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Watch the clouds, and I'm falling

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Réquiem ætérnam dona eis, Dómine,
et lux perpétua lúceat eis.
Requiéscant in pace. Amen.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen.

The man kneeling next to the body, softly letting the words fall from his lips pressed a hand upon the dead man's now still heart. He could feel the heart getting colder, finally matching the nature of the man lying on the floor, feeling a sense of calm wash through him. The moondust grey flames travelled upwards from his palms, disappearing underneath the long black sleeves. The words were said to no god in particular, since he didn't know what god or entity his target had believed in. The words were still valid, understood, universal – bringing closure and strength to him. They were for him. This was the way he was brought up and he embraced them. It wasn't happiness that soothed him, that was reserved for other people. He felt elevated, tension leaking from his shoulders into the air while he finished the prayer in a hushed tone.


Eyes closed, dark head bowed down, he took a deep breath before gracefully standing up. His long black cassock that had been pooling around his ankles like he was kneeling in dark waters straightened while he rose to his full height, eyes scanning the surroundings. A flash of dark purple swept through the darkness. The atrium, a modern glass-monstrosity, rising several floors above him, was silent. The moonlit sky shining through the clear ceiling illuminated the lifeless body like a merciful beam on the marble floor. Life had gone from the dead man's face. It was getting waxy, his pudgy body stuffed in an impeccably tailored suit that cost more than most people earned in a year. A small pool of blood, already congealing, was giving colour to the luxurious dark grey material of the jacket. Other than that you'd never know the man had met his untimely, but deserved, death in the hands of someone else, screaming and begging, to no avail. The body looked peaceful, almost sleeping, like the man had simply lowered himself, too tired to continue, onto the floor after a long night at the office.


Everything was quiet now, and the man standing above the body was sure he was alone. He could hear everything in the building, outside on the streets. A rat rustling in the alley, the hum of the underground a few blocks away, a couple fighting in the coffee shop across the street. Like always, there were no witnesses, no confrontation, no blame.


He took long sure strides, exiting the main doors while glancing at his phone. “The book can be closed”, he sent out the text and walked without hurry, blending to the sparse crowd still out at that time of night, disappearing into the dark. Still no one paid attention – he had learned to melt into the crowds, into the darkness, be invisible in plain sight.

Few minutes later a nondescript dark van parked to the next alley, unloading a nightly cleaning crew to do their rounds, like every night. Not one scream was heard from inside the building, not one call to the police was made. The floor was shiny and smooth the morning after, revealing nothing of the night before.

*****

Stiles Stilinski rushed through the morning crowd, dodging people, trying to keep the life-giving coffee cup in his hand steady as not to spill it. He wasn't late, yet, but he would be if these stupid people didn't stop getting in his way. For a person whose attention span was somewhat short, he still managed to get to work, on time, every morning. This morning was no exception, opening the blue and white wooden double doors with his key promptly at 9.59. Breathing hard, throwing his messenger bag behind the counter, Stiles flipped the sign on the door window saying “We're open” visible to the street and took a well-deserved sip from the slightly crumpled cup in  his hand.

The promptness in itself was the point, not the fact that the bookstore was open at 10 AM. The few people who visited the shop frequently came during the evenings. The days were for the occasional tourists wandering in, coming to buy exotic or weird sounding books, gifts or candles they thought looked kitsch-ey. The point was to have a routine, to get some sense of normalcy in a life that was filled with monsters and situations most people read in said books. Being somewhere, five days a week, on time, was steadying.


Long fingers clicked the keyboard while he checked the store's email and online orders. The soft notes of Super 8 Suite filled the shop. Stiles had a tendency to get fixated on movie soundtracks that played on loop, filling every corner of the two story shop. He was currently stuck in J.J. Abrams films, something about the nostalgic music reminding him of home.

The long counter was next to the window and except for a small space in the back with a coffeemaker, a microwave and a small bathroom, the place was filled with books. The main floor was furnished with a small shelf filled with candles and colourful oils as well as prayer beads from various beliefs. The dark wooden bookshelves covered every wall, dividing the downstairs into sections. A few chairs were hiding in its dark corners.  The narrow, worn wooden stairs lead upstairs, where the same theme of a room being overrun by books was repeated. New and old books side by side, covering various subjects from Chinese torture methods to German folklore, Modern mythology and New Age Fairy Tales. The front of the shop was covered with delicate and colourful stained glass windows – it reminded Stiles of a church.


And in a way it was - at least a haven, a sanctuary from troubles unfamiliar to most people. Stiles worked for a man who rarely visited the shop. Deaton had been a trusted ally for years, helping Stiles and his friends to weave around situations that seemed to happen when your best friend was a werewolf. And Scott could get into trouble, a lot. The owner was a serious man, speaking softly in riddles most of the time. He divided his attention between the shop, his mysterious clients and what he referred to as , “some church business”. At the age of 27, having studied and lived in New York for seven years now, Stiles felt he was home. Being an apprentice of Deaton’s, ever since finding his inner spark, had lead to an unexpected path. He'd found a place of his own in Brooklyn, not far from his old flat he used to share with Scott. He had a steady job, friends, a place to live. This all seemed like a miracle considering their lives were repeatedly disrupted by having to deal with territorial wolf business, hunters gone rogue or other  darker matters with the underworld that was thriving in the city. Sure he complained, but only for the appearances; Stiles loved his life.


It had been two weeks of peace and quiet. Stiles was enjoying the “good life”, taking naps, hanging out with Scott, Kira and Isaac, going for long runs across the Brooklyn Bridge and working.  Recharging the batteries that were bound to run out when the time came. Sure he knew it wouldn't last long, the moments of normalcy. They rarely did, and accepting it made them all the more sweeter. He wasn't entirely surprised when an e-mail arrived  from a club owner who ran a dark, slightly questionable establishment on the city’s edge. 



The e-mail simply stated


Deaton,
it seems the Old Ones have not honoured the new agreement and treaty made in 1998. An apprentice is missing. You know what this leads to. This needs to be handled using the proper channels, as you are well aware how the Old Ones must be dealt with.



Veera



Stiles stared at the email for a moment. Usually he had an idea of what was happening and how to approach the problem. But this left him in the dark, so he forwarded it to Deaton's phone. The man rarely checked the official email account since that was Stiles’ job. He carried on with his day as usual. Sold a few spell books to a group of teenage girls with black kohl around their eyes. It made them look more like nervous raccoons than mysterious witches. Stiles stretched his lean back, pulling his hair until it stood at odd angles. He was ready to close the shop. It was Friday night, and he couldn’t wait for the weekend to start. He had a date with a huge pile of Chinese food and Netflix - which would make him feel pathetic if he let himself think about it. But he didn’t. Wasn’t going there. Nope.


The back door banged loudly, revealing his boss tapping a message on his phone while walking into the shop.

“So, this is exciting”, Deaton stated while leaning against the counter, eyes still on his phone. Sipping his third cup of coffee for the day, Stiles was unable to speak right then, so Deaton glanced up at him.
“This, the business with the Old Ones. Quite interesting... ah, challenging situation. Not entirely hopeless I think, but we can't fix this ourselves. Especially not with, well yes...". He put the phone in his pocket while Stiles was still waiting for more information. Years of working with Deaton should've taught him better than that.


“Soooo, what? Who you gonna call?”, Stiles started, readying for his punchline, which Deaton stopped swiftly with a stern glare.
“This is a job for the Three. And we're in luck since one of them is currently residing in the Holy Trinity of Mercy, as a priest.”


Stiles hesitated for a moment. While being used to the supernatural, he rarely heard of the church getting involved in anything resembling their problems.

“Three, what’s the Three?” he asked while his mind started to run a mile a minute with possibilities, hand reaching out for his phone so he could Google it. Everything was online.

“We're going to church?”, he asked while grabbing  his bag from the floor.
"We're going to church.” Deaton answered, walking out the door without waiting to see if Stiles followed. Which, of course he did.