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Beat The Clock

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12:34AM

Niles stares down at Gavin and pushed the edge of his blade ever so gently into the familiar’s skin, the metal’s sharp enough to cut into the flesh fairly easy. Just as he feared a deep red-almost black like crimson beaded along the cut and trickled down. The witch tiredly sighs, swipes his finger over the wound and heals it before he continues to trace his fingers all over Gavin’s body. His eyes run to the opened book beside him and he reads another page from it. He takes his knife and cuts deeply across his palm, uses the pooling blood to write little sigils all along the familiar’s arms and chest. Niles makes sure he draws them neatly and perfectly in line.

When he’s finished he lightly bats his hand to the center of his work, right above Gavin’s heart, and recites the Latin he’s memorized. There’s a bright glow emitting from the symbols and shapes and Niles is forced to look away- when it died down however, his eyes re-glued back to where they were.

The black veins still stayed, taunting him as they seared into Gavin’s skin. Niles bit his lip and hunched over.

He spent a long moment just holding onto his familiar. Shakily pressing his lips to Gavin’s temple and kissing his forehead, it was a moment of weakness.
______________________________________

2:24AM

He’s about ready to throw the book across the room but stops and controls his temper. He doesn’t want a repeat of the last time things hadn’t gone right. And Gavin’s breathing pattern soothes most of his anger because the poor familiar is still sleeping beside him, soundly and so far undisturbed. It’s still therapeutic to comb his fingers through his love’s hair, as curly and unruly as it might be, just as calming as it was when Gavin and Niles were both relaxing on the couch in the afternoon. He misses that.

He misses that a lot. So much so that his free hand clenchs tight and he’s feeling that anger wash right back over him. He’s so enraged at himself, spying the darkness etching itself across Gavin’s skin.

The witch flexed his fingers and feels his magic boiling inside his palms, the tickling feeling of Amanda’s binding forcing it tight as he thunders silently with rage. Why couldn’t something go right for fucking once?

He’s supposed to be better- perfect. He’s supposed to be smart and innovative and resourceful and all he’s doing is failing. Failing the people he loves, failing to abide by basic humane laws, failing his new coven and students at the shop. He’s stressed, he doesn’t know what to do and yet dreads doing what he knows he must. It’s overwhelming and for the first time in a long while; Niles is panicking.

His breathing gets labored, his hands shake, he bunchs his own hair and tugs, watering eyes betraying him as tears fall to the unconscious familiar at his side. He’s having a meltdown and he knows it; bulbs break inside the bathroom, lamplights flicker on and off as he gives a wet hiccup. There’s an ice cold draft flowing in and making the curtains blow and Niles knows he needs to get ahold of himself, knows he should keep a better handle on his magic, but it’s all too much and his best just never seems to be enough. Never amounts to anything and he’s so upset with himself that he can’t believe he’s crying like a fool instead of focusing on what needs his attention.

Finally, he hunkers down over Gavin- who doesn’t even respond to him at all. Completely dead to the world, and if it weren’t for his rising chest and warm skin, Niles would think he was dead. But Gavin used to react, used to shift closer or even give a subconscious sniff whenever Niles came to bed. Though now he did neither. The witch’s shoulders shake as he holds back his cries, losing his mind and kicking the useless spellbook off of the bed’s surface.

It held no purpose.
______________________________________

4:55AM

He’s laid there for hours, curled against Gavin’s side. His tears have long since dried and he just lays there, not bothered to move at all. The moon’s light shines squarely down on his familiar and Niles just spends his time being close to the one he loves.

After all his stressing, his breakdown, the stinging migraine behind his eyes- he’s drained and exhausted and wants to sleep for years. He knows he can’t but the thought is nice.

Sighing so heavy his soul might’ve just left him, Niles dares to wrap his arms around Gavin and snuzzle close. He needs this. Just for right now, just for one night, he has to have Gavin in his arms.

Pressing a kiss to the familiar’s head, the witch settles down and shuts his eyes.
______________________________________

Bang. Bang. Bang.

He wakes up to a loud thud. No, multiple thuds. Together in unison. They’re at his door but the force behind each pound makes it echo right into his bedroom and all throughout the house. Niles worries that it’ll wake Gavin up but one look at his unyielding expression has him thinking differently. There’s another flash of hurt inside his sternum and he finds himself sulking again, expecting it all to be some silly dream he had and Gavin would wake to soothe him. Only, this isn’t a dream. It’s real.

It’s real and he wishes it wasn’t, wishes he had imagined it all, some grand illusion to humble him down.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

He groans and gets up, his face feels gross with all the embarrassing sobbing he had done last night. He avoids the mirror at all costs and tries to straighten his bed head with a guiding hand. His own curls fall flatly against his forehead and Niles gives up trying to fix them after the third time. This morning sucks, this past week has sucked, and he’s about to lose all of his remaining patience and tolerance on whoever is behind that door.

Bang. Bang. Bang.

Niles frowns, already making his steps audible as he stalks towards the front door. He doesn’t care that he’s slept in yesterday’s clothes, doesn’t mind that his turtleneck is wrinkled and so are his pants. His temper rises at the steady raping against his door and when his hands flies towards the knob to turn it open, he finds that it’s being equally forced into his shoulder as a face peers inside with a growl.

“About fucking time!” An angry female voice snarls, pushing him the rest of the way out the doorway and welcoming herself inside. “Where the fuck is he!?”

“Excuse me?” Niles’ cold voice seems to make her bristle. He spots her nails morphing into claws at her sides, pupils dilating into slits as she bares her teeth and - fangs? Very sharp and thick canines start sprouting.

“Gavin.” Is all she says and Niles is reminded of just who is standing before him and why she has a reason to be this angry. “What did you do to him.”

For all Tina knew, he could’ve murdered Gavin or said something just as crude to send him away. She hasn’t seen him for three days or less, having known about their earlier argument and most likely having a very ill opinion of him at this time. Niles tries to reel in his displeasure and be as diplomatic as his twin- but he typically falls very short of that.

“I haven’t done a thing to him.”

Without batting an eye, Tina growls again. She jabs him with a sharp nail in the center of his chest with a hissed, “Bull. Shit.” Then, she’s off. Head tilted up and lips parted in all the ways that remind him of Gavin and that tightness returns, his throat constricting. If she finds Gavin how he is, it’ll look simply terribly toxic on him. He doesn’t need those accusations or the added drama- yet it seems Tina doesn’t need any prompting from him. She seems to know where she’s going, expertly walking down the hallways and stopping right outside the bedroom door.

Her brows are furrowed and nose scrunched and it just occurs to Niles that she can probably smell him. Most likely has the second she got within the block and it wouldn’t have done him any good to lie to her about her friend’s whereabouts. Gavin always mentioned how he could smell things from within the yard or outside the front door and he’ll be in the farthest possible place within the house. Tina, no doubt, would obviously be the same. He should have thought about that before blindly opening his door. Her expression is about murderous too, filled with so much disgust and bottled resentment that Niles almost doesn’t try to stop her.

“What’re you doing?” He says in warning but gets ignored. Tina pushes open the bedroom door despite Niles shouting at her to back away and before he knows it he’s rushing to follow in behind her as she crowds inside the room.

Her face twists into shock as she sees Gavin laying there, that blackness that’s been haunting Niles now tainting her own eyes too. His veins are so prominent against his olive complexion- which is starting to pale drastically now that he’s really looking. They’ve started to creep up his neck and dance across his jaw, some even spreading to his fingertips and Niles fears looking where else they might be. Tina stumbles blindly, almost looking like Niles himself had done her severe brain damage and unbalanced her permanently. Her hands shake as they come up, not daring to touch her friend but desperately wanting nothing more.

He hears her breathing labor, sees the watery eyes dipping into a fury he’s never even seen on anyone before, and soon her claws are grabbing him by his throat and slamming him against the nearest wall.

The girl bares her fully sharpened teeth, sets and sets of pointy pearly whites greet him with venom, and Niles forces himself not to defend himself against her raw aggression. “What the fuck have you done to him!?”

“I did not do this to him.” Niles remains stoic, fighting back the rising need to repulse her away or liquify her spine. “I ask that you unhand me.”

“I don’t believe you!” She snarls and rams his head into the wall, digging her claws into where she held onto him. The familiar’s face got dangerously close to his own which made him turn his head. “But let’s say you didn’t do this, for shits and giggles, why is he still like this? Why are you letting him rot?”

He opens his mouth to answer, already having a silvered retort on his tongue but it dies down as he takes the time to fully process what she was accusing. Rot. Tina used rot, Gavin was rotting? Just what did that mean and how did she know? His gaze flickered over to his familiar; dark circles under his eyes screamed that he wasn’t getting any rest and yet that was all he did all day, having sickly skin and barely any response to outside stimuli. Was...Was Gavin dying?

“What are you talking about?” Is what he finds himself whispering instead, in clear disbelief because that’s absurd. Gavin couldn’t be dying because Niles made sure to cut the spell off before it had the chance to take the familiar’s life. There couldn’t be any chance that very same spell was even still working to begin with, it’s caster was dead.

Tina’s growling stopped, her eyes as livid and observative as an actual feline before her hands begrudgingly uncurled from around his neck. She must have sensed the truth on him- or however Gavin had explained it. Her jaw clenched as did her fists but she remained in the witch’s space.

“I’m surprised even a normie like you can’t smell it. His body is rotting, that black? What else did you think it was?” Tina huffed and marched over to Gavin, each step growing lighter and lighter the closer she got to him. The girl took a knee and reached out, gently touching his cheek as he failed to stir at the touch. “I’m taking him back to Chloe’s.”

“You can’t do that.” He bites out hastily, going over to try and stop her as she grabs at Gavin’s arms and scoots him closer towards the edge. “Really, it’s not- “

“Watch me, asshole.” Tina quips and goes to left Gavin off of the mattress. The second his body begins to move and bend limply he’s gasping and thrashing, yelping loudly in clear pain and Niles is quick to get the girl off of him and right him back on the bed.

The girl is startled, stunned with her hands frozen in the way that they held onto Gavin. He’s still whimpering and squirming, panting as agony washes over his nerves and Niles barely has the right sense to cast a spell to quiet him down and soothe the poor familiar. His heart squeezes unbearably tight and for a second he thinks he might need to lay down, but then his irritation is growing into a mountain and he cannot bear another distraction.

“Gavin stays here.

Tina’s expressions shifts to sorrow, claws shrinking back into her normal nails as does her pupils. She looks just as hurt as Niles feels, taking careful steps to the bed and staring at the labored breathing cycle her friend trudges through. It’s hard to watch and even harder to hear.

“Fix him.” Her demand is spoken softly but holds the same fire as her earlier anger.

He just looks over Gavin with her, feeling just as helpless, just as hopeless. “I’m trying, but I can’t without a certain spellbook.”

“He doesn’t have long.” Her voice wavers and his heart stops. “What book do you need?”

Niles swallows and suddenly feels as hollow as he had all those years ago under the control of another, brain empty and his will shattered. Just at the mere mention of those four words the female uttered. And he sat there wasting time like a fucking idiot.

“The Black Grimoire. It’s- “

“I know what it is.” She cuts him off, eyes suddenly set ablaze when she finally directs them back to his own. He sees the determination inside them and envies it, tries to let it infect him and give him the energy to be nearly as prepared. “Chloe’s mentioned it before, where is it?”

“Markus has it. We have to steal it.” He tells her with a grimace, voice going soft towards the end. He doesn’t particularly like the idea of going behind the very person’s back who had given him his freedom back. It makes him feel icky and wicked, something he never thought he was and never hoped to be. “How long does Gavin have? What sort of time frame am I working with here?”

Tina’s shoulders dragged down as she leaned a little closer to Gavin, her hand brushing along his cheek that started to look bruised. Her mouth was set in a thin line and Niles tried to get ready to hear something that was most definitely going to be hard on his ears.

“Tina?” He prompts, the tension inside the room thickening.

“A few days.”

Niles stares at her, mouth slightly agape before he whispers a curse and leans against a wall. He drags a hand down his face and breathes in deep, running his fingers through his own hair and pulling at the strands. A few days. Gavin was dying, his very minutes were being counted down and all Niles had done in the meantime was mope and fool around. He should’ve known better. He should’ve known.

“I’m leaving tonight then.” He announces as he glares at his shoes.

If you had the capacity to understand such a simple sentence, you wouldn’t have to ask.

He couldn’t believe he uttered those words, why had he let his anger warp him so sharply? In the end, that statement seemed to fit more of him then it ever did Gavin. Who was always astute and tuned in to his surroundings, always checking for danger and alerting anyone to anything hazardous. Always right by his side whenever Niles needed him. The very same person who was lying on his bed and fighting for his very life in exchange for Niles to be walking painlessly. ‘

He really fucked up.

“I’m going with.” Tina declares and startles him right out of his thoughts.

His brows scrunch and he has to stare her down while he mutters a stern, “No.”

“Too bad, I wasn’t asking.” She meets his authoritative voice equally, squaring her shoulders in challenge. “I’m coming with.”

“No, you’re not.” And before she can even gather the breath to retort, he’s holding up a hand and interrupting. “If he gets worse and we’re both gone, who’s going to take care of him? It’s better if one of us stays, I’m going because Markus actually knows me.”

Her nose turns up at him. “And you think Markus doesn’t know me?”

Niles keeps her gaze as he delivers a cold, “If Markus knew you, then I would’ve known you. And yet, here we are.”

Her eyes scream murder and she says nothing more. The witch rises from the ground and goes over to collect his coat, he sees how she stands protective over Gavin as he approaches and he thinks she might not even let him have a goodbye. His brow raises, and he considers pleading with her before she moves away and exits the bedroom, giving him space. He never thought the exhale that escapes his lungs could feel as orgasmic.

His eyes water without his consent as he stares down, letting his knuckles brush across Gavin’s own as he takes the familiar’s hand. It’s clammy and cold but Niles tries not to mind it even if it tears him to pieces inside. He leans down and steals a kiss, one bittersweet and chaste. Even his love’s lips are icy and chapped and it takes everything within him to draw back and walk away instead of crumpling right there.

He’s on a timer. He can cry as much as he’d like later but now is not the time for emotions.

As he nears the door, he pauses and glances over his shoulder. How much he wishes Gavin would just get up and laugh at him; loud and boisterous and call Niles names, telling him how silly he looked whenever he got scared, or how funky his aura got whenever he fell victim to Gavin’s mindless pranks. But this isn’t a joke, even if he prays for it to be, and he feels choked up.

“I’ll be back, dear.” He says out loud despite knowing he’ll get nothing in reply. “Tina will keep you company while I’m away and when I get back, you’ll feel better. Wait for me.”

He makes his exit after waiting a beat, closing the door with a quiet click before heading towards the kitchen. He opens up his pantry and fills viles, portable jars, gathers little velvet bags and small bowls. If he’s going in there then he’s going to need to come prepared, especially if he’s going to be stealing from a Coven. A coven full of the supernatural with sensitive senses and a damn good defense.

Niles can’t ask for the book and Markus can’t read the book.

At least, he thinks, he doesn’t have to kidnap a prophet. That is a much more difficult task with far too many consequences, and Niles would prefer not to go on such a sure-fire-suicide mission. Even just threatening a prophet unleashes the fury of heaven; an archangel on a warpath with your name on it. And Niles wouldn’t dream of fending off those assholes. Angels were nothing but unfeeling bastards that hide behind Gods’ supposed will to accomplish whatever sick and twisted goal it is they’re trying to reach. And it seems as if God hates him at the moment with the hand of cards he’s forced to play with, but he’s going to do it, going to try and bring home a victory. He’s just thankful it’s only Markus and not a divine being of the lord’s plan.

As he ties another wrapping around the neck of his newest, and craftiest, hex bag he sees Tina coming his way.

She’s less hostile with him, but there’s still a very heavy tension in the air. Niles knows better than to think he’s safe from her rage, feels it simmering just below her skin, and he does his best not to invoke it.

“Chloe’s coming.” Her voice is cutthroat, leaves him no room to argue. “If anything happens here she and I will take care of it, and she’ll alert you.”

“How?” The familiar stalks closer to the counter and leans over to spy what he’s mixing inside a small bowl. A small brew that should be able to aid him if he needs it, Niles doesn’t plan on killing anyone. These people are his friends, his allies- the last thing he wanted to do was harm them.

Quick as lightning, her fingers curl around his hair and she tugs. Hard.

As he looks up with a hiss and bats her hand away, he’s met with a smug smirk. She looks satisfied and the epitome of pleased. The look reminds him of something Gavin would do.

Niles misses him.

“You’ll see if the time comes.”

“You could have asked me, you know.” He can’t help but to rib.

“Oh, believe me, I know. And yet I didn’t, did I?” He hears the malice then and decides it’s not worth it to press her buttons.

Niles takes another hour, mixing and crafting. He picks out his trench coat with the deepest pockets for obvious reasons and even greets Chloe as she arrives right when he finishes up. She brings her own things and takes his station inside the kitchen, throwing her own herbs and elixirs inside a bowl to crunch bones among other things inside. He watches Tina slide her arms around Chloe’s small waist and plant a loving kiss to her bare shoulder before she gets to claim her girlfriend’s lips and Niles, once more, finds himself engrossed in jealousy. How much he wants that makes his muscles tense.

He looks away however whenever they break apart, whisper to each other, and then Tina walks off towards the bedrooms. Chloe returns to her task at hand and just when Niles heads for the front door, she speaks up and stops him.

“Are you sure stealing the book won’t just create more problems?”

His outstretched hand balls and he drops his arm to his sides. The witch reminds himself to breath evenly and not lash out. She’s being sensible, normally that would be his job, but as of late it seems more and more out of character for him to be so stoic.

“It’s the only solution we have.” He bites back harsh despite his best efforts.

Chloe doesn’t bat an eye, just keeps stirring after she enchants the items inside the bowl. “Why not ask the High Priest? Things like this are his job.”

“He stopped being qualified for the position when he left and let her take over.”

She looks up then, eyes brimming with pity and sorrow, and it makes him want to throw up. Niles doesn’t want the sympathy, he wants to leave. “She was different before taking charge, something changed her. We think it was the demon tab-”

“I don’t care what happened, he knew what was going on and he let her parade around for centuries! He let her keep me and my brother as dogs! Besides, there’s nothing he knows that I don’t- or can’t- find out.”

Vibrating with his fury, he throws open the door. “Niles please. Don’t let your emotions control you! Elijah translated the Book of the Damned, he even shared a few spells with the community, there are things he-”

“He would’ve let her take Heaven and Hell before he even dared lift a finger! With all that he knew and saw, he could’ve prevented her from doing half of what she did. She enslaved an entire generation as he sat back and watched.” Chloe’s mouth quivers as he yells and Niles simply cannot reel in his rage enough to feel bad for causing it.

She even still looks like she wants to say more but the witch is cemented on beating her to the last word.

“He’s corrupt and I won’t be putting any of my trust in him. I’ll be back shortly, keep Gavin well.” And then Niles walks.

He exits the house and slams the door hard enough to shake it’s frame. He’s scowling as he walks down the streets and turns around corners but he has to try and get as level of a head as he can. Gavin doesn’t have that much time left and he cannot waste any more. He’s going to be successful, he has to be. There is no room for mistakes.

Niles takes in a deep, deep breath and closes his eyes.

When he opens them next, he’s standing outside of the Jericho Grand Coven.