Erinne shoved arrows around in the quiver nervously as Ian drove the Mercedes along the tiny country roads at nearly a hundred miles an hour.
"OK," she said, lurching, "I'm trusting you for no apparent reason. So it had better be good,"
"I'm on the Council," he said.
Erinne frowned. "The Watcher's Council?"
"Yes. Would you put on your seat belt, please?"
"Fake card, good timing. Nice job, Ian...is that really your name?"
He shot her a pained look. "Of course it is,"
"So how will you help me?"
"I can help you kill the Harbingers," he slid his eyes at her. "Seat belt. Please?"
"You're human, Ian," she said, buckling.
He grinned, a blinding slice of manhood. Erinne blinked, collecting herself. Great smile, so what?
"I'm smart for a human," he said, "And I'm better with a sword than anyone you'll find in any society of anachronists,"
"Not saying much,"
He laughed. "You'll see," then he shot her a sideways look, "I'll show you a few things about me, if you'll give me a chance. Just give me a chance,"
"Why do you want one?"
He twisted his hands on the wheel and they careened around a steep embankment and tore up an incredibly narrow road, spewing gravel. Erinne braced her hand on the dashboard, maintaining her gaze on him.
"I first read your file about ten years ago. You know about the files?"
Erinne glowered. "My mother nuked those files on all of us,"
"After she was onto the Council. But by then..." he swallowed and suddenly looked somber, "Well, by then, I already felt that I knew you,"
"That's creepy, Ian," but she felt a light tug under her breastbone, something tender and dangerous.
"I never meant to study you. I've studied your mother's career, of course," he laughed, "She's given them a run, all right. About time. Council policy was in the dark ages before Buffy," he said her mother's name with such reverence that Erinne felt a simultaneous flush of pride and envy, "But then there was you. There were pictures, and some video. I've read some of your essays," he paused, coloring slightly, "You were very special. Everyone knew it. At first they were afraid of you, wanted to get blood samples, that kind of thing. Barbaric. Someone alerted your family,"
Erinne stared at him.
"Not that they need much help. Your mother is SMART. And she's got connections in the magical community and in the CIA. There's no getting anything over on your family,"
"We were under surveillance?" asked Erinne, her mind reeling.
"Not for long. Your father has excellent hearing,"
"But I never knew any of this. I never knew-"
"They wanted you to have a real childhood, with a house and a yard and school. Your mother nearly killed three members of the Council. Dragged them out from under the house and strung them up like sides of beef. She wasn't going to play around. All observation of your family was called off. I never understood why we had to be on opposite sides. Aren't we trying to do the same thing?"
"What would happen if the Council knew you were helping me right now?"
"They should be lending a hand," he blurted angrily, "You should have had help from the first day,"
"That's not what I asked you,"
He shrugged, smiling. There were crinkles by his eyes, friendly ones that accentuated the lush fringe of black lashes, the startling feral green of his irises. He raised an elegant eyebrow at her.
"You'll be in trouble, won't you?" she asked.
"Council's due for a makeover," he said firmly.
"How can you make it over if you're kicked out?"
He looked directly at her as they slid to a halt, grinding soil.
"If we're a success, I won't be," he said.