Haven woke at 9:13am. One moment she was sleeping, the next her eyes opened wide. She stared at Derek in silence, then sat up slowly, blinking against the sun.
"Sloan will want to talk to me," she said.
"We all do."
"I am hungry." Do you want to talk to me, Derek Rayne? Or just pull information from my mind like you pull it from a computer?
"Breakfast is ready," he said, fighting the urge to add, "and I just want to talk to you. That's all."
She stood and stretched and Derek realized she was still in the clothes she had worn from the hospital.
"Do you want to shower? Change? I'm sure Alex could dig up something to fit you," he said.
"Are you going to keep me here today? Or will you let me go?"
"That depends on how honest you are with us, how much we find out," Derek replied.
Haven looked at him, her face pale in the sunlight, still and distant again, like a marble frieze.
"You speak to me of honesty, but you are yourself dishonest to me," she said. "You have no intention of letting me leave today."
"You're right," Derek said quietly. "So do you want to shower and change?"
She stared at him, not seeing him, looking at something inside herself. "Yes. I do not like the way I feel," I want to wash this House off. But I do not suppose I can do that with just a shower. She turned away from him; he caught her arm.
"Wait. Let me get Alex to dig up some clothes. Then you can take your shower."
He opened the door; as he suspected, Nick was waiting down the hall. He sent the younger man looking for Alex, then turned back to the room. Haven had left the bedroom and stood in the bathroom, pulling off her clothes. He stared out the window, watching her reflection in the glass, wanting to give her complete privacy and knowing he didn't dare. When she turned on the water and stepped into the stall, he ran his hands through his hair and turned back to face the room. Several minutes later the water shut off; Derek stiffened and turned back to the window, watching the room behind him in the glass.
Haven came out, naked, dripping water on the carpet. Derek's lungs seized up and for a moment he stared at her in the glass. Then he said gently, "There are towels in the bathroom." She returned a moment later, rubbing the moisture from her skin and hair. Nick knocked at the door and Derek jumped; he dived for the door, grabbed the pile of clothing from the younger man and slammed the door in his face. Tossing the clothes on the bed, he turned back to the window. Behind him, Haven paused, the towel pressed to her pale stomach, her dark hair spilling over her pale face.
"What is it?" she asked. "You cannot look at me, you move without looking where you are going, you watch me in the window. Why not just watch me?"
"Modesty," he said through clenched teeth.
"I do not know what that means, " Haven said, and began sorting through the clothing on the bed. She stopped suddenly, a velvet blouse dropping to the floor at her feet. "Wait that is the reason for clothing, other than protection from the elements, or personal adornment."
"Yes," Derek almost turned to look at her, caught himself in time. "You don't wear clothing much, do you?"
"Before a month ago, never. But when I ran away, I realized that I must wear clothing to blend in." She picked up the velvet blouse, ran her hands over the material. "This feels warm. It smells of Alex. She wears this blouse often." She met Derek's eyes in the glass. "That means she likes this blouse?"
"It's one of her favorites, I think."
"Then it means something, that she is willing to loan it to me," Haven mused aloud. "I will wear it. "
She didn't wear clothing until a month ago, she has no concept of modesty, Derek thought.
There was a knock at the door; Alex stood there, her face drawn and tired. "Rachel is here. Sloan wants to talk to you, Derek. I thought I'd see how those clothes fit Haven."
And make sure I made it safely through the night, and had a few minutes to collect myself before meeting Sloan. Derek's lips twitched. "Very well. And thanks."
"You picked the velvet," Alex said to Haven. "I'm glad. It looks good on you."
"Is that important?" Haven asked. Derek almost laughed aloud; his lips twisted around his mirth and he went downstairs.
In the lobby he paused. His mind was swirling with the questions he had for Haven, about Haven. He doubted her, distrusted her, but could not rid himself of the pleasure he felt when he heard the words she sent only to him. And the images burned into his brain, of her back-lit on a bridge, or pale and bleeding in his arms, or wrapped only in a towel and her russet hair - he shook his head, ran his hands through his hair as if to pull the thoughts from his mind and shake them clear of his fingers.
She is an Arkadi! She had Legacy property that was stolen from the Cairo House - after a series of murders! he thought. And I can hear things from her, I can feel things from her, that I know she is not sharing with the others. He faced his feelings squarely. Things I do not want her to share with anyone else.
He didn't want to face Sloan until he had his own conflicting thoughts under control. He found himself in the parlor; he had instinctively headed for the piano. For a moment he stared at the keys, then let his fingers rest gently on them.
He played, rippling melodies that were more the meandering of his mind than any particular piece of work. His thoughts were following the odd threads of the last few days and his fingers wandered over the keys in response.
Suddenly he knew he was not alone. The skin at the back of his neck shrunk and his whole body tightened. Looking up, he met Haven's eyes.
"Haven?" he asked, startled. Her face was white, her eyes wide and black. She raised a palm to stop him and shook her head and stepped slowly into the room. Behind her, Alex watched with mixed concern and caution.
"Do not what were you doing? Just now?" Haven asked. Her voice matched her face and eyes; hoarse and strained and uneven.
"Nothing, " Derek said, confused. He stepped toward her and she stepped back, shaking her head again, palm held up against him. He stopped and his brows came together. Her eyes left his face and fell on the piano.
"What were you doing?" she asked again, and it hit him what she meant.
"I was playing," he said. He moved slowly back to the piano, sat down at the bench. Like a dog on a leash, she followed his movement, stood staring at him from the other end of the piano.
"Playing?" she shook her head, still confused. In reply he brought his hands up to show her the palms, then let his fingers caress the keys and begin to play. His eyes never left her face. The haunting Moonlight Sonata filled the room and Haven came slowly around the piano until she stood behind Derek. He could feel the heat of her body against his back. Alex stepped forward but Derek shook his head and Alex stood still.
"What is this?" Haven whispered to herself. Derek continued playing, every nerve in his body tuned now to the woman behind him. He opened his mind for any glimpse of Sight, but nothing came.
Behind him, Haven's breath became ragged. Suddenly she leaned over and held her hands just above his own, so close he could feel the heat of her palms on his fingers. He held his breath. A glimmering of understanding was coming to him. He continued playing, watching her hands hover over his, feeling her breath ragged against his cheek, seeing her face whiten from the corner of his eye. Her whole body stiffened and she cried out and doubled over. Derek spun on the piano bench and caught her, swaying against him. Alex came towards them again, and again Derek waved her back.
Haven shivered uncontrollably, wrapping her arms around her stomach, her face blank and her eyes blind. But her mind was not blank or blind; Derek could See her thoughts, feel the emotion slamming through her body with every heartbeat. He flashed to the moment on the bridge when she had collapsed into his arms; even with three bullets in her back the shock on her face had been oddly remote. Now he could See her soul, a garden hit with a rain such as it had never felt; a brutal, haunting storm of passion and hatred, hunger and pain and need. The sheer frenzy of it was overwhelming; it took him several minutes to pull out of the vision, to separate his own emotional state from what he was feeling from Haven. Understanding dawned at last.
"She's feeling the full range of human emotion - all at once, for the first time," he said to Alex. The researcher nodded, her face pure concern now. Derek turned back to the woman in his arms.
"'What is this?'" he quoted softly. "This is music. This is what is does to you."
"Not to me," she said. She tried to pull away from him but he held her fast. "Never to me. What is this?"
Derek said gently, "This is feeling, Haven. This is excitement, fear, hunger, desire, anger, sorrow. This is your human heritage."
"I do not like it," the woman said. "I do not want it. Make it stop." She shook her head even as she said the last word and went on, "No. It cannot be stopped, can it? I must take it. Let me go," she added.
"No. Not yet." Derek pulled her down on the piano bench next to him. "You're shaking. It all hit you at once, I think you are going to be ill. You look ill."
"I am ill," Haven said. She tried to pull away again but Derek shook his head. Her skin was covered with a fine coat of sweat and her pallor had taken on a slightly greenish tinge. Suddenly she gasped and her face went whiter, her eyes darker. Tears welled up in her eyes. "What is happening now?" she asked, and this time a resigned calm settled into her voice and over her face. The tears dripped down her cheeks, leaving tiny wet trails on her skin, glistening on her lashes and lips. She closed her eyes and took a deep shuddering breath. "I am crying," she answered herself. "I am crying."
Derek picked her up, heading for the stairs. "I'm going to put you to bed," he said. "Alex, get Rachel."
"Why?" Haven asked. "I know what tears are. It is not like bleeding. I do not need a doctor."
"Don't you?" Derek asked quietly. They fell silent until Derek entered Haven's room. Haven stirred, muttering. Looking down at her, Derek saw with alarm that the pallor was gone and the woman was flushed. She felt hot in his arms. Laying her down, he held his hand against her brow, then her back and chest. She was definitely feverish.
"Damn!" he swore. Sitting next to Haven, he held her hands. She was thrashing on the bed now, her eyelids fluttering, tossing her head, her body jerking as muscles spasmed. Derek ran to the bathroom, dumped the towels into the bathtub, and began to run cold water over them. When they were cold and wet, he rung them out and ran back to the bedroom to wrap them around Haven.
Rachel showed up, Alex in tow. "Find Nick, tell him to get the helicopter ready," he snarled. "Haven is ill, I'm afraid she may need to go to the hospital."
Alex's eyes opened wide in shock but nodded and went immediately to find Nick. Rachel pushed Derek away and began to examine Haven herself.
"She was feverish," Derek said.
"Now she's chilled. Her skin is cold and clammy," Rachel said. She pulled the towels from Haven's body, pulled the blankets up and tucked them in tightly around the woman.
"Derek, what's going on?" Rachel asked.
"She had some sort of reaction," Derek answered. He took a deep breath, sat down and held his hand against Haven's face. She was starting to flush again and her cheek felt warmer.
"Reaction to what?" Rachel asked, "What were her symptoms?"
"I was playing the piano. She came in and asked what it was; I think she was already reacting but I didn't realize it. It took me several minutes to realize what was going on."
"What was going on?" Rachel repeated. Her voice was level and detached, the professional tone that crept into her voice when she was dealing with a medical problem. She checked Haven's pupils, her pulse, checked her brow again for a temperature.
"I believe she's experiencing a range and level of human emotion that appears to have been unknown to her before this," Derek said.
"And it's creating some kind of physical reaction?" Alex asked from the door. "Nick is warming up the helicopter," she added. "He'll be ready when Rachel says it's okay to move Haven."
"She is disoriented; she appears to be feverish but then becomes chilled and cold, then feverish again. Her musculature is experiencing minor spasms," Rachel muttered to herself. "Okay, let's move her. I'll let the emergency room know what to expect."
"What are they to expect, Rachel?" Alex said softly.
"Severe shock," Rachel responded.
"I'll let Sloan know what's going on," Alex said, starting for the door.
"Wait," Rachel said quietly. She bent over Haven. "What the hell " she bent over the woman's body again, and when she looked up, her jaw was tight.
"Rachel?" Derek asked.
"See for yourself," the doctor said.
Derek took a deep breath. The flush had faded from Haven's face; her skin was neither heated nor clammy. She opened her eyes; for a moment Derek stared into the millennium that lurked behind her brown irises, then they cleared and she stared up at him, calm and serene. The pallor in her face was nothing more than her normal lack of coloring.
"Rachel?" he asked again.
"Nothing," the doctor said to herself. "No sign of shock, or reaction. No fever, no chill, no spasm. This is amazing."
"It is gone, " Haven said. She sat up, slowly.
"What happened?" Alex asked.
"I do not know," the woman answered. "I think I felt too much. I have never this was something new. I felt too much," she repeated. She stood; Rachel's mouth opened with questions but Haven shook her head. "I do not have answers for you.
"And Sloan is waiting for us," Derek said. "Alex, tell Nick to shut down the chopper, we won't need it."
"Wait a minute!" Rachel protested. "Haven may be fine now, but that reaction was real and she should be checked. She may have another reaction, and it might be worse!"
"No," Haven said. "I will be fine. I know this." She headed for the door; behind her, Rachel looked at Derek, who shrugged and shook his head. With a muttered curse, Rachel followed them back downstairs to the living room.
Sloan was on the remote screen, reading a report that lay on his desk. He looked surprised to see them walk in.
"I thought Nick said he was taking Haven to the ER," the Ruling Precept said. He looked at Derek and Derek resisted the impulse to roll his eyes. No William I am not hiding things from you. Well, not many things.
"Haven's reaction passed," Rachel said dryly. "She seems fine now. Whether she stays that way ," the doctor shrugged. "I didn't get to give her a full exam, so I can't say."
"I am fine," Haven said.
"Then we'll begin," Sloan said. "This will go easiest if you just tell us everything you know."
"I will tell you what I can, " Haven said. She stopped, blinked; a look passed over her face so quickly Derek could not pin down the emotion that had flared in her eyes. "No," she said, her voice amazed with a new discovery. "I will tell you what I choose."
Sloan blinked, looked at Derek. Derek smiled. Now you see what it's like, he thought, watching her grow before your eyes. She just figured out that she could make this choice. Not that it wouldn't be more convenient if she had figured that out long after we were done interrogating her, eh William?
"Then we will have to be clever in our questions," Sloan said aloud.
Nick came in, then, to report the chopper was shut down. He looked Haven over carefully. "You look good for a woman on her way to the ER five minutes ago," he remarked.
"Should I look different?"
"With you, I've learned that there are no 'shoulds'," Nick responded, and leaned against the door.
Haven stood in the center of the room, turning slowly, taking everything in. Rachel watched her for several minutes before finally asking, "You were here last night; what are you looking for?"
"Every place changes from night to day," Haven said. "And I wanted to see where I would feel most comfortable." She sat down on the floor below the remote screen, curling her legs under her.
"Good morning," Sloan said, smiling. Derek almost laughed aloud; the Ruling Precept only wore that expression when he was very very angry - or very very curious.
"Good morning," Haven answered. She looked up at his face on the screen. "I remember the first time I figured out why all of you say that - 'Good morning, good evening, good bye, hello.'"
"And why was that?" Rachel asked.
"Because it is a ritual, and humans are creatures of ritual," Haven said. Sloan met Derek's eyes; she spoke as if she herself were not human. Rachel sat back on the sofa; her mind was already at work, combining the things she had learned with the things she was going to learn in the next few minutes.
"Miss Arkadi - " Sloan began.
"I do not require an honorific," Haven said. "and I would prefer you not call me Arkadi anyway. Your mind goes dark and nothing I say penetrates you when you call me Arkadi. You may call me Haven."
"Not Elizabeth?" Alex asked. "Why not?"
"Victor calls me Elizabeth. It does not sound right from anyone else."
Rachel nodded; another piece of information to file away. Derek moved into the room, standing over Haven. He glanced at Sloan, who nodded; it was time to begin in earnest. Haven saw the look and tilted her face up to Derek.
"What do you want to know?"
She considered this for several minutes. Derek waited, arms crossed against the heat that still burned him from the press of her body. He studied her openly; the slight curve of her neck, with her head tilted to one side as she thought. It struck him suddenly that Nick held himself that way, relaxed but alert, like a wild cat in a tree, limp, even indolent - with power and speed and cunning just below the skin. He glanced at the ex-SEAL, lounging now in the doorway, the power there just beneath the skin. Death relaxing between meals.
"Miss Arkadi," Sloan prompted.
"I am trying to determine where to begin. There is so much ," Haven's palms lifted, then dropped. "It begins with a scroll. At least, I begin with a scroll."
"Do I need to tell you of the events leading up to that Flood Catastrophe?" she continued.
"No," Sloan said. "I'm aware of the congress of the Sons of God and the Daughters of Man."
"I'm not," Nick said. "Humor me."
"It would take days. There is a whole civilization, a whole mythos, to explain. In brief, two hundred or so angels, under the leadership of Samiazaz, descended to earth and married with daughters of men, creating a whole new species. They revealed to mankind such heavenly secrets as the arts and science and astronomy, among others. Men, though intelligent, were not wise; they abused the knowledge and much harm was done. God - or the gods, depending on the mythos you follow - vowed to destroy the evil men had produced." Haven stopped. "Or perhaps God was simply jealous. He was a jealous creature, immature, according to reports. But then, they all were."
"In any event, He barred the angels from Heaven and destroyed mankind and the earth - or at least that section of it, that civilization - with the Flood. There are several Flood stories, from several different areas and dates. I do not know how they all fit together, not yet, and I do not think it matters at the moment. Some of the children of the Sons of God and the Daughters of Men survived. Some of the knowledge of the angels was saved. The knowledge in this scroll was one such piece."
"In 1921, the scroll came into the possession of George Haven. In 1922, his daughter Margaret was married to Simeon Arkadi."
"Simeon Arkadi married Margaret Haven for her money and the scroll. He spent 17 years working on the translation." Haven paused. "When it was complete, he murdered the translator."
"Sounds like an Arkadi," Nick muttered.
Haven ignored him. Her eyes had never left Sloan's face. But Derek could hear her words echoing in his mind, could hear the words she did not speak aloud to the others. I am an Arkadi. I have never killed. Does that make me less an Arkadi? If I kill, will I be more?
"The scroll told how to create a ritual lost before the Flood, and of a great benefit to whomever did so. Simeon decided the benefit was desirable; he set about recreating the ritual. The ritual was designed to created an artificial, if organic, construct." I was created as much from ritual as human biology.
"He impregnated his daughter Elizabeth." Rachel's face paled, Alex gasped aloud; Sloan stiffened, but made no other gesture. Nick shifted, his whole demeanor darkening. "The time was chosen according to astrological signs and ritual; Elizabeth gave birth to Margaret Arkadi in 1940. Elizabeth was buried shortly after; she may have died from childbirth, or Simeon may have had her killed."
"Margaret Arkadi was raised in a convent in the south of France. She was removed from the convent in 1955. Sometime between 1955 and 1959, she gave birth to a child. Me." I was created to do certain things. I was created without certain things. Like a conscience. Or free will. Or so I thought. Now I am not so sure.
"Why 1959?" Nick asked.
"Because Margaret Arkadi died December 25, 1959."
"'The scroll gave a ritual to create an artificial, if organic, construct,'" Sloan said quietly into the silence. "What is the purpose of the construct?"
"To create a vessel for a barred angel." I think.
"A vessel," Derek said softly. He met Sloan's eyes, saw the other man's eyes narrow, realized his own had narrowed too. "A human vessel."
"Yes," Haven said.
"Yes." Am I a vessel? Constructed from organic material, according to the commands of a ritual from before the Flood? And if so do I, like any other vessel, have no voice? Or do I, like any other human, have a choice?
"He raped his own daughter," Alex said.
"He raped his own granddaughter?" Nick asked, knowing the answer.
"Why make a vessel?" Nick asked suddenly.
"What?" Sloan replied.
"Why make a vessel for the angel? Okay, the angel gets his vessel, whatever that means, but what's in it for Arkadi?"
"Haven?" Sloan asked dryly. The woman shook her head.
"I do not know," she said. Nick snorted.
"That may be true, " Alex said slowly.
"Perhaps," Sloan said. His mind was still churning over the few details of the ritual Haven had described. "Ritual incest. Three generations. " Sloan sat back slowly. "You are the end result."
"Yes. Well ," she paused, for the first time her face showing confusion. Her very stillness had been abnormal; now, to see her run her hand through her heavy hair in a normal gesture of bewilderment was almost more abnormal than her stillness. "I do not know if the ritual called for incest, or if that was an embellishment of Simeon Arkadi. And I am untouched. Until a few weeks ago, I was not even female." The men around her blinked; Rachel sat back, shaking her head. "I am not the end, I am unfinished. There is so much I do not know. But I am changing." She turned suddenly away from Sloan to look up at Derek and then at Nick. "On the bridge. In the hospital. You saw me. Do I look the same?"
"You have been shot," Alex pointed out.
"No," Derek shook his head. "She's different. On the bridge " Dr. Rayne? I have something her face tilting up, the sun on her skin, those eyes "You were shorter. Your face was fuller, unfinished, like that of a child. Your hands, too. Your eyes " I could reach into those eyes and find the formula that started the first sun. I could find the date our sun will die. I could watch the first written language evolve. I could see an ocean that is now bleached sand under a desert sky. I could -
"Derek." It was Sloan, voice hard, pulling him back to himself. A chill shook him. Dear God in heaven, be careful Derek Rayne.
"Your eyes are different," he said aloud.
"Everything's different," Nick said grimly to Sloan. "I watched her in the hospital. Her face, her body, her skin it was like watching the 20 years from teenager to woman, in 20 hours."
Is that what I am becoming? A woman? Haven looked at Alex, and Derek suppressed an urge to step between the two.
"We'll pull all the records we can. The birth and death records of Elizabeth Arkadi and her daughter Margaret," Alex said.
"There will be no records of my birth. I was not born in a hospital. I was born I do not know where. Someplace secret. I was raised in secret. There will be no records of my existence. Simeon did not want anyone to know what he had created. Remember, I was probably not a baby, not in the regular sense of the word."
"Which brings me to my next point," Sloan said. Rachel stirred on the couch. "Rachel had labs run while you were in the hospital. I will want further labs to confirm the findings."
For the first time, Haven showed interest. "What did you find?"
"That your cells are metamorphosing like the cells of a chrysalis," Rachel said quietly. "That may explain the physical growth pattern. You may have been some kind of asexual non-human entity before, but you are definitely a woman now. You had a level of development of the average 13 year old when you were admitted; when you were released, you had fully developed. The hospital didn't want to release you, the doctors were dying to figure you out," the doctor added.
"And the bullet wounds? What about that?" Nick asked.
Rachel shook her head. "I don't know. There are still some tests that haven't come back yet, and until I have the data all I can tell you is that not only did the tissue heal at a remarkable rate, but that it did so without any evidence that I could see of scar tissue. And that, according to medical science, is impossible. Especially for the wounds Haven had."
"So I can heal at a phenomenal rate and without scar tissue," Haven mused. "And I have become human in a few weeks, from whatever I was before."
"What were you before?" Sloan asked.
"I do not know!" Haven cried out, and they all jumped at the powerful emotion in her voice. She closed her eyes and dropped her head and Derek fought the urge to lay his hand on her shoulder in comfort. Is this also what you call feeling? This confusion of thought, this insanity in the heart? He shook his head.
"Just some feelings," he said aloud.
"What?" Nick asked. But Haven raised her head, smiling faintly, and Nick knew then what had happened and dropped the question, his face grim.
Sloan swore under his breath. Right in front of his eyes, right in front of his team Derek was fighting a losing battle and did not even see it.
"Haven!" the Ruling Precept said sharply. "What are you doing? Stop it!"
"I do not know how," Haven said simply. "I do not know what I am doing. I do not know that I am doing anything. I just know " her voice trailed off and the smile on her face died. "I just know that from the moment I met Derek Rayne, I have felt entangled. Like a fly in a web. I hate it." Her voice rose and she pushed her hands away from her, as if pushing at a weight in her lap. "I hate it!"
Rachel leaned forward. "You hate the connection you feel to Derek?" she said gently.
"Yes! You are all connected, to each other, to others I cannot see " she looked at them, saw the lack of comprehension in their faces, tried to explain. "I can see the bonds that hold you. Like ropes of light. You are all tangled up in them, tied to each other tighter than flies in a web. And now, since I have changed, I can feel those bonds reaching out to me and I do not want it!"
"Bonds from whom?" Rachel asked.
"From Derek. From Nick. From all of you. From everything!" She threw one hand out to encompass the world around her, let it fall back into her lap. "I speak to the courier and I see a tiny bond curl around me. I lease a warehouse and another one is added to the rope. I meet Legacy members on a bridge and I am wrapped like - I do not know. I know only that I do not want this, " she finished, face calm again, emotionless. She stood, in one fluid motion. I do not want this. Her eyes met Derek's; he saw it, the blossoming of power behind the brown irises; the remembering of a knowledge that a moment ago had been hidden from her; the ability to use both.
NO! "Haven, wait!" Derek shouted. It was too late. Haven stepped towards him - and into thin air.
They froze, then Nick was in the middle of the room, standing where she had stood, gun drawn. "Where did she go?" he demanded. "Did anyone see?" Getting a negative from the dazed looks around him, he headed for the lobby and front door.
"Nick, wait! Check the security tapes; you were running them in the living room, right? Check them, see what they show! Check the screens, see if she shows up anywhere else in the House or on the grounds," Derek ordered. He knew in his heart it was a waste of time; Haven had disappeared to someplace else. His heart constricted; couldn't you trust me? Just for a few hours more? he thought, then realized how irrational that was.
But there is nothing rational about any of this, he admitted to himself.
"Nothing," Nick said in disgust. "Not a damn thing."
He had been over the House, the grounds, the security tapes. There was no trace of Haven Arkadi.
"The tapes show her there one minute and gone the next," Derek said. He stared at the screen; he was going over the living room tape, frame by frame, for the twelfth time.
"I saw it in her eyes," he continued. "She just wanted to get away, I think she was going to run to her room, or maybe outside. Then she remembered something that she hadn't known five seconds earlier, and she disappeared."
"There has to be a logical explanation," Rachel said. "Something we missed. She took a step and then she vanished - to our naked eyes. She had to have gone somewhere."
"But where?" Alex asked. "If she can disappear into thin air, she can reappear anywhere."
She could be in a warehouse, where the dust motes are fireflies in the sun.
"The warehouse," Derek said softly. Nick looked up, the frustration fading into cautious hope.
"Do you think so?"
"There was something there before - maybe it was her. Maybe she went back. It can't hurt to look again."
"Then let's go."
They found the warehouse empty still, with the stale smell of desertion still heavy in the air. But Derek could See her, stepping from mid-air to stand in the shafts of sunlight breaking through the boarded-up windows, then disappearing back into mid-air.
"Derek?" Nick questioned softly.
"I'm all right. She was here. I can't See for sure if she still is." Derek watched dust motes hang lazy and brilliant in the sun. "Haven!" he called. Haven. Please. Answer me. Come to me.
The dust motes stirred, whirled into a small tornado. Haven stepped out of it, stood back-lit against a beam of sunlight. Her face was a pale shadow within her heavy hair.
"Haven," Derek whispered. Behind him, Nick stood at alert, gun pointing to the ceiling, face grim.
"Derek." Haven stepped towards him, into the sunlight. Her face came into sharp relief; he saw the curves of her brow and cheeks and chin, still and remote as the marble carving of an ancient god. "Why did you come? You should not have."
"You should not have left. Where did you go? What is this place?"
"A warehouse. A place to step from place to place without people on the street seeing me do so."
"And where do you go when you step from place to place?"
Haven tapped her temple. "Here."
Nick took a deep breath. "You disappeared from the Legacy House into your own mind."
"I think so. I am not sure where I go."
"Take me there," Derek said.
"Derek!" Nick protested.
"I want to see it for myself," Derek said grimly. "Take me there, Haven."
"Why should I? It is my place. Why should I let you in?"
"Because you already have," Derek told her gently. "Haven, let us help you."
She was still again at that, weighing his words. Nick shook his head furiously. "That is not a good idea, Derek."
"He is right," Haven said. "But I promise, when I have answers, I will return with them."
She turned her face away; Derek Saw the power build within her as her weight shifted from one foot to the other - and grabbed her hand as she stepped away from him into mid-air.
Mid-air was a turret library, the scent of books and lily-of-the-valley heavy in the air.
Derek stood stunned, staring at the range of books and scrolls and tomes piled on shelves, on the floor, on the table and chairs. It was a round room with high windows and book shelves covering every inch of the walls. He turned slowly, taking in the room around him. He pulled a book from a shelf; it fell open in his hand and for a moment he was not in a round turret library, but standing in a Roman market place, the air full of spice and dust and horse shit. He slammed the book shut; he was back in the books-and-lily scented air of the library.
Derek found her sitting on her knees on the floor, head down, hands full of a leather-bound tome.
"What is this place?" he asked.
"I told you, I do not know. Yet. I suspect it is in my mind. The more I know, the more I explore - the more I am sure that it is."
"The book I just opened "
"It took you someplace else? Yes. They are all like that. I need to know everything and what better way to learn than to go to the place where it happened? Where men and women first learned to speak, or write, or come together into communities and govern themselves with something more than the law of mere strength? Where blood was shed and lives were broken, where the heavens were sought, and found - or lost?"
I could spend the rest of my life here, Derek realized in awe.
"Yes. But I do not have that long. I will need every piece of knowledge, the whole long history of mankind - and I do not have a lifetime to learn it."
"Why? What is pushing you?"
"There is something I must do. I do not know what it is, or how I will do it, or where I must go to find out. I only know that there is something I must do."
She didn't wear clothing until a month ago, she has no concept of modesty, she wasn't even female until a few weeks ago, she grew up in a day. She remembers little of her personal history. She sees us entangled in our connections to each other, like flies in webs of pure light. She fears and hates the webs reaching out to her, even as she reaches back for them. She doesn't know what she is, fears to find out, hungers to know. She is probably my enemy - this thing she must do, it may be evil beyond the Legacy's ability to handle. It may not. She is trying to determine if she has free will or just fate. She is born of ancient ritual and Arkadi blood. And - he faced his feelings - I want her. This is one hell of a mess.
He stepped away from his own feelings like the Precept he was and weighed the knowledge, made the choice.
"Let us help you find your answers," he said. "Let me help."
She raised her head. The weight of her gaze hit him dead center and instinctively he looked away, then forced himself to meet the millennium blooming in her brown eyes.
"You? Help me?" she said quietly. "I step into the air and into a living library in the back of my mind; a library full of books that take me to times and places you cannot reach. My body grew from child to adult in a few days - and was not harmed by an attack that would have killed any normal woman. There are things inside me that no human can share. What you see only in flashes and visions is always in my sight. And you will help me?"
Haven laughed, a rich peal of ebullience that faded the millennium in her eyes and brought the clear brown back to the surface. Derek smiled down at her. She let the tome slide off her lap, reached for his hands. Derek watched her fingers explore his, run over his knuckles and palms and skin. His hackles rose; his loins melted and hardened.
"'What a piece of work is man!'" she quoted. "'How noble in reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving, how express and admirable! in action, how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals!'"
She dropped his hands, raised her own to study them. "'And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?'"
"Hamlet , William Shakespeare," Derek said automatically. He felt relieved to have his hands back, had to fight the urge to take her hands between his own.
She dropped her hands back to her lap.
"Go back, Derek."
"No. There are too many questions and I want answers."
"This is not about questions or answers," Haven said. "This is about the bond that burns your skin."
"No." Derek knelt, took a deep breath. Haven's steady gaze dared him to speak the truth. "Yes, it is about this thing, this bond, between us. No, I won't just walk away. Even if I felt nothing, I would not - I could not - walk away. I've seen too much."
As he spoke, he Saw - Rachel, Alex, Nick, himself, vague figures scarcely visible through the wrapping of bonds and ropes and chains of light and dark that held them to each other, to the world around them, to their pasts, to their futures. He heard Rachel's voice You hate the connection you feel to Derek? and again Bonds from whom?
He blinked, recoiling, and his vision cleared.
"Everyone else, I am sealed away from," Haven said. "They cannot get in, bonds or not, there is no need to build walls to hold them out. Do you understand? But you " she mused, "you walked onto that bridge and into my heart." Her fist curled protectively over her heart. "How did you do that? I did not even have a heart. I have been holding you off and shutting you out and building walls and walls and more walls, and all you do is look at me and you are inside again and all my walls are down. How do you do that?"
"I don't know," Derek said.
"I want to know," Haven said. "I want to know, so I can stop it."
"Do you really want to stop this?" Derek asked, his voice hoarsening as the need in him grew.
"Of course," Haven answered. "Of course I do." Tears shone in her eyes, hung on the edge of her lashes like dew. She raised her hand and cupped Derek's face in her palm and said, "I want you out of my heart, I want to look at you and see nothing, I want to see your eyes on me and feel nothing."
"Then make this nothing," Derek said quietly. His weight shifted, to rise and leave, though he did not know how. Haven's laugh stopped him. It was a odd sound; there was no mirth in it. She stared up at him and shook her head and pulled him back down beside her.
"Not even I can do that," she said. "I try. You humans put everything in its place with a name, control it, tame it. I name this thing between us 'nothing' - but it does not change what it is. What did your Bard say? A rose by any other name "
"Is still a thing of beauty and scent and thorns," Derek whispered. He took her face between his hands and kissed her, hunger and pain warring in his own soul now. She murmured against his lips and held herself stiffly away from him. For a moment he thought she would pull away. Then he felt her choose for one moment to share with him; to let go of her solitary control. She fell against him. He caught her, dropping his hands from her face to pull her tightly against him. He kissed her eyes, licking the tears from her lashes, the salt stinging his lips.
She pulled away finally, regaining her solitude even in the circle of his arms. He felt her withdrawal and tightened his arms around her body even as he breathed easier.
"Will you leave my library if I come with you?" she asked.
"Back to the Legacy House? Yes. But first, we must get Nick, if he is still at the warehouse."
"He will be," Haven said. "It will not have been very long for him."
Time and dimension, Derek thought. She is moving through time and dimension.
They stood, moving apart, reestablishing distance and boundaries. Derek took a longing look around; Haven shook her head.
"You can not take these books out of here. I tried once. I do not believe they are real books, pages and ink and bindings. I think that is just an illusion, to cover what they really are."
"And what are they, really?"
"Pure knowledge," Haven said. "Another reason I will not let you stay, or return again. This place is not for you, this knowledge is not for you. There are more reasons behind the Floods than the jealousy or wrath of a dozen ancient gods."
"How do you know?"
"I just do."
"Wait - promise you won't disappear on me again."
"Promise? And that is what?" Haven's face tilted with the question; the darkness behind her eyes stirred and the answer she found there made her smile. "Ah. Promise. No. I can make you no promises. Now let us go, Derek."
He ground his teeth - all the knowledge, all the history, right at his fingertips, and this infuriating woman, just beyond his reach - but nodded. Nick would be crazy by now. He took Haven's hand and they stepped forward into the warehouse - and she was not with him.
No. Damn it. No!
"Derek! Don't do it, come back here - " Nick started forward, gun coming off point, face furious. He froze mid-word, mid-action. "Jesus. Thank God. I thought you were gone."
"I was," Derek said, furious and hurt. "We were. Nick, I've been with Haven, and it's been several hours."
Nick stared at him, the tension of impending action leaving his body, to be replaced by the tension of unanswered questions. "Derek, you just disappeared a second - hell a split second - ago. I didn't have time to shout at you before you were back."
"I was there several hours!" Derek insisted.
"Well, it wasn't on this side, boss," Nick shook his head. "She isn't here - unless you See something?"
Derek turned around slowly. There was nothing there now, the dust motes were just dust motes.
"This warehouse is empty," he said, tired. "She isn't here. I don't know where she is or how to find her. Let's go home, Nick."
"Okay by me. Derek, you all right?"
No. "I'm fine. I'm just tired. And hungry. And furious. Let's get back."
"I want to check out every thing she said," Derek told Alex. He stood, arms folded, playing face-off against Sloan. So far, neither man had backed down. "Birth and death records, everything we have on the Arkadi's. Everything in the database on the Fallen Angels and the Mysteries they imparted. The Daughters of Men and their children. All of it."
"Why a vessel?" Nick asked again. "What did Simeon Arkadi get out of this?"
"Or Victor, for that matter," Sloan added. "Simeon died in 1960, when Haven was still a child - or whatever she was - so Victor and Gregor would have taken over the care of Simeon's pet project. They would not have bothered if they didn't see a benefit to themselves."
"We'll have to ask Haven when she shows up," Rachel said dryly.
"If she shows," Nick added.
"She'll show," Derek said slowly. An idea was forming in his mind, an image born, not of his Sight, but the things Haven had said and the changes he had seen in her - and the things they had shared. "She doesn't know just what she is. She needed us to confirm that she had changed, that we had seen it. She may need us to confirm other things, as she finds them out. She is new to being a conscious, sentient entity."
"Well, if she was born between 1955 and 1959, that makes her 38 to 42. Most people do gain some self awareness in 38 years," Sloan said dryly.
"I don't mean that. I mean Nick said she grew up, child to woman, right before his eyes. When I first met her, her eyes were not fully human. She said that she wasn't even female until a few weeks ago. What if, until recently, she was something else?"
"Perhaps. Or perhaps " Derek blinked; for a moment he had Seen it, a flash of brilliance and shadow, then it was gone. "I don't know. But supposed she was something else, and only recently became human, not just physically but mentally and spiritually - and who were the humans around her? The Arkadi's. At the best they were planning on using her like a kind of living tool, at the worst she may not know any other way to find answers than to look for them alone." He met Sloan's eyes in the screen. "Most of us find our answers alone, anyway."
"Most of us aren't organic constructs from a mixture of biology and ritual," Sloan said.
"Actually, yes we are," Rachel began. Sloan cut her off and she gave the Ruling Precept a deadly glare.
"I don't want to debate medical semantics, Rachel, you all know what I mean. I am putting all the Houses on alert for Elizabeth Haven Arkadi. I want to know where she is, what she is doing, before she knows it herself."
"She may not be planning deliberate evil," Alex pointed out.
"Until I know for sure, I will not take the risk," Sloan said simply. "Good night." The screen went dead and the San Francisco team stared at each other in silence. Derek finally stirred and unfolded his arms.
"All right," he said quietly. "Rachel, go home. Spend some time with Kat, catch up on your work, get some sleep. Alex, Nick, you too. This will be an ongoing case; I don't see its resolution coming with the sun."
"Derek?" Rachel asked. Her concern was mirrored in Nick and Alex's faces. Derek shook his head. He knew their questions. He had no intention of answering them.
"Good night," he said. His voice changed, became the hard uncompromising voice of the San Francisco Precept. He saw their faces change, imperceptibly, as always when he stepped away from being their friend, into being their Precept. Nick nodded curtly and left the room; Alex met his glare before shaking her head and following the young man. Rachel, the most easily angered when he did this, gripped the back of a chair and for a bone-wearying minute he thought she would try to have it out with him right now. Then her own tiredness took her; she shook her head and muttered, "If you say so. Good night, Derek."
Alone, he stared at the walls for several minutes before shaking his head and switching off the light. He headed for his den, to catch up on his journal; his mind drifted and he found himself in the parlor, at the piano. For a moment he stared down at the keys, let his fingers caress them; then he shook his head and turned away.
"Play for me," Haven said.
She stepped out of the shadows, a ghostly shadow herself with her russet hair and eyes two pools of ink in a face as pale as the ancient marble carving of a remote, indifferent god. Derek swallowed; the urge to take her in his arms fought against the urge to step away, fast.
Why did you leave?
"There were things I had to do."
"I told you I would help."
She shook her head. "You are human. There are things you cannot do. Places you cannot go."
"And you can?"
"So I have discovered."
His hands curled into fists against his thighs. "The Legacy - "
"Is useless to me. What can the Legacy give me I cannot find on my own? What knowledge does it posses that I do not have access to? What power?"
"Is that all there is, in your eyes?"
"No," she shook her head. "That, too, I have discovered. But, please. I did not come here to tell you this. It is unimportant."
"Is it? Why did you come?"
"To tell you I will be back, when I have something to tell. When I have answers. When I know what I am and what I am supposed to do."
"You could have sent a note. And what if it's something the Legacy must stop? We will destroy you."
"I do not think you can," she said. "But I do not think you will need to try. What is calling me does not care for human destiny. I do not think my fate will affect anyone but myself."
"What affects you affects everyone around you," said the Precept.
She smiled. "And you wondered why I left you."
"Then why did you return?" Derek Rayne asked, his mouth dry.
Her face flamed, blazed into warm humanity; her eyes glowed and brightened and she laughed aloud.
"Because I love you, Derek Rayne. I am not fully sure what this means. I am only sure that it is."
Silence, heavy with his breathing, her stillness.
"You will tell Sloan I was here, of course, " she said abruptly. Derek's brow arched.
"Yes. You will speak little and share nothing, as is your way, but you will tell him. You must." She stepped toward him and he stepped back. She held out a bundle of velvet and silk; it was Alex's blouse and skirt. "Tell Alex I said thank you. That is the correct phrase, is it not?"
"Only if you mean it."
"It was her favorite blouse. I mean it."
He nodded, took the clothing from her. She stepped back and his heart constricted in his chest.
"Don't," he whispered.
"Play for me," Elizabeth Haven Arkadi said.
And the Precept of the San Francisco House sat at the piano and played until the tears threatened to pour down his face and he had to stop. She was gone.
"She's gone," he whispered. The pain in his chest was gone, he could breath easily. He dropped his head into his hands, pressed his fingers against his eyes. "Thank god."
And the tears leaked from his lashes and pooled in his palms.
And this word love,
which graybeards call divine
Was ever book
containing such vile matter
How beauteous mankind
is! O brave new world,
"Poltergeist: The Legacy"TM and said characters*/stories was created by Trilogy Entertainment (executive produced by Trilogy partners: Richard B. Lewis, Pen Densham and John Watson) with ShowtimeOnline and MGM/UA. Trademark & Copyright on Poltergeist: The Legacy © 1996, 1997 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer MGM/UA Distribution Co Inc. [*Derek Rayne, Alex Moreau, Nick Boyle, Rachel Corrigan, Kat Corrigan]
The character of Elizabeth Haven Arkadi is the brainchild and legal property of mrdimond. mrdimond took her 'net handle from this story.