PART 2


The Best Laid Plans...


Later that afternoon, Miguel strolled into the same Inn that Tulio had directed their prey only hours before. He was careful not to let himself be seen, for his bright golden hair was all too recognizable in a sea of brunettes, so he pulled his cloak's hood up over his head and down over his eyes as he sunk into a quiet corner to observe. Tulio was not far off, standing outside, carelessly tossing his dice up and down in his hand as he whistled to himself. All that was left to do now was wait...

In alittle less than a half-hour their targets appeared. The man stormed past the bar and headed outside, towards Tulio, though he did not know it was him, while his wife wandered over to a table and sat herself down. Miguel took a deep calming breath and moved towards her, sitting down beside her, smiling cheerfully as he accidently bumped into her chair as he did.

"Oh excuse me!" he gasped, lifting his hood.

She smiled at him, but did not recognize him. "It's alright," she assured him, then suddenly gasped and looked to her side. Her coin purse was gone. She glared at Miguel, who looked guiltily at her and then smiled sheepishly at her.

"Oh, this must be yours..." he said, handing back to her.

"Yes, it is." she muttered.

"I'm sorry, sometimes my stomach takes over my brain. I haven't eaten anything in a few days." he admitted. She looked at him skeptically, and then smiled brightly.

"Well then why don't you share my dinner with me. It's more than one woman could eat." she said.

"Thank you seniora!" Miguel said happily, digging in. As he ate he gave a side long glance at the window, watching as Tulio moved into position...

***


Tulio had waited as he watched the tall stranger come out the door, then moved in quickly, stepping directly into his path, causing the two of them to collide.

"Ai! Watch where your going you clumsy oaf!" the brute barked as Tulio picked himself up from the dust.

"I'm very sorry senior, excuse me," he said in a quick nervous voice as he reached for his dice, which had "accidently" fallen out of vest pocket, but the other man snatched them up before.

Exactly as Tulio had predicted.

"You play?" the man asked.

"Oh, only a little, senior." Tulio said modestly, all the while trying to keep himself from smiling.

The other man grinned. "Care for a short game?" he asked.

"Well, I only have a little gold on me and I--" Tulio began, but the bigger man put his arm around Tulio's thin shoulders, leading him away.

"Nonsense, my good man. What did you say your name was?" he asked.

"Armon," Tulio lied. "And who might you be?"

"You may call me Alejandro, and that is all you need know." he said gruffly.

Tulio allowed himself a small smirk of triumph. Everything was going just as he had planned it. He would intice Senior "Alejandro" into a little game of dice, pretend not to know what he was doing, let him win, take him back to the Inn where they would meet with Miguel and his wife, have a few drinks--a few "drugged" drinks, and then summon the authorities. It was simple, it was straightforward, it was fail proof...

Until Miguel's emotions got involved.

***


Miguel and Amelia, for that was her name he learned, waited outside the Inn, talking idoly. The two of them had rather hit it off, and Miguel found himself feeling sorry to turn the two of them in. However, it was no time to let emotions get involved. Never get emotionally attached, it was just business, that was something Tulio had always told him. Of course, Tulio wasn't ALWAYS a man of his word, I mean with the whole Chel thing, but Miguel would rather not think about that.

"Is this your horse?" Amelia asked as Miguel lead Altivo towards them, feeding him a carrot he had saved from their dinner.

"Yes, this is Altivo. He's a good friend of mine," Miguel said as Altivo whinnied and nodded in reply, nuzzling Miguel's hair.

"I can tell." she giggled, petting his muzzle.

"So, what do you do for a living?" she asked then.

Miguel smiled disarmingly. "I'm a traveling circus performer, actually. A fire eater, would you like to see?" he asked.

Amelia laughed at his jest. "I can't tell when you're joking and when you're not." she admitted.

"Yeah, I hear that alot." Miguel admitted.

"Ever been to London?" she asked suddenly as the two of them sat down on the stairs and gazed into the darkening night sky.

"I was born there." Miguel replied, "My father was a sailor. He married my mother here in Spain, and then they sailed together to England. After I was born they moved back here."

"I hear it's nice there." Amelia said wistfully.

"Sure, if you're rich." Miguel chuckled.

Amelia smiled somewhat sadly and gazed into the distance. "Then I'm sure we will be quite happy."

Miguel gazed at her for a long time. She really didn't deserve what he and his partner had in store for her. He wondered if Amelia and her husband were not so different from he and Tulio, just a couple of generally good people who had fallen on hard times. Inside him an internal war was waging between his heart and his mind.

"Planning to escape to London, huh..." he said at last, making Amelia gasp and stare at him. "Go, how far do you think you'll get?"

She jumped up, looking at him fearfully and angrily. "Who are you?" she demanded.

Miguel smiled sadly at her, "I'm not so different from you. Or at least, I didn't used to be."

"You're after our reward." Amelia said at last.

"I was. But now, I just can't find the heart too. Like I said, I know what it's like to be in your shoes. So if I were you, I'd find your husband and get out of town as fast as you can." he said, beginning to stand up. Then, quite suddenly, two massive hands were around his throat...

***


Tulio had "Alejandro" in the palm of his hands. He had won all of Tulio's money from him, and they had already put back a bottle of wine. Everything was going smoothly as they staggered back towards the Inn, Alejandro's arm slung around his shoulders like they were old friends. Tulio smiled as he saw Miguel and Alejandro's wife waiting for them on the steps. Everything might go according to plan, for once.

But then he noticed the alarmed and angry look on the woman's face, and the guilty defeated look on Miguel's. His heart jumped into his throat.

"You're after our reward." he heard the woman say. Alejandro stopped suddenly and his arm dropped from Tulio's shoulders, as Tulio's stomach dropped to his feet.

"I was. But now, I just can't find the heart to. Like I said, I know what it's like to be in your shoes. So if I were you, I'd find your husband and get out of town as fast as you can." Miguel said. Then suddenly, Alejandro was no longer standing beside him. He was standing behind Miguel, massive hands wringing the golden blonde's delicate throat.

Miguel let out a gurgling yell as his hands flew to his throat, trying to pull the other man's hands away, but they were like an iron vice.

"LET HIM GO!" Tulio found himself shouting as he ran forward. The bigger man raised an eyebrow at him.

"So, you're with this little street rat?" he snarled.

Tulio was in a panic, Miguel had stopped struggling so much and his eyes were rolling up into his head. He was desperate. He grabbed hold of the woman standing beside him and thrust a knife to her throat. "LET HIM GO, OR I'LL KILL HER!" he shouted.

"Armond!" Amelia cried, feeling the knife tip at her throat. "Armond let him go!"

The bigger man grunted in disgust, and let go of Miguel's neck, and the other man sagged limply to the ground, unconscious.

Tulio released Amelia at once and dropped to Miguel's side, taking him in his arms as Armond, formerly Alejandro and Amelia went running down the street. Amelia glanced back at the two men as her husband dragged her beside him. She knew that Tulio never had any intention of hurting her, he only wanted his friend's life....

"Miguel! Miguel!" Tulio cried, craddling Miguel's still figuer and gently rubbing his throat to help him breath, which thankfully he was, however slow or faint it may be. The Inn Kepper came out then, having heard the commtion and seen the crowd that had gathered to watch and brought out a cup full of water for Miguel.

"Here, senior," he said handing it to Tulio.

"Thank you." the black-haired man said, lifting Miguel's head and holding to the cup to Miguel's lips, letting a little trickle into his mouth. It seemed to revive him a bit and he drank the rest greedily, coughing and looking up at Tulio in a daze.

"Tulio...?"

"Are you alright!?" Tulio gasped, lifting him to his feet, letting him lean on him for support.

"I'm fine..." Miguel nodded, rubbing his throat.

"Are you sure?" Tulio asked again, making him look at him.

"I'm positive." Miguel replied.

"Good, because I'm going to kill you!" he shouted, making Miguel wince. He dragged his partner around to the back of the Inn where they could continue the rest of their conversation in private, aside from Altivo, who simply snorted in annoyance. "Miguel, this was YOUR idea, why did you screw it up?!" Tulio shouted.

"I just...I just couldn't. Tulio, you and I were like them once, they don't deserve to spend the rest of their lives in a prison cell, or worse being hanged." Miguel tried to explain.

Tulio raked his hands through his dark hair, "Oh, of all the times for you to grow a conscience why did it have to be now!?" he shouted irritably.

"Just let them go, Tulio, please, for my sake?" Miguel asked desperatley, holding Tulio's hand in his. Tulio stared at him for a long moment, then pulled the younger man into his arms and held him tightly, kissing his forehead.

"For your sake, darling, I would give my life." he whispered. Miguel smiled and buried his face in Tulio's shoulder lovingly. They pulled a way a moment later, smiling tiredly at each other. "Let's go home." Miguel nodded and the two of them hopped onto Altivo's back, and trotted off towards home.

Back