear on us.” He mused, wishing he could do other spells, like one that involved tracking or something.
Most of Kieran’s instincts was to ignore the man and go back home but he’d already said no enough times to Jack today and if it were this important to him, he’d do it only so Jack wouldn’t try to do it alone. He’d been watching him every step of the way. So, he nodded his head toward Jack and when the man left the store he quietly followed him. He kept his hand toward Jack to stay back a bit since he might recognize him.
“Follow my lead.” Kieran insisted and they slowly followed behind him making sure he didn’t suspect anyone was following.
Jack stood out a bit in his chair, but one benefit of the chair is that people did tend to ignore things that made them uncomfortable so maybe it would work in his favor this time. Still, he kept back, letting Kieran do the main following, but kept the other man in his sight just in case.
They followed the man down the street, waiting around the corner of a coffee shop that he went into until finally they followed him to a residential building. They remained outside, watching the man enter the building. “I can’t keep following.” He whispered, knowing he’d definitely be spotted if he did.
A sigh came from his mouth and he looked over at Jack, kneeling down so he could address him eye to eye. “I need ye to stay here out of sight. Don’t talk to anyone, ring me on my phone, I’ll keep it on vibrate. If I feel it vibrate I’m coming right back.” Kieran didn’t want to take any risks and he might as well use the device they’d given him to use.
“Promise me.” Kieran pleaded.
He ran his had across Kieran’s cheek. “Don’ do anythin’ stupid.” Jack said with a tone of seriousness. “They’re real dangerous an’ I don’ wanna lose ya.” He pulled Kieran in for a kiss. “I love ya… please… be careful.”
He closed his eyes to the kiss and pressed his forehead against Jacks. “I promise.” He replied and then after a moment stood to follow him into the residential building. He’d made it just in time to catch the elevator, something he hadn’t seen in his life before and he held onto the handles inside as it rose.
The man looked over at him and he smiled at him sheepishly. “Never been good with…” he didn’t know the name for it and so he just feigned panic as it rose.
“Elevators?” The man replied and Kieran nodded as he pretended to catch his breath. Finally it came to a stop and he followed the man out, keeping his eye trained to the opposite side of the hallway as if he knew where he were going. Finally the man stopped at a door and Kieran tried to memorize the number from his periphery.
When he finally went inside he looked at it again and made his way back down the hallway. He couldn’t get closer, not without giving himself away so he followed the hall until he found a staircase, thank the Lord.
He walked quickly back to where Jack had been waiting and looked over at the building once more. The street name, the number on the building and the number of the apartment were all still in his head. “Ye got a piece of paper and a pen?” He asked, since he couldn’t trust his memory.
Jack waited, anxious. He held onto the mobile phone he had, just in case, and watched the building. Only when he saw Kieran exit did he breath free again. When Kieran returned to him, he grabbed and squeezed his hand, as if to prove he’d made it back okay. “Of course.” He said, reaching into his bag, he pulled out a pencil and sketchpad (which somehow fit in the small bag).
Quickly he jotted down the information and gave the pen and sketch pad back to Jack. “Ye don’t go in there, we bring this information back and let someone else handle it, do you hear me?” It wasn’t actually his place to give Jack demands but he really didn’t want to see him hurt again. It was too much to bare.
“No, they’re dangerous. Wouldn’ dream of it.” Jack put the pad back. “Let’s get home.” He nodded, giving Kieran’s hand another squeeze. They’d get the information to who could do something and he’d go back to trying to figure out how to get them home.