Ezekiel had read the planned Council Meeting set up for the coming week and he understood what he was looking at, despite what the title was. He knew what Kennedy was doing and he knew why. But the boy was idealistic. He needed to slow things down. He’d tried to throw all manner of things into their path, but Kennedy and his friends seemed adamant in this progress.

That’s what found him meeting with the Councilor in the Chamber library. He had with him a mental listing of things he needed to use. He was taking note of the things Gabriel did and looked into. The Director didn’t like it.

As usual Councilor Kennedy was dressed in a suit and tie with his briefcase in hand. He entered the library and walked to the table he always made use of when researching, only this time it was occupied by the Director.

Placing his briefcase on the table Gabriel clicked the latches preparing to open it as he looked across the table at Skinner. “Good afternoon Director Skinner.”

“Gabriel.” Skinner continued to sit at the table, knowing it probably unnerved the Councilor’s calm. But the human Councilor all but ignored him beyond their greeting. 

Gabriel removed his tablet where several notes were neatly jotted on the lines. Closing the case he set it down beside his chair and moved to the third shelf starting from the left of the main entrance. Removing the ledger that contained the detailed records of the judgement and imprisonment of one Sebastian Evansworth, Gabriel returned to his seat and carefully opened the heavy leather bound book to the facts regarding the man’s trial and the Councilors that were involved.

“Is there something I can assist you with, sir?” Gabriel kept it professional which wasn’t hard as he spoke to the man responsible for Sen’s change of Councilors. The Director never sought him out like this. Gabriel had an idea of why the man was here, but he’d let him have his say. It wasn’t every day someone pushed an agenda with the full Council with the Director not backing it. But Gabriel didn’t need the man’s support and Skinner knew it. So while Gabriel would hear him out, it wouldn’t change anything.

“Is it because you love him that you don’t see the flaw in your plans?” Skinner steepled his fingers. “I’ve noticed you tend to surround yourself with more and more questionable people from my list of possible problems. Are they … scaled… too?”

“What has brought on such assumptions?” Gabriel didn’t bother to look up from his reading as he listened to the man. It was obvious his recent investigations were not sitting well with Skinner.

“Well, let me recap the current history for you.“ He leaned forward in his seat and looked Gabriel in the eyes. “You had absolutely no interest at all in dragons until you realized you were sleeping with one. As far as I could tell, your relationship with your own Tasker was tumultuous and annoying at best until you took on the doppelganger case. Is that when you crossed the line with him? You forced me to assign him elsewhere because of that.”

“It’s ironic you wish to bring up history and try and school me on it.” Gabriel’s cool gaze was still holding the Director’s as he continued, “Refresh my memory how does the Council feel about slavery? And while I’m sure you think you have it all figured out Ezekiel, trust me when I say you aren’t even close. What I’m presenting to Council is a case that will correct a wrongful judgment that was passed a long time ago, and if you look at my prior cases you’ll see it isn’t the first time I’ve stood up for another. My grandfather did the same in his time.”

“Your grandfather was an oddball of all the Kennedy family. Most of them just enjoyed their power and didn’t give a damn about what was left in their wake. Jonathan helped others because he was driven to do so by his lost wife. You? You probably do it for personal reasons or to better ride that high horse between your legs.” Ezekiel was not holding back now.

“Are you seeking to call the entire Kennedy line to task before Council? Tread carefully if you do. Let me remind you that our line runs deep and carries a great deal of respect.”

“Does it now?” this was amusing to Skinner.

“And since you brought up when things changed between my Tasker and myself, I find it really interesting you sat on Sebastian Evansworth’s judgement and that you signed off on his daily punishment or was it subject use and yes, here it is.” Gabriel finally broke his gaze away to look at the ledger before him as he flipped towards the end of it, “You signed his release papers after only 1/3 of his sentence was fulfilled. Care to enlighten me on what brought on such an act? Is that when you crossed the line with my Tasker?” Gabriel flipped the question right back at him.

“He requested that self-flagellation bullshit. I actually skipped weeks of it, if you want to know. As to the early release? Raudine brought me evidence to prove that Evansworth had perjured himself when he signed off on the charges listed during his judgement. He was not the one solely responsible for the things he was charged with. As such, it was my responsibility to bring that information before the Council at the time and make sure he did not continue to serve time for crimes that were not his.” Skinner smirked. “You see, there’s a plausible explanation for everything I do.”

Closing the ledger Gabriel kept his hand on it as he watched Skinner and listened to what he said while making mental notes of facts to research on. “Is there? We’ll see.” Was all the answer he gave the man.

“Pisses you off, doesn’t it?” Ezekiel sat back into the chair comfortably. “Dragons are dangerous. If they become enraged, they destabilize. No, we don’t treat all humans like that, even though they can lose control as well, but when a lycan or human loses control? They don’t take out entire cities. See Atlantis. See Damasia. See Rungholt. See Helike…Hell, Gabriel… if you want to know how dangerous your personal drake is, look up what happened to your own father. Now that? That was a cover up and a half. But if you want the truth and not something you can coat in candy and wrap up for the other Councilors, I can provide it to you.”

“Humans are capable of just as much destruction without any involvement of dragons. Look up the annihilation of the American Indians to the point of extinction and their deaths weren’t started with any kind of elemental destruction wrought by dragons. It was started with sheets infected with disease and then further progressed into slaughter. Or the Civil war, the numerous rebellions spread over the world, or slavery which several countries still practice and have wars over. Go further back and read over the destruction Rome accomplished in their attempt to rule the world. Want more recent and you find the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the retaliatory bombing of Hiroshima. Which was all due to Hitler and his concentration camps that were responsible for the deaths of millions and the destruction, devastation and ruin of entire countries that it took more than a decade to recover from. Want more? Then of course you have the Irish famine brought on by their English rulers. The Scottish battles for freedom from the tyranny of England as in the battle of Culloden. Want a different race? The bloody battle that almost wiped out lycan when they decided to rebel against their vampiric masters. The elven wars that did all but decimate several races. I can continue if you like, but do you have the entire afternoon for me to relegate all the sordid histories to you in detail?” There wasn’t even the smallest shift in his appearance to say that what the Director was saying was affecting him. He was still as calm and collected as he had been when he had arrived.

“All of those things happened over time and multiple people made the decisions… but ya know what? I’m not going to argue with you over it. You have your mind made up. You might even win your case using that kind of logic. Goodness knows, these days we’re living in the times of social justice over common sense, so… so be it.” Skinner took a deep breath. “Just makes Crimson’s job more difficult, but no one said it’d be easy.”

“As to my father, he was drunk who had an unfortunate fall to his death from our building.” It was his way of saying he didn’t care about what Skinner called the truth regarding his father. To Gabriel, it wasn’t much of a loss. If the death of William Kennedy was all the ammunition he had, then Skinner hadn’t research this particular Councilor very well at all.

“He was on the roof of the building, and the door was locked. He had no access, but Raudine could portal. Something none of the others knew at the time, something only you and I know about now…well, and Sebastian for good reason. So it was easy to keep quiet. William was a functioning drunk, who was in rehab at the time. But… you were the one Jonathan favored. How better to bypass a generation than to eliminate it? When a person of any kind is enraged or not thinking clearly they forget evidence, like the signs of struggle on the roof in the pebbles and the fact that the footsteps only made it to three feet from the edge. I felt pressured to not move forward with the investigation and besides, I didn’t want to lose Raudine’s …hmmmm…specialties? So there you go. But that’s a freebie. Since it doesn’t matter to you.” Skinner got up.

“Fascinating tale. Thank you for sharing it. Will you be joining the sessions today?” Skinner rarely made appearances during Chamber so Gabriel doubted he would this time, but never hurt to ask.

“Not today. Enjoy.” Skinner walked up the stairs at the side to leave knowing what he had come to find out. Gabriel wasn’t going to back down or admit that his position might be dubious or dangerous. And that meant Skinner needed to make his next step. 

Gabriel opened the ledger again to turn to the pages he’d had in mind to review. He wouldn’t give Skinner the benefit of a reaction. Later he would speak with Sen, though the truth really didn’t matter. Did it? He closed his eyes and leaned over to place his hands on either side of the ledger flat onto the table. “Damn.”  He couldn’t just ignore this. He let his mind relax as much as he could and then pushed his thoughts to Senias as he had been taught to do. 

~ We need to talk. Are you free this evening? ~ 

~ After Chamber, I suppose Sebastian can let me free. Where would you like to meet? My caffe? ~ There was a warmth to his thoughts. He already looked forward to enjoying time with Gabriel. They had been apart for the last few weeks since their escapade into the other world. 

~ After Chamber at the caffe is fine. ~ He grinned and continued jotting details from the pages down. Skinner thought he’d covered himself over the years but Gabriel was ready to show the man his errors. Of course, Skinner hadn’t been wrong about everything. The fact that he cared about Senias and several other dragons? Yes. That played quite a role in making him want to help remove their kind from the Crimson Black Listing. He didn’t want to see any of them killed simply for existing – for misconceptions about what they might do.

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