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Sight and Shadows by TalgoM Sight and Shadows
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"We have a problem." Derek dove right in as soon as everyone was gathered around the table in front of him. He had found Kristin and Rachel in the kitchen just as Philip said they would be. The had been sitting there with an audible silence between them that spoke clearly enough that the discussion they had did not come to a conclusion either accepted. Unfortunately that was something that he didn't have the time to deal with right now. "During Tangye's training today we were working on her ability to locate the people of this house. She found all of you without too much difficulty, but when she went looking for Alex she was unable to locate her."
"Distance " Rachel started to suggest.
"Shouldn't be a problem." Derek quickly came back with his response.
"But maybe it is." Rachel insisted noticing the look on Tangye's face, as though she were somehow letting them all down. She didn't want to let that emotion persist.
"I'd like to believe that, of course. Right after that though Kat called. She said she had a dream in which a shadow was following Alex. She said that she knew the shadow was evil and that it was hunting." Derek took his seat, the exhaustion of the day settling into him, but he refused to give in to it. They would have a long night ahead of them and he couldn't afford to be tired.
"You think this thing is after Alex?" Nick asked, his voice heavy with concern.
"I hate to, but yes. Kat felt that this shadow was held by something at first and then got free. She also mentioned that in the dream she saw an old man reading. I don't want to jump to any conclusions but there is a chance that the old man could be Alfred Winterburn." Philip and Nick both shivered involuntarily, remembering what they had seen in the university office. "I don't know very much about the text that he wanted to translate but it could have been what was holding this shadow back."
"It did look like his last activity was the translation." Nick supplied. "I got pictures of the book if you want to work on translating it."
"I do. I also want to go out and see if we can find Alex. It's a large city and it will be difficult but I don't see where we have any choice. She doesn't have her phone so she can't reach us. We need to figure out what this thing is but our first priority is to find Alex and get her to safety." None of them missed the extreme concern on his face. They had all wondered at one time or another just how deep Derek's emotions flowed for the psychic and this seemed to give them a clear enough indication. He might never admit it but Derek was clearly feeling more then friendship towards her. "Tangye I want you to stay here, get the photos developed. The rest of us will go into the city."
"Derek, I could " Tangye started to protest.
"You can't feel her." He cut her argument short. "Rachel see about getting Kat over here. I don't know what the creature is after but I don't want to take any risks."
"She's at a sleep over, how do I explain that? Sorry I think a demon might be after Kat and I don't want him breaking up the girl's fun?" Rachel tried to keep her tone light but even the implied threat to Kat had her worried.
"You're her mother, just do it." Derek snapped more harshly then he had intended.
"Tell them to meet me at the docks, I'll take the skipper over for her." Rachel nodded to Tangye's suggestion, surprised by Derek's outburst.
"Tangye, just get the photos developed, do not read them. Understood?" He wasn't taking a risk of bringing this thing to his house.
"Gotcha." She nodded. Derek dismissed them all and told them to meet at the helicopter in ten minutes. "I'll watch her Rachel." Tangye whispered as the doctor went for the phone. Somehow the promise worked to make her feel a little better. Tangye had proved her strength time and time again in the month they had known her. If nothing else she would prove a difficult obstacle between Kat and this thing, though she hated to think of the young woman in such a way.
Alexandra Moreau wandered the streets of San Francisco not sure where her destination should be, but still feeling danger hovering around her. She knew her name only because the wallet in her purse had provided the information. Somehow it seemed foreign to her, it didn't quite sound right. She had been remembering the strangest things all day. Images of ghosts kept popping into her head. Ghosts, vampires and werewolves. Any number of impossibilities. Yet she didn't understand why these images didn't surprise her more. She knew it was all nonsense but still that was the only thing that felt right.
She had found an emergency contact card also in her wallet but something prevented her from calling the Doctor Rayne listed on it. She wished she could explain all of the conflicting emotions inside of her at the moment but the solution seemed content to allude her. Doctor Rayne was more then a friend she somehow felt that instinctively but what he was she didn't know. She just couldn't call him, a part of her fought to remind her why but it was a part remaining silent. She had seen other faces in front of her. Living faces with kindness in their eyes.
A young man with dark brown hair of varying lengths from different times. His face was thin and when he smiled lines sprung upon it and made his hazel eyes nearly vanish. Too often in her mind his face seemed serious, his eyes intense and nearly suspicious. There was another young man, older then the first but his face kinder. His blue eyes were so gentle, his small mouth rarely caught in a smile but always thoughtful. His hair was a lighter shade of brown and his face seemed more pained, something he had been living with for too long and couldn't defeat. Both men were handsome, but it was her reaction to the third man from her mind's eye that surprised her. He was older then she, his hair gray and face lined with the marks of the years he had lived. His eyes were serious and seemed to carry in them some regret of things he had not done, or perhaps that he had. He was a painfully focused man who seemed able to overlook the simple things in front of him. She knew the instant that the image flashed in her mind that she had loved this man. An intense but unspoken love.
There were women in her mind as well. The first blonde and older, still beautiful with deep brown eyes and an easy smile. She looked at the world with understanding but sometimes still seemed shocked by the things that she had seen. There was once a friendship between them, a friendship that Alexandra could not recall. Then there was another blonde, her face thin with high arching eyebrows. Her expressions were harder to read and she seemed more guarded then any of the others. She kept a distance between herself even when she didn't want to. Finally there was a younger woman, a newer face, more open then any of the others. She had brown hair that Alexandra could not decide if it was light or dark, and stunning blue gold eyes that looked beyond the exterior to something deeper. Her smile was quick and seemed to be hiding something.
The last of her visions had been of a child with a painfully sincere face. She had watched this little girl grow and seen her blossom, or begin to. She was still caught between the world of being a child and a young woman, not having decided yet which way she should go at any given moment, wanting to be both. There was something about the little girl that gave Alexandra hope, something that said if she could find her this child could fix everything that was wrong. She knew she had gotten countless happy moments from the little girl and often been terrified for her.
That was the prevailing emotion she got from all of her visions. Something in their world was worthy of terror and it was not something that she hoped to relive. Perhaps this was her chance at escape, a path to a better life. She tried to fight off the images of them all but they persisted in making themselves known. She sunk into the doorway weakly, feeling the battle leave her body. She just didn't have the energy to persist. She didn't know what that thing was that attacked her, or how she had survived it and she hoped she never had to learn the truth. All she wanted to do was sleep and hope these nightmares ran themselves dry. It was all just impossible, but if that was true why did she still fear all the things that she was seeing as though they were real threats she knew all to well.
"Are you alright miss?" She jerked her head up to see a man leaning down in front of her. He was probably in his mid-forties with light blonde hair that was creeping its way back along his head before vanishing all together. His eyes were a murky green and his face creased with deep lines and wrinkles. She didn't believe that she had ever seen this man before in her life but couldn't count on that to be true.
She wasn't sure if any of the images she had seen were sprung up from only her imagination or a life she couldn't recall.
He placed a thin, bony hand on her arm carefully and repeated the question. She stared at him confused not sure what her answer should be. She looked down at his hand and he pulled it back not wanting to offend her with his touch. "I don't know." She finally whispered.
"Pardon me?" He seemed surprised by her answer. He looked around himself to the dark street where several of the lamps had burnt out. "This isn't a safe place for you. Do you know where you live?" She thought about the cards in her wallet that listed her address as Angel Island, California but then remembered her instinct not to contact anyone there.
"No." She averted her eyes. She heard him sigh deeply.
"Well then what am I going to do? I can't very well just leave you here I'm more of a gentleman then that." He again looked around the street, causing her to wonder if he too felt the danger shadowing her movements. Lurking in dark places that now seemed painfully abundant. "Listen, I know this isn't protocol in this day and age but I think you should come with me. Back to my place where it's safe. I promise not to hurt you. Maybe there we can figure out where you belong. I'm not a big fan of dark streets at night in this part of town." He made the offer hesitantly as though she should refuse.
"Why wouldn't I do that?" She asked surprised.
"Because you have no reason not to assume I'm a crazy too. Which of course I'm not. But I doubt the crazies advertise." He attempted humor but her dark eyes studied him too intensely for him to keep up the guise. What was she looking for?
"Sure I do." She answered him and stood up, letting his arm support her at the elbow. "You just want to help, that's obvious."
"You could get yourself in a lot of trouble being that trusting miss." He responded back with concern. Why did she think so quickly that he meant no harm?
"Not trusting, I can tell." She said lightly.
"Okay. By the way my name is Barry Alger, you are?" She looked up at him confused as though she didn't know what answer to provide.
"Alexandra Moreau, I think." She mumbled. Still even after voicing the name if felt distinctly wrong to her. Why didn't her name even seem to fit?
"Okay Ally." She looked back at him. "Not Ally, huh?" That sounded even more misplaced to her ears. "How about Alex?" He questioned and something in her mind clicked.
"That's it. Alex, I go by Alex." She answered, surprised by the relief in her voice at such a simple revelation. She allowed him to guide her down the street trying to place all the other mixed feelings inside of her, unable to control the urge to occasionally check the street behind them for predators. If it was there though she could not find it, so she tried to relax herself with little success.
Derek hated the frustration that he felt overwhelming him. He couldn't believe that on a day with such innocence when Alex had just wanted a few hours to herself that evil had sought her out. Why did things in his life always have to work out this way, why couldn't one week pass with no earth shattering events crashing down upon them? He knew that he wouldn't leave the Legacy in search of such peace but why couldn't they at least be given a reprieve every now and again in gratitude for their efforts? Rachel was right when she said that the Legacy was his life but it was times like this when he wondered if perhaps he had not let it become too much so.
He had seen the same behavior in his father years ago and remembered how much he disliked it. Winston could forget everything else in the face of a new mystery and Derek wondered if he wasn't the same way. How often had he let himself forget the danger in an effort to get the job done? He wanted to believe that he was different, that his people always came before the cause but at times he questioned which should be larger. The members of his house were a small group in comparison of those they fought to protect, shouldn't it be worth the sacrifice for the greater good? Why then whenever one of them was in danger did the rest of the world seem to slip away?
Why then when Alex was in danger did nothing else matter? He admitted the true question to himself. She had been in danger countless times before and handled herself well but still it evoked the same emotion from him. A desperation to save her, regret that if he didn't so many things would go unsaid. He wasn't sure that he would ever find the voice to admit the truth to her but he didn't ever want to be robbed of the chance. She meant too much to him to lose. She was a confidant, a friend, a support system, and the very heart of his world.
His phone rang in his pocket and brought him back to reality. They had been searching for hours and still no one had reported in with the news he urgently needed to hear. The sun was now making its appearance on the horizon and Derek's concern was turning to fear. Something was out in this city with them, something they didn't know how to fight, and it was after one of their own. He gave a quick glance at the caller id on the display of his phone and answered the call. "Rachel, any luck?"
"Derek we don't even know where to start looking." Rachel's efforts to hide her own fear did no good. This was her best friend they were looking for, her child's as well in many ways. How would she ever explain to Kat what had happened when they didn't know themselves?
"We can't give up." Derek answered quickly, his tone sharp.
"I'm not saying we should but shouldn't we have a plan? We're making ourselves targets now, we shouldn't be dividing our forces this way." She was trying to get through to him but he wouldn't let her.
"I know that, Dammit. Why do you insist on reminding me of that?" He proclaimed angrily.
"Derek calm down, I'm not the enemy." She was right and he berated himself for behaving that way. For letting his emotions rule his reactions. He was the precept and whether or not they admitted it they looked to him for guidance and he was providing none. "I'll keep looking."
"No, you're right. We should go back to the island, regroup. Call the others." He kept his tone even. "Rachel, I'm sorry."
"We'll find her Derek, we won't give up, this isn't admitting defeat." He nodded to her comment and hung up the phone. He looked around the street, his worry almost blinding him but he was sure if she were there he would see her. He would spot her tall thin form in the most crowded places much less a nearly deserted street. Her curly brown hair was a beacon to him as much as any of her other exquisite features. He would not overlook her, she just wasn't here to be found.
He could see the need for sleep very alive on all of their faces. They had faced countless sleepless nights before but usually those were spent hunched over old texts or computer screens. They had searched the city for nine hours with none of them finding everything and sleep didn't seem to be an option coming at them any sooner. Nick seemed to be handling it the best but it was part of his lifestyle, he seemed capable of going without sleep for days. The rest of them fought to keep their eyes open and alert.
He lead the way into the control room where they found Kat asleep on blankets and pillows set up on the floor and Tangye at one of the computers. She spun around to face them, seeing the look on Rachel's face immediately.
She glanced at the sleeping child and smiled. "I didn't want her out of my sight, she thought it was big fun." Rachel shot her a grateful look. She wasn't thrilled to find her daughter sleeping on the floor but had to respect the dedication Tangye showed for her duty of watching Kat.
"Did you get the pictures developed?" Derek asked focusing only on the task at hand. He could thank her later for thinking of keeping Kat close, too often the child had been endangered by being left alone in her room because it was assumed safe.
"Here they are." She handed him the stack. "And better yet, the police had a courier drop off the book an hour ago. They called and said Professor Winterburn did ask that all the artifacts be given to the Luna Foundation. I told them we wanted the book, the rest will be here by the end of the week." She indicated the package on the scanner table. He looked at her surprised that she had taken such action without consulting him, but impressed all the same.
"Good. Kristin I want you to work on the translation. Nick, Philip work on figuring out the last place that Alex may have been." Derek started to issue out assignments, handing the package over to Kristin who headed back to the library.
"Already done." Tangye piped up from her seat at the computer. Derek turned to her again surprised. "I had all night to kill, nothing else I could do." She shrugged.
"Let's see what you found." He joined her at the computer.
"I traced her steps." She tapped at the computer keyboard and displayed a large map of the city. "She told me that she was going to a bookstore to pick up something for her grandmother. A travel agent called this morning, something about Alexandra Moreau picking up tickets to New Orleans. She was supposed to do it yesterday afternoon but never showed. The travel agency is here." Tangye typed more commands in and the map refocused on a smaller area, indicating the office with a small dot. "There's six bookstores in the area. Of those, two deal with more eclectic type books, more Alex's speed." She again added commands, indicating the two stores. "I called them right before you got here and the owner of this one remembers Alex. Said she bought a book on San Francisco. Alex had a pretty straight path from there to the travel agent, less then five blocks, I doubt she would have driven. Whatever happened, happened within this area." She turned to look at Derek, her eyes waiting for response and showing no pride in her work. It had just been something she had to do while left helpless at the house. At least it gave them a foot forward, now they had somewhere to begin.
"No reports at hospitals?" He asked, sure her initiative had not stopped there.
"Nothing." She sat back looking defeated despite the information she provided.
"Then we start knocking on doors. Someone must have seen her." He said, his voice distracted. It had been broad daylight, on a busy street and she had just vanished? It didn't make sense, the police surely would have heard something by now. "Do whatever you need to get ready, we leave in ten minutes." The others all nodded and retreated from the room, except Rachel who was waking Kat.
"Derek I want to help." Tangye reached up and pulled his attention away from the map.
"You have." He answered absently. She nodded understanding his hesitancy, but frustrated by it all the same. He looked down at her and saw the irritation that she was stuck doing nothing written clearly on her face and in her slouch. "Tangye, we don't know what this thing is, I can't risk putting you in danger." He attempted to explain.
"Because I'm not a member of the Legacy." She finished for him with a sigh.
"Yes." He answered with regret. It hadn't stopped him yet but with Alex missing he didn't want to put anyone else at risk that that could be kept safe.
"Then initiate me Derek. You said yourself I'm not a member yet, why not?" She looked up at him, her face full of her stubborn resolve. He understood exactly how she felt but couldn't give in to her.
"I can't yet Tangye, you know that. I'm not against asking for your help, you should know that but for now I need you here."
"Where it's safe." She mumbled, her annoyance obvious.
"Watch out for Kat, help Kristin, keep doing what you were. I'll keep you all informed." He patted her shoulder and left the control room ending the discussion.
She kicked the table leg lightly in her frustration, more at herself then at Derek's dismissal. She knew exactly what his reaction would be but had pressed despite that. She understood why Derek was doing what he was, holding off on letting her join and she had just given him more of a reason to stall. He didn't need to be dealing with someone that behaved in such a way. Making demands, pushing her way into things, being headstrong when he had so many other things to worry about. "Way to go Gaarlihn, very mature." She mumbled to herself. She wanted to apologize but at the same time didn't want to distract him from other things that were so much more important, there would be time enough for that later, once Alex was found she could make amends.
The man stared at her wide eyed as she told him of the snippets of memory that she had been able to piece together. He had just barely managed to keep the laugh back that wanted to burst forth from his lips. She couldn't possibly any of the things that she was telling him about. Demons, ghosts, vampires. The woman was clearly delusional from her injuries. Despite the sincerity in her voice the man could just not accept the words that were coming from her.
He broke in to the rambling of the woman. "Alex, slow down. You had a head injury, I think you're having a hard time distinguishing." He had wanted to take her to the hospital but she fought that idea so passionately that he had given it up. If she didn't show signs of being more lucid tomorrow he could try again. Her eyes seemed clear and focused, it was her words that bothered him.
"No you don't understand. I saw these things, all of them, and one of them is after me today." She gripped his forearm like a steel vise and he found himself trying to pry her fingers away. She was agitated and didn't seem to realize how much pain she could cause.
"I don't doubt that you saw them but I don't know where. A movie maybe, late night TV?" She shook her head adamantly at those suggestions. She knew all of it sounded crazy, how could he think that she didn't know that? Still it was so real to her that it was hard to discount it as fantasy.
"No. I saw her, but she was dead. She came back to take something from me. She was angry because she said I let her die, that I wasn't there for her when she needed me. I tried to kill someone, the young one I told you about." She urgently tried to clarify the barrage of memories. If she could only get one to be clear maybe he would start to see that they were real.
"The man? The one who you said was angry?" She had told Barry about seven people already. None had names that Alex could recall but they were distinguished more by their own traits. She had also told him of her vampire incident once before.
"Yes. I tried to kill him, needed to. I would live forever if he died. I cared for him but was willing to sacrifice him for my own benefit. Then the older man stopped me, convinced me. I was supposed to kill him too but I just couldn't do it. There were ghosts too, more then I can remember. So many of them were angry. They got rid of them. No one knows about these things. We, they hide. They can't let people know, that's why you don't believe." She wiped away at her tears as if they made it harder for her words to be believed. Barry nodded and started to pace the room, trying to wrap his mind around all of it. She had already given him the bit about a secret world and more then anything else that was nonsense.
How could all of this be going on in the world and he had never seen a tiny indication of it? Could there really be active ghosts and demons that a small group of people took it upon themselves to fight? No, it was ridiculous. There would be indications of inexplicable weirdness around them. It would all stink of a cover up. He pictured this group of people sweeping in with their own explanations that were even more impossible then the truth. He tried to picture the woman in front of him being a part of something like that and just couldn't do it.
"Here's what I'm thinking Alex. Someone convinced you of all of this. Brainwashed you in a way. Maybe you know the real truth and this is their way of confusing you from that. They put this in your head so you wouldn't know fact from fiction. But I can assure you what you've told me is fiction. I've been around long enough that I know what's possible. This isn't." He kept his voice logical as he crouched down in front of her, hoping he would get through to her.
"Then what about the thing today?" Her voice was weak and confused. She wasn't sure what to believe, the images so real in her mind or his words.
"You said you didn't really see anything, just a shadow. There's no saying it wasn't a person. If it was a demon, how did you get away?" She shook her head not sure what answer she could give to that. "Maybe you got away from these people you remember and they needed to make sure you couldn't tell the truth about them. They were trying to stop you." He nodded at his own thoughts, they made perfect sense.
"But they weren't evil people. The leader, I think I, I think I loved him." She remembered the emotion that had dawned on her clearly enough. She would never have felt so strongly for someone if he were manipulating her. Yet Barry's words still made sense. She wouldn't have known what was being done to her, she would have been a plaything that accepted anything as the truth if they told her. If such a world existed why would it hide if it fought evil, they would be heroes.
"Maybe their pawns too, or just very good manipulators. If they could convince you of all of this why couldn't they make you believe that they were good people?" He saw that he had begun to get through to her, she wasn't arguing with him anymore.
"It just doesn't feel right." She whispered sadly. He sat down beside her in the couch, wrapping his arms around her shoulders. "But it makes sense. I felt it was all impossible but it still felt real to me."
"They're probably good at what they do. But you don't have to worry, no ones going to hurt you. I won't let that happen." She nodded against his chest as the tears started anew. He made good sense, perfect she admitted. Someone had done this to her, convinced her of the impossible. Behind all of that the truth must exist and she planned on finding it.
Tangye walked into the library with a tray of food and coffee, Kat following her not far behind. The little girl hadn't needed to be told that she had to stay close to an adult until whatever they were dealing with had been found. She could see the concern written on everyone's faces clearly enough. For reasons Kat couldn't quite explain she had chosen Tangye to be her guardian while her mom was gone rather then Kristin. Tangye just seemed stronger to the young girl, and she seemed to accept the distraction that Kat caused better.
"Brought you something." Tangye said as she placed the tray down beside Kristin. She had made a bad first impression on the older Legacy member and wanted to find some way to make amends. She could tell that Kristin didn't feel comfortable having her around and felt it was her job to make it clear that she didn't pose a threat. A threat to what Tangye hadn't quite decided.
"Thank you." Kristin responded without glancing at the food or the woman who brought it.
"How's it coming?" Tangye sat down on the table a few feet away from Kristin, Kat plopping down in the chair closest to her.
"Fine." Kristin answered back quickly. Neither of the other two in the room could have missed her sharp tone. Kat looked up at Tangye confused why Kristin would be behaving in such a way, Tangye just shrugged at the girl not sure how to explain.
"I was just wondering if you needed any help, I'm pretty good with languages. Two heads better then " Tangye began but Kristin shot her eyes up to met with the blue gold of Tangye's.
"I said I'm fine." Kristin repeated. Tangye nodded and slid off the table going over to the hologram, she glanced back over her shoulder at the blonde once again concentrating only on the book.
"Great." She mumbled before stepping into the control room, deciding it best not to mention that Derek had been the one to suggest that she offer her help. It was probably better that Kristin only be mad at one of them. Kat had watched the whole brief exchange with wide eyes, adults could be so confusing.
"Kristin?" The researcher turned her attention to the girl lingering in the room with her.
"What is it Kat?" She asked, her voice noticeably more gentle.
"Why did you do that? She was only trying to help. My mom says it's important to let people help you when you're having problems." Kat inquired innocently, though the thoughts she had weren't quite so. She had learned that people listened to her better when she did this rather then seem smarter then she should be. People wanted her to be a child so she acted like it for them.
"I didn't need help, it's coming along fine." Kristin answered trying to keep her voice soft, she didn't want to make Kat feel there was anything going on out of the ordinary. Kat liked Tangye and for now that seemed fine, but Kristin wasn't going to let her guard down.
"But did you have to be mean about it? She was just being nice." Kat pushed for an answer that made more sense then the excuse Kristin gave.
"You like her don't you Kat?" Kat nodded vigorously. "That's good. Sometimes adults just don't get along. We see things different, or do things different, so we don't know how to be friends." She put her hand gently on Kat's hoping that explanation did it, she didn't know how much longer she could hide her real feelings from the girl.
"Kids can be like that too, but I thought adults were smarter." Kat responded back. Adults could be so dumb at times, what did they think all kids liked each other just because they were kids? Kids were crueler then adults would ever consider being, and they enjoyed it.
"How so?" Kristin said surprised by the annoyance she heard in Kat's voice, she was normally such a sweet and understanding child but now she sounded accusing.
"I just thought they'd have a reason to be mean, kids don't. You don't know her, you just don't like her because she's here." Kat jumped down from her seat and went to the hologram, disappearing into the control room with that wisdom stated.
Kristin stared at the spot the little girl vanished from, surprised by what she had been just told. Kat essentially told her to grow up and act her age. She had to admit some of the jealousy that she was feeling was childish, but the suspicion seemed adult enough. She understood the Legacy, how important the secret was, she felt it was wrong to let a stranger learn so much. The fact she had free access to the control room had bothered her, but she wasn't sure if that was really it. Was she just upset that so quickly Tangye Gaarlihn had been given free reign of the house, she was looked at for support, she was even given Kat to protect? Kristin doubted if Rachel would ever let her be the one responsible for her child's well being. She knew nothing about the young woman staying in the house that Derek hadn't told her, and even by then her opinion had been formed. She would be resistant to the easy smile, to the dimples, and the bright eyes. She was not going to let those elements that seemed so innocent affect her judgment, but she also seemed unwilling to allow anything else to sway her opinions. She didn't want to trust Tangye and little could change that.
He couldn't believe that he had let himself get distracted from her. He let his hunger take over and the time he had taken savoring the blood of the urchin she had gotten away. He still felt her out there but her location was not exact. He would have to start to search for her once again. He had settled for the powerless and left him discarded in the trash as he had been discarded for most of his life. He had gained little from the meal, even the taste of it was lacking when he knew the power was in his grasp.
Now she had managed to slip away into this accursed steel city. He thought of the last town he had visited death upon. He remembered the fortunetellers in the gypsy village who thought they could foresee the future. They told stories about love, life and death. But none of them had seen death coming in its truest form. None had foreseen his arrival. Then the small village built of wood and hay had submitted to his power. He recalled those days vividly. How they had all lived in fear of what would creep out from the darkness of the night to devour them. They were glorious days and when he thought of revisiting such fear in a city this large the rest of his desires slipped away.
He had to focus though. Despite the invading light he kept to the shadows and searched for her quiet voice. He would find her, goad her into leading him to the sense of power that he felt surrounding her world. That would provide all that he needed to reign death upon this city. The blood that came as a result of that would therefore fuel him to spread his disease across the world. Finally after years of being bound by the foolish priest's prayers glory would be his and destiny would be fulfilled.
First he had to locate the woman and then his plans would be set in motion, none would be able to prevent his actions then. He crept back further into the depths of the day's shadows reveling in the future that seemed undeniable to him. If he could, he would have laughed but his soul had no room for humor.
Derek Rayne couldn't really believe that he was reduced to knocking on doors in order to search for his lost assistant and friend. For years now his own inheritance coupled with the wealth of the Legacy had provided him with more information then he would have ever thought possible. It would probably shock and disturb most people in the outside world to discover just how quickly the Legacy could learn so many small details of their past, and how money could provide the rest of the answers. In many ways this kind of footwork was outdated, but it was still there as a last resort.
Derek hated to think how quickly they had come to their last resort. How could Alex have vanished so entirely? No one reported anything at all and he knew her better to think she would remain out of contact for this long. Usually it took a great deal of effort just to get her out of the house for a few days of relaxation. Derek fought back the pain even the tiniest memories of her brought to the forefront of his mind. Her missing was enough to deal with, he didn't need to try and figure out the depth of his feelings for her at this moment.
He absently thanked another shop owner that had provided no details about seeing a woman matching Alex's description the day before. He brushed a few stray locks of graying hair off of his forehead and stared out at the busy street. Alex had last been seen by the bookstore clerk nearly thirty-three hours ago yet she had left no trace of ever being here. Nick found her car several blocks away but there was no sign of anything amiss there. She had not even brought her bag from the bookstore back to it, as Tangye assumed she was walking to the travel agent. Derek hated the emptiness that swept over him just thinking that he could be standing on the exact spot that she had inexplicably vanished from.
"No one remembers her." Nick came up beside the precept, sounding and looking defeated. Derek nodded half heartily at his associate but continued to scan the street. "Derek?"
"What?" He bit off the word harshly and saw Nick visibly recoil.
"I know you're worried about the Legacy, but she would never " Nick jumped to the conclusion that seemed most logical when dealing with the Dutchman. Derek couldn't decide if he should be offended by the assumption or disgusted with himself that it did make sense to think something like that about him.
He made sure his tone was gentler when he responded. "It's not that. I don't really care about the Legacy right now, we have to find her." Nick privately smiled to hear his friend utter those words. Perhaps he had finally realized what they all had seen years ago. Important as the Legacy was there had to be something in your life that mattered more, otherwise you had nothing to fight for. Derek wasn't the type of man that could be fueled only by the fire of his anger like Nick. Nick could fight just because it was there to be done, Derek needed something more tangible. For years Nick had seen what that was for Derek even while the man himself denied it.
"Let me see the map." Nick held out his hand for the sheet that Derek held. Derek gave it over to him without even glancing at him. Nick compared the layout to the street in front of them, marking in his head the stores that Alex was known to have gone into and to be on her way to. Finally something clicked.
He turned around and noticed the dark gap in between two of the buildings just three doors down from the bookstore Alex had last been seen in. Without a word to Derek he started to make his way across the street to the spot, not noticing that he was being followed. He stood in the mouth of the alley looking in at the darkness trying to work it all out in his head.
She left the store, was headed this way on her way to the travel agent. Something could have easily drawn her attention to this place, a sound of a scuffle, just a feeling knowing Alex. She would have investigated anything that she felt or heard even though he had told her hundreds of times not to do just that. She was who she was though. Even if there was an outside chance that someone was in danger she would allow herself to become involved, it was her nature. Something he respected and worried about.
"Nick, what is it?" Derek spoke breaking into his formulation of the previous day's events.
"I think this is where it happened. It seems like the only place possible." He pulled a small mag light out of his coat pocket that he always kept handy and turned it on. With the backing of daylight and the additional beam the alley was fairly visible. On either side there was a large metal trash dumpster and several discarded boxes. At the far end a brick wall several stories high that was probably the back of another building. "We go in boss?"
Derek stepped forward as his answer. The dark fought to swallow him but daylight combated it for control. Derek looked the scene over and at first inspection nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Nick followed close behind, his free hand resting on the butt of his gun under his coat. They had no proof that whatever happened to Alex was not completely earthly in nature and he wasn't taking any chances of being the next one missing. "Maybe I was wrong." Nick whispered into the still of the alley.
"I don't think so." Derek answered vaguely, sounding farther away then mere feet.
"Derek we're grasping at straws " Nick began, trying to get the older man to focus.
"Dammit if you aren't willing to do that then leave." Derek spun around, his face full of fury. Nick was shocked by the reaction. He had angered Derek enough in the past but usually his tones got even more level at those times. He was threatening because he didn't ever need to pronounce the threat.
"Hold on Derek, I know you're worried but " Nick started to argue out of habit.
"Don't Nick, don't push me." Derek warned and Nick wondered just what he was being warned off from. What was Derek trying to say? Something in Nick's makeup would not allow him to back down at this point.
"I'm not. I just think that right now we have nothing. No evidence as to where she vanished really, no clue where she went, no idea what happened. I'm not against you Derek but someone has to at least focus." Nick growled back, not willing to yell but his voice held that tone clearly enough.
"What are you saying?" Derek stepped up to him. Nick knew that Derek's frustration had just reached a breaking point and he really shouldn't be pushing him but he couldn't stop himself. Derek wanted to take his feelings out on someone but Nick wasn't going to offer himself up as the sacrifice.
"Take a guess." Derek's eyes bore down on him but he didn't flinch under the harsh stare. He said nothing more and finally just turned away disgusted. "Derek, just think " Nick began again keeping his voice more even so not to push Derek further into his aggravation.
"Nicholas." Derek warned again. Nick froze realizing that was probably the first time Derek had ever called him by his full name since he was a child. It had never been something he went by, in fact other then his parents when they were mad at him, his father's young Dutch friend all those years ago was probably the only person to ever call him Nicholas more then once or twice. Somehow the use of the name told Nick clearly enough that Derek was not going to back down or listen to reason. It was a reminder of authority in it's own way, and it succeeded in some way of making Nick feel like a child getting scolded rather then a twenty-eight year old man.
He turned away shining the flashlight over the dumpsters and finally something caught his eye. He approached the rusted steel box slowly and reached out to touch the four long cuts into it. "Derek?" Derek turned to look at what he was studying and joined him. "So looks like something was here. No city animal could do that." Derek nodded touching the gashes hoping for a vision but receiving nothing. He patted Nick's shoulder. "Just so you know, if you call me Nicholas Patrick I'll shut up for a few hours."
Derek couldn't help but laugh at Nick's levity, his subtle way of making amends. "I'll have to remember that." Derek responded, his voice more natural but still far away as he tried to explain to himself what could have caused the marks and why. And most importantly, what it meant for Alex.
Tangye sat in the control room listening to the background sounds of Kristin working on the translation in the library. She was practicing with her talents as Derek insisted that she had to do more often, so she just amplified what Kristin spoke, delving no deeper then that into the woman's mind. It was clear that Kristin wasn't comfortable with her being in the house in the first place, the last thing she needed to do was antagonize her in any other way. Not that she could figure out what the first mistake had been. Rather then try to work that problem out she set her sights on monitoring all of the incoming reports from hospitals and police stations about any Jane Doe's or more hopefully Alexandra Moreau's.
Kat sat at the next table over working on her homework of her own accord rather then an adult's suggestion. Tangye was impressed by that trait, knowing that she still hadn't mastered it. Even at twenty-four she felt she needed a task master over her shoulder to make sure that she got through her assignments for school. The music that Kat was playing started up again and the girl shot her companion a quick grin. Tangye had spent twenty minutes trying to explain the merits of classic rock to Kat but the girl would have nothing to do with it. They had finally agreed to just trade selections back and forth and Kat was clearly pleased that it was her CD's turn again.
With the new noise Tangye began to focus more on what she had been listening to Kristin say as she struggled out the syllables. Tangye worked out the translation in her head while Kristin was referring to texts from the library. 'Never to be spoken Bring only death '
"Holy " She shot out of her chair, toppling it over and nearly tripping herself up on it as she dashed out of the control room. "Kristin don't. Stop." She yelled as she reached Kristin and clamped her hand down over the blonde's mouth as she was sounding out the last word on the page. She couldn't believe it had taken her that long to realize what she had been listening to, how close it had been.
"What are you doing?" Kristin protested shoving Tangye away from herself.
"Evoke demons much?" Tangye shot back her own question as Kristin rose out of her chair trying to seem threatening in the face of what she thought was an attack.
"What does that mean?" Kristin retorted, not allowing herself to be distracted from her annoyance at the newcomer. She had been so close to finishing the last page Professor Winterburn had translated, the one most likely to hold the answers they needed. Then Tangye had forced her to stop when she had been so nearly done with her work.
"That's what you were doing." Tangye answered slamming the book shut when she noticed the way that Kristin was still eyeing it. "Feel a compulsion to finish it?" Tangye asked suspiciously.
"What?" Kristin asked yet again but then her dark eyes grew wide as she realized that was exactly how she felt. She needed to finish, needed to hear all the words said out loud. "Oh my God." She gasped.
"Not quite, least I hope not." She shoved the book away from herself not wanting Kristin to have it accessible in case the urge was harder to fight then she thought. It clattered over the edge of the table and onto the floor unceremoniously.
"Did I almost?" Kristin struggled with the knowledge of what she had been so close to doing.
"Send up the bat signal for a demon? Yep." Tangye sunk wearily into a chair rubbing her hair out of her face where a nervous sweat had sprung up. "One more word and you probably would have joined my Professor." She shuddered thinking of the crime scene Derek had vaguely told her about. Only something straight from hell could ever commit those atrocities.
"How did you know?" She asked suddenly realizing that Tangye had been a room away.
"I heard you." She answered quickly. "When the music started you were drowned out and I started to think about what I was hearing." She didn't elaborate that she had been listening in with her mind more then ears, Kristin had enough of a scare she didn't want to make it worse. She'd apologize for that action later if Derek felt it necessary. "It must make you read it somehow. There's even a warning at the beginning not to but you did and evidently so did Professor Winterburn."
"So now we know what killed him." Kristin returned to her seat, letting some of the tension leave her body yet the dread hung on to her well.
"Just missing the how to stop it part." She bit down on her lip hating to think that the answer was probably in the book and that it also held such a threat. She just assume they leave it alone and not take risks with reading any more of it. She let out a heavy sigh letting her eyes wander over to the spot where the book had fallen from the table. She let her head finally fall against her palm, rubbing at her eyes.
"Tangye?" Kristin spoke hesitantly after several moments.
"Yeah?" She looked up from the shield her hand provided with another sigh to Kristin, expecting to be questioned more about how she knew what Kristin was reading but instead seeing only relief on her face.
"Thank you." Kristin said more sincerely then she had managed to utter anything else to Tangye since meeting her, there wasn't even a hint of the casual sarcasm to her voice.
"No problem. First use I ever had for that language, now I'm really glad I learned it." Tangye answered her trying to keep the tone light.
"Me too." Kristin agreed with a grin. "I'm lucky you did."
"You're not alone there. I doubt the demon would have left me alone just because I didn't call him up." She pushed up on the arms of the chair and got back to her feet, she wanted to check on Kat just to be certain that Kristin hadn't gotten far enough with the ritual to bring the evil in, not trusting her sense to tell her everything. She walked over to the hologram and gave one glance back over her shoulder. "See, I'm not totally useless." She stepped into the next room and Kristin found herself in complete agreement with that statement. She was still hesitant but was beginning to see where the conviction all the others held had sprouted from. Tangye had rare confidence and instincts, not to mention her talents. For the first time Kristin let herself be impressed that Tangye had not backed down even in the face of Kristin's obvious disdain for her. She wasn't giving in that easily and that deserved a little respect.
Barry Alger woke just as evening was creeping upon the outside world. He had managed to get his refugee to sleep a little after eleven in the morning and collapsed shortly after her. He couldn't accept any of the words that had come pouring out of the mysterious woman's mouth in a jumbled tale, it was all no more then fantasy. Still the horrible images that she described had planted seeds in his head and crept from there into his dreams, leaving him feeling only more exhausted.
He found his guest sitting at the small glass topped table in his dinette with a delicious looking meal before her. She heard him shuffling about and turned a bright smile on him, seeming infinitely more relaxed then she had the last time he saw her. "I made a plate for you too."
He looked at the plate on the counter that she indicated, loaded down with a thick steak that she had clearly not shared in, potatoes, green beans, bread and some sort of casserole. His stomach made itself known at that point and he scooped the plate up joining her at the table. "I had all of this here?" He asked surprised to even picture these ingredients living just under his nose.
"No but the store down the street did." She answered lightly with a small laugh.
"Right, they tend to keep this stuff around." He responded back. He looked up at her from his food once again taken back by her beauty, but also glad to see that some of the distress that had been in her eyes just hours ago had dissipated. "Are you feeling better?" He asked carefully not wanting to ruin her obvious progress to regaining control of her life.
"Much. It's like I lost the weight of the world and I'm finally free." She said more seriously.
"Glad to hear it." He said as he began to dig into his food.
"Thank you so much Barry, for everything that you did." She sincerely stated, lying her hand over his on the table. Everything did seem so much clearer to her when she woke up, more black and white whereas before everything had seemed to be entrenched in gray areas. But Barry's explanations had made sense, there was no way that what she was seeing was true. Ghosts and demons were made only in man's mind, not real forces with real power. The faces of the people she saw still nagged at her but he was probably right they must have been the ones to give her the horrible dreams. She hadn't yet decided if they too were in danger but was not prepared to get involved again even if they were. She refused to go back to that life, the one that seemed to be shadowed by nightmares somehow. She felt a new freedom without the knowledge she once had and she wanted to hold on to that.
"You were a beautiful woman in distress, that's not the easiest thing to turn away." He answered the seriousness in her tone lightly. "You do believe what I told you?"
"Completely. I just don't know how I believed all those other things. Demons, vampires, psychics, telepaths, ghosts, it's pure science fiction." She said with another nervous laugh.
"Maybe that's your calling, you could write all those stories you told me and make yourself a fortune." He suggested teasing her. She seemed much more secure today, not quite so fragile. "People love fantasy and conspiracies."
"Very funny. I just assume all that nonsense die with you." She missed the visible shiver that her words sent through him. Why did he have the sudden feeling that death often went with this attractive woman? Not that she was a threat but that it lingered around her? 'Calm down. You let yourself get caught up in it, that's all.' He berated himself not believing how easily he got swept into her stories. There was no way that death followed a woman like this, it would have no interest in her. She didn't even believe her own fairy tales anymore, why did he find it harder to dismiss them himself? "I bought the paper." She indicated the object lying on the table beside him.
He reached out, old habit making him pull the sports section out first. The rest of the world could wait until he knew how the Mets had done the night before the New York boy in him admitted. "Just like a man." Alex joked as she pulled out the local section. She sat back in her chair feeling a relaxation slip over her that felt entirely foreign. Was the woman she had been before yesterday completely outside normal day to day activities? What had happened in her life that she so willingly let average life slip away? Whatever it had been the Alex that she was replacing went through she knew she was not prepared to get involved all over again. If she was being given a second chance for things she didn't have then she was going to take it. The ghosts would have to learn to stay dead.
She opened the paper and looked over the page quickly, her resolve slipping away as her hands began to shake. The paper slid out of her numb fingers to the floor and she stared at it with wide horrified eyes. Barry looked up at her hearing the low strangled sounds she was making that sounded like they were trapped in her throat. Her dark eyes were wide and seemed suddenly on the verge of a new set of tears. He looked at the piece of paper that she was staring at. Only moments ago she had seemed fine and with one glance at the paper that had fallen from her grasp. "Alex, what is it?" She shook her head mutely, unable to explain the problem. He grabbed the offending newspaper and scanned the page to see what would have upset her so easily and justified her reaction.
The stories looked common enough. Some local politicians doing campaign work, the murder of the university professor was covered for the second day, there was to be some rally in the city over the weekend, a new opening at a museum. Nothing certainly warranted her distress. "Alex, what is it?" He pushed for an answer. She grabbed the paper out of his hands, clearly annoyed that he didn't see what had her so upset, that he couldn't recognize the threat. She slammed the paper on the table roughly enough that his cup of coffee spilt over. Her finger was pressed hard against a picture at the bottom of the page. "That's Dr. Rayne, what about him?"
"He's the one." She stammered out and then crossed over to the couch, feeling as though she couldn't be so close to the picture of him. She remembered the name Barry mentioned from the emergency card in her wallet and it filled her with dread. She knew the face from her visions, he had been the one she loved more then any of the others. Her friend and mentor, someone she wanted to be much more then that. Seeing his picture she was also certain that he was the one in charge, responsible for her fantasy world that she had been trapped in. He was the one who robbed her of so much.
"The one what? Alex, Dr. Rayne is a respected man, he does a lot of good for the community." Barry attempted to explain but Alex clearly wasn't listening.
"He's a liar. He's the one that did this to me." She yelled, frustrated that he didn't trust her instincts suddenly. Why did he believe all the other things that she had told him, the conspiracy, the manipulation, but he wasn't willing to accept this? The moment she saw his face in print she was certain it was the same man that had been haunting her mind. "He put this in my head, all of them." She added realizing he was not alone in his efforts to destroy her mind.
"Them? The Luna Foundation?" Barry asked perplexed by her allegations. He had only been in San Francisco two years but he had only heard good things about the organization with offices across the world. She nodded her head furiously as the tears began to make tracks down her gentle face. "Alex the Luna Foundation is a " He began, trying to explain to her again.
"Don't defend them. You don't know. They're to blame." She yelled back, cutting his words short. He couldn't refuse her in this state and went to the couch wrapping his arms around her thin shoulders. She leaned into his chest trying to get control of herself with few results that he could perceive. He couldn't believe how distraught she clearly was after merely seeing a picture and his mind began to fear what they might have done to her that she couldn't yet speak of.
"Don't worry. I'm not letting anyone else hurt you, never." He whispered the words hoping that she believed him but not sure if his could really carry through. From what he knew about the Luna Foundation it was powerful and had a fortune backing it. They had resources he couldn't imagine. It would only be a matter of time before they found their missing subject and what could he hope to do to defend her against such a group? He tried to fight off the negative thoughts but was having little success in the effort. He wanted to protect her but if he could succeed was a very different matter.