Extremely creepy bookseller who may or may not be evil but is at least nice, or extremely creepy dude in suit who claims to be good but has no qualms about killing people. Sheesh, could my options get any worse? Tough choice...
Nathan chewed on his lip so hard it began to bleed. He didn't trust Micah, couldn't trust him. He'd only known him for maybe a few minutes. Alton at least had a few hours on him, and no matter what this guy said, he at least was nice to him. "Can... do I have to tell you who I chose?" he asked, wincing because just by asking that question, it was pretty clear he had chosen Alton. Micah's glare never faltered, even as he turned back towards the road.
"If that is what you wish," the man said through his teeth. "I will be keeping an eye on you, Nathan." The door to the sports car swung closed, just missing Nathan's leg, before Micah tore down the street, leaving him standing alone on the sidewalk. Even when he was out of sight, Nathan just stood there, shaking.
"What the hell have I gotten myself into?"
"Sterling & Son. Can I help you?"
"Alton?" Nathan said into his cell, fighting back a desperate urge to start screaming at him for answers. "Hey, do you have a minute? I need to talk to you..."
"Certainly, but can we do this face to face? It'll be much easier to talk in person."
"Uh, sure. Um... can you come here? I really don't feel like walking all the way back..."
"Of course. I will be over shortly."
"Okay. Okay... wait a minute." A tight knot formed in Nathan's stomach. "Alton, do you even know who's calling you?"
Alton laughed on the other end of the line. "Nathan, please. I know your voice..."
"But why do you want to talk face to face? For all you know, I-I could be asking about a book or something."
"Nathan, I know you're not calling about a book. Just calm down and I'll be right over."
"But I haven't even given you my address!"
There was silence on the other end, then the drone of a dial tone. He'd hung up. "Fuck," Nathan growled, quickly calling him back. The phone rang several times before the machine picked up, listing the store hours. He almost threw his phone against the wall in frustration. "God damn it!"
Taking a deep breath he began to wander towards the living room sofa. Maybe if he just stretched out and took a quick nap he could pull his thoughts together. He had barely settled into the cushions when there was a light knocking at the door. "Fuck," he grumbled again, rubbing his temple as he stood up to go answer it. "Need to pick up some aspirin, ibuprofen, olanzapine..."
Nathan started, staring wide-eyed at Alton standing in the doorway. The bookseller adjusted his glasses, smiling at him.
"May I come in?"
Nathan opened his mouth, gaping like a fish, then motioned for him to come inside. Alton nodded politely, stepping past him and into the apartment, getting a quick look around at the stacks of boxes yet to be unpacked before the other man found his voice and finally asked, "How the hell did you get here so fast?"
Alton chuckled and shrugged. Nathan took a deep breath and ran his fingers through his hair. Time for some answers. "I want to know what's going on," he demanded.
"Hmm, then I assume you talked to Micah then?" Alton asked, peeking curiously into one of the boxes. "What did he say to you?"
Nathan rolled his eyes, tired of running through these hoops to get information. "He said that I'm the Attractor and that I will be drawn to some evils or they'll be drawn to me or something, but that's about it. He didn't say why, or what I should look out for or anything. All he said was that I had to choose between helping him or helping you." He folded his arms, giving Alton a small glare. The bookseller turned and smirked at him.
"Judging by the panic in your voice when you called, you've decided to help me, and Micah likely didn't take that decision very well."
"He slammed the car door and drove off in a huff, yeah."
Alton sighed, shaking his head. "He always did have a temper..."
"Well," Nathan said. "Since I'm helping you, can you please give me some straight answers? I just want to know what the hell I'm getting into, at least before I start running into these evil... things."
That made Alton smile, and he nodded again as he walked over to the sofa. He turned, taking a seat and folding his hands in his lap before he leaned forward, ready for his questions. "Ask anything you like, Nathan. I will answer you ."
"Okay then! Finally!" Nathan plopped down on the sofa next to him, eager to start getting some answers. "First, why did he keep calling you Lu? That has been bugging me since he said it and he wouldn't tell me."
Alton gave him a rueful smile, his brows furrowing. "I'm afraid I can't tell you directly, but I can give you some hints. Let me guess: Micah teased you about not being able to figure it out for yourself."
"Yes," Nathan growled, a bit disappointed that Alton wouldn't just tell him either. "He said that I'm clearly not as wonderful a writer as I think I am since I didn't know."
"That's harsh, even for him. Well, let's see if I can help you out a bit." But he hesitated, frowning. Nathan waited for him to begin, but Alton remained silent, turning away from him. The writer raised an eyebrow.
"What? Is it really that bad? I can understand embarrassing names and all, but you know what they say about names..."
"Names have power, Nathan," Alton interrupted, sounding horrifyingly serious. "As soon as you know my name -- at least the one that Micah derives his nickname for me from -- your opinion of me will change. It's like the difference between calling someone an African American or a nigger." He looked back at him, fixing his blue eyes on him. "If you should choose to help Micah after this, I wouldn't be surprised."
"Uh..." Nathan stared at him, trying not to lock eyes with him. "Just... just give me the hints already and we'll see where it goes from there?"
Alton sighed and looked away again, nodding slowly. "Okay." He closed his eyes. "Your first hint is Micah's real name. Just as I can't tell you mine, he can't tell you his, and with the things you'll be seeing, you should at least know who you're dealing with." He took of his glasses, folding them in his lap. "His real name is Michael."
"Michael?" Nathan echoed. "Really? Micah's real name is Michael? Not very creative, is he?"
"No, nor is his choice of St. George as his last name. He thought it appropriate, given the legend of the saint slaying the dragon." Alton glanced over at him. "That's your second hint: I am a dragon."
"Okay, now you've confused me. Do you mean literally, Chinese zodiac sign, or..."
"I'm sorry I'm being so vague. I honestly wish I could just tell you what Lu is short for, but please, Nathan, think! Michael? Saint George? Dragon? What do these things have in common?"
Nathan stared blankly at him, frustrated that he was missing something that apparently was very obvious. Alton turned to face him, staring at him desperately, begging for him to make the connection.
"They're..." the writer said slowly, grasping at the only thing he could think of. "Sort of... biblical?"
Alton nodded, encouraging him to keep going with that line of thought. "Yes, yes. And so is my name. What biblical name do you know of that starts with..."
"JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!"
Nathan leapt from his seat and clear across the room, staring back at Alton in terror. The other man winced, then gave him a sideways smirk, chuckling. That laugh was somehow more disturbing than before. "Please, watch your language. Judging by your reaction, you know who I am." Alton stared at Nathan over the rims of his glasses. "I can't tell you the version of that name that I prefer until you say it out loud."
"Lu... Lu..." He almost couldn't bring himself to say it. "Lucifer?"
Alton lifted his chin with satisfaction, then nodded. "I prefer the less infamous Lumiel, but yes, that is the name I am most well-known by. And before you ask, yes, I am that Lucifer. Likewise, Micah is that Michael." He leaned idly against his hand, completely unfazed by the fear in Nathan's face. "Do you want to reconsider whose side you're on now? I wouldn't blame you..."
Holy. Fucking. Shit.