Chapter Thirteen: Tibo
The fact that Rolly had used it as distraction and warning, aiming his voice skyward so that only a couple of pigeons were harmed, meant nothing to the authorities. In the end, with the help of certain high-powered attorney, Rolly had walked out with a warning. Tibo didn’t even want to know what favors Ivan had called in from diplomatic circles and what threats he’d made.
Tibo ran to keep up as Rolly stormed out of the station to head back to Larchtop. “Rolls?”
“Shut it, Glent. Shut your idiot little gob. I don’t want to hear your voice right now.”
At least the Irish cadences had subsided a bit, so Rolly wasn’t so furious that he was out of control. Yeah, well, he’s not the only one who’s mad. Fucking self-righteous banshee. Nearly getting his fine ass shot. Playing paladin like I’m some distressed damsel.
“Not now, Ti, okay? Give me a bit.”
Shoulders slumped, Rolly slowed, the dark shadows under his eyes emphasizing weariness and defeat and, fuck it, Tibo couldn’t yell at him like that. He patted Rolly’s arm awkwardly and walked beside him, letting him brood.
When they got back to Tibo’s room, Rolly tossed his peacoat on the bed and collapsed in the desk chair, his head buried in his arms atop the blotter. For an agonized eternity of probably five minutes, Tibo shuffled his feet, alternately watching Rolly and staring out the window. He wanted to fix this, desperately, but he wasn’t good at this kind of thing. No, strike that. He was incredibly bad at this kind of thing.
Finally, he moved soft-footed across the carpet to place a tentative hand on Rolly’s shoulder. When Rolly only sighed instead of snarling or shrugging him off, Tibo stood behind him to massage iron hard shoulder muscles.
“Glent, Glent, what am I to do with you?” Rolly’s muffled voice was more exasperated than angry.
Has to be good, right? “I didn’t want you mixed up in this, you know,” Tibo ventured, biting his bottom lip once the words were out.
“Oh, I know. Sneaking out of the country without talking to anyone first. Your message was loud and clear. I just wanted to go home and write some new songs.”
Tibo moved in to work on the back of Rolly’s neck, pleased in spite of everything when he got a heartfelt groan. “You still could.”
“Ha! You’re a funny little goblin. You’re an idiot, getting involved in something like this. But you’re my mate, right? You don’t just abandon your mates when they need you.”
A rush of heat filled Tibo’s face at the word mate. He knew perfectly well how Rolly intended it, and still his body insisted on thinking of promises and shared beds instead of friendship. “I don’t want you hurt, Rolls. Or in trouble like you were yesterday. Not for me.”
“You stop and think that maybe I’m worried about the same things for you?” Rolly turned and grasped Tibo’s forearms. “You’re stuck with me now. Just suck it up. And as much as I’d like to be after convincing you to go home, I know you won’t. So. What’s your next step?”
“Waiting for Pearl to send me the contact in Switzerland?”
Rolly nodded. “You don’t sound so sure, but we’ll take that as a start. Once we have that, we’re going to Switzerland, then. How did you intend to get there?”
“Hop a dragon and—”
“Ti, think.” Rolly tapped a finger against Tibo’s temple. “You’ve got people watching you now. Probably tracking your credit, for all I know. You’re going to advertise by buying a dragon ticket that shows when you’re leaving and when you’re getting there?”
“Um…oh.” It wasn’t that he hadn’t thought of that, but standing so close with Rolly staring up at him made it hard to think about anything besides kissing him. “I guess not. We could drive?”
“Still have to rent a car, wouldn’t we?”
A knock on the door saved Tibo from any more stupid suggestions.
“Mr. Glent? I have a message just dropped off for you?” Mrs. Doncaster called through the door.
Tibo didn’t quite yank the door open, that would’ve been rude, but it was a close thing. “Just now? Did you see who left it?”
“Just now. I’m not in the habit of withholding correspondence, Mr. Glent.” She huffed and handed over a fancy vellum envelope, the flap sealed both the usual way and with a wax medallion. “Was a girl. Some nice shop girl doing a favor, I expect.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am. I didn’t mean it like that. You’ve been nothing but wonderful since I got here.” Tibo leaned over to give her a quick peck on the cheek and that seemed the right thing since she laughed and gave him a playful shove.
“Go on with you. Bad thing.” She left them, still smiling. At least Tibo didn’t piss everyone off.
Her reaction even got a dry chuckle from Rolly. “Don’t stand there like you’re completely daft, Ti. Open it.”
Tibo broke the seal and cursed softly when he cut his thumb opening the flap. He took out the single piece of stationery, incongruously framed by raised butterfly stamps and sucked on the paper cut while he read the block print letters.
Emil Bach. Kreis 6.
He handed the note to Rolly. “Well, I guess it’s something.”
“The notes Pearl sent. Think we can remember what’s on this one?”
“I have it, Ti. Burn away.” Despite Rolly’s obvious exhaustion, he got up and stretched, eyeing his coat.
Tibo fished in his bag for the other notes and envelopes. With them clutched tight in his hand, he headed for the stairs to see if Mrs. Doncaster minded if he tossed a few papers on the fire in the common room. “And what are you going to do?”
“I’m going to the bank machine to get us some coin. They already know we’re in London, so I’m not worried about that. Then I’m going down to the docks to see a selkie about a boat.”