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Saving raphael santiago, p.5

Saving Raphael Santiago, page 5

 part  #6 of  The Bane Chronicles Series


Saving Raphael Santiago
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Page 5

  Ragnor squinted over at Raphael. Raphael looked balefully back at Ragnor. There was a certain tension in the air.

  “Oh, Magnus,” said Ragnor, and he covered his eyes with one large green hand. “Oh no, no. ”

  “What?” said Magnus, puzzled.

  Ragnor abruptly lowered his hand. “No, you’re right, of course. I’m being silly. He’s a vampire. He only looks fourteen. How old are you? I bet you’re older than either of us, ha-ha. ”

  Raphael looked at Ragnor as if he were mad. Magnus found it quite refreshing to have someone else looked at that way for a change.

  “I’d be sixteen by now,” he said slowly.

  “Oh, Magnus!” Ragnor wailed. “That’s disgusting! How could you? Have you lost your mind?”

  “What?” Magnus asked again.

  “We agreed eighteen was the cutoff age,” said Ragnor. “You, I, and Catarina made a vow. ”

  “A v— Oh, wait. You think I’m dating Raphael?” Magnus asked. “Raphael? That’s ridiculous. That’s—”

  “That’s the most revolting idea I’ve ever heard. ”

  Raphael’s voice rang out to the ceiling. Probably people in the street could hear him.

  “That’s a little strong,” said Magnus. “And, frankly, hurtful. ”

  “And if I did wish to indulge in unnatural pursuits—and let me be clear, I certainly do not,” Raphael continued scornfully, “as if I would choose him. Him! He dresses like a maniac, acts like a fool, and makes worse jokes than the man people throw rotten eggs at outside the Dew Drop every Saturday. ”

  Ragnor began to laugh.

  “Better men than you have begged for a chance to win all this,” Magnus muttered. “They have fought duels in my honor. One man fought a duel for my honor, but that was a little embarrassing since it is long gone. ”

  “Do you know he spends hours in the bathroom sometimes?” Raphael announced mercilessly. “He wastes actual magic on his hair. On his hair!”

  “I love this kid,” said Ragnor.

  Of course he did. Raphael was filled with grave despair about the world in general, was eager to insult Magnus in particular, and had a tongue as sharp as his teeth. Raphael was obviously Ragnor’s soul mate.

  “Take him,” Magnus suggested. “Take him far, far away. ”

  Instead Ragnor took a chair, and Raphael got dressed and joined him at the table.

  “Let me tell you another thing about Bane,” Raphael began.

  “I’m going out,” Magnus announced. “I’d describe what I’m going to do when I go out, but I find it hard to believe that either of you would understand the concept of ‘enjoying a good time with a group of entertaining companions. ’ I do not intend to return until you people are done insulting your charming host. ”

  “So you’re moving out and giving me the apartment?” Raphael asked. “I accept. ”

  “Someday that smart mouth is going to get you into a lot of trouble,” Magnus called darkly over his shoulder.

  “Look who’s talking,” said Ragnor.

  “Hello?” said Raphael, as laconic as usual. “Damned soul. ”

  Worst roommate ever.

  Ragnor stayed for thirteen days. They were the longest thirteen days of Magnus’s life. Every time Magnus tried to have a little fun, there they were, the short one and the green one, shaking their heads in tandem and then saying snotty things. On one occasion Magnus turned his head very quickly and saw them exchanging a fist bump.

  “Write to me,” Ragnor said to Raphael when he was leaving. “Or call me on your telephone if you want. I know the youths like that. ”

  “It was great to meet you, Ragnor,” said Raphael. “I was beginning to think all warlocks were completely useless. ”

  It was not long after Ragnor left that Magnus tried to recall the last time Raphael had drunk blood. Magnus had always avoided thinking about how Camille got her meals, even when he’d loved her, and he did not want to see Raphael kill again. But he saw Raphael’s skin tone change, saw the strained look about his mouth, and thought about getting this far and having Raphael shrivel up out of sheer despair.

  “Raphael, I don’t know quite how to put this, but are you eating right?” Magnus asked. “Until recently you were a growing boy. ”

  “El hambre agudiza el ingenio,” said Raphael.

  Hunger sharpens the wit.

  “Good proverb,” said Magnus. “However, like most proverbs, it sounds wise and yet does not actually clarify anything. ”

  “Do you think I would permit myself to be around my mother—around my small brothers—if I were not sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that I could control myself?” Raphael said. “I want to know that if I were trapped in a room with one of them, if I had not tasted blood in days, I could control myself. ”

  Raphael almost killed another man that night, in front of Magnus’s eyes. He proved his point.

  Magnus did not have to worry about Raphael starving himself out of pity, or mercy, or any softer feeling for the rest of humanity. Raphael did not consider himself a part of humanity anymore and thought he could commit any sin in the world because he was already damned. He had simply been abstaining from drinking blood to prove to himself that he could, to test his own limits, and to exercise the absolute self-control that he was determined to achieve.

  The next night Raphael ran over sacred ground and then calmly drank blood from a tramp sleeping on the street who might never wake up, despite the healing spell Magnus whispered over him. They were walking through the night, Raphael calculating out loud how much longer it would take him to become as strong as he needed to be.

  “I think you’re fairly strong,” said Magnus. “And you have quite a lot of self-control. Look how you sternly repress all the hero worship you are longing to show me that you feel. ”

  “It is sometimes an exercise of real self-control not to laugh in your face,” Raphael said gravely. “That much is true. ”

  It was then that Raphael stiffened, and when Magnus made an inquiring sound, Raphael hushed him sharply. Magnus looked down at Raphael’s dark eyes and followed the direction in which they were fixed. He didn’t know what Raphael was casting an eyeball at, but he figured it was no harm to follow him when Raphael moved.

  There was an alley stretching behind an abandoned Automat. In the shadows there was a rustling that could have been rats in garbage, but as they drew closer, Magnus could hear what had attracted Raphael: the sound of giggling, and the sound of sucking, and the whimpers of pain.

  He was not sure what Raphael was doing, but he had no plans to abandon him now. Magnus clicked his fingers, and there was light—radiating from his hand, filling the alleyway with brightness, and falling onto the faces of the four vampires in front of him, and their victim.

  “What do you people think you’re doing?” Raphael demanded.

  “What does it look like?” said the only girl of the group. Magnus recognized her as the lone brave soul who had accosted him at the Hotel Dumont. “We’re drinking blood. What, are you new?”

  “Is that what you were doing?” Raphael asked in a voice of exaggerated surprise. “So sorry. That must have escaped my attention, since I was preoccupied with how incredibly stupid you were all being. ”

  “Stupid?” echoed the girl. “Do you mean ‘wrong’? Are you lecturing us on—”

  Raphael clicked his fingers impatiently at her. “Do I mean ‘wrong’?” he said. “We’re all dead and damned already. What would ‘wrong’ even mean to beings like us?”

  The girl tilted her head and looked thoughtful.

  “I mean stupid,” said Raphael. “Not that I consider hunting down a slow-witted child honorable, mind you. Consider this: you kill her, you bring the Shadowhunters down on all of us. I don’t know about you people, but I do not wish for the Nephilim to come and cut my life short with a blade because someone was a little too peckish and a lot dumb. ”
br />   “So you’re saying, ‘Oh, spare her life,’” sneered one of the boys, though the girl elbowed him.

  “But even if you don’t kill her,” Raphael continued relentlessly, as if nobody had interrupted him at all, “well, then, you’ve already drunk from her, under uncontrolled and frenzied conditions that would make it easy for her to accidentally taste some of your blood. Which will leave her with a compulsion to follow you about. Do this to enough victims and you’ll either be snowed under with subjugates—and frankly they are not the best conversationalists—or you’ll make them into more vampires. Which, mathematically speaking, eventually leaves you with a blood supply problem because there are no humans left. Humans can waste resources knowing that at least they will not be around to deal with the consequences, but you chumps don’t even have that excuse. Goodness me, you nosebleeds are going to think when a seraph blade cuts your head off or you stare around at a bleak landscape while starving to death, if only I’d been a smart cookie and listened to Raphael when I had the chance. ”

  “Is he serious?” another vampire asked, sounding awed.

  “Almost invariably,” Magnus said. “It’s what makes him such tedious company. ”

  “Is that your name? Raphael?” asked the vampire girl. She was smiling, her black eyes dancing.

  “Yes,” said Raphael irritably, immune to flirtation the same way he was immune to all things that were fun. “What is the point of being immortal if you do nothing with it but be irresponsible and unacceptably stupid? What’s your name?”

  The vampire girl’s smile spread, showing her fangs sparkling behind her lipsticked mouth. “Lily. ”

  “Here lies Lily,” said Raphael. “Killed by vampire hunters because she was murdering people and then not even having the intelligence to cover her tracks. ”

  “What, now you’re telling us to be afraid of mundanes?” another vampire said, laughing, this one a man with silver at his temples. “Those are old stories told to frighten the youngest of us. I assume you’re pretty young yourself, but—”

  Raphael smiled, fangs bared, though his expression had nothing to do with humor. “I am rather young,” he said. “And when I was alive, I was a vampire hunter. I killed Louis Karnstein. ”

  “You’re a vampire vampire hunter?” asked Lily.

  Raphael swore in Spanish. “No, of course I’m not a vampire vampire hunter,” he said. “Exactly what kind of treacherous weasel would I be then? Additionally, what a stupid thing to be. I would instantly be killed by all the other vampires, who would come together over a common threat. At least I hope they would. Maybe they would all be too stupid. I am someone who talks sense,” Raphael informed them all severely, “and there is very little job competition. ”

  The vampire with graying hair was almost pouting. “Lady Camille lets us do what we want. ”

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