by iff the lurker
Rating: 14+ for language
Fandom: Original
Pairing: none
Disclaimer: The boys are mine, the place doesn't really exist.
Author's Notes: These ones jumped out when the fanfic version of the mood that I'd been working on decided not to co-operate, and kept surprising me the entire time they were running around in my head. And because I have a hard time coming up with names for any of my boys, "kage" means "shadow".

David hated this place. It always felt like the walls were closing in on him. When there were walls, that is. Sometimes he was more nervous that what was left of the walls might fall on top of him. Who in his right mind would voluntarily spend time here, much less set up house in this part of town?

Ah, but that was the sticking point. Lately Kage was as far from being in his right mind as it was possible to be and not be locked up in one of those nice padded cells at Sunny Plains.

As the detective turned down one more unmarked alley, his foot slid just slightly in something he was glad he couldn't identify. He stepped to one side and scraped his shoe off on the edge of a ragged chunk of brick, one hand digging around in the pocket of his coat. As he began to move further in to the darkened backstreet, he brought a rumpled handkerchief to his face and, sure that there was no one around, blew his nose in to it, wincing as it irritated the raw and reddened skin. About the only thing he was thankful for right now was that this cold he'd come down with a few days ago had him so congested that it was impossible for him to smell any of the unsavory substances that decorated the crumbling walls and broken pavement. He'd been told that Kage could give them a much-needed lead on his current case, a group of people opening fire in a crowded movie theater, all five of whom had managed to escape. They'd been needing a break for weeks, or he would have been anywhere but here, or at least waited until he could breathe again. But he was the only one Kage would speak to. Unfortunately for his current state of health, between the innocent bystanders who were killed and the fact that one of the injured list was the daughter of a state official, this one had the press and way too many politicians watching them. So he had taken some cold meds that didn't seem to be doing a thing to help, and dragged himself down to the worst part of the slums.

He came to a stop in front of a solid, deep purple door, completely out of place in its surroundings. A shiver shook his frame as he felt someone watching him. Damn, this place gave him the creeps! A quick, and completely ineffective, sniffle, another swipe of the handkerchief under his nose accompanied by a hiss of irritation, and he raised a fist to knock on the solid wood. Before his flesh could connect with the door, it was pulled open.

"I've been waiting for you." The voice was quiet, calm, and nothing like David would've expected given how Kage had been acting the last time they'd met. Back then the man had been on the edge of hysteria, and though David had been able to get a bit of useful information out of the other, it was only after sifting through long streams of nonsensical babble. Kage kept himself out of the direct light, always had, and his skin was ghostly pale. David could see, in the weak light that touched the other man, that he was well-groomed, although his long, fine hair fell in to his face, obscuring one of the piercing dark eyes. Today was definitely one of Kage's more lucid ones, and David thanked whatever Power was listening for that small mercy.

"You seeb bore yourself today." Another attempt at a sniffle and his face went slack.

"I suppose...Detective?"

David couldn't get so much as a grunt out before he snapped forward with a harsh uhTSCHAH!, clapping the handkerchief hastily to his face. He ran it under his nose before tucking it away again.

"Detective," Kage's voice came again, this time from a bit farther inside the house. "You sound unwell. Please come inside where it's warmer."

Not wanting to do anything to set Kage off, David walked very slowly in to the house, looking around warily as he went. He probably shouldn't have expected anything different, but for all that it was in excellent repair, the place seriously wierded him out. Kage had the rooms filled with gargoyles and the carvings' beady eyes all seemed to be staring at him from their shaded perches, and the dim lighting made him feel just a bit claustrophobic, a sensation he was not at all used to. He distractedly pulled the handkerchief back out, feeling his nose start to itch again.

"In here, Detective." David followed the sound of the voice and finally caught sight of Kage, standing in the far corner of the room. "Please, sit. I understand that you have questions for me."

He chose the armchair closest to the door, the only one illuminated by the faint light coming in through the thick curtains. It was the least uncomfortable-looking place in the room, although, as he sat, he realized that that wasn't saying much. Despite appearances, the chair had obviously seen better days, and he shifted around for several seconds, trying to find a position that didn't involve a spring digging in to his ass. When he couldn't manage even that, he consoled himself with the thought that it would encourage him to be brief. "huh...ATSCHUH! snf Excuse be." He wiped at his nose before lowering the handkerchief from his face, gritting his teeth at how raw his skin was feeling. He knew that blowing his nose would probably help, but he hated doing that in front of others no matter how much it would save him discomfort because he found the noises to be quite disgusting.

Kage sat on the edge of one of the chairs at the far side of the room, as far from the weak stream of light as he could get. In the dimness, he could see the young man fidgeting at the edge of his seat.

"snf How did you dow I was cobing?"

"They told me." He nodded towards several of the gargoyles.

The detective cleared his throat, not sure he really wanted to go down that little path. "Ub, yes. Well."

"Please relax, Detective. I know that not everyone is comfortable with the idea. What is it that brings you here?"

"Whad cad you tell be aboud Tody Dordon? Word is thad he was a widdess to the shooding id the movie theader a few weegs bag, bud do ode's seed hib sidce. snf Word also is thad you dow where we cad fide hib." David rubbed at the bridge of his nose.

"Tony Norton?" Kage's eyes closed and his lips moved for the length of several breaths, although no sound came from them. He then sat for a few minutes, head cocked as if he was listening to something very faint, and then he began to rock slowly in place. Just before Kage spoke, David thought he could make out a faint buzzing at the edge of his hearing, but chalked it up to the congestion in his sinuses. "He fears. He knows they know so he hides. He-"

"IGHSHuh! HITSCHah! hih-ahh-huTSHHHAH!" David groaned as the interruption had Kage looking at him with wide eyes, the rocking becoming more frenetic. His head was starting to ache and the gargoyles had begun to disturb him even more once Kage mentioned that they were feeding him information. He shifted in his seat again, wanting to get this over with so he could go home and lie down on his lump-free bed in his gargoyle-free house. The air in the room felt somehow heavier, and he forced himself to speak to try and dispel the changing mood. "Pardod...please codtidue?"

Kage stood and started pacing in a very small area, hands tangling in his hair, murmuring barely loud enough for David to hear through the ringing pressure that had suddenly filled his ears. "Demons here. Won't talk. Go away! Please go away...Shhhh. Stop. Please, stop..."

The detective shivered in his seat, getting more and more uncomfortable with where this was going. He rubbed at his temple with one knuckle, then sniffled in to his handkerchief before speaking, trying to get rid of the tickle that was building. He didn't need to disturb Kage, or the gargoyles, or whatever it was, any more than he apparently already had. "Kage, please tell theb that I'b sorry for stardlig theb. Ad thad snf I would greadly abbreciade id if they could tell be bore. We wand to cadch the beoble who did id so they can'd hurd adyode else. Ad we wand to snfff snf keeb Tody safe if we cad. We can'd do thad if we don'd dow where he is." He couldn't believe he was talking to the gargoyles, but if it helped calm Kage down so he could get some solid information from him -- and whatever the source really was, Kage's information had never been wrong -- he'd do just about anything at this point.

A few minutes more of Kage's muttering and frantic pacing and he began to calm, strangely enough about the same time that David's ears began to clear. "Safe? Is it safe?" Kage relaxed, but remained standing.

David was trying not to let this get to him. The headache was getting worse and he pinched the bridge of his nose between thumb and index finger, trying to ease the pressure somewhat. He'd dealt with Kage and his instability before, but never in these kinds of surroundings, and never when he wasn't in a much better state of health. He rubbed his nose with the handkerchief again, and used every technique he could think of to make the sly itch in his sinuses back away again, at least until he got what he'd come for and was able to retreat to the streets.

"Detective," Kage whispered. "Detective, they say that you must keep him safe. He will help you but you must watch over him. He is hiding. They are looking for him, want to hurt him but he won't be found. He will be with the swans when the schoolbells ring in two days. Keep him safe."

The detective sniffled again and nodded. Somewhat cryptic as usual, but he had a day and a half to figure out which swans Kage meant. "I will. I probise. snf Thadg you."

Kage looked directly at him, hair tucked behind one ear, the seriousness in his gaze making David nervous. "You should leave now. They are nervous. You don't want them to get angry."

A shudder passed through David's body at those words. The itch was getting worse and after the effect his last sneezes had, he was not going to stay here any longer than necessary, so Kage's warning was just a convenient excuse for him. He rose, sniffling again in to the handkerchief. "I'll be sedding sobeode with your usual as sood as we have Tody id cusdody. Thadg snf thadg you agaid."

"I hope I will not need to see you again, Detective."

He nodded, another tremor wracking his body, then made his way back out on to the street. A misty rain had started to fall while he was inside, and he shivered as he pulled the door shut behind him. He pulled his cellphone out to report what he'd learned to his partner, then paused just as he'd flipped it open, his eyes fluttering shut and his breathing becoming labored. The sneezes he'd been holding back all came out in a massive fit that had him leaning against the wall from their force, not caring anymore at this point that the walls were filthy with who knows what. "hih...HATSHHUH! ISHHHUH! tshUUUH! snfff uh...heh...HISHHHHAH! ESHHHAH! snf EHSHuhhh! heh-ISHHHH! TSHHHHUH!" He groaned as the force of his sneezes made his head throb. A quick call to his partner, a second call to the chief, and then he was going straight home to bed.

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