SHADOW WALKERS

Shadow Walkers Chapter #11

"There is a fine line between coincidence and fate." ~ Ardeth Bay/The Mummy Returns

A few short minutes later Borias escorted Caitlain into the dining room, his rough-as-a-cob demeanor had slipped back into place. He shot all three of them a scathing look, that only served one purpose. To make the two youngest laugh and Caeoimhin to chuckle as he pulled out the chair for her, beating Borias to the proverbial punch.

"Dinna pay this bunch no never-mind, Lassie. They always aggravate. Tis their way, but they be young and they mean no harm. Now Bri here, he just needs a good healthy physic now and then to keep him regular."

"Och!" Borias groaned loudly. "Can ye no find anythin' else to talk about at the eatin' table, ye devil?"

"Ye mean more fun than that?" Michael queried with mischief in his eyes, when he hurriedly scrambled to keep FaolŠn from sitting next to her. Turning to her he winked. "Tis no Cam's fault Bri be full of it, Lassie. Ye know, thinkin' on it now, I believe there should be three more things added to the Celtic Triads for an auld fart like him."

As Borias sat at the head of the table, he could only imagine what Michael was going to say, and he wondered if it involved another description of his bodily functions. To his chagrin, he didn't have long to wait, because he saw Michael grin in his direction and he felt a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.

"There should be the shout fer his poppin' bones and joints on a cold mornin'. Although it usually comes out more like..."

"Dinna say it, ye wee hellion."

Michael's grin broadened at the warning. "As I was sayin', Lassie, a'fore I was so rudely interrupted...It usually comes out, 'Damn me to hell. It be cold enough to piss icicles out me damned pecker."

"Sweet Jasus!"

"HUZZAH! HUZZAH!" FaolŠn and Caeoimhin laughed, raising their glasses to Michael, who to Borias' misery wasn't finished just yet.

"Then there be the shout fer more terlit paper, to wipe his bum with, a'cause he fergot to put another roll on the wee spindle."

"Awww hell. Ye just wait, ye wee hellion! Yer turn be comin'. Ye just wait and see if it doesna."

Unfazed by Borias' threat, Michael gave him a look that let him know, the coup de gr‚ce was looking him in the eyes, in the form of a fae child. A mischievous fae child at that, which only made him moan louder, making them all laugh.

"Then there be the shout fer belly ache medicine, a'cause he swore it was Cam that poisoned the cabbage pot, by washin' my wee nappies in it and give all of us the squirts, includin' himself."

Color rose in Borias' cheeks again. "Sweet Jasus!" he choked out hoarsely. "I swore to the lassie, we could be civilized, and here ye be talkin' about takin' a damned shite and pissin' icicles. I...Ye should no be talkin' about such things in front of her, and her bein' a lassie and all, and especially not at the damned fookin' eatin' table, ye wee deamon!"

"Why? Ye just did." Michael snickered.

"Damn me to hell," he moaned. "Tis no wonder ye have no driven us all to drink like damned fish."

She enjoyed the good natured teasing and laughter among them. It reminded her of home even though the subjects weren't as colorful, but there was a warmth here. A warmth that came from belonging to a family of sorts, not necessarily related by blood, but a closeness just the same. There was also something else she found she enjoyed. Just sitting here seated on the left hand side of the frustrated elf with the handsome face.

Caitlain promised herself not to get close the day she'd broke his nose, and she'd meant to keep the promise. Then he'd come out on the roof this morning. There had been such fear in his voice, when she'd turned at the sound of his soft plea, to come away from the edge. Never once had he shouted or bellowed at her. Like at the hospital there had only been kindness in the soft spoken words, but they had held an underlying urgency in them.

"Please, just come to me Netta. Come away from the edge. I swear I will no hurt ye, Lassie. I swear it on me life and all I hold dear in this world."

Borias' arms had opened to her and for some unknown reason, Caitlain found herself drawn into them. They encircled her at the waist, holding her protectively for what seemed like an eternity, in the span of a few minutes.

Through the linen tunic he wore, Caitlain could feel the frantic thudding of his heart and it worried her, that she had been the cause of his distress. Just the thought of hurting him like that brought tears to her eyes. Before she knew it, she'd felt a gentle pressure on the top of her head and realized he'd kissed her.

Dragging in a ragged breath, he moved slightly away still holding her. Looking down into her eyes, he sighed heavily and let go just long enough, to wipe her tears away with the pads of his thumbs. "Dinna cry, wee Netta. I know ye must think I be a beast, but the truth is, I dinna want to see ye hurt ever," he'd murmured when he pulled her close to him once more. Slowly he bent his head toward her and...

Something warm touched her hand and the memory faded, as she found herself being watched by four concerned males. She barely nodded when she realized who's hand it was. "I was just thinking that I...I might have left the coffee pot on back home," she fibbed.

FaolŠn shook his head. "Mick and I unplugged everything when we packed yer suitcases, Lassie."

"Aye, then one of Lochlainn's people came in, and locked the place up tighter than a bull's arse in fly time," Michael added. "He said that way no one could break in while ye were gone. Plus he made sure yer rent be paid up while ye were here."

"Lochlainn?" she frowned in return, this time looking at Borias. "Just who exactly is Gallagher Lochlainn and why is he doing this?"

Borias had hoped he'd have a better explanation when the time came, but she'd shoved the vegetables aside and went right for the meat. "He be..."

"He be on the Board of Trustees at the museum, Lassie," Caeoimhin cut in smoothly without missing a beat. "He also be their CEO and I suppose he did it for the same reason, he did it for the families of those that were with ye that night...a'cause he cares about his people and he cares what happens to them."

"And big lawsuits don't look good over the stockholders' breakfasts," she murmured very quietly looking at her empty plate. She slowly raised her head, looking at Borias. "So he did what? Made sure the families were all compensated for their losses? That they were taken care of for the rest of their lives? That they all got free, all expense paid vacations too? Is that it?"

"He took care of the families, aye. They will never have to want fer anything again. Their bairns will all have good educations and..."

She shot Borias a look that would have peeled paint. "He bought 'em off! The bastard bought 'em all off, to keep from getting his ass sued off. That way he could save his own damned skin. That way nobody, not nobody would ask any damned questions, that would no doubt be harder than hell for him to explain. He didn't care about them people. People like him, they never give a damn about anything but their money and their position. The little guy never ever counts! Never!"

"Lassie..."

"No! I'm not stupid and don't try to make me look that way. I may not be all that old, but I know enough, to know when somebody's pissing on my boots, and trying to tell me it's raining. So what exactly did he tell the families? What did he tell Finn and Aine? That some wild animal escaped from the zoo, and found it's way into the museum, or some frigging psycho nut job broke in, that was highly contagious, and that's why they had to cremate the bodies? That one would be more plausible I suppose," she frowned, her eyes boring a hole in Borias.

"That way, he wouldn't have to explain why they staked the bodies right? Just strike a match and then...WOOSH! Burn 'em all up and that takes care of that damned explanation." When Borias looked like he'd been pole-axed, she gave him a dirty look.

"Dammit! I knew that other shoe would drop!" she ground out, knowing she'd hit the nail on the head. "That crap on the roof you handed me, about making sure I was taken care of, and you didn't want to see me hurt, was just a load of bullshit wasn't it?" she accused.

"Let's cut through the chase, huh? So why am I really here, Buttcheeks? What am I, frigging bait to lure that damned thing away from the general population?" When all eyes turned to him, she shook her head. "Figures," she sighed, pushing her chair away from the table as she stood up.

Borias reached for her hand but she jerked it away. "Lassie, ye have to understand..."

"I understand. I do really. Like somebody said in a movie once, 'It's better to be the right hand of the devil than in his path'," she laughed, but there was no humor in it. "That would be you I suppose. I also understand you're just like Lochlainn. You're a bastard, Bearach."

Anger flared in his eyes when he slammed his fist down on the table so hard, the dishes and silverware rattled. "Dammit to hell, Woman! That be the second and the last damned time ye called me that! I am no like Gallagher Lochlainn! I am no bastard!"

Caitlain backed away from the table when he shoved himself up out of his chair. She felt the sting of tears, but she blinked them away. "Yeah? Says you, but blarney sliced thin is still boloney where I come from, and I know one thing else too. You sure as hell ain't no Jayne Cobb, Ardeth Bay or Sir Galahad, Buster Brown."

Michael had read stories about Sir Galahad, but the other two were a mystery to him. "Who be Jayne Cobb and Ardeth Bay, Lassie?" Michael asked curiously.

"They're heroes. Real heroes. Hell, that jackass sitting at the head of the table, like he's the damned King of the World, wouldn't even make a pimple on a hero's ass." She shot Borias another scathing look. "You're nothing but a lying, two faced little weasel, you turd. You're no better than that thing, that you set me up to be lunch for!" she snapped at him and hurried from the room.

Borias shoved the chair backwards knocking it over and stormed off after her, leaving Caeoimhin to raise a restraining hand to Michael and FaolŠn. "Stay here. Let him go. Ye two dinna want to be on the receivin' end, of what she will no doubt give him, when he catches up to her."

FaolŠn looked stricken. "Did he really set her up, Cam? Is that why she be here? As bait?"

"Ye know Bri, Pup. Search yer heart. Do ye honestly believe it was Bri's idea to do such a thing?" he asked chidingly.

Michael started to say something when Borias bellowed, and there was a crash in the next room, followed by a thud and a loud moan.

"Touch me again you jerk, and I'll shove that bad boy so far up in your belly, you'll never find it to piss icicles through again!"

Hearing her retreating footsteps on the stairs, Caeoimhin grimaced, squeezing his eyes shut when he heard her call out mockingly. "And pick yer homely mug up off the damned floor, Buttcheeks. Caeoimhin has other thin's to do than to tend to yer skinny arse, ye hellion and remember...There be no maid service here."

Michael commented that she sounded almost exactly like Borias, except without the brogue. FaolŠn nodded and began to agree with him, when there was an outraged yelp and another thump, this time followed by a frightened scream. Chair legs scraped against stone, as the three males hurried to see what had happened. At the foot of the stairs they found Caitlain standing over an unconscious Borias and waving a vase in the air.

"Leave him alone you flying demon!" she shouted. Above her, a small orange speckled object flew just out of reach, taunting her like a World War ll enemy dive bomber. Changing it's course when she swung high, it flew in under the swing as if it was avoiding radar. That's when it dropped a small brown bomb of it's own and hit Borias on the side of his forehead with a little splat, before it trickled wetly down toward his ear.

Michael giggled like a child and whispered to them. "I best go save poor Digby a'fore he drops a wee turd on her and she knocks him into next week." Walking toward her he managed to stay out of range, of the business end of the vase.

"Stop ye wee bugger!" he laughed when Borias was bombed yet again.

"It's not funny!" she sobbed. "That thing flew out of no where and right at Bear.... Buttcheeks I mean! It made him fall and hit his head! Then it spit poison at him and it landed on his head! It's probably eating it's way toward his brain right now."

Michael and FaolŠn both roared with laughter, as Caeoimhin knelt next to Borias to check him over. Caitlain swung and barely missed hitting FaolŠn, who quickly side stepped out of the way. "Digby ye wee devil, stop a'fore ye get me head bashed in!" he laughed and made a wild grab for the vase.

She squeaked when he snatched it from her hand and deftly tossed it to Michael, who in turn set it on a cabinet against the far wall and out of reach. FaolŠn's arms slipped around her from behind and he held her against him.

"Watch Mick, Lassie," he whispered in a soothing tone, willing her to pay attention. "Watch what he does."

Looking up at the tiny hovering creature, Michael began to sing softly, as he held out his hand palm up.

"Over in Killarney
Many years ago,
Me Mither sang a song to me
In tones so sweet and low."

While Michael sang to Digby, luring him closer, Borias watched Caitlain through dark slitted eyes. He could see how she trembled against FaolŠn, causing him to feel a twinge of jealousy, when FaolŠn rested his chin lightly on top of her head, as a lover or a mate would affectionately do.

"Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li,
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, hush now, don't you cry!
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li,
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, that's an Irish lullaby."

"I swear to the Goddess, if ye hurt that lad's feelin's by accusin' him of somethin' that isn't true, ye will have more than a couple of black eyes, and pair of sore nads to worry about." Caeoimhin's whispered warning caused Boria's eyes to pop open, as he stared in to his friend's stern face.

"Remember that, Bri. I am no playin' here. Ye already made a damned mess of things, when ye let Lochlainn use her as bait. Dammit Bri, ye of all people should have known better."

Borias started to say something when Michael's heartfelt cry of outrage, filled the air. "He's hurt! That bloody, big footed sod stepped on me wee Digby!"

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