Fang forced his eyes open. He slowly realized that he was lying in his bed. Fang had no recollection of crawling in to bed late last night. There were some vague visions of Shadow moving him stirred in his mind. He closed his eyes again in exhaustion. Slowly, the smell of breakfast wafted up to him. He wanted to get up but his body protested in every way. Soon he drifted back into sleep.
When he woke up again Shadow had entered the room with a tray of breakfast. With an effort, Fang sat up in bed.
“You’ve seen better days,” Shadow said with a smile.
“Shut up!” Fang said as he ate his food, “So how many people have you told?”
Shadow smiled, “I told you that I wouldn’t tell anyone.”
Fang eyed Shadow skeptically. He learned from his time as an assassin that trusting any one person was a grave mistake. Fang had troubles trusting people. He glared at Shadow as he walked across the room to the bathroom. Fang heard the bath starting. He scowled as Shadow came back out.
“I have your bath running when you’re ready,” Shadow said before going through Fang’s dresser.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Fang said.
“Well, you are tired,” Shadow smiled slyly, “I figured I’d help you out. You know, be your personal butler or something. I’m already your second in command. Might as well, right?”
Fang said nothing. The phrase “Keep your fiends close and keep your enemies closer” kept running through his head. He looked at Shadow with a wary glance. What could Shadow’s motive be?
“Anything else I can get you, Fang?” Shadow looked at Fang.
There was nothing out of the ordinary in his stance that Fang noticed. His eyes were filled with his usual mischief. He stood with his weight shifted on one leg. There was a small smile on his face like he knew something that no one else knew. But no matter how much he tried, Fang couldn’t see any motive for Shadow’s sudden involvement in his life. He had no objections. Fang shook his head and Shadow nodded and left.
After a bath, Fang walked down stairs. Penelope read a manga she had just bought and Alister sat near the fountain polishing one of his guns. Blue and Arisa were, of course, playing with each other while Raven sat cross-legged on the floor in a type of meditation. Shadow stood a little ways off, watching and making sure things stayed peaceful. Fang could sense that the others were starting to get restless but Fang had told the Undertaker not to take any new missions for another three days. He had though it would take longer for everyone to recover but now he was wondering what to do with them.
The radio was on and Fang over heard that it was going to be rather hot today. A thought came to him.
“Get your things together,” he said, “We’re going to the beach.”
“Yay!” Arisa cried out.
“The beach?” Alister asked, looking over his shoulder.
“What about my meditations?” Raven asked.
“You can do those later,” Fang said.
“T-t-the beach? A-a-as in salt water?” Penelope stuttered.
“Yeah,” Fang sighed
“W-w-with sharks and jellyfish and eels and fast currents?” she asked again.
“Yeah,” Alister interrupted, “you know, what the Island is surrounded by because we live on an island in the middle of the ocean.”
Penelope’s eyes narrowed at Alister. She was about to say something before Arisa cried with glee as she ran up the stairs with Blue close behind.
“Well, come on,” Fang said, “We won’t be going anywhere for the next few days and maybe more than that. We might as well make that most of it.”
After a few more minutes of persuading and a threat that if they didn’t get ready Fang would shoot them in the head, they made their way through the streets. They were relatively close to the coastline so it didn’t take them that long to get there. The beach was free of course. There were quite a few people there because of the warm weather but the group found a spot.
Fang sat on the large beach towel. Naturally, he wasn’t going to be swimming not like he wanted to. The others were taking out their own towels. Penelope looked sick to her stomach. She sat in her one-piece purple swimsuit looking at the water like it was going to eat her. Arisa grabbed a deflated beach ball and begged Blue to blow it up for her since “his lungs were much bigger that hers and could fill it up faster”. Arisa jumped up and down in her pink two-piece and once the ball was filled with air she threw it at Alister. Slightly annoyed, as he sat in red and black swim trunks, he batted the ball toward Penelope. It hit her in the head and she glared at Alister.
“What the heck is you problem?! Can’t you see that there is someone sitting here?! How insensitive can you be?! Can’t you just leave me alone?!”
Alister leaned over to Shadow who wore a black sleeveless shirt and black pants, “Someone in in their time of the month’, if you know what I mean.”
Shadow just shrugged.
“I am not!” Penelope over heard.
Why are you so angry? It was just a beach ball.
Blue looked at her questionably. He knelt in the sand in his blue swim trunks.
Penelope turned her annoyance on him, “It isn’t any of your business! Why don’t you go and bug someone else?!”
“That’s not nice!” Arisa said standing between Penelope and Blue.
“I don’t have to be!” Penelope snapped.
“Now, now, that isn’t a way to treat each other,” a familiar voice said.
Raven tilted her head up in the shade of the standing figure, “Hello, Undertaker. Reighn.”
“Hello dearie,” the Undertaker’s familiar smile appeared.
The little creature waved its tail causing the bell to ring.
“Now, I wasn’t expecting to see you all here today,” the Undertaker laughed.
He wore his usual clothing, the same long coat and funny hat. It looked a little odd to be wearing it at the beach but he didn’t look uncomfortable. He smiled at the seven people before him while Reighn perched on his right shoulder.
“They were starting to get restless,” Fang said.
“We are supposed to be having fun but Penelope’s ruining it!” Arisa complained.
Penelope looked as if she was about to say something hurtful when she caught sight up Fang’s unhappy glare. Gradually, she closed her mouth. The Undertaker smiled, briefly while no one was watching his gold eyes glittered from underneath his mess of hair.
“Well dearie,” he referred to Penelope, “maybe if you explain what might be bothering you, we might be able to help.”
Penelope looked away. She stared at the water for just a few seconds to long.
“I don’t have to tell you anything, you crazy old coot!”
Undertaker took no offence. He knelt down and sat on his ankles. The smile he always wore growing on his face as he suppressed a laugh.
“You wouldn’t happen to be afraid of the water, would you?” he said kindly.
Penelope’s cheeks grew red. She hadn’t wanted anyone to know.
Raven looked at her, “You don’t like the water?”
“So what if I don’t!” Penelope shouted.
“Oh, it ain’t that bad,” Alister looked at the waves, “it’s a little cold sometimes an’ the fishes might nibble on your toes but all in all, its fine.”
Penelope looked at her legs, “I-I-I can’t swim.”
“It’s weird when she does ‘at,” Alister muttered to Shadow. He referred to her changing personality.
Again, Shadow said nothing, keeping his position neutral.
“I heard that!” Penelope said.
“There she goes again,” Alister whispered.
Shadow shook his head, “Come on, Penelope, let’s get you used to the water. Maybe you will be able to swim by the end of the day.”
He stood up and took Penelope to the water. Arisa slapped Blue on the back and with a ‘tag you’re it’ she darted to the water. Slightly dazed, Blue ran after her. On land she had the advantage with her small body but in the water Blue caught up to her easily. Raven stood in her black swimsuit with a small bag in search of sea shells. Feeling left out Alister got up, grabbed the shunned ball and headed to the water. Reighn looked at the Undertaker with a question in its eyes. The Undertaker smiled and nodded. The little creature ran after Alister and climbed up to his shoulder. They both walked to the water.
The Undertaker sat next to Fang.
“What are you two doing here?” Fang asked.
“To keep an eye on you,” the Undertaker said.
Fang eyed him cautiously.
“Oh, Fang,” Undertaker laughed hysterically, “You really need to be more trusting! Me keeping an eye on you?! Really, Fang! You amuse me sometimes!”
“Then why are you here?” Fang said with a hint of resentment in his voice.
Just as suddenly as he started he stopped laughing, “I don’t think I’ll tell you.”
“What? Why?” Fang asked.
“Why do you think I’m here?” Undertaker turned to Fang.
There was something in his tone of voice that was different. Fang wasn’t sure what it was or whether or not he liked it. But he thought about how to answer the question.
Well let’s see, he could be secretly working for the Tower again and just keeping tabs on me and my team. Or he could be trying to get information out of me somehow. Then again, it could be just coincidence. But there are no such things as coincidences. The odds of us meeting here on this day and this hour are pretty rare. He had to be after something. He does have shady connections. Maybe he’s spying on me for one of them?
Fang stopped himself. What in the world was he thinking? It was a hot day; probably most of the Island was out at the beach or going to the pools. Fang sighed.
“What about your shop?” Fang asked.
“It’s closed for the day,” Undertaker smiled as he watched Penelope run away from one of the waves as Shadow tried to teach her how to swim.
“You’re rarely ever closed,” Fang said, becoming skeptical again, “and I can’t imagine Reighn being okay with that.”
“It wasn’t his choice. Being in our predicament, he wanted to be outside too,” Undertaker watched as the little creature tried to demonstrate the ease of swimming for Penelope.
“Will you just tell me why you’re here?” Fang was losing his patience.
Undertaker tilted his head toward him a smile growing on his lips, “Maybe. If you tell me a joke that is.”
Fang glared at the other man. If looks could kill there would be daggers shooting out of Fang’s eyes.
“You really aren’t that funny, are you?” Undertaker sounded greatly disappointed, “One could always use a good joke.”
“Undertaker,” Fang growled, “I will ask you one more time before I do something I might regret: WHY ARE YOU HERE!?”
The Undertaker smiled wildly, “Our air conditioner is broken.”