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Blood Ties by TalgoM
|[page 4 of 4]
"Any word yet?" Rachel burst into the control room and the start Alex felt just brought a fresh spring of tears behind her eyes. Nick loved scaring her like that whenever he could, had done it twice in the past few days. She knew that he had been in danger countless times before but it was always immediate, the consequences would come quickly. This time the effects could linger on for years. "Alex, has Derek called?"
Rachel placed her hands gently on her friend's shoulders, sensing the suffering that Alex was going through. She had been planning to come over anyway when Alex called her to tell her that Derek wanted her waiting at the house to talk to Tangye. Though Alex had been worried when she talked to her earlier it hadn't seemed as desperate as the look now on her face implied. She cursed herself for forgetting her cell phone on the kitchen table in the rush that morning to get Kat off to school.
"Oh God Rachel, where have you been?" Alex turned and hugged her friend tightly.
"I'm sorry, what's happened?" Alex shook her head, not sure how to explain. She knew she had sent Philip into a frenzy with her call. Now she just didn't know how to explain. "Alex, listen to me, I need to know what's happened." Her voice was soothing but it seemed to have little effect. She put her hands on Alex's thin shoulders, forcing her to look at her. She could read the anguish in her eyes.
"Nick." Rachel's heart lurched hearing the name. She controlled her emotions though knowing that someone had to be strong right now.
"What about him, has he been hurt?" She demanded, more sharply then she intended.
"We don't know. He made it into the house and Derek was thrown out. Derek can't get in to him. Rachel, that thing, whatever it is, kept the girl in there for seven years. How do we know it can't do the same thing to Nick? That it hasn't already won? We don't know what to do to fight it. They went in blind, I told them that, why wouldn't they listen to me?" She pleaded for answers that Rachel didn't have.
"What have you been able to find out? About the spirits in there?" Rachel turned to the computer catching a brief glimpse of one of Nick's mugs he tended to leave all over the place. She fought back the surge of emotion just seeing it caused. Feelings of loss overcoming her logic. They hadn't lost yet and Nick would never give up on them so early.
"Nothing. We weren't even sure that it is the spirits from the hotel, it was just a guess. I don't believe it was though and that means I'm no closer to an answer. I'm still looking though. I called Philip too. Derek might need help." She strove to regain her composure and professionalism.
"If nothing else he'll need support. And despite their problems Philip loves Nick, maybe that in itself will help." Rachel ignored the searing emotions in her own heart; she had a job to do. And they weren't giving up until Nick came home.
He didn't even think about the fact he was now trapped with her. That she hadn't been able to escape for so long and now he was in the same situation with her. Instead he just focused on his seemingly in vain attempts to comfort her. He sighed heavily not knowing what steps he should take, so he just stroked at her soft brown hair. Still she wouldn't lift her head from where she had it pressed into his chest. Her body shook with her sobs and her arms snaked around his waist keeping him close to her. He started whispering to her if only to fill the void.
"I just realized we haven't been introduced, I'm Nick Boyle." He had no idea what to say so he decided to just ramble. "I work for the Luna Foundation, used to be a Navy SEAL. That was a long time ago though and it's a complicated story. I'm the chief of security for the Luna Foundation now. I don't know if you've heard of it. We deal with antiquities, philanthropic in nature." Nick added with a grin. He suddenly felt that it was very important to tell her everything. That someway it would help her to know the truth about his life. "Actually, um, I work in this organization, an ancient society. It's been around for three thousand years. I'm sworn to secrecy about it though."
She stirred slightly in his arms; her mind still locked on keeping them back. He realized that she was hearing him so he kept talking if only it kept her occupied away from her fear. "But.. Okay, okay stop pestering me, you weaseled it out of me. It's called the Legacy. It was formed to protect the innocent in the world. We fight the forces of darkness, demons, ghosts, and their ilk. We hide behind the guise of other organizations all over the world. Basically we've made it our job to fight evil in whatever form it takes, no matter how impossible. Sounds crazy doesn't it?" He felt better, stronger, having given her the truth. Knowing there were others out there that knew about the things that she saw might give her the strength to fight again. Shed some of the loneliness she must have been entrenched in for years.
She lifted her head to look into his dark eyes, shaking her head as her only response. "Doesn't sound crazy to you, huh? Well then that makes me feel a little better." He grinned again. "My father was a member of the Legacy, I guess in a way he passed it on to me though I don't like to think of it that way. I avoided doing it for awhile but something about what they were doing seemed right. I spent a long time just wandering without really knowing where I was headed. I found a purpose in the Legacy." That brought a smile forth and he sighed with relief at the expression.
He believed he was making progress, at least she was finally responding to him. Her eyes seemed more focused. Deciding that if that's what it took to get through to her he was willing to talk forever. Eventually her hold on him slackened a bit. She sat up so that she could look more closely into his face.
He kept talking whispering in her ears telling her about the other members of the Legacy, about some of their cases, about his years as a SEAL, about anything that he could think of to keep her away from her pain. He was amazed by some of the things that came pouring out of his mouth, things he couldn't remember telling anyone else, things he had never thought to tell anyone. He held her in his arms tightly, finally her tears stopped and she just stared at his face a determined look in her eyes.
The voices had grown louder and louder, their anger threatening to drive her insane now even after she had survived so much. But she was fighting them, not giving the voices credence, instead concentrating on the soft voice of the man before her. Allowing his stories to seep into her, using his obvious strength and conviction to fuel what she felt she was losing in the battle for her life.
"Tangye stop this, it's nonsense. Dammit Tangye Mauveen." Windows would have shattered at the scream, had it reached human ears. Had it not been focused only in her head.
The inactivity infuriated him. The woman tested every ounce of patience he had. Countless times he wanted to scream at her to stop crying and focus. She wasn't any help though. She had no idea what might be causing this or what they could do. Seven years. The thought was inescapable to him. Tangye had been robbed of seven years and set adrift. The one person that could have helped her was long dead and evidently prevented from acting by the powers holding her. Then something had forced Charles' hand. What had it been?
He suffered through the barrage of questions in his mind his face showing the frustration over his inability to answer them as well as his frustration at this woman. What had Charles been trying to tell him in the dream? What if Charles had been wrong too? What if he couldn't get them out? How would he explain to Christine that he failed so miserably in his vow to watch out for Nick? How would he tell Philip that he lost his brother? How would he ever forgive himself?
"I'm sorry Dr. Rayne but I really don't know what has gotten a hold on Tangye and your friend. If I did I would have done something before." She couldn't fight the tears and for a moment Derek felt guilty over pushing her so hard, yelling at her so loudly. That emotion was brief though when he remembered the girl's face as she looked up at him from the stairs. When he saw in him minds eye the expression on Nick's face right before they went up to the house. That hurt little boy look so desperate for someone to help him. Knowing that boy was grown into a man now wanting to help someone as he had never been aided. His anger swelled.
"But you didn't, you waited five years without seeing a child you loved, knowing she was locked in there. You didn't help." The ring of his cellular phone broke into his ranting; he cursed under his breath in Dutch and answered it. "Derek."
"Have they come out yet?" Alex's anxious voice hardly waited for him to get his name out.
"No, they haven't. I'm with the neighbor." From his tone alone she knew that the woman was getting raked over the coals, even if she didn't deserve it. Now that whatever was in the house had Nick though, and she had ignored it for so long, Alex wasn't sure she didn't deserve all Derek would dish out to her. "Alex we were wrong, I'm sure of it. This is about her not her great-grandfather. Keep looking into the spirits she saw when she was younger. Identify as many of them as you can. I think it must be two of them come back for some reason. Or more. Dammit."
Alex tried to keep her voice calm hoping to bring him off the emotional roller coaster. "I called Philip. I told him what happened and he's on the way to you now. Hopefully he can help you." She paused wishing she were with him. "Derek, he'll be fine. This is Nick we're talking about." Maybe the statement would have worked if she could have sounded the tiniest bit convincing.
"I hope to Gott he is." He shut the phone, feeling slightly calmer now.
"Why do you think this has to do with her great-grandfather?" He had forgotten Janet was still there with him. "And what is this about spirits?"
Derek wanted to continue yelling at her. To let her know that she never had done anything but her hand had been merely used as a tool for the one individual who was always trying to save Tangye. His next verbal attack was held though when he heard the screech of tires out on the street. He turned and ran from the door. There was a van hazardously parked on the street in front of the two houses with the driver side door standing open. Philip was already running up the lawn. Derek remembered the young priest's dislike of driving yet he obviously had done so recklessly in his concern for Nick. Derek hated thinking he had to explain how all this had happened. He didn't want to face the accusation in Philip's eyes that once again by keeping too much to himself Derek had put one of them in danger. For Philip it would be worse because it was Nick.
Her head was pounding, her vision slowly blurring due to the pain; she couldn't withstand their power much longer. Her eyes were bloodshot as he looked at them and he felt helpless to aid her in whatever private war she was engaged.
"You can't hold out much longer can you? You've never used your talents like this before. You've always let your friends in; you cared for them so much. Why do you fight us?" She didn't waste the energy it would take to answer. It was taking everything she had left just to maintain the barrier that kept them out of the room. Argument or discussions were both pointless. "Doesn't matter, you're going to lose." His words burned into her.
"Child can't you see that we're trying to protect you? That we love you? You're so young, you can't be left alone with him." The woman's accursed voice echoed in her mind.
"Tangye, can you hear me?" Nick put his hand under her chin making her turn her eyes to him. She gave him a weak smile not hearing him over the battle in her mind but knowing what he had said all the same. It was the smile of an angel. "You still have a voice don't you? You just gotta find it again. When you do that you can tell me what's happening. I promise you that I will help you defeat this."
"Enough, he can't beat us." She wanted to scream, wanted to cry out from the pain but instead just shook in his arms. As though she were on the verge of freezing the powerful waves ran through every muscle in her body. It had been a pain beyond words, a snapping of the power she had so focused on one objective. She realized in that instant she had lost and they were both doomed.
Alex typed away at the computer entering in the names that Rachel read off to her from the journal and doctors reports. The searches were being run but were pouring out countless answers. There would be no way they could hope to sort through all of it and find the two that might now be torturing the child they once visited.
She had to wonder why this would happen. Why were the spirits suddenly turned violent? None of the stories that Tangye related in the journal described any malicious spirits. She spoke of them all with great fondness and even love. Why would they return years later not as playmates but torturers? It didn't feel any more right then the answer of the two spirits from the hotel.
She still felt the answer should be right in front of them though. She thought over all of the various warnings they had received. She was glad that Derek had finally confessed to her about the dreams he had been having, particularly the one where Charles said that this was not about him. That at least seemed to narrow their search, if not for the fact that Tangye had seemed to have over fifty spirit friends as a child. Still none of the clues they had been given leaned towards the answer of whom.
They were told that Tangye had the power to defeat whatever was attacking and holding her prisoner she just had to find it in herself to do something. That she forgot the little things. What did Charles mean by that? What little fact had she forgotten that could bring an end to such pain? If the answer was simple why had someone as seemingly bright as Tangye Gaarlihn not recognize it.
"Alex are you okay?" Rachel interrupted her thoughts when she noticed that Alex had stopped typing.
"Trying to be." She sat back wiping at her eyes trying to force them to focus. "I talked to my grandmother last night. She said she had a dream about what she called 'the little one.' That felt that we didn't need all the information, that if we followed our hearts we could help her. I guess I'm just trying to figure out how that can be it." Rachel seemed suddenly interested in her words.
"She said little one? But Tangye is an adult." Rachel asked anxiously.
"I know, but she " Alex stopped noticing the far away look on Rachel's face. "What?"
"Kat had a dream too. She saw a child about her age. Evidently she asked why someone would hurt her if they loved her. Then a man appeared and said that only she could do something about it." Rachel's voice was hurried and Alex's face seemed suddenly excited.
"That's almost the same thing that Charles said to Derek. You think it was Tangye in Kat's dream? That she saw her as a child because it would be easier to identify with?" Alex asked eagerly. Rachel didn't even get the chance to speak before she went on. "And seeing a child would get more of a reaction out of my grandmother too. I think we're finally onto something. Whatever is doing this should care about her."
"And the spirits that visited her as a child didn't know her until after they died. She wouldn't consider them as needing to love her. She would want them to but it wouldn't necessarily be expected of them." The truth hit her suddenly. "Alex?"
"I know. There seems to be only one pair that should." Alex said sadly as she typed. She turned off the search and switched the screen to the picture.
The man's face smiled down at his daughter full of pride. The love there was almost tangible to both women as they looked at his face. They had believed that it started because her parents were no longer there to protect her, never wanting to consider the other obvious possibility. Both women felt dread sink into their souls as they faced the truth.
She looked over his shoulder and there they stood, smiling at her. Pleased at their accomplishment. Satisfied to gloat in her fear of them for a few moments. They did not move toward the two living figures in the room. Instead they just watched their interaction with a growing disgust. They hated the way he held onto her so tightly. How he stroked her hair back and tried to keep her tears at bay. The way her arms wrapped around his waist and her face rested again on his shirt. But they also reveled in the anticipation over what she could only dream they had planned.
He sensed the change in her as she clutched to him all the more. Feeling her fear spread into him renewed his sense of urgency, still he didn't know what to fight.
Philip stood on the porch; he could sense the evil that had permeated the once happy Gaarlihn home. Derek had given him as many details as he could get out of the precept in his anxious state and sadly he knew that Derek didn't have much more to offer.
What in the hell had he and Nick been thinking? They had no concrete understanding about what was happening and yet came here anyway. A part of him knew just what they were thinking and he doubted he would have behaved differently. But why did Nick have to be at risk again just because he wanted to help someone? The priest's heart went out to the young woman. He feared with all his soul for his friend. He whispered the prayers hoping to banish whatever monsters had crept their way into the house, but still he didn't know what he was expected to fight.
Nick had been in the house for nearly three hours now, hours that had left Derek a nervous wreck, pacing now behind Philip in the lawn. They hadn't heard a sound, no screaming, no pleas, nothing to indicate the captives were in immediate danger, nothing to indicate they were even alive. Philip fought back his fear at that thought and began another series of exorcisms and prayers. Nothing changed.
The precept of the San Francisco Legacy house anxiously paced the front yard, wishing something would happen, wishing he had a single answer in the puzzle of Tangye Gaarlihn. He tried to turn his Sight on, force it to give him some information, but knew it rarely worked that way. He fought to put all the pieces that he had together to form some type of solution but his mind just would not wrap around the problem in the proper way. During all of that time he never realized the phone in his inside breast pocket that wanted to reach out to him with answers had run out of battery power an hour ago.
Behind him, at the curb Mrs. Janet Albertson watched the whole scene, wondering if the Dutchman had been right, if it had been in her power to prevent all of this.
"Come on, talk to me Tangye, what is it that you are seeing?" She shook her head looking over his shoulder with fear. "Don't look at it, just look at me okay?" He took her chin in his hand and turned her head to face his eyes. "That's better. You've got to find your voice. I know you're seeing something but I have no idea what it could be. All I know is that it's obviously hurting you; it's something you haven't been able to fight alone. I want to help you, if you'll let me. You have to figure out a way to let me." Again she shook her head looking past him. A tear forming in the corner of her eye. "Why? Do you think I can't fight it?" Finally he got a nod out of her. "Okay, then that's something. Is whatever it is here now?" She didn't respond and somehow he knew that it meant she couldn't.
He looked around the room trying to see whatever it was that had her so frightened, knowing that he wouldn't succeed. His frustration was building when her hand came up to his face. This time it was she who forced him to turn back and look at her again. "It's okay, I'm right here, I don't want to go anywhere but I need your help. I know you can talk to me, I'm sure of it that much. Maybe we can find some other way for you to communicate with me. This all started when your parents died, had they protected you from this thing until then?" She shook her head and he almost recognized the look in her eyes but then they turned back to the corner. "So it just worked out that way? These things saw an opportunity and took it?"
She gritted her teeth desperately wanting to speak. She wanted to let him know how wrong he was. How much the suggestions he was making hurt her, he had such faith in people he never knew. Why? Why should he believe in them at all? Why would he think that her parent's deaths had left room for the monsters to enter? In fact it had created them. "That's wrong too? I don't.." She suddenly put her finger over his mouth to keep him from speaking.
"What do you think you're doing young lady?" Her father spoke and with as much spite as possible she threw the thought back at him.
"What you wanted me to do before you died. I'm growing up. Finding my own way. Have you missed the fact this stranger is willing to risk everything to help me? How can I not do the same for him? I'll do whatever I have to so I can ensure that no one else is going to get hurt in my name. Now leave here." Her silent voice demanded, no longer was there fear there at the moment.
"We will not. We're your parents, this is our house." She heard the hint of doubt in his voice. Did he finally start to realize that she wasn't as powerless as he thought all these years? Did he finally see that she might be something to fear?
"You are my dead parents, and the house is mine now. Leave me alone." Again her voice was forceful. Conveying a surprising strength. She had tried for so long to convey this thought to them but they refused to ever listen to her. It was all she needed for them to understand.
"No." He demanded for her to listen but she refused. She would not let herself hear them anymore; she would not allow them to have any sort of hold of her.
"What will it take for you to go?" Her mental voice was a mix of desperation and anger. She felt the anger slowly creeping back over her and sensing it there relieved her. In it could lie all the hope they had to regain their freedom.
"Listen to me okay Tangye?" Nick's eyes were so soft as he looked into hers; his genuine concern was obvious. "We can fight this thing, whatever it is, that's what the Legacy is all about. Fighting things that seem impossible."
"He's a fool." The man laughed but it seemed more a nervous emotion then an amused one.
"But I need to know what to fight." Nick went on not hearing the interruption. Looking at her face up close, staring into her stunning eyes, he felt an even stronger urge then before to do something for her.
"She won't tell him." Her mothers smile is what finally did it, that contemptuous grin that made her so angry. She leaned forward and kissed him. She wasn't really sure what she hoped to prove by doing it. Maybe just show them that they couldn't control her actions. Maybe it would show them she was no longer the child they tried to capture her as.
It had been so long since she had been in contact with anyone at all, especially in this way. After a few moments her motives didn't really matter. He returned her kiss slowly, with hesitation at first but gradually she felt him give in to it. His hands held onto each of her cheeks while hers slowly found their way to his hair. After a few moments he pulled back to look at her.
"That was unexpected." He traced his fingers down her cheek. "Nice but a surprise. When I first saw your picture, it was weird. I'm usually fairly leery of getting close to people but when I saw your picture I felt like I had to. I had to do something for you. I dreamt about you for the past two nights and it's been a long time since I felt that good. God, I can't even believe I'm saying this. I've never I feel like I know you, or should." He knew this wasn't the proper time for any of this. He also knew that it all could just stem from his instincts to help those too weak to help themselves. His motives didn't matter though, nor did the timing. In the back of his mind he knew there was a chance they wouldn't make it out of here and he was reminded of that truth by the bruise on her face. He let doubt and hesitation slip away from him and just held onto the memory of the happiness he had felt in his dreams the past two nights.
He leaned back in but just before their lips met he was grabbed from behind and thrown across the room. His form slammed into the wall with a sickening thud freezing Tangye's heart for a moment. Her eyes grew wide with shock, though she should have been expecting as much, but she had let herself get caught up in his words. For a scant few moments her parent's spirits had felt very far away, beyond the ability to hurt her. Her horror took over as her father began to approach Nick's dazed form. "How dare you. In front of us. She's just a baby. I was going to kill you anyway but now you'll suffer for what you just did. And I will enjoy it."
"There's so much I haven't told him. So much that he wouldn't listen to. Derek why did I let that happen?" Philip turned to look at his mentor and friend. Looking for answers and receiving none. Derek almost had to turn away from the unbridled regret he saw in Philip's blue eyes.
"Nick did too Philip. He just couldn't ever accept that you would just quit the Legacy." He answered calmly knowing his words meant little. Philip was excellent at taking the blame for things on himself and this would not be any different.
"He never cared about that really it was just a cover. The problem was that I let him think I quit on him. How could I do that to him? He's lost so much why did I let him think I was just another thing that refused to stay in his life for the long haul? What if I don't get to correct that?" Philip closed his eyes tightly wishing away the remorse.
"And why do I fight with him? Philip we both have our regrets, and so does he. I know that you're scared but for now we have to believe that he's alive. That we'll get him out." 'She must do it now. She has to be the one.' The voice struck Derek in his mind with the power of a physical blow. 'She is the only hope your friend has. He is to be the example and she alone can prevent that.'
"Can we do nothing to help?" Philip spoke his desperation.
Realization dawned on Derek finally. "Whatever has her intends to kill Nick as a warning for her to be left alone." His voice didn't waiver as he dealt with the knowledge.
"What?" Philip blurted out at Derek's sudden proclamation. How could he say something like that so calmly? How did he suddenly know that?
"We've done what we can Philip, the rest is up to her." He turned suddenly to Janet, another element clicking into focus. "You said that she took risks with her own life?"
"All the time. It wasn't like she wanted to die but she just never fought for it too hard, she liked to live on the edge." She answered him quickly fearing that she might inadvertently send him into another rage and knowing she couldn't endure it.
"Sounds familiar." Philip said dryly.
"And she shares another trait with Nick. She would never stand by and watch another be hurt. Like when she tried to protect the little boy. She must have known the risks of going up against an angry spirit but she did it to help the child. That is what brings out the fight in her." Derek returned his eyes to the house. For the first time knowing what Charles had been trying to communicate to him. He still had no idea of what she was being forced to go up against but at least now he had someone confirming that she could fight it.
"So you're saying that while the spirits see Nick as a lesson, he'll be motivation for her?" Derek merely nodded, praying he was right.
In a moment snatched out of real time she remembered the instant of greatest agony in her young life. She remembered his face so clearly and would be forever haunted by it. He was the only other one that ever made an effort of find her salvation and that had been years ago. She saw his face in her mind where the monsters once her parents had always kept it prominent to remind her of her own helplessness. Bloodied and torn he had looked up at her for a moment through the pain. "It's okay," he had whispered to her. But he had been wrong, horribly wrong.
The anger swelled within her chest viciously. For the first time the memory did not make her feel weak and incompetent. Instead it empowered her with unrestrained fury moving her past any other emotion. She slipped into the anger, allowing it to engulf her every pore, every corner of her mind. There wasn't a single bit of her scared anymore; not a single bit of doubt could be left in the face of what she now felt in her heart.
"Yes I shall enjoy this." The man's voice growled with pure evil.
"No." The word burst forth before she could even consider the fact that it had been so long since anyone heard her speak. There was no holding it back now. She lunged across the room placing herself in between Nick's crumpled figure and the haze of her father. Her blue-gold eyes were cold and unforgiving as theirs had been on her for all those years. Her stance was taunt with her increasing emotional state. "No more, not again. Just back the hell up." She yelled, her voice struggling to hold onto its volume despite the raw pain it caused in her throat.
"Tangye get away from him. He must be an example and he must be punished." Her father's spirit issued the order sure she would obey.
"I will not. You've been torturing me for years now, it's enough. When you died you loved me, what happened, what twisted you?" She demanded back. Her voice did not waiver so much as an inch.
"I can get at him without hurting you, you know that." She glanced down and saw the handle of Nick's gun from under his shirt. The other option, the one she had not wanted to face but that had been dwelling in the back of her mind for so long now. If it came down to it what choice did she have? At least then this whole nightmare existence could finally end.
In a swift movement she swept down and grabbed it, placing it solidly under her chin.
"Now you can't. You move on him and I'll pull the trigger. You can't hide from me, you know that. You can't bluff me and say you'll leave just to stop me and not follow threw. You stay and I swear I will pull the trigger, the only way I live is if you die already." She paused hearing Nick issue a low moan behind her. She added with all her hate. "I will die before I let you hurt him and I will spend all of eternity hiding from you and then you will have lost me forever. Is that what you want? Is this the only solution you've left me to escape from you?"
"Tangye don't, please. We couldn't abandon you, we knew you could see us, we thought we could stay with you." The woman, the damn woman was trying to justify this? She made her voice pleading but it did no good to get through to her child.
"And stay you have, denying me everyone else in the world. I can't take it anymore. I'd rather die then live this way another day." Nick groaned again from behind her, stirring back into consciousness. He heard her voice for the first time, not really making out words at first but only the sound. In his clouded consciousness he let his mind wander. Her voice, it was just as he suspected. Even in her rage and desperation her voice was the sweetest music he could remember. Maybe only it would have that effect on him but it was there all the same. Gentle music that could guide him to sleep in the dead of night no matter what plagued him. Caressing music that he knew he could trust without reservation, which could sooth his anger with a whisper.
Then he realized what she had said with that voice.
"Tangye, put down the gun, please." He pleaded in a weak voice, slowly sitting up.
"You don't understand Nick, he'll kill you for getting near me, this is the only way to stop him." Her voice kept cracking in the middle of her words and she was amused to find how much such a simple thing compounded her emotions. They caused her to remain silent and brought on the pain of using her voice again. Indeed, James, you taught me well.
"Who?" Nick asked trying to focus on the situation.
"My father." The statement hit him hard in the chest. Throughout the investigation they had assumed her parents deaths had left the door open for something else to enter and hurt her. It had never crossed any of their minds that it could be her parents themselves doing this. They had heard all the descriptions of the Gaarlihn family and trusted them. If any of them should have known better is was he. Didn't he accuse Derek once of the same thing. Assuming everything was fine in the Boyle home because it looked okay? He remembered the way she had shook her head at every suggestion he had made about what was haunting her and finally knew why he thought something in her eyes looked familiar to him. It was the same look he caught in his own eyes when his guard was down and he saw himself in the mirror. The betrayal he had always felt having been turned on by someone that should have loved and protected him. The look of prey. A scared hunted creature being pursued by something much more skilled. He cursed himself for the blindness.
"A man who once loved me, but was twisted somehow into only wanting to guard me from everything. That's what has kept me locked alone in this house, they threatened everyone that came near me, told me what they would do to them, eventually it grew too violent for me to face it so I locked myself up in here and hid from everyone." She glanced down at him with sad eyes, but they held conviction for her decision. He saw that she had come to this conclusion long ago and had probably just been trying to deny the inevitability of it. But she would not stand by and let anyone be hurt. "He can kill you, dead or not. I won't let that happen just because you believed I was still here somehow locked away."
"Tangye I am your father." The spirit's voice reached Nick this time, his masquerade destroyed he could finally show his face to others beside his daughter.
'Were, don't you get it you're dead. I'm supposed to accept that eventually, why won't you let me move on? Once the thing you most wanted was to watch me grow up, what changed?' Nick realized he was hearing her voice in his head somehow, her lips no longer forming words but remaining instead locked in a thin line.
"We weren't here to watch it." Nick jerked his head in the direction of the bed. A woman stood there and he instinctively knew who it was.
'But you were, I never would have denied you that. You could have come back peacefully and I would have been so happy, now all I want is for you to leave. You robbed me of thousands of happy memories, of good days, all replaced by the past seven years. You took them from me and they should have been mine. But now they are gone, just vanished. I demand you give me my life back, even if death is the only way I can have it.' Her voice held no sadness over the loss anymore. She was just convinced of a need to find whatever end possible.
"Paul back up, please. She's our baby." Tangye inadvertently flinched to hear her say that. She was not the child of these abominations.
"Our baby, exactly and this monster thinks he has a right to her." Her father started to approach Nick again and she just shoved the gun harder against her chin. Reminding him who was in control of the situation at the moment. Successfully freezing him in his progression.
"He does. Anyone does now but you. You threw away your chance with me and nothing could ever earn it back." She snapped with her real voice and that said it, she would never forgive them. They would have to leave for her to live; there would be no making amends.
Nick slowly got to his feet, terrified of letting her hold the gun. She was willing to die to protect him, and he would die to keep her from sacrificing herself.
"Please don't do this, not for me." Nick gently placed his hand on her arm and with the touch she felt his own pain. He knew exactly what she was going through. She let his hand push down on her arm and lower the gun.
Immediately with the danger passed her father struck Nick again sending him crashing back into the wall behind him and in the same motion snatching the gun from her hand. Her father tackled Nick and knocked his head into the wall. "For God's sake make him stop." She screamed at the second haze.
"Why should he? This is our house, you're our child. We make the rules here." She remembered how different these figures were from her parents as they lived. Her gentle, trusting parents whom had always believed in her own judgement rather then pile on a bunch of ridiculous regulations.
'You died, don't you understand what that's supposed to mean?' She fought her rage, hoping she could elicit sympathy from whatever might be left of her mother.
"It doesn't mean you just forget us." The woman snapped but Tangye was sure she heard some doubt in the voice too.
'It wouldn't have. Seven years ago you died as the things I loved most in the world, now I beg you to leave as that which I hate the most. I wouldn't have forgotten you but now I can't. I have forgotten all the happy memories though, is that what you want? To be etched in my mind forever as a living nightmare?' She crossed to the woman, wishing she could grab her and shake some sense into her.
"No, we tried to make you remember. You were happy with us once." Her voice was desperate, as realization of what they had done seemed to dawn on her.
"Too long ago now." Tangye said numbly.
"You let all the others in why did you fight us?" The woman protested, trying to hold onto her conviction that this was right.
"Because of what you came back as. My friends came for a short while, they loved me and enjoyed watching me grow up. They loved to tell me stories about all the things I could do when I grew up. They were prepared to let me age, to let go when the time came. You refuse to do that, you have refused me my future." She said, sure now that she had begun to get through to her.
"Just one without us." The man hit Nick trying to get his child to focus on him rather then his wife. He could see her words seeping into the woman, she was having and effect on her and without her what chance did he have to hold on?
"You died for God's sake. Dammit you died." She screamed her voice breaking. 'If I'm to have a future it was to be without you.' She knew if she could get through to one of them that it would be the haze in her mother's form. She fought back the anguish of listening to the blows Nick was receiving and tried one last effort. 'Remember what you told me when I was packing for college? You told me that it was hard to let me go but you knew it was time. You had taught me what you could and now it was time to let the world teach me. You said it was hard but you were sure I would survive. Well I'm asking you now to keep your promise, let me go.' She spoke quickly to the woman alone.
The woman's eyes flinched, Tangye realized she almost had her. "But.."
'No. I won't hear you now. There's no explanation for this, no justification. And there's sure as hell no apology good enough. Make him stop, take him with you and go to hell where you belong.' She snapped, sure that for if ever her constant damning of them would work it would be now.
"Don't you love us?" The woman pleaded and Tangye fought the urge to laugh in her face over such a question. She had to stay in control though, not back down an inch and give the woman no reason to allow the man's anger to effect her.
'Don't you remember these years? How can you even ask me that? I once loved my parents totally and without hesitation. But you taught me to hate anything in their forms. Go before I don't even have the memories left of the love that I felt for them, because they are fading too quickly.' She knew the resolve of her mother's spirit had finally broke and for the first time in seven years winning seemed possible. 'Mother please take him away, I know you can, you can make him leave with you. For me?'
"Tangye he's just trying to protect you." She spoke without conviction now.
'From everything, from the life he once prayed I would have. You lose your life so I lose mine? That's not fair.' The blows continued behind her. 'Make him stop, if you love me at all, make him stop.'
"Paul don't, look what you're doing to Tangye." Tangye closed her eyes in momentary relief; she had succeeded in half the battle.
"She will learn that we will protect her." The man snapped, furious that his wife had given in and focusing that new anger of betrayal on Nick.
"She knows Paul, but she doesn't need us anymore. She can do it for herself now, I think she always could. She was raised to be able to, unfortunately not by us. Others took the time to teach her the important lessons. Why didn't we do that?" Her mother's voice was as desperate as her child's was.
"Dammit don't argue with him, just make him leave." Tangye screamed, her voice breaking again.
"She will always need us, we're her parents." The man demanded his words be heard but both women succeeded in ignoring him, not being convinced.
"And once we always knew that she would become an adult capable of taking care of herself. Remember when she walked across the stage and got her diploma, do you remember Paul what you said to me?" He stopped beating Nick and turned to his wife. Tangye was amazed to see the woman's face and realized for the first time in seven years she was looking once again at the mother she remembered. "You said that our little girl was a woman now, that it was so hard letting her go, but we had to. And you were right. Now say goodbye to your daughter and let's move on" She issued the words as an order.
"Never. That was different, she would have still been our lives, you're asking me to let her go forever." He struck out at the woman, somehow his power sending her flying across the room. Tangye knew now that no one would ever defeat this man with reason. She gathered her will one last time surprised to find that she was actually mad that he dared strike her mother.
"That's it. You've done the damage and now it's my turn. She was right most of what I was taught as a child was taught by others then you and you can't guess what some of that was." She grabbed hold of his spirit, forcing his hand to freeze mid-blow. "I'm not asking now." She locked down her mind onto his, holding it completely within her grasp. He seemed to finally realize what was happening and marveled that she had held this ability all along but never used it. Had she been hoping something would change, giving them a chance to redeem themselves rather then give up on them?
"You're my little girl Tangye." For a moment she thought she saw her father's eyes in there again but didn't care anymore, her face cold to his image.
"Not anymore." She pushed, with everything she had left she shoved him away. She severed the ties that had been holding him to the house. In an elongated stretch of light and with a blood-curdling scream he vanished to the beyond.
A few moments of silence passed as they all realized what she had just done. "You could have always done that?" The woman spoke from behind her, amazed by what she had just seen.
"Don't read too much into it, I don't think I could have. Now do you leave or do I " She turned to the woman, her eyes still in a rage.
A sad smile crossed the woman's face. "I leave."
"Good." Tangye sighed, her head beating away in a deafening rhythm. She wasn't really sure she had the energy left to do it again.
"I won't ask for your forgiveness because we don't deserve it. Just try to remember it wasn't always like this." She seemed to have more she wanted to say but also knew her words would not be heard and they didn't deserve to be entertained. She reached out and touched the side of her daughter's head. She saw the reflex in Tangye to swipe away the touch, to recoil from her. "Please just understand that I'm sorry."
"I do." She wasn't sure that was really true. She didn't know anything anymore. Not about these two. Where had all of this horror come from if it had not always existed in their hearts? "But you're right I can't forgive and I don't think I'll ever be able to. You let this happen, let yourself be twisted. Why should I forgive that?"
"You shouldn't." The woman admitted sadly, hating the knowledge of what she had lost. "Do yourself proud, you've made everyone else that."
"I will." She answered. Her voice for just a moment was kind without thinking about it. This was her mother she now looked at and she missed the true woman.
"Goodbye my angel, good luck. We won't watch over you, I promise you that, others have clearly always done a better job of protecting you. You're free of us now." She quickly kissed her child and then vanished before she could see the hate in Tangye's eyes one last time. She left seeing her child relieved to hear the promise that she made and intended to keep not the reaction the kiss brought.
For a moment she smiled, it was finally over and then she heard someone stir behind her. She turned quickly dropping down beside Nick and gently touched his bruised face, her smile vanishing.
"I'm so sorry for getting you involved in this. You can forgive me can't you?" She pleaded.
"Nothing to forgive." He grinned, pushing himself up against the wall.
"Look at your poor face." She gently touched the bruise below his eye.
"Look at your beautiful one. Listen to your sweet voice." He stroked his thumb along her throat. Being with her seemed so natural.
She laughed suddenly and picked something up. "Look at your poor phone." It had been completely destroyed when he had hit the wall and it slipped out of his pocket.
"Luckily that's replaceable." He didn't add the thought in his mind. He had no reason to think she heard his mind finish with 'unlike you.' The single thought from him made her feel better then she had in years.
"Without your help Nick I don't know if I could have done it." She said shyly, looking down.
"You just needed a little push." He smiled hoping to ease her discomfort.
"And some motivation." She nearly laughed to think that indeed that was all it had taken. A stranger presenting himself to them as a target foolishly and she had finally managed to fight them.
They had heard the screaming, they couldn't make out the words but knew it was the voice of a young woman. From behind him he heard Janet Albertson whisper, "Tangye."
They all froze, staring up at the house waiting. Derek lost track of time waiting, not knowing what else to do. He just didn't seem able to force himself to move forward, to do anything but hold his breath and watch the now silent house.
Philip jumped back off the porch as soon as the door started to open, not knowing what he expected to see come through it. Moments later he was rushing back up the steps to help.
Nick and Tangye stepped out onto the porch. Nick leaning heavily upon the small woman, his face bruised and bloody, and he was favoring one side. Philip grabbed his arm and helped him down into the lawn, leaving the woman alone in the doorway staring out into the sun.
It beat down upon her face for the first time in over five years, she hadn't even really been given time to think about how much she had missed that sensation. How alive the warm rays could make her feel. So she just stood soaking it in, eyes closed, face tilted upward to the bright orb in the sky.
He stared at her in awe for a moment. She was the same beautiful girl from the picture but now grown into a woman. Despite the large purple and brown bruise on her face it was clear how attractive she was. The girl from his vision, the one from his dreams the past two nights. She turned her face away from the sun and her eyes found his. He was shocked by the clarity of the eyes. A stunning blue gold like none he had seen before, eyes that could tell stories with a glance, could distract one from pain without effort. Eyes that no one would ever forget.
Suddenly he realized that she was smiling at him. "You didn't listen." She whispered, her voice still hoarse from the lack of use for so long and the yelling. He just shook his head. She came down off the steps and to him. Hesitantly she wrapped her arms around him, Janet's words coming back to him, 'that girl could love anyone so willingly.' He hugged her back gently. "Thank you for that."
"Oh my God, Tangye." Janet Albertson ran to the girl pulling her into her arms, crying against her hair. "I'm so sorry, what happened?" Tangye shook her head, not sure how to answer, not sure what the woman would believe. She knew that the men gathered would all believe what she had to say. From what Nick had told her they were used to this sort of thing. She knew Janet loved her but wasn't sure the plausibility of the story would be acceptable.
"Don't worry Aunt Janet, please don't." She hesitated. "I need to get away from here. I can't stay." She was shaking again. She looked around and her eyes found Nick where he leaned against his friend who was looking his injuries over. She seemed to gather a bit of strength just looking at him.
"Tangye, you can come stay with us, on Angel Island." His soft Dutch accented voice came from behind her; she merely nodded her acquiescence. She didn't want to run away from her neighbor but couldn't stand in the shadow of the house much longer. She turned to look up to it.
She had lied to her mother she now knew it. She did not believe they were sorry not after all that happened and she had no memory of happiness with them now. Even if something in death had taken them over they had worn the faces of her parents. She would never forget the hate that she had learned to have for them. The way they had erased every happy moment of her life. That robbery of her life, the destruction of her past, could never be forgiven. She had loved her parents more then anything else in the world once, now she realized that none of that was left for them. Perhaps they would have been sorry, if they hadn't changed.
"Tan." Nick's hands fell on her shoulders; she turned and buried her face into his chest. "Shh, it's over now, I'm not going to let anything hurt you again." He meant it, she knew it, and she also knew he could never promise her such a thing. She had enough hurt already. Pain she wouldn't be able to forget. Something's he couldn't fight but only distract her from. Still she felt a safety in his arms and allowed him to keep her sheltered for the time.
He looked at the young woman sitting in a chair across the desk from him. She had her legs pulled up close to her chest, hugging them with her thin arms. He was amazed at how small she looked sitting there, how she was forcing herself to take up as little space as possible. He knew it was probably a defense mechanism, assuming she felt the less room she took up the better the chance was that she could be overlooked.
The strength and resolve she had slowly had been slipping away as she was forced to face the reality of the situation. He knew she could not just easily accept that it was all over, that she had lost so much. Her light, bright eyes darted around the room, looking for something that no one else would be able to see, something he hoped that she didn't find. Her eyes were so scared; they countered the strength that he sensed within her. The strength he knew she had to have because she had survived and defeated her tormentors.
She looked at him and shot him a brief little grin, a grin he could already fell himself being drawn into. He wasn't sure how to describe it but he was sure that this young woman was meant to come into their lives, and more importantly to stay in them. Charles had said that she was theirs now and he only wished he could thank the man for that gift.
He had sent Rachel home, deciding it would be better to allow Tangye the time to get comfortable in the castle. She could have the talk with Rachel at anytime, though he knew it should be soon. First, though, she had to understand that she was safe here and the young man hovering over her shoulder seemed to enforce that idea.
Her voice was calm when she finally found it. "I've always been able to see them, spirits that is. Ever since I was a child, my parents knew that. For some reason, these remnants of lives can't hide from me. My parents knew they could come to me and I wouldn't be able to ignore them. I don't think they intended to hurt me at first, but over time something in them changed " She averted her eyes, staring down at her lap. Derek decided it was better to allow the subject to drop for the time being, there was time enough for her to face the past. But what she said interested him.
"You mean you can see all spirits?" He asked leaning forward in his seat. She was mixed between her old comfort with her talents and the new found fear she had developed since discovering the horror it could also bring into her life.
"No way of knowing that for sure. The ones I see may just be closer to the earth, holding on for some reason. But I see them all over the place just like people except they're a little hazy." She shook at that word remembering just what it had come to mean. "My childhood was littered with them. They seemed to seek me out or I was drawing them too me without knowing it. Nick told me though that you know about all that. That my make believe friends weren't just an overactive imagination. That made me so mad when I was a kid, that no one would believe me. I just never knew why it was happening to me and no one else."
"I think I might be able to help you with those answers. You aren't alone in what you can see though from what you've described your talent is rare. You see in most cases these spirits can only be seen if they choose to be by someone." She nodded. "How do you think you drew them to you?"
"I was told once that I could think outward." She replied knowing it made little sense but wanting to judge their reaction first. Neither of them seemed to doubt her words, which relaxed her though she did see that they were possibly impressed.
"I'm sorry?" Derek's eyebrows rose. She was captivating with her beauty and her honest eyes. He wanted to learn about her, hear her.
"I hear them in my head and I talk to them the same way, I just push it out to them." She smiled when he nodded his understanding. She could tell that he believed her without hesitation and that was a first in her life. Everyone had always tried to deny what she said she was capable of. Everyone living anyway, but this man just accepted her words.
"I heard your warning, though, at first I only got a sense of the need to leave. That night I heard your words though." She nodded shyly averting her eyes again. She felt guilty for doing it, for the invasion and Derek felt a swell of anger towards whoever had done that to her. "It's alright Tangye, you were trying to protect us."
"Didn't work." She whispered looking up at Nick's bruised face. Most of the swelling had gone down but he still had some light bruises across one cheek, under one eye, and a third on his jaw. He squeezed her hand, which found his easily, to let her know it was okay.
"We also didn't listen. We wanted to help you Tangye. I know that you have a lot to face, to figure out, and I'd like to make you an offer." He had been sure from the moment that she explained what happened that he had to keep her close. He remembered clearly the way he had felt the first time he had met every member of the house, like he needed them, and Tangye returned that emotion to him.
"What is it?" She let her feet slide back down to the floor.
"I would like it if you stayed here, on Angel Island until you are able to make decisions about what you want to do in the future. Not as a test subject mind you, just as a friend. You can stay as long as you need to " Derek's voice was sincere and he hoped she took his offer seriously.
"And even longer if you like." Nick brushed her hair back from her face and smiled at her. Her blue gold eyes fell on both of them and finally that unforgettable smile broke across her face. The relief he felt knowing she would stay surprised Derek.
Hours later Derek sat in his office with his journal. Tangye had gotten settled in to one of the rooms and was now attempting to get some sleep, as was everyone else in the house. There would be much to do in the upcoming days. Dealing with her pain and getting her to feel comfortable was just the first thing. The Gaarlihn estate would also have to be handled and Derek had already set his lawyers to work on that task. Then there was the fact that Philip had once again returned and the inevitable fallout that would cause with Nick. It would be an arduous few days or even possibly weeks so he felt the need to get his journal done with now, record the events that had brought Tangye Mauveen Gaarlihn back to the Legacy after three generations.
'He told me that she needed only one thing from me to escape. That I should know what it was from what I had learned about her. The fear I felt for Nick overwhelmed me for so long though when I should have been dawning on the truth. She needed for someone else to be their victim to be able to act. It was seeing Nick at risk that had forced her into action. Her concern that we would even become involved had been the first step, but only with Nick's life at stake could she push them away completely. Only then did she find the power she needed to defeat them. The Legacy was formed to protect the innocent but in this case it had to be the innocent for success. I can't describe it but I feel that she belongs here, that she has much to offer us as an organization and more importantly a family. I just wish I could thank the man that arranged her homecoming.'
The End of Blood Ties