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#29: Defensive wounds

"Does it matter? I got it all tucked back inside,” Vincent muttered, poking gingerly at his bandages. The look he shot Giles was pure hatred. “You let him in. You let Smyth bully you—bully us all—around. Led us on a wild goose chase, he did. All to save the day! And then let the bad guy go at the end!”

“He didn't just 'let him go'-”

“He shot me!”

“You shot him!” Giles thundered, rising to his feet, all concern for his friend now evaporating. “And pushed Temble off of a balcony, let me remind you.”

Reginald's look of eager amusement was replaced with pure surprise. “Jane was what?”

“Not Jane. Her brother, Orrie. The one that was using the gas lamps to communicate with his criminal underlings. Do try to keep up, Reggie,” Vincent rolled his eyes. He would have thought that while he was upstairs fishing a bullet out of his ribs, Sir Crothall would have bothered making use of the reprieve. He still couldn't believe that the silver-spoon gentleman would have turned tail and run at the first sight of real action. But then Vincent was a little surprised that Smyth had shot him.

“I'm sorry, did you say that Vincent shot John Smyth?” Reginald would not be put off.

“A very long time ago, yes,” Vincent sat back in his chair, “But I thought we had moved on from that. Apparently I was wrong.”

Giles rose to look out the window, his peevishness at his friend still clear on his face, “Maybe when a man like Smyth asks you not to follow him into a dark tunnel...”

“He knew who I was, Giles. He did it on purpose.”

Neither Giles nor Reginald quite knew what to say to that. The night had been a weird one.

The doorbell rang. From his vantage point at the window, Giles could see the dark figure fiddling with something on the step.

“Everybody get down!”

* * *

“How long do we need to stay here?” For the most part, Ms. Jane Temble was a proper sort of lady and she hated to appear impatient. But great things were afoot. Her brother was a criminal, apparently of the highest order. A man had been shot. A bombing had been averted. And she was hidden away inside a warehouse with an overweight book-pusher.

Lovely.

“Until morning.” Perrigordon never even looked up from his work. Though she had no way to tell time, Ms Temble figured that the professor had been bent over his work bench for nigh on two hours, perhaps more.

“How will we know when it's safe?”

“Because it'll be morning.”

Jane awoke with a start. That she could have even dozed off in her uncomfortable surroundings was a shock. That there were now other people in the room with her was even more of one.

“Ah, sorry. We had to start our day, Ms. Temble,” Perrigordon lumbered up, “Never mind them. They're safe as safe can be. Won't introduce you, though, since they're about as top secret as the work we do here. 'Bout time we get going, in fact.”

Jane nodded dumbly, rising to her feet and noting how stiff she was. How long had she slept?

“G'day, Terrence. I'll be checking in on you later once I, well, you know-” Professor Perrigordon gave one of the gentlemen a secret smile as they left the mysterious warehouse.

Ms. Temble couldn't help but crane her neck to give the building one last glance. An odd chapter in an odd day.

Still, one needn't dwell upon the past. It was time to see how the rest of MDOPFGIASA had fared once Smyth had forced Ms Temble into protective custody. Their first stop was to be Vincent Wexley's home, the original rendezvous for their little team.

Jane and James chatted awkwardly about such things as the weather as they made their way across the city. Far too much had happened in the prior twenty-four hours to talk about anything truly serious.

But chatter died off the moment their cab turned onto Vincent's block. Something was missing, namely the centre third of the facade of Wexley's flat.