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The Ruin of the Society

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“The paper gave us a good article! Can you believe it?”

Jekyll leaned forward, to get a good look at the newspaper that Lanyon was holding up. “Really? Let me see that.”

Lanyon handed him the paper, and Jekyll glanced over the page that held the fateful article. Sure enough, there was an account of the Exhibition of the Society for Witches and Sorcerers, detailing the various things that the Lodgers could do for London.

“Alright, maybe I exaggerated,” Lanyon said. “But at least it's not calling our Society evil or anything like that.” He folded his arms, smiling. “A fine article, though, if I do say so myself.”

Jekyll smiled as well, looking up at Lanyon. “This is great, Robert!” he said. “To think – the Society just may have a shot at achieving its goal!”

“Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though, Henry,” Lanyon replied. “First, we have to make sure the Academy approves of our operations.”

“Still,” Jekyll folded the paper, “this is a big step forward. We have to inform the Lodgers when we set foot into the Society!”

He was sure that he looked quite like an adolescent boy waiting to meet his sweetheart – but he couldn't help it, he felt like it! Soon, his beloved Society would be a success, no doubt about it.

Easy there, Hyde whispered in his mind. Let's not get carried away. For all we know, the public could turn its back on us just as easily.

The carriage they were in rolled to a stop in front of the Society before Jekyll could give much thought to Hyde's comment. The footman stepped down to open the carriage door, and Lanyon exited first, then Jekyll.

“Hm?” Lanyon blinked twice as he stared up at the doors to the Society.

Jekyll looked over at him. “What?”

“Everyone's gathered in the middle of the hall,” Lanyon said. “Do they always do that?”

“Of course,” Jekyll said. “Well, sometimes. The Lodgers don't seem to be doing anything suspicious, do they?”

Lanyon began to walk up the stairs leading to the door, and Jekyll followed after him. “They're...”

Jekyll could see Lanyon trying to concentrate on the souls inside the building. He then continued, “...They're all in a circle in the center. And there's something almost off about them.”

“Off?” Jekyll echoed.

They had finally reached the doors, and Lanyon came forward to push them open. Once the doors were open, he took a few steps forward before stopping.

Jekyll caught up with Lanyon to see the Lodgers staring at them as they entered. True to Lanyon's observation, they were all gathered in a circle, around their runes. But the first thing that struck Jekyl was that the Lodgers were not looking at him with their normal jovial, carefree expressions.

The light had gone out of their eyes.

Silence hung in the air, but only for about seven seconds, before Sinnett shifted from his position in the center.

“You...” he said, his voice broken, before his brows creased, and his voice turned low. “You.

Jekyll could see a burst of fire come out of Sinnett's hands for a second, before Sinnett began to walk towards him. This walk soon broke into a run, and before he knew it, Jekyll found himself grabbed by the collar.

“This is all your fault!” Sinnett screamed. “You should never have trusted Hyde!”

“Hyde?” Jekyll asked.

Me? Hyde questioned simultaneously.

“We always had a bad feeling about that criminal,” Sinnett hissed, “but since you trusted him, we trusted him too – and we were fools for it!”

“Mr. Sinnett, calm down,” Lanyon said, pulling him off Jekyll. “What are you talking about?”

“That man...” Sinnett turned his angry eyes to Lanyon. “Hyde killed Luckett.”

Lanyon gasped audibly, and let Sinnett go, while Jekyll's eyes widened.

“That's proposterous,” Jekyll said. “Hyde wouldn't do such a thing. I know him.”

“You don't know him as well as you think,” Sinnett replied.

He then turned around, and showed Jekyll and Lanyon a candle that had stood near the runes, next to the other candles. What was so unusual about this one, though, was that it was unlit. Or rather, snuffed out.

“There's only one way those candles I fashioned myself could go out,” Sinnett explained.

Tweedy added, “And we sure as hell didn't stand around Luckett's deathbed waiting for him to say his final words.”

Jekyll looked from Sinnett to all the other Lodgers. “So...Luckett really has been killed?”

“Wolfy and Rachel found the dead body,” Helsby answered. “Looked like someone killed him. And it definitely looked like it was Hyde.”

“I don't think it was Hyde,” Jekyll insisted. “What makes you think it was him?”

“This.” Virginia took a bundle from Maijabi, and unfurled it to reveal a black cape, riddled with holes and torn at the ends. “This was found with Luckett's body, covered in his blood.”

“And we found a kitchen knife, covered in his blood too!” Lavender went on. “He must have used it on our poor friend!”

The Lodgers began to talk a little louder, and Lanyon cleared his throat over them. “Calm down for a moment!” he called.

“What about Luckett's soul?” Jekyll asked, a little more desperate. “Dr. Maijabi, you must have seen his soul at least!”

“It was gone,” Maijabi said calmly. “The killer took it, most likely for his own ends.”

“That's another piece of evidence against Hyde!” Pennebrygg told Jekyll. “He was planning to make a Death Scythe out of Rachel, wasn't he?"

“That's true!”

“What a fiend!”

“To think he was working for the Society!”

The cacophony of voices was so loud that it almost drowned out Hyde's now forthcoming expletives. Jekyll looked at Lanyon, but Lanyon's face was unreadable. He sighed out of his nose – he knew Hyde and Lanyon weren't on the best of terms, if hating each other to death could be called that. It looked as if he was on his own, then.

“Ladies, gentlemen! I'm sure none of that is true!” Jekyll said, raising his hands to placate them. “Hyde wasn't even near the Society last night!”

“You don't know that, do you?” Sinnett asked, embers coming out of his hands yet again. “You were here the whole Exhibition – how would you know Hyde wasn't up to no good?”

“I...” Jekyll faltered.

“Well?” Sinnett came forward, his eyes shining threateningly.

“...I trust Hyde,” Jekyll finally said. “He wasn't here for the whole Exhibition, I know it – and he couldn't have killed Luckett.”

The Lodgers all stared at him for a few seconds, before Griffin spoke up.

“Prove it, Jekyll!” he told him. “Give us the reason why you trust him so much!”

“Yeah!” Archer agreed.

“Someone has to pay for this!” Flowers added.

“We want justice!” Tweedy went on. “Give us Hyde!”

“Give us Hyde!” the Lodgers began to chant. “Give us Hyde!”

Jekyll looked over all the Lodgers, taking a step back. Even the mellower ones looked like they were out for Hyde's blood as well. He opened his mouth to say something, but nothing came out.

“Calm down, all of you!” Lanyon yelled, but it was in vain. The Lodgers only grew louder and louder.

Holy fucking shit, Hyde cursed.

Jekyll's hands curled into fists, and he almost didn't know what he was going to do–

–until someone rushed in from the side, and grabbed his arm, leading him away from the mob.

He had a moment to process that it was Rachel who had saved him, while the angry voices of the Lodgers and Lanyon's equally stubborn attempts to calm them down rang in his ears.

 


 

Rachel brought Jekyll to the kitchen, and once the two of them were inside, she closed the door. She locked the door, and then looked at Jekyll.

“Sorry,” Rachel said. “But I thought you needed a little help getting away from the Lodgers, and I needed to talk to you.”

“No, you were right,” Jekyll replied, taking a deep breath. “I did need help. What did you wish to speak to me about?”

“It's...” Rachel pursed her lips, before going on. “It's about Hyde. I know the Lodgers were giving you trouble about him, but–”

“It's fine,” Jekyll reassured her. “What about Hyde?”

“Do you really not know where he was last night?” she asked. “I...I just don't want to think that Hyde did such a horrible thing.”

Jekyll seemed to weigh his options, before shaking his head. “It's true that I did not see Hyde all throughout the Exhibition, but he promised me time and time again that he would never hurt any of the Lodgers. To think that such a thing happened, to one of our Lodgers!”

Rachel thought about it – that was consistent with what he had been saying to the Lodgers and to her, at least. “Edward promised me the same things,” Rachel said. “And I always believed him.”

Jekyll stepped forward and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Believe in him some more, Rachel. I know that he would never lie to us. Beneath it all...”

Rachel noticed that Jekyll hesitated for a second, but he shook it off. “Beneath it all, we have reasons to trust Hyde as we do,” he finished.

Rachel nodded. “That's true. I know he's a good person, actually.”

Jekyll patted her shoulder. “I'll get someone to look into this. A proper investigation will prove Hyde innocent. I'm sure of it.”

“But – Henry, Edward is a vigilante,” Rachel told him. “Would the peelers would want to look into this to prove his innocence, or to prove his guilt?"

“Rachel, we should try anyway.” Rachel looked Jekyll into the eye as he continued, “Even if the police won't help us, we can find someone else who will uncover the truth.”

Rachel looked down. She had to admire Jekyll's conviction that her meister was not guilty. It was as if he really did know where Hyde was the night of the Exhibition. And she would like to believe it herself – that Hyde hadn't killed Luckett, that he was somehow framed.

But who would frame Hyde for such a thing? Who would go through the trouble of obtaining Hyde's signature black cape and a kitchen knife, and plant that evidence against him? She couldn't think of anyone who held such a grudge against Hyde, or had the skill to kill a powerful sorcerer as well.

That was just one more piece of evidence against Hyde – he was obviously a talented meister, if defeating almost forty kishin eggs in total using only a sickle was any indication. No one would think he wasn't able to kill Luckett. There was so much evidence against her meister, and the Lodgers wholeheartedly believed that said evidence proved that Hyde murdered Luckett. So who would believe her if she tried to defend him? If even Jekyll was overwhelmed, she would be eaten alive!

“Rachel?” Jekyll asked.

She looked back up at Jekyll. “I'll check if the Lodgers outside have calmed down.”

“Oh – alright.”

Jekyll let go of Rachel, and she turned around to walk towards the door. Her thoughts were too muddled – maybe doing something would clear her mind.

She heaved a deep sigh, just as her hand touched the doorknob.

She hoped that Hyde was safe somewhere, innocent of the crime posed against him.

 


 

I can't believe it, Hyde said quietly.

It was very rare that Hyde was lost for words, Jekyll knew. He could imagine his other half searching for something to say, other than curses, only to come up short.

“I know, Hyde,” Jekyll whispered. “This is insane.”

Insane is an understatement, Hyde finally told him.

He then said something after that, but Jekyll turned his attention to Rachel, who had returned from checking the door. “They've calmed down, I think,” Rachel said. “I guess you can come out now.”

“Right,” Jekyll said. “Thank you for your help, Rachel. If you ever need anything from me, just ask.”

Rachel looked down shyly. “Well, I would appreciate your conviction that Hyde is innocent.”

Jekyll immediately felt uneasy, but kept his smile plastered on. “Have a good day, Rachel. I wish you well.”

Rachel glanced up at him. “Thanks.”

She didn't say anything more, so Jekyll moved towards the door and showed himself out.

Once he was outside, he stepped into the atrium, and looked around. Not only had the Lodgers calmed down, but they had also scattered. Most of them seemed to have gone back to their rooms. The ones that had remained in the atrium, however, only spared Jekyll a passing glance before looking away.

Well, at least they're not staring at you, Hyde said.

Jekyll turned and went up the stairs, eyes straight on the doors to his office. He saw Lanyon at the top, straightening his tie. When he saw Jekyll coming up, he sighed in relief.

“There you are,” Lanyon said. “You left me to those vultures, Henry! I tell you, it was not easy getting them to keep quiet.”

“I apologize, Robert, but there was someone I had to see,” Jekyll replied.

“Someone more important than your best friend?” Lanyon asked, a little jokingly.

When Jekyll didn't reply, Lanyon's face fell. “Henry,” he said, “I know this is serious. One of the Lodgers is dead, and by your assistant's hand, no less!”

“It wasn't Hyde,” Jekyll insisted.

“You keep saying that when we don't know for sure,” Lanyon frowned. “But what little evidence we have points against him, and unless you can prove that it was someone else, the Lodgers are going to believe that Hyde did it.” He exhaled. “And people are going to catch wind of this, too. Then we'll be in trouble.”

Jekyll nodded. “The Society is supposed to protect and uplift witches and sorcerers – if we can't even do the first...”

Lanyon pulled out a pocket watch, then opened and glanced down at it. “Well, obviously, we can't have Hyde running free. I'll have the police come to his apartment soon enough.”

“...You really do think Hyde is guilty too,” Jekyll said quietly.

“What other suspects do we have, Henry?” Lanyon asked, closing the watch. “I'm just doing what should be done. Who knows, maybe this could prove him innocent of that claim.”

“Robert, the man's already wanted for being a vigilante,” Jekyll said. “The police will turn him over to the DWMA.”

Lanyon stuffed the watch in his coat pocket, exhaling loudly. “You know what? Let Hyde talk himself out of that. He is, after all, accountable for his own actions.”

His eyes then went back up to Jekyll. “Look, I have to go – my practice needs me. We'll sort this out soon, alright?”

Jekyll tried to smile. “Of course,” he said.

Lanyon smiled as well. “Good. I'll see you later, then.”

He waved, then pulled at the lapels of his coat to adjust them, before heading down the stairs. Jekyll watched him leave for a while, and then turned around to walk into his office.

 

Chapter Text

This is all a mess, a bloody, bloody mess!

“I know, Hyde, you don't need to tell me,” Jekyll said, closing the office door behind him. Promptly, Hyde's image appeared in the mirror beside the door. “Who would think to kill one of the Lodgers?”

Yes, and who would try to frame me for it? Hyde asked. I don't think anyone who's held a grudge against me could kill Luckett, of all the sorcerers in the Society.

“That's true,” Jekyll said. “But we must have angered someone enough for murder.”

Maybe it was one of Lord Death's subordinates who hates the Society, Hyde commented.

Jekyll had to look away. “That's true...” Still, he didn't have the feeling that it could be someone from the DWMA. He shook his head, and then walked behind his desk, before bending down in front of the drawers.

Hyde floated above him while he unlocked the bottom drawer, and opened it. What are you doing? You already know someone broke in here and stole my cape.

“I'm trying to figure out what happened,” Jekyll said, taking out some of the clothes inside. They were not folded as he usually folded them. “Your clothes weren't like this before the Exhibition, so I would assume that the culprit snuck in during the event.”

Hmm, but a lot of them were upper-class citizens; do you really want to implicate them? Hyde asked. Then he smirked. Imagine if it were Callista! She seems quite suspicious.

“It can't be her, Hyde; she's supporting the Society, not trying to bring it down,” Jekyll replied. “What if that witch you had met the other night snuck in?”

That seems a little far-fetched, don't you think? Hyde went on. Even if the Witches' Realm doesn't exactly approve of our operations too, they haven't taken action against our Lodgers, unlike the DWMA.

Jekyll closed the drawer, sighing. “Hyde, help me for once. I'm trying to figure out who it could be that would kill Luckett and frame you for it.”

Well, I don't care who it turns out to be, said Hyde. As soon as I find out who it is, I'm going to kick their sorry ass myself!

Jekyll turned around to look at the glass cabinets above him, where Hyde was. “Hyde, you do know that I won't be able to let you out for a while because of this, right?”

Of course, of course! Hyde nodded. Then he looked down at Jekyll. Wait, what?

“Lanyon said he's going to send the police after you,” Jekyll said. “Not to mention that the Lodgers want you dead. If you take one wrong step, then it's over for us! It would be best if you laid low for the time being.”

Wha – time being? How long is “the time being”? Hyde swam through another glass cabinet, before pressing his hands against the glass. Well, whatever it is, I can't stay down that long! I have to help you uncover who it is!

Jekyll stood up. “Hyde, you can only help me from here. Letting you out at this time is too dangerous! Besides, I know for a fact that you have to stop taking matters into your own hands for once.”

Ooh, says Mr. I'm-Trying-To-Figure-Out-Who-It-Could-Be.

Hyde then crossed his arms while Jekyll returned, “Well, now I think maybe I should let people more qualified than I take on the search.”

Those same people want to turn me over to the DWMA for vigilantism! Hyde exclaimed. And imagine when the coppers look around London and find me gone, at the height of the crimes that I've “committed”! It's as if I'm confessing my guilt!

“That's true,” Jekyll said. “But what other choice do we have? The police will detain you. And if you happen to be near the Lodgers, they'll lynch you. I know you have just as much self-preservation instinct as I do.”

Hyde pursed his lips, sitting down in the reflection. I just think I could bring something that the police wouldn't be able to find on their own.

Jekyll sighed. “I don't think you'd have much more progress than the police would have.”

Hyde stared at him.

You don't trust me.

“That's not it,” Jekyll said.

No, I know trust when I see it. Rachel trusts me. Lanyon trusts you. You don't trust me.

“What do you know about trust?” Jekyll asked. “You're the spirit of London at night, the most evil being in the city, right?”

Don't treat me like I'm incapable of feeling what you feel! Hyde raised his voice. You know as well as I that the most evil being in the city is also you!

“I don't even know what you're supposed to be!” Jekyll's voice grew louder as well. “Are you even really me? Or are you just some hallucination that I made using witches' alchemy?”

I am just as real as you! Hyde yelled. His form changed into a green creature with claws, which he pointed at Jekyll. Don't you dare deny that I am you! You know it, no matter how you try to forget! And all I ask for is a little freedom, Jekyll! It's what you want too!

“But we can't run free on rooftops hunting monsters all the time!” Jekyll said. “Are you prepared to have one night out, only to lose your freedom forever? This is what we have to do to survive! Are you prepared to do the same?”

Hyde roared at Jekyll. Jekyll narrowed his eyes, but otherwise didn't seem perturbed in the slightest. His face then fell, and he reverted back to his human form.

By Death, he said. You really are serious.

“I am.” Jekyll said. “When this all proves to be some scheme, you can come out. But only then.”

Hyde looked down. Jekyll could tell that he was finally beginning to consider it.

If you're so intent on it, Hyde said, at least let me do one small thing.

“...What is it?”

 


 

Before anyone knew it, night had fallen on the Society.

The first to notice had been Rachel. Well, it was mostly because nighttime meant that it was time for supper, and she ought to get moving. But now that she had finished all the meals, her mind turned to the one other thing that the night reminded her of.

If Hyde didn't know about what had happened at the Society – if he really was innocent – he would come through the kitchen window, regardless of whether it would scare her or not (though most of the time, it didn't). Then he would give her one of his strange greetings, and he would ask if she was ready to go out and hunt some more kishin eggs.

She missed that sense of normalcy, that everything was fine, that Hyde somehow knew what he was doing. But now everything had gone to hell, and she didn't know if Hyde knew, if he was even guilty...

She wished he would come in through the window and tell her.

But it was better for him not to come at all than for him to come with Luckett's soul. That would be too much.

She yawned, and then closed her eyes for a little while. Ugh, she hadn't slept at all last night. How could she? One of the Lodgers was dead, and her meister was implicated in the murder.

And the Lodgers – how they had looked at her when they figured that it was Hyde! Some looked at her with pity, and some with suspicion – as if she would enjoy consuming the soul of a Lodger...!

She heard the sound of a cupboard closing, and then opened her eyes, whirling around. She only caught a flash of black, before the figure disappeared from view behind the doorway.

Out of curiosity, Rachel walked towards the door and peeked out, but saw no one. She blinked, and then turned back around. Well, that was odd. Maybe she would figure out who that was eventually.

She smoothed her skirt over, and noticed something fluttering in the wind that was coming from the open window, wedged in a cupboard door.

It was an envelope.

Rachel walked over to this cupboard and took the envelope from the door. She turned it around. There was no writing on the back.

She tilted her head, wondering what was inside. Since it was probably for her, she flipped it over again and opened the flap, before pulling out the paper inside. Rachel then read the contents quietly.

Rachel,

What a mess I have gotten into. I am sure I can handle whatever situation is thrown at me, but you need to know the truth.

I am innocent. That is all there is to it. Jekyll told me everything, about how Luckett is dead and how I was framed for murdering him. And I was framed, Rachel – night spirits may be evil, but not evil enough to go back on a promise they made time and time again.

Because of this, I know that there are people who want to hunt me down. So I'm leaving London. We may not see each other again for a long time.

The Lodgers may not believe what I say here, if you choose to tell them. But you believe me, and that is enough. You always believed in me. So I believe in you too.

Edward Hyde

Rachel read the letter over again twice, before convincing herself that it was indeed from Hyde, that Hyde had thought to reach out to her. And this knowledge brought her some relief, at least – Hyde was somewhere safe, where no one could touch him. That counted for something.

But was he even telling her the truth? She knew Hyde was no stranger to lying – there was many a time that she heard him convincing many a barkeep that money and repairs would come soon when they really wouldn't. If he could lie to total strangers who just had their places of livelihood ruined, how much more could he lie to her, his weapon partner?

She sighed. And if he were telling the truth? He was playing a risky game by reaching out – the Lodgers could find out, she could tell them...

But she wouldn't tell them.

Rachel gripped the paper tighter.

She wouldn't tell the Lodgers, because...she wanted to believe that he was telling the truth.

But you believe me, and that is enough. You always believed in me.

And he trusted her enough to write to her even when no one else thought he was innocent. That was what partners did, right? Trust?

Rachel exhaled softly, before folding up the letter and placing it in her pocket.

He believed in her. Now she would do whatever she could, whatever it took to protect him.

That was what a weapon did; place their meister's need above their own.

 


 

From the second floor, meanwhile, Griffin saw Jekyll hurriedly leave the kitchen and make for the main doors. He must be on his way to something urgent, as he was always doing. Maybe he was leaving for a dinner.

Once Jekyll was out, Griffin then leaned upon the railing, huffing. Would Jekyll and Lanyon reveal to the public that Luckett died? Probably not; that might be bad for the Society's newfound good image. (The Lodgers weren't blind to the recent happenings.)

He noticed Rachel peek out from the kitchen, but before he could stare more, he noticed someone walking up to him. He looked up, and turned around to see Cantilupe and Maijabi.

“Griffin?” Cantilupe asked.

Griffin frowned. “What do you want?”

“Maijabi and I only have to ask a small favor of you, Jack,” she answered. “Come downstairs with us.”

She waved him over, and Griffin guessed that he had no other choice but to follow her. Sighing, he walked after her, and Maijabi came to his side.

“Well, what do you need me for?” Griffin asked.

“The protective spells around the Society have been weakening ever since poor Luckett died,” Maijabi explained. “Alongside Cantilupe and I, Luckett helped draw those runes on the floor of the atrium. But...he's dead, and therefore the stability of the magic is weakening. We need another magic user to help us strengthen those spells.”

Griffin crossed his arms. “Oh, I get what you're saying,” he said. “You want me to be that magic user.”

“Precisely,” Maijabi said.

“Then why me?” Griffin questioned. “There are older and more experienced Lodgers here. I can't even brew a damn potion or teleport something.”

“We've seen you do advanced defensive spells without too much trouble, when you're in the training room,” Maijabi returned. “I know that you hate doing hard work, and that you would rather steal things than make or enchant them yourself. But we ask of you this small thing.”

“Not small at all – that requires a good control of spatial, defensive, and transformation magic,” Griffin shot back. He then huffed again. “Everything was much easier when you all thought I was just some kleptomaniac Archer dragged in off the streets.”

“Don't say that, Jack; you don't need to hide how brilliant you are,” Cantilupe said.

Griffin only raised an eyebrow. “If only you knew how many times I heard that,” he said. Then he put his hands on his hips. “Fine, if you're so insistent. And besides, I don't want everything to go to hell here because the runes don't work properly.”

Maijabi grinned a little. “That's the spirit.”

Griffin shouldn't have snorted as loud as he did.

The three of them walked up to the runes. Griffin took one step too close to the rune circle, and Maijabi pushed him back. “Be careful,” he said. “You know what happens if you step inside the rune circle without the enchantments lowered.”

Griffin moved his foot back. “Don't take me for a bleeding idiot,” he said.

Cantilupe then looked at Griffin. “Oh, sorry,” Cantilupe said. “Do you need us to teach you the spell?”

Griffin looked down at the circle. “You went to ask me for help, and you didn't even think to give me the spell beforehand?”

“You didn't ask,” Maijabi said, giving Griffin a piece of paper. Griffin read the contents of the paper – the part of the spell that he had to say – before inhaling, and exhaling. Then he put the paper in his pocket.

“I think I can do it,” Griffin said.

“Alright.”

Maijabi and Cantilupe moved to stand in position around the circle. Griffin took the cue and positioned himself as well. The two older Lodgers spread their arms, and released a burst of energy as their soul wavelengths expanded around them. Griffin did the same, and took a deep breath – and then the first prick of pain touched his chest.

Cantilupe noticed him react to the sensation, and looked at him. “Griffin, are you alright?” she asked.

“Fine,” Griffin said instantly. Just a little ache, hopefully nothing to worry about. He concentrated further on the spell they were about to cast.

Maijabi recited his part of the spell first, and the Society seemed to become bathed in a blue light. A part of the runes glowed green as well. Griffin watched it for a little while, even as Cantilupe began her own part. Then another part of the runes, as well as the walls of the Society, glowed a bright green.

When Cantilupe was finished, Griffin began to say from memory the spell that he had read. A third part of the runes began to glow a faint yellow, as did the walls of the Society. Slowly but surely, the protection around the Society was feeling stronger...

All of a sudden, a jolt of pain spread from Griffin's chest to his stomach, interrupting him. He gasped, and clutched at his stomach. Cantilupe and Maijabi ran over from their positions to him, the spell forgotten. Even the yellow glow had vanished.

“Are you alright, Griffin?” Maijabi asked.

Griffin looked up at him, squinting. “It hurts...” he trailed off. All he remembered was a surge of energy, his magic, running through him, and then the pain...

Maijabi lifted up his eyepatch, and looked carefully at him. “Try to use some of your magic.”

Griffin lifted up a hand, and tried to shoot a blast from them – but then the pain shot through his hand as well. He then managed to turn it invisible at least, but even then there was a dull discomfort.

“Does it hurt?” Maijabi asked.

“You think?” Griffin snapped. He took in a few more deep breaths, trying to get his mind together. Why the hell did it hurt so much?

Maijabi took Griffin's right sleeve, and unbuttoned it so that he could roll it up. He then instructed Griffin to try it one last time, and Griffin tried to use the blasting spell again, before he saw what came with the pain.

Glowing red marks had appeared on his arm – these curved lines overlapped and tapered into round points, scattering across his skin and going as far as his wrist.

“As I feared,” Maijabi said. “There is a parasite within you.”

“Parasite?” Griffin echoed.

“A magic parasite,” Maijabi went on. “It's preventing you from using your own magic.” He then put on his eye patch yet again. “Can you think of any place where you might have gotten it?”

“My magic was working just fine last night,” Griffin told him. “And I haven't left the Society in days.”

Cantilupe looked to Maijabi. “Could such a thing happen at random?”

“This is far stronger then a random parasite,” he replied. “Someone must have placed this within his body – another magic user.” He straightened up. “If another magic user did this to Griffin, then it is a cruel joke.”

Cantilupe put a hand over her mouth. “Who would think of doing such a thing?”

“I don't know.” Maijabi looked to her. “I might be able to trace and remove it, but until then, Griffin cannot use magic.”

Griffin looked up at the two of them as they continued talking, thinking of who could have done it and what they could do now. Then he looked down at his hands, and clenched them into fists.

It was then that he would admit that he was filled with dread.

 

Chapter Text

“There you go,” Jasper said to his bog dragon, feeding it a dish of fish. “That's your favorite, right?”

He smiled when the bog dragon began to eat the fish, devouring it greedily. Jasper straightened up, and then looked at all his creatures, gobbling up their food. His smile was on for a little while, and then he sighed and walked over to the wash basin in the corner of his room.

Jasper rinsed his hands, a little absently, and before he knew it he was wiping his hands on the cloth next to it.

All of a sudden, the smell of blood came up his nose again – and as it did, the memory of the dead body flashed before his eyes.

He dropped the cloth, staggering back and breathing heavily. Jasper put a hand to his mouth.

Luckett...

“It's good that he's gone.”

Jasper's eyes widened.

“With the phoenix sorcerer gone, you can now unlock your true potential. Spatial magic was getting so boring anyway.”

The moment he dared to turn around, he was met with the wolf. It sneered up at him, baring its sharp teeth. “Miss me?” it asked.

“What – what're you doing here?” Jasper questioned.

“I'm only here to claim what's mine,” the wolf said, “your undivided attention.”

The wolf crept closer, huffing. “Kaylock, Kaylock, why did you choose to deny me? I tried to come out and defend you from that Death Scythe. But then that woman reaches out to you, and you toss me aside!”

“You weren't going to defend me – you-you would have killed him! Killed them!” Jasper exclaimed.

A growl erupted from the wolf. “I'm only doing what we need to do to survive!” it said. “But no, because you think I'm so dangerous, you put another type of magic before me! And the only thing that's worse than this is that they let you do as you pleased!”

“That's because they know I'm trying not to lose control,” Jasper found himself saying. “I just don't want anyone to get hurt because of you!”

“Ooh, you don't want anyone to get hurt? The Lodgers? The girl? The doctor? Is that all you care about?” The wolf glared up at him. “What about yourself? Who needs anyone else?”

“I need everyone else!” Jasper backed against a wall. “They help me! They care for me!”

“They're coddling you.” The wolf then cackled. “Think of how ridiculous it is! A werewolf can't stand on his own feet, so he relies on everyone else to stand for him!” It sneered. “Pathetic.”

Jasper could do nothing as it walked towards him, stalking its prey. “I...” he tried to say, but it was no use. What could he say?

“Without them, you're just like an infant,” the wolf went on. “You're incapable!” it barked. “Incapable!”

“Stop, just stop!” Jasper shouted, putting his hands over his ears.

The wolf lunged at him, and Jasper squeezed his eyes shut–

–the image of the dead body appeared once more to him–

–and then Jasper's eyes sprang open.

He was in bed.

Jasper sat up, panting. That was right – he had fed his creatures much earlier, and then gone straight to bed. It was just a dream.

He thought about it; he could remember clearly what the wolf had told him...and he curled into himself.

It wasn't just a dream.

The wolf was right, he guessed. Sure, he needed to protect everyone else from himself – but he had needed to perfect his transformation magic a long time ago, and all he could do was teleport people over short distances.

A werewolf can't stand on his own feet, so he relies on everyone else to stand for him!”

It was true.

Jasper buried his face in his hands. He needed someone else here, to talk to him – Jekyll would have words of encouragement for him, Rachel would make something he could eat to take his mind off it, and Luckett...Luckett would know what to do...

A knocking sounded on the door.

Jasper looked up, and wiped his tears away. “Come in,” he said.

The doorknob turned, and in peeked someone he was not expecting to see.

“Oh, you're in bed,” Frankenstein said, before beginning to close the door again. “Tomorrow, then.”

“No – it's fine,” Jasper said. He began to move out of bed. “Can I help you with anything, Miss Frankenstein?”

Frankenstein put a hand on her hip. “I believe it is you who needs the help,” she told him.

Jasper blinked. “Huh?”

 


 

 

Before Jasper could ask any questions, Frankenstein had dragged him out into the hall, still dressed in his nightclothes and a dressing gown. The Creature was waiting for them outside the room, and once they saw that Jasper was with their creator, they decided to follow her to where she was taking Jasper.

“You see, Kaylock, I was not expecting to have to handle this,” she began. “I thought you had everything under control.”

“Yes, but...” Jasper tried. “What is it that you want?”

Frankenstein glanced at him, for a moment, before continuing to navigate the halls. “I want to help you with your transformations.”

“What?” Jasper asked. “Help me? But...”

“I'm not cut out for the job?” Frankenstein asked. “I would consider myself that too, but your lady friend Rachel seems to think I am qualified.”

“Rachel?” Jasper echoed dumbly.

“Yes, Rachel.” Frankenstein turned a corner, and Jasper and the Creature followed as well. “I would also expect the residents of this Society to be able to handle it, but I don't think they're in any condition to start your training for transformation magic anew.”

“Is it because they're grieving, or because they're asleep?” the Creature remarked.

Frankenstein looked up at the Creature. “Come off it, you were the one who was excited about this.”

“No, if I recall, that was you,” the Creature returned.

Frankenstein spluttered, while the Creature turned to Jasper. “Forgive her. She excuses this as fulfilling a promise to Rachel, which she is doing – but at the same time she hasn't been able to do something like this in a long time.”

She blushed at the sound of that, and looked at Jasper, whose eyes were on her. “Well, fine,” she admitted, “maybe I am excited. But only a little!”

“Hold on, Miss,” Jasper said. “Excited to do what?”

Frankenstein turned towards a door, and opened it. “You'll see soon enough.”

She walked inside, and turned on the electric lights. As each light bulb lit up the room, it revealed to them that this was the Training Room. Behind her, Jasper audibly gulped, before stepping inside.

“So...you want me to practice transforming?” Jasper asked, looking around. “I would try, but...it comes out uncontrollably, I don't really know.”

“Not quite,” Frankenstein said. She held out her hand, and the Creature took the cue, and glowed, before transforming. Jasper turned around just as the glow vanished, and Frankenstein was now holding her scythe.

“There's another reason why I'm doing this without the Lodgers,” she said, before twirling the scythe around and then pointing it at Jasper. “Some may not approve of my testing a theory this way.”

“What?” Jasper asked. “What are you–”

“Fight me,” Frankenstein said, simply.

Jasper held up his hands, while she took two steps closer to him. “I couldn't! I don't know how to fight, and – and you–”

She huffed. “What's the matter?” she asked. “Is it because I'm old? Is it because I'm a female meister?”

“No!” Jasper said. “You...you have a thrilled look on your face, and it's...it doesn't look like a good thing.”

Upon hearing this, Frankenstein held the blade of the scythe up so that she could see her own face in it. It did look a little like how Jasper had described it.

Then without warning him, she swung the scythe back, and charged at him.

“So what?” Frankenstein asked, swinging the scythe at him. As Jasper narrowly dodged, she continued, “That's how a murderer will look at you! How a kishin egg will look at you!”

She punctuated her last statement by twirling the scythe around, so that the end of the handle was facing Jasper. She then said, “If you hold back just because you're intimidated, then you've lost!”

Frankenstein thrust the end of the handle towards Jasper, and hit him on the shoulder. Jasper barely had any time to cry out in pain before she spun the scythe around once more, and swung it down once more. Jasper only staggered out of the way, and Frankenstein blew a lock of hair out of her face. “Do you understand?”

Jasper gasped for air. “Miss...I told you, I don't know how to fight!”

“I didn't either when I was your age!” she exclaimed. “But I had to learn to defend myself and the people I cared about!”

Jasper backed up against a wall, but Frankenstein only took it as a sign to continue walking towards him. “Don't you want to control your powers and do the same?” she asked, laying the scythe over her shoulder. “Don't you have people you want to protect?”

Jasper was silent. Frankenstein stopped, and then took the scythe from her shoulder to position herself in a fighting stance.

“Answer me, Kaylock,” Frankenstein urged.

When he didn't reply – he seemed to be thinking deeply – the Creature asked, “What are you planning to do?”

Frankenstein held the scythe over her shoulder, and then swung it down on Jasper with all her might.

Jasper caught the blade between his hands, keeping it inches away from his face. It was evident that he was struggling, but Frankenstein could feel the force holding her back, and that was enough.

He threw the blade back with a heave, and Frankenstein was pushed back as well. Jasper was finally able to look her in the eye – there was determination on his face.

“I do have people I want to protect,” Jasper said, growling a little like a dog. “But what if I'm the one who hurts them?”

Frankenstein adjusted her footing. “I saw what happened between you and Rachel that day. I know you don't want to hurt anyone, especially the people who matter to you. So tell me...” She raised the scythe once more. “Will you allow yourself to lose control again?”

Jasper held up his fists, looking like an amateur but still ready to fight. “No.”

Frankenstein grinned wider. “Then fight me!”

She charged at Jasper again, but this time Jasper was able to duck and grab the handle of the scythe. From this close, Frankenstein could see that Jasper's nails and teeth had grown longer, and his arms were significantly more hairy. Jasper must have noticed it as well, because he looked at his arms and gasped.

“Don't hesitate, Kaylock!” she said, pushing back against him. “You're getting stronger, aren't you?”

Jasper looked down at his hands again, before clenching them into fists. “Of course,” he said in realization. “A werewolf's powers.”

Frankenstein then backed up, before taking a few running steps, and jumping up to swing the scythe down. Jasper looked up at her, and reached up – catching the blade again. He then heaved again, throwing her away and onto the wall facing him.

She cried out in pain as she hit the wall, the scythe landing noisily on the floor beside her. Unable to move, she let gravity drag her down onto the floor. She then lay there for a few seconds, panting.

“Oh no, I'm sorry!” Jasper said, running over to her. “I don't know why I did that! Are you hurt? Did you break something?”

Frankenstein's response was to take a breath, before laughing weakly. “That...” she said, “I've never had a sparring match like that in a long time.” She propped herself up on her hands, and pushed up to get to her knees.

Beside them, the Creature transformed back into a golem, and came over to support her as she stood up. “Are you alright?” they asked.

“Fine, fine,” she said. “I'm fantastic, in fact!” Something ached on her chest, though, and she put a hand up to it to alleviate the pain.

The Creature smiled and shook their head. “She'll be fine, I'll tend to her,” they said to Jasper.

Jasper nodded, and straightened up. It was then that Frankenstein noticed the tail drooping behind him.

“Seems you've partially transformed into a wolf,” she noted, and Jasper looked himself over completely. “Oh,” he said.

“No, it's fine,” Frankenstein said. “You let the wolf come out to defend yourself, and that's progress. Maybe soon you'll be able to have it come out to defend others.”

“I kind of doubt it.” Jasper shrugged.

Frankenstein shrugged as well, putting her hands on her hips. She leaned back a little to stretch her back, and then sighed. Jasper stood there while she scratched her side, before he spoke up again.

“So, Miss Frankenstein...” Jasper began, “...are you going to help me again with transformation?” A pause. “I-I mean, if you want; you don't have to...”

Frankenstein blinked, and then looked up at the Creature. She didn't quite know what to tell the boy – she hadn't had a friendly match in a long time, but she was no expert in transformations; she had only tested a theory–

“Why not,” she found herself saying, turning back to Jasper. “Once the Lodgers find out that it works, I'm sure they'd be willing to try my method as well.”

“You will?” Jasper asked. “Uh, it's not like I don't appreciate the Lodgers' help, and I'll try to learn spatial magic as well, but–”

“Don't babble so much, Kaylock,” Frankenstein said. “If you can, get straight to the point. Babbling can be quite cumbersome.”

“Sorry.” Jasper looked down.

Frankenstein looked away. “Don't worry about it.”

Jasper nodded, and then looked towards the door. “So, uh...” he said, “...I'll be going now?”

“Huh? Oh, sure,” Frankenstein said. She turned towards the door as well – there was a group of Lodgers gathered there already, but not a troubling number. Jasper turned, and walked towards the door, no doubt bracing himself for the questions he would be bombarded by.

Once Jasper was out of the room, the Creature leaned down a little, and Frankenstein frowned.

“Not a word,” she said.

“ ' But I had to learn to defend myself and the people I cared about',” the Creature said. “You don't still dwell heavily on the past, do you?”

“...”

“Victoria?” they asked.

“I don't regret it, what I did for them,” Frankenstein said. “And I was going to have to learn how to fight because I had a weapon, anyway. Then she sighed. “I just wish they would remember me as much as I remember them.”

“Your family and Henry would remember you,” the Creature said. Then they put a hand on her shoulder. “What makes you think they would forget?”

Frankenstein thought about it for a while, before shaking her head. “Just a small feeling,” she said. “I'm probably wrong.”

“Good to know you think that,” the Creature said, patting her shoulder, before they looked in the direction of the door. “So...how long are we going to stay here then, now that you're helping Mr. Kaylock with his powers and we still have no clue where Moreau could be?”

Frankenstein pressed her lips together.

“As long as we have to.”

 

Chapter Text

It had been two days now, two days since Jonathan Luckett had died. And the police had not made any progress in their hunt for Edward Hyde.

Lanyon mulled it over as he stepped out of his carriage once more. Sergeant Brokenshire had told him that when they came to Hyde's flat, he was nowhere to be found – the place was still decently stocked, but the landlady had not seen him come or go.

And once they found this, the police didn't give as much importance to this case as they did others. There were excuses: the other cases were larger and far more pressing, and it was possible Hyde had left London by now. But Lanyon knew there was another reason why they were reluctant to pursue this case: Luckett was a sorcerer.

Lanyon huffed, and then walked up to the doors of the Society. They were probably waiting for the DWMA's say on the matter. But it should have been clear: Luckett had not proven himself to be a threat, and (to Lanyon's knowledge) wasn't on any of their danger lists. Hyde had proven himself a vigilante once more.

With that thought in mind, Lanyon opened the doors to the Society. There wasn't anyone standing around in the atrium; every Lodger was either on the upper floors or in their rooms. It was a far cry from the lively place he had known it to be, but at least no one was giving him any stares.

But he needn't concern himself with that. Right now he needed to find Jekyll.

He went up the stairs to Jekyll's office, and was almost surprised that no one had at least looked his way. Maybe they were avoiding him. He knocked on the door to the office.

“Jekyll!” Lanyon called. “Can I come in?”

There was silence.

“Henry?”

“Come in,” a tired voice from inside said. Lanyon recognized it as his friend's, so he let himself in, and took a look around the room.

The first thing that Lanyon saw was that Jekyll was seated at his desk, as always. But then he noticed that said desk was littered with papers. Jekyll was looking no better himself, his normally neat hair scruffy and the lines under his eyes pronounced. And what was more, there was a bottle of wine and a wine glass atop the desk, the wine glass half full.

“Henry!” Lanyon said, walking over to the desk. “It is far too early to be drinking!”

“No it isn't, it's only nine,” Jekyll replied. “In fact, I would consider that improvement.”

“If this is improvement–!” Lanyon stopped himself before he could express too much of his worry. He cleared his throat, and then gestured to the papers. “And I suppose this is a blessing, too?”

“Robert,” Jekyll said, wiping his face with a hand. “The Society is in disarray.”

“How so?”

“I can already feel it, Robert,” Jekyll said. “The Lodgers are not being their usual selves. They are more distant; they do not make conversation with me as much as they used to. I had always kept them at arm's length, but I thought they could trust me...”

Lanyon then followed Jekyll's eyes to a few papers to the right of the bottle. “There are at least three Lodgers who want to leave – that's three too many!”

“Come on, Henry, you know they're not actually going to follow through on that; they've got nowhere else to go,” Lanyon tried to reassure him.

“One of them said that it would be better to live in the slums than where Hyde could find them,” Jekyll returned tiredly.

“And remove themselves from the one place in London where they are safe from harm? Henry–” Lanyon came even closer, snatching the bottle away from the table. “Enough of this. Listen to me; the police force hasn't been lifting a finger to help us as of late. We can set up other people to help us, but for now you're the only one who can reassure the Lodgers that everything is alright, that Hyde isn't going to kill them. You have to let them know that the safest place is under this roof.”

“Yes,” Jekyll said, before yawning. Then he repeated, “Yes, Lanyon.”

“Honestly, the melodramatics of these Lodgers,” Lanyon said, before taking the half full wine glass as well. He needed a drink as well. “Anyway, since we're on the topic, have you found someone else to help us catch Hyde?”

“..."

“...Henry, you don't still believe that Hyde isn't the murderer, do you?”

“Robert, Hyde was framed,” Jekyll replied.

“How much have you had to drink?” Lanyon asked, before taking a swig from the glass. “I may be wrong, but leaving an article of clothing at a crime and then fleeing London doesn't exactly shout 'innocent' to me.” He then pointed a finger at his friend. “How are you so sure that he's innocent, anyway?”

“I just know, Robert–”

“He hasn't contacted you, has he?”

“No, he hasn't, but–”

“Then why are you so concerned with proving him innocent?” Lanyon asked. “There is no proof for his innocence, Henry; I hate to tell you, but it's true.”

Jekyll looked away, running a hand through his hair. Lanyon frowned deeper as he watched him.

“I'm sorry, Robert...” Jekyll said.

“From what I've seen of your faith in Hyde, I don't blame you,” Lanyon said, putting the now empty glass down on the desk. “It's hard to make yourself believe something you don't want to.”

“I don't know, I just wish that...” Jekyll trailed off, before straightening up in his chair. “Well, never mind that. This is nothing I can't handle. Soon the Society will be back on its feet.”

Lanyon agreed with that last statement, but looking at Jekyll's tired face, it didn't look like he could handle it at the moment. His grip tightened on the wine bottle – he had to do something. But what?

What did he do the last time Jekyll had looked like this?

“Henry, maybe you should take a break.”

“A break?”

“Yes, a little holiday,” Lanyon went on. “You can't stay for too long here; clearly you cannot be trusted to stay alone one moment in the morning without drinking. Just a few days of time away could help you, I'm sure of it! Like it did last time!”

“Last time, Robert, you took me on a trip around the world,” Jekyll said. “I cannot stay away from the Society for so long.”

“But Henry, look at yourself! The stress is eating you alive!” Lanyon returned. “Surely we can have someone else put in your place until we come back. Taking your mind off some of the Lodgers wanting to leave and Hyde, among other things, would help refresh your spirits. I won't even take you that far away from London, I promise.”

“Robert, I just don't know what might happen if I left so suddenly. What if something bad occurs?”

“Then it will be nothing we can't resolve. Listen, you are in no state to be working. Doctor's orders. We leave in the evening.”

Lanyon stood up and placed the wine bottle on the desk, as if he was making himself clear. Jekyll looked up at him silently, before finally cracking a smile.

“As much as I am loath to say, I can't disagree with my doctor,” Jekyll conceded. “If I didn't know any better, I would think you were only making excuses to spend time with me.”

“And should I not spend time with you? We're partners, and we always have been,” Lanyon replied. “Besides, we do need to train together as well. The Tournament is coming up soon.”

The Tournament had not slipped Lanyon's mind at all. It loomed in the distance, alluring and yet terrifying, from where he stood. And in the state he was currently in as a meister, he couldn't compete with the meisters and weapons in the Battle Club. He wasn't good enough – so he and Jekyll needed to train, since the Exhibition was finished.

“Of course, the Tournament!” Jekyll shot up from his chair. “Why, I had almost forgotten it up until now. You're right – we have to train for it if we want to win your wager.”

“I'm glad you see things my way, Henry,” Lanyon nodded. “For now, prepare for your departure. I will come at six o'clock to fetch you."

Jekyll smiled wider. “Thank you, Robert.”

Something fluttered within Lanyon's stomach. He looked away, laughing a little. “Well, that's what partners do, don't they? I have to take care of you.”

Jekyll stood up straighter. “Well, I will place someone else in charge of the Society, then.”

“Who is it?”

A few sparkles came from his friend. “I know someone very capable.”

“Excellent.” Lanyon smiled. “I will be taking my leave, then.”

“I'll see you soon,” Jekyll said, waving.

 


 

So you're running away from your problems instead of solving them. An excellent choice, Jekyll.

Hyde appeared in the mirror as Lanyon left. He noticed Jekyll's eyes darting towards him – before looking away.

“I thought you would be quiet,” Jekyll said, a little coldly.

Come on; how can I not say anything after hearing all that? Hyde asked. The one who framed me – Luckett's murderer – is out there somewhere, and you're not doing anything to catch him yourself. Don't go with Lanyon – just drink the potion! I can find that man and end him myself!

“And what if he decided to end you? What if anyone else – the police, the Lodgers – come to the same conclusion if they see you?”

You're underestimating me, Jekyll; you know I can take them on my own, Hyde said. It won't be that hard!

“You're saying all these things just because you want to go out!” Jekyll returned, taking his seat once again. “I know that even you would have trouble against twenty magic users. Not to mention one of them is armed with a weapon partner.”

Hmph. The vivid colors around Hyde faded from a bright mess of yellow, green and red into a soft mix of pale green and pink. He looked away, and crossed his arms. You want me to keep quiet? Fine, then I won't talk.

“Blessed silence,” was all that Jekyll said, as he went back to looking over his paperwork.

Hyde watched him as Jekyll began to write something here and sign something there, doing all the work that Hyde was not interested in. He floated out of the mirror, and looked over Jekyll's shoulder.

So you're leaving.

“Yes,” Jekyll answered, not turning around.

Hyde regarded him with a stare, before going on, And I suppose you have a certain someone in mind to lead the Society while you're away?

“You know who,” Jekyll said.

Do I? Hyde asked playfully.

Jekyll shook his head. “You're not going to stop talking, are you?”

Not as long as I want to go out, Hyde said.

“You're a stubborn one.”

Where do you think I get that from?

Jekyll didn't say anything, but he did crack a tiny smile. Hyde sighed. Wise choice, Jekyll.

Jekyll finally looked at Hyde. “That's a first from you.” He inhaled, and then exhaled. “I will find out who framed you. I swear on it.”

You swear a lot of things, don't forget that, Hyde reminded him. When will you tell that person?

 


 

Rachel took a loaded a few trays of food onto a cart from the kitchen, and sighed to herself. She had to go to the dining room – there was a good number of Lodgers waiting for their dinner there, as well as a few more Lodgers who wanted to eat within their rooms. But that was fine. She could handle them.

She put her hands on the handle, and began to push the cart forward. There were a good many things on her mind, but she didn't get to touch on them before she walked past the staircase to Jekyll's office. And down the stairs came someone who called her name.

“Rachel!” Jekyll said. “Rachel, I have to ask of you something.”

“Henry,” Rachel replied. “What's the problem?”

“It's not really a problem, but I would like to ask for your help nonetheless,” Jekyll went on. “I told the Lodgers that I would be taking a holiday on short notice, because of my doctor's orders. Therefore, I need someone to look after the Society while I'm away.”

“Oh, of course,” Rachel said. “And Dr. Lanyon will come in tomorrow?”

Jekyll shook his head. “Lanyon is coming with me. So I'm putting someone else in charge of the Society.”

“That's – that's good.” Well, it went in a direction different from what Rachel had expected, but she could work with this.”

“In fact,” Jekyll went on, “I'm going to place you in charge of the Society.”

Rachel paused.

“Wait, what?”

“It will be fine, Rachel!” Jekyll said with an enthusiastic smile. “You know the Society well, and I know you're able to handle people with a cool head. I think you're a suitable choice.”

“I don't,” Rachel said without thinking. Then upon realizing that she had said that, she clapped a hand over her mouth.

Jekyll's smile faltered a little. “You don't think so?” he asked.

“I mean, of course I'm going to take the job, Henry, it's just that...” Rachel reached up and tugged at one of her pigtails. “Are you sure I'm really cut out for this?”

“Well, what makes you think that you aren't fit for it?” Jekyll queried.

His question didn't have a judging tone to it, so Rachel decided to go on. “It's actually...I'm just the cook, I can't handle a whole bunch of people who might not listen to me."

“Don't be silly – of course the Lodgers will listen to you!” Jekyll said, trying to smile wider. “You and the Lodgers have camaraderie; surely you don't doubt their good relationship with you?”

“I'm Edward Hyde's weapon,” Rachel returned. “They probably don't trust me anymore! They can't even look at me – I – I don't think this is right.”

She looked down. She had just said earlier that she was going to take up the task, but now she wanted Jekyll to just pick someone else, someone more capable, someone the Lodgers trusted more. They needed a better leader than her. And now she ought not to have put her foot in her mouth.

Instead of saying something against her, though, Jekyll came closer. “Rachel, you may be Hyde's weapon, but you're also the Lodgers' friend. I'd wager that at least some of them don't believe that you were privy to Luckett's murder, much less a part of it. All hope is not lost in this situation.”

He then put a hand on her shoulder. “You will be a fantastic leader, alright? I know you care for them as much as I do. And if you believe in your own capabilities, then you'll be able to do wondrous things. You'll only go nowhere thinking you're inadequate.”

Rachel found it in herself to smile. “Well, I guess you would be an expert on that.”

“Am I not?” Jekyll asked. “Well, I have to go now; my companions won't wait any longer. The Lodgers are your friends too, don't forget.”

“Right...” Rachel said. Jekyll waved at her, before heading for the door. Only then did Rachel see two men standing there – she recognized one of them as Lanyon, but the other one she couldn't place. He was a lawyer, though, she believed.

She watched as Jekyll walked towards them, and exchanged a few words with them, before the three of them left the atrium.

Rachel turned back towards her cart. She placed a hand on the handle, and began to push it towards the dining hall.

That was how it was, wasn't it?

You always believed in me. So I believe in you too.

Jekyll was trusting her wholeheartedly, just as Hyde was.

And if you believe in your own capabilities, then you'll be able to do wondrous things.

Why did they trust her so much? She wasn't even worth the dirt on the floor.

Rachel didn't want to think about it some more. Soon she entered the dining hall.

 


 

Jekyll walked down the steps with his two friends, before entering a carriage that was waiting at the side of the road. Lanyon entered first, and then his other friend, before Jekyll. He placed a foot on the step, and then prepared to go in, but then stopped, and then looked back at the Society.

It stood there, cold and gloomy instead of feeling full of joyful chaos.

This was not how Jekyll wanted to remember the Society as he left.

“Jekyll?” A voice from inside the carriage asked. “Henry, are you coming?”

Jekyll snapped out of his thoughts, and then entered the carriage. “Of course, Utterson,” he said.

With that being said, he closed the door behind him, and took his seat. The reins snapped, and the carriage went out on the road right away. Jekyll settled himself, and then looked up at Utterson. “Thank you for coming on such short notice. After all that had happened, we need someone to help with the, dare I say, legal aspects of the Society.”

“Of course, Henry, it's no trouble at all,” Utterson waved a hand. “I'm always happy to do something for a friend. And I'm also happy to help you practice for the Tournament. After all, I have to start training as well!”

“You? Training for the Tournament?” Lanyon asked. “I thought you weren't interested in combat, Gabriel.”

“Let me say that sometime around last winter I had changed my mind,” Utterson replied. “I've begun to train myself how to fight.”

“So I take it you're competing even though you don't have a meister?” Jekyll asked.

“I wanted to see what it would be like.” Utterson then looked at Lanyon. “But that was a bold move back at your father's dinner. It was like watching you doom yourself to a promise you couldn't keep.”

“Who says I can't win the wager?” Lanyon asked. “I believe I can defeat the Champion.”

“Even if the Champion was your father?”

Jekyll frowned a little. “Gabriel...”

“I'll make sure I win.” Lanyon said firmly, his face unreadable. “Which is why I need to train.”

“Fair enough.” Utterson nodded. Then he looked back at Jekyll. “So you've grown past risking your neck for Robert in fights at the Academy. That's good.”

Jekyll waved a hand. “I wouldn't put it that way...”

Utterson rolled his eyes. “I knew you would say that.” He held up his own hand, and transformed it into a sword blade – a rapier blade, a little thinner than Jekyll's own blade. “Don't hurt me too badly.”

“I wouldn't dream of it,” Jekyll said, transforming his own hand into a blade, and then touching it against Utterson's.

Lanyon watched the two of them do this, and then looked out the window. His face was still unreadable.

 

Chapter Text

It was the first day with Jekyll on holiday with Lanyon and Utterson, and the Society was full of noise again.

But it wasn't the noise that Rachel had missed sorely. Rather, it...didn't bode well for her.

She tried to ignore that as she walked down the halls. There wasn't much that she could do about it, anyway; the Lodgers did whatever they felt like doing most of the time. So Rachel wasn't surprised to see a certain black cat standing on the railing of the second floor, looking down at the atrium below.

“Miss Lavender?” Rachel asked, and the cat turned towards her. “What are you doing here?”

“Rachel!” Lavender said, jumping off the railing. “I should be asking you the same thing. You're not usually wont to wander the halls of the Society.”

“Well, it happens sometimes,” Rachel shrugged. “I have to check on everyone's doing now that I'm done with the mail.”

“You don't want to do that,” a voice said from behind Rachel, and she turned around to see Virginia. She continued, “Ever since...Hyde killed Luckett...we recognized that the peace we used to enjoy is long gone.” She paused. “We're not the same as we once were.”

“I...I know,” Rachel said quietly. “I know that.”

“You don't know it as much as we do,” Virginia told her.

“It's because you're hiding in the kitchen every time you're here now, Rachel,” another Lodger said – it turned out to be Doddle approaching from beside Virginia. “That isn't good for you.”

“I'm sorry,” Rachel said, lowering her head. “Guess I was being stupid, as always.”

Doddle frowned. “That's not it at all, Rachel. We're just worried about you.”

Rachel didn't reply, but she did look up at him. Doddle sent her a little smile. “We're all going through tough times here, so chin up.”

Virginia glanced at Doddle. “You don't smell like candy anymore,” she said. “Have you stopped making sweets?”

“Ah, I ran out of a certain ingredient some time ago,” Doddle excused himself. “I can't get it just yet.”

“And what would that be?” Virginia raised an eyebrow.

“Sugar,” Doddle replied.

Rachel stared at Doddle with concern. She and every other Lodger knew that Doddle didn't use sugar in his recipes, but rather honey. And as a bee sorcerer, he had a way to make his own honey. Could it be that...?

She tried to smile. “Well, Mr. Doddle, I could help you with that,” she suggested.

“What? Oh, you don't have to,” Doddle said to her. “I'm just happy helping others.”

Rachel had trouble holding her smile. That confirmed it. Virginia herself looked a little concerned, before she walked over to join Lavender. “What are you looking at over there?” Virginia asked.

Lavender turned back towards the railing – towards the atrium below. “Earlier I tried to get him to stop, but...”

Virginia looked over the railing, and Rachel did so as well, with Doddle joining her. Then Rachel's eyes widened.

Down below, kneeling in front of the circle of runes, was Sinnett. He was staring at a particular candle – the only unlit candle in the circle.

“I need to go to him,” Doddle said, after a few moments of silence. “Maybe I can talk to him.”

“That's what you say whenever anyone so much as sheds a tear in your presence,” Virginia pointed out. “Let me talk to him.”

“No,” Rachel cut them off. “I'm the one in charge; I have to make sure he's alright.

Without waiting for anyone to contradict her, Rachel walked over to the stairs, straight down to the circle of runes. She was careful to walk around it as she came closer to Sinnett, before standing beside him.

Now that she was here, she realized that he seemed to be completely still – the life had been sucked right out of his eyes. Not to mention that she didn't know how long he had been there. Rachel didn't know where to start, but she did put a hand up.

“Mr. Sinnett...?” she asked.

Sinnett finally moved, and looked up at her. “Rachel...” he said, his voice tinged with sadness. He breathed a weary sigh.

“What are you doing here?” Rachel asked, a little more gently than how she had asked Lavender earlier.

“...I don't know,” Sinnett admitted. “I thought...Jonathan's a phoenix sorcerer, right?” He sniffled. “He's going to come back, right? I just have to keep his candle lit until he comes back.”

Rachel could only watch as Sinnett's lip began to twitch. “I have to keep it lit...and I made that candle. So why – why can't I light it again?”

“Mr. Sinnett–” Rachel tried.

“Or – or maybe he's lost!” Sinnett began to ramble. “Maybe we have to summon his soul here! I know Maijabi has a spell somewhere – a spell to summon wandering souls, we can use it – I can ask him...”

“Mr. Sinnett...”

“You have to help me, Rachel!” Sinnett exclaimed, grabbing her skirt. “You have to help me after what...” Tears formed in his eyes. “After what your meister did!”

Rachel was frozen in place as Sinnett buried his face into her skirt, beginning to weep. She stood there in silence for a while, before Sinnett spoke again.

“It's not fair...” he said. “Jonathan didn't deserve this, he was the best out of us lot, he shouldn't have been killed!”

Sinnett then went on, “I was supposed to be the one on the roof that night! I was supposed to be the one setting off the fireworks! But – but he told me he could take care of it...and like a fool I thought it was alright!” he sobbed. “I should be this candle, not him! Not him! Take me instead!”

His words broke Rachel's heart. She bent down, and rubbed his shoulder. “Mr. Sinnett, there was nothing you could have done – you didn't know that this was going to happen.”

“You did, though.”

Rachel looked up to see Helsby walking up to them, with Tweedy in tow. In place of the jovial expression he was known to have, Helsby wore a darkened face.

“You knew that Hyde was going to do this, didn't you?” Helsby asked. “Stop feigning innocence – we know it's your fault Hyde killed Luckett.”

“Rachel's fault?” rang Doddle's voice from above – he was descending the stairs along with Virginia and Lavender. “You've got it all wrong. Don't blame Rachel for this.”

“But it's true, isn't it?” Helsby retorted. “We all know Hyde was planning to make a damn Death Scythe out of her! And she did nothing to stop him and his ambitions – it's her fault as well as his!”

“Hyde didn't do it!” Rachel exclaimed.

“Can you prove it?” Helsby asked, causing Rachel to step back.

“Helsby, listen to yourself,” Virginia said, moving to stand behind Rachel. “Rachel obviously had no idea that Hyde was going to do such a thing.”

“She should have suspected it,” Helsby returned. “How else do you promise to turn someone into a Death Scythe without taking the easy pickings right here in the Society?”

“Yes, Rachel should have stopped Hyde, in the past before he made the decision to turn her into a Death Scythe,” Tweedy finally said, coldly. “She should have stopped him – then maybe he wouldn't be a vigilante and potentially get the Society in trouble with the Academy! Maybe he wouldn't have killed Luckett!”

“I didn't know!” Rachel snapped.

Tweedy's hands began sparking with electricity, and he clenched them into fists. “Then you should have known better!”

He punched a column beside him, leaving a small dent in it. Tweedy then caught himself, and pulled his fist out. It was no longer sparking.

“I just... I want Luckett to still be here,” he said softly, squeezing his eyes shut.

“We all do,” Doddle replied.

“Right, and who do we have to blame for that?” Helsby asked, pointing a finger at Rachel. “For all we know, Hyde could have given her Luckett's soul to eat and she wouldn't even have asked where it came from!”

“You don't know what you're saying!” Virginia yelled.

“What about you? You're no different!” Helsby went on. “You're the one who's always going on to say how demon weapons want to kill us!"

“SHUT UP!”

All the candles' flames shot high up, nearly burning Helsby and Virginia. Rachel looked down at Sinnett, who was taking deep breaths – fire was threatening to come out of his mouth.

“That's enough!” he screamed. “Hyde would have killed any one of us without Rachel and that's no one's fault but his! So stop fighting!”

Helsby took a step back, but even as the fires died down anger was still in his eyes.

“I wonder, though,” he said, “would Hyde kill any one of us even if he hadn't met Rachel and wanted a Death Scythe?”

The sound of a hand hiting a face rang through the air. Finally, Helsby looked as if he would stop arguing as he put a hand to his red cheek.

Rachel wasn't sure what had come over her as she lowered her hand. But that wasn't the point.

“You...” she said, her shoulders shaking as tears came to her eyes. “...YOU DON'T KNOW HYDE AT ALL!”

She couldn't stop the tears from coming anymore, and with that she tore herself from the group, running somewhere, anywhere, away from there.

As she ran, she let out a broken sob.

Hyde wasn't the murderer, Hyde wasn't the murderer, she knew.

But the Lodgers blamed Hyde, and they blamed her.

Was this somehow all her fault anyway? If she hadn't spend the last moments before Luckett's death idly chatting with Jasper, could they have saved him from whoever did kill him?

She raced around a corner, and bumped into someone passing by. With tears clouding her vision, she tried to push past them, but the person grabbed her by the wrist.

“Rachel?” a familiar voice asked. “Are you crying? What happened?”

Rachel sniffled, before wiping the tears out of her eyes and looking at who had grabbed her.

“A-Archer?” she asked. She turned towards him. “Oh...i-it's nothing, you shouldn't be concerned about me.”

“Rachel, I'm already concerned – why are you crying?” Archer grabbed her shoulders. “Do you want to tell me?”

She raised a hand to her eyes, hiccuping, and could barely speak past the ache in her throat. “Archer...” she said, “...is it my fault Mr. Luckett is dead?”

“What? Who told you that?” Archer bent lower to face her. “Do you want me to give them a talking to?”

Rachel shook her head. “Please, don't,” she choked. “The Lodgers hate us weapons enough already.”

“Don't say things like that,” Archer said, moving a bit of hair away from her face. “Just tell me what happened.”

“...The Lodgers are fighting because of me,” Rachel finally managed to say. She wiped her tears away once more, before continuing, “They're saying I shouldn't...shouldn't have encouraged Hyde to-to make me a Death Scythe.” She then sniffled. “I know Hyde isn't the killer, but...but I found the body, I was so close – I could have saved Luckett that night...”

Archer listened to her without saying a word, and then stood up straighter before pulling her closer to him and embracing her.

“I don't think it's your fauth that Luckett died, Rachel,” he said. “I mean, I don't know what you see in Hyde, but there's nothing you did that caused the murder, whether Hyde did it or not, or anything you knew to do that could have prevented it.”

“Do you really think so?” Rachel asked quietly.

Archer nodded. “I have trouble thinking that certain things aren't my fault. But in reality, they aren't. I had to learn the hard way.” He then rubbed her back soothingly. “Are you going to be alright?”

Rachel was silent for a while, before she reached up and hugged him back.

“...I miss Mr. Luckett too,” she said. “He was always the first to compliment my cooking each dinner.” She looked down. “Once I couldn't find any matches, and he had no problem helping me with the fire; and he never forgot to greet me when I gave him his tea...”

She sniffled again, and held tighter to Archer. And she was glad when Archer continued to rub her back.

“He didn't deserve this,” Rachel said softly.

“He didn't, no,” Archer replied.

 


 

Archer and Rachel parted ways after a while, and Rachel went back to the kitchen. She was feeling a little better as far as Archer knew, but she wasn't ready to face the other Lodgers yet.

And now Archer walked down the halls to his and Bird's room, sighing to himself.

The Lodgers were giving Rachel a hard time about her being Hyde's weapon partner. Rachel was being blamed for something she didn't even do, and she couldn't have known about it beforehand. It was just terrible.

But on the other hand, he could see where the Lodgers were coming from. Someone had taken their friend from away from them, and they only wanted to avenge him if they couldn't bring him back. And some had varying reactions to it – but it was all grief, all different forms of one human feeling.

Archer missed Luckett too, he really did. Like Rachel did, like his colleagues did.

Why had Hyde done such a thing?

Archer finally reached his and Bird's room and opened the door. The rustling of the various plants within and the hum of the clockwork bioregulator at the side of the room greeted him, but Bird was nowhere in sight. Just as well.

He closed the door behind him, and then reached into his coat pocket for a box of cigarettes. Once he had taken a cigarette, he put it in his mouth and moved to stuff the box back into his pocket.

“Save some for me, why don't you.”

Archer looked up, before sighing and pulling out his box once more. “Griffin,” he said nonchalantly. “How long have you been there?”

“That's not important.” Archer heard footsteps come closer to him, but Griffin wasn't turning visible yet. “I need a cigarette.”

He opened the box, and held it out in the direction of the footsteps' sound, to his left. Then he watched as a cigarette seemed to be plucked out of the box by thin air, before it floated up and then stayed still.

“Oh, of course,” Archer said in realization. “Bird wouldn't like it if I were to smoke near the plants. Come inside my bedroom.”

The floating cigarette jerked, as if it had almost fallen. There was a surprised sound coming from Archer's left.

“Why are you so troubled? It's just my bedroom,” Archer said, already turning towards the door at the right wall. “As long as we don't accidentally start a fire, it'll be fine.”

Footsteps followed behind Archer as he walked towards the door, and turned the knob, opening the door. Then he stepped inside his room, taking his coat off and hanging it on a peg on the door. He sat down on his bed, and then looked at the doorway – a cigarette was still floating there.

Archer took his own cigarette out of his mouth. “Can you turn visible again? You know I'm not afraid of you turning invisible anymore.”

“Well, if you say so,” Griffin said, sounding a little annoyed. “I was just checking something.”

“Checking what?” Archer asked.

“That's what I came to talk to you about,” Griffin replied. Slowly – slower than usual – he turned visible again. Then he blinked. “Wait, you don't normally smoke, Archer. What happened?”

“No, you talk about what you wanted to first,” Archer waved a hand. As he reached over to take a box of matches from his bedside drawer, he heard Griffin step into the room.

“You talk about yours first, if it's making you so desperate for a cigarette.”

Archer had taken the box of matches, but he paused and looked up at Griffin. “...That's out of character for you to say.”

“D-don't take me for an insensitive person,” Griffin said, putting a hand up to take his own cigarette out of his mouth. “I'm supposed to want to know what you're thinking about.”

“And why?” Archer asked, as he put his cigarette back in his mouth and lit the match.

Griffin didn't reply. It was only when Archer lit his cigarette and looked back to him that he noticed Griffin's rather embarrassed look.

“...Fine, I'll talk.” Archer exhaled a puff of smoke. He handed the box of matches to Griffin, who took it without a word.

When Griffin lit his own cigarette as well, Archer began to speak. “It's about Rachel. She-she bumped into me, and she was crying.”

“Crying?”

“Yes. And...she was crying because the others were fighting about her. They told her Luckett's death was her fault,” Archer went on. “Of course it's not her fault – she wasn't the one who killed our friend.”

“She was his weapon partner, though,” Griffin commented.

Archer gave him a look. “You really think she should take the blame for what her meister did?”

“I didn't say that,” Griffin replied. “But didn't he tell her time and time again that he was going to make her into a Death Scythe? She should have thought – we should have thought – that Hyde would kill one of us.”

“Well, sometimes you just don't know what's going on in someone else's mind.” Archer exhaled more smoke, taking the cigarette out of his mouth and tapping away the ash. “I don't know what's in your mind. Do you know what's in my mind?”

“...” Griffin let out a puff as well. “I can't believe we all trusted Hyde, though. We all thought that he really wouldn't hurt us.”

“I know.” Archer put the cigarette back into his mouth. “And now our friends are a mess, the whole Society's a mess without Luckett. Even Jekyll couldn't take it; he's gone on holiday with Lanyon. But we can't do that – where does that leave us?”

He sighed, and ran a hand through his hair. “I just...why did this have to happen to us? As if it wasn't enough that so many people disapprove of the Society...!”

Archer put his hand down, and exhaled a larger cloud of smoke than before. Griffin was silent for a while, before he walked over and sat down beside him.

“You talked to anyone else about this?” Griffin asked.

“How can I? Everyone's busy with their own grief,” Archer replied. “I'm probably going to make things worse by talking about it – Rachel talked with them about it, and they only started fighting.”

“Tch.” Griffin removed his cigarette from his mouth. “Still, our fellow Lodgers should know what you think about the whole thing.”

“How can I? I'm not one of them.” Archer wrapped his arms around himself. “I just want to get away from it all for now.”

Griffin watched him for a few moments, before saying, “Well, your birthday's coming up.”

Archer looked up at him – he couldn't believe that Griffin remembered, but now wasn't the time. “And?”

“You said you wanted to get away from it all,” Griffin went on. “How about we go out on your birthday? It's on me.”

“Mm, I don't know,” Archer said. “Aren't you going to be busy with magic and things like that?”

“No.” Griffin shook his head. “We can all have a quiet night, with you and however many Lodgers you want.”

Archer inhaled, and then exhaled more smoke, moving to hold up the cigarette in his mouth. “I...I just want to spend time with you for now. Is that alright?”

Griffin's eyes widened a little, and his cheeks were tinged red. He looked away, but nodded. “Yes, sure. Whatever makes you feel better, I guess.”

Archer smiled. “Thanks. You really are a good friend.”

Griffin didn't have anything more to add to that. Which was odd, but Archer let it slide once more.

“So...what did you want to talk to me about?”

“Never you mind.”

 

Chapter Text

“Come on! Is that the best you can do?”

Sword struck against sword, before both opponents jumped back.

“Don't underestimate me; just because I'm a weapon doesn't mean I can't beat you.”

Lanyon smirked, getting into position. “It's not that I'm underestimating you, Gabriel. In fact, it's that I've made a valuable assessment.”

Utterson held up his hand, turned into a blade. “Which is?”

Lanyon pointed the sword at his opponent. “You just don't know when to quit!” he said, rushing forward.

“In some cases, that's a virtue,” was Utterson's reply as he dodged the blow, and then moved to parry. Lanyon blocked the parry with his own sword, and pushed against him, making Utterson stumble back.

“Well, virtues can only carry you so far in battle.”

“Hypocrite; you make people play by your rules whenever you spar!”

Lanyon and Utterson came at each other once more, with Utterson swinging his right blade towards Lanyon's knee. Lanyon quickly turned the sword around in his hand, and blocked.

Without warning, Utterson turned his left hand into a blade, and swung it down–

–only to have this arm grabbed by Lanyon's free hand, and both parties were locked in position.

“Alright, Gabriel, Robert, you've proven yourselves,” Jekyll said from his weapon form. “It's a stalemate.”

With that, Utterson and Lanyon stepped back, and the former changed his hands back into flesh and bone. The sword glowed in Lanyon's hand, and he released it so that Jekyll could transform back into his human form.

“I must say, though, you have gotten better since we last sparred in the Academy, Gabriel,” Jekyll went on. “You can certainly attack more swiftly now, for one thing.”

“I'm glad you think I've improved, Henry.” Utterson put his hands on his hips. “I was certainly a slow blade back in the Academy, now that I think about it.”

“Well, now that you're not as slow a blade,” Lanyon said, “why don't you go looking for a meister? It's never too late.”

“I must make it clear that I am not interested in a meister,” Utterson replied. He took his glasses off to clean them a little on a cloth, and when he put them back on again, he noticed the looks on both Lanyon and Jekyll's faces.

“...What?”

“Are you sure you don't want a meister?” Jekyll asked.

“Of course I'm sure.” Since they still stared at him, Utterson sighed, but smiled. “Oh, don't give me that. Not all weapons need meisters. Though, I must admit, it does seem like a nice choice when I look at you both. There is no team quite like you.”

“None quite like us?” Lanyon asked bemusedly. “Shall we take that as a compliment?”

Jekyll laughed a little, and then turned fully towards Utterson. “Still, having a meister would help you greatly. Companionship cannot be substituted by much else.”

“If you had phrased it differently, I would think you were trying to lure me into courting someone,” Utterson joked.

At the comment, Jekyll blushed. “I'm not trying to make you fall in love with anyone! And how would that be related to meisters and weapons – Robert and I aren't anything like that!"

Utterson shook his head. “I know, Henry. It's just that you're one to talk – you can fight fine without Robert!”

“Oh, I don't know about that,” Jekyll said hesitantly.

Lanyon looked at them while they talked, a frown on his face. As Utterson continued to tell Jekyll how perfectly capable a weapon the latter was – and he was, no doubt – he crossed his arms, and after a few seconds, finally managed to tear his eyes away from them.

If even Utterson thought that Jekyll could fight just fine without Lanyon...didn't that mean he didn't need a meister anymore? What was Lanyon for, then – just a decorative piece?

And on the other hand, Lanyon couldn't even fight without a weapon...

“I think we should stop for a little while, I'm famished,” he cut in, halting Jekyll and Utterson's conversation.

“Oh yes, that's right,” Utterson said. “I'll have tea made.” He went over to the door of the house they were staying in, leaving Lanyon and Jekyll by themselves in the grassy lot.

“So...” Jekyll said, “it's been three days.”

“Yes, Henry, I'm glad your timekeeping senses are still working,” Lanyon replied.

Jekyll snorted, and then put a hand up, as if to cover his embarrassment. “Well, I was just wondering, Robert...when are we going back to London?”

Lanyon raised an eyebrow. “Do you already want to leave?”

“It's not that I'm not enjoying myself, it's just that I'm worried about the Society,” Jekyll said. “I know I shouldn't be expecting so much as a letter in such a short period of time, but...”

“Henry, relax,” Lanyon said, placing a hand on Jekyll's shoulder. “Letters take time to come, you know that, and we've only just begun training for the Tournament. We have to train more together – and anyway, the reason I prescribed this vacation for you is because I don't want you to be so stressed over the Society. You deserve a holiday.”

“Still...” Jekyll went on, “the Lodgers are my responsibility...”

“I know they are,” Lanyon replied. “But you have a responsibility to yourself as well! When you come back from this holiday, you'll be well-prepared to take on the duties that the Society has for you. Until then, let the cook take care of it. You said she was capable, after all."

Jekyll finally mustered a smile. “I suppose you are right, Robert.”

“I always am,” Lanyon smirked. “Now, Henry, I have certain strategies to use so we can win the Tournament.”

Lanyon walked over to a table sitting outside the house, and pulled up a chair. Jekyll followed suit, and then looked at Lanyon.

“You seem to have your mind set on this Tournament,” Jekyll said.

“How can it not be?” Lanyon asked. “We slip up once in the Tournament, we lose everything.”

“Still, I'm a bit concerned that you might be a little too fixated on it,” Jekyll said. “You've been acting strangely these past few days...”

“Oh, don't worry about that,” Lanyon told him, waving a hand. “This is just what it looks like when I put my heart and soul into something. Of course, I don't concentrate too much on a lot of things, as you know, so it might have surprised you a little.”

“Ah, I see.” Jekyll nodded. “I remember, though, that the purpose of this holiday is to help me relax. It would relax me, then, if we took a day off tomorrow and just explored the countryside.”

“That sounds splendid, Henry!” Lanyon said. “Imagine, you, the person who likes to work so much...”

“You work just as hard as I do, Robert.” Jekyll put his hands together atop the table. “As I am your weapon, it is my duty to worry about you too.”

Lanyon felt his smile fall at those words.

“Worrying about me...it's your duty?”

“Yes,” Jekyll said, his smile faltering as well. “Is everything alright?”

“Are you worried about me because you're my friend?” Lanyon asked. “Or are you only worried because it's your damn duty?”

Jekyll now looked considerably troubled, but in some sick way it satisfied Lanyon to see him looking that way. He had been waiting to say this to Jekyll for long enough.

“You've been standing by my side...you've been partnering with me...you've been protecting me...all these years!” Lanyon looked Jekyll in the eye. “And that isn't enough for you?”

“Enough?” Jekyll leaned in closer. “Robert, I do all those things because I want to! Because you're my friend and meister!”

“Because I'm your friend and meister?” Lanyon shot back. “Or is it because you pity me, your useless partner?”

Jekyll shrank back as Lanyon continued, “Face it! You don't have to be my partner anymore, you can fight so well on your own, Gabriel said it himself! Well, guess what? I don't want to be treated like an infant anymore!”

“I don't treat you like an infant,” Jekyll replied. “I don't think of you as useless! I just don't want you to push yourself because of my Society!"

“What, you think that I don't care about the Society? About your hopes and dreams – about you?” Lanyon was raising his voice now, just as he stood up from his seat. “I care so much that my heart bleeds just thinking about you!”

“Then why are you saying these things?” Jekyll asked.

“Because I want to be able to take care of myself! I want to grow stronger! But you won't let me!”

“I would let you! What do you think I'm doing to stop you from doing so?” Jekyll went on, his voice desperate.

“...You pity me. All those times you protected me from an opponent, even back in our days at the Academy.” Lanyon put a hand on his chest. “You don't believe that I don't need protecting!”

“Robert, please believe me, I don't think that,” Jekyll said, standing up as well. “It's just that – I have to protect you when I should!”

Lanyon grit his teeth together.

“You always want to play the hero, don't you, Henry Jekyll?” He slammed his fist on the table. “If you want to be a hero so badly, then be someone else's weapon! I won't stand by while you treat me like a damsel in distress, not anymore!”

Jekyll's face fell.

“You're right...” he said. “You're right. I'm...I'm not...a worthy weapon.”

Lanyon stared at him, his anger slowly vanishing, leaving a cold pit in his stomach. Hearing Jekyll say that...what had he done?

Jekyll was reluctant to look anywhere near Lanyon – his eyes darted around, trying not to meet him.

“I...”

Lanyon and Jekyll looked to the side, to see Utterson standing there.

“I brought the tea...” he said awkwardly.

 


 

The next thing Jekyll knew, Lanyon had said that they would return to London by daybreak the next morning.

Utterson didn't say a word after witnessing Lanyon's outburst, but Jekyll knew it was uncomfortable for all three of them. Besides, maybe the reason Lanyon wanted them to return so soon after saying so much about Jekyll's health was that he needed some space of his own. And Jekyll was more than willing to give it to him.

I care so much that my heart bleeds just thinking about you!”

Lanyon was now fast asleep on a couch, having passed out after some late night reading. Jekyll had come across him by chance, and was now standing in front of him, unsure of what to do.

Did Lanyon really feel that way all this time? And he never even realized...!

He crouched down in front of Lanyon, and hesitated a little, before reaching a hand out to stroke his cheek.

Jekyll did care about Lanyon too, so much that it felt as if his heart would bleed as well.

But that's not necessary – he already ripped it out and shattered it.

Jekyll paused in his gesture. “...Hyde.”

Ugh, did you listen to that hogwash he was spouting? Hyde asked. How can he care about you if he's accusing you of not caring about him? It makes no sense at all.

“I'm sure there's more to it than that.” Jekyll replied, running his thumb over Lanyon's cheekbone one more time before putting his hand down. “Robert wants different things; I have to give it to him.”

Hyde appeared in the glass of a picture frame above the couch – he was frowning. He's right about one thing, though. You have been acting like a hero for him one too many times.

Jekyll stood up. “Please, I don't need this right now.”

But then again, if he wanted different things from the beginning, then why didn't he tell you so? Hyde continued. You've been working hard as a weapon for him, and this is the thanks you get?

“Hyde, I have been working hard for him, but–”

Then why should you listen to him? He's been nothing but a pain, anyway – he dragged you out here when you should be tracking down Luckett's murderer! And after yelling at you, he's not going to even give you a damn apology! He's even cutting short the holiday that he made such a big fuss about – how selfish is that?

“He's not selfish,” Jekyll said as he walked out of the room, more to console himself than anything. “He...he just wants to grow stronger, now that I've advanced too far ahead of him.”

And isn't that why you don't need him? Hyde went on. If he's going to whine about how he thinks you've surpassed him, then maybe you don't need a meister like him.

“I...” Jekyll looked down. “I have to be his partner. I have to look out for him. Because...” he paused.

Because you love him? Hyde answered for him. That's such a stupid thing to say.

“I know,” Jekyll said, slumping against the wall behind him. “It's especially stupid now because I made him feel useless.” He sighed. “I'm not a weapon worthy of him.”

If he made you feel like that, then is he a meister worthy of you?

Jekyll's eyes widened when he heard it.

No, Lanyon only said those things because he...because he was the one that felt bad...people say those things in the heat of the moment...

...but did it mean that Lanyon truly did believe that he was a bad weapon?

Jekyll slid down to the floor, his head tilted back; he was holding back tears. That wasn't what he wanted to believe. And yet – what were these conflicting feelings?

He blinked for a bit, and looked down at his arms. They were crossed. But he didn't remember crossing them...

Jekyll then looked up at another picture frame on the wall across him, where Hyde had his arms crossed as well.

It was Hyde who had done it, and he looked just as surprised as Jekyll did.

They both stared at each other for a while.

 

Chapter Text

A growl sounded from inside the training room.

Upon hearing it from the hall, Rachel rushed towards the training room. She had heard that growl before – she hoped that nothing bad was going to happen...!

She came to the door, and saw what was happening inside: a half-transformed Jasper stood in front of Frankenstein, who was wielding her Creature in weapon form. A few other Lodgers were standing by the side, though they hadn't noticed Rachel by the door. (Or were pretending not to notice her, a voice told her.)

The growl had indeed come from Jasper, as he was sizing his opponent up for a bit, before Frankenstein steadied her position and ran forward.

Jasper dodged her as she swung the scythe at him twice, and then pounced at her. Frankenstein blocked him with the handle of the scythe, using it to knock him away. He hit the wall with some force, but was back on his feet in no time.

Rachel watched Frankenstein and Jasper continue to go at it, her mouth falling open. Was that really Jasper, or was that the wolf? No, it couldn't be the wolf; Jasper certainly didn't have a wicked grin on his face, and he was standing on his feet. Plus, neither the Lodgers nor Frankenstein seemed relatively troubled. Maybe she was just surprised that Jasper was sparring with Frankenstein.

Her brow creased. Why was her stomach turning?

Frankenstein was about to finish it by jumping up and aiming the blade at Jasper – but then Jasper raised his hands, and Frankenstein was gone in a flash.

A split second later, Frankenstein reappeared on the other side of the room, and dropped to the floor, on her feet at least. She did look a little disoriented, though, and had to hold her head to steady herself.

“Are you alright?” Jasper called.

“Fine,” Frankenstein said, before extending her arm and holding the scythe out. “Let's pause for a bit, though.”

Jasper nodded, while the scythe glowed, and then transformed back into the Creature.

“You're doing very well, Jasper, dear!” Cantilupe said, smiling.

Jasper then looked up at her, putting a hand to the back of his neck. “I wouldn't call it too much; I didn't have a chance to try spatial beams in battle yet...”

“No, that's just fine,” Mosley told him. “You've managed to hold a half-transformation for longer this time, and you can teleport quicker than you used to.” He walked up to Jasper, and clapped a hand on his shoulder. “Reminds me of when I was starting out with spatial magic. You're something, alright, Jasper.”

“Soon Maijabi and I can teach you both some of the more advanced spells,” Cantilupe went in. “Of course, there are some spells that Jasper would need our help with, considering learning Magic Calculation isn't so easy either.”

“Magic Calculation?” Jasper asked. “I've read a bit about it.”

“As I've heard,” Frankenstein said, crossing her arms and coming up to them as well. “Don't go inflating his head, he's just starting out.I don't want to make Kaylock do anything he can't manage.

“We would never make him do anything that he can't handle, Miss Frankenstein,” Mosley told her. “Or anything that he doesn't want to."

Rachel watched this whole scene from the doorway, before she looked down at her feet. So Jasper had advanced in both his transformation and spatial magic. And Frankenstein was helping him, as she had promised. That was good...that was good...

Then why did she feel so detached from it all?

“Why are you standing there by yourself?”

“Gah!”

Rachel jumped back, and looked to her left, where the sound was coming from. The Creature was standing there, eyeing her with a nonchalant look on their face. “What?” they asked.

“Oh, my bad,” Rachel said, trying to regain her composure. “Don't mind me, I was just watching the match from here, heh.”

“Where no one else can see you?” the Creature prodded.

Rachel shrank back. “It's not that I want to stay away...”

The Creature stared down at her, before nodding. “It's normal to feel that way, you know.”

“Feel what way?”

“Are you not feeling like an outcast around the around the other Lodgers, Miss Pidgley?”

Rachel turned fully towards the Creature, looking down and toying with her hair. “Well...I wouldn't say that, but...”

“It's because of the Lodgers' recent behavior towards you, isn't it?” the Creature went on. “Of course, I don't normally indulge in gossip, but I heard some of the Lodgers talking about you behind your back. And I told them to mind their own business.”

“That's...you don't have to do that...” Rachel said, not liking how quiet her voice was getting. “If they're talking about me like that, then it's my problem, not yours. And I'm not feeling like this because of what happened, I – I mean, I've always known that I was never one of them...it just feels worse now.”

The Creature turned fully towards her as well. “I see,” they said. “And I can say that I understand the feeling well.”

“You do?” Rachel finally looked up at them.

“The stories make it seem like I have no feelings or any understanding of feelings, but the stories have always been wrong,” the Creature told her. “I have felt like an outcast among weapons on many occasions, on account of my unique characteristics. Not to mention that for a long time Frankenstein and I were on the run, and then we were strangers among society.”

“Oh.” Rachel didn't know what else to say. “I guess...I feel like I'm even further away from them because of this mess. I'm even growing away from Jasper – he knows how to fight now, he knows how to take care of himself.” She sighed. “He's getting better.”

“But surely, there's something you have done as well,” the Creature said.

“I've done nothing but try to manage this Society that hates me, and mope about it,” Rachel replied. “They've got a good reason to hate me, anyway; I'm good for nothing, and I can't even figure out what to do without Jekyll, or-or Hyde–”

“Miss Pidgley,” the Creature said firmly, holding up a hand. Rachel hadn't realized that she had been tugging so much at her pigtails until they had spoken. Not only that, but her lip was quivering.

“...Are you alright?” they asked.

“I don't know,” Rachel breathed.

“Don't say all those bad things about yourself; pitying yourself would only make you part of the problem.” The Creature bent down a little, perhaps to look her in the eye. “If you're concerned that you're not improving, then you should work hard to improve instead of talking only about your problems.”

The blunt force behind this statement surprised Rachel a little. “Al...alright.”

“Feeling sad is normal, but it is also necessary to distinguish it from self-pity,” the Creature said. “I know, because Victoria experienced both so many times while we were together.”

“Miss Frankenstein?” Rachel looked at the old woman, taking her place among the chatting Lodgers even though she wasn't talking. “But she seems fine now.”

“There was many a hardship she had to pass through to 'seem fine',” the Creature told her. “And there are still so many things that she holds dear from back then, which make her sad.”

Rachel blinked, and then looked down again. She couldn't find anything else to say; luckily, the Creature had something.

“Miss Pidgley, you may not be as much distanced from the other Lodgers as you think,” they said. “If you feel that way, you ought to tell one of them about it.”

“But who would even listen to me?” Rachel asked. “I'm not really worth anything. At least, I thought I was, but...that was just as Hyde's weapon, and we all know how that's turning out for me.”

“You have just as much worth as anyone else,” the Creature said. “I learned it myself, after the longest time thinking that I was nothing without a meister. And I was born to be Frankenstein's weapon – but you aren't born to be Hyde's weapon. You'll be fine.”

Rachel mustered a smile. “I didn't think you cared so much about me.”

“I don't, not really; I don't even know you,” the Creature replied, and their blunt attitude struck Rachel again, “but I don't like to see anyone hurt themselves thinking the same things I once did. It is only natural that I should help people having the same problems as I.”

Rachel nodded. “Thank you.”

“So you should tell one of the Lodgers how you feel,” they went on. “You may feel better about it.”

Rachel looked from them to the Lodgers beginning to move back to the side, while Jasper prepared himself for one more sparring match. She focused on him for a bit.

“...I have an idea.”

 


 

Archer hummed a tiny tune to himself as he watered some of the plants in his and Bird's room, smiling to himself. He finished up, before setting the watering can down and admiring his work. Someone came up to the door, and knocked.

“Come in,” Archer said.

In walked Bird, behind whom was Flowers. They were both smiling softly at him as well.

“Hello, Archer,” Bird said. “We thought we'd like to greet you a happy birthday!”

“I can't believe you remembered,” Archer told him.

“Of course we would remember something as important as the birthday of our friend,” Flowers said. She was cupping something in her mouth as she spoke, and now opened her palms to release a tiny blue butterfly. It flew through the air and landed on Archer's head, atop his ear. He couldn't help chuckling.

“Thanks for that,” Archer said, gently moving a finger up to touch it. At his touch, it flew away, going down to the flowers below. “You consider me your friend? That's sweet of you.”

He considered bringing up to Flowers and Bird the reason why he had said those exact words – Rachel – but he decided against it. These two Lodgers probably weren't the ones who had made Rachel feel bad, and he didn't need to drag anyone's spirits down through the mud.

“Do you have any plans on how you want to spend your day?” Flowers asked.

“Well, I do have a night out on the town with Griffin, nothing too grand,” Archer said.

“Just the two of you?” Bird went over to examine the plants, a small grin on his face. “Don't get into any fights.”

“I'll make sure he won't.” Archer nodded. “Is he at work?”

“I think I saw him talking to Maijabi,” Flowers told him. “That was at the alchemy room.”

Archer then made for the door. “Alright, I'll go find him. I want to see him today, start the morning off right.”

Bird and Flowers looked at him curiously. “Is that what meisters and weapons do?” Bird asked.

“It's what I believe they should, at least on one's birthday.” Then Archer waved a hand. “Bye.”

 


 

Archer went to the alchemy room, but didn't find Griffin there, no matter how hard he looked.

That was odd. Normally Griffin would be there swiping some of Virginia's more recent formulas, or turning some of the ingredients there invisible for shits and giggles. (Did Griffin just enjoy getting a rise out of Virginia? Archer didn't know.) But he wasn't there.

That was fine, though – maybe Maijabi knew where he went. Archer figured he should go to the man and ask him – so he did.

When asked, Maijabi told Archer that he hadn't seen Griffin since they met at the alchemy room. But he did have a feeling that Archer's meister was still in the building.

“You'll find him eventually; it's not that large of a building,” Maijabi had said.

Archer thought it wise not to point out that some parts of the Society were much larger on the inside.

So now he had to search the whole Society for his meister. That would have been fine, were it not for the fact that this building had strange magic architecture, not to mention that Griffin could turn invisible. Archer placed his hands in his pockets, and huffed. He hoped that at least Helsby hadn't pushed Griffin into the fish tank in Helsby's lab yet again.

Archer decided he would start with Griffin's room, then. He had reached the door and was about to knock when he noticed that the door was ajar. He bent down, unable to help himself, and pushed the door open a bit wider.

Griffin was inside, looking down at one bottle of the glowing goop from the alchemy room. His sleeves were rolled up, and he had a pensive look on his face. From the door, Archer watched him with some interest. What was he going to do?

He saw Griffin stretch out his hand, and close his eyes. Then his hand glowed, threatening to release a blast of energy–

–and was shocked to see that the glow instantly vanished, with red angry marks appearing on Griffin's arm in its place.

Griffin's eyes snapped open, and he cried out in pain, before he hissed and drew his hand closer to himself. He rubbed his arm, and slowly, the red markings faded. Then Griffin curled into himself.

“Damn it...” he cursed to himself.

Archer backed away from the door, his eyes wide open. What...what was going on? Griffin was...having trouble with his magic? That couldn't be – he could still turn invisible pretty easily, just a few days ago!

I was just checking something.”

But...what if that was all he could do right now?

What if that was what Griffin had been meaning to talk to him about the other day? And Griffin had opted to listen to his worries instead...

The door creaked open wider as Archer was lost in thought, and Archer jumped to attention when he realized Griffin was staring at him from the doorway.

“Were you spying on me?” Griffin asked. Archer could sense that he was offended.

“I – I wasn't! Well, I wasn't meaning to, but...I had been looking for you...” Archer tried to explain. Then he sighed. “What's going on?”

Griffin's face softened, only a little. “Well, I was going to tell you...”

“Well, you didn't tell me these past few days; I suppose you didn't want me to worry so close to my birthday.” Archer folded his arms. “Can you tell me what's wrong now?”

Griffin opened the door wider and stepped aside, letting Archer come in. When Archer was inside the room, Griffin moved to close the door behind him. Then Archer turned to look at Griffin.

“So...” he said. “Your magic...”

Griffin nodded. “Maijabi's been trying to track down the source of the parasite that's keeping me from using my magic. He's pinpointed so far that the spell was cast on the night of the Exhibition, but little else.”

“It's been that long?” Archer asked, unfolding his arms. “And you were still trying to use your magic?”

“I miss the feeling, Archer, of course I'm going to see if it's really gone,” Griffin said. “I don't know why, but I can't just accept that someone's trying to take my magic away from me. It's a part of who I am. And if I go out, how am I supposed to defend myself?”

He looked down at his hands, before clenching them into fists. Archer stared at him, and then reached forward to grasp them.

“You forget, Griffin, that you have a weapon you can use when you get in trouble,” he told him. “And if it helps you, I'm just as worried as you are about the whole thing. But I'm here, in case you need anything. Consider me your helper until you get better.” He turned his head up to come eye to eye with Griffin. “And you'll get better in no time, I'm sure of it.”

Griffin looked at him, before nodding. “I-I suppose, if you want to be of help.”

Archer mustered a smile – but then realized that they were standing close to each other, not to mention that he had been holding his hands. He blushed, and swallowed...but he didn't let go of his meister's hands yet.

“...What's with that stupid look on your face, Archer?”

“Don't call it stupid!” Archer then held his hands tighter. “Just...promise me you won't get into more trouble than you should.”

Griffin looked down at his hands. “You mean don't get into fights?” He inhaled, and then exhaled. “I'll try.”

“Good. I just want you to be safe,” Archer said.

“Mm-hmm.” Griffin said. A blush appeared on his face as well – but it was at least much better than seeing the red markings on his hand.

And then the full awkwardness of the situation finally hit Archer.

 

Chapter Text

A large knife soared through the air and cut through a huge slab of meat. Blood splattered about, and Jasper flinched.

“The meat market looks rather busy today, doesn't it?” Rachel asked, trying to sound enthusiastic.

Jasper looked back at her. “Uh, yeah,” he said, nodding. “Is it just me, or does seeing all this meat make you hungry?”

Rachel turned to him as well, pausing in her walking. “Depends; do you want to eat it raw or cooked?”

She saw how Jasper's smile faltered, and she put her hands up. “I – I didn't mean it in a bad way!” she said quickly. “Actually, I find it rather cute that you would get hungry in a place like this–!” Then she slapped a hand over her mouth. Did she really just say something like that?

Jasper stared at her, having paused as well. Then he blushed, and looked down, twiddling his fingers together. “I thought you would find it creepy, because I'm a werewolf...” he said in a soft voice.

“Not at all.” Rachel removed her hand from her mouth. “It just means you have a good eye for meat. And I'd be glad to cook it for you!”

“You...you would?” Jasper smiled wider. “Thank you.”

“Your welcome.” Rachel then turned and walked forward, with Jasper moving as well behind her.

He watched her as she gazed at all the stalls, judging which cuts to buy. Jasper was impressed – she moved like she knew the place, and she wasn't fazed at all by the blood on the pavement. That had its own charm.

He wondered if she had seen lots of blood, on her missions with Hyde...

Come to think of it, Rachel did say she had something she wanted to talk with him about; that was why she had asked him to come. But now that they were both out of the Society, Rachel seemed to be closed off. Jasper figured he shouldn't let it bother him, though. She would talk to him in her own time.

But still...he was admittedly curious...

“Did you want to talk about anything, Rachel?” Jasper asked before he knew it.

Rachel looked back at him, and Jasper's eyes darted away. Oh, Death, why had he said that? He glanced back at her after a few seconds. “I mean...if you want to talk; it's fine if you don't want to say anything–”

“No, Jasper,” Rachel said, trying to keep her smile on. “I did need to talk to you about something.”

She stopped walking again, and turned around to face Jasper fully. “You know, I do miss the normal days at the Society, as much as the Lodgers do. I just wish that things would go back to the way they were.” She looked down. “Because...”

Jasper didn't need to think about it too much. “...Because you're Hyde's weapon.”

Rachel's smile was all but gone now. “Everyone thinks Edward is the murderer, and I'm not asking anyone to believe me when I say he isn't. What I want, though, is for someone to consider me their friend.” She heaved a sigh. “And I don't have a lot of those lately...”

Jasper looked down at her hands. They had settled down near her waist, clutching the basket that she had on her tightly. He then looked back up at her. “The Lodgers haven't been saying anything bad to you, have they?”

Rachel shook her head. “They do blame Hyde for it, but...” Her mouth was pressed in a thin line. “I don't know, maybe somehow this is my fault too.”

Jasper took a few steps closer. “Rachel...” He sighed. “I know. We weren't able to save him in time.”

“What? Jasper, you didn't know that...” She caught what she was saying, “...we didn't know that Luckett was going to die that night.”

Jasper looked her in the eye. “It's – it's pretty easy to accept what others said as truth, even if you know it's wrong. He paused. “Believe me, I would know.”

Then he lowered his hands from their place in front of his chest. “Besides...I don't really suspect Hyde either. He seems like he wouldn't stoop down to killing a friend.”

Rachel looked at him for a while, before she grinned wider than she had earlier. “Thanks, Jasper. You really cheered me up.”

Jasper smiled back, shy but pleased. “It's no problem.”

 


 

The carriage wheels rattled on the pavement, and the sound of the horses' feet and the meat vendors' voices outside the carriage rang in Lanyon's ears. But on the other hand, Jekyll didn't seem to pay it any mind – in fact, he had taken this time to doze off in the carriage.

Lanyon had been hoping that he could get this time to apologize, to tell Jekyll that he hadn't meant to make him feel unworthy. But they had gotten on a train and it had been too awkward with Utterson joining them for the train ride, not to mention that they hadn't talked very much during the whole day, on the ride back to London – any small talk was met with disinterest and one-syllable answers.

Did Jekyll...resent him?

Lanyon sighed, and looked out the window, while Jekyll snored softly on his shoulder. Perhaps Jekyll ought to be mad at him. He had made his weapon feel like such a pain, he didn't deserve this...

But a part of him told him that he wasn't taking this the right way.

Jekyll might be mad at him now, sure, but when did Jekyll ever hold a grudge against him? He certainly never held grudges against anyone. Not to mention, Jekyll must know that this is for their good – the good of their team, and the good of the Society. Jekyll would understand.

He had still unjustly made Jekyll feel bad, though. That was a bad move on his part. But he could acknowledge Jekyll's feelings, while at the same time affirming that he would need to grow stronger and stronger and be on Jekyll's level. He needed to train harder, put himself through more strain, to prove himself a meister that could wield Jekyll. Jekyll would understand.

But for now, Lanyon let Jekyll sleep. He needed the sleep – he hadn't seen the man sleep in a long time.

He looked back at Jekyll. Oh, in this angle...no, in every angle...he looked perfect.

Then in the window, something – no someone – caught Lanyon's eye.

He gasped.

 


 

“So you and Mr. Hyde met when you saw him on Dr. Jekyll's roof?”

Rachel nodded. “Heh, yeah! You know, Edward likes to climb onto the tops of buildings in London. We've spent many nights with him jumping about from roof to roof, and I've had to learn how to do the same in order to keep up with him sometimes, when I'm not in weapon form.” She laughed a little. “I mean, there was that one time that–”

She stopped, and then looked at Jasper. He was sniffing the air, with a troubled look on his face.

“Jasper?” Rachel asked. “What's wrong?”

“Something...something smells familiar,” Jasper said. “I haven't smelled this in a long time...”

Heavy footsteps started to come into the area, making itself known. Jasper's eyes widened, and then he paled. Rachel turned to look in front of them, and put a hand over her mouth.

There, coming around the corner, was a large golem, looking quite monstrous. And that wasn't all...the person riding it...!

It came to a stop in front of Rachel and Jasper, just as the two of them knew for sure who was atop its shoulder.

“You...” Moreau said. “I know you.”

He jumped off the golem's shoulder, and landed on his feet, before taking his rifle and cocking it.

“You know where Frankenstein is,” he went on, looking at Jasper. “And I'm willing to kill her to find out.” he pointed the rifle at Rachel. “So, what will it be?”

His finger was on the trigger, and Rachel raised a hand to transform–

“Hey! You there!”

Moreau looked up, and Rachel and Jasper turned around. It was Lanyon and Jekyll, having run up to the scene from their carriage. Lanyon glared at Moreau, and Moreau finally recognized him.

“Frankenstein has left the city,” Lanyon said. “And you're just going to stand here terrorizing innocent citizens?”

Moreau's eyes widened, and then he growled. “He's left London?!” he asked. “So I will kill you in order to find out!”

Lanyon frowned. “By Death, this man doesn't give up.” He held out his hand in Jekyll's direction. “Jekyll!”

“Right,” Jekyll said, nodding, even as he glowed and then began to transform. His form jumped into Lanyon's hand, and soon the glow vanished to reveal a sword.

And then Rachel heard the most sickening hiss – as steam began to rise out of the hand Lanyon was holding Jekyll in.

Lanyon cried out, and dropped the sword. He then looked down at his hand – even from her position Rachel could see that there were burn marks on his hand.

Rachel's mouth fell open.

When a meister and a weapon cannot fully resonate, their souls experience a rejection reaction of sorts. The weapon becomes hard to handle.”

Was that...what Frankenstein meant?

“Robert? What happened?” Jekyll asked from the ground.

“Y-your handle...” Lanyon said, panic beginning to show on his face. “...it feels like I'm holding acid!”

Having heard this, Moreau finally showed a wicked sneer under his beard.

“Perfect.”

Then he fired.

 

Chapter Text

“Perfect.”

Moreau fired away at Lanyon, but Lanyon dodged, and so did Jasper and Rachel. At the sound of the gunshot, the people around them finally began to disperse, some of them shouting as they went. But Jekyll's primary concern was Lanyon, who had scrambled to pick him up again.

Could this be what he thought it was...?

Lanyon grabbed the handle, and pulled the sword up – but only for a few seconds before he couldn't take it anymore, and he dropped the sword yet again.

He grabbed his hand in pain, and Jekyll had no more doubts about what it was.

A resonance rejection.

“Are you alright?” Jekyll couldn't help asking.

Lanyon breathed heavily, holding his hand. “...Why can't I hold you...?” He stared down at Jekyll, his eyes wide.

Jekyll only stared back up – how was he supposed to answer that? What – why couldn't they...

“Isn't that just perfect,” Moreau said, aiming his rifle at Lanyon, in between his eyes. “You two destroyed my golems using Soul Resonance, but now that you lack it, I can kill you where you stand.”

Without missing a beat, Jekyll switched back to human form, and tackled Moreau in the stomach. The gun went off, but Jekyll had Moreau pinned down to the ground and could only focus on that.

“Don't touch my meister!” Jekyll exclaimed, transforming his hand into a blade. He raised it, and then brought it down – but Moreau blocked with his rifle. Yet Jekyll pushed down with all his might, trying to slice through it like he had before–

“Dr. Lanyon! Are you alright?”

Jekyll heard Rachel and Jasper run over to Lanyon, and he looked over his shoulder, perhaps out of an impulse to see if his meister was alright.

Lanyon's head was bleeding.

Jekyll gasped, and that was when Moreau got his chance to kick Jekyll off. He was pushed back with a cry, and he stumbled as Moreau got back to his feet.

Jekyll, what are you doing?! Hyde asked. This is no time to be distracted by Lanyon!

“He's hurt,” Jekyll could only say.

He's gotten hurt before. Now focus on the fight in front of you!

Moreau aimed the gun at him, and Jekyll transformed his other hand into a blade as he shielded himself from the bullets. With his blades protecting him, he ran forward, and then swung one of his arms back and sliced through the rifle.

Very good, Hyde said.

“It's not over,” Jekyll told him, as Moreau threw the gun aside.

It was then that the golem beside Moreau began to move. The golem stepped forward, and then stretched out a hand towards Lanyon, Rachel, and Jasper.

Jekyll looked from this back to Moreau, and then moved his right blade up to slash him across the face. Moreau screamed out in pain, and as Jekyll expected, the golem stopped in its tracks.

Moreau hissed, and then took his hand off the bleeding wound on his face. There was a scratch over his eye, and the sight of it was quite unsettling.

He looked furious, in fact – but then he grinned widely.

Jekyll had barely a moment to react before the golem swiveled around towards him, and one of its arms swung out and hit him.

He cried out as he hit the wall, leaving a dent in it. Jekyll gasped painfully.

Jekyll! Hyde said. Is anything broken?

He tried breathing again, and pulled himself out of the wall. “It's fine, just some bruised ribs...” Jekyll replied weakly.

Alright, Jekyll, that's enough, Hyde told him. Let me take control, I can handle him.

“No...” Jekyll jumped down, and turned around to face the golem. “I have to protect them...”

All by yourself? Jekyll, you're in trouble! I can get to Rachel and use Soul Resonance to stop him!

Jekyll shook his head. “But Lanyon...”

Who cares about Lanyon! He's dead weight to you at this point! Hyde exclaimed.

“No–!”

Jekyll was cut off by the golem reaching down and grabbing him, pulling him high above the ground. His arms were pinned to his sides, and he could barely breathe.

“You seem to be crazier than I thought, talking to yourself like that!” Moreau told him as the golem lowered Jekyll to look its enchanter in the eye, even as his feet were still too far from the pavement. “Tell me. You must be so mad as to still be keeping Frankenstein among the witches and sorcerers within your Society, am I right?”

“Frankenstein...” Jekyll managed to say, “...Frankenstein and the Creature have left London! We do not know where they are!”

“LIAR!” Moreau roared, stretching his arm out. As he did so, the golem's arm also straightened.

And before Jekyll knew it, he was being flung into the air.

Just as quickly as he shot up into the sky, he descended and landed on a roof about a street away. He gasped for breath – yes, now something was definitely broken. Jekyll tried to get up, but dizziness was overtaking him, and he found it hard to focus.

Henry! Hyde's voice rang in his ears. Henry, what's happening?

Jekyll held his head. He was sure it was a concussion, but he couldn't concentrate on answering Hyde.

Henry, this is enough! You have to let me take over!

“Urgh...” Jekyll got to his knees, wobbly in his stance. “Ed...Edward...”

A turning came in his stomach, and something bubbled up from within him. And his head still hurt, Death, it hurt so much...

His mouth could not contain the sensation anymore, and he looked down to see a green liquid dribble out from his lips.

His stomach was turning even harder, and he got down to his hands – this only happened when–!

Jekyll screamed in pain.

 


 

Did Jekyll just get thrown into the air?

Rachel didn't have much time to wonder about that, because the threat that was right in front of them began to move once more. Moreau took a few steps towards them, a few laughs escaping his throat.

“Now, then...” he said, looking at the three of them. “Will you talk? Or will you join him?”

Rachel looked at Lanyon. “You can fight, right, Doctor?” she asked.

Lanyon put a hand to his head, on the bleeding wound. “M'fine...” he said. He was about to get into a fighting stance – when Jasper stepped in front of them.

“Let me handle it,” Jasper told them, clenching his hands into fists.

“Mr. Kaylock?” Lanyon asked.

“You may not know it, Dr. Lanyon, but I've been training how to fight and use magic,” Jasper went on. “I think I can handle him while you find another way to stop him.”

“Jasper, are you sure?” Rachel asked, a little worriedly.

He nodded. “I have people I want to protect, after all.” And with that, he turned to Moreau, who adjusted his footing, while the golem did the same. Rachel saw Jasper hesitate, just a little, before he charged at Moreau, holding his hands up.

All Moreau needed to do was have the golem swing its arm at Jasper and send him flying into the wall.

“Jasper!” Rachel shouted.

Jasper groaned, and pushed himself out of the dent on the wall slowly. He got back on his feet, and Rachel could see a tail already starting to grow. In fact, his grunts sounded more like growls now. He held his head, and then shook it a little, before taking a deep breath.

“Come on, not now,” she heard him mutter, as the golem came closer and closer. “Keep it together.”

He then looked up at the golem, and steadied himself, before the golem raised another hand to crush him.

Jasper stood his ground even as the golem's arm came down on him, and then he opened his mouth – and a burst of light shot out of his mouth, hitting the golem's arm.

Rachel was stunned. So that was what Jasper had meant earlier by spatial beams.

Instead of exploding at contact, the golem's arm became scrambled, such that Rachel couldn't even tell if it resembled an arm anymore. Jasper let out a huff, and then the golem swung its other arm at him, but he dodged by teleporting from right to left. With that, the golem missed him, and toppled to the ground with its momentum.

“By Death, that boy has been training,” Lanyon spoke, before he looked at Rachel. “We have to help him end this. Can you perform Soul Resonance?”

“Soul Resonance?!” Internally, Rachel began to panic. “But I'm not–”

“A weapon? Miss Pidgley, I've always known you were a weapon,” Lanyon cut her off. “Jekyll doesn't keep much from me. Now, can you use Soul Resonance or not?”

“I...” Rachel turned her eyes back to Jasper, who was now fighting off Moreau and his dagger, while Moreau's golem tried to get back up. “...I can't...”

Lanyon frowned. “Is that so? But we won't know until we try.” He extended a hand to her. “And we have to help Mr. Kaylock in some way.”

Rachel stared down at the hand, before she looked back up and saw Jasper. He had finally managed to make a shield, but now tried to keep it stable under the quick yet strong swipes of the dagger. She turned back to Lanyon, and without hesitation put her hand in his.

She transformed with a glow, and then Lanyon gripped her handle tightly, before the glow vanished to reveal a sickle.

Finally, Rachel thought, they were ready to fight–

–and then Lanyon sank to the ground.

“Wh – oh, I should have expected this,” Lanyon said exasperatedly, just as Rachel realized that the same familiar feeling she had with Hyde wasn't present in Lanyon's grasp. In fact, she didn't feel like they matched wavelengths at all.

Was this...another resonance rejection?

“Two in one day, give me a bloody break!” Lanyon grumbled, trying to lift Rachel as high as he could – but the sickle remained firmly on the ground. “You have to match your wavelength with mine! It should be fairly easy, since we're new partners, alright?”

“Um...I don't know if I can do that,” Rachel said nervously. “My meister and I have always resonated properly, so I didn't have reason to adjust too much...”

Lanyon gaped. “You've got to be kidding me!”

A crash sounded in front of them, and both Lanyon and Rachel looked to see Jasper fallen on the ground, his shield gone and the now-upright golem standing above him. He struggled to get up, growling more inhumanly than before, his nails and hair growing longer.

“No...” he begged himself weakly, his voice hoarse, “...no, please...”

He raised his head and gave a howl, before a wide, toothy grin appeared on his face, and his eyes flashed yellow.

Oh, no.

Now fully transformed, the werewolf got up on all fours, and looked at Moreau hungrily. He then charged at him, barking, before he pounced and tackled him. He went for his neck with his sharp teeth, and Moreau tried to hold him off.

“...Is that our problem solved?” Lanyon asked, as Rachel transformed back into her human form.

“I don't think so,” Rachel said, watching the golem grow closer and closer to Jasper and Moreau.

Struggling as he did so, Moreau finally dug his dagger into Jasper's shoulder, and Jasper cried out in pain, his eyes flashing brown again for a second. The golem then swooped in and picked Jasper up with its good arm, and despite how the werewolf struggled, the golem threw him into one of the stalls behind Lanyon and Rachel. The two of them looked behind them, and saw Jasper try to get up once more, before staying down, breathing heavily in pain.

“Jasper!” Rachel exclaimed. Something twisted in her stomach as she looked back at Moreau and his golem, and she stood up, gritting her teeth together.

“You've got some nerve to be coming here and hurting people,” Rachel said, turning her hand into a sickle blade. “People like you need to be stopped.”

“Miss Pidgley, wait!” Lanyon called, but it was no use. Rachel was already running towards Moreau, her blade raised. She then lowered it, and just as she was close enough she swung it upwards–

–but with a single hand Moreau caught her wrist.

“You think I'll fall for the same trick twice?” he asked, his voice low. He then squeezed her wrist hard, and just as Rachel thought it was going to break, he moved swiftly with his other hand and stabbed her in the thigh with his dagger.

Rachel screamed in pain, her sickle hand turning back to a human hand. Moreau threw her to the ground, and she found herself unable to get back up.

“I think I can kill at least one of you before I leave,” he said, before he raised the dagger in the air, a mad glint in his eyes.

She was frozen with fear, her eyes on the blade.

Suddenly, a rock came flying through the air and hit Moreau over the head.

“Hey, you.”

Rachel turned her head to see where the rock came from, and so did Moreau and Lanyon.

“I'm not letting you do anything to my weapon and get away with it,” Hyde said.

 


 

It couldn't be.

Lanyon's eyes were fooling him, weren't they? They had to be.

Why else would Edward Hyde, of all people, be standing in front of them?

Hyde stepped forward, and Lanyon noticed that he was having a little trouble breathing. Not to mention that his sleeves and trousers were rolled up; it was no surprise, as his clothes looked a few sizes too big. But none of those things deterred Hyde in the slightest. Instead, he stopped in front of Rachel, and turned towards Moreau.

“I've heard about you,” Hyde began. “You were that mad enchanter who attacked the Society for Witches and Sorcerers, and then broke out of prison, only to go after us again when we were least expecting it.” He then smirked. “A formidable opponent, I would say.”

“You haven't seen anything yet,” Moreau said, with his golem standing behind him. “You don't know it, but someone more formidable than I is after your Society.”

Lanyon stared on, unable to do much else. A person Moreau considered superior to him...?

“I'd love to meet them, if that's the case,” Hyde went on. “I'm sure the meeting would be less than pleasant – a perfect first impression.” He said this with his smirk, but then dropped it as he looked down at Rachel.

“Are you alright?” he asked.

Rachel placed a hand on her wound. “I can't stand...but I can transform, I think.”

“Are you sure?”

She took a deep breath. “I can manage.”

Hyde nodded, and then Rachel transformed fully once more into her weapon form. She landed perfectly in Hyde's hand, and as the glow vanished, Lanyon noticed how Hyde seemed to be used to holding her...

She hasn't had an opportunity to be formally educated in the ways of being a weapon as I have, so I decided that it would be best for her current meister to train her.”

Oh. Oh.

Hyde pointed the sickle at Moreau. “Now, how do you want to do this? Do you want to forfeit? Or do you want a sickle blade in the eye?”

“I'd rather have my dagger in yours, unless you tell me where Frankenstein is,” Moreau replied.

“Frankenstein?” Hyde threw the hand holding the sickle back. “Who the hell is that?”

He ran forward, and Moreau pulled his hand back just as Hyde stopped in front of him, before Moreau moved to stab Hyde. But Hyde dodged the blow, and swooped in for the kill with the sickle.

Moreau blocked with the dagger. Hyde pushed against him for a few seconds, before he sensed the golem coming closer. He kneed Moreau in the abdomen, and that managed to get him away before he turned to face the golem.

The golem raised a foot above Hyde, and then quickly brought it down. Hyde rolled away in time, and as the foot landed on the ground, Hyde landed on his feet – only to get slashed on the shoulder by Moreau, who had come in from behind.

Lanyon realized that he was frozen in place, watching Hyde turn around and retaliate by cutting open a shallow wound on Moreau's leg. He was supposed to be helping...but here he was, only standing uselessly by...

Hyde grabbed his shoulder, and stood up, wincing in pain and breathing heavily.

“Edward, are you alright?” Rachel asked.

“Damn it all, of course I'm alright,” Hyde gasped. Then he put both his hands on the sickle's handle. “We have to finish this, remember?”

“Right,” Rachel replied, as Moreau sized the two of them up. There was a pause, before Rachel said, “Let's use Soul Resonance.”

“Soul Resonance?” Hyde asked, before smirking once more. “A pretty bold suggestion, considering we've never been able to master it before.”

“Hey, you're the spirit of London at night,” Rachel said. “You can do anything.”

“Finally, you say it!” Hyde exclaimed, positioning the sickle so that it was in front of his face. “I'd say with that attitude, you can do anything as well.” A dangerous look then appeared on his face. “So, I'm assuming you're ready.”

Moreau narrowed his good eye, and kept his dagger in his hand, while the golem turned towards them.

“Soul Resonance!”

Even without his Perception, Lanyon could tell that the two of them were matching their soul wavelengths perfectly.

Moreau sprang forward, and the golem threw its arm towards Hyde as well. But even in the middle of resonating, Hyde jumped, and then swung the sickle back in mid-air. The blade of the sickle glowed, and then grew larger and larger until it was almost Hyde's size.

“Witch Hunter!” Hyde shouted.

Finally, gravity brought him back down, and he brought the giant blade down as well on the golem, hitting it dead on.

The blade, however, did not cleave through instantly; yet Hyde pushed on, grunting as he did so. After a few seconds, he finally cut through the golem, with a few sparks flying from the weapon. He finally landed on the ground, and the golem, now split into two, fell.

Lanyon caught himself; he had been staring with his mouth open. He had heard of the scythe meister's technique before, but never seen it quite like this – or performed using a sickle.

The giant blade had not vanished yet, though, and now Hyde held it up as he turned towards Moreau, who had been standing at a distance.

“You still want to fight?” Hyde asked threateningly, holding the giant blade up. “Even now that your last golem has been defeated?”

Moreau scowled, and backed away. “Curses..."

Footsteps came into the wrecked area, and Lanyon could tell that it was the police coming in. Moreau looked around, and took out a vial from his belt.

“This isn't over!” he yelled, before throwing the vial down, allowing a cloud of orange smoke to engulf him.

It didn't take long before Hyde looked down at his wounds, and winced. He lowered the blade in his hand as he did so, and it changed back to normal as he hissed in pain.

“Oh, God,” he cursed, as Rachel transformed back into normal.

“Edward!” she said, staggering towards him. Hyde looked up at her as she grunted in pain. His eyes turned down towards the wound on her leg, evident by the blood on her skirt, for a moment. She noticed him looking down at it, and then covered it up.

“I-I'm fine,” she told him.

Behind them, Lanyon stood up, as Hyde grit his teeth together again.

“I have to-to go,” Hyde said, moving his hand from his shoulder. Once he saw the blood on it, he turned a shade paler than normal. “I-I-I have to get my wounds...”

“There's help at the Society,” Lanyon said, almost automatically.

“Help for what? Killing me?” Hyde backed away. “I don't need your help. I have to get out of here.”

Just as he said this, though, one of the policemen that had arrived on the scene came forward. “Mr. Edward Hyde,” he said, “we have to take you in for questioning.”

Hyde looked around at the police surrounding him, and put his hand on his shoulder again.

Then he took a few steps – and broke into a run, before leaping up and hopping onto the roof of a stall.

“Hey! Come back!” another one of the policemen shouted after him, but it was no use. In only a moment's worth of time, Hyde had disappeared.

Lanyon watched him leave, and after this could only answer the questions of the police in a daze.

It finally sank in for him that Edward Hyde, the suspect for the murder of Luckett and the vigilante, had come to save them in spite of all those things.

Wasn't he in hiding? Wasn't he out of London by now? Why would he come back and risk getting caught? Was this why Jekyll was so convinced that Hyde had some good in him?

Jekyll...

He had lost resonance...with Jekyll.

Was this because of what he had decided? And their fight?

He had to find him.

But first, he had to take Rachel and Jasper back to the Society.

Chapter Text

“Griffin, would you mind not looking around at everyone so often?”

Griffin's eyes darted back to Archer, and Archer sighed. “Honestly, you were the one who suggested that we go out, just the two of us, and you keep looking as if you'd rather be with someone else.”

Archer then took a sip from his glass, while Griffin smirked. “The way you're talking,” he said, “it sounds as if you're a woman who wants the eyes of her sweetheart all to herself.”

It was then that Archer choked on his drink. He coughed, while Griffin began laughing. This went on for a few seconds, before Archer managed to stop coughing, and he punched Griffin on the arm.

“Ow!”

“It's nothing like that!” Archer said. “You're misunderstanding things.”

Griffin held his arm, frowning. “If it was just that, you could at least have hit me a little less harder...”

“No, you deserve it.” Archer then took another drink from his glass, managing to empty it. Then he set it down, and the bartender in front of them took it as a sign to refill it. Archer felt a warm buzz course through his veins, and he decided to look around the tiny pub they were in as well.

What was Griffin looking at, anyway? There really wasn't much to catch someone's interest here. Archer had chosen this place for its quietude, and he wasn't wrong; nothing was really happening here. The only people here besides him and Griffin were a group of four men drinking quite heartily, and a veiled woman who was somberly emptying her own glass.

Archer turned back to Griffin. Why was the other man looking around so much, then?

Was...was he on edge?

Griffin seemed taken by surprise when a full glass of beer was handed to him.

“Come on,” Archer said, holding the glass in front of him. “You came here, you ought to drink something.”

Griffin waved a hand. “One of us has to be sober on the way home.”

“Griffin, it's not like you're going to be driving a carriage or anything,” Archer urged. “Besides, you don't look like you're quite happy here.”

The other man seemed to consider it for a few moments, before he reached out and took it. “Just one drink,” Griffin conceded.

“We ought to make a toast, too,” Archer said. He raised his glass, and Griffin followed suit. Archer cleared his throat, and then spoke.

“A toast to Jonathan Luckett, one of the greatest damn Lodgers we had the fortune of meeting,” Archer said.

“And may his soul, wherever it is, rest in peace,” Griffin added. Then the two of them clinked their glasses together, and then lowered them before taking a swig.

When Archer lowered his glass, he hummed, and wiped his lips with his sleeve. “Luckett deserved better. Didn't need some jerk like Hyde killing him.”

“Indeed.” Griffin's glass was on the counter now, and he drummed his fingers against the wood.

The two of them then sat in silence for a while, with Archer drinking more and more, until he put his fourth glass down.

“Griffin, why don't you drink a bit more?” he asked, placing an arm around Griffin's shoulders. “You ought to loosen up a little!”

Griffin narrowed his eyes. “I can't believe you're already drunk.”

“Well, what of it?” Archer asked, beginning to lean on Griffin. “It's a pub, you're supposed to be drinking.”

“Quit trying to pressure me; I told you, I'm not drinking more than one glass,” Griffin told him firmly, removing Archer's arm from his shoulders.

“Aw,” Archer said. “You sound just like Atalanta.”

At the mention of the name, Griffin froze. “...Atalanta?”

“Yeah, we sometimes go to pubs, and she'd never allow herself more than one drink most of the time,” Archer went on, seemingly oblivious to his friend's confusion. Then he put a hand to his chin. “Now that I think about it, she was probably being prudent...”

“And you think I'm not being the same?” Griffin asked.

Archer chuckled. “Point taken.” Then he sighed. “I guess I just want to have fun with my friends...I never really have, had, fun with my family.”

“What do you mean?” Griffin asked.

Archer waved a hand. “S'heavy stuff, you probably wouldn't like me talking about it. All I can say is we grew up on a life of crime, and me being a weapon made it easier for 'em...sort of. They used me like a child uses their favorite toy. They didn't even like me as a person, much less family...even my younger siblings liked me a little, but they thought I was crazy for wanting things to be different...” Then he shook his head, turning to Griffin. “But there's no use dwelling on the past, am I right?”

What Archer didn't expect was for Griffin to look at him with a shocked look on his face. Wordlessly, Griffin pushed the rest of his drink towards him. Archer felt like he should have refused, but it was at this point that the warm feeling in his veins was taking over, and it was only a free drink at this point. So he took it.

“...Is that why you had trouble finding a permanent meister?” Griffin finally asked, slowly. “You were looking for someone who wouldn't use you?”

“Pretty much,” Archer said, almost flippantly. “But that's over.” He took a sip, looking at Griffin as he did. “It's over, now that I've got you.”

Griffin's lips parted. “Is that so?”

“Of course, Griffin!” Archer said, putting the glass down on the counter. Without warning, he then threw his arms around Griffin. “I trust you, Griffin! The light of my life, my hope to keep going!”

Never before had Archer seen someone's face turn red so quickly. Griffin was at a loss for words – they seemed to be buried deep down somewhere in his throat, judging by the choking sounds he was making.

But none of that mattered. Archer was supposed to be mortified, making such a declaration – but that didn't matter either. All that mattered was getting his feelings across to Griffin as much as possible.

“...You trust me?” Griffin asked.

“Yes.”

“And-and I'm your hope to keep going?”

“Well, who else did you think it would be?” Archer asked. “I can't say the same of my family – my younger siblings are great, but I think they've outgrown liking me – and I don't have many friends as close to me as you are...”

Those words – they were just a few words away from what Archer really wanted to say to him, weren't they? But...what were those words?

The moment didn't last long, though – the doors to the pub opened, and Griffin looked up in the newcomers' direction. Immediately, he paled.

“We have to move, Archer,” Griffin said. “Now.”

“Why – what's the rush?” Archer asked, as Griffin pushed his arms off. But Griffin seemed to be in a hurry to leave – and it was only when Archer looked in their direction that he understood why.

The newcomers were young adults – and they wore uniforms of the Death Weapon Meister Academy.

 


 

 

This was not good.

No way in hell was Griffin getting involved with these Academy students. He wasn't getting himself in trouble again – no doubt he could take them out, but it wasn't worth trying. Plus, Archer was drunk – a fight with them would only end in disaster.

The students began to look in their direction, and Griffin looked away. Maybe if he tried to ignore them – or at least act some semblance of normal around them – then no one would have to battle tonight, all would be well.

Archer downed the rest of his drink, and then got up as well. He smoothed over his coat as best as he could, and then took a few steps – before stumbling onto one of the tables.

“Ugh, shit,” Griffin cursed, moving over to pick Archer up. “Just put one foot in front of the other.”

“Not that easy, Griffin,” Archer said, before hiccuping. “In fact, I feel...feel like I might throw up, hah!”

“What do you – you better not throw up, idiot!” Griffin said.

Archer only nodded a bit dumbly as Griffin continued to pull him towards the doors to the pub – any moment now, they would be able to move past the Academy's students, and they'd be out of here–

“Hey.”

Griffin stopped in his tracks. He inhaled, and then exhaled, pushing his glasses up his nose. “...What?” he asked, looking at the Academy students.

“Do we know you from somewhere?” one of the students asked. “I feel like we know someone of your likeness.”

Griffin was a little uneasy at the word choice, but he shook his head. “Must be because I look old,” Griffin said. “You must be talking about any other old man.”

Upon hearing that, the Academy students turned back to each other, and began to talk among themselves. Griffin sighed in relief, and then put his free arm around Archer to pull him towards the exit.

Just a couple more steps...

“That settles it, sir,” the student said, getting up from his seat. “You must be that sorcerer that beat up our friends recently, aren't you?”

“Sorcerer?” A bead of sweat trickled down Griffin's cheek. “I have no idea what you're talking about.”

“Yep, he's definitely a sorcerer!” Archer exclaimed cheerfully.

“Damn it, Archer!”

“And that must be his weapon!” another student said, standing up as well. “I knew taking this mission would be worth it after all.”

“Well, convincing the teachers to have us come with you was a good move, too,” another student said.

Now all the students were standing up – Griffin realized they were two pairs of meisters and weapons. Fuck, he was simply fucked.

“Well?” the first student asked, pushing his fist into his palm as Griffin and Archer turned around to face them. “How about we go at it and take your soul, sorcerer? It'd be the perfect revenge for beating up our friends!”

“Friend? I don't know which one you're talking about, but you had better leave me alone.” Griffin told them, trying to sound perfectly threatening.

“He thinks we can't take him on!” the second student said. She transformed her hand into a mace, and raised it in Griffin's direction. “Want to bet, sorcerer?”

Behind everyone else, the bartender groaned in exasperation. “If you're going to fight, take it outside!” he said. “I swear, I've had enough of Edward Hyde and his fights in my pub...”

“Yeah, take it outside!” Archer called, pointing a finger at the students. “You have no right to be talking about my friend that way!”

“Ignore him,” the first student – seemingly the second student's meister – said. “He's obviously too drunk to know what it means to have a sorcerer for a friend.”

Archer frowned. “You know what, Griffin? Let's take this outside. Let's fight them.”

“Archer,” Griffin said, keeping his voice low. “I can't use my magic, this is going to be a hard fight.”

“You have me!” Archer said, looking at Griffin. “We can chase them back to the Academy again!”

“You think we're going to lose to you that easily?” the third student asked, while the fourth one stood silently behind him. “We'll teach you a lesson!”

Archer looked at Griffin, and nodded. Then he transformed into his weapon form, and Griffin caught him in mid-air, before pointing the gun at the students.

It was then that Griffin looked over the shoulder of one of the students – and he noticed that the veiled woman in the corner was looking at them. (Well, so was the other group of drinkers, but the woman caught Griffin's eye first.)

And what caught his eye about her...was the locks of wavy blonde hair peeking out from her hat...not to mention her petite build...

...Callista?

Griffin's eyes widened, but he didn't have enough time to think about it further before the second student fully transformed into her own weapon form. He turned his attention to the students just as the first meister swung at him with the mace, and Griffin found himself backing up against the door.

“Take it outside, you fools!” the bartender yelled.

The fourth student transformed into a small butterfly knife, and Griffin managed to grab the doorknob and turn it before he went outside. He stumbled and nearly fell onto the ground, but managed to steady his footing in time.

The two armed meisters followed after Griffin, and as he looked up at them, something began to sting in his stomach.

It wasn't like the pain he felt when he was trying to use his magic earlier. No, this was another sensation entirely...and it was quickly turning to...joy?

Joy!

Something came bubbling up from within Griffin, and he stood still, trying to comprehend it. But it was only a while before he knew what it was – and he laughed.

He laughed and laughed, stunning the meisters. They stood in front of him, unsure of what to do, before the second meister frowned.

“Hey, what's the big idea?” he asked.

Griffin only continued to laugh, his smile growing wider.

“Griffin...?” Archer asked, hesitantly.

“The big idea, huh...” Griffin said, taking a few steps towards the two meisters. “I should be asking what you were thinking, trying to challenge a sorcerer. For the sake of your friends? How unbearably naïve.”

Then he straightened up, jerking his head back and spreading his arms wide, his eyes as large as saucers.

“But I don't care about that!” Griffin exclaimed. “I'll kill you, one by one!”

The two students took a step back, holding up their weapons.

“It's madness!” the mace said.

Griffin then looked at them, and sneered wickedly before rushing at them.

“Griffin!” Archer shouted, as the first meister threw the hand holding the mace back, and then swung it over Griffin's head. Griffin caught his wrist at the last moment, and gripped the meister's wrist so tightly that the meister cried out in pain.

“Hey, leave him alone!” the second meister yelled. He moved in with his knife, but Griffin's eyes turned towards him, and he raised the gun to shoot at him. Two shots followed, and this meister was blown back against the wall, in pain as well.

“Oh, Death,” Archer cursed. “Griffin, what are you–!”

He was unable to finish that sentence before Griffin used the gun to hit the first meister's chin. Finally, he released this meister's wrist, and he was given no time to recover before Griffin aimed the gun at him and fired.

It wasn't long before both the meisters got back on their feet, though, even as they were reeling. Griffin took one look at them, and only laughed.

“Back for more? We'll give you everything we have!” He then held the gun to his face. “Archer, highest setting!”

“Griffin, no,” Archer said. “I might be drunk, but I know this isn't right. We only have to chase them away!”

“I have to do whatever it takes to kill them!” Griffin replied, smiling so widely he felt his cheeks would hurt. But that didn't matter.

Nothing mattered, other than his will to see blood flow freely and hear bones crunch! Tonight would be fun after all!

He then aimed the gun at the first meister, and fired before Archer could adjust the setting. The meister stepped back further, and clutched his gut.

He then heard footsteps coming from behind him, and he turned around to fire at the second meister, shooting at his hand. The meister dropped his knife, and he grabbed his hand.

Without hesitation, Griffin then ran towards the first meister, and hit the student's gut with the barrel of the gun, before firing once more. Blood escaped from the student's mouth, and he fell to the pavement, gasping for air.

Griffin sneered, and pointed the gun at his head.

But the second meister finally recovered, and picked up the knife with his uninjured hand. Then he came quickly towards Griffin, and stabbed at him.

Griffin was somehow faster, though, and he blocked using the gun. By now his crazed expression had distorted his features, and the meister gasped in horror.

“You're boring me!” Griffin said in an almost sing-song voice, before pulling the trigger.

The shot hit the meister's eye, and his head was jerked back with the force of the blow. He screamed, just as blood began to flow from his eye.

“Now,” Griffin said, almost bursting with glee. “Prepare to die!”

“No, Griffin!”

In a flash, Archer transformed back into his human form, and grabbed Griffin's hand. “I'm not letting you hurt them any longer!”

Griffin's eyes turned towards Archer, and he grabbed Archer's arms.

“Is that a challenge?” he asked.

Before Archer knew it, he was then thrown over Griffin's head and onto the first meister, who was trying to get up. The two of them crashed gracelessly onto the pavement, and they groaned in pain.

“No!” the mace shouted, and she transformed back into her human form. She drew herself closer to her meister just as Griffin came closer as well.

“Now,” Griffin said. “Time for me to finish you rotten brats of the Academy off!”

The weapon shielded her meister with her body. “Go ahead, kill me,” she dared. “But don't you dare touch my meister.”

“Oh, don't worry,” Griffin said, a dangerous glint in his eyes. “I'll make sure you won't be alive to see it.”

He reached a hand forward, and the weapon braced herself–

–but then Archer jumped up and lunged at Griffin, managing to bring him to the ground.

“Stop this! This isn't you!” Archer cried, pinning Griffin's head and right hand down. “Get a hold of yourself right now!”

Griffin struggled against the man above him, but Archer wouldn't budge, no matter what he did. He had to get out! He had to be released! He had to kill!

Kill...kill...?

The high he felt earlier had finally begun to dissipate, and Griffin panted, finally losing the strength to struggle. Now it was just pain under his skin the red markings even appeared on his arms again – before he stopped jerking about. The pain numbed his mind so that he was only able to look up at Archer.

“Are you finished?” Archer asked, even as sweat rolled down his chin.

Griffin closed his eyes, trying to swallow past the pain that was still lurking in his system. “Archer...what happened?” he managed to ask.

“Nothing good,” Archer said. Then he looked back at the students, who were staring at them, the meisters bleeding and the weapons terrified.

“I'll get help,” Archer said, getting up. “You stay here, alright?”

The students flinched, but then looked a little more relieved when Archer pulled Griffin off the ground.

“You're coming with me,” Archer said firmly, and Griffin had no choice but to comply.

What had he done?

 

Chapter Text

A pair of boots clacked against the pavement passing by in front of a boy selling newspapers. The owner of the boots came to a stop, and turned towards the boy, before she took out her wallet.

Callista Redrowe was having a particularly good day so far, even as she picked up the newspaper that she bought from the boy. And why? Because she knew what headlines would appear at some point in the newspaper.

In fact, the very first headline that was printed on the front was “Moreau Attacks Market, Battles A Vigilante”.

She skimmed over the details of the event, before grinning to herself. Oh, how she wished she were around to see that. Especially when Edward Hyde returned to save the people of the Society there – she didn't think him the kind of man to step in when someone needed help. Oh, well. People were surprising.

She turned a page, and then found what else she was looking for: an article detailing two meister-weapon pairs getting beat up by a sorcerer and his own weapon.

Of course, she was around for that one. Wasn't it just divine when her eyes met with Jack Griffin's own? It had made her heart flutter! She smiled to herself, a dreamy look on her face.

Yet it was more fun to manipulate that parasite she had planted inside him, from just restricting his magic to increasing the madness within him. The man had really ought to indulge in the Sway of Magic more often! It was so much fun to violently fight those DWMA students...

So much fun to indulge...

Callista shook her head. There was no use dwelling so much on that. What she needed to figure out was how Edward Hyde could have returned to the streets just in time to save the people of the Society. Not that she had wanted Moreau to kill them – or at least not all of them – she just wanted Moreau to cause enough of a ruckus that the citizens of London would blame the Society for not being able to stop him or the damages. So for Hyde to appear...

Well, now that Hyde was back, there was always the chance that a Lodger or a policeman would find him, and either kill him or arrest him. Well, killing him would take the wrench out of the gears of her plan. Having Hyde alive for too long would give him the chance to prove himself not the culprit in Luckett's murder, and she couldn't allow that.

She could always kill him herself, given the opportunity...

And what of Frankenstein? Surely Moreau would have found that golem maker by now, and she could have him satisfied.

Callista thought about it for a while, before tucking the newspaper under her arm and going on her way.

Never mind that. Moreau had done his job, and she had done hers. Surely both the damages done to the meat market and Griffin's violent attack on the students would cause the name of the Society to be further soiled.

She then hailed a hansom. Maybe she ought to check on their condition. That was what a concerned sponsor and friend did, after all.

 


 

“I'm telling you, Jekyll, this is a disaster!”

Jekyll watched Concord Seire talk from the mirror he was communicating through, rubbing at his shoulder. Still didn't feel like it had healed right even after dragging himself to the Society the other day and getting himself healed with Bird's magic. (Pretty memorable, fainting at the back door as Hyde and waking up as Jekyll.)

Sure enough, the DWMA had heard about what happened with their students quite quickly, and were now confronting him about a certain Lodger of his. Or rather, Seire was yelling at him about the issue.

“Your sorcerer has finally gone too far!” Seire continued. “Shooting one student in the eye and causing internal bleeding in another! He's traumatized them!”

From his chair in front of Jekyll's desk, Griffin sat silently for once. The expression on his face denoted anger, but Jekyll couldn't tell whether it was directed at the Death Scythe or at himself. Jekyll looked at him for a few seconds, before turning back to Seire in the mirror.

“Surely Mr. Griffin didn't mean to inflict such injuries on the students, Seire,” Jekyll said. “He told me something overcame him that caused him to do these things – something he couldn't control.”

“Right that he couldn't control it – it's that damn Sway of Magic nonsense that all magic users have!” Seire yelled, pointing a finger at the glass. “It was the madness that you can't get out of a magic user; and you're still defending him!”

“Seire, I'm not going to pretend that what my Lodger did was the right thing,” Jekyll replied. “But you have to give him a chance to explain his own side. I'm sure he'll take responsibility for his actions!”

“He'll take responsibility, alright,” Seire said. “We should have him killed!”

Jekyll took another look at Griffin. He was gritting his teeth together, his hands curled into fists on his lap. It looked as if he was struggling to hold his tongue.

“Now, now, Concord, calm down a little,” a familiar voice said from beside Seire. Seire looked up at the source – a large cloaked figure – as he continued, “Let me talk to Henry for a bit.”

“Al-alright, Lord Death,” Seire stuttered, moving aside so that the figure could lean into view.

A mask that looked like a caricature of a skull greeted Jekyll from the mirror, and this masked, cloaked figure waved a large white hand at Jekyll. “How do you do, Henry?” he asked.

“Lord Death,” Jekyll said, bowing a little. Then he put a hand on his chest. “As you can see, things have not been going well for us at the Society, I'll be honest.”

“So I heard,” Lord Death said, now standing tall at the center of the mirror. “One of your Lodgers has injured and traumatized two students, and another one was lost to your vigilante assistant.”

“He nearly killed those students, sir,” Seire tried to correct, still indignant.

“You...know about my assistant,” Jekyll said, looking a little uncomfortable.

Behind him, Griffin finally decided to speak. “I've only been a petty criminal so far and they have a record of me; what more of the meister associated with this Society who seems to be the reason why kishin eggs disappear just as soon as they appear in London?”

“Hold your tongue, sorcerer, we're not yet done!” Seire called, leaning into the frame.

“Fuck you,” Griffin shot back.

Lord Death raised his hand to comically push Seire back to the side. “Concord, it's already clear he doesn't like us, don't try to embitter him further,” he said. Then he turned back to Jekyll.

“Concord does have a point, though, Henry; we're not through with him yet,” Lord Death said. “I may treat you and your Lodgers with a bigger deal of patience than the worse witches and sorcerers, but something like this deserves a bigger punishment than a slap on the wrists.”

“I know,” Griffin said sharply, crossing his arms. “You don't have to remind me, reaper.”

Jekyll pursed his lips together, while Lord Death finally looked at Griffin. “You joined an organization dedicated to having magic users get along better with humans, and then you attack my students. I suppose you know what consequences are in store, then, Mr. Griffin.”

Griffin looked back at Lord Death. “Your students went looking for me simply out of a desire to exact revenge on me for defeating another of your meister-weapon pairs. I was supposed to just be defending myself.” He held his gaze, continuing, “Even your students recognized my violent behavior as madness.”

“Griffin, please, allow me to speak–” Jekyll began to say. But Lord Death put a hand to his chin.

“Henry,” he said to Jekyll, “is there anyone else who witnessed this that I can ask?”

“Well, there's his weapon partner, Christopher Archer–”

Jekyll was once again cut off, this time by the door to his office opening, and in walked who else but Lanyon. Lanyon took one look at the gathering, and stood straighter when his eyes went to Lord Death in the mirror.

“Lord Death!” Lanyon said. “I'm truly sorry that I'm late.”

“No, no, it's fine,” Griffin said sarcastically. “We still need more mouths telling me what I've done is an unforgivable crime.”

Lanyon frowned, and then looked at Jekyll. Jekyll looked at him at the same time – and then the memories of the other day came back, how Lanyon was unable to resonate with Jekyll. They both looked away, but there was no laughter this time. Only an awkward silence.

Seire peeked in again from the side of the mirror, and frowned deeply, glaring at Griffin. “I still say we should kill him,” Seire said.

“You entitled little prick!” Griffin yelled.

“You filthy-mouthed sorcerer!” Seire yelled back.

“Are childish insults really what we've come to here?” Lord Death said, and Seire and Griffin looked away from each other, still seething. Lord Death put a hand to his head, and turned to Jekyll.

“We have to hold a hearing, since this issue appears to be more complicated than Concord thought,” Lord Death suggested. “Mr. Griffin can come to the DWMA along with his weapon partner, and we can sort things out instead of, you know, lynching him.”

“But – Lord Death!” Seire exclaimed. “These are your students who nearly got killed! And you're going to give this sorcerer a chance to walk free?!”

“He's giving me a chance to explain,” Griffin said, standing up. “Don't you think I deserve that much?”

“You should be able to control yourself and your Sway of Magic better if you want to be given that privilege!” Seire argued. “Or are you just going to curse at us all throughout your hearing?”

“You just don't have any respect for others, do you?”

“Says the sorcerer who has a record of committing crimes behind his own leader's back!”

“At least I'm not an entitled bastard who thinks he can insult anyone just because he's a reaper's weapon!”

“You two, calm down this instant!” Lanyon cut in.

Just when Jekyll thought it couldn't get any louder, Hyde chose that moment to talk. Hey, Jekyll, when do you think they'll stop shouting at each other? I'm getting kind of bored. Or do you just plan on standing here and staring awkwardly at your meister? Yeah, that's definitely more fun than watching two grown men go at it, I'm sure.

“WILL YOU SHUT UP, I'M BLOODY WELL GOING TO LOSE IT!”

Jekyll hadn't even noticed that that voice came from him until he felt the pain in his hand – he had slammed his fist against his desk. Four pairs of eyes (five, counting the now visible Hyde in his reflection in the glass cabinet next to him) were on him now. He quickly covered his mouth.

“I'm sorry, I-I don't know what came over me,” Jekyll swiftly apologized.

The air was tense and heavy for a while, with even Hyde silent for a bit, before Lanyon stepped towards the mirror.

“With all due respect, Lord Death,” Lanyon began, “we can't have Mr. Griffin come to the Academy.”

“Why not? Are you afraid he might hurt the other students?” Lord Death tilted his head.

“Nothing of the sort,” Lanyon replied, and Jekyll couldn't tell if his meister was lying or not. He continued, “There may be people who share the same sentiment as your Death Scythe over here, and they may hurt our Lodger – or worse.”

Seire looked offended. “Now hold on–”

Lord Death interrupted him by forcefully chopping him on the head with his large hand. He lifted his hand, and Seire held his head in pain. Jekyll could have sworn there was a dent on said head.

Now you wonder why he didn't just do that sooner, Hyde quipped.

“I can see what you mean, Robert,” Lord Death said, putting his hands together. “Not that I'm not going to order my students and workers to leave him alone should he come here, but discrimination does seem to run rampant among them.”

Griffin held his chin high, looking Lord Death in the eye. “And where do you think they got that from?” he asked.

Lord Death looked quite awkward now, and decided not to answer that, instead turning to Jekyll and Lanyon. “I suppose I'll have to have my workers hold the hearing at your Society, then, if it will make you both feel better about his safety.”

“Of course, Lord Death.” Lanyon nodded. “I also expect that they will show our Lodgers that you can judge good-willed magic users fairly.”

“I'll try my best,” Lord Death replied. “They will come just as the other DWMA agents will pick up your resident werewolf for his own hearing.”

Oh, right. Jekyll had almost forgotten about Jasper's case.

“We won't require that to take place here, at least; I fear we have troubled you enough,” Lanyon told Lord Death.

Lord Death eyed Jekyll and Lanyon, and held up a finger. “Just because you two were my students once doesn't mean I'll allow you these freedoms all the time,” he warned. “If one of your Lodgers does kill anyone from the Academy – or any innocent humans, for that matter – I will have no choice but to send my people out to kill them. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes,” Lanyon replied.

“We understand,” Jekyll added.

“Good.” Lord Death clapped his hands together. “I'm glad we've come to an agreement.” Then he looked at Griffin. “I hope that something like this won't happen again.”

And with that, the visual call on the mirror flickered out, leaving Jekyll, Lanyon, and Griffin in the office, silent.

It's almost as if one problem is cropping up after another, Hyde commented. I know I like trouble, but even this is a bit much, don't you think?

Jekyll sighed heavily, and then walked around his desk to his chair, before pulling it out and taking a seat. Lanyon and Griffin looked at him, as if waiting for him to do something, but what could he do?

No – there was too much to do.

And honestly, Jekyll felt like he would be almost sick from the stress of it all.

 


 

After a while, Griffin took his cue to leave, and stepped outside Jekyll's office. The moment he did so, though, a horde of magic users greeted him, and he found himself surrounded.

“What happened?” Flowers asked.

“Did that Death Scythe Seire give you a hard time?” Pennebrygg queried.

“Or what about Lord Death?” Maijabi cut in.

“What? Lord Death really was there?”

“Was he as horrifying as they say?”

Griffin held his hands up. “I don't think so; he was kind of funny-looking...”

“Never mind that,” Ito called over the questions of the other Lodgers. “What we need to know is what they decided to do with you.”

“Why are you concerning yourselves with that?” Griffin asked back, crossing his arms. “It's nothing special. I'm having a hearing, just like Kaylock.”

From his place within the crowd, Jasper twiddled his fingers together. “I see,” he said. “At least I won't be alone in that, heh...”

Griffin gave him a glance, before looking away. He guessed it was a little consoling to know he wasn't the only one going through such an ordeal. But Jasper could easily explain away the recent wreckage at the meat market as simple collateral damage, while he tried to fight a legitimate threat. (Well, that was what he thought, anyway.) He, meanwhile, couldn't exactly excuse his behavior on madness when it was a well-known theory that the Sway of Magic itself was madness.

Doddle sighed in relief. “They gave you a chance, at least. You and Jasper...we can't lose you both. We can't...” He trailed off. Griffin remained silent for a while, out of respect.

“Still,” Mosley interjected, “Why did you do such a thing to some humans? We know you get into fights with some DWMA students, but still...”

“I told you, I don't know,” Griffin said uncomfortably. “Something came over me. It wasn't the Sway of Magic, per se – it felt like something else entirely.”

Maijabi looked quite troubled at the sound of that. “I see...” he said. Then he stepped closer to Griffin, lowering his voice. “We have to run more tests on the parasite,” he said.

Griffin nodded, and then looked over the crowd. Of course, there was a lot of people there, but he was only really looking for one person.

“Where's Archer?” Griffin asked.

“I think Archer's holed himself up in our lab,” Bird told him. “Since you're his partner, you ought to talk to him.”

“Right.” Griffin then pushed past the crowd, and made his way towards Archer and Bird's lab.

It didn't take him long before he reached the promised room, and he didn't bother knocking on the door before letting himself in.

Of course, there were still all manners of foliage and machines for said foliage strewn all about the room. The windows in the room ensured that it was brightly lit at all times, bringing to Griffin's attention that some of the plants were now wilting. In the middle of it all, Archer was sitting at a table, tinkering with one of the devices attached to a plant.

Griffin cleared his throat, and then Archer turned towards him. The former was then surprised to see that the latter looked positively exhausted.

“Griffin,” Archer said, trying to stick on a smile. “What happened?”

“I got scheduled for a hearing,” Griffin replied. “It's nothing too big. They'll hold it here.”

“I see.” Archer put down his tools, and moved to stand up. “That's good to know.”

Griffin frowned, and put his hands on his hips. “It's obvious you weren't sleeping last night,” he said. “Did I scare you that much?”

The last sentence was meant as a joke, but Archer wasn't laughing. It then occurred to Griffin that he probably shouldn't have been joking about things like that. Archer looked down at his feet, before speaking quietly.

“...Did I ever tell you why I didn't want to use Soul Resonance with you?”

“No, you did not. In fact, I recall you wanted me to leave it alone.”

“Well...I'll tell you.” Archer then turned around, and returned to his seat. “You know, Griffin,” he began, “to be honest, you weren't the first person I tried to permanently partner with.”

“Oh?”

Archer weakly chuckled. “I used to partner with my older sister a lot. Back then, I used to be able to use Soul Resonance. You could say I liked the feeling, even though then I was being used for crime – but sometimes I wasn't, and I considered that enough.” He then paused. “And then we came across a kishin egg.”

Griffin's brows knitted together. “You mean...”

“I don't recall all the details myself.” Archer wrapped his arms around himself. “It all happened so fast. We got into a fight, we even tried to use Soul Resonance, but we were outmatched.” He kept his eyes fixed on the floor, continuing, “Then my sister told me that we were getting out of here, and that I should change back...”

His voice began to break.

“Like an idiot, I listened to her...And the kishin egg was about to strike; the next thing I knew, I – I was being used as a shield.”

Griffin watched as Archer's hands moved to clutch at his shirt, above certain spots. His breathing grew heavier, and he squeezed his eyes shut.

“I...” Archer tried to say, shaking. “I don't remember...how many times I...but I recall her telling me, 'A weapon has to die for their meister.'”

“That's horrible!” Griffin couldn't help exclaiming.

Archer let out a sob, before he finally opened his eyes again. He nodded in response, and took a deep breath, before continuing.

“She escaped, and the kishin egg was about to finish me off – when someone stabbed it.”

“...Lanyon.”

“Lanyon was only able to find me because of his Soul Perception,” Archer replied. “He and Jekyll saved me, and they took me to the Society, where Bird healed me.” The ghost of a smile appeared on his face. “I owe a great debt to the Society. That's why, even though I wanted to go to the DWMA, I stayed here.”

Then he looked up, his eyes meeting Griffin's own. “But that's not the point. My sister threw away my life to save her own. From then on, I couldn't use Soul Resonance without thinking of that horrid night.” His tone turned cold. “She did something unforgivable. I don't think I could trust anyone to do that with me anymore.” He sighed. “Even you...”

Griffin licked the roof of his mouth – he didn't know how it had become so dry. “Archer, what you said about me last night...do you really think that?”

Archer shrugged. “I don't know anymore.”

“...What?”

“Don't get me wrong, Griffin, you're my good friend,” Archer said. “But you actually scared me last night. And I don't know if that'll happen again.”

“It won't happen again!” Griffin tried to reassure him. “Whatever happened last night, I'll make sure it won't come back!”

“How can you be sure?” Archer asked. “Not even you know what happened to you! It could very well come back when you least expect it!”

“Maijabi suspects it's the parasite that's repressing my magic,” Griffin explained. “If it is, then once I get it out of my system, I'll be fine.”

Archer nodded, but then looked away. “It's not just you I'm worried about. Those kids – I bet they were scared out of their minds. I didn't – I didn't like being the one who put them through that. To do to others what a monster did to me, I...I can't live with that.”

“What happened there, you don't have to blame yourself for,” Griffin said.

“But I should have stopped you sooner, and that's on me!” Archer exclaimed. “If only I wasn't so drunk...”

“It's over, Archer, and you did enough to stop me,” Griffin told him. “You saved them in time, I guess.”

Archer then looked back up at Griffin.

“Griffin – if something hadn't come over you...” he said, “...would you still have hurt them just as badly?”

Upon hearing this, Griffin raised an eyebrow. What kind of a question was that?

“They attacked me first,” Griffin replied. “Therefore, I would have done everything in my power to defend myself.”

“Even if it means shooting them so badly until they died?”

Griffin frowned. “Those kids were out of my blood first, Archer. You were there, you know that. Would you have let them live over me? Just because they're human and I'm not?”

“I didn't mean it like that–”

“Sure you didn't. Then what did you mean? That this would never have happened if we didn't pick a fight with them? Your drunk ass was the one who told me to fight them! Not to mention, you know they were asking for it!” Griffin then crossed his arms. “If they're hurt because of me, then fine – at least I won't have to see them again!”

Horror appeared on Archer's face. “It's not right to take someone's life!”

“I was only protecting myself!”

Archer paused, before his face darkened.

“I see,” he said, realization seeping in. “Who gives a damn about right and wrong when you're desperate, huh?”

“I need you to listen to me, Archer. It was me or them; it's always been me or them,” Griffin said, his voice rising to a shout. “You have to choose right now – would you have me live, or them?!”

“Leave.”

Griffin's face fell. “Huh?”

“I said leave!” Archer yelled. “It's bad enough this situation is as complicated as it is! And now you're forcing me to choose whose lives are more valuable than others?!” He ran a hand through his hair, before gritting his teeth together. “No one should have to choose that!”

Then he pointed a finger at Griffin as he went on, “Calling you my hope – what was I thinking? You've always done things to make me feel uncomfortable before, asking me questions I don't want to answer and pressuring me to make decisions I don't want to make! Do you think it's just you or them? That I can choose that easily? It's deeper than that!”

He took a minute to catch his breath, during which Griffin had been stricken silent. Had he really done those things to Archer?

“I–”

“No. Go away. I want to be alone.”

Something cold washed over Griffin. He stared at his partner for a while, before he held his chin high.

“Fine.”

And that was the end of it. Griffin turned on his heel, and walked away, out the door. He shouted “Move!” at the group of Lodgers that had gathered outside the door, and they complied. It was clear neither he nor Archer wanted to talk to anyone.

He stormed down the stairs towards the main hall – and then stopped in his tracks.

One of the staff was talking to Callista, who had just arrived.

 

Chapter Text

Indeed, Callista had arrived at the Society. She had been asking a member of the staff where Jekyll was when she saw a certain sorcerer standing at the stairs in the main hall.

Callista met Griffin's gaze, and her mind went to avoiding him – but only for a split second before she realized that she had nothing to fear. Griffin probably hadn't recognized her as the veiled woman in the pub last night. She would be fine.

Griffin seemed to be a little unnerved about approaching her himself, before he slowly descended the stairs, walking down to the main hall. He seemed as if he was trying not to stare at her. Callista then felt a little unnerved herself – did he recognize her after all?

She didn't have enough time to think about it, though, before she looked up to see some Lodgers gather around the doors leading to Jekyll's office. She could then see why – Jekyll and Lanyon had exited the office.

Now there was who she was looking for.

She put on her usual serene smile, and then walked up to the stairs of the main hall. Lanyon was the first to notice her – probably because of his pesky Soul Perception – and he placed a hand on Jekyll's shoulder, telling him something. It was definitely about her, for when Jekyll heard this, he looked down at Callista.

“Miss Redrowe!” Jekyll said, walking past the Lodgers who had cleared a path for him. Lanyon followed after Jekyll as he descended the stairs to meet her. “What brings you here?”

“I read the paper,” Callista said. “The affair with Moreau sounds positively dreadful. I think it even said that you ended up concussed, Dr. Jekyll.”

“That I did,” Jekyll said. Then something in the air shimmered as he added, “But I'm glad you're concerned about us.”

“Is it really about your concern for Jekyll getting concussed, though?” Lanyon suddenly asked.

Callista looked at Lanyon, trying to maintain her composure. “Excuse me?” she asked, keeping her voice level.

“I find it suspicious that you claim to be concerned about us; yet when a Lodger turns up dead, you don't offer us your condolences,” Lanyon explained. “If I didn't know any better, I would say that you visit us because you want to know something about the incident, something which you could profit from.”

Jekyll looked from Lanyon to Callista, seemingly unsure of how to respond. Callista kept her smile on, and put a hand on her chest.

“Are you joking, Dr. Lanyon?” Callista asked. Yet she could barely keep the threat out of her voice as she went on, “I sure hope you are.”

Lanyon's brow creased. “What do you mean?”

“If I recall, I did send a card detailing my condolences for Jonathan Luckett's untimely death days ago,” Callista told him. “I think you and Dr. Jekyll were on holiday?”

Lanyon looked taken aback, and his eyes flitted over to Jekyll.

“I think it was in the mail that Miss Pidgley had received,” Jekyll told him.

“And not to mention, what harm would it do if I wanted to learn things about the incident?” Callista continued. “Unless there is a side of the affair you don't want me to know about.”

Lanyon's eyes darted away, while Jekyll pulled at his cravat, adjusting it a little.

Ah. So what Moreau had told her was true.

After a moment, Lanyon finally looked back at Callista. “My apologies,” he said, bowing a little to her. “I must have been ill-informed on your actions; and therefore jumped to conclusions on your intentions.”

“I'm a woman, and you're a man, so it was bound to happen,” Callista said, smiling as if she genuinely thought her joke was funny. “May I talk to Dr. Jekyll alone?”

“Oh, of course, Miss Redrowe,” Lanyon complied, before walking away. She could have sworn, however, that as he went down the stairs, he glanced once more at her with suspicion in his eyes.

That was close. Lanyon had been onto her; she really hadn't sent such a message for Luckett's death. (Not that most of the Society's benefactors had, either, but that was besides the point.) She ought to make one and pretend that her household staff had forgotten to send it. That sounded safe.

Lanyon was suspicious of her, though. She hadn't thought so much about him before, considering he had no desire to inherit his father's legacy that was the Battle Club, and seemed to only be in the Society for Jekyll's sake. So she hadn't thought that he would suspect her of anything. Now she had to get Lanyon back on her side, and all would continue as usual.

“Dr. Jekyll,” she began, trying not to remain silent, “if I remember, your ex-assistant Hyde was the vigilante that killed Luckett, right?”

“I personally don't believe it was Hyde who killed Luckett,” Jekyll replied, almost instantly. “It's what everyone believes because of the evidence, but it could have easily been any overzealous person trying to frame Hyde for their crime.”

“Is that so?” Now Callista was a little surprised. How was Jekyll so assured of Hyde's innocence when no one else was? She thought back to the clothes in Jekyll's office. Perhaps Jekyll's relationship with Hyde, which ran much deeper than boss and assistant, had something to do with it. But how close were they?

Then she shook her head. “Either way, I think Hyde went on the run because of this?”

“Yes.”

“So why do you think he would have risked his life to save you, as the papers say?”

Jekyll seemed to think about it, before Callista tilted her head. “Are you having trouble thinking that Hyde might have motives other than ones benefiting himself?” She then smiled. “And you're the one who said he was innocent of Luckett's murder.”

“It's just that I know for sure Hyde wasn't there at the Exhibition at any point,” Jekyll answered. “Even then, he has a track record of doing things only for himself.”

“We all do, Dr. Jekyll,” Callista said. “Some people just have a longer track record than others.”

Jekyll looked at her, before nodding silently. Callista then noticed the exhausted look on his face, and put her hands together.

“For a man who's come back from holiday, you don't seem like you've gotten a lot of rest,” she said.

“What? Oh.” Jekyll clasped his hands together, smiling wider. “I haven't been given a chance to rest since I came back. But it's fine, I can handle it.”

“Are you sure about that?” Callista asked, putting a hand to her mouth. “You do look like you need to lie down. Do you not trust my opinion?”

“I do,” Jekyll replied, almost as if he were forced to. “I trust you. But I assure you, Miss Redrowe, this is nothing. When everything is settled, I will take a rest.”

“That sounds fine by me,” Callista said.

Callista and Jekyll stood in front of each other for a while, before she noticed someone standing on the second floor, near a girl she didn't recognize. But this first person she did – it was the woman she had ran into at the Exhibition.

The woman who had been suspicious of her, too.

“Dr. Jekyll,” Callista said, pointing a finger at the woman. “Who is that? I don't believe I met her during my tour.”

Jekyll looked in the direction of the finger. “Oh?” He had to only look a moment before he turned back to Callista. “She's a new Lodger – she came in only recently. Her name is Elizabeth Clerval.”

Callista glanced at the woman again, before putting on another smile. “Ah, I see,” she said. Then she cleared her throat, and decided to change the topic.

“Well, I'm sure a lot of the other benefactors of the Society have concerns about the organization, and not just about your well-being,” she told him. “Not to sound insensitive, Dr. Jekyll, but I do also wonder how much more of my money you'll be needing to keep this place afloat after all that happened.”

“Ah, so that was the real reason for your visit,” Jekyll said. “But at least you were concerned for me alongside that.”

“It's my lot in life to have concerns, I'm afraid,” Callista went on. Well, it wasn't a total lie, at least.

“In that case, I have to hold a meeting,” Jekyll said in reply. “To reassure them that their money is going to a good place.”

“Of course,” Callista said. “Even if the people that work here may not be the best characters.”

The remark worked just as she had intended. Jekyll had grown uneasy, and his eyes went elsewhere. “Well, I'm not going to pretend that everyone here is perfect,” he tried to laugh.

“And neither am I,” Callista said. “Well, my curiosity is piqued about one thing at least. What does Miss Clerval do?”

“Miss Clerval? She's a golem maker.”

That was all she needed to hear.

“Jekyll, we have a situation,” Lanyon cut in, from the bottom of the stairs. “It's a few telegrams from the other sponsors. They sound...not well.”

“What?” Jekyll asked. “Show me.”

“They're being brought up to your office,” Lanyon said, coming up to the two of them. “Why don't you go back up, Jekyll? I'll see Miss Redrowe off.” He then glanced at Callista. “It's not wise for an unwed man and woman to spend so much time together, after all.”

“O-of course,” Jekyll said. Then he bowed to Callista. “Goodbye, Miss Redrowe.” And with that, he went back up the stairs to his office. Lanyon and Callista looked at each other, and then descended the stairs together.

“That was a good lie, Dr. Lanyon,” she pointed out once they reached the bottom of the stairs.

“It takes a liar to know a lie,” Lanyon returned.

Callista giggled. “You got me,” she said. “But then again, everyone lies.”

“By a liar, I meant an exceptional one, not an everyday one.” Lanyon pushed open the door for her, motioning for her to walk through.

Once they were both outside the building, Lanyon turned to face her. “Now, tell me.” He gave her a piercing stare. “What do you really want with the Society for Witches and Sorcerers?"

“What do you mean? I only think that it is an exceptionally good organization and I want to fund it,” Callista replied with an innocent look. “Why are you so suspicious?”

“No average well-to-do lady born and raised in London would take so easily to funding such an organization,” Lanyon told her. “I know. I've asked enough of them. I get the feeling you're not what you seem, Miss Redrowe.”

The smile faded from her face.

“...What are you trying to imply?” Callista asked. “Where do you get these ideas? You're a meister – what is your Soul Perception telling you? Doesn't it say that I'm just a normal human being?”

“It's telling me you're also a liar and a troublemaker,” Lanyon said.

Callista's mouth fell open as he continued, “I know, only high-ranking meisters can tell the character of a soul, right? I should inform you that I don't normally read too much into people's souls. But the moment Jekyll and I stepped out of the NOT class in the Academy, we were given the two-star rank simply because of our fighting abilities and various techniques. It's true that my fighting skills might have gone unused over time, but when I get a bad feeling about someone, I know it's because of my Soul Perception.” Then he put his hands together. “So I know it's true when I say those things about you.”

Callista shut her mouth, putting on a blank face. Inch by inch, she carefully slid out a small poisoned knife from from within her sleeve, so that Lanyon wouldn't notice. She honestly hoped that she wouldn't have to resort to killing a man in broad daylight; even when few people were out in the street now, she would have to run and hide from them once Lanyon fell dead. She didn't want that.

She hid her hands behind her back, just as her hands were closing around the handle. Then she opened her mouth to speak.

“What am I supposed to get from that, Dr. Lanyon?” Callista asked. “That you use your Soul Perception on anyone you think untrustworthy? You kept your skills fresh by judging the citizens of London?” She tilted her head, keeping her voice steady as she continued, “Why don't you try your skills on yourself? Seeing as your mother told me you got yourself expelled from the DWMA through breaking the rules instead of making an agreement with Death, like Jekyll did.”

Lanyon froze. “Wh-what?”

“I've been spending a lot of time with your mother lately. She and your father tell everyone you managed to make an agreement with Lord Death to simply walk out of the school and follow your friend back to London, in the vaguest terms possible,” Callista continued. “But I came across a couple of newspaper clippings while in your parents' library, and found out that a certain young man got expelled for stealing a restricted Level 4 book from the DWMA library...and his name was Hastie Robert Lanyon II.”

“That's – it's not–”

“Don't try to deny it. I asked your mother about it, and she told me everything after having me swear not to tell anyone else in London. Except you, since you know about this already, of course,” Callista went on. “She told me about how your father was so mad at you, how you would go to any means possible to follow after your weapon partner...who doesn't even know about what you did to follow him.”

She gripped the knife tighter, yet she tried not to show any other sign of nervousness. “Neither the DWMA nor your father would have let a talented meister such as yourself out of the Academy's grasp otherwise. And your parents put so much work into keeping it all a secret so you wouldn't shame your family name. So it would be such a terrible thing to let out, don't you think?”

Lanyon was pale now. “You wouldn't,” he said.

“What you saw about me – it's all true, but only to a certain extent,” she said. “Yet you force me to do such things, so that you wouldn't tarnish my reputation.” Then she shook her head, and looked up at Lanyon. “I suppose we have that in common – we both value reputations.”

Lanyon's face turned angry. “What do you want?”

“All I want is for you to leave me alone,” Callista told him, “if you're really going to trouble me on matters I can't change, anyway. What does it matter to you if I take an interest in your Society? It only means I'm giving it money. Which is what you want, right? Of course, you won't have to worry about money once you win the Tournament – if you win the Tournament. And here you are, sticking your over-sized nose in places where it doesn't belong.”

“...You may paint me as the one in the wrong,” Lanyon said after a pause, “but I will find out what you want with the Society. And then you'll be the one cornered.”

“You'll still be cornered as well, be honest,” Callista replied. “I still have the information on you, and who knows what all of London will think of the truth about how you left the DWMA. Or what Dr. Jekyll, your partner, who at least left through honorable means, would think of you.” She then smiled brightly. “But if you do somehow get the upper hand on me, I'll be quite dismayed. Is that what you want?”

Without waiting for the other to respond, Callista turned around, moving her hands in front of her so that the knife was still hidden from Lanyon's view. “Anyway, if that will be all, then I trust you won't tell Jekyll about what you've seen. Just as I won't tell anyone about what I've seen.”

She reached her carriage, and looked over her shoulder. Lanyon was still frozen in place, watching her. Then she flashed him one last smile, and got inside the carriage.

 


 

“Rachel? Are you listening?”

“Huh?” Rachel asked. She looked back at Frankenstein, who was snapping a finger in front of her face. Instantly, she looked apologetic. “I'm sorry.”

“Honestly, you and Kaylock seem to apologize for everything,” Frankenstein said. “You two really are made for each other.”

“If we were made for each other, I wouldn't want that to be the reason why,” Rachel said to herself. Then she looked back at Frankenstein. “What were you talking to me about, again?”

“I was talking to you about Kaylock. I was...wondering about his condition.” Frankenstein crossed her arms. “Do you know?”

“He's in his room. Bird healed his injuries; I thnk he's not doing so well emotionally, though. Ever since he lost control yesterday and wasn't able to fight Moreau off...” Rachel trailed off. For some reason she hadn't considered too much how Jasper was feeling about the whole situation until now. And that was because...

“Your mind seems to be elsewhere, Rachel,” a voice said from behind Rachel, and she turned around to see the Creature standing there.

“What? Oh, it's nothing,” Rachel said. “I'm not thinking of anything important.”

“You're not thinking about your meister suddenly reappearing after days of absence to save you?”

Rachel's smile was frozen. The Creature had hit the nail right on the head.

“I see; well, it can't be helped,” Frankenstein said. “You and Hyde have a sort of history with each other. It's only natural that he would come back for you.”

“Come back...for me?” Rachel then shook her head. “It's not like that between us!”

Frankenstein tilted her head, almost comically. “I wasn't implying anything.” She shrugged. “If that's how you choose to see it. But then again, why else would Hyde come back if he didn't care?”

“I-I guess.” Rachel held her arm. “But am I really the reason he came back? I'm no one.” She sighed. “Maybe he just wanted the chance to fight Moreau.”

“I don't think a person like Hyde would come out of hiding just to fight Moreau,” Frankenstein told her.

“And what kind of person is Hyde?” Rachel asked. “You don't even know him that well.”

“I know he didn't kill that sorcerer,” Frankenstein replied. “If he couldn't subdue a werewolf at the Blackfog Bazaar, then he's obviously no match for a phoenix sorcerer.”

“A werewolf and a sorcerer are two different beings, though,” Creature interjected. “Not to mention, he did defeat Moreau.”

“Moreau isn't as smart as he thinks he is,” their creator returned, waving a hand. Then she looked back at Rachel. “And besides, even Hyde would know better than to target a sorcerer when he works for the place providing this sorcerer shelter.”

Rachel couldn't help looking relieved. Another person who thought Hyde was innocent.

“Well, Rachel, do you really believe that Hyde would come back just to have a fight?” Frankenstein asked.

“Well...” Rachel shuffled her feet awkwardly. “I wish I knew. He definitely wouldn't come back for me.”

“And what makes you think that? You're partners,” the Creature said. “If you are even a bit as close as you think you are, then Hyde must value you.”

“I really wish he would confirm that,” Rachel said. “Maybe he just sees me as a tool.”

“Well, he's in London; you could ask him once you get the chance.” Frankenstein joked.

It was obviously a joke – but then Rachel's eyes lit up.

“Of course!” Rachel said. “I'll find him and get an explanation from him. Maybe I can even convince him to leave London – he has to stay safe.”

“What?” Frankenstein's eyes widened. “Are you really sure you want to do that? What if he doesn't want your help?”

“Well, that's true...” Rachel said, looking downcast again. Frankenstein then shut her mouth, as if she wished she hadn't opened it.

The Creature looked at Rachel, and then put a hand on her shoulder.

“Well, I for one think he needs your help in this situation,” they said. “He could use all the help he could get. Which is why you should go to him.”

“...” Rachel stood there for a moment, thinking, before she nodded. “Right. I have to go to Hyde and get him to leave London, if he hasn't left yet, for his safety. But first, I'll get an explanation as to why he came back.”

“Well, if that's what you think you should do,” Frankenstein said, putting her hands behind her back. “I guess there's no stopping you.”

Rachel smiled, truly, for what felt like the first time in days. Now she had something to look forward to.

 


 

Jekyll watched Rachel from behind a post on the railing, and turned around.

Well, she's looking for me, Hyde said. Where do you think she'll begin looking?

“There's a few places someone would go if they were looking for you,” Jekyll told him.

...Wasn't there a warning issued earlier today in the papers? About a you-know-what?

“Yes,” Jekyll said. “I have to go after her.”

 

Chapter Text

There were, indeed, a few places someone would go to find Edward Hyde.

Rachel had tried Hyde's flat in Soho at first, but the landlady said she hadn't seen any sign of him. (She did, however, say “good riddance”.) After that, Rachel decided to step into the vastness of the East End.

She walked around the streets, past the pubs and the less-than reputable buildings, which had also seen no hint of Hyde. (And the various bartenders were glad.) Yet she willed herself not to give up, and to just keep going.

She even looked in the alleyways and knocked on doors, giving descriptions of Hyde to the people she ran into. Some recognized him, some didn't. And none admitted to seeing him these past few days.

Where was Hyde? This was the place he would rather be than anywhere else. Granted, halfway through the search Rachel did realize that Hyde going into hiding meant he didn't want to be found, but to hell with that! She meant no harm, and she would find him here whether he liked it or not.

(A part of her considered going to Jekyll's house for clues, but she questioned if Jekyll would house or keep communications with a wanted man, even if he did think Hyde innocent.)

So Rachel wandered the streets alone, looking up for a moment at the glowing moon. She then had to look away; the sight of the moon was, frankly, quite creepy. She then heard the sound of something crashing in a nearby alleyway, and turned in that direction.

She wasn't naïve; of course she knew it most likely wasn't Hyde. But her curiosity was piqued, and she went into the darkened alley to check out the sound.

At first, Rachel couldn't see anything due to the darkness. But soon her vision adjusted, and she could see the outline of a person rifling through the garbage. She took a step back – she suddenly had a bad feeling.

The rustling stopped. Rachel paused as well, staring inside the alley. The silhouette of the person straightened up, and then looked towards her.

Instantly, by the person's glowing purple eyes, Rachel could tell hat she probably should have left when she had the chance.

The person turned fully towards her, and Rachel could see the unruly long hair, as well as the large knife that the person was holding. Then she froze as she saw them smile – a large, toothy smile.

This was not a human. Not anymore.

The next thing she knew, the kishin egg let out an inhuman growl, and charged towards her. Rachel finally willed herself to move, and she ran out as fast as she could. But the kishin egg did the same, and now she was running out into the streets, this kishin egg on her tail.

She wasn't aware of how long she had been running, or how many doors and windows had slammed shut at the sight of her being chased, but she was aware that she wasn't running fast enough, soon it would catch her, and she internally cursed at herself–

“Here!”

A hand waved her into another alley, and not knowing what else to do, she followed it inside. The same hand grabbed her and pulled her against the wall, just as the kishin egg charged in after her. But it ran past her, and away it went, further into the darkness.

Rachel panted for a bit. Then she looked to her right, to the person who had saved her–

–it was Jekyll.

Rachel was struck silent for a moment, before she said, “Henry?!”

“Quiet,” Jekyll told her in a whisper. “The kishin egg is still around.”

Sure enough, the figure of the kishin egg paused in the alley, and seemed to look around. Jekyll watched the kishin egg intently, and then turned back to Rachel.

“Quickly,” he whispered, and Rachel knew not to refuse.

The two of them silently walked out of the alleyway, and managed to get a few paces away before footsteps came running back towards them, and Jekyll and Rachel only tried to go faster.

But the kishin egg was catching up to them soon enough, and Jekyll looked over his shoulder.

“Oh, Death,” he cursed. Then he looked at Rachel. “Get back!”

Rachel did as she was told, while Jekyll turned around to face the kishin egg. He turned his right hand into a blade, and raised it just as the kishin egg stopped in front of them, and hissed.

“If it's a fight you want,” Jekyll said threateningly.

He ran forward, and raised his blade higher, before bringing it down just as the kishin egg brought up its knife. The two blades scraped against each other, and Jekyll used the force to jump back onto the other side of the street.

The kishin egg screeched, and ran towards Jekyll. But Jekyll waited for just the right moment, and when it was close enough thrust his blade back, before spearing the kishin egg in the abdomen. The kishin egg let out another high-pitched noise, but without further ado Jekyll lifted his arm and cut the kishin egg in half from the waist up.

With that, the kishin egg stayed quite still, and that gave Jekyll some time to catch his breath. Rachel watched them nervously. Was it over?

No, it was not.

Without warning, the split upper halves of the kishin egg began to regenerate the missing parts, and soon Jekyll and Rachel were looking at a kishin egg with two heads, two torsos, and two pairs of arms.

“Holy shit,” Rachel cursed, wincing.

Jekyll's eyes widened, and the kishin egg took this pause as a chance to try and stab him. Luckily, he managed to dodge, and the knife got wedged into the wall behind him. As it tried to pull the knife out, Jekyll saw his chance and slid out between its legs.

He looked up just as one of the kishin egg's heads turned to look at him, and it spewed out a purple liquid at him. Jekyll dodged, and the liquid landed on the pavement, melting through it. The hissing sound pierced the air as Jekyll got up, and ran towards Rachel.

“Move. Move!” he called, grabbing her hand. Rachel did as she was told, and the two of them ran as fast as they could, away from the scene.

She didn't need to turn around to hear the sound of the knife being pulled out of the wall, and the kishin egg hissed once more, before running after them, judging by the footsteps coming closer and closer.

“How are we going to kill that thing?!” Rachel asked, her voice rising to a shout. “Slicing through it won't work, and it might melt us if we get in too close!”

“We need a powerful long-ranged attack, strong enough to break it completely,” Jekyll said. Rachel saw him glance over his shoulder, and judging by the look on his face, what he saw wasn't anything good.

He suddenly stopped, and with his hold on her, Rachel stopped as well. Then she realized why Jekyll did so – the kishin egg had jumped earlier, and now it landed in front of them. It growled, and Jekyll and Rachel backed away slowly.

“You didn't happen to bring Mr. Archer here by any chance, did you?” Rachel asked.

Jekyll shook his head. “Unfortunately, no.”

“What are we going to do, then?” she asked, looking up at him once more. Jekyll looked at her as well, but then looked down, growing silent.

“Henry?”

He sucked in a breath – he had made his decision. Then he looked back at her. “Transform, now,” he commanded.

“What?” Rachel asked. “That won't work. You're a weapon!”

“Rachel, trust me,” Jekyll said.

The kishin egg began to charge at them, and Rachel guessed she had no other choice.

She took a deep breath, and transformed into a sickle, jumping into Jekyll's hand. He held her up, and blocked the kishin egg's knife with her blade. He bent down, and then pushed upwards with all his might.

The kishin egg was pushed back, and it landed gracelessly on the pavement. Jekyll straightened back up, wiping the sweat from his face with the back of his hand. From her weapon form, Rachel looked up at him.

The way he was holding her, that mannerism...it reminded her of Hyde. But that wasn't even the biggest question. Why was Jekyll able to resonate with her?!

She didn't have much time to think about it, though, as the kishin egg got back up on its feet. Jekyll narrowed his eyes, focusing his gaze on it as he stepped further back.

“What are you planning to do?” was what Rachel asked instead.

“We need to get a far enough distance from it,” Jekyll said. “But for now...prepare to use Soul Resonance.”

“Soul Resonance?!”

The kishin egg ran forward, and Jekyll jumped out of the way seconds before it struck. “Come on, Rachel,” he encouraged. “You're the weapon of the spirit of London at night. You can do anything.”

That caught Rachel off guard.

But at the same time...she was ready, somehow.

The kishin egg turned around, waving its knife in the air, and Rachel felt her soul align with Jekyll's – it was a comforting feeling.

“Soul Resonance!”

Sparks flew around them, and an electric feeling ran between their souls. Rachel expected it to feel different – but no, it felt the same as the last time she had experienced the sensation. Their souls were in a perfect, powerful harmony – and it was all so familiar.

A bright glow overtook her blade, and Jekyll raised it as it grew in size, before holding the large sickle blade back with two hands.

Rachel could feel it, no doubt – it was the Witch Hunter technique again.

The kishin egg leaped forward, and Jekyll ran in its direction – but just as gravity brought the kishin egg down, Jekyll got down, and slid past it until he was a considerable distance away from the kishin egg.

And then, without hesitation, Jekyll got up and swung the giant glowing blade across the pavement – causing a burst of energy to shoot towards the kishin egg. It was unable to dodge, and was instantly destroyed by the blast.

The burst disappeared after a few seconds, leaving a deep ridge cutting through the pavement, and a red soul floating a ways from Jekyll.

He panted for a moment, before he relaxed his grip on the sickle, and the blade changed back to normal. Then he lowered himself down to the ground, and Rachel leapt from his hand to transform back into her human form.

“...All things considered,” Jekyll tried to say, “that–”

“You resonated with me,” Rachel cut him off. “You resonated with me, and I know only one person who I can resonate with, and – even if that weren't so – you're a weapon!” she said. “Isn't that against the fundamental laws of resonance?”

Jekyll looked up at her, a guilty expression on his face.

“I've revealed too much,” he said, defeated. “Let's go back to my house.”

 


 

The next thing Jekyll knew, he and Rachel were in his study, in his house. Rachel was seated in a chair, looking up at him, awaiting the explanation.

Jekyll expected Hyde to be chatting up a storm with him, but apparently all Hyde had said during the trip to the house was , That was a stupid decision, and nothing more. Which wasn't exactly comforting. But Jekyll guessed he had to live with the consequences of his actions. He only hoped Rachel wouldn't be too mad.

Well...at least not too mad.

“Well?” Rachel asked.

Jekyll sighed. “I have to tell you something,” he began. “But first, you have to swear not to tell anyone about this.”

“Right,” Rachel nodded. “Alright, I won't tell.”

Jekyll nodded, and inhaled deeply, before saying, “I was able to resonate with you, Rachel...because I am actually Edward Hyde.”

The room was silent. Save for Hyde saying in his head, Well, that happened.

“...What.” Rachel said, her expression turning into one of disbelief. “You must be joking.”

“I'm not.”

“You are.”

“We were able to resonate even though we are both weapons, and perform Soul Resonance without a problem; that should be enough proof,” Jekyll said. “But I can prove it more, if you would want it.”

“By all means, go ahead,” Rachel said. “But this had better not be some trick.”

“It's not,” Jekyll told her, as he walked over to his desk next to her. “I should probably give you an explanation about how all this happened, too.”

He took Rachel's silence to mean agreement, and so he began his story.

“I never told anyone this before,” he started, “but even while I was young, I expressed an interest in all things magic, even witches. Even while I was in the Academy, my fascination grew, and I devoured every lesson and every book I could get.”

He opened a drawer, and pulled out a flask full of a red liquid. Then he continued, “When I became a two-star student, I gained access to more books than I could before – and this included books on the witches' alchemy.”

“Alchemy?” Rachel asked. “You mean the potions and magic formulas that Miss Ito specializes in?”

“Right,” Jekyll said. He then pulled out a packet of salt from the drawer. “I admit to studying it late at night, when Lanyon didn't know a thing. It was here that I learned that witches and sorcerers were capable of great things. If they used these formulas, these elixirs, for good, then who knows what the world would be like now!”

He laughed softly, and then cleared his throat. “Forgive me, I'm going off-topic. Ah...after I left the Academy, I fell into a deep sadness.”

“Yes,” Rachel said, a little uncomfortably. “I remember that.”

Jekyll swallowed, before nodding. “So Lanyon took me on a trip for me to clear my head, and on that trip, I...I found the solution to my problem. What would help me cope with my hectic life."

As he was saying this, he had been pouring out a certain measure of the salt into a small vial. Then he paused, and lifted up both the vial and the flask with the red liquid within. Once he had done so, he poured the salt into the flask, and it puffed out a fair bit of smoke. The red liquid turned purple, and then green.

“And...what was your solution?” Rachel asked.

Jekyll turned towards her, still holding up the flask. “I'll get to that,” he said. “But first, I know there's someone you want to meet.”

And after taking a deep breath, he swallowed down the whole formula.

Almost immediately, Jekyll's eyes widened, and he dropped the flask, choking. Rachel stood up, but other than that could do nothing but watch while he staggered back, clutching at himself. A green liquid seeped out of his mouth, nose, and eyes, and he got down on the ground, gasping for air.

Bones crunched and snapped into place, and suddenly the clothes he was wearing grew too big for him – or rather, he was becoming too small for them. His hair turned long and unruly, and lightened in color.

Rachel knew who she was looking at, but was stuck staring in disbelief until he looked back up at her with his green eyes.

“Ugh...” Hyde said. “On the bright side...at least you know where I am now.”

“Edward!” Rachel bent down to Hyde's level. “You're – you're here! And you're–”

“Jekyll, I know,” Hyde finished for her.

“...Innocent,” Rachel said.

“Huh?”

“This proves why Jekyll was so sure you weren't the culprit for Luckett's murder!” Rachel began to smile. “You were Jekyll the whole night of the Exhibition, and the Lodgers know it!” She grabbed his arm. “You have to tell them!”

“What?” Hyde asked. “No!”

Rachel paused. “No?”

“I told you, we can't tell anyone about this!” Hyde told her. “I mean, think about it! If the Lodgers find out I played with alchemy–!”

“They seem perfectly fine with Frankenstein, and she robbed the graves of magic users,” Rachel pointed out.

“That's because she isn't doing it anymore!” Hyde retorted. “And even if we do that and prove I didn't do it to the Lodgers, what then? We don't have a clue as to who the real killer is. Not to mention the police are also after me – would they be alright with the alchemy?”

“That's...true,” Rachel said, her face falling.

Hyde looked at her, and sighed. “Come on, Rachel,” he said, “we'll be able to prove I'm innocent some other way. Just leave it to me.:

“I can't just leave everything to you!” Rachel said. “What if you and Jekyll get hurt? What if you never find the killer? What if the Lodgers or the police find you, and you...”

“It'll be fine!” Hyde tried to reassure her. “What, do you think I can't handle myself?”

Rachel looked down. “...I'm worthless.”

Hyde's smile dropped. “Where is this coming from?” he asked. “You're not worthless.”

“I am.” Rachel looked back up at him. “Why else would you tell me you could do it on your own? Why else would Jekyll tell me to stay back when he fought that kishin egg? I can't help at all.”

“I didn't mean it like that!” Hyde exclaimed. “Listen, as the meister, I have to take care of these things. Jekyll didn't tell you to stay back because you couldn't help. You know Jekyll; he's too self-sacrificing.”

Hey, Jekyll said in his mind.

Hyde ignored him, continuing, “You know that no matter what, I'd always ask you to fight by my side. You're my weapon partner, after all.”

“I...I see,” Rachel said. “So why did you come back to save us?”

“No sensible person would stand by while a bastard threatens to kill people and cause mass destruction. If you've forgotten, I live in London too and don't want some guy wrecking everything,” Hyde said. “Besides, I have to prove myself better than him at this sort of thing. The bad thing.”

Rachel laughed gently. “You know, I don't really believe that.”

Hyde crossed his legs so he was sitting down. “Yeah, well, whatever. Got any more questions? I can't stick around forever.”

“...Jekyll said he found a solution to his problems,” Rachel said. “I'm guessing it was you.”

“Of course it was me,” Hyde said in reply. “He thought that the best thing to do with his life was to just fuck it and help the magic users himself. But Henry Jekyll couldn't do that with all these problems growing inside, all these messy emotions and all these issues – Jekyll had to be the perfect gentleman, because a man without a good reputation couldn't help these downtrodden people.” He then shrugged. “At least, that was the theory.

“So Henry Jekyll split his soul in two, to separate himself from the things he found bad about himself,” Hyde finished, “and he named that part of his soul Edward Hyde. I'm that undesirable part.”

“Is that why you keep saying you're the biggest evil to roam the streets of London?”

“Hey, it's fun.”

“Well, I still don't believe it,” Rachel told him. “I mean, how can you be so bad if I can resonate with you so well?”

Hyde's reaction was unexpected, even to himself and Jekyll – he blushed. “Well...I mean...!”

He was cut off again, this time by Rachel laughing, and then pulling him into a hug. “Never mind all that,” she said. “I'm just glad you're safe. I was so, so worried.”

Hyde stayed quite still for a while, not sure how to react. So he started to laugh, a little nervously, wrapping an arm around her as if he were trying to imitate her.

“It's nice to know you'd care about little old me,” he said, trying to sound flippant.

“Well, it makes sense that I'd care,” Rachel said, releasing him. She wiped her nose on her sleeve. “I'm your weapon partner. It's my job.”

Something clicked in Hyde's mind.

As I am your weapon, it is my duty to worry about you too.”

Worrying about me...it's your duty?”

He then shook his head. Fuck Lanyon, this was not what he needed right now.

“Well, I'm tired,” Rachel said. “I had probably best be leaving.” She stood up, and walked towards the door.

“Yeah, sure,” Hyde said. “Can't stay up past your bedtime, I get that.”

Rachel laughed again, before waving one last goodbye. And after that, she was out the door.

That went better than I expected, Jekyll said.

“Yep, but what do we do now?” Hyde asked.

Go to sleep, probably.

“...Nah.”

Hyde.

“Ugh, fine,” Hyde said. “Just let me eat first or something.”

It was as if the carefree days were back, if only for a moment.

 

Chapter Text

Where was Jekyll?

Lanyon was wondering about this as he eyed the other people within the room. Right now they were wearing expressions of either boredom or impatience. Mainly because Jekyll was late.

His eyes scanned these people over. Some of them were talking softly among themselves, while others checked their watches. Lanyon then turned his gaze upon one of the few women in the room.

Callista didn't seem to show any sign of discomfort at all. Maybe she suspected that because of these people, he wouldn't be able to confront her about what they had talked about before. And...truth be told, she would be right about that.

It was then that Callista caught his eyes upon her, and she looked in his direction. Then she smiled.

This unnerved Lanyon, so he looked elsewhere. Then that proved to be a bad idea, as he caught the eye of his father.

“Well?” Gavin asked. “Where is your friend?”

Lanyon regarded him coldly. “If you think I knew what the answer to that question, would I then be staying here and waiting instead of going after him?”

“I don't like your tone.” Gavin frowned.

Lanyon looked away. “I don't like yours either,” he muttered. Then he sighed, beginning to stand up from his seat. “Very well, I'll go look for him.”

Just as he had said this, however, the door to the meeting room swung open, and who else but Jekyll walked inside, carrying himself with the same respectable air that he always had.

“Henry!” Utterson said, from his seat at the table. “There you are.”

“Do forgive me, ladies and gentlemen,” Jekyll told the people within. “I had a bit of trouble getting here.”

“Nothing concerning, I hope?” Utterson asked as Jekyll walked over to his seat.

“It isn't anything you should be worried about.” Jekyll reached his chair, and then sat down. “Shall we start, then?”

Lanyon took his seat as well, and with that their meeting with the sponsors of the Society for Witches and Sorcerers began.

“As you might have heard,” Jekyll began, “one of our sorcerers is dead – has been murdered – and another one has attacked four students of the Death Weapon Meister Academy.” He then put his hands together. “And so I have to be completely and totally honest with you. These things have happened.”

Several of the sponsors began to talk, while Lanyon looked at Jekyll. The look on his friend's face denoted that he had been expecting such an outcome.

“But rest assured,” Jekyll continued over the chatter, “we are doing everything we can to investigate these cases thoroughly, so that justice will be served, and the Society will be able to resume business as normal.”

“Business,” one of the gentlemen, Sir Danvers Carew, scoffed. “I would not have supported such an enterprise if I had known my money would be going to defending a criminal.”

Lanyon frowned. “Excuse me–"

“A person who attacks students of an organization dedicated to hunting down evil can be no less than that evil itself,” Carew continued.

“Is there going to be any punishment for this sorcerer?” the other woman in the room, Lady Beaconsfied, added.

“It might not be my place to say,” Callista said, before either Carew and Beaconsfield could go on. “But we should let Dr. Jekyll speak first, I believe.”

Jekyll looked relieved as the room fell silent again. Callista, on the other hand, smiled a little triumphantly.

“There will be a punishment accorded to the sorcerer involved,” Jekyll told them. “But the situation is more complicated than originally thought, and the Academy will give this sorcerer a trial.”

“Complicated?” Now it was Gavin's turn to speak. “How is attempted murder more complicated than originally thought?”

“We shall have to see,” Lanyon answered for Jekyll. “The investigation and trial will bring everything to light.”

“Now then,” Carew said, before the meeting could hush again. “I remember you said that a sorcerer was murdered. What are you doing about that?”

“We have the police investigating the case,” Jekyll replied.

“Well? Do you have a suspect?” Beaconsfield asked.

Jekyll paused, so Lanyon decided to say it for him. “The suspect in this murder is one Mr. Edward Hyde, Dr. Jekyll's assistant.”

“The vigilante?” Carew crossed his arms. “I'm not surprised.”

“So are you going after him?” Gavin asked.

“The Society for Witches and Sorcerers does not presume things against people unless given concrete evidence to think otherwise,” was Jekyll's reply. “That is the premise upon which my Society was built, and I am standing by it. It is true that I do not condone such happenings within my Society, but we are doing everything we can to figure out the facts of what happened.”

“Are you defending Hyde, then?”

“The matter of whether Hyde is innocent or not is for a court to prove, not public opinion.” Now it was Utterson's turn to defend Jekyll.

“And it is in the Society's best interests for us not to say anything definite in the matter,” Jekyll finished.

Lanyon could sense that something would come up once this matter was over. And come up, something did.

“So our money is going towards these so-called investigations?” Gavin asked.

“Our money is going towards the investigations,” Jekyll told him. “Your money, on the other hand, will go where it has always gone: to the protecting and uplifting of witches and sorcerers who want to work for the good of humanity.”

“And I presume our money is also going to pay for the repairs to that market?” Callista asked.

“Yes – that's right!” Carew said. “Weren't you two fighting that Moreau there?”

“It was an unfortunate thing, what Moreau did there,” Lanyon said. “We did all that we could to stop him, and so we will take care of the damages done as well.

“Yes, you did all that you could,” Callista said. “But I'm concerned that you would let the criminal Hyde finish Moreau off for you.”

Her words seemed to stir up the other people sitting at the table. Carew looked Jekyll straight in the eye, pointing a finger at him.

“That's right!” he said. “He finished the fight for you!”

“Is he still affiliated with the Society?” Beaconsfield asked.

“So you must be defending him, then,” Gavin said coldly.

“You are mistaken,” Lanyon answered, trying to keep a cool head. “Hyde came out of nowhere. We do not know what his reasons were for helping us. And we certainly did not know that he was going to come.”

“I see. But either way, you are affiliated with a criminal, and I do not like it.” Gavin then moved to stand up from his seat. “Until you get that cleared up, consider yourselves lucky if you win the Tournament and the money of everyone in the Battle Club.”

“Where are you going, Mr. Lanyon?” Utterson asked.

“Out. And my money is going out of the Society's hands, too.”

And with that, Gavin Lanyon walked out of the room, leaving everyone to stare after him. Stare they did for a while, before all eyes turned back to Jekyll and Lanyon.

“So, do you have any more reassuring to do, or are we done here?” Carew asked.

Lanyon looked at Jekyll. Jekyll opened his mouth, but then closed it again.

 


 

Well, that was a fucking disaster.

“Look on the bright side,” Jekyll said, not too brightly, as he hung up his coat on a rack inside his office. “We did manage to convince them that we had everything under control, in the end.”

In the end, they were telling you to be more careful. More careful? In this situation?

“I agree. I'm almost in over my head.” Jekyll sighed, placing a hand on his forehead. “But that doesn't mean we can't still fix this. The Society still made a good impression at the Exhibition, and we still have the Tournament to win.”

Oh, right, the Tournament, Hyde drawled. But how are you going to win it? I take it you and Lanyon aren't on the same page anymore.

Jekyll frowned. He looked in the glass of the cabinet next to him, where Hyde was examining the look on his face.

What, did I strike a nerve? Hyde asked.

“It doesn't matter.” Jekyll then moved to the chair at his desk, where he sat down. “What matters is getting back on Lanyon's side, as you say.”

And how are you going to do that, exactly? Hyde's image in the glass crossed his arms. You and Lanyon haven't exactly been talking since that little incident with Moreau.

Jekyll didn't reply immediately. Instead, he glanced at the wine bottle sitting innocently at the side of his table, alongside two glasses.

“...Maybe I should have agreed with him,” Jekyll said. “Maybe I should let him get stronger without me, maybe I'm really not a worthy weapon.”

You are a worthy weapon, damn it, Hyde told him almost instantly. Let him grow stronger, whatever. But you don't deserve the shit you go through for him. He then threw his hands up. In fact, why are you even going through shit for him, if he made you feel worthless?

Jekyll's eyes went back to Hyde. “Are you saying I should abandon him?”

If that's what's best for your sanity.

“Hyde...”

Look, what do you want me to tell you? Hyde huffed. I've had enough of you coddling him, and then now you won't talk to him when things get rough. How are you two going to pull yourselves together if you won't even look at each other?

Jekyll swallowed. “I...”

What?

“...I want to talk to him. But...”

Oh, is this that whole back and forth you have about letting the other person speak first? Ugh. You really ought to make the first move, Hyde commented.

“That's easy for you to say; you don't have a similar problem with your partner,” Jekyll told him. “Rachel would follow you to the ends of the earth if you told her to.”

Ends of the earth? Dear doctor, don't you think you're exaggerating a little?

Just as Hyde finished this statement, however, a knock sounded on the front door. Both Jekyll and Hyde looked up at the sound, and Jekyll stood up.

Well, Jekyll thought to himself. It was probably for the better that he hadn't had a drink – he would have smelled of alcohol.

“Coming!” he called, walking around his desk and over to the door. He pulled the door open slowly, and then looked at the person in front of him.

“Why, hello, Rachel!” Jekyll greeted. “What can I do for you?”

“Dr. Jekyll,” Rachel said, before taking a deep breath and continuing. “Can you teach me how to fight?”

“What?”

“I want to learn how to fight on my own as a weapon.”

...What?

 

Chapter Text

“I want to learn how to fight on my own as a weapon.”

...What?

That was Jekyll and Hyde's thought as Rachel told them this. She...wanted to fight on her own?

“For – for what reason?” Jekyll asked, a little slowly.

“Oh – don't get me wrong, I'm not going to rush into battle when I don't need to,” Rachel replied. “I just thought it would be something I needed to do in order for me to help, even a little."

“Help a little?” Jekyll echoed, still not fully processing.

I don't like where this is going, Hyde said.

“I mean, it's a solution to a tricky problem I thought of last night,” Rachel said. “What with you and Edward being–”

Realizing quickly what Rachel was going to say, Jekyll shushed her, and put a finger to his lips.

“Please don't speak about that here,” Jekyll said. He put an arm around Rachel's shoulders, ushering her into his office, before turning and closing the door behind them. Once their privacy was assured (and Jekyll had checked around the room to make sure), he turned back towards Rachel.

“Now, Rachel,” Jekyll said, “what were you to tell me?”

Rachel cleared her throat, and then said, “Well, I did some thinking last night about how I was to wrap my head around you and Edward being...” she looked a little hesitant, “...the same person.”

“Right, I can tell it is a difficult concept to grasp in some areas,” Jekyll interjected.

Rachel nodded. “And then I thought – so you're Dr. Lanyon's weapon.”

Oh no, Hyde commented.

“And both of you can fight just fine without each other,” Rachel continued.

(Something ached in Jekyll's heart, but he didn't say anything.)

“So that doesn't leave Dr. Lanyon defenseless if Hyde were to come out and need me to fight,” she went on. “But in the hypothetical situation that you would be needed by Dr. Lanyon in a fight, where would that leave me in a fight? I can't just stand by and do nothing.”

...Oh.

She then laughed nervously. “Of course, now that I've said it out loud, it's pretty silly; I mean, Hyde wouldn't ever want to get off the battlefield once he's on it, and Dr. Lanyon doesn't even know...” She then paused. “Does he know?”

“No, and I don't plan on telling him any time soon,” Jekyll replied, putting up a hand. “But concerns aren't silly, and...a similar situation happened at the meat market, anyway.” He then lowered his hand. “You must know, though, that fighting without a meister is a difficult undertaking.”

“You seem to do it with ease, though,” she said.

“That's because I've been practicing for a long time,” he replied. “And...to be frank...”

He paused, looking in the mirror. Hyde was staring back at him, as if wondering why he was pausing. Then he looked back at Rachel.

“To be frank, I don't believe Hyde would leave you in such a situation,” Jekyll said. “I mean, you're his weapon partner. He worries about you.”

In the mirror, Hyde's mouth fell open. Don't say things like that to Rachel, you idiot! he shouted, and Jekyll could feel his embarrassment.

Rachel seemed a little embarrassed herself, if the flush on her face was any indication. “Edward...worries about me?” she asked, almost unbelieving.

“I have trouble believing it myself, but Hyde does think of your welfare a lot,” Jekyll continued, ignoring Hyde's flustered screams. “I doubt he would leave you in a position where you would be vulnerable, whether you know how to fight or not.”

“But...what if Dr. Lanyon needs you?” she asked.

“It won't be anything he can't handle. He's more than capable, as you know,” Jekyll replied.

Rachel laughed, a little bitterly. “Why do you say those things to me, and then run off to risk your neck for your meister?”

Jekyll paused.

“Well, I'm saying these things to you because Hyde would never allow you to risk your neck for him,” he said. “Most of the time, though, a weapon must be prepared to die for their meister.”

“But if what you say about Edward is true,” Rachel retorted, “then is Dr. Lanyon prepared to see you die for him?”

This time, Jekyll really stopped. His eyes widened, and he looked away from Rachel. “I...” he tried to say. “He knows it's my duty.”

“But does he want it to be your duty?”

He swallowed, uncomfortable.

I care so much that my heart bleeds just thinking about you!”

I won't stand by while you treat me like a damsel in distress, not anymore!”

Perhaps...that was the reason for Lanyon's outburst, deep down? Perhaps he wasn't just jealous of how far Jekyll had advanced in his skills? But Jekyll didn't know. He didn't know anything. Maybe Lanyon really just thought he wasn't a worthy weapon.

Well, Jekyll? Hyde asked. What are you going to say?

“I...don't know about that,” Jekyll admitted. “I mean, the last time Lanyon and I talked, we weren't exactly in a position to discuss it.”

“Is that why...the two of you had a resonance rejection?” Rachel asked.

Jekyll looked unsure as to how he should continue. “You did see that, didn't you,” he said. “I must confess, we had an argument while I was on holiday.”

“That would explain a lot,” Rachel said, trying to smile. Appreciating her attempt, Jekyll tried to smile back. They both probably failed, but that wasn't the point.

“We must have disagreed so sorely that even our resonance was disrupted,” he said. “But I...I don't blame my meister. He was hurt, and I was the one who inflicted the wound.”

How are you so sure you were the one who hurt him, and not the other way around?

“I'm sure it wouldn't hurt so much if you both went and apologized to each other,” Rachel tried. “That might help a little, right?”

Jekyll looked at Rachel, and then sighed. “I suppose so...” he conceded.

“And if the rumors running around London and the Society are true, you need to both get back in resonance in time for the Tournament,” Rachel said. “If I'm not mistaken, it's only a few days away.”

“Yes, I know,” Jekyll said. He then looked down. “But I'm not sure if everything can be mended with an apology.”

“If you and Dr. Lanyon are as close as I suspect you are, then I'm sure it will be a start,” Rachel said.

Seeing the tired look on Jekyll's face, though, she reached up to tug at her pigtails once more. “Was...was that too much?” she asked.

“No, no,” Jekyll said. “I'll take your advice. It's about time he and I talked, after all.”

Rachel sighed in relief. “That's good to know,” she said. Then she put her hands behind her back.

“By the way...” she added, “how is Edward?”

Jekyll looked at the mirror once more – but Hyde's eyes were on Rachel this time. He had a soft look on his face that Jekyll hadn't seen him wear before.

“He still can't meet you personally,” he replied. “But he is in good spirits.”

“...So does that mean you won't teach me to fight?”

“...Not now, but let's see.”

Jekyll...

 


 

Rachel returned to the kitchen of the Society, feeling a little better than she had before. Sure, she hadn't gotten what she wanted, but she had helped a friend. And maybe she didn't need to be able to fight to be worth anything, like she had thought (but not said out loud).

Being a weapon who was expected to be able to fight by themselves for their meister's sake...it wasn't the glorious thing she had thought it was. Putting the meister's feelings into account muddied the waters, to some extent. But at the same time, it made things a little clearer.

Not that she wasn't going to try and become a weapon who could fight...but perhaps she would do it in a different way. Fight a different fight. Hyde didn't need her on a battlefield right now, after all.

She entered the dining hall, and then the kitchen – only to find a very peculiar sight awaiting her.

“...Creature?” she asked, tilting her head.

Indeed, it was the Creature, cutting some vegetables next to a pot, which was bubbling over with a soup. The whole room smelled of a savory aroma, one that Rachel deduced came from said soup. At the sound of her voice, they looked up at her.

“Ah,” Creature said. “I hope you do not mind me making use of this space. Frankenstein was feeling a little peckish, you see.”

Rachel put a hand on her hip. “For soup?”

“Her stomach is a pit, and a deep one at that.” Creature shrugged. “Anyway, I'm almost done, if you need to make something.”

“Oh, no, that's fine, take your time,” Rachel said, raising her hands. Creature looked at her for a while, before turning back to their work. They lifted the chopping board and pushed the cut up vegetables into the soup, while Rachel watched as she slowly went inside.

“Do...you need any help?” Rachel asked.

They shook their head. “It's fine,” they said. “I told you I was almost done. I just have to leave it to boil for a few minutes longer.”

“I see.” Rachel put her hands together. The two of them then stood in silence for a while. Which turned a little awkward (at least from Rachel's point of view), so she opened her mouth to speak–

–but before she could, someone else stepped into the room.

“Uh, hi,” Jasper said, raising a hand shyly. “I...I just wanted a snack.”

“A snack? Of course, Jasper,” Rachel said. “Is there anything you want?”

“Nothing in particular,” Jasper replied. “Don't trouble yourself too much.”

“It's no trouble at all,” she said, pulling something out from the refrigerator – it was a few whole chickens. “I'll make something for you right away.”

Rachel went to work washing the poultry, while Creature spoke behind her. “Well, that's one thing you and my creator have in common,” they said to Jasper.

“Yeah...” he said in reply, a little quietly.

A silence followed. Rachel paused, and looked over her shoulder. Creature was staring at Jasper for a bit, before sighing. “Alright,” they said, “you haven't been training these past few days. What's the matter?”

He shrugged. “I don't know, I just...don't feel up to it,” he said. “Not after what happened at the meat market.”

“It has something to do with your magic, no doubt.”

Jasper winced. “Sorry.”

“Why are you apologizing?” Creature asked. “I heard about what happened there. It seems to be a valid concern of yours.”

“It's just...I lost control,” Jasper said. “Again. I mean, it wasn't for a long time, but I'm worried. And scared. I really, really tried to use my magic and fight, I really tried to keep it together...but I couldn't even do that. That was why I couldn't win.” He sighed. “I can't beat the wolf, no matter what I do.”

Rachel turned to look at Jasper. His face was downcast. “I'm sure that's not true,” she tried to say. “You are strong, Jasper, really! You helped out a lot at the meat market! We were able to stop Moreau either way, anyway.”

“I was barely able to lay a finger on Moreau!” Jasper said. “And I would have been able to do more if I hadn't lost control...and the inspection from the DWMA is coming up! If I still can't control myself by the time of the inspection, what will happen?”

He sniffled. “If I can't see anyone I care about again because I fail...”

He held his head. The soup was now bubbling over in its pot. Rachel heard Creature move and turn off the stove, before they turned fully to Jasper.

“Fail or not,” Creature said, “you won't have a chance if you give in to your fear.”

He looked up at them. Rachel looked up at them as well as they continued, “You can either give in to your fears or you can be brave and continue on in spite of it. One of those will give you a chance at the inspection, and help you control your powers.” They gave him a piercing stare. “What will it be?”

Jasper lowered his hands. “I...” He sighed. “I want to be brave. But I'm not.”

“Jasper,” Rachel said. Without thinking, she took Jasper's hands in her own, and he looked down at her hands.

“You are very brave,” she said. “You decided to be trained in your magic – spatial magic, too! I've heard it's very hard. And when you stood up for us at the meat market against Moreau, you risked your neck and fought. Who cares if you didn't win? You bought us precious time.” She held his hands tighter. “You're really something, Jasper Kaylock.”

Creature nodded. “All you have to do is keep going,” they said. “And if you ask people for help, I'm sure they'll want to help you in any way.”

Jasper finally met their eyes, and tried to laugh. “I don't know what to say,” he said. “You really think I'm all that?”

“Absolutely,” Rachel said.

“I don't doubt the others think so as well,” Creature added.

He finally, genuinely smiled. “Thank you,” he said. “There's still time, I think, for my inspection to not totally fail.”

“You won't fail,” Rachel said. “Not with a spirit like that.”

They both looked up at Creature again. Creature smiled a little, before they turned away and lifted the pot of soup off the stove with one hand.

“I should be going back to Frankenstein,” they said, picking up a bowl and a spoon that had been on the counter as well. “Meanwhile, you should be cooking the chicken.”

Rachel and Jasper finally realized how close they were, and they pulled their hands apart. Rachel looked away from him, tugging on her pigtails as Creature walked past the two of them. And before they knew it, they were out of the room.

“...So, chicken?” Jasper asked, a little awkwardly.

“Yeah, chicken,” Rachel said, turning back to her cooking, her face warm.

 


 

Creature walked up the stairs to the newest room in the Society, the one where they and Frankenstein were staying for now. They knocked on the door, before opening it.

“Victoria, I have your soup,” they said.

Frankenstein was sitting near the window, her enchanting gloves still on her hands. Sitting a little ways from her was an unfinished golem, about her height. Next to it was a large pile of clay. She didn't look up from the window when they came in, only extending a hand, perhaps for the soup.

“I think you'd best come to the table here; the soup is hot,” they pointed out.

She sighed, and then turned around before standing up, and bringing the chair she was sitting on up to the table in the middle of the room. Said table was littered with papers containing sketches for a few golems, and she pushed a few of them aside before sitting down in her chair again.

Creature placed the pot of soup down, before also putting the bowl and spoon down in front of her. She pulled her enchanting gloves off, and then put them on the table – but she didn't take a serving of food for herself yet. Instead, she sighed yet again.

“I thought you said that you were hungry,” they said, crossing their arms.

“I'm...not,” Frankenstein confessed. “I just said that so I could think about something.”

“On your own? That ill befits you.”

“I had meant to bring it up with you later, anyway,” she said. “I just didn't want to be interrupted while thinking and working.”

“As if I would actually interrupt you when you're working,” Creature retorted.

Frankenstein huffed. “Either way, I've given something a good deal of thought.”

Creature looked down at her. “And what would that be?”

“We seem to have forgotten that we are only here hiding from Moreau; we're not supposed to be helping anyone in their training.” She folded her arms as well. “We should be executing our plan to evade Moreau once and for all.”

“But you and I both know that you enjoy training Jasper,” they pointed out.

“...”

“Is this...because of what happened at the meat market?”

“People were put in danger because someone was looking for me.” She turned her eyes downwards. “Again, I'm afraid.”

“So you wish to expedite our departure from the Society.”

“I cannot afford to dilly-dally around here anymore,” she said. “I can still help train Kaylock, but not as much, and the decoy golems I'm making will only take a few more days. When we put them on a ship going out of London, and Moreau follows it, we have to leave as soon as possible.”

Creature was silent as she finished, “I cannot let what happened years ago happen again. I'm not going to put any more people in danger.”

The two of them then sat in silence for a while, with Creature staring at her. She refused to look them in the eye.

“...We have grown to care for the people here, I suppose,” they said.

“I wouldn't call it that,” Frankenstein replied instantly.

“You forget, though, that if people were put in danger for you, most of the time it was because they were thinking of protecting you,” Creature said. “They didn't have to risk their lives for you, and yet they did.”

“I can't allow them to take that risk,” Frankenstein told them. “And you know how...” She looked up at them, but couldn't continue. Creature knew who she was alluding to, though.

“Very well.” Creature said. “We leave when the plan is executed.”

“Good,” Frankenstein said. “I'm glad you see things my way.”

Finally, she reached for her bowl and her spoon, and took some of the soup from the pot for herself. Judging by the way she was soon eating, she seemed to be feeling better.

Creature could tell, after all. They understood their meister and creator better than anyone.

 

Chapter Text

The next day, Jekyll got into a carriage and headed straight towards the Battle Club. He had heard that Lanyon was going to be training there, and he wanted to get the chance to talk with his meister as soon as possible. He would give anything to get Lanyon to smile at him again.

Very well, if that's what you're planning to do, Hyde said. But what's the plan?

“No elaborate plans,” Jekyll said. “I'm just going to find Robert, and apologize for what happened. It's as simple as that.”

Right. But isn't he the one that has to apologize to you?

“Nothing's lost if I am the first to speak with him.” Jekyll sat up straighter as the carriage slowed to a stop in front of the Battle Club. “I'm sure that Robert cares about this issue as much as I do.”

Hyde made an annoyed sound as Jekyll opened the door and got out.

Well...what if he doesn't accept anything you have to say to him?

Jekyll inhaled, looking at the building before him, and then exhaled.

“That won't happen,” he said, with all the faith he could muster. Then he walked up to the entrance.

He got in without too much trouble, asked one of the staff if Lanyon was in, and was led to the room Lanyon was using for practice. He gathered his wits about him as the employee knocked on the door.

“Dr. Lanyon?” the employee said. “Dr. Jekyll is here to see you.”

There was a pause.

“Let him in,” Lanyon's voice said after a few seconds.

The employee nodded, and opened the door for Jekyll. He took a few steps inside, looking around.

The first thing that caught his eye, of course, was Lanyon standing in the center of the room. He was holding a rapier in his left hand, and there was a row of inanimate weapons at the side of the room. Judging by the amount of weapons there, this rapier didn't seem to belong among them.

Lanyon and Jekyll stared at each other for a while, unsure of what to say. Jekyll swallowed, but couldn't bring himself to open his mouth yet.

“Oh, Henry!” a voice said that did not belong to Lanyon. Lanyon looked down at the sword in his hand, and then released it as it began to glow. The rapier then transformed in a flash back into his human form.

“I...take it you were coming here to talk with Robert?” Utterson asked.

Jekyll looked at him, a little surprised. “I – I thought you didn't want a meister.”

“I don't,” Utterson said. “But Robert asked me to help him train, and I couldn't deny him since you weren't here. Besides, it's nothing like what you have with him.” His eyes darted from Jekyll to Lanyon several times, as if he was trying to send a message.

Jekyll got the hint, and cleared his throat. “Yes, um, I do...need to speak with my meister, in fact,” he said. “If you don't mind.”

“Of course.” Utterson nodded. “I'll be waiting outside.” And with that, he exited the room, leaving Jekyll and Lanyon alone inside.

“That – that was nice of Gabriel,” he began awkwardly. (Almost instantly, he felt like stabbing himself in the foot.)

“Gabriel is indeed a good friend,” Lanyon finally said, a tad hesitantly. Jekyll took this as a sign to continue.

“Listen, Robert,” he said. “About what happened. At the meat market. I...”

Lanyon took a few steps forward. “Henry,” he interrupted. “It's not your fault.”

“But Robert,” Jekyll said, “I want to be the best weapon I can be for you, and back then, I wasn't.”

Lanyon seemed to grit his teeth together. “Henry, it wasn't you. It was–”

“Oh, so it seems the two founders of the Society are here!”

Lanyon's eyes widened, and he looked up from Jekyll. Jekyll turned around and saw what Lanyon was looking at – it was Gavin and Ingrid, walking casually towards them, as if one of them hadn't just withdrawn his support from the Society the previous day. Jekyll couldn't help but feel like something bad was in store.

“And you two are hard at work training, I take it?” Ingrid asked, clasping her hands together.

Jekyll looked away. “Well–”

“Yes, we are,” Lanyon interrupted. “But why the sudden interest?”

“You were the one who made the wager, you should know,” Gavin replied. “Though it's good to know you two aren't slacking off.”

“Now, Father, why would we do such a thing?” Lanyon pinned on a fake smile, one he wore well. “We've got to do all we can for the Tournament.”

“Hmph. Just as well.” Gavin put a hand to his chin. “But I think it's time that you changed your routine a little.”

Jekyll swallowed, a little nervously. “Change our routine?”

“Test your skills against each other, of course,” Gavin went on. “Spar against each other.”

Ingrid looked at Jekyll. “And if we're not mistaken,” she added, Robert tells us you're just as skilled in combat as he is.”

Lanyon had really said that? That made Jekyll feel a little weird, but he cleared his throat. “That's well, but I need to talk to my meister for a bit–”

“Then are the rumors true?” Gavin asked. “That you and my son have fallen out of resonance?”

“That – it–”

“Don't speak to my weapon like that,” Lanyon said. “There's no need to bring up such things. We'll do as you ask if it'll stop you from asking questions.”

His father gave him a cold stare. “I would like to see if you stand a chance against me at the Tournament. But why battle you now and give away my strategies?”

“If that's what you think, then why have me reveal mine to you?”

“Everyone needs criticism from an expert. And being able to beat your own weapon partner will be enough.”

Lanyon pursed his lips. Jekyll glanced at him, but he nodded, having made up his mind. He sighed, and then took off his hat and cape.

And just when you thought things couldn't get more complicated, Hyde said as Jekyll pulled off his jacket, and hung it on a rack next to Lanyon's own.

“It's not going to get any worse, there's no need to worry,” he told Hyde in a whisper. He then turned towards Lanyon, putting his gloves in the pocket of his coat.

Lanyon, meanwhile, moved over to the weapons rack, and picked up a sabre. He looked it over for a bit, and then faced Jekyll, the two of them standing on opposite ends of the room.

“This time, I don't want my opponent to hold back at all,” Lanyon said to Jekyll.

Jekyll raised his right hand, and transformed it into a blade. “I won't,” he said.

They sized each other up, blades raised, steadying their stances, until it was so still that one could hear their breathing. Jekyll took a deep breath.

Lanyon is waiting for you to strike first, Hyde told him. Then he'll most likely counter with a dodge or a parry.

“If that's what he wants,” Jekyll said quietly, before taking a few steps forward, breaking into a run.

As he suspected, Lanyon stood his ground, and that was when Jekyll jumped, throwing his blade back and raising his left hand, transforming it into a blade just as he descended. The blade was blocked by the sabre, which Lanyon held with both hands, and he was pushed back a little with the force.

Jekyll blew a lock of hair out of his face, and swung his right blade upwards. But Lanyon caught sight of it, and managed to push against him before the blade could scratch his arm. The two of them jumped back, with Lanyon releasing one of his hand's hold on the sword. He was the first to straighten up, and Jekyll soon did so as well.

Only one breath was allowed before Jekyll saw Lanyon come forward his time, still holding his sword in one hand.

He's not going to attack with the sword, was Hyde's warning before Lanyon jumped up, extending his leg for a kick.

Jekyll slid down, dodging the kick, and Lanyon landed down on the floor again, before turning around to face him. He got back up, and took a step forward, bringing his left blade down onto Lanyon. But he blocked with the sword.

He looked into his eyes for a moment, and Jekyll could see something in them. It wasn't just the drive to fight.

It was a desperation to win.

He must have stared into his eyes a bit too long, because Lanyon brought up a foot, and kicked him away from him, bringing him down onto the ground. He groaned, and Lanyon walked towards him.

Jekyll looked up at him, and Lanyon raised his sword, before pointing it down at his face, stopping in front of his nose.

Neither of them moved as they breathed for a while, before Lanyon waved the sword away, and then extended a hand to Jekyll. Jekyll transformed his right blade back into a hand, took it, and then stood up; but he didn't release Lanyon's hand just yet.

Could he transform, right then and there? It would be nice to be held by Lanyon again...but what if he would still burn him?

It was then that he let go of Lanyon's hand, and looked at their audience – Ingrid and Utterson, who seemed to have entered the room again while they were fighting, looked a little amazed. But Gavin looked...disappointed.

“That settles it,” he said. “Jekyll. You were holding back against my son.”

“What?” Jekyll asked. “I didn't.”

“You looked at him far too long, and both your hands were blades – you could have used the other one against him then like you initially did,” Gavin went on. “And I believe if you were holding back for your meister, then he must truly be incapable of beating you.” He let out a humph. “How much more me.”

Jekyll looked down at his right hand and left blade. He just saw the look in Lanyon's eyes...he was caught off guard, he wasn't holding back...

It was then that he looked at Lanyon. His face was downcast, and the hand holding the sword was trembling.

“Robert?” he asked.

Lanyon grit his teeth together, and his grip on the sabre's handle tightened. Then he screamed, and slashed at Jekyll.

Jekyll could barely hear Hyde's look out!, as he transformed his right hand into a blade once again, and blocked the blow with both arms. He looked up at Lanyon, and their eyes met once again. The desperation was back.

Lanyon pulled the sword back, and swung his sword at Jekyll again and again – blindly, he could tell. Each time he blocked, he backed up until he found himself against the wall. He then transformed a hand back into flesh and bone, holding it up.

“Robert, wait–!”

Lanyon swung down again – and the blade left a cut on his face, from the corner of his eye to the tip of his nose.

The two of them stayed completely still for two seconds, which felt far too long. He heard someone take a step forward – possibly Utterson – but no one came in between them.

The clang of the sword hitting the floor rang around the room, as Jekyll looked one last time into Lanyon's eyes. There was no desperation now. Only pain.

What the hell...? Hyde asked.

Blood trickled down Jekyll's face, and Lanyon paled, before he turned and ran out the door, pulling his jacket off the rack as he did so.

Jekyll put a hand up to his bleeding cheek, before he realized what was happening. Then he ran out the door, not bothering to take anything with him.

 


 

In the halls of the Battle Club leading to the entrance, Lanyon hastily pulled on his jacket. Why was he running? He didn't know. All that he knew was that he had to get as far away from here as possible.

He hurt Jekyll. Why did he hurt his weapon? He wasn't even trying to hurt anyone – and yet Lanyon hurt him. And he felt as if there was a pit in his stomach.

“Robert! Wait!”

Lanyon heard footsteps running towards him, and a voice calling his name, but he ignored them and quickened his pace, not bothering to button up his jacket.

He was already out the door when the footsteps finally caught up to him, and a hand laid itself on his shoulder before he was forced to turn and look Jekyll in the eye.

“Robert, where are you going?” Jekyll asked.

“I don't know,” he said, trying to lower his gaze, look anywhere besides him. “But I need to be alone right now.”

“Look...” Jekyll gripped his shoulder tighter. “I had only been meaning to talk to you about what happened the other day. I didn't mean to make a mess out of everything. I didn't mean to reject your soul wavelength, I didn't mean to not give you a proper fight – I swear, Robert, I will make things right–”

Lanyon cut him off, this time with a sob. Jekyll paused, and that allowed him to look at him, look at the wound on his partner's face.

“There is nothing you can do, Henry,” he said. “There is nothing you should do. You've already done so much.”

“I haven't. I wasn't a worthy weapon–”

“But you were.” Lanyon could feel a lump in his throat now, yet he looked down again and tried to talk past it as he continued, “You are the perfect weapon, Henry Jekyll. It only means I'm the one to blame for all this.”

“You're not.”

“I am,” Lanyon said. “I'm a lousy excuse for a meister. I yelled at you for being better than I am, and scratched your face, for Death's sake! When I deserve to be called incompetent – I can't even defeat you without looking like the fool because you only lost when you let me win!”

“I didn't – no,” Jekyll looked close to crying now. “I am so sorry. I didn't mean to make you feel like this.”

“...Feel this way?” Lanyon sniffled. “You mistake me for someone with feelings. A person with feelings would never make their partner feel like garbage.”

He turned, and moved to walk away. But a hand clung fast to his sleeve.

“Robert...” Jekyll trailed off, possibly not knowing what to say. But there was so much in his voice that not much needed to be said.

Lanyon knew, though, that if he stayed to listen, he would end up breaking the floodgates. He would tell Jekyll everything, about how broken he was without him, how he went to terrible lengths just to try and see him again...

...how much he loved him.

But that was not what Jekyll needed. What he needed was a meister worthy of him. And Lanyon knew he wasn't.

So he squeezed the tears out of his eyes, and said, “Let go of me, Henry. Please.”

Part of him wanted Jekyll to argue, make a fuss, keep holding on. But he did as he was told, and Lanyon rushed towards his carriage without turning back.

“I'm going home,” he told the driver as he got inside. Then he closed the door, and the carriage began to move.

He tried to compose himself, dry his tears...but then he made the mistake of looking outside.

Jekyll was still outside, watching the carriage leave, getting smaller and smaller as the distance between them grew.

And at this sight, Lanyon buried his face in his hands and cried.

 

Chapter Text

That same day, Archer had come to a decision.

It had been a few days since he and Griffin got into a disagreement, so to speak. And throughout those days he had been wondering how to fix it. He and Griffin seemed to disagree on a lot of things, which wasn't new. The two of them being equally stubborn could do that.

But more than that, Archer wanted a meister, a friend. And he had placed his trust in Griffin for a reason, after all – because he saw that Griffin was really a good person on the inside. And if that were true, then surely he would understand if he came to him about this issue, right?

He wanted to fix things between them. And so fix it he would.

This was on his mind right now as he headed towards Griffin's room, his hands in his pockets as he mulled over what to say. He had to apologize for hurting his feelings at least – sure, Griffin was willing to hurt people, but that was only because his self-defense drive was pretty high as a sorcerer. Maybe they could work through that, find a common ground. Archer was feeling pretty hopeful that they would.

He found Griffin's door, and walked right up to it, pulling a hand out of his pocket to knock...

...but then he noticed the door was open, and voices were coming out of it. One voice (which wasn't Griffin's) was saying, “So, how are things with Archer?”

This prompted Archer to try and listen for the response, out of curiosity. It consisted of a sigh, most likely from Griffin.

“Not so good,” Griffin said. “I tried to explain to him that it's me or them. But he doesn't seem to want to understand.”

“Why are you saying it like that?” the other person asked. “Archer might not understand where you're coming from, but don't you think he might put in the effort to listen?”

“No one listens to me.”

“Then what do you think I'm doing?”

Griffin paused, and Archer finally took a peek through the open door. His meister was sitting in front of Maijabi.

“...That's only because you know what it's like to be rejected by everyone else,” Griffin said. “I know those souls in your lab didn't just materialize out of nowhere.”

“That's not the point, Griffin.” Maijabi crossed his arms. “If you feel that way, then Archer will try to see eye to eye with you.”

“But he doesn't understand anything; what's the use?” Griffin asked. “Sometimes I have to hurt people to save myself, and Archer can't see that.” He huffed. “I just want him to leave me alone for now.”

“...Alright.”

Griffin and Maijabi looked up as the door creaked further open, and they saw Archer standing there. He looked up at Griffin, hurt.

“I'll leave you alone,” he said. “I don't want a partner anyway.”

Then he turned around and walked away from the doorway, breaking into a run when Griffin called after him. He didn't want to hear any of it as he ran down to the main hall and out the door of the Society.

What was he thinking? Griffin was just too stubborn to even consider that he was willing to listen. Of course, it was possible that it was just something that he said in the heat of the moment, but the fact that he had said it at all must mean that it was at least a little truthful.

Archer hadn't meant what he had said, at least. He wanted a partner so badly. But Griffin said those things, and it was clear that he didn't want one. He only wanted to use him for little errands and self-defense, and so did the other Lodgers and everyone who ever met him and where did that leave him?!

He didn't know how far he had been following the pavement. But it didn't matter. He just needed to get away. Tears pricked his eyes, and he wiped one away, shortly before bumping into someone.

“Oh, sorry,” he said, walking past the person. He didn't get very far, though, before he heard a “Mr. Archer?”

Archer stopped, and then turned around.

Somehow he had failed to realize that the person he had bumped into was Callista.

 


 

How serendipitous.

Callista had just been thinking about the next steps in her plan to ruin the Society when she had bumped into Archer. And he...seemed to be crying. So she decided to play her nice card.

“Oh, is there something wrong?” she asked. “You seem a bit upset.”

Archer looked away, perhaps trying to hide his tears. “It's nothing, Miss Redrowe,” he said.

“There's always a reason.” She put her hands together.

“I don't know, I shouldn't be bothering you...”

“It's the least I can do, after the kindness you extended to me at the Exhibition.” How could she forget that? “But would you like to go someplace more private to talk?”

“But a woman of your status...” Archer tried to say.

Callista only smiled. “I know a place where they don't ask questions.”

And that was how she got Archer to come into a hansom with her, and go towards the place she wanted. She then snuck a glance at him, but he was looking out the window.

Well, aside from being able to repay him for his sympathy at the Exhibition, it would be nice for her to have an ally within the Society that wasn't Jekyll. If one of the Lodgers trusted her, perhaps the others would be more inclined to. She just had to play her cards right, and everyone would be none the wiser. (Well, except for Lanyon possibly, but she had gotten the jump on him.)

The carriage finally stopped at a small establishment, a coffee house, and Callista and Archer got off. Archer looked up at it a little curiously, before she led him inside.

She could tell that he was a little surprised that she knew such a place, but she personally didn't think this coffee house was too much to look at. The warm smell of coffee was what she liked the most about this place, not to mention the small quantity of customers at the moment, both male and female. In fact, she only had a few seconds to let this all sink in before the owner stepped out from behind the counter and greeted her.

“Callista!” she said, extending her arms as if going in for an embrace. “Welcome back! I haven't seen you in a long time!”

“It has been a painfully long time, Agatha,” Callista said, returning the embrace once she came close enough. They held each other for a moment, before they pulled apart. “This place seems well.”

“It is! We don't get a lot of new customers here – but perhaps it's for the better,” Agatha said. Then she looked over Callista's shoulder. “Speaking of new customers...”

Callista turned and looked at Archer, who seemed a bit self-conscious now. “Oh, him,” she said. “Don't worry about him,” and here she lowered her voice to a whisper, “he has magic in his blood too.” She thought it wise not to say what kind, though, and she continued normally, “I need you to give me a private table with him.”

“A private table?” Agatha asked. Then she added in a teasing tone, “Because if you need some space all to yourselves, I suggest you take him somewhere else. This is a respectable establishment.”

“It's not like that,” Callista said calmly, before her voice turned a little quieter again, not out of a need for secrecy this time. “Hasn't been for a long time.”

Agatha's face turned into a mix of sadness and awkwardness. “Ah, worthy lady, that Carmela,” she said. Then she cleared her throat. “Anyway, you have a table waiting for you at the left,” she said, waving her hand in that direction. “Anything you want?”

Callista looked at Archer, and he said, “Just coffee, thanks.” She then looked back to Agatha, saying, “The usual.”

With that, Agatha nodded and went back behind the counter, while Callista and Archer walked towards a table in the left corner. Once they were seated, he looked up at her.

“So...” Archer said, looking around. “You come here often?"

“Back when I was younger, yes, but nowadays only when it strikes my fancy,” Callista told him. Then she looked Archer in the eye. “But enough about me. Why were you crying in the middle of the street?”

“I wasn't crying,” Archer denied. “But...if I'm to be honest with you – since you made the effort to bring me here and all – I was kind of upset.” He waved a hand. “Nothing that you should be so concerned about, really. Just an argument between friends.”

“It's enough reason for you to be upset about,” she said. “And besides, you didn't think it was nothing when I was upset then, even though we're not close.”

“It's a little more complicated than a kiss gone wrong,” Archer said, laughing a little. “I mean, I get why you're so invested in me, but I don't think me arguing with my friend and him borderline abandoning me has anything to do with you.”

He then took one look at Callista, and she guessed the surprise on her face must have given him an idea of what impression he had made.

“Sorry,” Archer said. “I know that was uncalled for.”

“It was,” Callista admitted, “but you should still talk about it, in my opinion. That always helps.”

Archer looked away, gathering his words. It was then that Agatha came to their table, holding a cup of hot coffee and a glass of iced tea on a tray. She set the coffee down in front of Archer, and the iced tea went to Callista. The latter thanked Agatha quietly, and she left the table.

He sighed. “You see...you know the incident that happened the other night? With Griffin and the Academy students?”

“Why yes, it was quite the talk,” Callista replied, and Archer nodded. He picked up his cup of coffee, and blew on it, before speaking again.

“A few days ago, well, Griffin and I got into a fight about it – I'd rather not go into details – but things got worse today and now I'm pretty sure he doesn't want to be my partner anymore.” He scratched the side of his face. “It's...it sucks, I guess.”

Callista stared at him, before silently taking a sip from her glass. “Go on,” she said, once she was done.

“If I go on, I'm pretty sure I'm going to start overthinking everything,” Archer said. “But...I don't know, maybe I just want a partner? Why did I have to choose someone who cared only about himself? Why does everyone I meet care only about using me? If the Lodgers didn't find any use in me, and if I didn't owe them a debt, then they wouldn't let me stay for as long as I have. And if I leave the Society, I have to go back to my horrible life with my horrible family...”

He paused, and then looked down at his coffee. “I shouldn't be spilling so much about my life to you. I'm sorry. You don't even know half of what I'm saying.”

Callista ran her finger round the rim of her glass. “Hm...” she said. “I know something about horrible families, at least.”

“...Oh.”

She exhaled audibly. Maybe she shouldn't be saying this to him, but she did want to build trust with him. “My grandparents raised me, but they weren't the best,” she said. “I don't know about your family; perhaps they treated you worse. But I know you have no right to be treated badly, from my experience.”

Archer nodded wordlessly. She then continued, “However, are you really sure that your friends in the Society only think of you as someone to be used?”

“No?” A pause. “Yes? No – I don't know. But I do know they're not my friends.” He crossed his arms. “They're afraid of me because I'm a weapon.”

“And is Griffin not different from them?”

“Like I said, Griffin doesn't care about anyone but himself,” Archer said. “I should have realized that by now. And now I'm not even sure anymore if anyone thinks of me as a person, not just a weapon and an assistant.” He then finally took a drink of his coffee, and she did the same with her tea.

“So, what do you want at this moment?” she asked.

Archer placed his cup down, and then tapped his fingers against the table. “I...I don't know. I want a partner, a person who wants me, but it looks like I'll never get that here.” He tried to laugh. “Well, if I went to the DWMA, like I initially wanted, things might be different, but...”

“Why don't you go?” Callista asked.

His smile turned bitter. “I have no resources to get there,” he said. “I don't think Jekyll and Lanyon are that interested in sending people there, either; not to mention I owe something to the Society that saved me.” He then sighed. “Since I'm a weapon, though, they would probably toss me out if I wasn't so useful to them.”

She swallowed, gathering her words. Then an idea formed in her mind – but should she play this card? She decided to throw caution to the wind, and then smiled.

“What if I take you to the Academy?” she asked. “I could take you there, if you want it so much.”

Archer's eyes widened. “What? Are you sure?” he asked.

“Of course,” Callista said. “I have money to spare. And I'm willing to spend it on people in need.” She then wrapped her fingers around her glass. “Besides, from the way you're speaking, you don't have much that you need to stay for at the Society.”

“You really believe that?” Archer looked at her while she took a drink. “I mean, the Lodgers are nice people, they're just kind of cautious about me; they have good reason to be, too, what with people like me trying to hunt them down...”

“Still, what about your hopes and dreams?” Callista went on, putting down her glass. “You ought to finally think about yourself.”

Archer looked at her, before looking down again. “This is all very sudden...I don't know if I can take this all of a sudden.”

“And why would that be?”

He seemed hesitant. “Well...”

She stared with interest, and eventually he gave in. “...I'm quite possibly in love with someone.”

“Ah,” she said, nodding. “So you find it difficult to leave her behind?”

“I shouldn't, though...” he said. “I mean, he – she – doesn't feel the same way. Probably never will.”

The slip of the tongue made her feel a little suspicious, but she nodded again as if he hadn't said anything strange. “Does this person, by any chance, hate you? Is that why you're so convinced your feelings are unrequited?”

“Well...yeah.” Archer said.

That confirmed it for her.

He then looked down. “And how am I going to suddenly tell everyone I'm leaving? Not that they really want me around, but...”

He hesitated, his eyes darting around the coffee house. Callista took this opportunity to reach forward and run her finger around the rim of his cup of coffee, whispering a spell. When he looked back at her, her finger had been pulled back.

“It will be fine,” she said. “Why don't you first tell Dr. Jekyll you're leaving? I'm sure he's a reasonable man and will let you pursue your dream of going to the DWMA.”

“And...what if he doesn't?”

“Come now, don't think of it that way. Even then...I'm sure I'll manage to convince him, if it comes to that.” She then picked up her glass. “Drink your coffee, Mr. Archer. It might get cold.”

“Oh,” he said, as if he just remembered its presence. He took up the cup, and drank from it. Callista watched him with a straight face, and he put it down.

“I guess you're right, Miss Redrowe,” Archer said. “I should be looking out for myself. Who cares if the other Lodgers don't like me? I'll just make some new friends.”

“That's good,” Callista said. “And you can count me among those friends.”

Archer finally smiled. “Thanks. I feel a bit better now.”

Callista smiled warmly at him. “Anytime.”

He then drank his coffee again, and then put it down, looking at it questioningly. “Tastes a bit strange,” he said.

“Well, Agatha puts a little surprise in her drinks. No problem there,” Callista told him.

No problem with her being no stranger to lying, either.

 

Chapter Text

Griffin probably should have been glad that Maijabi wasn't saying anything to him.

He wasn't, though, because Maijabi not speaking to him clearly wasn't a good sign. He couldn't blame him, though; after what he had said to Archer, Maijabi was probably making him think about what he had done. And he had done wrong.

What was he thinking? He shouldn't have said those things. And not just because Archer was listening, but because a part of him did want to work things out with Archer. He was one of the few friends he'd had in a long time. And now he had only managed to muck up the situation further.

He had promised he'd be on his weapon's side no matter what, but...

“Alright, Griffin,” Maijabi said, snapping him out of his thoughts. “The brew's all ready. Now we can get to removing that parasite within your body.”

Griffin nodded, a little absently. He looked away when Maijabi turned towards him, vial in hand.

“Drink this,” he said. “It will cause the parasite to release its hold on your body.”

He finally turned towards Maijabi, and looked at the vial. Then he took it, and drank the purple formula within it without hesitation.

It took a few seconds before he began to feel something strange within him, and this sensation welled up within him – as if he would vomit.

Griffin choked a little, but something was still scratching at his throat. There was nothing more he could do except force it out with a retch – and it finally came out with a bloody splat on the floor. He took a moment to catch his breath, and he and Maijabi looked down at what they both knew was the parasite.

Maijabi bent down to look at it closer, while Griffin wiped the blood from his mouth, and decided to get off his seat, still looking at the parasite. He had spent enough time in Helsby's lab (alright, spent enough time sneaking around invisible in Helsby's lab) to know that it looked a little like a jellyfish polyp. He blinked. A magic user with the powers of a jellyfish? That didn't sound like any of the Lodgers.

“We should examine it,” Maijabi said, pulling out a pair of tweezers. Just as he did so, the parasite jerked about one final time, and then laid still in the puddle of blood. It made Griffin a little sick.

Nevertheless, Maijabi plucked it from the floor with his tweezers, and looked at it. “Can't trace it back to its source now,” he observed. “It's dead, and we've lost that chance.' He then straightened up. “Whoever placed this in your body was smart.”

He turned towards a table, and then began to observe it under a magnifying lens. Griffin watched him work for a while, and then looked down. The excitement of the moment was gone, and somehow the issue with Archer had come back to the forefront of his mind. He pursed his lips, and decided to speak.

“Dr. Maijabi,” he began, “about what I said about Archer...”

“Was it stupid? Yes,” Maijabi said bluntly.

Griffin frowned. “I knew that already,” he said, and then sighed. “But since we both agree that it was bad...he probably hates me.”

Maijabi turned towards him, lowering the magnifying lens. “Well,” he said, “there's no telling what people think. But if you resolve this with Archer and apologize to him, I suppose he won't come to resent you. I wouldn't say you'll be able to resume being partners with him, but you can mend your friendship, at least. And I get the feeling that that's what you really want. Am I wrong?”

Griffin tried to smile. “Well, I wouldn't tell you.”

Maijabi chuckled. “Fair enough.”

After a few seconds of silence, Griffin looked at the dead parasite on the table. “So, I imagine you've come up with something about the parasite,” he said.

“Of course,” Maijabi replied. “This is not only a magic-suppressing parasite, as I had originally guessed. This is also a madness-inducing parasite. It amplifies the madness within you – this was probably behind what happened in your fight with the DWMA students.”

“What kind of magic user would want to do this to me?” Griffin asked.

“I don't know,” Maijabi replied. “But this person in question must be a very skilled magic user. The only thing missing from such a parasite is a surveillance function.”

Griffin put a hand to his chin. So it was a skilled magic user, not one from the Society. This was more than just a harmless prank. Not to mention, this must have been placed within him around the time of the Exhibition...

He paused.

Callista had kissed him on the night of the Exhibition.

Why was he thinking of that now? He would rather not...but...what if that was the key?

Griffin's eyes widened, and he covered his mouth with his hand.

That would explain why he had seen her at the pub when he nearly killed the DWMA students. That would explain how, when she had been given a tour around the Society and he had been watching her and Jekyll in the main hall, she had been able to read the runes on the floor. Hell, that would also explain her many visits and interest in the Society.

Callista...was a witch.

But what did she want with him? With Jekyll? With the Society?

“Are you thinking about something?” Maijabi asked, noticing the pensive look on his face.

Griffin looked at Maijabi. Should he tell the other Lodgers? Well, they needed to know about what was going on, and Callista could prove herself a threat instead of a benefactor, so they had to be ready for that possibility.

“Something is very wrong,” was all that came out of his mouth.

Maijabi nodded. “Indeed.”

He lowered the hand from his face, and took a deep breath. “I have an idea of who did this.” A pause. “...And I'll need to tell Dr. Jekyll.”

“Dr. Jekyll?” Maijabi asked. “You don't normally come to him for things such as this.”

“I know,” Griffin said. “But he knows this person. Perhaps he could get Dr. Lanyon to take a look as well.”

Maijabi looked a little confused now. “You mean use Dr. Lanyon's Soul Perception?” he asked. “If it's about the Soul Protect, the magic user won't be able to release it within the Society."

“That's true.” Griffin then sighed. “But I need more concrete proof than what I have...” He then blushed. “...That I could use without embarrassing myself.”

His promise to keep his and Callista's kiss a secret was damned, though. If he was right, then he couldn't let her do this and get away with it.

Footsteps moved through the hall before he could say anything else, and he and Maijabi looked up to see Archer walking through the halls.

“Archer!” he called, and went to the doorway. “Archer!”

He continued walking, though, as if he hadn't heard him. Griffin's stomach felt cold, but he went after Archer and ran in front of him just as he had come to his and Bird's door.

“Archer, listen,” he began. “I'm really sorry for what I–”

He was cut off by a hand, and Archer shook his head.

“It's fine,” he simply said. “I have something else to do, now. Excuse me.”

And just like that, Archer walked past him. Griffin stood there dumbly, and after a moment turned around–

–but Archer had already gone inside his and Bird's room.

Griffin's face fell.

Was that it between them?

 


 

Lanyon supposed that it was, for him and Jekyll.

He sat in front of the fireplace, watching the fires consume the wood. A book rested on the table next to him, but he currently had no interest in it. Right now, he was content to wallow. For after what he had done...it was over between him and Jekyll.

“I didn't see you eat much at dinner,” a voice said, and in his peripheral vision Lanyon could see Lisa walking into the room. She sat down in the armchair across from him, while he looked away.

“Well, it's not like life is starting to go into a downwards spiral and then explode,” Lanyon said, shrugging. “Everything is fine.”

“If it were, then you wouldn't be trying to crack a joke about it,” Lisa said. “I for one think you should talk about it instead. Maybe having someone listen will help.”

“You listening to me gripe will not fix the fact that Henry and I cannot resonate,” Lanyon told her, still looking at the fire.

“Well, maybe talking about it honestly will help you find a way to.”

His eyes finally darted to Lisa. She was looking at him with a piercing gaze. He sighed, and then looked back at the fire.

“Just a few days ago, everything was alright,” he said. “And then we got into a fight – rather, I yelled at him – and now we can't resonate. And it's not that I'm not worried about the Tournament – because I am – but I'm worried more about my friend.” He heaved a sigh. “How's Henry taking this? I shouldn't be doing this to him...he deserves a better meister."

“A better meister?” Lisa echoed.

“Yes, a better meister,” Lanyon said. “One that isn't horrible to him.”

“You aren't horrible to Henry,” Lisa told him. “If you were, you wouldn't be telling me this.”

“I wouldn't be telling you this either if I were better,” Lanyon said in reply, “because I would know how to properly treat my weapon. And now I don't know what to do. Maybe things should go back to the way they were before, when Henry was the hero and I was just his meister.”

She looked at him, and then said, “Well, were you happy back then?”

“No.” His prompt answer surprised him, and he backtracked, “No, yes. Ugh...” He put a hand to his face. “I mean, I was happy. I always am with Henry. But now I'm not sure if I can go back to Henry always being better than me, if I can go back to not being on the same level as him.”

“But...” Lisa asked, “weren't you already on the same level as Henry?”

Lanyon looked up at her. “...What?”

“I mean, think about it.” Lisa gestured about with her hands as she continued, “You were one of the best in your class when you were a student of the Academy. Years later, you can still put up a good fight. And don't you think that you can still be of service even if you aren't as physically strong as you hope to be? Because Henry thinks of you as someone who's on his level. I doubt he's ever thought otherwise.”

“But, Lisa,” he said, “I'm not deserving of him.”

“That's for him to decide,” she replied. “The point is, one of you may be stronger than the other by normal standards, but instead of comparing your strengths, you should help each other grow.” She looked at him meaningfully. “Isn't that why you're called partners in the first place?”

Lanyon stayed quiet, thinking, while Lisa stood up and walked towards him. “And,” she finished, “I'm sure that even though you've been thinking this way, Henry never has. He only wants someone to stand by his side.”

They were both silent for a while, before Lanyon nodded, and stood up as well.

“You're right,” he said. “If Henry thinks I'm worthy, then I'm worthy. I just need to go to him and we can become partners again.”

“See?” Lisa crossed her arms, smirking. “I told you, talking would help you find a solution.”

“Yes, well, thank you for that,” Lanyon said, looking at her. “I know what I have to do now. Thank you, Lisa.”

“Anytime, Robert,” she replied. “But whatever you have to do, do it in the morning. It's late.”

“Right,” he said. “I'll do it tomorrow. And then Henry and I can start training as hard as we can.”

“Just don't push yourselves too hard.”

“Sure, sure.”

And there was hope, after all.

 

Chapter Text

Well, the night before, Griffin had told Maijabi that he was planning to tell Jekyll about the conclusion he had come to that night – about knowing who the person that put the parasite in his body was.

But right now, Griffin was standing in front of the doors to Jekyll's office, holding a small jar that contained the dead parasite. And right now, he wasn't sure whether he should go through with that plan or not.

After all, Jekyll probably wouldn't know what to do with him in the first place. For all that Jekyll had said about helping magic users, he probably didn't know a single thing about their magic, much less anything about magic parasites. Not to mention, Jekyll probably wouldn't believe him if he would tell him about his suspicion of Callista. That would just sound like crazy talk.

Griffin looked down at the jar in his hand one more time, before deciding it wasn't worth it. So he put his other hand in his pocket, and began to walk away. Maybe it wasn't too late to tell Maijabi, after all. He was a safer choice.

...Speaking of which, where was the man? Griffin didn't recall seeing him in his lab. Maybe he was in another Lodger's lab.

He was about to turn a corner, when he noticed that someone was opening the front door. It was one of the staff, but that wasn't what caught his attention. No, it was who was entering the Society at that moment.

And it was Callista Redrowe.

Griffin couldn't help but watch as Callista looked around, and her eyes soon fell on someone coming from in front of one of the displays – Archer.

Upon realizing this, Griffin came forward, and then turned himself invisible, before going down the stairs to walk over and hear what they were saying.

Why was Archer with Callista? What could have possibly happened?

 


 

“It's great to see you again, Miss Redrowe,” Archer said as he walked over to her.

Callista looked up at him, and gave him a warm smile. “It's nice to meet you again as well, Mr. Archer,” she said, putting her hands together. “Of course, I did not forget that you requested me to come here yesterday.”

“Yeah, sorry about that.” Archer scratched the back of his head. “I just needed Dr. Jekyll to know that you were really agreeing to this whole Academy affair, instead of it being me lying.”

“Don't apologize, I get it,” Callista said. “And I am agreeing to this wholeheartedly, if that's what you're worried about. Not to mention, I don't think you would lie about something like this.”

“What makes you say that?” Archer asked, and Callista could tell he was a bit flattered.

She tilted her head a little. “Well, that's just the kind of person you are,” she told him.

“Alright, alright,” Archer said. “But thank you for that. Shall we go to Jekyll's office?"

“Of course.” Callista nodded. With that, Archer turned and let her go before him as they went to the office on the second floor.

Callista couldn't believe her plan was coming along this easily. She didn't even have to ask Archer if she could come; he just went and asked her. And here she was, worrying that she would have to control the situation remotely, like with Griffin when he attacked those students and she couldn't even see the action. But now she could see everything play out. Or just some things; but it didn't really concern her.

However, she couldn't shake the feeling that she was being watched, even as she saw the other Lodgers going about their own business. Could one of them be watching her somehow? She did remember that one of the witches could talk to insects.

A thought crossed her mind.

Could it be who she thought it was?

She didn't allow herself to think too much about it, though, as she and Archer stepped up to Jekyll's office doors. Archer decided to move closer to the door, while she put a hand to her ear.

And just like that, she was in touch with a certain someone standing at the back door.

“The coast is clear,” she told him in a whisper. “You can go ahead.”

Then she grinned when Archer didn't react. Her plan was coming along so smoothly; she might as well go ahead and stop biding her time.

 


 

Jekyll sat alone in his office, sighing and looking at a wine bottle alongside a wine glass, both sitting on top of his table. He was thinking about whether he should pour himself a drink or not. Absently, he put a hand to his cheek, feeling the scar left there.

You aren't going to get that healed? Hyde asked.

“I don't know,” Jekyll said. “I mean, it is a reminder of what happened yesterday and I don't really want to remember it, but...”

Hyde sighed. Sentiment, I guess.

Jekyll, meanwhile, leaned back in his chair. “Robert thinks he's not a good enough meister because of me. He's having a hard time because I've advanced too far ahead.”

There is literally nothing you can say that will make it sound like your fault, because it's not, Hyde told him. Though I'll admit...I was kind of wrong about Lanyon.

That caused Jekyll's eyes to snap wide open, before he blinked. “What did you say?”

I said – you heard me, Hyde said, a little irritably. Lanyon's still jealous that you are who you are. I just...I thought he put you beneath him instead of on a pedestal.

“I wouldn't say I deserve to be on a pedestal,” Jekyll said.

You do, what with the shit you go through, Hyde replied. In fact, you need a break from said shit.

Jekyll shook his head, leaning forward onto the desk. “I can't, I have to take care of the Society,” he said. “Are you just using this as an excuse to come out?”

We both know that if I come out, I've got no chances. Hyde sounded a little snippy. We just got lucky with Rachel. Also, have you forgotten that you and I are literally the same person? You ought to do something for yourself, and I can sense it. Go on those boring evening walks, eat something heavier than a sandwich, I don't care.

Jekyll looked up at the mirror by the door, where Hyde was looking at him. Then he smiled a little.

What?

He chuckled – and then coughed.

Are you...alright? Hyde asked, just as Jekyll stopped coughing.

“It's fine,” Jekyll assured him, beginning to rearrange the papers on his desk. He knew Hyde was thinking that he ought to do something about the cough and chills that he had gotten the previous night, but Jekyll was pretty sure he could pull through it. Somehow.

Get Rachel to make warm food for you, Hyde told him.

“You're being extra nice to me today, I wonder why?” Jekyll asked, before coughing some more. He covered his mouth with his hand, and Hyde gave him a look...that seemed worried?

You look like hell, that's why, he answered.

Jekyll was about to say something, but before he could, he heard a knock on his door. “Come in,” he said, sitting up straighter.

The door opened, and much to his surprise, in walked Callista, and then Archer. In the mirror, Hyde's eyebrows were raised, and Jekyll felt it was the same with him.

“Why, Miss Redrowe! Mr. Archer!” he said, putting on a smile. “What brings you both here?”

“It would surprise you, I think, that this has more to do with Mr. Archer than my own interests, Callista began. “I believe it would be wiser for him to say it to you.”

He and Callista then looked at Archer, who looked a little nervous. “Well, if-if that's what you think, Miss Redrowe,” he said, and then cleared his throat before continuing. “I should begin with saying that I had a lot of good times at the Society,” he said. “But I'm afraid it has to come to an end.”

“Come to an end?” Jekyll leaned forward a little. “Why?”

“You see, Dr. Jekyll,” Archer replied, “I'm going to go to the DWMA.”

“What?”

 


 

Outside the doors of the office, the Lodgers went on with their various activities. Maijabi and Cantilupe in particular were walking along the main hall, looking at the various exhibits and talking while they did so.

“...And I don't know what to make of the rumors that Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Lanyon have fallen out of resonance,” Cantilupe said.

“Indeed, it does not bode well considering the Tournament that they will compete in is drawing nearer,” Maijabi replied. “But on the other hand, it is natural for meisters and weapons to get into disagreements from time to time; and Jekyll and Lanyon have been through a lot together. They'll find a way to resonate once again.”

“You think it was because of a disagreement?”

“Well, why else?” Maijabi asked. “Any strong disagreement is capable of shaking a strong bond, even a bond as supernatural as resonance.”

“I see.” Cantilupe nodded. She was about to say something more when a shadow loomed over the two of them, and they both looked up to see a golem standing behind them. It wasn't a very tall golem – about the same height as the Creature, perhaps – but it did not seem like it was alive. In fact, it looked very ordinary.

“I almost didn't hear it coming,” Cantilupe said, putting a hand up to her mouth thoughtfully. “Do you think this could be one of Frankenstein's?”

“It could be,” Maijabi shrugged. “Its steps are quiet, much like the Creature's. Though I thought Frankenstein was making golems resembling her and the Creature, to confuse Moreau.”

The golem lifted a hand, perhaps in greeting. Cantilupe would have giggled, were it not for the fact that the golem's hand had something shiny in its palm.

“Huh?” Maijabi seemed to have seen it too. He took a step forward to examine it further.

All of a sudden, the golem brought the hand down – and Cantilupe barely had time to register that what they saw was a blade before the golem stabbed Maijabi in the chest with it.

Cantilupe gasped, and the golem pulled the knife out of him, before he sank down to the floor. Blood began to pour out of his wound, and that was when she finally came to her senses and looked at the golem. Her eyes flashed dangerously.

She raised a hand, and rolled up her sleeve, revealing a tattoo of a leviathan. This tattoo began to move down her skin and materialize out of it, turning into a real (if smaller than normal) leviathan.

The magic creature wasted no time in rushing over to the golem, roaring – but the golem dodged it as it came, and moved swiftly towards Cantilupe, brandishing its blade.

Cantilupe was quicker, though, and managed to get away, before the golem paused, and began to run.

“Come back here!” she exclaimed, running after the golem.

It weaved through the displays, while out of the corner of her eye she could see a few of the other Lodgers beginning to come to Maijabi's aid. Yet she chased the golem until she had cornered it at the end of the main hall, and she prepared herself for a fight.

 


 

“What?”

The question startled Jekyll and Archer, and even made Callista jump the slightest bit. Archer didn't need to look around too much for where the voice came from – he realized it a split second later, and groaned.

“Griffin,” he said.

This caused Griffin to fade back into color, revealing him standing in one corner of the office, near the door. Jekyll, Archer, and Callista turned their attention to him.

“Were you spying on us?” Jekyll asked, more curiously than suspiciously.

“Well – technically, yes, but that's not the issue here,” Griffin admitted.

Archer glanced at Callista, and noticed how she looked away a little, a faint pink on her cheeks. Oh, right. She and Griffin hadn't really been in the same room since the Exhibition, when...

“Well, then what is the issue?” Jekyll asked. Griffin swallowed, and then looked at Archer.

“It's just that – what? You're leaving the Society?” he asked.

“As a matter of fact, I am,” Archer said, crossing his arms. “Do you have a problem with that?”

“How can this – when did you even decide this?”

“Well, Mr. Archer and I happened to run into each other yesterday, and we had a talk,” Callista said. “We both agreed that I'm going to support him going to the DWMA.”

Griffin stared dumbly at them for a moment, his mouth falling open. Then he glanced at Callista again, and pursed his lips, before looking at Archer.

“There's something very wrong with that arrangement,” he said. “You shouldn't be agreeing to this.”

“What? Why not?” Archer asked.

“I can't tell you,” Griffin replied, his eyes darting towards Jekyll and Callista for a bit, “not in front of them. But let me talk to you alone and I'll explain everything.”

“No,” Archer replied. “Whatever you have to say, you can say right here, right now.”

Griffin looked a little disappointed, but then steeled his gaze. “Fine, I'll tell you here,” he said. “Miss Redrowe's a witch.”

Jekyll's jaw dropped, while Callista put a hand to her mouth in surprise. “I'm sorry, what?” the former asked.

“You heard me, Miss Redrowe is a fucking witch,” Griffin answered. “And she's planning something; I don't know what, but it isn't good.”

“I'm plotting something?” Callista asked. “Where did you get such an idea, Mr. Griffin?”

“Yeah, where's your proof?” Archer asked, a little more defensive this time. “If you're going to accuse her of being a witch, you might as well have proof.”

“I do have proof,” Griffin said. Then he looked at Jekyll. “You know it too, don't you, Jekyll?”

“I do?” Jekyll asked – he seemed as if he was still stunned by the turn of the conversation.

“Back when Miss Redrowe visited the Society for the first time, she could read the runes in the main hall,” Griffin said. “She explained them to you.”

“Oh, that's right, you were spying on us then too,” Jekyll said. Then he shook his head. “But Miss Redrowe also told me that she studied magic users' runes on her own.”

“Do you really think a human would be that interested in our affairs?”

Jekyll shot him a look.

“...Oh.” Griffin then shook his head. “But to go so far as to study our language...”

“Jasper studied witches' magic even before he became a werework and could employ magic,” Archer pointed out. “He's just as interested in magic things as Jekyll is.”

“Fine, I'll admit to that,” Griffin said, putting up his hands. “But not every human is like that. Especially not Miss Redrowe's peers.”

“What is there that would not make me an exception to the norm?” Callista asked. “I do like to study materials on magic, but simply out of fascination for them. I mean no harm.”

Griffin looked at her, and frowned. “Don't try to fool us,” he said. “You also put the parasite in my body.”

“Parasite?” Callista echoed. “What do you mean?”

He pulled out a jar, and Archer had to look closely to see that there was a dead specimen within. Griffin held the jar up, and continued, “For a time I've had a parasite that restrained my magic. I didn't get this parasite until the day after the Exhibition, and no one touched me during the Exhibition save for Miss Redrowe when–” he cut himself off, blushing a little, before continuing, “–when she kissed me.”

Callista gasped, covering her mouth. “Mr. Griffin! For you to say such a thing–!”

“Are you going to deny it ever happened?” Griffin asked.

“No...to be frank, one other person knows about it as well,” she said, lowering her hand. It was then that Archer glanced at her, and she returned the look. Then she looked back at Griffin, continuing, “But that person found out by accident. For you to reveal it this way...I didn't think you were incapable of keeping a promise.”

“I didn't even promise,” Griffin said.

“Which makes this all the more hurtful for me to hear!” Callista exclaimed. “You're horrible, Mr. Griffin; horrible, I say! You wouldn't even do what a woman asks of you!”

At this outburst, Griffin looked a little more awkward. She put a hand to her face – Archer presumed it was because of the shame – and Jekyll stood up from his seat to walk over to her. He looked to Griffin, and frowned.

“Mr. Griffin, you've upset Miss Redrowe. What do you have to say for yourself?” he asked.

Griffin sputtered a little, before replying, “That – that doesn't change the fact that she put the parasite in my body.”

“And you're saying that she did it with a kiss?” Archer asked incredulously.

“It's possible,” Griffin countered.

“You don't have any proof to say for sure that she was the one who put it in you; you didn't even know it was there until a day later,” Archer retaliated.

“Mr. Archer is right,” Jekyll told Griffin. “We shouldn't jump to conclusions about other people based on such flimsy evidence.”

“You have to believe me,” Callista said, almost pleadingly. “I'm just a normal human interested in the affairs of magic users.”

“I haven't yet determined if that interest is good or bad,” Griffin tried to defend himself.

“She's giving money to the Society!” Archer exclaimed. “And she's sending me to the DWMA – something I've always wanted!”

“I thought what you wanted was a partner,” Griffin said.

Archer looked away. “Well, I don't have one, now do I?”

He looked away for a bit, before he noticed Griffin was silent. He turned his eyes back to him – he had never seen the other man so upset before.

Jekyll interrupted the scene with a cough, then another cough, until he was having a coughing fit. The others looked at him, and Archer moved to pat his back.

“Are you alright, Dr. Jekyll?” Callista asked.

“I'm fine,” Jekyll said, and then let out one last cough, before clearing his throat. “Fine.”

Archer moved his hand from Jekyll's back, still looking at him worriedly.

Callista then looked at Griffin. “It's really none of your business whether Mr. Archer goes to the Academy with my means or not. He just wants to live happily.”

“I thought Archer already had that here,” Griffin said.

Archer looked up at Griffin, his mouth falling open. “Are you so full of yourself that you think I was happy all the time here?” He walked away from Jekyll and began coming towards Griffin. “You think I didn't think I was wasting my abilities here sometimes? I didn't think I was overstaying my welcome sometimes? You think that I didn't think that I didn't fit in, as a weapon among magic users, and that I didn't think I would never be able to do what I wanted?”

He grabbed Griffin's collar, and looking at the shocked man in front of him he continued, “You're so fucking full of it! You don't want me to be happy. You're just making stuff up so I can go back to being your weapon!”

“Archer, no!” Griffin exclaimed. “I just want to protect you!”

“Protect me?” Archer asked. “Protect me? Or protect yourself? Let me make my own decisions! This is what I want! Is it too much to ask for you to be happy for me?”

Griffin was about to say something, but he didn't get that chance, as suddenly shouts were heard from outside the office.

“What's going on?” Jekyll asked.

 


 

Cantilupe had been fighting against the golem for some time, summoning creatures from the shadows around the main hall and trying to get a hold of the golem using eldritch tentacles. The golem was quick enough to keep up with her – it was as if it were made from lighter materials and controlled by someone.

Finally, she managed to use one of her shadow creatures to land a blast on the golem. The force of the ensuing explosion pushed her back a little, but she stood her ground until the smoke cleared. Then she looked up.

The golem had fallen on the floor, lying still. Cantilupe watched it for a while, making sure it wasn't going to move. After a few tense moments, she sighed, and turned her back to it. Several Lodgers had come out from their labs, either gathered around Maijabi or looking at her. Even Rachel, Jasper, Frankenstein, and the Creature, who had been in the dining hall, had come out.

“What happened to Dr. Maijabi?” she asked, beginning to walk towards the Lodgers tending to him.

She didn't hear anything move behind her – but Lavender saw it, and gasped.

“Cantilupe!” she said, pointing over her shoulder.

Cantilupe turned around, just in time to see the golem up again a split second before pain burst into her chest.

Her eyes turned down to see the blade in her chest, and suddenly she felt all numb – it was as if the magic in her veins had just...stopped.

All this happened in a second, before the golem pulled the knife out, and then pushed her away, into the circle of runes. The fires of the candles burned her, and a few tumbled over, before everything went black for her, and shouts were the last thing she heard.

 


 

Jekyll threw open the doors to the office, moments after having rushed out of his seat, and in a second saw the chaos that was erupting in the main hall. His mouth fell open.

What the hell? Hyde asked, as Jekyll perceived the other people in the office coming forward to see what was happening.

The first thing that came to Jekyll's attention was that the walls and the runes on the floor were glowing green and blue, before flickering out. He then saw the Lodgers running all around; some were trying to put out a fire that had erupted in the main hall near the runes (most likely due to some toppled candles), some were trying to treat Maijabi and Cantilupe, who were both injured, and still others were fighting off a golem.

“Oh, Death,” Jekyll cursed. He took a step forward, and was about to go straight down the stairs when he noticed something glowing green on his chest.

“What's that?” Griffin asked, looking at Jekyll.

Jekyll reached into his shirt, before pulling out the anti-madness pendant – the one Hyde had bought at the Bazaar. Sure enough, it was glowing.

It wouldn't do that, unless...!

“Dr. Jekyll!” Callista shouted.

Jekyll spun around, and saw Archer rushing forward and grabbing Griffin by the collar again. This time, however, he held him over the stairs, threatening to drop him. Jekyll looked at Archer, and saw a familiar glint in his eye – one that he had seen in too many kishin eggs.

“Something serious was going on out here, and you wasted our time by talking about your stupid theories!” Archer shouted. Then an unnatural grin appeared on his face, and Griffin's eyes widened.

“You should've shut your mouth,” Archer said, almost in a sing-song tone. Then he let go of the collar–

–but Jekyll ran in and pushed Griffin out of the way. He had a split second to process the sound of Griffin falling safely at the top of the stairs before Archer growled.

“This is between the two of us!” Archer shouted. “Don't get in the way!”

Suddenly, Jekyll felt two hands upon his shoulders, and he couldn't even react before these hands pushed him over the stairs.

He barely even registered that he was tumbling down the stairs; he just knew a blinding pain rushing up his rm, and before he knew it the hard knocks ended, and he was lying on the floor of the main hall.

He coughed, and then groaned, before trying to prop himself up. Then the pain shot up his arm again, and he was forced to lay back down – he knew his arm was broken.

“Dr. Jekyll!”

“Henry!”

“What happened?”

“He fell!”

Various other voices joined these remarks as Jekyll weakly looked up at the top of the stairs, and saw Archer standing there alone. (Where were Griffin and Callista? He couldn't think straight...)

“I knew it. You would protect witches and sorcerers, even at the cost of everyone else...so you never cared about anyone else, did you?” Archer said. “But it's alright. No one cares about me, anyway. But...”

He transformed his arm into a cannon, and aimed it at Jekyll.

“I'm tired of being let down all the time!”

Jekyll heard someone running towards him as he finally pushed himself up with his good arm. He winced, and then coughed again – but this time, something came bubbling up from his stomach, and he vomited up a luminous pale substance. Once he saw it, he paled.

“No, no,” Jekyll said weakly, “no–!”

He was interrupted by another lurch of the stomach, and pain began to shoot throughout his body, making him cry out. He barely felt the eyes of the Lodgers on him as this was happening, and once the pain subsided, he laid down on the floor, exhausted.

He looked at his hands, and noticed how his sleeves were too big for his arms. Then he heard gasps all around him, and he knew he had transformed.

Hyde was caught.