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Past Abandoned by TalgoM Past Abandoned
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She was staring out at the bay soaked to the bone; it at least helped to cover her tears. Nick gently placed the blanket around her shoulders and she just pulled it tight around herself but didn't make a move to go into the house. She had gotten as far as the cliff not far from the house when the pain had gotten the best of her, pain she'd had over four years to learn to live with but that would never leave her soul.
She had heard and felt them approach and spoke out to the sea. "You asked me what more my parents could do to me? Nothing. Not after that moment, because in one moment they did the worst they ever could. They did things that hurt after that, but It was just a repetition. It always just would have been more of the same. They never could have hurt me like that again." She spoke loudly enough to be heard, forcing her anger at them past the pain of her loss. It didn't really work though; she had loved him so much she doubted she would ever get over the pain and guilt of his death. Knowing that if it weren't for her he would have lived so much longer.
"Tangye why didn't you tell me?" Rachel asked gently, her voice almost swept away with the stormy winds. They were all gathered outside to help her, none knowing what to do for her to ease the crushing weight on her heart.
"Because for a few moments I got to believe that you would come running down here and say you found him. I let myself believe that you would tell me he was working for some ad agency or pr office somewhere in that city." She gestured to the points of light across the bay. "For a few minutes I could get caught up in the idea that he might come back to me. That one last time I would get to see Brian's face, his eyes that could have guided me out of the darkest places." She shook her wet head. "But not a moment of it was a terrible dream."
"I'm so sorry." Kat clutched to her mother protectively as Derek did on Rachel's other side, but their touch did no good to make her feel better about the disappointment she delivered to the auburn headed woman.
"Don't be, it was a nice moment to have." Nick watched as the smile formed on her lips but vanished as quickly as it had found any strength. "He kissed me, for the first time, he had no idea my father was watching him. Then " She shut her eyes tightly fighting back the memories but Derek was struck by them through his Sight and gasped. "He beat him. This boy that my dad had known for years, a kid that he loved like his own son, and he wouldn't stop. And he did it all because Brian had dared to love me." She felt the bile rise in her throat but fought that back as well, her voice kept failing her though. "His last words to me where that it was okay, because he knew he could come back to me and help comfort me through whatever had me. But they never let him back in, they fought him off and eventually he just, was gone. After that the world just died too, until "
She turned and buried her head against Nick's chest who just gripped her tightly, holding onto her as though he could save her from the past, keeping it all at bay. "I thought he'd do the same to you Nick, that I'd have to watch it again. When he had you on the floor and was hovering over you it was like I was back in that moment when I failed Brian. I couldn't have stood by and not acted. I'm so sorry you had to be hurt for me to find it within myself to act." She knew that only he could hear her now as the waves crashed drowning out her voice. "I would rather die then have caused that twice." She looked up at him, her hand resting against his cheek. She bit down on her upper lip, her eyes taking in everything about him for a moment. "You have eyes like him, eyes that could guide me from the darkest places."
Her words struck Nick. The faith she seemed to have in him. "Tan, I'm so sorry, I don't know what to say but I'm sorry." He kissed the top of her head as the others looked on with a deep ache in all of their eyes. "Just let it go, let it wash away now." She kept her arms around him refusing to let go.
She didn't let go of him for the next six hours and despite his natural antsy tendencies he had never said a word in complaint. He just held her in his strong arms protecting her from things he couldn't even see, that he prayed were really gone now. He had taken her upstairs to her new room, wrapped a dry blanket around her, and then managed to get her under the comforter and into bed. Eventually her shivering had stopped along with the tears. Finally she had drifted off to sleep, her arms still around his waist, head resting on his chest. He kept rubbing her back in a small but soothing gesture. He felt his eyes getting heavy as the first rays of sunlight crept into the room.
There was a light knock at the door and Kat came cautiously in the room. The little girl smiled to see Tangye and Nick snuggled so close together in the large bed. Nick's chin rested on the top of Tangye's head now and both of them were breathing regularly and softly. Kat crossed to the bed and carefully climbed up. She reached around Tangye and hugged her from the other side. Nick stirred in his slumber, his eyes struggling open. He whispered to the girl, proud though to see her being so caring.
"Careful Kitty Kat she just got to sleep a little while ago." The child meekly nodded.
"She's so sad Nick, do you think we can help her?" Such innocence in the eyes that looked up at him it made him hate himself for not being able to promise her that.
"We're going to try, and I want to start now. Will you stay here while I go talk to Derek for a few minutes." The girl nodded without any hesitation at all. Slowly Nick slid himself from under Tangye, carefully placing her head on the pillow. He pulled the blankets up under her chin and silently made his way out of the room. Every bone in his body ached but he didn't voice his complaints. He had just fallen asleep himself and looked it when he burst into Derek's office without announcement of any kind.
"I want him the hell off of the island now." The anger that had been building in him all night as he held her crying against himself, erupted.
Derek's head jerked up and was surprised to see the absolute rage in Nick's eyes. Before he could say anything Nick went on yelling.
"I want everything about him off the island, both of them. I don't want her accidentally stumbling upon their names or anything else. I want their names off that plaque and I want their bodies off the island. I don't care if you throw them in a trash heap but he won't stay here." Nick yelled, not even thinking that everyone would probably be woken up by his outburst.
Derek couldn't remember the last time he'd seen Nick like this. He had seen his younger colleague angry plenty of times but this time it had passion behind it. Nothing was going to stop him even if he had to go out back and do it himself. "I've already arranged it Nick, they'll be moved tomorrow morning, though I must say the coordinator wasn't amused, they were only moved here two days ago." Derek kept his voice logical which just seemed to infuriate his friend more.
"I give a shit?" Nick snapped. He knew his anger was misdirected right now but he couldn't control himself. "You know what he did to her. I know you had a vision last night, do you want that monster on the island?"
"Nick hard as it is to believe the body out there is not the monster. The body was the man Tangye knew as a child, a man I think she'll tell you someday loved her very dearly. The monster came later, but that doesn't change the fact I don't think their graves should be here. I know it's hard to understand but something changed his spirit, and her mother's. Still I don't think it will help her recovery at all knowing that memory is so close." Nick's face seemed to give in to Derek's logic and he dropped into one of the leather chairs, covering his face with his hands.
"What can we do? How do we help her?" His voice was so tired but there was still a power behind it. The power of his feelings for the young woman whose eyes had cried out to him so desperately since the first moment he saw them.
"Nick she has a long road ahead of her. She has to learn to face what was done to her, hiding away from it will just cause her more pain in the future." Nick's head jerked up his hazel eyes burning into his precept. "It's true Nick." Derek defended himself.
"Don't do that Derek, don't try to sneak those little comments in about me." His voice was a low growl that made Derek edge back slightly.
"Sorry Nick but Rachel will tell you the same thing. Try to get her to talk to you about it, let her get it all out so she doesn't feel like she has to hide any of it. She has a lot of guards up right now and those need to come down so she can move to the next step of her life. Listen and just show her you care." Derek paused; knowing the next thing that he was going to say would upset Nick. But he had to also bring it up. "Nick, I think you should take things between you two very slowly. I know you feel drawn to her but that could just be a way for her to avoid the past. Give her some time and then, eventually, if you still feel the same way " Derek was entering new territory here, he felt like he was lecturing his child on relationships and that had never before been something he had to do.
"Derek I think I could love her." His eyes spoke his agony clearly enough. Afraid that his feelings for this girl would never be reciprocated, or that someway they would end up hurting her. Despite Nick's attempts to always be strong all of his friends knew him to have a sensitive soul, one that never wanted to cause pain to anyone in his life.
"Nick I know you think that, and it might be true but it has to be taken slowly. You feel drawn to her for many reasons, I know that. You know she'll understand things about you that so few people do. And you want to help her, but giving her too much at once could just overload her." Derek kept his voice even yet it showed how deeply he cared for the young man just by the fact he was discussing this, not ordering him.
"I look at her and I hurt, what's that mean?" Her smile barely touched her lips. She hadn't intended to hear the conversation but something in Nick's voice kept her standing in her place just at the edge of the doorway. Something vaguely familiar, something with so much promise to it.
Derek's smile was full of pride as he looked down at him, proud of his youngest "son." "I think you know. She's not going anywhere for now Nick, and I've seen the way she looks at you when you don't know she is, I don't think she wants to leave you." She turned from the door suddenly feeling like she had been caught in some improper behavior, hearing things she shouldn't be privilege to. She didn't even see Philip standing there before she ran right into his chest. His blue hazel eyes looked down at her with such a kindness it made her breath catch. How could he really ever be that caring?
"Um, hi, I wasn't listening in, I was just waiting for a chance to break in didn't seem to be one I, ah " She stammered out the lame excuse. He gave her his best stern look but couldn't control the smile that came to his lips at her embarrassment, at least someone else in the house could blush as many shades as him.
"It's alright Tangye, I won't tell them you heard anything." He led her away from the door so they would not be overheard.
"I didn't think a priest could lie." She eyed him suspiciously.
"It's not a lie unless they ask, I doubt they will." He wasn't sure how to broach the subject with her but he desperately felt the need to talk to her.
She turned to look at him with those knowing eyes, some of her strands of brown hair tumbling down into her face. She brushed them away and nodded at him. "Just ask Philip, I can tell you want to."
"Are you feeling any better?" He felt foolish asking, afraid the question would serve as a reminder that she should be hurting when she seemed to be past it for a moment.
"Yeah, I needed a little rest. It hurts, but, God doesn't give us more then we can handle, right?" He was taken back by her words, by the belief she seemed to have in them despite the horrors that had been delivered upon her slender shoulders.
"True but sometimes we do need a little help to get through these things. If you want to talk to anyone, I would be happy to be there for you." Her intense eyes turned up to him again and quickly read his sincerity. She reached out to him without considering what she was doing, gripping his hand within her own and squeezing it ever so gently.
"In time I might take you up on that, but I need a little fresh, new air for now. No bad memories. I just want to abandon it all on the roadside for awhile, come back and get it when I'm ready for it." She walked down the halls with him, going nowhere in particular. Just taking comfort in the moment of ease, a moment lacking any expectations. "Actually Philip, I was wondering, if well I haven't been to mass in about six years, I would like to go again, would you mind taking me?" He was swept into her smile before he even knew it was happening and just nodded at her. "Thank you Philip, I can borrow clothes from Alex, is there a mass tonight?"
"Yes actually there is, and yours truly is saying it." Her smile brightened. "But I must admit I don't think Alex's clothes will fit you, she has several inches on you. I'm sure Derek will give you some money to get some clothes though." His accented voice seemed to almost be teasing her.
"I hate to ask for that. I just keep taking from him and I have my inheritance after all." The remorse was clear and Philip hated seeing it but knew no way to dispel it. That would have to be something Derek dealt with in her. Among other things. Philip remembered Derek's words about Tangye's great-grandfather, who she probably knew so little about. 'He personified what the Legacy stood for' and already the priest could see those traits in his descendant. A strong core of beliefs, a desire to protect others who could not protect themselves. Traits that would serve the Legacy well and would also serve her personally time and time again. But those ties were all things Derek would have to explain the source of to her.
"It will take a few days to sort out the legal issues with that, set up accounts and all that. You can pay Derek back, though, I'm sure he won't take it." Philip smiled so kindly down to her for a moment all of the past vanished in the face of his smile. He lead her off down the hall where Dominick was just exiting the room she had been put in.
"Miss Tangye I had your clothes washed for you and put them on your bed. I hope you're thinking to get more, one outfit just doesn't seem right for a pretty young woman." His words weren't the least bit condescending in her opinion, they just reflected his quiet, simple way of showing how much he cared for those living in the house. She looked down at the pair of sweatpants and T-shirt she had borrowed from Nick the day before. They were several sizes too large for her and Philip was right she wouldn't fit in Alex's clothes either. She had to get some clothes, which meant borrowing money, though she hated the idea of taking more from them.
"Thank you Dominick, we were just discussin' that. You can get dressed and I'll talk to Alex and Derek. I'm sure that Alex would be much more suitable shopping partner then a priest." She laughed slightly and surprised him by pushing herself up on her toes to give him a kiss on the cheek. She then stepped into her room and with one more sweet smile to him she shut the door and he went off to tell his plans to the others.
She leaned against the thick oak door gasping to force air into her lungs wishing she could control the tears flowing so freely from her eyes. She had barely made it into the room before breaking down, glad she held it in long enough for Philip not to see it.
She wanted so badly to leave them in the past, to start over here and for awhile this morning being held in Nick's strong arms it had seemed possible. But they were always there, no longer in a form that could physically hurt her but they still had such power over her mind. "Enough Tangye Mauveen. You won in the end, you beat them. Derek can help you learn to use your talents and you can make sure that they won't come back. It's over " She slid down to the floor, burying her face against her knees. "And you saved Nick. You failed Brian but you saved Nick." There was a light knock on the door that caused her to jump. "Okay, grow up Tangye. These people have been good to you don't drag them down." She whispered to herself as she wiped the rest of her tears away and pulled the door open to find Kat standing there, shifting awkwardly, and not knowing if she should be here.
"Hey there Kitten, what's up?" She put on her best face for the young girl.
"I heard you." Kat answered, her blue eyes spoke all of her concern. "Are you okay?" Tangye reached out and took Kat's hand and led her over to a chair in the corner. She lifted Kat up into her lap.
"I got hurt really bad Kat it will take me awhile to get past that." She knew that she shouldn't tell the little girl too much about what had happened, but the child did deserve some type of an explanation. "You know all about ghosts right Kat?" She nodded. "Well, I see them, a lot of them, and two decided to hurt me."
"Your mom and dad?" She was a little surprised that Kat knew that much but nodded.
"In a way that's who they were. But once my mom and dad were great people, like your mom. They loved me. When they died though, something changed in them, they got angry and Well, Kat they just got really angry." She kissed Kat's soft hair not wanting to frighten her by telling her any details. She also admitted to herself that it always hurt more and seemed fresher when she even thought of the details.
"I'm sorry they did that to you. I saw my daddy and brother again and I was really happy about it, but sad because they couldn't stay." Tangye smiled and hugged Kat tightly.
"I'm glad you got to see them again Kat, that you got to tell them goodbye." She looked around the room suddenly. Kat followed suit but saw nothing that should have drawn her attention. "Listen sweetie, um, I really appreciate you coming in to check on me, but I'm going to be fine. I may need a hug every now and again, but I'll make it, you just watch. Now I need to get dressed you mind?" Kat shook her head but gave Tangye another quick hug before climbing off the young woman's lap and leaving the room. "Good Lord Tangye, stop looking in corners. They are gone, hopefully all of them for a while. C'mon you stupid 'talent' cooperate for once. I could use a break." She demanded of herself. The tears began to form again but she wiped at them angrily. "Enough, you made Kat a promise, now keep it."
Alex was thoroughly enjoying the day. She had woken up expecting to spend the day in front of the computer doing research on the scroll delivered to the house earlier in the week or the disturbances in the local neighborhood. She had been a little surprised when Derek even agreed to let her go out with Tangye for the afternoon to outfit the young woman, but he had seen the need for this trip in both of them. Now with the Luna Foundation credit card in hand they had already filled five bags. Alex had a very good sense of Tangye's style preferences. She had picked out only a few dresses, but several pairs of jeans, T-shirts, sweaters and long sleeve sporty tight shirts. She had also grabbed several workout outfits. But mostly Alex was surprised by Tangye's penchant for shoes. They had already bought five pairs and she was compelled into every shoe store they passed. Mostly she seemed drawn to very high heel, clunky black shoes, though she did make sure to buy a pair of tennis shoes.
The woman she saw emerging in front of her constantly surprised Alex. She had been telling jokes throughout the day, some of which were raunchier then anything Alex could ever remember hearing. She also proved very intelligent, telling Alex stories about digs she had read about years ago. Her memory for those details astounded the researcher. She could name the artifact; years found and made, the people involved in the expeditions, as well as any other number of details. Though she had never had a chance to decide what she would study in college Alex got a sense that she would have ended up in archeology or anthropology. Her smile was so bright and alive when it turned to look at Alex as she had made new discoveries in the racks. She was complicated; deep with constantly exposed new levels and the slightly older Cajun woman found she admired that. Tangye Gaarlihn was not going to be an easy puzzle and Alex found herself anticipating that discovery process. Alex quickly realized she had made a new dear friend.
Only Alex's Sight was troubling her throughout the trip. She could feel the pain still heavy in the girl's mind and heart. She watched the internal battle being waged to defeat that pain. She knew that the few times Tangye had excused herself off to the restroom she had just reached an emotional end but didn't want to have anyone see her weak for a moment. That tore Alex Moreau up. She wanted to help, to let Tangye know that she did not need to hide. To make it clear that no longer did the battle have to be fought alone. But she didn't want to push, to ask more from Tangye then she knew how to give yet.
Alex was pulled away from her reflection of the venture when Tangye suddenly called her name. They stood in amongst racks of jackets.
"Alex, this is great." She spun around holding up the black leather jacket.
"Then try it on." She pulled away the hanger and slipped the coat on. It was tapered at the waist but hung down halfway to her knees. It was a perfect fit and very flattering. Alex just grinned. "Looks great, and it goes with the shoes." She teased as she had been all afternoon ever since Tangye gave a rather passionate speech on shoes and why she loved them. "That everything?"
"What time is it?" Alex glanced at her watch.
"Quarter to three." Alex realized she was slightly disappointed to find their day was almost over. She was enjoying answering Tangye's many questions about New Orleans and her life in general, but she knew that the younger woman had plans with Philip.
"Okay so we have time to pick up the hiking boots, pay for this stuff and get home in time for me to meet Philip for the mass?" Alex nodded a grin on her face.
"Another pair of shoes?" The joke was stated clearly enough.
"Those are important, I might need them at some time. Plus, I told you I like to go hiking, practical, see?" Tangye jumped to her own defense.
"We should grab you a watch too." She nodded gathering up another stack of clothes and heading to the jewelry counter. Alex wasn't really surprised when Tangye choose a beautiful silver man's watch rather then a daintier woman's watch. Finally at the checkout counter a woman in her mid-twenties came up to ring up their purchases. As soon as Tangye looked up at her an anxious look took over her eyes and she started looking around as if for help.
"Oh, my God. I don't believe this." The cashier gasped. Alex watched the expressions on both their faces, Tangye's nervous; the cashier's excited. "Tangye Gaarlihn? I haven't seen you since graduation. Do you remember me?"
"Yeah, Kristy, um Peters, right?" She stammered helplessly. Obviously this was a situation she was not interested in being in.
"Peterson, well it was. It's actually Wright now. I got married two years ago." Tangye just stared at her blankly. "I can't believe I haven't seen you in all these years. What have you been up to? You went to Brown, right?"
"Ah, I, ah, got a little derailed. I never made it there." She rubbed at her face and seemed to wince involuntarily at some memory. Alex wanted to step in but didn't know how to interfere.
"You're kidding, right? What could have derailed the class valedictorian?" Kristy seemed so at ease but Alex didn't get the feeling that she had ever really been friends with Tangye, certainly not close anyway.
Tangye finally made eye contact and with startling harshness answered, "Things, things got in the way." Now Alex really felt the need to step in. Tangye had been coping well but she had a lot of anger still stored up over what had been denied her. Having some innocent bystander remind her of all those things could prove very dangerous. Alex got the feeling that Tangye Gaarlihn, despite her instinctive sweetness, was not a person that people should anger.
"Excuse, I don't mean to be rude but we're in a bit of a hurry. Tangye has an appointment to keep later." Alex held the card out to Kristy and the saleswoman just nodded, obviously shocked by the look she was receiving from her schoolmate.
"Alex, I'm gonna " Tangye gestured towards the restrooms she had staked out quite some time ago. Without waiting for a response from her companion the telepath just quickly wandered off.
"Well, some things never change." Kristy mumbled under her breath as she started to punch in the codes from their purchases.
"What's that mean?" Alex turned back, trying to push aside, for the moment at least, the hurt she had just seen so present.
"Tangye Gaarlihn was always weird. She's edgy, rude." Kristy answered absently, not even seeming to think that the comment might be offensive to Tangye's companion.
"Sometimes people have the right to be." Alex answered back brusquely silencing any more comments from the woman. She was sure now that these two had never been friends. Kristy was probably just the type that needed popularity even if she didn't really like the people she got it from, as long as everyone knew her name. After she had been rung up the researcher went in search of her friend.
"Tangye? Are you here?" She pushed the door open a crack and found the brunette at the sink staring into the mirror. As soon as Alex walked in the room she turned away to hide her face, but her body spoke clearly enough the emotions Alex would have seen there. The tenseness of it, the way the head was hung so defeated. "Don't try to hide."
"I had to get away from her." Her voice came back low, barely creating the words but amplified by the empty room. "I was having a good time, I didn't need a reminder."
"But you will have them, there's no avoiding that." Alex answered back softly, her voice sharing in Tangye's pain.
"She's married. God, that's just That's it. That's where everyone I know will be. They'll have careers, husbands, boyfriends at least, some even kids. Where am I? I lost seven years, and for most of that time I didn't even know how many years had passed. I never thought it would be that many though. That they would be that important." She turned around, not bothering to wipe at the tears. "I'm almost twenty-five, and I have What? That's what I can't figure out. What do I have, what did I get to keep? I was supposed to go to Brown two weeks ago, and then all of a sudden seven years are gone. I haven't done anything. My driver's license isn't even good anymore. Is this what I have to look forward to? A bunch of new reminders of what I lost? Dammit." She turned away again. The diatribe had come out so passionately, it clearly stated all the frustration that she had been feeling. To Alex it served as a reminder of just how much had been lost. She hadn't wanted to think about it but they were pivotal years that were robbed of her. "When did I become a whiner?"
"You've earned a bit of whining." She put a gentle hand on Tangye's shoulder, her heart breaking at the tone of desperation she heard. It had created plenty of questions for the psychic too. Why did it have to happen? Why did it have to last so long? What did this girl ever do to deserve the hand she was dealt? None of the questions had answers, though, and that just made it worse.
"But it's not me. You cope. That's always the way it was. I was different from day one and I coped with that as best I could. This though " She faced Alex, her head still hung, eyes turned to look up at the gentle face of the woman with her. Alex was surprised to see such determination there. "This isn't going to beat me. Damage done, no more. I don't go silently into the night." She said it so strongly that Alex was certain she was right. She knew she wasn't just past the pain because she decided to be, and she knew this was probably not the last time the young woman would feel the need to retreat to gather herself together. But Tangye Gaarlihn would not be beaten for long; she would not stay down.
"Good." Alex nodded knowing there was little else to be said. "As for your driver's license, piece of advice, don't let Nick tutor you for the test. He's not very big on the laws which makes a bad teacher." The joke worked to get the smile Alex had hoped for. The magical smile that she knew the whole Legacy would fall prey to in time.
Reverend Mitchell sat at his desk in his small parish office working on the monthly financial reports. Luckily Wednesday afternoon was usually quiet in the church so he had plenty of time to get the tedious work done. Suddenly the papers were caught in a wind and blown off the desk. He turned quickly to check the window but found it closed. He shrugged, assuming that the air conditioning must be on the fritz again; things like that were always happening. He pushed back his chair and gathered up the papers. He put the stack on the desk, dropping a heavy metal paperweight on them and went to check on the controls.
It had been a long week already, last night he had spent three hours at the hospital with Karin Welsh whose son and husband were both admitted after an attack, or a series of incredible accidents. He still didn't know which it had been. There had been enough accidents without explanation in the small neighborhood that it seemed less like coincidence and more like a warning of some sort. To what he didn't know but as he had sat in the hospital waiting room with the woman the night before he had been struck by an intense feeling of foreboding. There was a danger in the area, but what it was he could not say.
He stopped in front of the control to the air conditioning his dark eyes growing wide when he saw that it was off. Then what had caused the wind in the office? Before he had too much time to contemplate the question he heard the soft sounds of a woman crying.
He spun around and quickly realized that the sound was coming from above him. His eyes glanced upward knowing that no one could be in the steeple but not able to deny what he was hearing. Resolving himself to face whatever he found he went back to his office to get the key to steeple door. The tension was heavy within him by this time but he pressed forward. Stepping into his office he was shocked by the sight before him. The papers he had carefully stacked on his desk were scattered across the floor. He picked up the paperweight and looked around cautiously. "I know I put this on them. What is going on here?"
"They shall pay for what they did. All shall pay." The sound came from upstairs still mixed in with the sobs. Grabbing the keys he went to the steeple, climbing the stairs with hesitation. He wasn't really surprised to find it empty but it still froze his heart. He looked out over the neighborhood, so peaceful in the afternoon but peace was not what he felt. Something was here, he was sure of it, and it was hurting people. He felt helpless to do anything though which came as a crushing blow to the sixty year old man who dedicated his life to this neighborhood. 'You shall pay.' The voice spoke behind him but when he turned there was still nothing there, except a cold gust of wind.
"Pay for what?" He whispered back.
Philip called upstairs getting a little nervous by the passing time. He would make it to the church just in time if they left right now and he certainly didn't want to be late.
"Okay, okay, I'm here." Her response came back amused.
She came around the corner and he was taken back by the transformation. There was no denying that she was a pretty girl with a beauty that it was difficult to put into words. He had recognized that from the first time he had seen her. It was a combination of the elements that made her stand out. The small little nose so well proportioned to her face, the full lips in a natural sort of pout, her round cheeks graced on one side with a deep dimple. And her hair and eyes were nothing if not stunning.
But now as she came down the stairs wearing a steel blue sundress with small antique white flowers on it and cropped loose knit sweater over it, she was nothing short of gorgeous. Her hair was like silk as it bounced around her soft face and her eyes seemed to sparkle in her enjoyment. He took in all the details of her and was surprised by how many he had missed. How this morning her beauty had been simple and hidden, while she truly was much more then that. She was a picture of beauty undeniably in her own way. Philip took in all the details noticing the oversized man's watch worn loosely on her right wrist, the sunglasses she held in her other hand along with the leather jacket she had bought that day. She jumped off the last few steps landing right in front of him.
"You beckoned?" She lightly asked with a grin.
"We need to be goin'." She nodded and they started for the door. "You look lovely Tangye. You'll put the other parishioners to shame." He said hesitantly.
"Thank you Father." She just grinned more up at him.
"Hold on." She spun around to see Nick running down the stairs to them. He wore dark blue jeans and a white dress shirt as well as a tie hung loosely around his neck. Though he was not really dressed up it was a definite change from Nick's normal attire. He joined them at the door and smiled down at Tangye. "Philip hates to drive, figured I could give you a lift. If you don't mind?" He checked her face for permission.
"Why would I?" Her hand found his naturally, making his smile broaden.
"An' why the fancy attire Nick?" Philip asked knowing the reason already.
"Thought I'd go in with her and I didn't want to be," he turned to her, "outdone." He noticed Philip's curious expression, surprise showing that Nick would even consider going in. "Well, it's her first mass in awhile, didn't want her to be sitting there alone." She looked at him with raised eyebrows and chuckled slightly as she pulled her jacket on.
"It's not the high school cafeteria Nick, no popularity contest where I'm the uncoolest person there if I'm alone." Nick just shrugged and Philip decided not to try and pursue the issue. He knew Nick's aversion to churches in general, especially the one he had been raised in, though, he rarely spoke of it or why it came about. He also knew full well that Nick had not recently discovered God, he clearly saw the young man's true motives for wanting to go. Nick wanted to spend as much time as he could with this young woman and was even willing to suffer through mass to do so. Philip grinned privately at his friend's surprising act but made no comment fearing he would change Nick's mind.
When he had first seen her he felt all his breath leave his body. She was so beautiful to him and he hadn't failed to notice how her smile grew when she saw him. 'That's a good sign, Nick. But Derek was right, you have to take it slow.' The thought had just passed through his mind when she raised up and kissed him on the cheek. It was brief but her feelings were clear all the same. She felt the attraction to him as well. She slipped her arm around his and led him out of the house to where his Mustang was parked.
"Alex where is Nick?" Derek asked as he stepped past the hologram into the control room. Alex looked up from the search she was running on the scroll they had received.
"I think he went with Tangye and Philip." She answered absently, her amusement clear on her face.
"To church?" Derek asked surprised but then he seemed to think better of pursuing the issue. He had seen Nick's passion this morning in his office and felt that Nick would suffer any number of indignities for the girl. Nick could be so passionate and sometimes got in over his head too quickly. Derek often found Nick's intense emotions to be one of his strongest assets, but it could also serve as his weakness. Derek had forced himself not to express the depth of his concern over Nick's growing feelings. He had told Nick that they should take things slowly but really he thought it better they not get involved at all. Certainly they shouldn't even be starting the slow process so soon anyway.
Tangye was clearly trying to hide from what had been done to her rather then face it and Derek didn't want to think that his colleague was being used as a diversion to her pain. She had a great deal to face and a lot of readjusting to do and the precept felt it better that she be allowed to do that on her own, without any additional pressure. He had decided to trust Nick's judgements though, the younger man obviously somehow instinctively understood her. There was a connection between them that Derek didn't fully understand yet. That was clear just in the fact that he had been a major part in pulling her free of both her prisons. The one of her house and the one she constructed in her mind to protect herself.
He was a bit worried about just what would happen with the woman but when he pictured her face his concerns seemed to slip away. There was honesty to her face that made it hard not to trust her. Derek couldn't deny that he felt his own connection to her for some reason and looked forward to spending time with her. To learning about her, and from her. He pulled himself back to the present, deciding there was little he could do immediately.
"What have you been able to find out?" He asked Alex.
He sat next to her and looked at the screen. "Actually we're nearly done. Philip's only got a few more lines left on the translation and it's dated. Made of papyrus around 900 AD. Did Philip tell you Tangye helped him with the translation?" Derek looked at her, surprised yet again, she nodded. "When we got back in from shopping she popped into the library to let him know she would be ready to go soon. She looked down at the scroll and just started reading it like it was in English, which of course it isn't." Alex gestured at the odd arcane symbols. "He said she managed to get a few of the words he was missing, he wondered if he could get her to help with the rest if you don't mind?"
"No, of course not. It might help her. Philip told me she has this idea that she owes us. She expressed the same concerns to me earlier today." Derek thought back to his discussion this morning before she and Alex had left for the city. He remembered the look in her eyes, like it actually hurt her to accept the money he offered her. The assurance in her voice that she would pay him back once the legal matters with her inheritance were handled. He wasn't about to let her but that could be dealt with later. "Did you enjoy yourself today?" He asked curious to get the sensitive woman's opinion of their guest.
"Yes." Alex answered quickly, a fond smile on her warm face. "Derek she's amazing. I sense the pain in her but I also feel the strength in her to defeat it. She feels very alone, and I think she believes that is how she has to face this. She retreated a few times to the bathroom when I guess it got to be too much for her. She doesn't know that I figured it out but she was really upset and didn't want anyone to see that."
"She's used to dealing with these things alone I suppose." Derek nodded.
"There was also a situation at the mall. We ran into someone she went to high school with who had no idea what had happened to her. The girl was married now and it just hit Tangye how much she missed out on. I talked to her about it and she insisted that she was going to get through it. If you could have seen the determination in her eyes you couldn't deny it in the face of that." Alex said, lost for a moment in the memory of the intense strength she had seen.
"She did the same thing with me last night." Rachel spoke coming in the room. "I think she believes it too. She will not let anything beat her down again. But it will be too much at times. From what I've learned about her she was always very extreme." Rachel hesitated for the right word.
"Should that concern us?" Derek asked. They hadn't really had any time to talk about what Rachel had learned, and now Alex could offer her own opinions. Between the two women he was sure he would be given a good sense of the young woman.
"Right now we need to give her time. She is dealing with a lot. She'll fluctuate between emotions, one moment fine, one moment not, then fine again. Dr. Berton said that she was always very emotional, felt everything to an extreme. She's very intense, but that's not really new to us. Nick's much the same way." Derek had recognized the description Rachel was giving already. Nick could be angry one moment then drop it in a second; in fact he did it with all his emotions. Intense but easily moved through. "As long as you know what we're getting into I think we can help her."
Alex nodded her agreement. "I know she has a long road ahead of her but I'm sure she'll come out of this okay. She doesn't talk much about any part of her past but she wants to get back into life so desperately. She refuses to be defeated now." Alex suddenly smiled brightly. "And I'll warn you, I don't know where she heard some of the jokes she was telling me but they would make Nick blush." He saw her enthusiasm written on her beautiful face. "I like her, Derek. I hate that anyone managed to hurt her and that she feels she needs to hide it, but I like her. I think she belongs here."
Derek was a little surprised by Alex's declaration but couldn't argue it. Even if he didn't know that indeed she had family ties to the Legacy he had sensed that her presence was somehow right in the house. "In due time Alex, I think it's important to take things slowly for now. Like you said she's trying to hide from what happened and that poses a risk. We don't know when it will hit her, and until it does we can't expect to have her as an active member." Derek kept his tone professional, ever the precept of the house despite his desire just to give in to his stronger emotions.
Alex noticed that he didn't dismiss the idea, in fact he had already seemed to accept that she would be invited to stay. She couldn't help but grin at that thought. She had thoroughly enjoyed her day with the younger girl and thought it would be nice to have a little sister in the house. She loved Kat dearly but she still only was a child. Having someone closer to her age, someone with as much to offer as she sensed in Tangye, would definitely be nice.
"What exactly is the scroll?" Derek asked returning to the object of Alex's study.
"Philip has translated as a code of laws for some sort of more primitive society. It's really nothing very interesting, just typical laws most societies have." Alex answered with an indifferent shrug.
"Don't sound disappointed that's there is no curse with it, still it will make a nice addition to the museum." Derek smiled at her. "Let me know when Nick gets back, there's been another disturbance and I'd like him to check it out. How's that project coming?"
"Nothing much new at this point. It's just such a broad area to investigate." Alex answered taping at the computer to return to her other task.
"Keep looking." Derek said, despite his frustration over their lack of progress.
"Of course." He nodded and started to leave but stopped at Alex's voice. "Derek they should be finished at the church by now why don't you just call him? I'm sure he'd appreciate not coming all the way over only to be sent back to the city." He looked at her, he had already thought of that but wasn't sure that he wanted Tangye tagging along. Alex could read his concern. "She'll be fine Derek, she knows her place and won't get in any trouble." Alex decided it was better not to comment on the rather hard headed side of Tangye she had witnessed earlier in the day. She just seemed to get an idea in her head and it stuck there, even when arguing with a store clerk.
"Yes I suppose." He sighed, still not sure but deciding that Nick would do whatever necessary to keep the young woman safe.
"Yeah, sure we can, actually we aren't far from there now. Okay, yeah I'll call." Nick flipped the phone shut and handed it over to Tangye rather then struggle to get it back in his pocket. "So you were saying?" He turned his green hazel eyes back to her.
"So the guy says, 'don't listen to sheep, sheep lie.'" Nick laughed at the punch line and only laughed harder when he heard Philip gasp from the back seat.
"Tangye, where did you hear these things?" Philip asked, though, he found the jokes amusing he was surprised that she could prattle off so many off color jokes. Ever since leaving the church she and Nick had been in a competition to see who could make the priest in the back seat blush harder. He was still reeling from the one about the donuts and cheerios.
"Um, I was seven, maybe eight. The spirit of a construction worker came around and he took great pleasure in infuriating the others by teaching me these jokes, he knew hundreds of them. He told me it was as important as my Latin lessons; my Latin tutor lost it. I didn't know what any of them meant but I memorized them all." She shrugged. Nick shot Philip a quick glance in the back seat. It was the first direct mention she had made of the past in the last few hours and they both saw it as progress, even if those were the fond memories.
"I think I would have too, you were just a wee chil'." Philip said surprised that someone would even dream to teach a child such things.
"Well you should have seen my teachers face when I told one of them in class, I thought she'd have a heart attack right there. After that I kept them to myself." She shot him a wicked little grin. Rather then pursue the topic and hear another one of her jokes Philip turned to look at Nick.
"What did Derek want?" Philip asked.
"We need to stop by a house and talk to a woman experiencing a haunting. Same neighborhood as the others and he wants us to get some information from her. See if she has anything new to offer." He turned to look at Tangye. "You're staying in the car." He added quickly.
"Fine by me." She answered. She didn't want to tell either of them how uncomfortable it made her to think of hearing someone else's story of their own haunting. She hated the fact that she had given in to the tears already so many times, though other then the one time with Alex she had avoided being seen. She wanted to stay in control of herself; she wanted to win the battle she felt inside. The one side said just to give in, that she had lost a long time ago and pretending wasn't going to change anything. The other side of herself refused to give up just yet. She knew that neither of the men in the car would be disappointed to see her give in but she was enjoying the time with them. Right now denying it all seemed better then facing an unchangeable past. She turned her eyes to gaze at the buildings while Nick explained to Philip everything that Derek had told him, she tried to force his words to stay far away from her unsuccessfully.
"She got shoved down the steps of her house yesterday, and her husband and teenage son were both attacked in the kitchen. Her son has a concussion from a pot that hit him in the head, and her husband is still in the hospital from a nasty knife wound in the arm." She bit down hard on her pinky finger, fighting the flash of memory. The feeling of herself tumbling down the attic steps, grabbing in vain at the banister which gave way under her momentum. Lying at the bottom of the steps trying to figure out what she could have done this time to bring on the attack. Trying to stay still and go unnoticed. It never worked though; none of her tactics to be overlooked ever worked. It had just infuriated him more when she tried to hide from him.
She forced herself to concentrate on Nick's voice rather then face what she saw in her mind.
"Did Derek say if she had any additional information?" Philip asked trying to get a handle on the situation.
"I don't think he knew, he just got the call from Karmack because of the other events in the area and Karmack knew we were investigating them. Derek just wants us to talk to the woman see if she has and new information." Nick shrugged; neither man could see the tears building behind Tangye's sunglasses. "There's still a chance it could just be a domestic case and they're trying to cover it up. Could just be coincidence that it happened there." Nick added absently, never willing to go first to the supernatural when other explanations were possible.
Philip decided not to comment on his friend's attitude, Nick knew better to write these things off but no words from Philip would change him. Nick started checking the street names as they drove and after a few more blocks took a right into a small neighborhood. About halfway down a block three streets over he pulled the car over to the side of the road. "Here we go." He said as Philip climbed out of the back seat from behind Tangye. Nick reached over and laid his hand on Tangye's leg, she jumped at the simple gesture. Her sudden silence hadn't gone unnoticed but Nick had told himself not to pry and was fighting to do just that.
She turned to look at him, forcing a weak, and extremely fake, smile on her face. He could see the way her bottom lip was quivering and felt a pang of guilt for taking her here. "You gonna be okay? This shouldn't take long." He tried to sound reassuring.
She nodded, not trusting her voice not to betray her. He gave her hand a squeeze and also climbed out of the car, joining his friend on the sidewalk. Together they walked up to the house, each looking nervously back at the car once. They knocked and a few moments later the door was pulled open for them, before they entered Nick shot her one last glance to be sure she was still intact.
Once they were in the house she let go of the gasping sob that had built in her throat. "Dammit," she cursed under her breath no longer able to win the battle with her tears. She had spent so much time crying over the last years she wasn't sure anymore where the tears were coming from but they were always there, just waiting for her resolve to vanish. Like so many other things that had come when she was at her weakest. Though, the others had always taken special pleasure in getting her when she was at her strongest as well, really they had needed no excuse to overwhelm her.
She led Nick and Philip into the living room indicating they have a seat on the couch. "Detective Karmack told me you would be coming by, he explained that you do private investigations. I have to tell you I'm not really sure that I understand any of this." Karin Welsh hesitated.
"We'll try to help in anyway that we can. We'd like you to explain everything that you remember happening and then if it's not too much trouble we'd like to see the scene." She nodded at the young priest in front of her. She was surprised that both of these men seemed so painfully young to her, but their faces were also more serious then they should be at that age. "Can we start at the beginning? Has anything like this ever occurred in the house before?"
"Not here no, but " She thought twice about finishing the thought, knowing how crazy it sounded.
"But what?" Nick prodded.
She began hesitantly, not wanting to sound crazy. "I've heard, stories. No one ever really talks about it openly but you hear things whispered at block parties and on the street. And the children, they don't know how crazy it all sounds so they talk about it freely. Supposedly others have had, disturbances?" She looked at them and Philip nodded her on, agreeing with her choice of words. He glanced at Nick, this was information that they already had but perhaps this woman had heard something they had not been able to find out.
Tangye picked the baseball hat from the floor, gripping it tightly, concentrating on the owner. Remembering the strength that he had given her to defeat her parents. Now, even more then that time, she felt that she needed his strength. She didn't know how much more she could possibly have left despite her adamant proclamations to the people who had taken her in. She traced her fingers over the letters on the hat and a smile found it's way onto her face just picturing the man who owned it. His kind eyes, his whispered comfort, the strong arms that held her through the night. She was attracted to him psychically but it was more then that. There was an understanding in his eyes that she found so rarely in her life. She wanted to get to know him, and knew he felt the same way, but she wanted it to be for the right reasons. She didn't want him to feel he had to support her, she wanted to share with him.
She put the hat on, keeping her brown hair out of her face. She pulled her sunglasses off and wiped away at the last of the newest set of tears. She needed to talk to someone, to get these things out of her mind. Years ago she would have run to Brian but her father had made sure to take that shelter away from her. Everyone at the Legacy seemed willing to help her but she wasn't sure yet that she should take that risk over again. What if they could come back, what if they made the Legacy pay for ever getting involved? She leaned back against the seat not sure what she could do anymore. For now she would have to keep it quiet, hide behind whatever facade worked. She was alone and it seemed safer that way.
She caught the motion out of the corner of her eye. Slipping her sunglasses back on she looked out of the car rear view mirror and saw the woman walking down the road. She turned in the seat and followed the woman with her eyes. She knew immediately what the woman was and couldn't find the strength in her voice to say anything. She had grown up around them, she knew them well, and once she had trusted them. Now she only felt a deep fear about even being near one.
Suddenly the woman turned, her eyes locking with Tangye's. Tangye felt the breath catch in her throat when the woman spoke. "You see me." Tangye nodded dumbly. "Why is that?"
"I just can." She whispered, knowing she didn't need her voice to be heard. She reached down and opened the car door sliding out. She stepped back out of instinct when the woman started to approach.