Broken Hearts and Concrete Floors
Title: To Have and To Hold
Disclaimer: Whedon owns the girl, Stephanie Laurens owns the Cynster.
Summary: Who knew the Cynster family motto reached beyond the grave?
A/N: Because he had such great potential to break the hearts of the ton
. Also, the rate that I‘m absorbing these books is highly alarming, but I guess it beats twiddling my thumbs waiting for the next Dream-Hunter book. To Have and To Hold
Broken Hearts and Concrete Floors
“So I’m just supposed to believe that you’re here to keep all visitors out of harm’s way?” The brunette snapped as she brushed leaves and twigs and God knew what else out of her tangled and now knotted hair.
She glared at the man loping behind her, who shrugged it off as if nothing had happened. He looked perfectly fine, not one single hair out of place. The elegant bastard. The loose white shirt and incredibly tight breeches - yeah, not normal jeans or yoga pants like she had on, like any sane
person would have on - were wreaking havoc with her senses. He was cute to boot. She should so not be having these thoughts.
“I’m charged with the mission to keep all on Cynster property out of harm’s way. No one shall ever die on these lands by foul play again,” his clipped proper accent was tinged with unexpected sadness. “I swore on Devil’s deathbed that I would keep them safe, just as he swore on mine to avenge my death.”
Kit snapped around, completely thrown for a loop. He was dead? She groaned loudly. She had had her fill of dead people. Between working for the Council and her own little Haley Joel high school encounters of the dead kind, she had more than enough experience to last her three lifetimes. She was up to her dusty butt in dead folk, and not a one of them were on her favorites list. Who cared if he was devastatingly handsome, elegant and noble? He was off his fucking rocker if he thought that she was going to just believe his claim that he was dead and had promised the Devil anything.
Kit narrowed her eyes at him and stalked forward, mad at herself and at this too cute for his own good guy, and definitely pissed at her slayers for sneaking off during the training mission, and at the crackhead who’d taken a pot shot at her with a rifle that had caused ghost boy here to shove her out of the way. He was a ghost? She knew better.
“You’re dead, right, hon?” Kit snapped, advancing on him.
“Long dead, miss -”
“And you’re honor bound to protect all Cynster lands from evil doers, right? That would make you a ‘good’ little Casper then, wouldn’t it?” Kit didn’t stop, and walked closer to him, watching as he flushed at her nearness, and backed up a bit.
“I am honor bound, miss, to protect my family’s lands.”
“And you made a pact with the Devil himself -”
Devil, but you would not be the first person to mistake my cousin for the fallen angel,” a small, sad smile crossed his lips.
“Your cousin?” Kit paused, watching him.
“Yes, my cousin. The sixth Duke of St. Ives.”
“Whatever. So you make this pact and now you’re stuck in limbo here, a deserted forested area why?”
“I died here, less than a stone’s throw away from where we now stand, miss.”
Kit stalked up closer to him, less than a foot away. She craned her neck up at him and narrowed her eyes. He frowned at her and stared down at her uncomfortably. Kit smirked, noting his reaction to her proximity.
“If you were a ghost, how did you manage to shove me out of the way?” Kit demanded.
“My dear, you are not the first thing I’ve had to move before,” he waved a hand to drive home her insignificance.
“You pulled a Swayze?”
“I beg your pardon?” he blinked rapidly, color rising in his cheeks. It was cute, too, dammit.
“You thought real, real hard and saved up your ectoplasm ghost thingy to prevent my injury.”
“I supposed so, yes.”
“So if I try and touch you, my hands’ll slip right through you?”
Kit shoved him. Hard. Hands hit solid, male chest and big strong hands clasped tightly at the offending digits as the ‘ghost’ flew backwards. He hit the ground with a thud, and pulled her with him. Kit ‘oof’d loudly as she landed on him heavily, her elbows digging into his stomach, and her left eye thwacking hard into her right fist. Her right knee banged heavily into the ground, her left knee banging into his right one. Tears sprang up in her eyes as she tried to catch her breath.
She looked down at his face, watching the play of emotions there. He obviously hadn’t been expecting her to shove him, but the shock on his face told her something else. Unfortunately, she didn’t have a chance to ask him, because her errant little slayers decided to be found by their watcher just then.
“Ohmigod, is that Miss Holburn and a guy
?” Petra Kohl, 14, and a bit drunk giggled and gagged at the idea. Kit wasn’t that old, dammit.
“Are they doin’ it?” more repulsion squealed from Amber Jenson, 15, Yvonne Martin, 16, and her three other slayers.
“We are not doing it!” Kit spat, pushing herself up and away from the confused non-ghost beneath her.
“You were laying on top of him and groaning. Faith said - ” Isabel Haverbrook, 17, and the oldest and shyest of the girls blushed brightly.
“If you must know, I was debunking a ghost. A ver-” but Kit’s words were cut off by a loud squeal.
a ghost! Eeww!” Terri Smythe and Rosamund Bennett - both 14 - looked completely repulsed.
“D-E-B-U-N-K-I-N-G, not humping
. And he’s not a real ghost,” Kit shot him an angry look.
“I am the ghost of Bartholomew Cynster, miss, and I’ll -”
Kit wheeled on him again, her finger jabbing into his chest. A welcoming and painful sensation he’d not felt in years, not since his last squabble with the twins long before his untimely demise.
“Ghosts are normally see and walk through. You, stud, are neither of those things.”
“I am not a stud! I find it insulting that you dare compare me with an animal only thought of as valuable due to his ability to bed and breed. I’m no saint, but I’ve not been so loose with my morals.”
“Miss Holburn, this non-ghost is such a freak! He doesn’t even know what a stud is!” one of the girls snorted.
“I think we better be getting back now,” Kit glared at the girls and back at Bartholomew. “You’re coming with us, Bart.”
Three hours later, with all six slayers back in their beds, Kit finally had time to plop down ghost boy in the small training house the Council had set up for the girls. For a shell-shocked 19th century ghost, he was adapting remarkably well. Kit, however was not faring so well.
“What do you mean there’s nothing on him?” Kit hissed into the cell phone, tightening her grip on the ice pack on her now black and blue eye.
“I mean, the only two Bartholomew Cynsters on record are dead. We ran the facial scan in Willow’s high-tech magic powered database and got nothing. Ran the prints and got a big ole goose egg. There’s nothing on this guy.” Dawn Summers, her immediate supervisor and best friend, sounded as frustrated by her lack of info as Kit felt.
“So we know he’s not Bartholomew Cynster?”
“I didn’t say all that! The guy has a definite resemblance to the current Duke of St. Ives. He has a freakishly strong resemblance to the first Bartholomew Cynster. I’m sending you the pic now.”
“Okay, so what about the second Bartholomew Cynster?” Kit huffed, pacing back and forth in the office, her eyes locked on the still profile of ‘Bartholomew Cynster’ against the fireplace.
“Bartholomew Cynster, born August 15th, 1987 died on December 31st, 1989 of pneumonia. He’s buried in the Cynster mausoleum.”
“Okay. Dawn, this guy is about that age.”
“It’s not him. I don’t know who he is - but that
Bartholomew Cynster has been dead for nineteen years.”
“And the other?”
“Dead for at least 200 years,” Dawn sighed.
“Crap.” She flung the ice pack onto the sofa, wincing when it missed and hit the floor instead.
“Did you get that pic yet?”
“Let me check.”
Kit stepped back from the doorway and twirled her laptop around to face her. Cradling the phone against her shoulder, her bruised eye twitching and watering at the pressure, Kit’s fingers banged against the keyboard as she pulled up her Watcher e-mail account. Ignoring Carlos’, Willow’s and Dawn’s daily memo-spams, she clicked on the link. The phone clattered to the phone, and Dawn could be heard screeching in protest at the harsh noise in her ears. Kit couldn’t hear over the roar in her ears. Her eyes skimmed over the Dawn had made notation beneath the link.
“How did you die, Bart?” Kit called out, picking up her phone.
“If you must call me by a nickname, I insist you use Tolly rather than ‘Bart’.”
“How’d you die, Tolly?”
“My half-brother shot me in the heart, or at least he tried. It clipped my heart -”
“Because it hit an overlarge button?” Kit stared up into his eyes, and he just looked down at her, his pain clearly in his eyes at the memory of his death.
“Dawn, where did you get this info?”
“In a place nobody without serious hacker skills could get to it at. And a buttload of magic. The official verdict at the time was that he was set on by highwaymen, but nowhere near that stretch of road. Someone went to lengths to keep it private.”
“Then how does he know this stuff?”
“Maybe he really is the ghost of Bartholomew Cynster.”
“That’s great, but Dawn,” Kit took a deep breath as she placed her hand on Tolly’s chest. “He isn’t a ghost anymore.”