Indra huffs, rubbing his hands across his elbows hard, attempting to center himself. He is always like this post-hibernation, disoriented and distant as sleep drags down upon him, tempting him with the promise of a couple more months.
The most dangerous thing to a creature like himself isn’t others; it’s his own ennui and apathy.
It is only the knowledge that his brother is expecting him in a few days that gets him moving. He knows Ashura far too well; his brother would infringe on his lair to wake him and Indra isn’t in the mood to start his awakening with an all-out brotherly brawl. They’ve done it before and it always puts Indra in a stormy mood.
Indra goes through the motions of his ablations, movements precise and graceful, refined over the centuries.
These done, he dons his sunglasses and leaves his lair, emerging into the sunlight for the first time in six months. Despite the weakness of the light, Indra still squints, shading his eyes.
His cars are in the shop, as they always are during his hibernation. No matter, he can do this the old fashion way. A ripple of power pulses through him as he stretches his arms, eyes flashing gold.
Besides, Indra needs the exercise.
The chimes begin to tinkle as Indra steps into the small shop. He glances at them, a myriad hodgepodge of bells, beads, and pieces of glass. He smirks at the evil eye hanging among them.
It is a paltry charm in the face of what he is.
Indra turns his gaze through the shop, taking in the strange oddities that make up the shop’s inventory. There are a few new additions, including a fetching tome on alchemy that Indra recognizes from the seventeenth century.
He frowns when he realizes who is manning the register. A young pink-haired woman, with high cheekbones, strong collarbones, and delicate wrists, is bent over a scroll written in Latin. “Who are you?” he asks, demands really.
He does not care for change.
She looks up and his breath catches for a moment at her piercing green eyes. They remind him of peridot, deep and sparkling through multiple facets. Peridot is not his favorite stone, he prefers the rich blue tones of tanzanite and lapis lazuli. Her skin reminds him of morganite, her hair a deeper blush of the same stone. She blows a bubble, shattering his wandering thoughts. He rubs his chest, puzzled. Perhaps the jolt comes from the first sentient contact he’s had since awakening.
“I’m Sakura,” she says in response in his question. She scrutinizes him for a moment and he straightens. “Based on your appearance and brusque manner, you must be Indra, right?”
He nods, a sharp incline of his head. “Is my order ready?”
“Yep,” she says, popping the p and her gum. “I’ll go grab that from the back.”
Sakura weaves among the items, ducking beneath a blown glass unicorn filled with a silvery powder.
Indra moves forward, peering over the counter at the scroll Sakura was reading. It dates back to the second century, the shimmery purple over it a protective spell. It’s a list of potions, medicinal in nature.
“Here’s your order.” Sakura’s voice sounds from behind a box bigger than she is. With a slight grunt, she levers it onto the counter. She sees where his attention is and laughs. “I’m reading that to enhance my understanding of Latin for the MCAT.”
Indra isn’t completely sure what Latin has to do with cats, really Egyptian would make much more sense, but he doesn’t comment. Instead he asks, “And how is that going?”
“It’s slow but I’ve made some progress,” she says, passing him a clipboard. “Could you sign?”
Indra takes the pen and clipboard from her, signing off with a flourish. He passes it along with a lump of gold and a fist-sized sapphire to her. To her credit, Sakura doesn’t seem surprised. She presses a few buttons on the rickety old register and deposits the payment within the appropriate bins. Most of the other jewels are subpar compared to his offering, though there is one brilliant dark opal that catches his eye.
Indra’s fingers twitch with the desire to reclaim the payment, lay claim to this hoard, possess, but he fights it off. He’s old enough to be in control of his baser urges. Still it is hard to fight nature…
“Ino said you hibernate,” Sakura says, interrupting his thoughts. Her eyes are assessing. “You a werebear?”
Indra snorts at that. “No, I am not a bear shifter.”
She leans against the counter, warming to the game at hand. “Baku? Phoenix?” Sakura raises an eyebrow. “Incubus?”
“No. Not quite.” He stops, finding his lips curling upward into a smile. The stretch is unfamiliar, strange, but he finds that he enjoys it. Indra wonders how long it’s been since he’s smiled like this, playful and fun. Centuries? A millennium? “Wouldn’t you like to know?”
“That’s a no on the incubus theory then,” Sakura says, shaking her head. She opens her mouth to add something and Indra finds himself leaning forward, interested in her thought process.
Instead the chimes at door ring in greeting and they both turn, catching sight of the Yamanaka heiress as she strides in, flipping up her sunglasses as she does so.
“Sorry I’m running late, Sakura,” she says, sailing forward to the counter. “The buyer wanted to haggle.”
“Your favorite game,” Sakura says with a grin.
Indra observes them, taking in the fondness between them. There are years of history, a sisterhood forged by something more than blood. He gives Ino a placid look when she turns to him, protectiveness clear in her gaze. He ignores the urge to bare his teeth, to start a fight that he knows he can win.
“I know you need to get going Sakura,” Ino says, not once taking her eyes from Indra. He approves of her wariness in the face of a predator. “Shikamaru is expecting you.”
Sakura nods in agreement, ducking and grabbing a messenger bag from beneath the desk. She pauses as she looks over the scroll. “Ino, may I bring it with me? I’ll have it back to you in three days, beginning of my shift. Promise.”
“Of course,” Ino replies. “Let me know if you find any promising recipes.”
Sakura smiles, glancing at Indra once more. “Well, I guess I’m out of time and guesses. It’s been a pleasure meeting you.” She offered him her hand to shake.
Indra takes it, bowing over it and pressing a kiss to her hand. “The pleasure is mine.”
She wrinkles her nose at him when he releases her, but says nothing. Ino’s glare speaks volumes. Sakura carefully rolls the scroll, placing it into a document tube. She pushes it into her bag, swinging the bag over a shoulder. “Anyway,” she says, glancing between Ino and Indra, sensing the tension. “I’ve got to go. I’ll give you a call tonight Ino.”
Indra watches her go, fingers twitching.
“Don’t,” Ino says.
Indra’s eyes slide her way as he chooses not to dignify that with a response. Instead, he picks up his order, gives her a nod, and heads out the door.
One thing’s for certain; he’ll be returning to the shop in three days.
He has to investigate this further.