Ten minutes later Marcus reappeared, threw an emergency kit at him and dashed out again to make some tea. He was just returning to the room with a tray laden with tea, biscuits, and chocolate bars when Paul had finished bandaging himself. He had also wiped up the blood that had dripped to the floor – better safe than sorry – then sat down close to Naomi on the sofa.
“Why is she still out?” Marcus panicked, close suddenly. “My god, did I graze her?”
“I could have hurt her, I…” His whole body was tense, and Paul noticed he wasn’t breathing. He pushed her hair away from her neck carefully, checking her skin. When he found it unbroken, he exhaled, and retreated to the other end of the room again at supernatural speed.
He was looking so depressed that Paul found himself comforting him. “Relax, she opened her eyes some minutes ago, took one look at my arm and passed out again. Apparently she can’t see blood. She will be alright.” He shook her slightly. “Come on, Naomi, wake up. Try some of this tea, you’ll feel better.”
Naomi sipped some tea and pushed it away disgusted. Marcus looked perplexed. “Why? What’s wrong now? I put sugar in there.” Five of those little packets actually, but Paul had said sweet.
“It’s sickeningly sweet,“ she said, shuddering. Then her teeth started chattering violently.
“Ok, I’ll get her to a bedroom to warm her up”, Paul said carrying Naomi to the room he’d slept in the night before last. Marcus followed. Paul covered her with blankets, then held out a Mars bar. “Here”, he told her, “this will go nicely with your tea.”
She stuck her tongue out at him for that, but both men were relieved to see that some colour had started returning to her face.
Paul sat on the bed with her. “I won’t move ‘til this tea is finished”, he threatened.
“You’re in for a long night then,“ she retorted but started drinking nonetheless. She didn’t let go of Paul’s hand with her other hand though.
“Ok, now have some chocolate”, Paul coaxed.
“Please”, Marcus pleaded from the door, his dark eyes wide with sorrow.
“You were serious then?” She was looking at their faces. “Is this why you haven’t changed since Oxford?”
“And why you didn’t want anything to do with me then, or last night?”
Marcus nodded again and turned away, but not before she’d seen the longing in his eyes.
She swallowed and then turned to Paul: “How long have you known this?”
“I didn’t up to when I saw…I don’t believe in stuff like this either.” It was a very good explanation for everything connected to Marcus though, he realised, bits and pieces from the past week flashing up in his memory.
“You better start to,“ Marcus said from the door. “With that man after her, you might be right in the middle of it. I’m still not sure why he ran.” He didn’t seem happy at all. “I have to make a phone call.” He left the room.
“Right,“ Naomi nodded, “What now?” Then she pushed the chocolate away. “That’s colonialist crap!”
“You are so infuriating!” Paul exploded, pushing the chocolate her way. “Have the colonialist crap, then Marcus can take the blame when he eats you!” But he was smiling, she could tell from the corners of his eyes.
Marcus reappeared and dropped the other chocolates in her lap: “So pick something else!” Paul registered that he must have heard their exchange, even though he had clearly been in another room making the phone call. His hearing must be extremely acute. That explained how he had found out about the bugs.
“Oh, all right”, she gave in, looking up at Marcus mischievously, “anything you don’t like? Raisins? Nuts? Garlic?”
Marcus was back at the door with the speed of light. “Don’t!” he said simply.
A look at his face sobered her up. “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to hurt you. What do I do now? You’re uncomfortable with me, so I can’t stay here, and it’s quite probable that the thug who’s after me can’t really be arrested.”
“Don’t worry about me. But like I said, you’ll have to stay with large groups of people, he won’t try anything there.” Marcus said, still not sounding satisfied.
“That should not be a problem tomorrow then”, she said quietly, “Jeff’s burial is bound to be crowded.”
“There’ll also be the press conference about the papers tomorrow,“ Paul added, nodding to himself. “That, plus the fact that we’ve got one perp in jail should be a good deterrent, wouldn’t you agree?” He looked at Marcus who shrugged his shoulders.
“Maybe. As I said, you never can tell. He had certainly not expected to meet with this kind of resistance when he started out on his job.”
“I’ve been thinking”, Paul said, “Maybe we were being too clever by half when we dumped my mobile. They would have known we were on to them from that. Their picture was on there.”
“We slipped when I didn’t recognize him for what he was in the first place”, Marcus said bitterly, “but,“ he brightened, “if they picked up your mobile, you could try finding him by using that.”
“I doubt they’ll be using it, and even if they did, then what?” Paul asked ironically, “Walk up to him with a wooden stake, a warrant for the next 200 years and rather good body armour?” After what he’d seen in the alley, he wondered if a tank would be any good. “Who do you think we hire at Scotland Yard? Batman?”
“I don’t know who he is”, Marcus said, “but, no, if you tell me I’ll deal with it. He won’t bother you again.”
Naomi almost choked on her chocolate bar. “No”, she spluttered, “Please, just let him go back to France or Timbuktu, or wherever he wants.” She didn’t want Marcus fighting like that again.
“At least you’ll be safe tomorrow,“ Marcus said not looking at her and taking up the tea tray. “Just stay here for tonight; this is the one place he won’t come.”
“Why? Because he’ll try both our houses first?” Paul asked a bitter note in his voice. How the hell did one run from a mythical creature? If all of them were as fast, strong and efficient as Marcus, they definitely had a problem.
“No, because he won’t be keen on being where I am again tonight.” Marcus left for the kitchen.
Paul agreed with that assessment and realised why Marcus had told them repeatedly where to go. At least he had given in to Naomi’s telling him to comply.
The impatient boss was livid with rage. “Failed? What do you mean failed? What do you think I’m paying you for?”
“I’ve not seen any payment!”
“Ok, come back here. We’ll try again tomorrow. This time I’ll do it myself.”
“I want the woman.”
“Only if this works.”
“Are you threatening me?” The tall man was amused.
“No, I’m reminding you of your job, which so far you have not done.”
“You’ve lost another man. Do you really think you can afford to alienate me?”
“I don’t know what you’re so smug about. None of your plans so far have worked. Make sure your next one does!”