\ 23:10 A meeting of old friends | unlimitedi.net
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From the moment they’d stepped inside the club, Niall and Chiedra had been on crowd control and triage.  With only two gunmen, and a whole host of people engaging them, it had seemed like the best option.  They had guided as many people through the exit as they could, and kept things on an even keel to avoid any additional injury from a mob rushing the door.  Through a combination of cajoling and threatening (from Niall and Chiedra respectively) the pair had managed to move most of the partygoers outside as the police and paramedics arrived on scene.  Now that the shooting was over, and the two maniacs appeared to have disappeared out the other door, Chiedra had moved on to focus more on triaging the wounded.  Unfortunately, there were quite a few bodies lying in and around the area that were too still.  Niall cursed himself for every kind of a fool when he saw a man younger than even his former ward lying a few feet away, his glassy eyes staring from below the bullet wound that had taken his life. 

Should have stopped them before they came back in here, damnit.  Chiedra was working her way towards a young woman sitting dazedly nearby.  She glanced up now and again to check and make sure that her employer, Ricky, still sat behind the makeshift barricade of a thick table she’d thrown down against the wall when she’d caught up to him.  Even for a hardened ganger like Ricky, the last few minutes had been harrowing.  He kept looking around the room, his eyes wide and his mouth grim.  Niall watched him, nearly feeling sorry for the bottom dweller, despite his well-known reputation. 

Niall glanced over at Chiedra, who was wrapping the arm of a wounded young woman in what had obviously once been a pretty cocktail dress. When he turned back towards the stream of people making their way out the door, now slowing down to the few stragglers who could still make their way on their own, Niall noticed Balthazar Romano exiting, followed closely by a limping man.  The man was considerably younger than Romano, and even Niall realized how good looking the man was. Unfortunately, the poor guy had a deep, ugly cut on his thigh and blood was steadily running down his leg beneath the tear in his pants. That's just like Romano, to except his guard to walk out of here while he's practically bleeding to death.

"Nice, Balthy, you hoping this poor kid dies before you have to cut his next paycheck?" Niall stepped in front of the young man, coming between Romano and the other man. He glared at the back of the older man's head.

Logan was cut completely off guard – he had assumed they’d make a quiet exit amongst the chaos and yet, someone had managed to recognize Balthazar. Balthy? The bodyguard cringed? The guy was either stupid or brave. Unsure how to react, Logan simply looked to his boss who had now spun around.  Luckily, Romano was never at a loss for words.

“Niall,” Balthazar smiled with all the charm of a crocodile. “Are you getting rusty? You know I counted maybe 4, 5 people dead inside…I would have thought if you were around you’d do a better job stopping that unfortunate incident”. Before the man could respond, Balthazar flashed a look at his bodyguard, nodding towards the limo as if to say ‘hurry up’. Though always a nuisance, Niall’s presence here was even worse than usual. Balthazar couldn’t afford the do-gooder wizard to have any exposure to his favorite work associate.

"You're definitely right, Balthy," Niall replied icily. "If I were up to snuff, you'd be the one limping out of here, or better yet waiting to be carried out in one of those black bags."

Niall turned to the other man. "Please, stop for a moment and let me help you, son," Niall urged. "Whatever this bastard is paying you, it's not worth your life. That's a bad cut you've got there. Let me at least bind it to stop the bleeding."

Logan’s head was swimming. On top of the excruciating pain of standing on his stabbed leg, he was now being offered assistance by a stranger who just outright threatened the very man Logan was in charge of protecting. For a moment he hesitated, unsure how to react until a strange sensation began to wash over him. For a brief instance, the pain subsided as Niall’s offer to help flittered out of Logan’s mind, leaving him only to remember the menacing comment to Romano.

“I don’t know who you are buddy, but you better watch the way you speak to Mr. Romano,” Logan said, puffing out his sizable chest and purposely bumping the man as he made his way to stand protectively in front of Balthazar. Behind him, the older mage was smirking devilishly.

“Well Niall, it’s always a pleasure, but why don’t you run along now,” Romano chuckled as he and Logan turned their backs on the man and continued on to the waiting limo.

Niall felt the surge of magic flowing from somewhere on the younger man's body. Niall could easily recognize the flavor of the power he sensed. Obviously there was something more than just regular compensations involved in this relationship. Balthazar was definitely up to something. And knowing Balthazar, whatever it was, it wasn't good for anyone but Balthazar Romano.

We'll see about that. Niall moved to intercept the men once more, placing a gentle hand on the younger man's shoulder as he reached into the reserve of power he held within one of the many fetishes he wore. Over the years, Niall had built a number of fetishes to store his power. The bracelets, rings, and other items he carried or wore at all times were reserved wells of pure magical power. Niall drew upon one now, pulling power from the warm pool as he pushed gently upon the younger man's emotions, soothing as he spoke. "What is between your employer and I has no bearing on your current condition. I just want to help. If you'd give me a moment, I could at least bind your leg. I can take away some of your pain. Then you can do your job more effectively."

Niall’s magic began to wrap around Logan like a comforting blanket, but the feeling was fleeting. Deep within the young man, darker charms were triggered by the presence of the foreign spell, and they worked quickly to unweave any of the good Niall had intended. The result of the battling magics left Logan dizzy and aggravated. Though Niall’s power was great, he had not been prepared for the resistance and unfortunately it was not long before his energy was completely blocked out.

Balthazar almost laughed, seeing that his magic had won the invisible war that was raging within Logan’s head. This left the bodyguard seeing red.

 “This is your last warning asshole” Logan spat. Unable to control the sudden flash of anger, he found himself shoving the stranger backwards with surprising strength.

Niall turned his attention fully to the older mange. His face twisted with rage and disgust. "I have no idea what game you are playing with this poor boy, Romano," he all but snarled, his eyes narrowed with fury. "I promise you, though that I will not just let this one go. I am going to find out what you are doing, and I am going stop you."

Niall turned back to the younger man who was nearly shaking with his own rage. "As for you," his voice gentled, full of remorse and sympathy as he spoke these words, "I don't know who you are or why Balthazar is willing to spend so much energy on you, but I know him. I know him well. So, when his plan comes to fruition, please remember that you are not alone. Whatever is within my power to do to help, I will do so. My name is Niall Tiergnan. You can find me in the yellow pages. Please come to me when you find yourself in need of friend."

Balthazar’s eyes shot daggers at the young sorcerer as he physically pushed his bodyguard towards the car. “You’re always such a delight,” he practically hissed. With that, he slammed the door of the limo closed.

As he relaxed into the seat, Logan’s rage began to subside, leaving him once again with the pain. Niall Tiergnan – the name sounded funny. Well, he was one hell of a crazy bastard, that’s for sure.

Niall watched Balthazar and his guard leave, feeling frustrated and useless once again.  Tonight he couldn’t seem to get anything right.  He would have to see about the young man, though.  Even besides Balthazar’s interference, there was something…something that set Niall’s instincts on edge.  There was more going on there than was even apparent after their brief encounter.  Niall would have to do some digging when he had the time.  Anything he could do to thwart Balthazar Romano was worth the effort after all.   

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