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Blood Ties by TalgoM
Seven years ago her life had been going along as any other girl's. She had crossed the stage and been handed a diploma she had been working eighteen years to get. She had taken a moment to glance out into the audience and seen the tears of pride in her parent's eyes. Their child was a woman suddenly and that had been all they wanted to see. She had spent a good deal of time that summer going through the room she had first been brought home to, packing to go off to college. In the corner where her computer sat once there had been a crib. The bookshelf now loaded with books had once only held toys. It had all been going according to plan. Then the accident had happened. Two weeks before she was to leave for college her parents were killed.
She sat on the bed in that room now remembering those days with a bitter fondness; they were all so far away now. She was caught in a world of living between childhood and adulthood. All innocence and hope from those years so very long ago dead.
Everyone she knew had allowed her a grieving period but assumed in the spring she would be off to college. It just had not worked out that way, it couldn't. All those who ever knew her did not understand the depression that she fell into. In fact depression was too light a word. She withdrew completely within herself. Not saying a word to anyone since the funeral. Her friends had done everything they could. There had been every sort of doctor but during each examination all she would do was stare nervously at the corner of the room as though there were something there that no one could see but her.
Her eyes jerked suddenly upward when she heard a noise somewhere in the house, her face was set in an expression that betrayed none of her fear. Her mind forced out any of the memories from her once happy past. They no longer mattered, holding no strength against her demons. She waited in her lasting silence for what she knew was on its way.
Eventually things had just grown more disturbing and made it clear to everyone how helpless they were to help her. Overnight her house had been closed up. All windows sealed off, alarms constantly armed. It became a fortress. Her dog that had been a playful animal with all the neighborhood children became vicious; attacking anyone that came near the house. And there were the sounds at night. Cries and screams that had no source. A man's voice most often, the words were muffled yet the tone was clear. Anger. But the voices came from someone that no one had seen enter the house.
She wondered in her silence if anyone would ever come to her aid, wondering if anyone should. How could they all just ignore what was happening? What would happen to them if they tried to help? She voiced none of her questions. She had no one to hear them.
"I don't get it, why would we get this letter?" Nick passed the sheet of paper across the table to Alex after quickly reading it over. He turned to Derek, arms across his chest, while the researcher read the letter. It had arrived that morning and detailed the story of a young woman whose parents had died just over seven years ago. Since then no one had heard her speak so much as a word, and five years ago she had locked herself away in their home never to be seen again. Finally the letter spoke of the voices, yelling from a man not there, crying from a woman, possibly the girl. The writer explained that she was a neighbor, and she had reached the end of her options when heard somewhere about the Luna Foundation and the help they offered to those less fortunate, it was her last resort. What she didn't know was the truth about the foundation. That those 'less fortunate' usually were living in circumstances not easily explained and the philanthropic foundation was a cover for a much older organization. An organization, which also had humanities best interests at heart but went about ensuring them in ways much different then she probably expected. Yet Derek did think there was a chance that this would be of interest to the Legacy, there was a nagging familiarity about something in the letter.
"Because they have no idea why she won't leave the house but they know she needs help, remember what the Luna Foundation does." Derek answered his younger associate, his voice serious but far away, still working on placing something in his mind. "Aside from that though there is a chance that something supernatural is keeping her there."
"Yeah, something maybe. C'mon Derek did you read this?" Nick asked, seeming a little annoyed that they were even here discussing this.
"Yes actually Nick I did, very carefully." Derek answered sharply, Alex watched as the two squared their shoulders preparing for yet another argument, and once again she would be caught in the middle. She shut her eyes tightly to prepare in her own way.
"Yeah and I can guess what you think. Sure Derek's there is a possibility that something could be happening but what's the likelihood? Kid loses her parents, can't cope with it and hides away from the world. Nosey neighbors overreact, think there's a weirdness in the house that isn't there." Nick's voice held a finality to it that infuriated Derek and his face did nothing to hide that as it tightened and his jaw locked.
"That's enough Nick, we investigate." Derek snapped off the order. "And you will come with me, we don't know that the situation won't be dangerous and I want back up."
"Fine, but I don't see how dangerous this kid can be." Nick shrugged, surprising Alex that he backed down from the fight.
"Nick she's twenty four years old, she's not a 'kid' anymore. At least make an effort to be sensitive." Derek turned away from Nick. "Alex I need you to research the house, see if it has any history of strange occurrences, anything at all. Also look into the girl's history, any mental problems prior to the accident. From the cries they've described she is not alone. All of this seems a little too strange to just be shrugged off. Also call Rachel, I may want her to try to talk to the girl. Nick and I will leave in the morning to talk to neighbors." He stood up making it very clear that the conversation was over.
"Derek this isn't giving us any answers at all. These people just keep telling us the same things." Nick shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his black leather jacket as they walked down the street of the quiet residential neighborhood. He glanced at the looming figure of the Gaarlihn's Victorian style house as they crossed towards it. It was in view no matter where someone stood along the street, standing a story higher then any other building. Nick had to admit the vision of the place was disturbing, the way it stood as such a figure above the otherwise quaint neighborhood. To add to that there was the fact that whenever they asked anyone for information about the events currently going on they seemed to get nervous, putting a quick end to the interviews. Still Nick wasn't absolutely convinced of anything supernatural going on.
"I've noticed." Derek nodded wondering what their next step should be when he noticed the woman unloading her car. She stood in the driveway of the single level home standing in the shadow of the Gaarlihn house. "Perhaps she'll be able to help, that's the address the letter came from."
"Well at least we get to meet the busybody." Nick shrugged.
"Nick that's enough, show a little professionalism. You've faced demons, fallen angels, vampires, why do you have such problems with this?" Derek put his arm on Nick's to stop him.
"I just think that the chance it's anything is slim. I mean I feel bad for the girl but from what we've heard she always was a little off kilter." Nick thought about the words of her neighbors, as they talked to them. How they described her as quiet and removed sometimes, yet at others she was outgoing and one of the sweetest girls they had ever known. Many of them mentioned that she would occasionally grab and try to protect other neighborhood children from things that weren't there.
He turned to the house again, looking at all the boarded up windows and wondered to himself why he was reacting this way. Was it just because he didn't want to admit the chance that someone was being locked away in the house by supernatural forces, enduring God knows what? Someone, not that much younger then he was, who had lost seven long years, years that should have been the most pivotal in someone's life. Or was he right to believe there was a simpler explanation? He shook his head to fight the thoughts away and followed Derek up the driveway to yet another neighbor who would probably just recite the same facts they had listened to all morning.
"Mrs. Albertson, Janet Albertson?" Derek called; the woman stepped from around the back of her sports utility vehicle, a bag of groceries in each arm. Derek put on a winning smile as he approached with Nick right behind him.
"Yes can I help you?" The woman asked, seeming suspicious of the two men approaching her.
"My name is Dr. Derek Rayne, this is my associate Nick Boyle." Derek motioned for Nick to grab the rest of the groceries and with a sigh the younger man complied. "We're from the Luna Foundation, we received a letter from you yesterday." She nodded her eyes wondering over to the monument of the Gaarlihn home. There was sadness in her eyes though the house was stunning to look at if one could overlook the boarded up windows and the unkempt lawn. It was an eggshell white with pale blue shutters; the third floor windows were steeple form and dark, looking shallow on the face of the house. Derek had been struck on first sight by the emptiness the house seemed to seep into the rest of the bright neighborhood where children were playing in the mid-day sun.
"Please, we can talk inside." She started up to the open front door, tearing her eyes away from the other house. Derek and Nick let her lead them into the house, Nick following her off to the kitchen with the groceries. Derek took the chance to look around the cozy living room. There was a loveseat, couch and two armchairs, all deep burgundy and very soft by appearance. The coffee, end and other tables were all of dark, ornate wood. It was a beautiful room but reminded him in many ways of Angel Island, cozy but just on the verge of being too formal. He approached the piano noticing a photo on top of it. It was of a little girl, probably not yet even ten. She was sitting in a tree wearing overalls and a baseball cap backwards; her round face lit up with glee and laughter. Her sandy blonde hair tumbled over her shoulders, and she had her pinky finger in her mouth. She was an undeniably adorable little girl.
Derek reached out for the photo but as soon as his fingers brushed against it he felt his vision begin to fade to be replaced something else. He saw the young girl in the photo, which he assumed, was Janet Albertson's child, running through the maze of trees backing all of these houses. He flashed to see a shadowy figure watching her, a smile on the face of the figure. Then he saw the child with another shadowy figure sitting beside her, a book open between them.
"Derek, you okay?" He came back to reality hearing Nick's voice in his ear. "She's putting away the perishables." He answered the question in his precept's eyes.
"I'm fine, I'm not sure what the vision meant, but one problem at a time." He answered hesitantly, his voice lost in thought as he considered the meaning of the vision.
"I see you found her." Janet spoke from the doorway. "I put coffee on." She crossed to them and looked at the picture. "She was so young, it's surprising how quickly time passes."
"Where's your daughter now?" Derek asked as he placed the photo back on the piano.
"Oh, I have no children, that's Tangye." Derek turned to look at her, really looking at her face for the first time. She was in her late forties, and though she was not beautiful she was attractive. Her golden hair cascading over her round shoulders and around her soft face that was beginning to be lined with wrinkles, which spoke of her age. Her smile was open but Derek could also sense her deep concern and see a reflection of the sadness he noticed in the driveway. "If you'll have a seat I'll explain as best I can."
They sat down, Nick and Derek on the couch, Janet on the loveseat. "I'm Tangye's godmother, I've known her since the day her parents first brought her home. Truthfully I'm really not sure what it is that Tangye needs anymore. Her parents left me as her guardian and even though she was of legal age when they died, I felt responsible for her, I wanted to..." The tears formed in the corners of her eyes but she fought them back.
"Mrs. Albertson, is there something we can do for you?" Derek leaned over gently placing his thin fingers on her hand.
"No, I'll be fine, I have to be." She paused thinking for a moment, trying to figure out the best place to start. She had watched in silence for so long that she wasn't even sure how to take an active role anymore. "I really can't even tell you why it was I wrote that letter. For the past several years I have felt completely helpless to do anything to help her, then last week I just felt compelled to send you her story. I know the Luna Foundation is predominantly involved in antiques but.."
"Actually we often to lend our services to those in need." Derek smiled at her kindly.
"It was the strangest thing, I woke up one morning and just started writing the letter, like I had no control over it. If you really think you can help then I suppose that's all that matters though. I'm not really sure how to explain everything that happened, or why some of it doesn't seem strange to me like it should." She looked them both over, reading their sincerity immediately and deciding just to start from the beginning.
"As I said I've known her since she was born, and I love her dearly, but love doesn't always blind us to stranger aspects of someone's personality. Tangye was a wonderful girl, bright, creative, and happy. So very happy. She excelled at everything. I can't tell you how many languages she speaks. Her parents couldn't even figure out how she learned some of the things that she did, they never put her in classes for it. She was valedictorian of her class, off to Brown on a full scholarship." She stopped realizing that she had gotten off the track. It didn't matter how smart Tangye had been that would never convince anyone to help her. It was the other aspects of her that would explain to these men her desperation to do something.
"And loving, that girl could love everyone so willingly. She gave herself entirely to people; she dedicated herself to them and would fight for them no matter what. Even when she was a child, she was a champion of the underdog. I remember how she'd throw her arms around my neck to hug me, so enthusiastically; it made it special just holding her. I miss that little girl." She paused to gather herself together as the memories came back to her so vividly, a rueful smile on her face. She took a deep breath forcing herself to go on; knowing the next part would probably be where she lost them.
Derek seemed to sense her hesitancy to continue. "Mrs. Albertson, I assure you we are here to help, you can tell us anything. No matter how strange it may seem to you. The more we know the better the chance is that we will be able to help Tangye in some way. Figure out why she refuses to leave the house or can't." He added the last bit to help her confidence in them.
"Alright, it will sound crazy though. Truthfully I'm not even sure how to put it but there was always something this is going to sound crazy, but haunted, I suppose is the best word, about her." She struggled for the right words. "When she was very young she had countless imaginary friends, they would change every few weeks or even days, that lasted until she was about ten. Her mother told me how vivid they were to Tangye. She would tell her parents all sorts of things about them, histories, everything. Which I suppose isn't odd for a child, but I think usually they latch on to one, they don't create an endless stream of them." She shook her head still never having understood why she always found this so odd. "Her parents were very worried about her and even took her to doctors because they feared she was submersing herself too much in fantasy. The psychiatrist just said that she had an active imagination, and though it was a bit much the fact she did so well in school showed she had never really retreated from reality. He said it was nothing to worry about, all children have fantasies." She decided to be honest and tell them her real opinion. "I never really thought that was the case though, that the answer could be so simple. I loved her but there was something about her so different."
Derek nodded her on encouragingly. He also noticed how for the first time all day Nick seemed to be really listening, leaning forward slightly on the couch. This woman's concern and pain over lost years and the lost child were clear, whereas everyone else had been more fearful of the oddities she described. Janet Albertson had accepted them though; she was willing to take the good with the bad due to her love.
"She developed some strange traits that made a lot of people in the neighborhood leery of her. They liked her, but some things can't be ignored. For example she would stare into corners when nothing was there, laugh when nothing was said, as though she was hearing, seeing something no one else could. When she got older there were times she'd grab the other children in the neighborhood as though she would protect them from well, nothing. It made all the other parents fear her in a way, though they wanted to ignore it you can't sometimes. Not when she would frighten their children." She shook her head.
"Did you feel that way too?" Nick asked softly.
"I loved her so much, I felt I understood her, I certainly wanted to. But I don't think even her parents ever really knew what was happening in her world. All that behavior, that's what I would call haunted." She smiled weakly and Derek just nodded in return, shooting Nick a brief glance. "I know that sounds crazy but it's the only way I can describe her. Despite all that though, in many ways she fought against what I think even she saw as a prevailing weirdness in her life. I don't think she even understands it though so how can she deal with it? All the same she is a wonderful girl, you have to know that and that's why I need your help." She could no longer control her tears as they rolled down her cheeks. Derek moved over and put his arm around her shoulders hoping to take away some of her pain but as soon as he touched her his vision blurred at the edges again.
He saw a girl's face screaming while nothing came out. A dog attacking a small child. Shadows looming over the girl's figure, her face lost to tears. A young woman sleeping while shadows stood guard. Items flying, crashing into walls. Again her face screaming an empty cry.
"Derek, are you okay?" Nick leaned over whispering to Derek who just nodded trying to refocus his vision on the room around him. He could feel the horror; the terror on the face of the girl was weighing down on him. He tried to push it aside for the time being but it was so desperate and rung continually in the back of his mind, he couldn't escape it. He forced his voice to be even though, to not betray the pain he was struck by from a vision he couldn't explain.
"Yes, Nick. Mrs. Albertson, is there anything you can tell us about what has happened since?" His Dutch laced voice was so gentle she couldn't ignore the fact that he did seem to care.
"Since her parents died? Yes." Again she took one of those deep fortifying breaths. "After it happened she just wouldn't talk anymore, to anyone. It was so sad to see. I gave her grieving time though and after six months nothing had changed. Tangye was strong, she faced things head on and the avoidance wasn't like her at all. She could be, frustratingly thick skulled." She hesitated over her words. "I always felt that something happened to her when she was young that she never told anyone, and she faced alone. She had to have learned her strength from somewhere, and it never failed her as she grew up. That was why I didn't believe that she hadn't gotten over it, something else had to be happening. She was just too strong not to face the loss of her parents." She couldn't seem to keep her mind focused on answering their questions; instead it just kept trailing back to the past and the child she watched grow with such pride and awe.
"So I took her to a psychiatrist again but they couldn't really do anything for her because she couldn't talk. I don't believe she wouldn't, I think for some reason she couldn't. But they said it had to be her grief, that she wasn't able to deal with the loss of her parents. But I knew her, I saw her eyes, it was obvious that it was something else. All she'd do was stare into the corner and I know she saw something there. What it was I can't say but it was there." The woman's voice rose with her belief in her words then broke in volume. "She went to doctor's for about a year with no change. She was taking care of herself; she never tried to harm herself so they saw no reason to put her in a hospital, not that I would have allowed that.
"Then she just locked herself up in the house, still without a word. She seemed so terrified all the time and the little girl I remembered was hardly ever afraid, except for others." She again found her memories forcing her to wander off the subject. "She was so daring, one of those children who would do the stupidest things for a thrill." She smiled with the memory. "When her mother got worried about her antics and talked to her about her behavior, Tangye just told her that she had a guardian angel who would never let her be hurt. She believed that so intensely you couldn't doubt that she was right. Now though, she lives in fear of something that she won't tell anyone about. We tried for years to get through to her but then we were all locked out, literally. One morning the house was all boarded up, if anyone got too close the alarm would go off or the dog " She broke down again.
"What about the dog?" Nick was drawn in by now and had to finally admit that Derek was obviously right to pursue this case. Seeing how scared the woman was it was clear something was definitely going on in the house next door.
"It was a playful, sweet animal then it started attacking anyone who came near the house. Finally we had to get rid of him when he got one of the children. It was horrible. The little boy was lucky that he even survived. But the dog wouldn't let anyone near the boy so they ended up shooting it. After that everyone was afraid to go near the house, and then we heard the crying. I can't tell you anymore really." She finally had worn herself out and gave into the exhaustion that had been creeping over her ever since she started her renewed efforts to help her godchild. "Everyone just decided that we should leave it alone, we knew there was no one in the house with her and that she was safe, or we thought. That was over four years ago but the more I've thought about it the less certain I am. I never really believed in it, but what if there are ghosts?" She turned her eyes on them for confirmation.
Derek nodded but didn't really agree with her, unsure what to say, thinking that whatever was torturing the young girl had been doing so for seven years and she, who expressed her love, had done nothing. "If I've stood by and allowed anything to hurt her.. I could never forgive myself. But eventually I just accepted what they were all telling me. It was just grief, she just couldn't get over the loss of her parents. They were very close. I admit it was odd but how could I believe any other explanation?" She pleaded with them for an answer to justify her own failings. Neither man offered her one though.
"Is there any chance you have a picture of Tangye when she was older?" Derek asked softly, needing to give the woman both the time to gain control of herself and for him to control his own growing anger. She nodded and gathered herself off the couch leaving them alone in the living room in search of a photo.
"What do you think? You had a vision?" Nick kept his voice low so not to be heard.
"Yes. I'll explain shortly, after we leave." Nick nodded though he didn't seem so sure as he had only a half hour ago. A few moments later Mrs. Albertson came back in the room.
"Here you are." She held out the framed picture to Derek who shook slightly at the sight of the face from his vision. She was dressed in a beautiful formal gown, a deep blue velvet strapless dress with a soft lace trim around the top. It fit her snuggly to the waistline and at the bottom its lines were straight and her form was clear. She was thin, not very tall, her heels adding substantially to her height. Her soft brown hair was gathered back from her face with only a few tendrils hanging down in loose curls. Her hair was actually a mixture of colors Derek noticed on further study, shining in the light of the room with streaks of blonde, red, black but mostly brown. It was stunning hair. Her face was slightly rounder then was popular but the features upon it were soft and well formed to her face. A small nose, large expressive eyes, thick eyebrows and a bright, full smile, which made the dimple on her cheek, stand out predominantly. He could tell her eyes were light in color but wasn't sure just what their shade was. She was a beautiful young woman who looked both healthy and happy. Comparing this girl to the one from his vision he realized that was the only change. The girl in his vision had been pale, with dark circles under her eyes.
Her eyes, he kept trying to figure out what their color was, thinking that there was going to be something special about them. He felt an unbridled desire to look at her face close up, to get a clear view of the eyes she saw the world through. He wondered to himself what caused that.
"That was her prom night, she was breathtaking. Her father couldn't have been prouder. She was always her daddy's little girl." Derek glanced at the man with the teenager; his face was beaming with pleasure down at his daughter. Derek handed the picture over to Nick.
"She is ... amazing." Nick spoke the words without realizing that he was even saying them. He glanced up, embarrassment written on his face.
"She was.. is. She never really believed it because she wasn't like all the girl's on the magazine covers, but there is something about her that takes your breath away. Makes it hard not to look at her." She averted her eyes for a moment. "Do you think you can really help her?"
"We'll do all that we can, but I think first we must get into the house." Nick nodded knowing it would be his job to get them in. He would have to disarm the security system and then it should be easy enough. "Thank you for your help."
"No thank you. I just, need my godchild free, too much time has been wasted." She shook his hand.
Jackson Parker sat at his desk a continent away checking on the activities of the various Legacy houses. He scanned through them quickly; most of the houses engaged in common research or exorcisms of house poltergeists. Then he suddenly froze seeing a single name in the long list of daily reports. He checked the submitter's name and saw Alex Moreau at the top. The San Francisco house.
He knew well enough the route they would take in their research of the case. Reading the story of Tangye Gaarlihn he made the decision that they did not need to know her families history. It would be better they never saw the name Charles Gaarlihn in the database, it could only sidetrack them from the search for what had driven the young woman into hiding. Quickly, hoping he wasn't too late, he moved the files to his personal desktop.
With a deep sigh he continued to read the daily reports.
"So what do we do?" Nick asked as soon as the door was shut behind them, looking over at the house beside them. He couldn't get the image of her sweet face out of his mind. She was beautiful, he could see that without a doubt, but there was something more then that. There was an openness, a kindness, written on her face. Even without Janet's words he would have seen it there. She reminded him in some ways of Alex, the way she could just look at you and you knew that she understood you without words. He saw the same thing in the picture, on every part of her laughing face.
"We need to know what's in the house before we can risk going in. I agree with Mrs. Albertson's opinion that something more is going on then just a daughter's grief. The question we have to face is what." He turned to look up at the house with Nick. "What's in there?"
She sensed a change in the balance of power. Something was happening, or was on the verge of doing so. She couldn't say what or even where but it was coming. Not quite here, but close. She moved over to the window casually, trying not to draw attention to herself. Years ago she had managed to carve away a small spot between boards that she could just barely see through. She squinted her eyes and got a view of the street in front of the house. She immediately saw them there.
Two men, one older and taller, dignified, the other barely older then herself standing with a stance of absolute strength. She knew immediately that they were the cause of her sudden feeling that something had changed. She silently wished she could make it easier on them.
She wanted to believe those with her didn't feel it but she was given the truth nearly as soon as she saw the two men.
"You feel it don't you?" His voice broke through the silence of the house, the threat obvious in his tone. She fortified herself for whatever may come, locking her jaw down, refusing to back down.
'Yes.' She responded without her voice. Once her talent had been magic to her, a glorious ticket into another world that made her special in ways only she understood. That had been years ago though, they had twisted it until all it represented to her was a curse.
"You know they cannot help." He said in that voice that made it seem his word was the final say.
'I think they may be stronger then you guess.' She answered unable to hide her anger. How quickly did fear mutate into anger, into hate of that which one fears?
"Perhaps, but are they stronger then me?" He said slightly mocking her moment of conviction. She knew what was coming and had no way of stopping him anymore. He picked her up and tossed her across the room from the window. As she slid to rest on the floor she wondered if it were even possible. Could something ever be more powerful then the haze in front of her?
But she had to hope, it was her only option left.
'Not likely.' She thought to him weakly.
"Don't be rude." The blow came from her side; she hadn't even noticed his companion there. "Show respect like you were taught." The female voice commanded.
She nodded not risking words that always carried some imagined connotation in their minds. She focused on the other thing, the balance was shifting and it had to be in her favor. Why would something come that was evil when her whole world was already filled with it? No, the arrival had to be for her benefit. But should she let them risk themselves in her name, could she play with the lives of innocents just because there was an outside chance they could help her?
"Don't even think it Tangye Mauveen." The man added, knowing her well enough by this time to guess what she might try to do. She closed her eyes tightly, once again wishing them away, knowing that it would go unheard.
'I know better.' She answered him, hoping he didn't sense the lie in her unspoken words. She just couldn't risk telling this thing how she really felt.
"I certainly hope so." He snapped.
'But I don't think they'll give up.' Her silent voice threatened.
"Then we will make them." His voice was stern and echoed in her mind making her heart cold. With a thought he vanished, his companion going wherever it was they went with him. She gathered herself up quickly and ran back to the window. She looked out to find they were still standing out on the sidewalk of her street looking up at the house. She wasn't sure what they had planned, if anything at all but with the man's threat she knew she couldn't take the risk of allowing them in. She watched as they started to come up the front walk and her desperation took over.
In an instant she decided that no matter what she had to endure it was better then dragging anyone else into her private hell and prison. She was unwilling to risk anyone innocent just because they might offer her a moment or two of help, even if they were as powerful as she thought they might be. She was prepared to be martyr and victim but not the cause of anyone's pain, never again. It just wasn't how they raised her.
'Go away, please just leave, you can't imagine what they'll do to you.' She forced the words out of her head and to them, repeating the warning over and over again but to her horror they continued to approach the house. She gritted her teeth, forcing the thoughts out as a desperate scream.
"Alex, its Derek. We just talked with the woman who sent us the letter. She's under the impression that something is in the house with Tangye, and I agree with her. The impression I get was seven years ago when her parents died she was an intelligent girl, she had all the promise in the world for a bright future, though occasionally she exhibited some strange behavior." Derek spoke into the cellular phone as they approached the house slowly so they could try to get a look around.
"Such as?" Alex asked and Derek heard her tapping away at the keys on the other end of the line.
"Invisible friends lasting well past the 'normal' age, a belief that she had a rather active guardian angel, a nervous habit of watching empty corners. What have you been able to find out so far?" He kept his eyes scanning the whole yard, remembering Janet's story about the dog attacking the child. Though he knew the dog was now dead he still couldn't shake the feeling they were walking into danger just getting close to the house. What they hoped to see he wasn't even sure. All the windows were boarded up but Nick seemed dead set on getting closer, probably hoping to evoke a vision from Derek to give them something to pursue.
"She saw a psychiatrist when she was ten because of the invisible friends you mentioned. The doctor decided it was just an overactive imagination. Shortly before her nineteenth birthday she was taken back to the same psychiatrist to hopefully find a cure for the silence she fell into after her parents death. That time it was written off as grief. Other then that not much about her, but considering her age that's not surprising. No other family history of note, no other problems like this in the past hundred years. Did you want me to try to go back further?" Alex was clearly reading off of something just by her tone.
"I don't think that's necessary, keep trying to get more on her though, check school records, that sort of thing. What about the house?" Derek asked, staring up still at the monument, his heart anticipating something but his mind not knowing what.
"Search is running now. I called Rachel, she suggested that she go talk to the psychiatrist, see if he had any information that might help, I told her it was a good idea." Alex added. Derek thought for a moment how glad he was to have an assistant who always took such responsibility, felt free to think for herself. Even better that she had such good instincts.
"Good thinking, we should be...." Derek froze, struck by a sudden urgency that he couldn't quite describe. He reached out grabbing the back of Nick's coat just as the younger man was about to step onto the front porch of the house. The phone clattered to the ground as stared up at the front door. There was no sound, nothing to see, no vision, but he was sure that he 'heard' something.
"What is it Derek, a vision?" Nick turned, holding his mentor's arm to help support him.
"No, something different. This is a mistake, we don't know enough about what we're getting into Nick." How could he explain the sudden urge to run that he felt sweep over him? Like a warning to get away or face...what?
Nick looked back at the house, a part of him wanted to get this over with but he knew that not giving Derek's 'feelings' the credit they deserved could be a mistake. He nodded hesitantly. "So what do we do?"
"Go back to Angel Island, gather more information. Find out more about Tangye and the house, there has to be a clue somewhere to what's going on and I don't think we should go in until we know." Derek seemed confident in his words but his eyes held fear that Nick was surprised to see. Normally Derek was so unshakable when faced with these things, intense but never this scared when essentially nothing had happened. Nick lead him gently back to the car, continually glancing back at the house, wondering what could be doing all of this, and fearing for the girl inside.
Derek looked back up at the house as Nick climbed into the driver's side. What was it that he felt? It was like a warning without words, a feeling put inside of him, a suggestion perhaps. He didn't know how to describe it but he responded to it anyway. He just couldn't ignore it, and it was much deeper then mere instinct, now it was from the outside, but where?
"Tangye Mauveen what did you do?" The voice only she could hear shook the house. His hand rose to strike her but she managed to duck out of the way, dashing for the stairs only to find the woman waiting there for her. Her face reflected the anger the man's voice portrayed completely. The woman was not going to move from the spot she took up for herself that cut her off from the stairs. She turned quickly as the man closed the distance between them, pinning her with no escape from his anger.
'I did what you wanted, I made them leave. What more do want?' She forced herself to remain strong in their faces. Let the anger win, don't let them have your fear, she repeated over and over to herself. She knew what they wanted, they wanted her to cower, to beg them not to hurt her, she decided to disappoint them and show them they had not yet won.
"I want you to stay quiet, you are not to reach out to anyone." His face was a mask of anger and hate, it was entirely different then the face she remembered.
'He doesn't know that I did.' She tried to keep him back but could tell that it wasn't working. He stepped closer to her. She closed her eyes tightly and prepared for the blow that she was certain was coming. Instead he merely grabbed her chin harshly, forcing her eyes to look up at him.
"Come on Tangye you've always been a bright girl, your friends taught you so much but you have never been able to lie well. He heard you, maybe he doesn't know what it was, but he will. Stay quiet." His voice shook her to the core and she was left praying for him to leave her, using the same prayers that she had for years.
"So how comes the search?" Nick asked stepping through the hologram to the control room with Derek right behind him. Alex jumped in her chair, not realizing that they had arrived home. Nick laughed at her and she just turned exasperated eyes on him. "Sorry." He said still laughing as he grabbed a chair and slid it over beside her.
"Don't do that again." She warned him then typed at the computer displaying her screen on the large wall monitor. "I did as you asked Derek and checked school records. She was never really a substantial disciplinary problem, though there are a few incidents on the record about her. A couple where she was talking in class to no one, and wouldn't tell anyone why she was doing it. There are occasions when her parents were called because of reckless behavior on the playground or in the gym. The worst incident seems to have been when she was in her sixth grade year. She grabbed a little boy in kindergarten, screaming that she wouldn't let him be hurt. She hit the teacher to keep her away." Alex turned her eyes to Derek to see his reaction, but he kept his face stoic studying her display.
"And you say she wasn't a disciplinary problem?" Nick asked, a hint of humor still in his voice.
"Not really, there were only about ten noted situations, that's not that odd. Kat probably has as many. Granted the hitting of a teacher was severe but she said she was sure the boy was in danger." Alex responded seriously. She had spent all day studying the young woman and had a good sense of her at this point, in some way she found that she respected her.
"Was there any indication he was?" Derek turned to her with his infamous intrigued look, eyebrows arched high on his brow. Alex nodded.
"Bruises found on his back. The parents were investigated but it nothing substantiated child abuse. Eventually it just stopped evidently. You might also find this interesting." She keyed in something else and the screen changed showing her college entrance exams.
"She took equivalency exams for French, Spanish, Italian, Latin and German?" Derek turned to her with surprise.
"And got the highest score possible, but she only took French in high school." Alex studied him surprised when he merely shrugged.
"Mrs. Albertson, her neighbor, mentioned that she had an affinity for languages." He said casually.
"This was more then an affinity Derek, this is amazing. She never traveled to any of these countries, how did she learn it? You can attest that Latin isn't the easiest language to master. Also, all I.Q. tests indicate that she was only slightly above average. She excelled in everything in school though. Wish I had it as easy as it seems she did." Alex grinned slightly.
"Perhaps she had tutors?" Derek questioned.
"No Derek, remember Mrs. Albertson said her parents never understood how she learned what she did, they would have known about tutors." Nick spoke up from his seat.
"Okay so that's just another odd element to factor in. Whatever it is I think it has to be tied to the invisible friends, I want all the information about them that you can get. I think it was definitely more then her imagination." Derek said finally looking away from the screen as he started to pace and think over everything that they had managed to learn. He still didn't know how it all worked together, why would a spirit choose to torture one person for such a duration?
"You think she was being haunted?" Alex's eyebrows raised understanding her mentor's line of thinking.
"Let's look at the facts. A young child grows up seeing friends that no one else can see, later she knows languages that no one can explain how she learned. The neighbor said that she had the nervous habit of looking in empty corners but always seemed to be seeing something. She also used to try to protect the other children from nothing. It seems obvious to me, but who?" Nick glanced up suddenly.
"Wait Mrs. Albertson also said that she changed imaginary friends every few days." Alex spun back around to the computer at Nick's comment.
"I'll see what I can get. Rachel should be calling in soon." She added, already starting to fall back into her research and the puzzle that it was presenting to her.
"Nick I want you to check the database for other instances like this, people seeing what seems to be numerous ghosts. She may have the Sight but we should also see if it could have another source. It's obvious that if we're right whatever is haunting her has grown violent. We need to know what it is, and then figure out a way to get her out." Derek nodded, satisfied for the time being they were doing all that they could. He wanted to find a few moments to himself to think over both his visions and the warning he believed he received at the house. He started to leave the room and felt the eyes of both his colleagues on him, he knew exactly what they were thinking and he was wondering the same thing.
Yet no one asked the question on all their minds, 'how?'
"Look at this one, this must have been the first time you went mountain climbing. Do you remember that day? Tell me about it." The woman sitting on the bed beside her with the photo album on her lap held the picture out for Tangye to look at. The young woman made no move to roll away from the wall to look at it though. She just pulled the covers up tighter around her.
'Yes I remember.' She mumbled into her pillow.
"You didn't even look at it, come on look at it." She noticed the beginnings of anger in the woman's voice but still did not give in and look at the picture. She was not going to sit here and enjoy a stroll down memory lane with this monster.
'I'm really tired.' She gritted her teeth trying to keep her voice calm knowing better then to push, not realizing that she already had. She tried to sound pleading, like a child asking to go to bed, hoping it would touch something within the haze.
"I said look." The back of her hair was grabbed and her head yanked back so that the haze could shove the picture in front of her face. "Do you remember that day? What did you feel?" She snapped off each of her words, her anger at the forefront now. Tangye had barely fought back the yelp of pain.
'I was happy, excited. There was a chance I could die and I loved that.' She answered, her silent voice tight to hide the pain she was in.
"That was what has always been wrong with you. Life is precious, it should be preserved, not mocked." Her voice was full of disappointment.
'Then give me mine back.' Tangye knew it was a mistake but she couldn't control the words. The haze forced her head forward, slamming her forehead into the wall. She shook back the pain but couldn't control the groan in her throat.
"I don't think you were raised to be like this." She didn't argue this time, she was so tired and didn't have anything left to give right now. Anyway it would just bring her to the attention of the woman's counterpart and that was the last thing she needed. She decided to save her strength for a better time, a time when she might have the chance to break out, and with the two men taking an interest in her she might have help if they didn't heed her warning. She would need all her strength and focus to be able to protect them.
'It's a good picture, a good memory.' She whispered the words, not meaning them, her tone numb. It was a memory that she had to sacrifice years ago so not to be constantly reminded of what once was, and now would never be regained. She couldn't hold onto any of it anymore, it would just cause more pain to remember. It was the past, and it was dead now. She closed her eyes trying to force sleep to take her so she could have a short reprieve.
He leaned against the table in front of the large display screen staring at the image. He wore loose sweat pants and a baggy T-shirt. His face was concentrated on the picture. Over two hours ago he had woken up from a dream that had made him feel more alive then he remembered being in a long time. Her beautiful face had stared up at him. Her voice spoke words he couldn't hear, because he was afraid he wouldn't be able to capture it properly. He didn't want to make it something before hearing it dance across his own ears because he knew it would be magic.
Now he stared up at the image taken seven years ago, enlarged to focus only on her face. He could see her blue eyes now but instinctively knew he wasn't giving them the credit they deserved. There would be something more incredible about them then just blue when at last he first saw them. A small smile played across his lips just looking at her. When he had woken up it had taken all of his will power not to rush out of the castle and run to her, to find someway to help her.
"Well Mr. Boyle, just what are you doing?" He gasped, jumping at the sound of a soft female voice behind him. He turned and found Alex standing just inside the hologram an amused grin on her face. "That's revenge for you and Derek scaring me earlier."
"Sorry 'bout that." His eyes unconsciously turned back to the face of Tangye Mauveen Gaarlihn. Alex's brow furrowed, knowing the look on Nick's face all too well, but there also seemed something different about it this time. It was more then just attraction he was feeling.
"What are you doing Nick?" She joined him at the table and also turned to study the face of the young girl Tangye had once been, before her life had been robbed of her. He shrugged scratching at his hair.
"I don't know. This is going to sound strange but I woke up dreaming about her and had to come down here." He turned to her, an uncertain grin on his face, motioning at the monitor. "I enlarged the prom picture Mrs. Albertson let us borrow, so that we could see her face better. It was like I had to." He shook his head skeptically. He hadn't seemed able to control himself when he came down into the control room. He knew it wasn't some paranormal phenomenon guiding him, just the fact he had been so captivated. At first he just wanted to look at her picture but then found that the details were too hard to make out in the small photo. He had loaded it into the computer and slowly started enlarging the image. It didn't seem enough though until the smooth features of her happy face had filled the screen. Now he could make out all the various colors of her hair, how they caught and radiated the light. The way her smile seemed to highlight all of her other well formed features. She was beautiful and he was disappointed knowing that she had once doubted that.
"Nick, earth to Nick." Alex snapped her fingers in front of his intense face to draw him out of his revelry. He jerked and turned his hazel eyes to meet her intense brown ones.
"Sorry, I just.. I..." He stumbled over the words not sure what he wanted to have come out.
"She is beautiful." He nodded absently, "but it's more then that isn't it?" He turned to look at her, a half smile on his face. "I know you." She reminded him. He shifted his jaw back and forth in thought.
"Alex, tell me something? You ever seen someone's face for the first time but felt like you've stared at it for a thousand years?" His voice was low, hardly more then a whisper and she had to strain to hear it over the hum of the machines in the room. His eyes slowly wandered back to the image on the screen.
Alex realized trying to talk to him would be impossible at this time. He was distracted and probably needed sleep as well as some time to let his head clear. She slowly crept out of the room leaving the younger man lost in the screen.
She woke hours before dawn, though even if it had been mid-day one wouldn't have been able to tell since no outside light leaked into her room. She tried to keep quiet but knew that it wouldn't really matter. They wouldn't be awoken by her noise, they didn't sleep and they would sense her the moment that she rose. She tried to ignore that fact though as she changed into workout pants and a loose T-shirt. She made her way down the broad stairwell to the small gym in the back of the house. She looked over the equipment. A weight machine, bicycle, treadmill and a rowing machine. She reached out and not sensing them coming for her she went to the treadmill.
Putting on her headphones she turned the machine on and started to run. She tried to run away all her frustration, her pain; the tears that were always in the back of her eyes but knew it wouldn't work. She pushed her legs hard, when they started to ache she pushed past the pain checking the distance display. Eight miles. Two more to go. She was pushing herself too hard but it was the only escape she had left. As long as she was in this room they seemed to leave her alone so she made sure she spent as long here as possible. She usually worked out until she could no longer lift her arms or legs and then forced herself to leave the room and face what lay beyond.
She made her way through the cycle she had developed years ago. First ten miles on the treadmill, five on the bike, a half an hour with the weights, five more miles on the rowing machine. Her thoughts kept wandering back to the two men from yesterday knowing they would still be hours before arriving back at her house if they came at all. It was still only a little after seven and didn't imagine they would start that early. She wished she could come up with a way to help them, to keep both of them safe. There had been something so sympathetic about their faces. They didn't know her but it was clear what they were willing to risk in order to help her and she feared that. The spirits wrath would be great, he would make them an example to all that would ever think to try to help her since they believed they owned her.
Years ago she never would have thought hatred like this could spring up in her but it was the only thing that she had left for them.
The four present members of the Legacy team sat gathered around the table in the morning room, in front of them they all had plates stacked high with the breakfast prepared and served by the cook. Derek sipped at his coffee turning his eyes toward Rachel. "What were you able to find out from Dr. Berton? You did reach him?"
The blonde woman nodded, rotating a piece of toast between her fingers. "Yes, we had a meeting early this morning, before his first patient. He had a great deal to say about her actually, and said that if we need further help he's at our disposal. He seemed to have a great affection for her, and if she's anything like the way he described I can see why. Though he didn't really have much insight into why she's kept herself locked in the house." She shrugged. It had been a long morning already between getting Kat to school and seeing the psychiatrist Rachel already felt drained.
"I don't think she's the one responsible, something is keeping her there against her will. I think the answer lies in the invisible friends from her childhood." Derek said, his eyes were heavy still in the early morning but he was forcing himself to continue in their search. He felt that since they had so suddenly became involved something must be changing in the Gaarlihn house, the situation was growing desperate. They would have to act quickly and didn't have the time for him to deal with his own need for sleep.
"Yeah, we discussed that. Though it is not abnormal at all for children to have pretend friends, once they reach a certain age, when they have enough friends of their own, they don't need imaginary ones anymore and they just fade away. But she maintained them very actively until she was ten, even that's not really abnormal, but her parents were concerned so they took her to see him. He seemed to hold the opinion that the whole thing didn't stop when she saw him, but that she just realized it was better not to talk about it. Children can be incredibly self conscious, and having to see a doctor because of her fantasies probably made her feel like she was strange, different then other children. That's the last thing a ten year old wants, so rather then let anyone know she was she just hid the truth, or at least that's what he thinks." Rachel explained calmly and elicited only a nod from Derek.
"What do you think?" Alex prodded.