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Unheeded Warnings by TalgoM Unheeded Warnings
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Rachel Corrigan did not need her years of psychiatric training to notice the tense silence her companion had spent the morning engulfed in, nor to feel the harsh stares the younger woman had occasionally leveled on her as avenues of research came up as dead ends. Her frustration was becoming palpable as she grew further away from vindicating her friend, from proving his innocence. She had begun to close the books a little more loudly, and shove things out of her way with developing irritation. Rachel also needed little training to tell that this attitude was not solely derived from their fruitless searches, but the fact that Rachel herself kept giving small hints that she was right this time. She hadn't meant to offend Tangye, but she was so sure her instincts were correct. Still she felt that she needed to do something to ease some of the tension quickly shadowing their forming friendship.
"Tangye?" Rachel whispered, keeping her tone low so as not to disturb the other occupants of the library's back room.
"You find something?" Tangye looked up anxiously from the stack of newspapers she was reading over.
"No, I need to explain to you " Rachel began, without even thinking about the fact she fell back on the tone that Tangye had already expressed her dislike of. The overly kind doctor tone that Nick had always critiqued her on, but it worked on him all the same.
"Don't Rachel. You made your opinion quite clear. Still nothing you can say, no logic will convince me. You find proof then I'll start listening to you." She shifted slightly and went back to her reading. Rachel wasn't yet prepared to drop this, though.
"We haven't found any proof yet for your opinion either. I think it's beginning to look like " Tangye shook her head and issued forth an irritated grunt from her throat.
"This isn't like you Rachel, at least I don't think it is. Do you always condemn people this fast?" Tangye cut her off. Rachel had let her have the time to cool off last night after their encounter but now saw that it had not helped. Tangye wasn't about to listen to reason on this matter, but the psychiatrist was still not willing to give up. Tangye should understand the possibility that she was right. After all she had been put through by things that vowed to love her, why was she unwilling to consider the chance that a mere friend couldn't also find such evil in himself?
"You wouldn't understand, you're not a parent." Rachel knew how wrong her argument was, and almost guessed the effect it would have but it came out before she even realized it.
"No I'm not. So the hell what?" Tangye finally gave up her patience. "So you have a corner on the market of concern. I'm not worried about those kids cause I don't have any? I guess the rest of us should just pack it in and go home because clearly you can handle this on your own. Or you need to, just to prove you're right. Well that's great, call me when you realize you're wrong, because you are." Rachel stared at her shocked by the sudden outburst that came from nowhere really. She couldn't count the times that Nick had done the same thing. Blown his fuse with the slightest provocation, and now she saw that same hot-tempered behavior in Tangye.
"Tangye I know he's your friend " Rachel attempted to justify her words but Tangye wasn't about to listen to her excuses.
"But he's guilty? Tried and convicted in the court of Corrigan? Well that's nice Rachel, really, but it's also crap. You want someone easy to blame, someone punishable. You should know it doesn't always work that way." She seemed almost ready to storm out of the library but then as suddenly as her temper slipped away from her she reigned it back in. "We don't have evidence he's innocent, I'll admit that, but you have less that he's guilty." She said calmly. "I just know Gilby's innocent, other then that I'm not jumping to any conclusions. I'm not wrong for lack of proof. Neither of us are right yet, for now we just disagree." Tangye again forced her eyes back to the page, trying to end the conversation.
"I didn't think you'd be this obstinate." Rachel said, sure of the reaction it would get.
"I am, get used to it." She snapped, her light eyes full of the fire of her temper, her slightly raised tone drawing attention from the researchers at the closest tables. She sighed and rubbed at her eyes, frustrated and tired from the mostly sleepless night before. When she spoke again she kept her voice much lower and even. "Listen, Rachel. I've watched nearly every person I ever trusted leave my life, but I've always trusted Gilby and I'm not ready to give that up yet."
"But you must at least recognize the possibility." Rachel added logically, but that made no headway either.
"Why? Is it so wrong that I trust him blindly, without hesitation? No, I don't have to recognize any possibility because it doesn't exist to me." She emphasized her words hoping to make her point clear. "When I look at him I see the same guy I knew. He couldn't do this and still be that person." She pushed her chair back and went to retrieve the next volume of old newspapers. "I understand why you think this, Rachel, and I'm not even telling you to stop but I refuse to join you against him."
"All right." Rachel nodded, finally giving up. She turned back to her stack of papers and silence once again ensued. After several more minutes Tangye returned, dropping the open heavy tome on the table with a clatter. This time several of the other people present shushed the pair and Tangye just shot them a quick grin that seemed to appease them.
"Finally. Seems it's not quite the old ghost story that we may have thought." Tangye pointed to the picture buried within one of the papers on page six. It was of the cabin that Rachel had visited the day before, and there were several police officers gathered in front, with one figure amongst them in handcuffs. The broad man's head was hung so his features were all hidden, but still his form was several inches larger then any of the law enforcement officers around him.
"That's him?" Tangye slid into her seat and moved it closer to Rachel.
"On the day of his arrest in 1959. His name is Joshua Holley, eighteen." Tangye looked at the picture intently, then mumbled. "Big boy. So he was born in '41. Mother was " Tangye scanned the article. "Susan. He had a sister, Lillian, born in the twenties. Her father died in '36 from tuberculosis."
"That's all in the article?" Rachel started reading with her.
"Evidently they didn't have a lot to say and needed a little filler. So the question is, who is Joshua's dad?" Tangye turned her raised eyebrows to Rachel, not sure if the answer would mean anything but willing to go for any possibility all the same.
"Where did they say birth records were?" Rachel stood. Tangye pointed to the cabinets in the far corner that had hardly any light. While Rachel went in search of the document Tangye continued to read the article and managed to find another from the book Rachel had been flipping through dated over ten years later. Rachel returned fifteen minutes later with the paper from the poorly maintained files. "This is odd, there's none listed." She handed the browning paper to Tangye.
"Why would that happen?" Tangye looked at Rachel, their earlier animosity falling away with the revealed pieces of the puzzle.
"Any number of reasons. She may not have known who he was, or maybe she wanted to hide it." Rachel took her seat at the table.
"That makes sense, unmarried widow pregnant at forty, that sort of thing was probably once frowned upon." Tangye turned her attention back to the book she was reading. "Take a look at this. Local interest story written in the seventies. Tells the whole story of Joshua. How he killed his mother in her sleep. Stayed in the house for thirteen days with the body before the police showed up because she hadn't been into town to get her groceries." Tangye shrugged at the inane detail. "Got to the cabin, icky smell, all that. Anyway, Joshua was remanded into the custody of the mental hospital when it was deemed he was unfit to stand trail. Two years later he escapes and it's rumored he returned to the cabin. But by '63 there was no indication that he was there anymore. Just vanished. Supposedly the house is haunted by both their spirits." Tangye finished with a start of a grin, sure now they were getting somewhere. "Best part is right there though." Tangye pointed to the second to last line.
"The land is now owned by Lillian Grant." Rachel looked up at Tangye's whose grin now overtook her face. She was definitely pleased.
"The big sister. There's no indication in the article why he killed his mother but she might know. I checked the phone book, she still lives here. She'd be in her late seventies, but " She said, finally satisfied with their progress. At least this would give them a direction to follow up; someone to talk to whom might inadvertently give them an answer.
"She hasn't let the cabin be destroyed, she must have a reason." Rachel nodded her agreement.
"And it doesn't sound like it's sentimental, no warm fuzzies attached to a place like that. So the question is, what does sis know that she hasn't told anyone else?" Rachel was surprised to find herself smiling along with Tangye, glad to at least be moving somewhere.
Nick still had not gotten any readings from the house and they were almost finished an intense search of the downstairs. Most of the boxes seemed to be old kitchen supplies, clothes or brochures, and a majority of them seemed to belong to the camp at one time or another. Most of the things the occupants of the house had owned seemed to have been left intact, though the belongings were sparse. Derek found his eyes wandering over and over again in the direction of the silent record player. It did not look like it would be able to work at all anymore but for some reason the psychic was certain that it still could. More so he was certain that it would if they stayed long.
Alex was in the kitchen sorting through the last box in there when her sight flashed in front of her eyes. It was a quick image but it disturbed her enough to move her. One image of Nick's face fading away in front of her, as though he himself were becoming intangible like a spirit. She shivered at the picture and heard his voice.
"Derek, we have something." Nick said, staring down at the now active monitor. Gilby looked over the shorter man's shoulder to see the display flashing in one corner. Nick turned slightly and took a few steps forward, centering the small flashing dot on the display. Gilby shrugged and moved away not certain what any of this meant, leaving Nick ten feet away from his nearest companion. He pushed the headphones off to hang around his neck and looked up just as the figure of a man formed in front of him. He could be seen, seemingly merged, with the fallen floor in the room to the left of the stairs. "Derek, we definitely have something."
Derek turned to the odd tone in Nick's voice, slightly bewildered, slightly hesitant as though he were nervous to even be talking. He saw the figure immediately, but also noticed that the handheld scanner had fallen from Nick's limp hand to the floor.
"Nick, get away from him." Alex called, rushing into the room. Nick turned to her quickly but stood his ground. The man moved forward causing Nick to step back just in front of the second door of the house.
The man's face slowly studied each member of the small gathering with his chilling gaze. His features seemed smudged in some manner, as though they had never fully completed forming. His eyes were of slightly different size and not quite on a straight line. His mouth was crooked as well, and his hair did not look to be grown in at all places. In many ways it was the face of a monster, but Derek seemed to sense something else about him, an innocent bliss obtained.
His eyes finally settled onto Nick, still separated from the rest of them, but also with the easiest escape having the door at his back. "Derek, what's going on?" Philip's whisper broke the silence of the house, the anticipation they all felt.
Derek having returned from his study spoke with authority. "What do you want?"
The man began to raise his hand. "Nick run." Alex called, still frightened by the vision she had.
Nick didn't argue but turned to the door, in the moment it took for him to do so the man moved from the far room to the doorway, cutting off any escape. Nick took a few steps back before running into the stairs that took him by surprise. He had forgotten exactly where he was standing in his defensive motions of retreat, and now lost his balance, falling back onto the stairs.
Again the man raised his hand, reaching out.
Derek jumped when the music started from the record player. He saw the man's attention diverted for a moment as he looked at it and then began to descend on Nick again more deliberately. Derek wasn't sure what would happen, but after his visions from the previous day he did not want to find out what it would do if the man made contact with Nick. Thankfully he wouldn't have to.
"Nick." Gilby cried and lunged to stand in between the spirit he wasn't sure he believed in and his friend. At the moment, though his faith or acceptance meant little, he couldn't fail someone else. He landed between them just as the spirits hand started to touch the arm Nick could pull away no further. The man looked at the would be protector, then glanced at the record player again and renewed his attempts to reach Nick. "You can't take him."
Gilby pushed at the spirit, not sure if it would do any good but willing to try anything, surprised by the chill it sent through him. The spirit seemed to hesitate, studying his face more intently then before. Then he struggled to form what could have been a smile if not for the deformities, before vanishing. Silence reigned for a moment then Gilby turned to the others. "All right, what the hell is going on?"
Derek didn't answer, absently hearing both the question and the fact that the music had stopped. Instead his eyes were locked on the monitor that Nick had discarded and that landed facing him.
Had he seen two blinking spots on it?
"One of these has to lead out of here." Jason said as he indicated the tunnels above them. They were saving the lighter until it was absolutely necessary so once again darkness permeated their prison. "If you lift me up I think I'll be able to reach one."
"You don't know what you'll find up there." Greg pointed out, his voice laced with his fear.
"No, but I know what's down here. How long do you think we can survive in here, and so far no one has checked on us. We've been left to die." He heard Sean's light whimper. He couldn't believe these were the two boys who had been torturing him for weeks now, trying to expose his every weakness. Now all of a sudden they were helpless and didn't seem willing to even try to find their own escape. Jason wasn't prepared to give up though. They could say whatever they wanted about him when they got out of here and he was sure it would never bother him, just as long as they got out.
"You don't believe that do you?" Greg pleaded.
"Yeah, I do." Jason said determinedly. "Now help me. Let me see the lighter." Greg blindly handed it over to him and the flash of sudden light caused both boys to recoil. Jason forced his eyes open and began to study the patterns of the caves. He located the lowest one that was close enough to the next so he'd be able to climb to it without assistance. He decided to map out the rest of his path after that so to conserve the little fuel they had. He moved under the tunnel and let darkness fall once more. "Okay lift me up."
Greg leaned down; locking his hands together and allowed Jason to put his foot in it. He then pushed up with all the strength he seemed to have left and Jason strained to reach the cave. "A little further." He struggled and finally with the extra push his hand gripped the stone edge. Deciding to concentrate on the task at hand he said no more and just squirmed his way to a better handhold that he could use to pull himself up. It wasn't really as hard as he expected it to be and reminded himself to thank Gilby for forcing them all to learn to climb that stupid ten-foot wall.
He worked his way down the tunnel in the black feeling along all the walls and ceiling hoping to find a turn off, to suddenly stumble upon some light in the narrow passage but came upon only a dead end. He encountered three more caverns like that, each a different length, some fooling him into hope by going on for so long but he found nothing. Finally in the fifth cavern he stumbled upon something.
Not an exit, not light, but something different. He stifled the scream that built in his throat as his hands searched the discarded objects in the cave and finally his mind recognized the form. His hands ran over the smooth texture of the long sticks, the curved ones, and finally the almost oval shaped one. He swallowed back the bile in his throat and forced himself away from his find to catch his breath that seemed to fail him so suddenly.
Someone had died here, years ago and he had just found their remains. He was horrified by the thought of it, by the implied message. Someone died here, would they?
He forced the thought out of his mind as he thought of the two now helpless boys, paralyzed by their own fears, that he had left behind. He now seemed their best chance at survival and he wasn't about to let them down, even if they might not have done the same for him. Gilby had always said he was strong for different reasons and he was beginning to believe the camp owner. It was easy to pick on a kid who seemed weaker and smaller, to be cruel to him when you seemed infinitely more popular and secure. But that didn't really prove anything. If Jason could find a way out of here, he'd be proving himself.
He reached out and grabbed the long, thick bone of the thigh and pulled it free from the rest of the form. Making his way back to the mouth of the tunnel he leaned over and dropped it down to the ground below. "Greg take off your flannel and wrap it around that, make a torch." He commanded.
"What?" Greg called back though Jason heard him shuffling toward the bone. He was glad his voice had not betrayed his own disgust, which was certain to impress and convince his companions that he was handling things well.
"Just do it. I've watched Indiana Jones countless times. We don't have any fuel but at least it will help for awhile." He shifted and started to reach out to the next cave, only a few feet away. By the time he emerged from that next dead end their cavern was filled with light and he could see the horrified expressions on both of the faces below him.
"Do you know what that is?" Sean stammered.
"Yep. So what? Now you got light and heat." Jason was proud of the sound of confidence in his voice as he reached out to the next cave, there were only three left he had any hope of reaching.
"That was a ghost right?" Gilby whispered to Alex as they went through boxes in the bedroom. She merely nodded, keeping Nick in her view out of the corner of her eye. "So that's the reason for all the secrets. You fight ghosts." She smiled at that thought.
"In a sense, yes. But it can be more complicated then that." She answered honestly, knowing he had seen too much, lost too much, not to get at least some sort of an explanation. "There's very active evil out there, we do what we can to fight that. Sometimes these spirits don't mean any harm and they just need help moving on, other times that's not the case." She answered carefully.
"And that, thing, he grabbed the boys?" Gilby asked, glad to finally be let in on the secret.
"It seems so, and for some reason he was going to take Nick, but stopped when you stepped in." She finally turned and lost view of Nick. Philip and Derek were also shadowing the younger man though he seemed to have shaken off the incident easier then anyone. Alex had quickly informed Derek of the vision that she had of Nick fading away and it just seemed to unsettle him more. She felt that perhaps he too had information the others didn't but as always he was less willing to share. She knew Philip and Derek would do anything to protect Nick that they could but for some reason she found it hard to not keep an eye on him. Still for a moment she wanted to concentrate on this man. "That was very brave, and a little foolish." She smiled getting him to hesitantly smile back at her.
"Hey, it's what you do for friends. Nick would have done the same. Why him? Because he's the youngest one here?" Now it was Gilby keeping a lingering eye on Nick. "He's not a child, but "
"What is it?" Alex sensed him wavering over telling her what he was thinking.
"When that thing looked at me, when I stopped him, it felt like looked like, it was glad that I did it. That it wanted to have me protect him." Something in the back of Alex's mind clicked but it was still out of reach and realization evaded her.
"I'm going up to the attic. This is ridiculous, you can handle this." Nick didn't fail to miss the way that everyone jumped when he said that. He shook his head and headed towards the stairs, missing Derek pulling Philip to him.
"Don't let him out of your sight, whoever that was took an interest in him, but he won't take Nick as long as someone intervenes." Philip nodded and fell into step behind Nick.
They reached the attic in silence and began the search of the boxes there, Philip never letting Nick be more then a few feet away from him. The priest was actually surprised that Nick waited nearly five minutes before losing his temper.
"Why are you shadowing me Father?" Nick turned suddenly. Philip knew that hearing it would anger Nick, but he was also sure that Nick knew the answer to his own question. This was just another chance for Nick to vent about the hurt Philip had caused.
"Derek thought it best. I agree." Philip answered not stopping his search. He didn't want to push Nick, to show just how important the simple gesture was to the priest, that he could protect him in some way.
"I don't need a babysitter." Nick stalked off to the other side of the attic. Leaving Philip feeling that once again he had let him down. Why did he always succeed in disappointing the sensitive young man who tried so hard to be strong at all times? And at all costs.
Philip sighed knowing that Derek had not only sent him to watch out for Nick but also hoping to give them yet another chance to work out their problems in private. To prove that he did still intend to back Nick up. Derek could have sent anyone else or even come himself and Nick would have been more receptive to the guard, but he wouldn't let himself be with Philip. This was just another effort by the precept to help repair their relationship and Philip regretted that he would have to inform him that once again he had failed to get Nick to even listen to him.
"Derek look at this." Alex held the piece of paper out to him that she had dug from of the pocket of the overalls laid out on the bed. Derek took it from her and stared down at the crudely drawn map. In the corner was the triangular shape of a house, then the pointy figures delineating mountains. Within it all was a dark red line in crayon creating a path from the house to a spot inside of the mountains, marked with a dark black circle.
"A map, it looks like." Gilby looked at the sheet over Derek's shoulder. "Into the mountains." He recognized the shape as being the common way smaller children indicated doors and such things. Holes. "There's caves throughout them."
"It's a place to start, let's find it." Derek turned and called up to retrieve Nick and Philip and to go and hopefully find the boys. The map, if that was what it was, was a child's drawing at best and he wasn't sure if they could count on it to guide them in any helpful manner but they had to at least try. The boys had been missing for nearly three straight days now and things would be getting desperate for them. Compounded to that fact was that now Nick seemed to be a target of the spirit. Derek remembered how he had spent so much of the car drive up to the mountains thinking about the young man and his relationship with him. He couldn't imagine losing him and lately that seemed to be threatening to happen more then ever. He had to find a way to stop the spirit before he had another chance at Nick.
The spirit retreated back to his haven and watched the boy's efforts with a detached interest. He wasn't sure why they were allowing themselves to believe that escape was possible. It just couldn't be allowed. They had no understanding of the forces against them, or what it was trying to do. They had no understanding of the things that he was compelled to do. What would escape mean for them? He would just have to get them back again. They had now seen too much, knew too many of his secrets. Secrets he could never risk having be revealed.
He also couldn't fight the feeling that he shouldn't have given up so easily on the man in his house. Rightfully he should have taken him. Despite the fact someone had stepped in and offered to protect him. The taller man's eyes had been so full of concern, worry. He would have risked anything to protect the spirit's target. Shielding him with his own body in a futile gesture that the spirit could have easily evaded. Yet he had given up the effort. He regretted the choice, they had no idea what a risk they were taking in going to that place, and he needed to remind them. Still when someone had stepped in, pushed at him with such sincerity of emotion, he couldn't proceed.
He should not have let that gesture stop him. Yet it had spoken to something within the spirit. An emotion that he thought had died long ago.
The spirit shook off those musings and turned his attention back to the boys.
Jason was exhausted, every muscle in his small body was screaming at him to just give up but he couldn't do it. Salvation was here somewhere he merely had to locate it amongst the many dead ends. He had to believe in himself if he was ever going to succeed and to do so he actively fought of the dread lingering in his mind. What would happen if they did manage an escape?
Would the creature that abducted them just find them and repeat the process? Was it desperate enough to have them that it would follow them anywhere they tried to run? The question that nagged at him the most, though, was why? Why had they not had a single visitation from the creature? Was he ignoring them for a reason? Didn't he want to torture them? To at least see them cower in fear? What was the point of all of this if the creature didn't at least take a few moments to enjoy their suffering?
He slumped back against the cold stone wall sighing to himself. He decided he wasn't meant to understand anything that was going on, but that did not mean that he necessarily had to just give up. He would fight until the end, he would find a way out, and somehow he would get them all away from this place. He just prayed that he never had to look back.
"We appreciate you talking to us Mrs. Grant, I know this isn't easy on you." Tangye watched, a bit surprised that the tone she complained about to Rachel seemed to work so well on the elderly woman. She forced herself to control the smile that wanted to come out just hearing that well trained voice. She decided just to keep her mouth shut and let Rachel do what obviously came most natural to her.
"I just don't understand why any of this really matters now. I heard about the missing boys but my brother is dead now. He can't have had anything to do with their disappearance." Her voice was tired and cracked over and over again. Her face was worn thin with age and was mapped by the wrinkles on it. She was the picture of a grandmother in her fancy living room decorated tastefully with lace and small porcelain figures. Everything so delicate and pretty, just like the woman herself.
"What can you tell us about your brother?" Rachel diverted her away from that thought and Tangye was amazed that it worked as well. She knew she wouldn't have been derailed so easily but some people were just easier to distract. Tangye spent the time listening but also scanning the room, thinking how it would be complete only if the smell of cookies was flowing in from the kitchen. Then she would have been the model grandmother, a relationship Tangye had never experienced.
"My brother was the kindest creature in the world. His intentions were always gentle." She answered and Tangye was sure she felt the woman's loss and fondness both sweep over her open mind.
"Is it true that he murdered you mother?" The woman didn't seem surprised to hear this question, and Tangye was sure she had probably been asked it enough over the years to numb her to the shock.
"Yes, but not without cause." She answered, her voice suddenly hard. Tangye turned to her quickly; she knew that tone all too well. She had heard it in her own voice, heard it in Nick's when he talked about his father. It was heavy with blame.
"Pardon me?" Tangye interrupted, surprised by that admission. The woman turned her kind gray eyes to Tangye with a smile on her lips, rueful but understanding at the same time. She knew that her words were shocking, but she believed them all the while. Intensely believed them, Tangye saw.
"He didn't kill her out of malice, I never really believed he understood what it was that he had done. He just had to stop her." She sat back in the rocking chair. "Joshua had a child's mind, when he was arrested they said that he was at the functional level of a five year old. They said that his birth defect effected his brain as much as anything else. None of that mattered to me, as far as I was concerned he was the sweetest child I ever knew. He just didn't understand what he had done." She smiled with the memories, but there was an undeniable sadness to the expression still.
"You said he had to stop her, from what?" Rachel asked.
"My mother had never wanted another child, certainly not one that was what she called 'damaged.' Joshua was a disappointment and shame to her, and she took out those emotions on him every day of his life. If you would even dare call it a life." She paused and left Rachel the chance to ask about the other curious thing they had found in the records.
"Mrs. Grant, when we were doing research on the house we found your brother's birth certificate. No father was indicated, do you know why that was?" She asked. Tangye looked at her; shocked she would even bring up such a small detail.
"My mother wanted to hide it. As you can suspect it wasn't exactly on the side of etiquette for a widow to be pregnant out of wedlock in those days. Especially not due to an affair with a married man. Joshua always served as a reminder of her shame. She blamed him for ruining her reputation. No one would have known of her indiscretion if not for him. She punished him for the fact he was born, for the fact she could never have back the honor she felt she lost. That was her problem though, he deserved nothing she did to him because of her mistakes." She took a deep breath, thinking how to continue.
"You said that Joshua never had much of a life?" Tangye provided her with the last thought before her segue, hoping to get her back on track.
"Yes. The day he was arrested was the first time he had ever strayed out of the mountains. For the most part he was her prisoner and her target. The cabin was pretty much his whole world, and it was a world that anyone would hate. I wanted to help him but she threatened me with hurting him all the more. In the end he just wanted to stop the pain, and she got what she deserved. Horrid as it may sound, I was proud that he finally took a stand." Neither Rachel nor Tangye spoke for a moment, surprised by her conviction at that statement. "None of this really matters though, my brother is dead."
"Are you sure?" Tangye asked softly.
"No body was ever found, but I know he's gone." She nodded.
"Do you know of anyone else going into the house?" Rachel questioned.
"They always claim that the house is haunted, of course that draws curiosity seekers. I've heard that local children have gone up but never anything about them actually entering the house. I leased the cabin to the camp up there, they use it for storage." She explained.
"Have you ever returned?" Rachel asked, wondering if this woman had any idea that there was a chance her brother was still lingering in some form in the cabin.
"No, Dr. Corrigan I haven't set foot in it since my brother's arrest. I've seen it of course, but it's not really in any condition to be entered, not since my mother's room collapsed." She looked over each of their faces carefully. "Why do you need to know all this?"
"There's three missing boys, we have to consider every possibility. That includes the fact that your brother still could be alive." Rachel explained carefully. She didn't even dare to mention the truth that even she was beginning to believe, she could only imagine the reaction that would cause.
"Let me make this clear to you. Even if Joshua were still alive and living up there he would never hurt those boys. All he would ever want would be to protect them from her." Her gray eyes took on a sudden deeper sadness. "When the police arrived at the house, he told them that they had to leave, tried to force them away. I was with them and I heard him plead with them to leave so that she couldn't hurt them too. He didn't understand what he had done, that he had put an end to her brutality. She couldn't hurt anyone else but he didn't know. If he's alive, he doesn't mean them any harm, he just wants to keep them away from her." She said the last part slowly, hoping she made her point quite clear. To both the visitors much more suddenly was illuminated.
"Oh my God." Rachel gasped as she turned and looked at her companion, seeing the same realization settling into her face.
"Thank you Mrs. Grant, you've been a big help." Tangye jumped up and held her hand out to the elderly woman trying to hold onto her manners despite the urgency suddenly pulling at her. They had read the article that said that both spirits supposedly haunted the house but hadn't realized until now that Joshua really wasn't the threat of the two. From what they read they had assumed the mother had been the victim, now they had a much different understanding.
"What is it?" Lillian asked confused by the abrupt end to the conversation.
"Just something we should look into." Rachel tried to hide her own sense of necessity to leave.
"None of that matters though. Joshua's dead." She insisted.
"I don't doubt that." Tangye responded absently, smiling sadly at the woman she had just been admiring minutes ago for her sense of peace and simple life. Rachel again thanked her for her time and the two quickly made their exit. On the porch, with the door shut behind them, Rachel turned to Tangye.
"You think he grabbed the boys to protect them from his mother?" She asked, her voice heavy with the fear that she had been struck with to think how blindly their friends were stumbling into yet another dangerous situation. She wondered for a moment if she would ever really get used to this life, to all the peril that seemed to be scattered in it.
"It makes sense. She was murdered in the house; her spirit could easily be attached to it. Which means " Nick. The thought hit her harder then she could imagine it would, freezing her heart for a moment. She had to fight against that, having little time to deal with fear when they might have crucial information. The problem was that they weren't really sure where their companions were. She doubted they would still be lingering around the cabin if they hadn't found the boys there, which she was sure they wouldn't. "We have to find them, destroy the house." She said as she yanked open the car door.
"How? And why destroy the house, what will that do?" Rachel asked starting the car.
"I don't know but maybe something. I'll find them, you deal with the house." She answered the strength that Nick had described from her last moments in her own prison returning to her voice and eyes. Rachel had seen her flinch when Lillian had described Joshua's situation and wondered if she did not want to see the house destroyed to symbolize something to herself, or if she truly believed it would help. She stopped that thought as they pulled away from the curb, deciding it didn't matter.
Jason's torch idea had lasted for only a few minutes, until the cloth was burned away, and again when he came to the edge of the tunnel he was in he was met only by darkness. "Give me some light." He called down and the lighter flickered on. He saw the next tunnel just above his head and reached out to grab the edge and maneuver himself into it. His muscles protested but he refused to acknowledge them. As soon as he was in it he saw what he had spent the last hours praying for.
A dim reflection of natural light at the other end, far back but there all the same. He didn't even think to announce his find as he crawled forward, scraping his knees along the rocks, banging his head on low outcroppings in the ceiling twice. All that mattered to the boy was the fact that there was light again. Then better than that he heard the sound of voices.
He plunged forward madly, without the caution he had been moving with the rest of the time of his exploration. He reached the turn in the tunnel where the light was and immediately saw two pairs of legs standing just outside the cave. He didn't think of saying anything, of calling to them, all he wanted was to feel the glorious light on his face again.
"This is it, or it should be." Nick said as he pulled the flashlights out of the bag he'd been carrying. The cave barely came to knee height and he knew it would be difficult to manage through it. He had already decided to handle this part of the search himself, especially if it got everyone at some distance away from him for a few minutes. He hated being treated like a child, having everyone watch over him the way they were. The incident in the house had disturbed him but he knew he had been in much more dangerous situations in the past, they didn't need to protect him so actively.
Just as he was about to lean down to enter the cave though they were all shocked to see instead the dusty blonde head pop out. Gilby was the first to react to the sight of the boy emerging, covered in dirt and sweat, panting for breath as he fell to the dewy grass. The camp director dropped down to his knees and scooped the boy up into his arms without thinking, holding him tight against his chest. "Jason, oh my God, Jason." Gilby fought the emotions that started to overwhelm him just at the sight of the boy.
"Gilby, he grabbed us, in the house." The boy blurted out, rushing his words together. "I woke up in the cave. I know we weren't supposed to go but I'm sorry, I'm so sorry." Gilby couldn't believe the boy was apologizing when it was so obviously he who had been the one who had failed.
"Jason, are the other boys with you?" Derek asked calmly, leaning down. The boy looked okay with a quick visual scan, more frightened then hurt.
"Yeah, they're in there. At the end of the tunnel, a ways down in a cave. Sean's hurt, I think he broke his leg." The boy turned his tear filled eyes to the stranger. He was so glad to be out of the place and he didn't really ever want to think about it again in his life.
"I'm on it." Nick said as he pulled out the climbing equipment and started to put it on, while Alex and Gilby just worked on comforting the terrified child.
During the drive Tangye had watched as the storm clouds began to gather overhead and almost wanted to laugh at the irony. Of course it would have to rain at the most inconvenient time. Rachel had convinced her to go along to the cabin and at least make sure the others weren't there. Now as they ran and closed the last yards of distance between them and the cabin, the rain began to fall in thick drops that almost immediately soaked the soil. It was her first glimpse of the cabin and she was hit by how sad the place looked even from the distance. As she had gotten closer the feeling had merely settled itself into her.
"They aren't there." Tangye yelled over the rain. "You destroy it, I'll find them." She changed directions with precision and Rachel stopped in her tracks.
"How do you know?" Tangye shot her a quick glance but continued to run in the direction of the nearest echo she heard in her mind. Rachel saw the brief look and understood as best she could how Tangye knew, though, she truthfully didn't grasp just what the girl was capable of. "What do you want me to do?"
"Burn it, tear it down, I don't care just destroy it." Tangye called back as she got to the edge of the woods, and then vanished from sight. Rachel turned to stare up at the old cabin, wondering just what to do to bring down such a structure without any supplies.
Nick had easily the most trouble dragging the last boy, Sean, out of the cave. He had to be as careful as possible of the boys leg, which was now held in a make shift splint. The tunnel was hardly large enough to fit him, much less his form dragging along a fourteen year old injured boy who didn't seem to run out of complaints. Hearing the sound of the storm that had opened up outside didn't improve Nick's quickly souring mood either. Though, they had found the boys, and they were for the most part intact, they still had no idea what the thing was that moved them here or why. Nor did he have any idea why it would have taken such an interest in him back at the house, or why Gilby's intervention had stopped it.
Gilby helped pull Sean out the last few feet as Nick got back to his feet and let the rain soak him. Alex had Greg and Jason both held under her arms on the ground just a few feet from the tunnel. Derek and Philip quietly discussed the situation a few feet off trying to come up with the answer evading them all. The boys hadn't really been able to provide much information, though; Jason's description of the man who had grabbed him matched that of the man they had seen at the house. He also had mentioned that right before the man touched him and everything went black he was sure that he had heard music.
Philip kept Nick in the corner of his eye as soon as he emerged from the cave, knowing they had come close to having to search for Nick too. If Gilby hadn't stepped in before the man had touched Nick one of them would probably be dragging him out of the cave. The situation the boys detailed were the same as what they experienced, music playing from a record player that couldn't possibly work, a creature moving impossibly fast trying to merely touch them. What he didn't understand were any of the Why's, and he wasn't prepared to let his guard down and possibly lose Nick to the creature who would now know his hiding place had been found.
"So? What's the verdict?" Nick asked as he approached them, his dark hair already soaked and matted down to his head, though he didn't seem to notice.
"We need to get them back to the camp, and medical attention. Then we'll return to the house and see what we can do. For now, though, they are the priority." Derek answered him in that calm, take charge tone he had mastered. Nick nodded and looked back at the boys.
"I don't know if Sean can do it, or what damage we'll cause moving him. Why don't I head back and get the chopper. I can be back here in fifteen minutes probably." Derek thought over the plan, looking at the obvious discomfort of the child in question. Gilby was looking him over for further injury as he had done with all the boys as they had been returned to the surface. Finally he nodded his approval. "All right and I'll call Rachel from the chopper, see if she's learned anything useful."
Philip wanted to say something, at least suggest that he accompany Nick, but he knew the response that would evoke so remained silent. Nick went over to the boys and pulled his jacket off, handing it over to Alex to use to cover them. "I'm gonna go get the chopper, you guys will be okay." He tried to smile at them reassuringly but it did little to ease the fear in their eyes. He sighed standing back up, patting Gilby on the back as he did so and turned to climb the hills back to the camp.
Philip and Derek joined the others and leaned down to talk more to the boys, see what else then they could learn. Mere seconds had passed when Jason's eyes filled with a renewed fear as he stared between the priest and the precept. He seemed to want to speak, to cry out, but the words were caught in his throat. Philip realized instantly that the child was staring with such horror in the direction Nick would have gone off in to return to the camp.
He spun on his heals and stood in the same fluid motion. Nick had only made it about fifteen yards and unbeknownst to him just to his side and a little behind him the figure of the man had begun to take form again. Philip moved forward without thought, closing the distance between them in less time then he would have believed himself capable of. The man had taken only his first few steps to his target when Philip tackled Nick, knocking him down into the mud, but out of the spirits easy reach.
Nick rolled away from his friend, not understanding what was happening, but his defenses jumping up before he could even control them. He had barely fought off the urge to have a confrontation with him and now seemed able to have one. "What the hell are you " The words dropped off when he saw the man behind his friend. "Philip." Nick cried out desperately not able to control the terror that filled his deep voice. In that second he hated himself completely for every cruel word he had ever uttered, every accusation he had unjustly delivered.
The man raised his hand but not to touch Philip, instead he tossed him out of his way, lifting him from the ground and throwing him at least six feet. Philip slumped down into the hard ground that was just beginning to give with the rain. Nick didn't even notice that the creature had continued to descend upon him, his eyes locked on the unmoving form of his friend.
"No." Derek yelled from behind the man, drawing his attention. Nick, still not in control of his actions, swept up to his feet and attacked the man from behind, only to meet with a fate similar to his friend. Discarded from the man's back without effort, thrown to where he met with the hard rock formation that concealed the labyrinth of caves. Derek watched as his associate fell to the ground lifelessly, horrified by the sight of the two men that were like his sons lying there so still.
The man glanced in the direction of the man he had just thrown away like a rag doll and for a moment his eyes seemed to show regret, but Derek did not let him muse over that emotion. He propelled himself forward, needing to protect his helpless friends, and the children. While he was still feet away from the man Derek was frozen in his tracks and forced to his knees by an unseen force. He stared up at the distorted face of the man and began to dawn on a realization, seeing something there that did not seem to go along with the vicious attack, something that almost expressed his desire for none of this to happen. Derek's realization though was cut short by a scream.
"Stop." She had been propelling herself forward at a dead heat, each breath caught harshly in her throat as she took in the scene before her. She had prayed she wouldn't be too late, though she still wasn't sure what she could do to help. Seeing Philip and Nick's forms lying so still, Derek held submissively at the spirits feet, Gilby, Alex and the boys trying to stay unnoticed by the rocks, she feared she had not realized what was right in front of her quickly enough. She didn't even have time to register her relief that the boys had been found and were now safe.
Derek stared up at the woman running down the hill, watched breathlessly as she lost her footing on the muddy slope and slid down to the clearing on her knees. He feared for her, afraid she might evoke the spirits wrath, but also wondered in the corner of his mind if she wasn't prepared for just that. "You aren't protecting them." Tangye cried, surprising Derek with her words.
"Tangye?" Alex called over the driving rain that seemed to reflect the mood in the field. Tangye looked at her new friend who had been such a help to her so many times already. She was sure that Alex would understand her if she could have a few seconds to explain.
"He doesn't want to hurt them, he's trying to protect them." She screamed back, leveling her eyes on the spirit who now watched her, and a new knowledge dawned on her. She had felt a spirit last night, someone close, watching her as she slept. It took only an instant for her to recognize the mind that had left a lingering sense of itself in her cabin. She looked at his uneven eyes and saw there the words that he had been unable to say to her while she slept. 'You ? You're proud?' Tangye asked the spirit.
The spirit was about to answer her, she was sure, when he was brought back to the situation by Gilby's question. "From what?" She glanced in his direction, noticing how all three boys cowered in his shadow, how he was making sure to keep himself between them and any further danger. She wished he would know that it wasn't necessary, nor would it do any good.
Tangye started to form the answer and was thrown back from her kneeling position. She landed face first in the mud and when she looked up she saw the figure of a woman forming between Joshua and herself. "Back up." She growled wiping mud from her face.
The woman started to raise her hand but Joshua Holley instead grabbed her, holding her arms in place. "She can't hurt you anymore Joshua, she can't. You have the power now." Tangye cried, but Joshua was not convinced. In his moment of uncertainty he ended up being thrown back from the woman. She turned and started her approach on the man, once her son and killer. "No." Tangye whispered to herself, hating the powerless feeling engrained in her. She couldn't let him be hurt again, not when so much of his life was spent in pain, he deserved peace at least in death.
She flashed back for the first time in days to the last moments in her house. When she had reached out with her mind and forced the spirit of her father away. She remembered the words of her spirit grandmother, 'you held me here.' She wasn't going to deny that she didn't fully understand her own abilities, but she believed if she tried hard enough she could use them now to help.
The effort was tremendous, her head immediately began to protest with pain but she pushed past it. She reached out and locked down on the dark mind that she found with every ounce of will that she had. For a moment at least it seemed to work. The woman froze in her descent, stopping as though she had just run into a wall she had not noticed before. Her voice rose in anger, "let me go."
Derek looked over at the figure barely propping herself up on her arms. Her face was covered in mud and straining with effort. He could tell just by the expression on her face that she would not be able to exhibit this control over the spirit for long, he just hoped she bought them enough time. The woman now at least seemed to be completely distracted from the one Tangye had called Joshua, who she said had the power in the situation. Now if only her attention weren't completely on the young woman.
Meanwhile, Rachel dropped the make shift torch onto the front porch of the cabin, and the blaze quickly began to spread over the old wood despite the rain that tried to combat it.
"The house." The spirit howled in agony. The fury of the desecration gave her the power to break the young telepath's tentative hold over her. She lifted Tangye from the ground and tossed her again, this time the woman stayed down. "I'll kill you all for this." She cried to the group in general, furious for the fact they dared harm her haunting grounds.
"No you can't." Derek struggled to his feet. He considered everything he knew and had seen, coupled with Tangye's words; he felt he finally understood what was happening. He had seen it in Joshua's eyes, the regret that he had to hurt Nick, the pride that someone had stepped in to protect him earlier. This spirit was trying to help protect the innocent from suffering he probably knew all too well, he just didn't understand how to go about it. "Joshua, you have to take her from here, only you can stop her."
"Is that true?" The woman again turned her gaze filled only with hate on her son. "Only you can stop me? Then stop me son. Stop me." She laughed at him and once again began to approach him. Realization had finally dawned on Jason and he threw himself out of Gilby's protective hold, placing his own body between mother and son.
"You can't hurt him anymore, you've done enough." Gilby felt sick just watching the boy put himself in such danger. Realizing that once again he had failed him.
"You think child?" As soon as the woman made the slightest move towards the boy the son was propelled into action. He grabbed her in his thick arms, passing harmlessly through the boy's body to her. She struggled but her efforts were in vain. He was not prepared to let go of her. "No more pain." He commanded. His mother turned to him horrified.
"Joshua you must do it now, the house holding your spirits is being destroyed. Do it now." Derek called to him, pulling Jason away from the two battling spirits.
"No more." Joshua reiterated and his mother let loose a scream that carried through the mountains. Her body lost its form, turning into a stream of tainted light that vanished finally, still issuing forth a bellow of protest and anger.
Joshua turned to the boy who had jumped to his defense with what wished to be a smile on his deformed face. Jason instantly recognized it, he had been wrong, it wasn't an expression of something evil but something very sad. "Safe now." Jason nodded mutely.
"Yes, you are." Derek whispered as the spirit vanished. He turned and saw the first curls of smoke reaching into the rain filled skies.
Gilby jumped up and ran to Jason, protectively wrapping his arms around him though there was nothing left to guard the brave youngster from. He shot Derek a relieved grin, thanking him silently for everything that he had done to help him. "Well done Dr. Rayne." The haggard voice came from beside him. He looked down to find Tangye standing there, her face smeared with mud, her eyes betraying the exhaustion that her efforts had brought on.
"You too, Ms. Gaarlihn." He said just as Nick and Philip joined them. "Are you all right?" He asked his voice thick with his concern.
"Fine, just dirty." Nick answered as he rubbed his back where he had hit the rock wall. "So, what happened here?" He looked at the girl who smiled sheepishly.
"Good won out." She answered, letting his arm pull her close to his chest.
"Tha's all that matters then." Philip said. He was surprised when Nick turned and smiled at him, it was a warm and friendly gesture, and it hurt Philip to realize how long it had been since the last time he had received anything like that from his friend. He watched as Tangye gently brushed away some of the mud on Nick's face, her eyes locked and seeing only him. He had been concerned that after the confessions that he had made to her that there might be a change in her behavior, that she might treat Nick differently. She would show sympathy she shouldn't have reason to feel, or even try to talk Nick out of his feelings. But she surprised and impressed him by sticking to her promise not to let Nick know that she had been informed of so much by Philip. Her eyes showed no knowledge of things she shouldn't know; her smile held no sadness or mourning. And when her had reached out it was not to comfort but out of her own need. Philip hated to think that he would have to leave the Legacy again, and disappoint Nick all over again, still he had other obligations. Watching the young woman with Nick he realized that he would be just fine. He trusted Tangye to get through Nick's barriers and possibly help his brother learn to forgive.
"Alex how are the boys?" Derek asked approaching her as she slowly stood.
"Fine, shaken but fine. He never meant to hurt them did he?" She asked back, her eyes full of grief over what she realized had been happening.
"No he wanted to protect us from her." Jason surprised them by answering first in a steady voice. "He just wasn't sure how. But he did it. He hid us well." Suddenly the boy remembered the skeleton that he had found in the spider web of tunnels. "Just as he hid from her here."
"What?" Tangye turned to the boy.
"I found him, or what's left of him, in there." The boy motioned back to the caves. Tangye was curious about it, wanted to do something for the body of the spirit they just freed but remained silent for the time. She saw clearly the look on Gilby's face; he would handle all of that.
"But why did he go only after Nick?" Alex asked to redirect the subject from what the children obviously weren't too comfortable with.
"Probably saw a kindred spirit." Nick answered quietly; not missing Gilby's surprised stare. He didn't want to have to explain that admission to Gilby and he knew that Alex would know just what he meant with the words.
"The rest of us are adults capable of defending ourselves. In the boys he saw the child he once was, in Nick the man he could have been. But remember he stopped when someone defended Nick, even if we know he didn't need it." Derek added to appease the sudden look on Nick's face. "He saw for a moment that maybe Nick didn't need him to do the work, that others would."
"Um, there's something else too." Tangye mumbled. Derek looked at her suspiciously. "I thought, outside chance, but thought, that last night there had been someone in the cabin while I slept. Whatever it was, if it was, it was proud."
"Proud?" Gilby asked, totally confused by this point.
"Yeah, of me. For doing what he couldn't, for defending myself." She turned suddenly to the boy who had put himself so thoughtlessly in the path of danger. "You understand don't you?"
"I do. He was proud of me for protecting them, trying to help them. For fighting for myself." She nodded with a smile. Derek realized he wasn't angry with her for not mentioning the experience. She clearly had no idea what any of it meant until this point. Not only that, he realized he would have to accept that she couldn't possibly tell him about every spirit she ever saw or that would be all they ever talked about. He patted her shoulder to reassure her that he wasn't mad.
He then turned his eyes to the distant sky filled with rain clouds and those of smoke.
Rachel realized she owed this young man a great deal. She had seen the look on his face when they had all emerged from the forest by the burning cabin. The absolute relief and joy there, both that he had been vindicated of any crime and that the boys, who stayed so close to his protective figure, were safe. As soon as she learned the truth about the cabin and it's inhabitants she had begun to see the young man that Tangye had been so certain still existed. A man who had lost so much, but was willing to endure that if it could help the children. She saw the young man who had thrown himself in the path of what he thought was an angry spirit to protect a childhood friend. She owed him much, and she would start with the apology he certainly deserved.
"Gilby? Can I speak with you?" She approached him as the last car carrying the rescued boys pulled off down the mountain. He turned, his eyes bright and happier then they had been before. "I just wanted to tell you how sorry I "
"Don't worry about it Dr. Corrigan." Gilby cut her off with a shrug.
"You don't have to be this nice, I owe you this much at least." Rachel tried again. She didn't want him to think that she was doing this as an empty gesture, she truly meant it.
"Not really. You went with your instincts; I can't blame you for that. There were times during this whole thing that I looked at it from the outside and I'd start suspecting myself. You went with the most logical suspect." For the first time Rachel felt she was really letting herself see the young man that the others had been telling her about. She saw the mourning he was going through over the loss of a place that had once given him such joy.
"What will you do now?" She asked softly.
"I don't know." He sighed. "Camp's over that's for sure, you just don't bounce back from this, I don't see how anyway. I guess I'll go back to the city, go to college, that'll please my dad anyway." He answered with a rueful smile.
"What about your dreams?" She found herself really wanting to know.
"I already had them come true. That's more then most can say, even if it only lasted a short while." Somehow, Rachel knew from his tone that this young man was far from done in, that he would not stay down for long.
"The Gilby I knew never gave up that easy." Nick said as he approached them from behind, Tangye by his side, both now clean again and rested.
"I never said I gave up, just have to figure out a new way to get what I want." He couldn't help but remember what Nick had said, that he was a kindred spirit. When he thought about their childhood he knew he should have seen the signs, and found he felt guilty for having missed any of it.
"Thank you both." He pulled Tangye close to himself. "Funny in my worst hour what is sent to help me. I haven't seen either of you in years and then from the sky came deliverance." Tangye laughed.
"That may be a bit melodramatic." Gilby just shook his head. "Well whatever, we're glad we at least got to see you again. To try and help." Tangye said sincerely.
"Even if we were both out for the count during the action." Nick shook Gilby's hand just as Derek emerged from the cabin with Philip, Alex and all their supplies. "And now for the trite, good to see you, stay in touch." Nick grinned.
"Actually I plan to. You believed in me without question, that means something. More then you know." Gilby held Tangye away from him and just smiled when Nick stepped up to her side, keeping himself close to the woman that Gilby was sure he had all ready fallen for. Gilby was surprised to find himself slightly jealous in a sense of the years he believed they would enjoy each other.
Alex walked up to him and placed a gentle kiss on his cheek. "I'll keep in touch too." She whispered feeling, if nothing else, she had made a good friend here, but unable to fight her hope that it might be more.
Tangye sat on the edge of the stone balcony staring out into the yard. Rachel approached her cautiously, not sure if she had yet forgiven her for not believing in her friend. "Tangye can I talk to you for a minute?" Rachel asked carefully and got only a shrug in return. Tangye kicked her legs back and forth over the two-story drop, keeping her eyes focused on Nick as he went through his martial arts exercises in the yard. Rachel joined her and looked down at the figure that had her so captivated.
"Busted." Tangye said with the grin that had won them all over.
"I don't think he'd mind." Rachel answered. She had seen the look in Nick's eyes directed at Tangye; she knew exactly what had begun to happen between the two.
"What's up?" She asked as she haphazardly swung one leg over the ledge, not even glancing down or hesitating that she was being careless.
"I wanted to talk to you about the cabin. It must have been hard on you and I wanted to be sure you are okay." Her voice was so full of genuine concern that Tangye managed to stifle the laugh she felt building. She had wondered how long it would take for someone to make the connection, certain all along Derek already had. Now she saw that he sent the psychiatrist to deal with it.
"It might surprise you but I didn't think about it." She answered seriously.
"I saw your reaction at Mrs. Grant's house " Rachel started, remembering the involuntary flinch she had seen when the woman said her brother had been like a prisoner.
"I wasn't comparing Joshua to me, just thinking what it must have been like for him. How sad the whole thing was. He never understood why he was being hurt, probably thought it was the way it was for everyone. Yet he knew it was wrong. It was just really sad to even think." She hooked her hair behind her ears and glanced back at the yard.
"Then you are okay?" Rachel prodded, needing to be certain.
"Yeah, I am. The whole time I felt like I was missing something, like there was a piece of the puzzle I had missed. I didn't realize until last night what that was." She again just shrugged, but had gotten Rachel curious as to what she was thinking.
"What was it?" Rachel asked.
"The similarities between us. I didn't let myself think about it though. We both shared the solitude, the separation, and the fact that in the end we were forced to do away with our own tormentors. I think in a way that would have just been a distraction so I didn't let myself see it. You understand?" She turned back to Rachel, who only nodded. She was amazed by the strength that she saw in those blue gold eyes. The absolute defiance she held onto about losing any battle in life. Rachel knew that she could not always be the victor but she would not accept that quickly or easily. That was something that Rachel had to admire. "Good. Then you can tell Derek I'll be just fine." Rachel this time was the one fighting the laugh that built, Tangye knew exactly what was going on here, and she accepted it willingly, almost seemed to appreciate it.
Tangye turned back to stare out at the yard. "Now it's my turn to ask you something."
"What is it?" Tangye didn't bother looking at the doctor and her voice was deadpan.
"Did you learn anything from your little stroll down jump-to-conclusions lane?" Rachel had wondered who would point that out and felt that more then anyone Tangye deserved to after their day of arguments over the issue.
"Yes, I did." Tangye nodded approvingly. Rachel waited a few moments waiting to see if Tangye felt that she needed to say anything to the doctor, but the younger woman remained silent staring at the figure in the yard, seeing no point in further discussion. Rachel slowly retreated inside.
Rachel found solitude in the bedroom reserved for Kat later that evening. She put her journal down on the desk and pulled the chair out to sit. She looked around the room, at the toys that Kat had transplanted from her room at home to this place. She reflected about all the times that Kat had been in danger since they had first become involved in the Legacy, and how many of those could be blamed on her. It was so hard to protect a child, to know every moment that they most needed you. She tried to do just that but so often had been faced with her own disappointing failures. Despite all of those times, though, Kat had always remained unwavering trusting of her mother.
She studied the dolls that lined the shelves of the room thinking that it wouldn't be too much longer until Kat had no interest in dolls. Regretting that the years had slipped away so quickly. She wondered what her daughter's opinion would have been during the case. Kat always saw the true face of a person with a mere glance, Rachel wished she had been the one to give her child that trait. Yet she had not done it, passed on that trait or found that faith in herself. Kat would have merely looked at Gilby, gotten caught up in his easy smile and explained to her mother her as best she could that the young man was innocent. Rachel wondered if she would have listened to her daughter when she refused to hear anyone else.
She sighed and opened her journal, as was her Legacy duty. She stared at the blank page for a moment trying to formulate her thoughts.
'I couldn't see past my own blindness, my own fears. I placed the blame on the easiest target when I have been trained never to do such a thing. Can I ever earn forgiveness for my shortsighted behavior; have I really learned from it now? I want to believe that I won't react like that again, that I will focus on the things that I saw all along in his eyes but chose to ignore. The whole time there was someone there that I could have been helping, should have been helping and I created just another victim in the situation. Gilby, Jason, Joshua they were all victims, but none were willing to give in. They fought on through it all, even when no hope was in sight. I wish I felt I had that strength.'
'I hope that no lives were ruined by the past few days, that those involved all find the peace that I believe Joshua came to in the end. I know we can never be certain, but I believe they will go on fighting until they do just that.'
The End of "Unheeded Warnings"