Noah’s Boy – Snippet 16

Chapter 11

Her first thought was that the man was dead.  He lay on the ground, naked, covered in blood.  There was blood on the ground around him too — Bea could sort of see it, but more importantly, she could smell it.  Something that she was more sensitive to than normal humans, no matter what her form, was the smell of blood.  It made the dragon stir within her and get hungry.

Then she realized the pale, blood smeared chest was rising and falling, and that Kyrie had brought something else out of the van.  She squatted by the man, and told him, “Come on, Rafiel, drink.”  From the unholy blue fluorescence of it, the drink she was tilting towards the man’s lips was one of those sports drinks they sold for exercise fanatics, the ones that were supposed to replace electrolytes or whatever.

From the man’s slight movement, the sounds of his drinking, he had to be alive and at least trying to be.  As Kyrie withdrew the drink, he said, in a raspy voice, “It was mama.  I mean, the creature… I think it’s a juvenile.  It has a mother.  It –“

“Don’t talk about it now.”  This was Tom who had come back and stood on the man’s other side.  “Can you sit up?  I have no intention of hand-feeding you.”

Something like a chuckle from the man, and then he dragged himself to sitting.  A trick of moonlight gave Bea a full view of his face.  It ought to have horrified her.  To an extent it did horrify her.

His left eye was a congealed mass of blood, and there were deep cut claw marks from his nose to his temple, or perhaps all the way to his scalp, because the blond hair on that side was matted with dried blood.

He turned his right eye to her, though, and it was a dark brown and filled with unholy amusement.  “Hello,” he said.  “Tom?  Kyrie?”

“Oh, this is Bea.  We’ll explain later.  Don’t worry.  She’s a dragon.  One of us,” Tom said.

The man’s mouth twitched and it should have looked horrible, but it felt friendly and relaxed.  “Oh, sure.  You always introduce the pretty girls to me when I’m just back from the dead.”  He accepted the box of take out meat and a plastic fork from Tom and started eating with manners that, she suspected, were due to her presence.  Tom wasn’t making that much of an effort.  He was shoveling food into his face from the other takeout box.  Kyrie got up and went back to the van.

“Did you… did you die?” Bea asked, afraid that she would sound like an idiot.

“I don’t think so,” the man said.  “I might have though.  It felt like she snapped my spine, but that must have been wrong, or I wouldn’t be able to sit up.  My eye hasn’t healed yet, so I assume –“

“It will heal?”

“Probably,” Rafiel said.  “We seem to have a regenerative capacity that evades other humans.”  The single brown eye was still laughing at her.  And the meat, as he ate, seemed to visibly make him feel better.  “Coming back from the dead usually takes days, anyway.  Not that I’ve ever done it, but Tom has, and from what we understand from… ah, our older shifter friends, that’s a shifter thing, not a dragon thing.  If, we can trust our sources, at least.”

“Which, considering our sources, most of the time, are elderly, addled, often homeless, and occasionally alligatorist is a stretch,” Tom said.  “But at least it makes sense.”

“So, I don’t think I was dead, no, ma’am… Bea.  But yes, I think my eye will come back and… the wounds will heal, probably by tomorrow.”

Kyrie came back, and handed the man who had finished his take-out container, a folded bundle.

In the end, Tom had to help Rafiel dress — in jogging pants and a shirt, and more carried him to the van than helped him walk, though Bea noticed Tom was careful to preserve the appearance that he was only helping. 

They strapped Rafiel in the back, in the seat next to hers, though there was a space in between.  He looked groggy, half awake, except when that bright right eye turned in her direction.  It should have discomfited her, giving what a wreck he looked, but it didn’t.  There was humor in his glance, and he smiled a little.

“So, why is Bea along?”

Tom explained.

“Ah, I sensed we had a lot in common.  You died.  I almost died.”

“More importantly,” Kyrie said, gravely.  “It brings us to ask — where are you two going to go?  You might not be safe in town, either of you.”

“Go?” Bea asked

“Well,” Kyrie said. “Someone might try to kill you again, Bea — particularly if the Great Sky Dragon gets the idea you have no intention of obeying, and as for Rafiel… he can’t heal like this in public.  You have to see that.  Too many explanations.  We heal really fast.  People will wonder.  He can’t hide his face.”

Rafiel seemed immersed in thought for a long time.  “My parents’ cabin.” He said at last.  “I left my car out in Riverside.  If you take me there, I will drive us out.”  He took a deep breath.  “My parents have a cabin in the mountains, south of here.  Middle of nowhere.  I have the keys in my car.  I can go there, while I recover and while we find out how to keep Miss Ryu safe.”

She should have been offended at his presumption or perhaps suspicious of this plan to throw her into a cabin with a guy she barely knew, all alone.  Instead, she felt perfectly safe and oddly relaxed about it.

True, she hardly knew Rafiel, and yet she felt that she’d known him for a long, long time.  It wasn’t so much that she liked him, but she felt she belonged around him — like they’d known each other such a long time she needn’t worry about what impression she was making or how he felt.  He just was and she just was.  If it weren’t such a comfortable feeling, it would be downright scary.