Erin Go Braugh
Kasie was excited. She hadn't been home since she'd been brought to the Council, and she missed it. After a bit of research, she'd found out there was a shopping boutique a few blocks away from her apartment building, and they had flooed in through one of the shops. That in and of itself was a trip, but that excitement had worn off and being back home brought back new excitement.
As they walked down the street to the building, she couldn't keep the extra bounce in her step, but ever the pessimist, she kept watch on the people on the street as well. Some of her clients had a thing where they liked to get rid of middle people, and Kasie was always cautious. When they arrived at her building, the doorman nodded to her as he let them in. She quickly went to the front desk.
"You're back, Miss Lakes. I had your mail kept in your deposit box in the safe. Shall I retrieve it?"
Kasie waved him on. "Don't worry about it, I'll get it later." She gestured for Oz and Mac to follow her. They arrived at the elevators and she punched in the passcode for it to take them to her floor.
"Lakes?" Oz asked.
Mac had not said anything, but she was thinking the same thing. She wondered if it were a made-up name. It had to be. It was irritating on some level to Mac that she didn't know Kasie's real name.
But she did have a letter to start with now - B. Her friend should learn not to leave cards lying around where Mac could easily find them.
"It's an alias. I give a different alias to each client I have but I won't chance that they're not stupid and can connect the dots. It's a fail safe in case something goes wrong." Kasie waved them off. "Honestly, I'd forgotten all about them. I'm a thief, not a grifter. I'm not that good an actress."
"Do we get to know your real name," Oz asked as they made their way through the building. "Or do we not rate that much trust yet?"
Mac looked at him. For a guy that didn't talk much, he sure was not afraid to ask the hard questions. She knew Kasie would not tell them which was why Mac would find out on her own.
There were only three penthouses on the top floor, and so she led them to the one she had procured for herself. "No one knows it. I don't like it so I don't tell people."
Kasie flipped open the panel by the door. She scanned her fingerprints in a special order, entered the six digit number combination and leaned forward. "Annabelle Lakes," she said and grinned when the door clicked open. When she got strange looks from Mac and Oz, she shrugged. "So I'm cautious."
She led them through the foyer, disabling the silent alarm inside as she went. "Bedrooms are upstairs, kitchen's to your left. The library is..." she trailed off and spun in a circle, trying to remember where exactly it was. "I think it's up the stairs and to the right. My other storage rooms are down here. Roof access is also upstairs and to the left. Go crazy. I'm going to disable the booby traps."
"I think I'll leave the crazy until after the traps are disable," Oz said, looking around.
This place was monstrous.
"Wha' he said," Mac commented, trying to take in her surroundings.
Kasie made a face and quickly finished off the alarm system, coming back into the foyer. "What do you want to see first? The books or the shiny things?"
Mac snorted. "Th'books, of course."
Oz chuckled. She did like to read. He'd never met such a physical person who also liked to read.
Kasie led them up the stairs and into the library. "These are mostly just books I had shipped here to fill up the shelves. There might be some rare ones up top. The more sinister and dangerous books are kept behind here." She opened a panel leading into a small room but still filled with books. A small table and two chairs were in the center.
Oz followed Mac in. She was looking at things and making noises. He turned when she started shouting.
"What? What is it?"
She was holding a very old volume in her hands.
Oz craned his head to look at the title. "Einsetzen Grin Dell Vald?"
"I am no' one for destroyin' a book, but this one needs a buryin'."
Oz just shook his head.
"Tis a spellbook. In German. With the spells of a mon named Grendelwald in it. He were a Dark Wizard back more than half a century past. The wizarding world were so busy trying to stop him, tha's how tha' Muggle wit the funny stache. What were his name? Hitter? Angry. Always doin' this."
Oz actually shivered when she sieg heiled. "Hitler."
"That's th'Muggle. Tha's how he got so strong in power and near opened a gate to hell. Th'wizarding world were too busy running around tryin' to stop Grendelwald."
Kasie let out a laugh which made Oz and Mac stare at her incredulously. "It's ironic. I didn't steal this book. I got it at a used bookstore in Switzerland. I was going to take out the pages and use the binding in a switch but the original I wanted to steal was destroyed in a fire. I just shoved it in here because I couldn't read German."
Oz took the book from Mac and flipped through it. "I don't read German either, but judging from these pictures, we might want to start a fire with this one."
The hair on the back of Mac's neck stood on end. She heard whispering. "Ya hear tha'?"
Oz gave her a look. "No."
Kasie had been pouting at the loss of a book many black market dealers would fall over themselves to get their hands on, but stopped at Mac's words. No one would get inside. Once she was inside her apartment the locks reset and anyone getting in would trigger another alarm and she had verified the doors hadn't been opened since she left.
"Oh, it's not just me hearing those?" she asked. "Some of the mythical objects I have contain soul residues and they're always whispering about death and crap."
She saw the look in Oz's eye and knew he'd want to look at said objects.
"Tis sayin' words in Gaelic," Mac said, turning to hear where it was coming from.
"You know Gaelic?"
"Aye. My Nana taught it to me. I dinna know it like she does, but..." She slapped her hand on a spine and pulled out the book.
Almost as if it had called to her, said it was hers. It was written in Gaelic. Mac opened it.
"Tis about demons... and girls fightin' them because... a line of one were made many. Feels like it is supposed to be... mine."
Mac looked at Kasie in shock.
"Wait," Kasie said slowly once she realized Mac was staring at her reasons other than having a Gaelic book. "Are you saying I had a book about us and didn't even realize it? I got that as payment for a job I did a few years back. I just knew a lot of people wanted it so I kept it."
"Aye," Mac said. "I think we should take this one to Giles. Tis all about a witch creatin' an army wit a general tha' is now one of many. And a great deal about family. The word clann
, over and over. Tha' means family in Gaelic. Gra dilseacht cairdeas
. Love loyalty friendship. Is fhearr fheuchainn na bhith san duil
. Tis better to try than to hope."
She looked up at them. She'd been involved with her reading. Mac got that way when the research material was interesting.
"What the hell else do I have that could be worth millions that I didn't know about?" Kasie muttered under hear breath. Books meant nothing to her. She considered them lesser in value that other things and she was known for selling them cheap because she didn't give a damn about haggling. Perhaps Mac could come back and help her go through and figure out which ones she could get top price for.
"Right, so one for the pyre and one for the research. Do you want to keep looking in here, go to my storage rooms or split up?"
Mac looked at Oz. He noticed Kasie's question had been directed at him mostly. It almost shocked him a bit that both his slayers were asking for his opinion.
"I don't vote for splitting up whichever way we go."
Kasie rolled her eyes. "This is my home
. I can go as I want. Nothing is going to reach out and bite you. Just... don't get too close to the flowers in my bathroom, okay?"
"Now see, ya canna say stuff like tha' wit'out explainin'."
"Agreed," Oz added.
She huffed. "One of my... acquaintances got pissed off at me and tried to cast a spell on me, but I dodged it and she hit the fake flowers instead. They have a tendency to get aggressive if someone gets too close. But they're pretty and I didn't want to get rid of them. Now, are we going or not?"
"What kind of flowers are they? Are they evil now? Can I fight them?" Mac asked.
Kasie pointed at her. "Don't you hurt my flowers. And they're not real. They're fake. And they just snap at you. It's like getting hit with a wet towel. They're harmless, really."
"Mayhap ya should bring them for a bit of home at th'Council?"
"I doubt they'd let me get close enough to grab the bottom of the planter," Kasie said dryly. "If I wanted something of home, I'd bring one of my jewels."
"So how do you clean around them if you can't move them?"
Mac looked at Kasie, interested in this answer too.
"Seriously?" she asked slowly. When she saw they were hung up on the flowers, she sighed. "They dust around themselves. If anything falls in their reach, they brush it onto the floor so I can grab it. They're just flowers
. If you want to play with them so bad, go for it!"
Oz looked at Mac.
"We best get what we came for and no' muck about."
Oz nodded. "Lead on."
With a growl, Kasie spun on her heel and marched back downstairs to her storage area. She didn't get the fascination of fake plants that were enchanted or with books that belonged to dark wizards. They weren't shiny
The panel that led to the storage room wasn't guarded by anything because the entrance itself were hidden. Her truly dangerous things that could injure someone or that someone would gladly off her for were kept in sites away from her home, but these she kept around for purely boasting pride.
Racks of designer clothes she used for cons were kept to the right and next to them were a gun and knife collection. Before she was adept at fighting, she made sure that she was always well protected. The jewels and amulets were kept in a display case in the center of the room and the larger items were displayed to the left. It was a nice sized room that had been just blank space in the design that she immediately utilized.
Mac and Oz were toting a book each. This place was massive, and Mac was glad Oz had said not to split up. One of them might get lost. It was quite different from her home in Scotland or the room Brody kept for her at Three Broomsticks.
"Right, so the things are arranged in chronological order from when I got them. The early years are closest to the door. My camera is in here somewhere." She went rifling through the clothes racks to the shelves behind it.
Oz was looking at the collection while Mac was watching Kasie dig through the closet.
"Ya have a lot of black. I thin' a nice navy blue would suit ya better."
"Black blends in better," she shouted through the clothes. "If I wear bright yellow people notice quickly. I didn't do it to have it complement my skin, I did it so I didn't have my skin flayed off. Damn it, where is
Kasie quickly pulled out her camera with a grin. "There's my baby."
"Ya've a baby in there," Mac said, leaning into look.
"A baby what?" Oz asked.
"God, you guys are so literal. I was talking about my camera." She held it up and waved it. "There are no babies."
Oz nodded and went back to perusing. "Don't touch any of the handles. They're pure silver. Swiped 'em from some old house back in the States."
"I can touch silver," he said. "I just can't let it get into my bloodstream."
"Huh," Mac said. She hadn't known that about werewolves.
"Unless you were less concerned for my safety and more for fingerprints."
"Considering I'm the only one who ever comes in here and I could care less about smudges, it's the other option. I was just saying."
Kasie turned back to Mac and gestured to the clothes and shoes. "If you want any, you can have them. Some might not be completely in style anymore, and it's not like I'll ever wear them for clients anymore."
"I dinna think any of yer clothes would fit me, twig. I might bust some seams iffen I tried."
Oz chuckled to himself.
"I only need trou and m'boots."
"Might want to add shirts and bras to that," Oz commented.
"Oh, I have those. And I'm not twiggy. I have to be slim to climb into thin spaces like air ducts and through crawl spaces." Kasie made a face. "Twiggy. I'll show you twiggy."
"Ya look like ya need a beef sandwich wit the fat. Two even. Thin, my arse."
Oz had stopped perusing the artifacts and was just watching the two of them. They had a pretty witty repertoire at times.
"I could enter an eating contest and still look like this. I have a high metabolism!" Kasie snapped. "And I depend on being quick on my feet to get me out of situations instead of throwing my head into whatever comes!"
"Ya thin' I'm no' quick. I were fightin' a whole nest when they found me."
"Say tha' to m'face."
"All right," Oz said stepping in between them. "Let's not and say we didn't."
Kasie stuck out her tongue at Mac.
Mac grabbed for her and Oz grabbed Mac, pushing her away. Not that he could have stopped her, but she was at least mindful enough to not want to hurt him.
"Are we done here? Because I think I need a beer and nap. Maybe not in that order."