Jenkins studied the volumes on the desk in his workroom, seeing the words but not taking in their meaning. It had been months since Nicole Noone had tried to bring the library down by kidnapping Flynn and driving all the younger Librarians to abandon their duties. Had it not been for Col. Baird's belief in her team and in the Library itself, Flynn's former Guardian might have succeeded. He gently rubbed the spot on his chest where he had been stabbed by the Harness of Mahakali that Ms. Noone had trapped him in. Flynn told him he had died - yet he remembered nothing of it. His last memory of the terrible things he had been forced to inflict on his friends was feeling the dagger - the Kiss of Mahakali - pierce his heart, something being thrown over him and his making some maudlin comment to Cassandra about her cucumber sandwiches - and then waking up to see the vivid blue eyes of his oldest and dearest friend staring down at him sadly.
"Why, exactly, did you not send a message to me when this all began?" Arthur - the once and future king of legend - had asked, sitting on the edge of dais the Librarians had laid Jenkins on. The young king was in his formal robes, red flames in the form of a phoenix emblazoned on a gold silk tunic with dark pants and high leather boots. His blond hair was longer than when Jenkins had last seen him and the young king was now sporting the start of a beard and mustache reminiscent of his father's. "I know you lot like to take care of things on your own - but this surely would have come into my purvey as a danger not only to the library but to the world."
Jenkins sighed, knowing that though the King was years older then the Caretaker it was the knight who looked old and worn. And very, very tired of being on the receiving end of his King's disapproval. He grimaced as he struggled to sit up, wondering if being mortal now was always going to mean a struggle to do the things he had been able to do with ease. Before he had been tricked, before Nicole... 'Arthur, let me explain..."
Arthur waved him off. "I'd rather not have this conversation right now. Ro, Khan and I have a prisoner to off-load on someone and the sooner I get that done the better. Besides which - my siblings and I are in need of a vacation and listening to either you or Flynn explain yourselves is not my idea of a good time."
Jenkins frowned. "A prisoner?" He glanced around the room and saw, to his utter astonishment, that the former Guardian was laying on the floor nearby trussed up like a Christmas goose. Her eyes flashed with hatred as she watched him rise, only change to abject terror as Arthur came into view. "Arthur - what have you done?"
"What I had to do to make sure this crap doesn't happen again" Arthur snarled. "What? You think I'm going to let Flynn just use one of the time devices in the Library to go back and "change everything" so there is a happy ending had by all? That's bull and you know it. All he would succeed in doing is changing how things shook out without this bitch interfering in how the Library operates. Do you honestly think that if she didn't "go dark" that things would be better because she hadn't taken a hand?"
"Well - yes" Jenkins admitted thoughtfully. "You always told me everyone is deserving of a second chance. And I know Mr. Carson would want to give her that. He blames himself..."
"Oh Bollocks Galahad!" Arthur snorted. "There is no way that human could have know how to help her when she got trapped in the past. Even his mentor could not find a way. And you - what are you blaming yourself for? Snatching her up and imprisoning her for her crimes? Really? You were far kinder to the witch than I would have been. Remember - I'm King of Fae. If she had been my prisoner I wouldn't have needed that stupid needle to take her immortality - or her life."
"Arthur, please! You're just angry - you know that the situation would have been different if she had the chance to make a life for herself in the past, if she had not turned into an enemy of the library!" Jenkins slid off the dais, confused by his friends fury. "Flynn just wants to give her that option, to see if she can retain the goodness that drew him to her. You, of all people, should understand..."
"You mean because my sister and I experienced the joy of having our lives turned upside down when God re-shuffled the deck and changed our fates? Maybe our lives got better, little brother, but I can tell you about at least two Archangels who are grieving the loss of the companions they loved. And a whole lot of missions that didn't get done because we weren't in the right place at the right time to complete them. Just like this - did you really think that if she didn't steal that one little needle designed to kill an immortal that Rasputin wouldn't still be out there, looking for it?"
"Is he?" Jenkins asked, aghast.
Arthur sighed in exasperation. "No - of course not. Rowan put the damn needle between his eyes and ended his miserable existence. But the point, little brother, is that things would not have automatically gone all blue skies and sunshine just because she didn't take the Dark Road. Something would always be broken, someone would always be hurt. Things wouldn't necessarily be better - they would just be different. If I had known what was going on I could have at least TRIED to mitigate the problems before they got this bad." Arthur's voice was almost a whisper now as he backed away from his friend, his face grim. "Do you know how it felt for me to come looking to see what was happing, why the Library wasn't answering our call only to find you DEAD! And this whole reality fading into grey? You're lucky I didn't kill her then. I should have..."
"Except that wasn't what was required." Khan's voice echoed in the small room as he and Rowan suddenly appeared. "It looks like the Librarians getting the crap beat out of them by the Library's tests was an important last step in their making the decision to BE Librarians." Both the abbot and the young queen were dressed in khakis and dark t-shirts with Rowan's proclaiming " Why have a princess when you can have a Shield Maiden covered in the blood of her enemies" emblazoned across the front of her shirt. Khan's shirt had a similar sentiment " Wear Your Tragedies as Armor not Shackles " across his broad chest
"Well that's lovely, isn't it?" Arthur snarled, glaring at the trussed up body at his feet. "So they have made up their minds. Happy days for them and the Library. Still doesn't absolve her of what she did."
"I know" Rowan had sighed. "But at least we've reversed one thing. Galahad has his immortality back."
Jenkins looked between the two Fae royals with surprise. "I do? How did you manage that?"
"We didn't" Khan admitted ruefully. "But someone we met when we journeyed to the Loom of Fate was kind enough to take care of it for us. After all, the Gift of the Grail isn't something you can just pass along like Auntie's china. It's a gift given for a reason, something you deserved to be graced with. And she...didn't." He shrugged nonchalantly. Reaching down, he set Nicole upright, seated with her back to the wall and absently patted her on the head like a pet dog. Her eyes glared in fury as he walked away without a backward glance.
"What will you do with her?" Jenkins had asked softly. "You know Flynn's take on this. He won't stand for her being imprisoned for eternity again."
"She doesn't have eternity little brother. Aren't you listening? You have your immortality back - and guess who doesn't. And yes, I know what Flynn wants. I've had to endure at least an hour of him whining about my interference in his plans after we tossed her through into the library with them. You're lucky I like Baird or I would have backhanded him into next week for his insolence."
"He's just annoyed because he didn't get to use time travel to make things all better" Rowan laughed. "He really didn't appreciate his plans being compared to that awful episode of "Dallas" where everything was scrubbed clean with the lame explanation of a whole season being nothing more than a dream."
"His plan wasn't any more original" Arthur replied, dismissively. "And besides - she threatened not only the existence of the Great Library but the entirety of this reality. That puts her actions on my radar - and I don't forgive and forget easily."
"We know, my love, we know" Rowan patted her brother on the arm and motioned Jenkins towards the door. "You might as well join your friends. It's my understanding that Flynn has finally gotten over his nerves and is ready to go through with the tethering ceremony. I think they might just need you for that."
"What will happen to her?" he asked, looking down at his former enemy with pity.
"Not your problem" Arthur snarled, gripping him by the shoulder. "Now go - this Library has gone long enough without a Librarian tethered to it. Time for things to change."
Jenkins slowly made his way to the door then turned. "Wait - what happened in ..." His voice faded as he realized the Triad - and their prisoner - were gone.
"You've been staring at that ledger for twenty minutes" Cassandra's voice floated out of the gloom. The pretty red-headed Librarian moved out of the shadows to stand by her friend, concern mirrored in her eyes. "Is there a problem?"
"No" he admitted sadly. "It just struck me that it's been months seen we've seen Arthur and his family here in the library. I'm just wondering..."
"If they will ever come back?" she asked. "I know Baird said Arthur was angry with Flynn over Nicole but I didn't think that had anything to do with you. He brought you back from the dead - why would he be angry with you?"
Jenkins shrugged. "According to what he told me - they weren't responsible for my return to health or my immortality. Someone they met at the Loom was doing them a favor. As for why he would be angry with me..."
"He's not angry" Baird's voice was calm and compassionate as she joined her teammates. "He's jut got his feelings hurt because you didn't let him help you with Nicole. At least that's what his sister said"
"You talked to Rowan?" Cassandra's eyes brightened with anticipation. "When? Will she be coming back soon?"
Baird sighed. "I talked to her for a moment when we first returned to the Library. She was ... reticent at best to speak without Arthur there. But she did let slip that she felt like you should have contacted Arthur when all of this first started. Arthur felt as though you didn't trust him to deal with the situation - or let us deal with it. Like you didn't trust him to do what was best for all."
Jenkins hands clenched on his desk. "That's absurd. I trust the man with my life. I just didn't see... didn't want" he stuttered to a stop, looking between the two women in confusion.
"You didn't want him to think less of you because of what you had to do to keep Nicole from harming the library" Baird offered softly. "That, she thought, was why you didn't even try to get word to him when the danger of her being free became so real."
"But we didn't try to contact him when we faced off to Apep!" Cassandra protested. "And Apep was a god!"
"And that, I think, is why she didn't want to speak without Arthur there. I have a funny feeling that if Apep hadn't fallen for our plan Arthur and she would have been there to deal with him. But because the Library was the defacto protector of this reality they had to let us at least try." Baird wrapped an arm around the pretty red-head and smiled. "I'm sure Arthur will get over his hurt feelings if Rowan and Khan have anything to say about it."
"I pray so" Jenkins sighed. "I would really like to hear what happened to he and his siblings in that last mission with the archangel Michael."
"You would just like to see your oldest friend" Baird said with a smile. "And frankly, so would I. Come on - we're gathering around our meeting table to see if the clippings book might have something interesting for us all to work on. Something to get us all out of the funk we've been in since..."
Jenkins smiled sadly. "Yes - by all means. Let us see if there is work for us to do. I'm sure magic hasn't stopped spreading into the world just because we've had a mess to clean up here."
Notes: So here in ends the first story - to be continued in Archangels and Librarians - take 2 - where we find out just how bad things got for our Triad and Archangels in the "war" against the Fallen. All told to the Librarians by someone who knows. Hope you all will stick around for the ride.