It was at a small inn in Nagoya that Collin finally stopped. He'd been here for over three weeks already chasing after shadows and he was ready to go home. He wasn't the only one looking for the crazed cult of witches, there were plenty of agents from Pandora who were moving about Japan as well, but he'd been called over as they had honed in on the culprits. The agent in charge of the investigation, Mieko, had been incredibly helpful, but Pandora wanted a veteran agent on hand. Pandora wanted someone like Collin to be there at the end, to see that things were done properly. Something like this could go so badly.
Pandora had been keeping an eye on this faction for some time now, but they hadn't really been able to get their hands on them. Ideally, this all would have been stopped some time ago, but it was hard when it came to dealing with witches and half demons. Mieko, Pandora's resident clairvoyant in Japan, was getting concerned enough that she'd called in some warnings to headquarters in Britain. They had opted to send Collin out, knowing that he possessed unique abilities and experience enough to contain the situation. He wasn't the only one who could handle it, but he was one of the few who had dealt with something like this before. He was certainly well versed in witches, that much was true.
A lot of witches never left their covens, and that wasn't always a bad thing. There were plenty of covens that were good, witches who lived peacefully alongside of humanity and the supernatural. There were also plenty of covens who cared nothing for harmony and actively sought to bring evil into the world for personal gain and power. Witches were not the most well liked in the supernatural community, often seen as arrogant and historically gray in alignment, but there were plenty of other sorts with similarly negative connotations surrounding them. Werewolves were one, demons... of course were another. The vampires didn't have it so bad, though humanity probably would have pegged them as the worst had they been asked to guess. They had a pecking order of their own and tended to self police, they were much more organized than a lot of others, and that probably had a lot to do with it.
All of that mattered very little in Pandora though, they were the force above all others. There were rules and consequences if said rules were broken. Beneath the headquarters in Britain lay an extensive prison system, prisoners typically were held in stasis or specially made cells tailored specifically to them. The agents of Pandora did not always manage to capture their targets alive, and were often given kill orders. Not all deserved such a swift and harsh punishment though, some were fledglings and didn't understand, simply needing rehabilitation. Others could not be risked with such a thing, and death was the only solution to keep humanity safe. Pandora was the enforcing justice system of the supernatural world, all kinds under oath and treaty with all others. Rivalries were put to rest, biases cast aside. Or that was how it was supposed to work anyhow, it didn't always go quite so smoothly. There was shit talking to be had, minor fights and disagreements, but at the end of the day... they were all on the same side and that was what mattered the most.
Collin, for one, didn't give a fuck what anyone else was. He wasn't biased because he disliked certain sorts, he outright didn't like much of anyone. With... a few exceptions of course. He got on with Ava anymore, though it had been rough at first. She was all attitude, a sharp tongue, and sass to match, and he was dismissive and gruff. There had been some clashing at first, but things ended up working out well enough. Now he just tormented her with all his little pet names and she told him off, but it was all in good fun. They both knew that at this point. She had sent him on this mission with a warning, telling him that it sounded like things were heating up and to be careful. He'd drawled out a dry response, surprised when she'd turned pale blue eyes to him, furrowed her brows, and had replied with: 'I'm fucking serious Collin.' That had been his first warning. That wasn't how Ava typically was, she normally told him to not to be a dumbass and get himself killed, punctuating her sharp words with curses much like how Collin punctuated his with sickly sweet pet names. Usually he used them in the most condescending of ways, but not always. As was in Toby's case. Sometimes they were genuine.
He was tired when he shut the door to his room, it was the middle of the night but he knew that it was almost lunch time in New Arkham. Collin shrugged off his satchel, setting it on the table before cocking his head to one side and pulling Juno free. It had hurt a hell of a lot more the first few times he'd done it, but it had become easier and he could usually manage without much issue anymore. He did it so often that he'd sort of become numb to the feeling, but it was still not exactly what he'd call pleasant. It wasn't so much the physical sensation either, it was the fact that he was literally summoning a segmented portion of his soul out. Juno was an expensive cost, not one that all witches eagerly made, it took time and dedication and all sorts of special artifacts, the sacrifices that needed to be made were not small ones, and the ritual was extensive... but to him it was worth it. There were intermediate familiars, the ones who were not quite like what Juno was, and that was usually the go to for most witches. Creatures that were bound rather than actually born of one's body as Juno had been. He still remembered his mentor standing over him as he'd retched up the mass of inky black goo, it had shifted and taken the shape that it pleased, it had chosen to become Juno.
He willed the tattoo to come into its natural state, and Juno pulled herself from his body, hopping to one broad shoulder and giving a little shake of her feathers. She cawed loudly and he turned to nose at her affectionately. She nipped at his ear when he turned his attention away, drawing blood. He didn't notice. She did it all the time. Collin drew out his phone from his pocket, dialing Toby. Most of the time he answered, usually if he couldn't, he called right back. They didn't get much time to talk while he was working, and he missed the other something fierce. Toby picked up on the second ring.
“Hey sugar.” Collin purred, a grin pulling over his lips. He called a lot of people a lot of different things, but only Toby had been deemed 'sugar'. “Hey,” His boyfriend greeted in response, and Collin could hear the smile in the other's voice, he could almost see the dimples pulling in his cheeks. He turned to sit on the bed, pinching the phone between his ear and shoulder as he started unlacing his boots. “How's it going over there?” The other asked. “Lost the trail I was on, I'm waiting for Mieko to update me.” Collin paused. “You miss me?” He asked, knowing the answer. Toby laughed. “No.” He said. They both knew it wasn't the truth. Three weeks was a long time for them, they were together a lot. Collin, for one, missed Toby terribly. It hurt to be apart like this, which was a novel thing for him considering how much he'd always relished having his space. Collin hummed. “You thinkin' about me?” A devious little smirk tugged at his lips. “Y'know...” Toby knew what he meant and tsked at him, teasing. “So dirty!” It was enough to make the blond grin. Three years and it was still going strong, like they had just started fucking yesterday. Collin lusted after Toby like none other, he had a sex drive to match his affections for the pretty young man. “Of course.” Toby relented. “Come home soon, I need you.” Collin paused. “Send me something?” The other knew what he meant. Toby laughed again. “You are
a dirty pervert Collin.... maybe.” That meant yes, and Collin flopped back onto the bed, sending a pissy Juno fluttering up in the air with a gravelly cry of protest. “Fuck I love you. I miss you Tobs.”
They talked a while longer before Collin's work phone chimed. Toby got quiet mid sentence when he heard it over the line. Collin looked at it and cursed. He had to go, he hung up with Toby and immediately called Mieko, as requested via her text. He hadn't slept in almost twenty-four hours but it looked like it would be a while longer before that happened. She had a fresh lead apparently.