Crescendo in Patch's POV
Author: Elena Hathaway

Chapter 5
Chapter 5

Something was up.  I could tell.  I was normally pretty good at detecting when things were off, and I knew something was off now.  I knew it wasn’t just me acting weird because of my break-up with Angel—I still couldn’t think about it without wanting to hit something…not Angel, obviously, but I wouldn’t mind if she happened to come to her senses…

No, this was something completely different.  This was about her safety.  Someone was planning on killing her, and, as much as I hated it, the strongest vibes I’d gotten of that was when I’d been at Bo’s.

With Rixon.

I know, I know…Rixon was my best friend, he would never do something like that, all that good stuff.

And yet…and yet, he was also just as much of a fallen angel as I had been, and had always said that being human would have been pretty great.  That, and the whole thing with Hank Millar.  It added up.  I wasn’t pointing fingers just yet, but I wanted to warn her. 

That was something that would have been loads easier if Angel didn’t hate my guts right now.

But then again, there was something I could try.  It was something I’d never done before, something I’d picked up in the last month or so.  When I’d first heard it, it had sounded impossibly…well, impossible.  However, I’d looked into it a little more, and now that the need had arisen, it sounded a little less impossible.  Or maybe that was just me being desperate.

Anyhow, I had to at least try.  Chances were, she would be blocking me.  But then, knowing Nora, I might also be the only thing on her mind, just as she was the only thing on mine.

I had to try.

So I went to my studio beneath Delphic and sat on my leather couch, leaning back and closing my eyes, concentrating with all my might on Angel, on entering her mind, and also, on the memory I had chosen.

When I was in, at first I didn’t realize it.

At first I thought I was reliving one of my own memories again, a memory from earlier today.  And I was a bit confused at first.

“I want out,” I said quietly.  I knew I wasn’t being fair—I was protecting myself. What other option did I have? I couldn’t give Patch a chance to talk me out of it. I had to what was best for the both of us.  I couldn’t stand here, hanging on, when the very thing I held disappeared more with each passing day.   I couldn’t show how much I cared when it was only going to make things impossibly hard in the end.  Most of all, I didn’t want to be the reason Patch lost everything he’d worked for.  If the archangels were looking for an excuse to banish him forever, I was only making it easy.

Patch stared at me like he couldn’t tell if I was serious.  “That’s it?  You want out?  You got your turn to explain yourself, which I don’t buy, but now that it’s my turn, I’m just supposed to swallow your decision and walk out?”

I hugged my elbows and turned away.  “You can’t force me to stay in a relationship I don’t want.”

“Can we talk about this?”

“If you want to talk, tell me what you were doing at Marcie’s last night.”  But Patch was right.  This wasn’t about Marcie.  This was because I was scared and upset with the deal fate and circumstance had cut both of us.

I turned back to see Patch drag his hands down his face.  He gave a short, unamused laugh.

“If I was at Rixon’s last night, you’d wonder what was going on!” I flung back.

“No,” he said, his voice dangerously low.  “I trust you.”

Now I got it.  I was in Nora’s sleeping mind, perhaps in her subconscious, seeing our fight play out in her perspective.  As tempting as it was to stay and watch the rest of it, maybe get her take on the rest of it, see if I could find a fissure in her logic and exploit it, I knew I couldn’t linger here.  Now that I was inside her mind, I had to do what I’d originally wanted to do: warn her.

So I dug out my own memory again and threw it into her dream.  This, at least, I had to stay and watch play out so that I knew she got out of it what she needed.

 

It was a cold night.  Nora stood barefoot on the dirt road, sludge and rain quickly filling the potholes pockmarking it.  Rocks ad skeletal weeds sprang up intermittently.  Darkness consumed the countryside, except for one bright spot: A few hundred yards off the road sat a stone-and-wood tavern.  Candles guttered in the windows, and Nora looked like she was about to start toward it when the distant jangle of bells stopped her.

As the sound of bells grew closer, she moved a safe distance off the road and watched as a horse-drawn coach rattled out of the darkness and came to a halt where she’d been standing moments before.  As soon as the wheels stopped rolling, the driver flung himself off the coach, splattering mud halfway up his boots.  He tugged on the door and stepped back.

A dark form emerged.  A man.  A cape hung from his shoulders, flapping open in the wind, but the hood was drawn to cover his face.

This was a man who was known in the present day as Hank Millar, but Nora was unaware of this as of now.  I was watching her dream from an omniscient narrator point-of-view, able to see everything that was going on, but everything that was going on couldn’t see me.  Which meant Nora couldn’t see me either.

“Wait here,” Hank told the driver.

“My lord, it’s raining heavily—”

Hank gave a nod in the direction of the tavern.  “I have business. I shan’t be long.  Keep the horses ready.”

The drivers eyes shifted to the tavern.  “But m’lord…it’s thieves and vagabonds that keep company there.  And there’s bad air tonight.  I feel it in my bones.”  He rubbed his arms briskly, as if to fight off a chill.  “M’lord might be better to hurry back to the lady and little ’uns.”

“Speak nothing of this to my wife.”  Hank flexed and opened his gloved hands while fixing his gaze on the tavern.  “She has enough to worry about,” he murmured.

Nora glanced at the tavern, and the ominous candlelight flickering in its small, slanted windows.  The roof was crooked too, tilting slightly to the right, as if the tools used to construct it had been far from exact.  Weeds choked the exterior, and every now and then a rowdy yell or the sound of shattered glass traveled out from its walls.

The driver dragged the sleeve of his coat under his nose.  “My own son died of the plague not two years past.  A terrible thing, what you and your lady are sufferin’ through.”

In the stiff silence that followed, the horses stamped impatiently, their coats steaming.  Little puffs of frost rose from their nostrils.  The look on Nora’s face exacted what I had guessed: she didn’t understand what she was seeing, what was going on.  Hopefully, as the dream ran its course, she’d figure it out.

Hank had started across the cobblestone walkway leading to the tavern.  The edges of the dream begin to vanish around him, signaling to Nora to follow him.  She did, to my relief, instead of pulling out of the dream altogether as she very easily could have done at that point.

Nora followed Hank into the tavern, and she took a moment to look around, gaping.  I practically saw two and two add up in her head, realizing she was in a different time, if the horse-drawn coach hadn’t clued her in enough, that is.

“I’m looking for a man,” Hank said to the bartender, once again grabbing Nora’s attention.  “I was told to meet him here tonight, but I’m afraid I don’t know his name.”

The bartender eyed Hank somewhat suspiciously.  “Something to drink?” he offered, spreading his lips t show off jagged black stumps for teeth.

Nora swallowed, placing a hand on her stomach, and stepped back.  I bit my lip, begging her not to pull out just yet.  Not yet.

Hank merely shook his head.  “I need to find this man as quickly as possible.  I was told you’d be able to help.”

Almost before Hank had finished speaking, the bartender’s smile had faded.  “Aye, I can help you find him, m’lord.  But trust an old man and have a drink or two first.  Something to warm your blood on a cold night.”  He pushed a small glass toward the other man.

Hank shook his head again adamantly.  “I’m afraid I’m in a bit of a hurry.  Tell me where I can find him.”  He pushed a few warped tokens across the table.

The bartender immediately pocketed the tokens.  Jerking his head at the back door, he said “He keeps to the forest yonder.  But m’lord?  Be careful.  Some say the forest his haunted.  Some say the man who goes into the forest is the man who never comes back out.”

Hank leaned on the bar table and lowered his voice.  “I wish to ask a personal question.  Does the Jewish month of Cheshvan mean anything to you?”

“I am not a Jew,” the bartender said flatly, but something n his eyes alerted both Hank and Nora that it wasn’t the first time he’d been asked that question.

“The man I’ve come to see tonight told me to meet him here on the first night of Cheshvan.  He said he needed me to provide a service for him, for the duration of a fortnight.”

The bartender stroked his chin.  “A fortnight is a long time.”

“Too long.  I wouldn’t have come, but I was afraid of what the man might do if I didn’t.  He mentioned my family by name.  He knew them.  I have a beautiful wife, and four sons.  I don’t want them harmed.”

The bartender dropped his voice now as well.  “The man you’ve come to see is…”  He trailed off, casting a suspicious look about the tavern.

“He’s unusually powerful,” Hank said.  “I’ve seen his strength before, and he is a mighty man,  I’ve come to reason with him.  Surely he can’t expect me to abandon my duties to my family for such a length of time.  The man will be reasonable.”

“I know nothing of this man’s reason,” the bartender said.

“My youngest son has contracted the plague,” Hank explained, his voice taking on a note of desperation.  “The doctors do  not think he’ll live long.  My family needs me.  My son needs me.”

“Have a drink,” the bartender said quietly.  He nudged the glass forward a second time.

Hank turned abruptly from the table and toward the back door.  Nora hurried to follow.

Outside, I could see her discomfort.  I loved her more than life itself, but as of now, I was still pissed at her, and vice versa, so as far as I was concerned, as long as she wasn’t in pain or any immediate danger, she could stand to be a little uncomfortable.

Hank disappeared into the forest, with Nora trying to catch up. There was a flash of movement before she ever entered the tree line, and suddenly Hank was running toward Nora.  He tripped and fell.  The branches snagged his cape; in a frenzy, he struggled to untie it from his neck.  He gave a shriek of terror.  His arms flailed wildly, his whole body twisting and jerking convulsively.

Nora, being Nora, shoved forward, twigs scraping her arms, barely managing not to trip.  When she reached him, she dropped to her knees beside him.  His hood was still mostly drawn, so all she could see was his mouth, open in a paralyzed scream.

“Roll over!” she ordered, yanking to free the fabric beneath him.

He made no sign of being able to hear her.

She grabbed his shoulders and shook him.  “Roll over!  I can get you out of here, but you have to help.”

“I’m Barnabas Underwood,” he slurred, giving her the name he had been known as at that time.  “Do you know the way to the tavern?  That’s a good girl,” he said, patting the air where an imaginary cheek was.  He was hallucinating, and from the way Nora stiffened, she realized that.

“Run back and tell the barkeep to send help,” he continued.  “Tell him there is no man.  Tell him it is on of the devil’s angels, come to possess my body ad cast away my soul.  Tell him to send for a priest, holy water, and roses.”

At the words ‘devil’s angels,’ Angel herself tensed even further, the hairs on her arms standing up.

Hank’s head snapped up, toward the forest.  “The angel!” he whispered in panic. “The angel is coming!”

His mouth twisted into distorted shapes, and it looked like he was fighting for control of his own body, which he very much was.  He arched back violently, and his hood flew off all the way.

Angel was still clutching the cape, but she dropped it when she saw the man’s face, her mouth dropping open when she recognized him as Hank Millar, the father of Marcie Millar, aka the girl she hated…aka my new assignment.

 

I left then, pulling myself and my memory out, knowing that Angel would now be awake.

I leaned back against the sofa, letting out a long, tormented sigh and dragged my hands down my face.  Was she thinking of me?  Was she wishing I would call?  I almost wanted to, but pride was getting in the way, as usual.  I wasn’t about to apologize when I hadn’t done anything wrong.  She was the one who had gone and blown up at the tiniest thing, losing faith in me so quickly.  She was the one with a tire iron stuck up her ass.  If there was going to be any apologizing, it would be from her.  And when she did, I would accept it graciously, by kissing her until she couldn’t breathe.

 

A/N: Hey, lovers, sorry it took me sooooo long, but I have been extremely busy with senior year, I'm in Advanced Placement Literature and Composition, and my kitty ran away for a while, but now he's back so no worries.

Anyhoo, the reason I decided to start writing this again is because I read "Finale" which is the final book in the Hush, Hush saga, and let me tell you it was AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! If you have not read it, GO READ IT RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!! If you don't, you're a bad person and cannot truly call yourself a Patch-and-Nora fan!! So there are a bunch of scenes I REALLY want to write in Patch's POV in that book, but I realize I can't till I finish this one and "Silence," so this is me getting a move on.  I'll try to update more often from now on.

FOR PATCH!

 

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