Gabriel stared for a few seconds before he closed his mouth. He shut his eyes, swallowed, and gathered the strength to stare his brother in the face again.
"You just ate..."
Dr. Mason set the platter stacked high with cracked beef ribs aside, and dabbed the edge of his lip with a napkin. It was a stark contrast to the savage hunger he had just exhibited.
"Thank you. I needed that."
Gabriel pulled up a chair, finally daring to sit across from him. He looked behind him for a moment, up through the window where the silhouette of the Bazaar loomed uncomfortably close.
"So do you mean it this time? You've given up on that Well business?"
"Yes, Gabriel. I...I reached the precipice where Science could no longer..." He rubbed some of the grease off his fingers. "In the third cabinet..."
"I already had a look." He grinned as he reached under the table and set the two large brown bottles on the linen. "I always thought you preferred wine, brother. Is this some new venture of yours? Like the acid mints or the spore toffee?"
Darien shook his head. "Open one."
A flick of his ring, and the cap spun onto Darien's pile of bones. Gabriel held the neck of the bottle under his nose. He grimaced, placing it arm's length from him on the table.
"Are you KIDDING me, Darien? That's VILE! I've smelled better things in the Rookery!"
Darien gazed back through eyes reddened from lost days of sleep. "I took a sample of what they used...He wanted me drink it all in one sitting. Drink to oblivion. And that was the least repulsive suggestion."
"And what made you stop?"
"He wanted me to betray you. Or to be more exact...arrange for you to betray me..."
Gabriel leaned back and shook his head, covering his eyes. "What kind of Biblical nonsense...!"
"We promised after we saved Wren..."
"We would never betray each other..."
"Not for the Game. Not for the War we never fought. Not for the devils." He pointed towards the swirling cloud of bats that obscured the lights of the Bazaar. "And especially not for them."
Gabriel looked up, and chuckled as he cracked a weak smile. "And that goes double for Mr. Eaten!"
The brothers jumped from their seats at the sound of the shrieking bats and flapping wings, just on the other side of the window.
Wren ran into the dining room to Gabriel's side. He coddled her as the terrified black-and-red kitten in her arms arched his back and yowled.
"Hear, Hear..." mused Darien as he closed the curtain.