Everything was as it should be in his world thought Alexandre Rosseau.
He was sitting across from a gorgeous girl who was eyeing him with intention and smiling slyly. Her long hair shined like brightly polished copper and caught the light whenever she moved . Only the pearl diamond necklace and her ruby red earrings outshone it. Her earrings matched her tight slink red dress and lipstick with that same passionate shade of crimson.
She must be serious. She wouldn't wear that much jewelry if she wasn't. thought Alexandre. Or maybe she is showing off her father's money.
It was entirely possible. Everyone knew that Léa Dubois was daughter of Robert Dubois, one of the richest men in France. It was also known that Robert, who only had his daughter after his wife had died, like to dote on her and she had but to ask for anything she wanted. She had asked, received, and crashed a limited edition hot pink Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita which her father had paid five million dollars in addition to another five for the party on a yacht off the coast of Marseille.
Alexandre did not come from that kind of royalty, but he wasn't exactly part of the everyday riffraff either. He came from a long line of French generals starting with great grandfather during World War Two. His great grandfather had passed while he was still a baby, but his grandfather had reached the rank of Général De Division or Division General. He had retired and his father had done the same, with some fatherly aid. Alexandre was expected to do the same in a couple of months. He wasn't worried. His father would no doubt pull string to keep him from actually seeing combat and he'd take his father's place in due time.
He could hear people whispering about him and he saw some leaning over out of the corner of his eye to get a good view. It wasn't everyday that the son of a Division General was seen dining at restaurant. It went double for a four star restaurant that was barely in Paris and almost in La Courneuve.
Paris was safe enough, no more than London or New York, but only as one avoided the dangerous sections at ungodly hours. The restaurant, Cytherea's, was technically in Paris, but close enough to the dangerous suburb La Courneuve. It was known and accepted that the suburb's runoff of criminals and thugs were starting to encroach into Paris. The restaurant was somewhat of a local legend as criminals often ate there, but they were careful never to make a fuss. Alexandre wasn't sure why. He had heard that one time a group had tried to rob the restaurant, but the criminals had already been dealt with by the time the police arrived and were sitting on the curb bleeding and unconscious.
He was about to ask the waiter who was delicately pouring wine for him and his date when he noticed he had a lit cigarette in his mouth. He wondered how this imbecile still had a job.
"You're famous." giggled Léa. "Everyone is looking at you."
As they should be. "No, you're wrong." He smiled sweetly, momentarily distracted from the waiter's cigarette. "They're all admiring you."
They shared a laugh and clinked glasses.
Alexandre took a sip of wine the waiter had just poured. "Hmm?" He took another sip. "C'est magnifiqu!" He held a hand to get the waiter's attention which was unnecessary since he hadn't left. "This flavor . . ." He sniffed the glass. "And, yes, this aroma. It is the unmistakable scent from the north. Bitter with a full body and just a tad sour." He looked down at the glass. "This wine must be the famous Château Roques Mauriac Bordeaux Rosé!"
The waiter set the bottle on the table rather forcefully and removed the cloth from around it
"Well, garçon?" asked Alexandre confidently. "Am I right?"
"Nan!" said the waiter cheerfully. "Far from it."
Alexandre's eyes went wide in shock and didn't even notice when the waiter grabbed his wrist tight.
"Bon appétit!" He placed a spoon in Alexandre's hand and closed it for him. "This dish is best when hot."
The waiter then turned and walked away, but paused. He didn't turn around completely, but spoke to Alexandre over his shoulder. "Monsieur, my name is Antonin Pépin. I am the sous chef." He then continued walking. "All of the waiters quit as of last week."
Alexandre turned his head when he heard Léa suppress a laugh. Then he heard some of the other patron laughing into their dinners and desserts. He just didn't understand what had happened. He had made it clear to serve that particular wine when he made the reservation that morning.
"Do you know a lot?" Léa asked.
He tasted the soup and bit back a growl. To add insult to injury, the soup was phenomenal and part him was excited about the main course.
"About wine." Léa teased. "Do you know a lot?"
"Uh, yes." He forced a nonchalant chuckle. "But it seems my sense of taste is cassé."
Léa laughed quietly and sipped her wine.
Alexandre forced a smile and went back to his soup, doing his best to ignore the hushed laughter of the other patrons. He politely spoke and made jokes whenever Léa spoke to him, but he kept quiet for the most part. Never had he been so humiliated in his life and he racked his brain for idea how to get back at that waiter, each idea more impossible and ridiculous than the last. Then fate gave him a solution.
Or so he thought.
He was reaching for a soft dinner roll when he saw a small ant, hardly bigger than a flea, scurry past his foot. An idea popped into his head and he carefully tapped his foot on the insect. It was just pure luck that Léa's cellphone rang and she excused herself to the restroom to take it. He made sure no one was looking when he picked the bug from his shoe and drop it in the soup.
"Excusez-moi!" Léa said when she sat back down. "A girlfriend thought we were going to see a film tonight instead of tomorrow."
"That sounds nice." He remarked. "Maybe after dessert." He made a show of dipping his spoon into the soup and frowned when it was inches from his mouth. "Est-ce . . ." He slammed down his spoon with a flourish.
"Is something wrong?" She asked.
"Oui, il ya." He turned and saw the waiter was walking past a table. "Hey, garçon! Get over here!"
The waiter, Antonin Alexandre remembered, but forgot that Antonin had said he was the sous chef, stopped for a moment. Antonin rolled his eyes when he saw it was Alexandre who called to him like master to his dog. He looked around to see if he could find away to ignore him, but sighed when the whole restaurant froze and was staring at him and the loud patron who didn't know much about wine.
Alexandre scowled as Antonin slowly walked over, lighting another cigarette as he took his sweet time. It did, however, give Alexandre to get a good look at him.
He grounded his teeth. Les bras m'en tombent!
Antonin was probably the most handsome man Alexandre had seen in his life. Even famous actors and models would be jealous of his face.
Antonin was a slim, but not scrawny, long-legged young man. His hair was cut short, but it was long enough to cover his right eye when he brushed to the side. It seemed to be made spun from twenty-four karat gold and sunlight that matched his well groomed goatee and the trimmed stubble on his upper lip. His eyes weren't the same color, but they were each rich in color. His left eye was a vibrant shade of blue that would have made a sapphire green with envy into an emerald, which was probably what had happened to his right eye.
Alexandre then saw Antonin wasn't dressed as a typical waiter. It wasn't exactly a chef's jacket, but it wasn't a plain suit jacket either. It seemed to be a combination of two. Antonin wore a black, double-breasted suit with brightly polished brass buttons. It also had lapels, something a chef's jacket didn't have, which showed off the color of Antonin's deep orange shirt and a black tie that matched the suit perfectly.
"I believe I've already told you, Monsieur." said Antonin, not even trying to hide the irritation in his voice. "I'm not a waiter." He paused when he saw Léa and leaned smoothly on the table. "What a stunning beauty you are."
Alexandre's jaw dropped and was speechless.
"My sweet little calisson." Antonin smiled a dazzling smile revealing pristine white teeth out of toothpaste commercial and took Léa's hand who smiled right back, forgetting she was on a date with a division commander's son and did nothing when Antonin took her hand. "Would you care to join me elsewhere for a glass of wine?"
That does it! Alexandre's fist pounded the table, rattling the glasses and silverware. "Hey!"
"Hmm?" Antonin barely turned to see Alexandre.
"Is bug soup on the menu today?" He demanded. "Or did you make this especially for me?"
"Qui!" Alexandre pointed to the ant in the broth. "What's this bug doing there, garçon?" Alexandre hid a smile. This will show him some manners.
"My apologies, Monsieur." smiled Antonin
That's right. Alexandre thought smugly. That got your attention.
"I'm not certain, but it looks he's floating." said Antonin. "Then again, it looks like he is drowning. It's difficult to say for certain since I'm not an expert on bugs."
Léa stifled a laugh as did all the patron who stopped to watch the little show with dinner, and it seemed Alexandre was cast in the role of the fool. He had reached his limit when Léa laughed and went over the edge when the patrons join her. Antonin's mocking tone probably didn't help too much either.
"NE VOUS OSEZ RIRE DE MOI!" He shouted for everyone to hear.
If that didn't get thier attention, then it certainly did when he shot to his feet and flipped the table. Glasses shattered along with a still full bottle of wine on the floor. The plates clattered in pieces along with the silverware as the pristine white table cloth was stained with wine and soup. Everyone held their breath at what would happen next.
To everyone's surprise, Antonin looked down at the shattered remains of a bowl that lay in a puddle of brown broth. He knelt down and those closest saw that handsome face was shocked, like a friend had been gravely hurt in front of him.
"You could have eaten it if you had just taken the bug out. It would have been wonderful." Antonin said quietly. "It took three days of hard work to prepare that soup for you and you wasted it."
"Don't you understand you're biting off more than you can chew?!" Alexandre's foot slammed hard on the puddle, splashing some into the air. and ground his foot in it. "I'm the patron here! Do you understand me?! I'm paying you!"
Léa suddenly clutch his arm and pleaded. "Arrête! Alexandre!"
He shoved her off and to the floor. "Ferme-La!" He then pointed a finger. "Stay out of this!"
"Ton argent puisse assouvir votre faim?" asked Antonin coolly.
"What do you mean?"
"I'm asking can your money satisfy your hunger?" Antonin looked up at the division commander's son with blue and green infernos in his eyes.
Although Alexandre himself didn't see it himself, he would later get full view of it on the internet from a patron's cellphone. He would see Antonin, still kneeling on his left knee, twist his hips sharply and pivot counterclockwise hard. Alexandre would realize that from the angle of video, Antonin fully extend and lock his left leg as he swung it up and the back of his heel collided with Alexandre jaw.
However at the moment, Alexandre only felt something powerful strike the right side of his face. It was so strong and sudden he stumbled and almost lost his balance. Alexandre tasted blood and felt his entire jaw throb like his heart jumped from his chest into his mouth. He wiped his mouth and saw blood staining his hand.
"D-d-did you just k-kick me?" Alexandre whispered in disbelief.
"As I told you." Antonin put his hands in his pockets. "I'm the sous chef. I'm not about to risk injuring my hands. Especially for a morceau de merde like you!"
One would think after a powerful kick to the face Alexandre would have left with the precious dignity he had left, but he did not. Like any scared and untrained fighter, you'd think with two division commanders in the family he wouldn't be, Alexandre ran straight at him.
Everyone watched with bated breath as Antonin stood his ground and only lifted his right knee to his chest. When Alexandre was almost on him, Antonin brought down his leg and drove the sole of his heel into Alexandre's thigh. It wasn't anywhere near enough to break the bone his leg, but it did succeed in sending Alexandre off balance. With his hand still in his pockets, Antonin quickly brought his leg up to just slightly above Alexandre's waist before snapping his knee like a whip and his shoe flew into Alexandre's face again.
Alexandre stumbled and fell on all fours. He spat out some blood and a single tooth. Everyone was expecting Antonin to finish the division commander's son, but he just straightened his tie and went to Léa who just stared at the hand.
"Je m'excuse." Antonin said sweetly as helped the lady to her feet. "Allow me to bring you the finest chocolate soufflé in the entire city." Antonin inclined his head to Léa. "As my most sincere apology for such an unpleasant evening."
"M-merci." said Léa. "But I t-think I should just go home."
"I understand." Antonin inclined his head apologetically. "A sophisticated lady like you shouldn't — "
"Cela devient vieux, Antonin!" cried a deep voice.
The onlookers turned to see a uniformed cook. He looked like a typical middle aged man with a slight paunch and a thin mustache.
"What do you think you're doing to a patron?" He pointed to Alexandre who was still on the floor. "Are you blind or just plaint stupid?" He's Jean Rosseau's son! The Division Commander for the entire army?"
"I'm the sous chef, Clément!" Antonin sneered. "What makes you think you can speak to me like that?"
"A cuisinier de merde like you is calling me bad?!" growled Clément as he walked up to the seventeen year old sous chef. "Restaurants can't exist without customers. They're our lifeblood so we don't want to hurt them like you seem to keep doing!"
"He deserved it." Antonin flashed a murderous look at Alexandre. "He didn't treat the food or me with respect, and he insulted all of the cooks." He turned back to Clément. "So I simply taught him a lesson."
"Urgh, you're going to regret this." said Alexandre hoarsely and everyone looked down at the injured son of Jean Rosseau. "No restaurant should treat its patrons like this. I see this place shut down." He looked up at Antonin. "Vous m'entendez? I'll shut this place down. This restaurant it finished!"
"Then maybe I should finish you now." Antonin snarled.
"Tu ne pouvais pas le laisser passer, pourriez-vous?," Clément whistled and two more cooks emerged from the kitchen. "He's at it again."
The two cooks ran and grabbed Antonin's arms while Clément stood between Alexandre and Antonin who was putting up quite a fight to reach Alexandre who cowered into in ball when Antonin grabbed at him with three men holding him back,
"Connards arrogants comme toi qui pense qu'ils sont dessus de tout le monde vraiment me pissent!" Antonin shouted from behind Clément.
"You can't keep doing this every other day!" shouted one of the cooks desperately clinging to Antonin's left arm.
"Not such béat cul now are you?" demanded the sous chef. "Are you?!"
"What's going on here?" said a loud voice.
Again, everyone turned to the kitchen to see an an elderly-looking, but still very fit, man. He was wearing a chef's uniform with a blue ascot, a white apron, and a very tall toque. He was blonde like Antonin, but his long mustache and thick beard were a sandy shade of yellow rather than Antonin's spun gold. Instead of long pants, the man wore long shorts which attracted stares to his prosthetic right leg.
"Are we all on a break and no one told me?" demanded the old man.
"Chef Pépin!" cried one of the cooks. "Your son is going crazy again!"
"Really?" Chef Pépin walked over acting as if it wasn't more of a hobble. "Antonin! Don't tell me you went on another rampage in here again, you idiot?"
Antonin paused for a moment. "Put a cork in it, old man!"
The cooks released their sous chef and Antonin seemed to have completely forgotten the cowered division commander's son hardly a meter from him.
"Oh, now you're ordering me around!" growled Chef Pépin. "Who do you think you're talking to?! Do you want to sink my restaurant to the bottom of the Seine River?!" He walked over, hobbled, and struck Antonin with the back of his hand. "You brat!"
"Heh." snickered Alexandre Rosseau.
"Et toi," Chef Pépin snarled as he delivered a hard kick with his prosthetic leg. "Get your âne out of my restaurant!"
It seemed that the third time was the charm. With two of Antonin's kicks already rattling what passed for a brain in Alexandre's head, Chef Pépin's hard third kick knocked the boy out cold. He sprawled out on the floor completely unaware that he landed at Léa's feet. After everything that happened, Léa drew herself up and left without a word. Antonin was about go after her, but everything was far from over.
"How can you deny the restaurant's politique that the customer is king?!" demanded Clément.
"Roi?" scoffed Antonin. "The only kingly patrons are the one who can stomach that slop you call food."
"Ça suffit!" barked Chef Pépin and point to each of them. "If you two want to fight, keep it in the kitchen! Do you hear me?!"
Antonin and Clément glared at each other, but seemed to calm down.
"C'est mieux." growled Chef Pépin and he pointed to the kitchen. "Back to work!" He watched his son and Clément stared daggers while they returned to the kitchen. He then motioned to the two other cooks and pointed the mess left by Alexandre and Antonin. "Clean this mess up!"
Chef Pépin saw he was the center of the entire resturant's attention and threw up his hand in a 'what can you do' gesture. "Excusez l'agitation." He clapped his hands together. "Please accept my most sincere apologies and do please stay for dessert with my compliments."
It seemed to please everyone enough and Chef Pépin hobbled back to kitchen, just having realized he sent Antonin and Clément into a room with razor sharp knives and pots of boiling liquids.
With all the commotion, no one seemed to have noticed the two teenage boys sitting at table in the corner. They seemed normal enough except that one had bright silver streaks in his long hair and wore sunglasses to cover his eyes. If that wasn't stange enough, a hawk snatched pieces of meat from his fingers while perched on his shoulder.
"What do you think that was?" Artie asked.
"I know you don't speak french." Artie said. "Jacob?"
"Well, uh?" Jacob flipped through a french phrase book. "I think cuisinier de merde means . . . on second thought, that's not important." More page flipping. "I think that old guy, Pépin they called him I think, just promised a free dessert." Jacob looked up at Artie. "That's all I got. You think that blond kid is the one?"
"You saw how good looking he was?" Artie shook his head in disbelief. "He also smells like one of her kids." Artie wrinkled his nose. "Like a musky sweet perfume."
"Are you sure?" Jacob asked. "I've never seen one of them fight like that."
"He's a savateur." Artie buttered a roll.
"He knows Savate." Artie explained. "Its kinda like french kung-fu. It involves a lot of kicking."
"How do you know that?"
"In Kiss of the Dragon, Jet Li had to fight a some police officers that knew savate." Artie rubbed the back of his head. "I learned the hard way Silena had the bright idea to mention it to Clarisse a couple of years ago too."
(LATER THAT NIGHT)
Antonin Pépin stood in front of the mirror in the bathroom. He had just had a hot shower to wash the smell of food from his skin and hair. He ran a hand across his cheek and frowned. He opened the medicine cabinet and retrieved his straight razor along with bowl and brush. He carefully wetted the brush and quickly built up a fine lather in the small bowl that held a small piece of soap. He then quickly ran the razor up and down the leather strop that hung just to the left of the medicine cabinet to hone the edge. Years of doing the same to kitchen knives made it second nature.
Straight razors, or more aptly named cutthroat razors, had fallen out style decades before Antonin was born, but he found that they were perfect for precise trimming of his facial hair and keeping his hairline at the perfect level. Once he finished with his sideburns and trimming his goatee, he carefully groomed his eyebrows.
He seized a brush and blow dried his hair so it shone like gold and covered his right eye. After another quick glimpse in the mirror, probably his hundredth or so, he nodded approvingly. He delicately sprayed on some cologne around his neck and shoulders and deodorant to his underarms.
Antonin was buttoning up a dress shirt when he heard his father say from behind him. "You have more of your mother in you than you realize."
"What are you talking about now, old man?" Antonin teased.
"Your mother spent hours primping whenever we out dancing." Gilles Pépin leaned against the wall and smiled fondly. "I think she spent more time in front of a mirror than I did in physical therapy."
Antonin frowned and he paused for a second as he buttoned up his collar. Although his father often joked about it, Antonin still found it uncomfortable to talk about Gilles Pépin's missing leg. He walked to his room to finish getting dressed.
There had been a time when Gilles Pépin was a national savate champion three times over which was impressive for an orphan that came from the hard streets of Marseille. His kicks were so powerful and swift, he had earned the name Gauchissant Gilles, or Pink Gilles, because his white sparing boots would be pink with his opponent's blood at the end of every match.
Then it all came crashing down when a criminal botched a robbery and tried to drive a stolen car through a street cafe. The car jumped the curb and the front of it flew high threatening to crush a woman. Without thinking, Pépin dove and tackled the woman to safety. Unfortunately, it was not far enough and two tons of steel slammed down on his leg. The criminal was caught a few hours later, but the damage was done and the doctors had to amputate the leg that won countless trophies and fights.
Gauchissant Gilles had become Seul Gilles overnight.
However, it did not end there. The woman that Pépin had saved was guilt ridden and visited everyday. Pépin was pleasantly surprised by her bringing delicious meals each time and learned she was studying to be a cook. Pépin, with her coaxing and encouragement, breezed through physical therapy to become accustomed to his prosthetic leg and entered Le Cordon Bleu with her. Needlessly to say, they fell in love in the finial few months and Antonin was born hardly a year later. Although Pépin never told his son why or how, but she left soon after naming her son after the king of cooks and cook of kings, Antoine Carême.
Heartbroken, but still determined to do right by his son, Pépin opened a restaurant and named it after Antonin's mother, Cytherea. Being close to a dangerous suburb, Cytherea's staff had to be on par or tougher than anyone that walked in. It had gotten so bad as of late that people flocked to Cytherea's just to see the cooks fight any criminal stupid enough to start trouble. Unfortunatly, it also resulted in waiters hardly lasting longer than a month.
Antonin spent the next seventeen years, besides going to school, alternating between learning savate and the culinary arts from his father. He never had the taste for competitions like his father had, or fighting in general, but Pépin had put his plastic foot down and Antonin was a gold glove savateur, the highest rank, as well as one of the youngest sous chef in Paris.
"So what was the name of that club?" Pépin asked.
"Cypris." Antonin fastened a thin black tie around his neck. "From what I've read, anyone who is anyone goes there.."
"Read?" Pépin smiled wryly. "How long did that take you?"
"A few minutes." Antonin gave him a look. "My dyslexia doesn't make it impossible to read."
"Based on the amount of times I've seen you read, I was beginning to suspect different." Pépin stood aside and handed his son his keys. "Take care of yourself."
"Thanks, papa." Antonin smiled and hugged his father goodbye.
Cypris was jumping when Antonin entered.
It looked like any other nightclub in the city. It was dark with dim colored lighting and couches spread all over. He saw there was a stage for a band or DJ. The band was just six people. There were two on guitar and bass, single guy with a trumpet, while two more were on a keyboard and drums, but there seemed to be some idiot just butchering the song.
He was wondering why the owners would higher a band with such terrible singer when the song finished and he stepped down. Hardly a second later someone else, a girl in very cute mini skirt and crop top, took his place. Antonin figured it was some sort live karaoke night for the club. He would've preferred just a plain band or a DJ, but if karaoke was in style then he'd better get with the program.
Antonin was sipping a diet coke, he had perfect waistline to maintain, when a foreigner took the stage. He looked to a bit older than Antonin, maybe eighteen or nineteen. He had long chestnut brown hair tied back in ponytail and had sunglasses resting on his head. His jeans were off the rack of some generic department store just like his sky blue shirt. Antonin practically gagged when he saw the idiot was wearing combat boots. Either he had dressed himself in the dark or just didn't care, both did not sit well with Antonin.
He knew he was foreigner, most likely a tourist, when he spoke with a terrible accent and bad grammar. "Hello! I like to sing from movie. Hope you like!" He then motioned and said in English to teenager holding a guitar. "Hit me with some wonder!"
The guitarist, who had silver streaked hair tied back, nodded and said something to the rest of the band.
Antonin found himself tapping his foot at the funky beat laid down by the bassist and guitarist which the drummer quickly joined in with the rest of the band. Then the foreigner began to sing and Antonin was impressed how much like the original artist he sounded like.
Very superstitious, writing's on the wall
Very superstitious, ladders bout' to fall
Thirteen month old baby broke the lookin' glass
Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your past
When you believe in things that you don't understand
Then you suffer
Superstition ain't the way
He was so impressed that he did notice the gorgeous red head walked up to him. Her eyes were the most deepest shade of green which her perfect make up accented to the just the right level. Her dress was tight and slinky that showed her curves in a most alluring way.
"Hello." she purred.
"Bonjour, jolie chose." He smiled.
"Parlez-vous anglais?" she asked with a surprisingly accurate accent. "I'm new here."
"Qui," Antonin nodded. "Many tourists from America and England come to the restaurant."
"You own a restaurant?" She looked impressed.
"I am the sous chef." He explained. "One of the best in the city."
"And yet so young." She wriggled her eyebrows at him before extended a hand to him. "I am Janet."
"Enchanté." He took her hand and kissed it. "I am Antonin."
"A little old fashioned." Janet giggled. "Aren't we, Antonin?"
"Chevalerie is not dead in Paris, ma chérie." Antonin winked. "Would like to dance?" He held out his hand.
"Yes." She took his hand and began leading him out the back. "But not with everyone watching."
Before he knew it, Antonin was standing in a deserted alley. Normally, he would have wondered why a girl would drag him into an alley when they passed some perfectly empty closets, but he had trouble forming thoughts. Just when he thought of something that felt off, like Janet checking around to see no one was around and locking the door behind them, the nagging though just faded away. If he didn't know anybetter, Antonin would swear that something was affecting his mind and Janet was the cause of it.
"Quoi. . . pourquoi. . . nous ici?" Antonin held his head, his mind rebelling and screaming warnings.
"I should've guessed.' He heard Janet hiss. "Aphrodite's children are always a pain."
"Aphro-what?" Antonin shook his head and tried to focus. "What are you talking about?"
"Never mind that now, my sweet." She crooned gently and pulled him closer. "How about a kiss?"
Antonin finally looked up and it shocked him senseless.
The color had drained from her skin leaving her chalky pale. Her forest green eyes had become manic red and radiated danger. Her dress hadn't changed, but Antonin noticed her legs had. Her left leg was covered in fur and she had a cloven hoof instead of a foot. Her right leg was prosthetic like his father's, but here was made of what he guessed was a glowing bronze. Her teeth had also become long sharp fangs like a vampire.
In a moment of clarity, he pushed her away.
"Tenir loin!" he snapped before he felt his mind becoming clouded again. "Whatever you are, keep away!"
"Aw, what's the matter?" Janet giggled and began to approach. "You found me beautiful once."
Then a golden blur zipped between Antonin and Janet, They both looked to see the foreigner with amazing voice. The foreigner was now wearing a long brown trench coat and part of Antonin wanted to tell him only actor in old detective movies wore those. Antonin also saw he had strange golden metal gloves and clutched a boomerang that appeared to have a sharp edge.
"Honey, you got real ugly." said Jacob and tossed something to Antonin. "Here, pretty boy, you're gonna need this."
Antonin saw it was a gold ring with a ruby red rose in the center. He reached out with clumsy fingers. He almost dropped it, but against all odds it slipped on his finer with all his fumbling.
Suddenly a sword sprouted from the ring. The blade was very long and slender, hardly two centimeters wide. It seemed to made of the same kind of bronze as Janet's leg and glowed slightly in the dim lighting of the alley. The swept hilt covered his hand in a complex web of red gold and was decorated with red rubies and white diamonds.
"Hmm . . ." Janet sniffed the air and smiled. "Oooh, a son of Apollo."
"That's right." said the foreigner. "Name's Jacob. Now just — "
"Such a magnificent face." Janet said sweetly.
"What?" Jacob shook his head and was finding it hard to think. "Me?"
"Oh, yes." Janet purred and began walking toward Jacob. "Even better than your father."
"Uh, thanks." Jacob frowned, he was supposed to do something. "Really?"
"Why don't you put that down?" Janet beckoned him closer. "I'll make it worth your while."
Antonin wasn't sure what was happening, but that foreigner had saved his life and now he was in danger. He steadied himself and brought up the sword, pointed the end of rapier at Janet.
"Arrêter là." He said, his words sounding lush mush to his ears. "Back away slowly."
Janet turned, somehow becoming that same beautiful girl he had first seen, and smiled a dazzling smile. "Now, Antonin, is it right for such handsome gentleman like you to hold sword to a lady?" She pouted. "You're scaring me."
"I-I-I'm sorry." Antonin couldn't help saying.
"That's alright." She said sweetly. "Just put it down and I promise a night you won't soon forget." She turned back to Jacob. "Now, come a little closer."
"First you wanna kill him and now you kiss him." said a voice above them. "Blow!"
All three looked up to see the guitarist from the band. He was squatting on the edge of a fire escape and smiling, and unless Antonin was seeing things, he had a huge silver long bow in his hand.
"Who are you, half blood?" Janet hissed and sniffed. "You do not smell like the others."
"The name's Artie!" Artie hopped down from the fire escape, which was about ten feet from the ground, and came up smug. "Artie Gallezi."
"Gallezi!" Janet took a step back. "You mean you are . . ."
"That's right." Artie drew an arrow from the quiver on his back. "Hail to the king, baby."
"A king?" Janet said gently tossed her hair. "I haven't seen such mighty king in centuries."
Artie frowned and blinked at her words. She was using some kind of mind control or charmspeak on him. This empousai, Artie remembered what Chiron had said about them, was scared and desperate.
"Every king needs a queen." She took a step towards him nervously.
Artie let loose an arrow and it flew in Janet's shoulder. She screeched sharp enough to shatter glass and Antonin and Jacob seemed to come out of their daze. They both saw Janet stumbled back hissing curses in Ancient Greek.
"I will swallow your soul!" She spat at Artie as she pulled the arrow out her shoulder. "Do you hear me?! I will swallow — "
When Antonin played it back in his head, he'd see Artie sprint toward Janet and ram his shoulder into her with enough forced to fall, but then it just appeared that Artie disappeared and reappeared in front of Janet. Janet tried to stand, but Artie stomped hard on her head. Naturally Janet hissed and screeched in protest, but Artie placed a hard foot on her throat as he drew an arrow and aimed it down.
"Swallow this." he said in best Bruce Campbell impression and loosed the arrow.
Janet's screech faded as her body did into golden dust.
Artie collapsed his bow and walked to Antonin. "You alright?"
Antonin, too stunned to speak, nodded.
"Good. Now excuse me." He walked up to Jacob and splashed water from a canteen in his face. "Rise and shine, Romeo."
"Thanks." Jacob coughed and wiped his face. "Why could she put the whammy on you?"
"Chiron once told me it takes a very strong will for male heroes to deal with empousai." Artie shrugged. "Plus, charmspeak doesn't seem to work on me." Artie paused to think. "Actually, it just takes a bit more to put me under than a normal person if I go by the time Drew Tanaka tried it on me. Took everything for her just to make me say Twilight was a good movie."
"Don't know." Artie said honestly. "My mom and Aphrodite don't really get along. Maybe Artemis gave me sort of protection or something."
"Or you could just be stubborn." Jacob teased. "Mister I-don't-know-when-to-give-up."
"That," Artie smiled ruefully. "And Appolonia would roast me alive if I even remotely hinted something happened between me and another girl. That will snap anyone out an empousai's trance."
"An empousai?" Jacob looked worried. "That can't be — "
"Ce qui dans le nom de Dieu qui se passe?!" shouted Antonin, pointing his rapier between the two. "Je veux des réponses. Aujourd'hui!"
"Sorry about that." Artie said gently. "Do you speak English?"
"Qui!" Antonin nodded. "What was that?!" he pointed to the small hill of golden dust and then back to them. "What are you?!" He then realized he was holding a weapon. "Why am I holding a rapière?"
"Well, the rapier is a gift from your mother, Aphrodite. She's the greek goddess of love and beauty." Artie placed hand on Antonin's wrist and lowered the sword. "Trust me, you;re going to need it. As for the rest, we'll explain on the way to your house. You're father is going to have answers that we don't."
"My father?" Antonin asked, unsure.
"Lucky guy." Jacob remarked. "He must be something to catch her eye. You be surprised what some would do just for a kiss on the cheek from her."
A/N - I'll be taking a break from this story to work on another so I give my brain a chance to recharge. As much fun as I'm having, its kinda hard coming up with new material. I promise I'll be back as soon as I can. Feel free to check out my other fics and tell me what you think.