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Hide and Seek by TalgoM
Her laugh drifted out of the treetop, full of the glee only children ever know. The day was cool and there was a light breeze slowly stirring into a harsher wind coming off of the bay. She forced herself to stifle the giggles that were issuing from her as she saw a form approaching from the direction of the large castle they had come to for a picnic. She looked down at the doll clutched tightly against her chest and whispered into its plastic ear. "Mommy will never find me here. Look at silly mommy." The young girl adjusted the doll in her arms so that she could see the woman looking for them. "I'm going to win because I'm the best hider ever. Daddy said so. Mommy will never find me here."
She pointed to the woman in her early thirties wandering the yard calling out to her daughter. "Erin come out, come out wherever you are." This was no longer a game to the mother. She silently cursed her husband for ever teaching their six-year-old daughter to play hide and seek. This was far from the first time her child had gone missing, but normally it was in their house across the bay. Today was different; they had come to Angel Island on the invitation from one of her husband's friends to have a picnic with his family. She wasn't even fond of the ex-military associate of her husband and now with her daughter missing the day had progressed from awkward to agonizing.
She fought to keep her eyes from wandering over to the steep drop off at the ocean line. "Erin Danielle, Mommy is done playing, it's time to come out now. This isn't funny darling; you have your mommy scared. You win baby, just come out. It's time to go home." She called over the intensifying wind hoping to get through to her child.
"I told you we'd win Angie." Her small face beamed with pride at the toy she held. She watched her mother move off in her search and decided to surprise her back at their picnic blanket rather then ever let her know of the wonderful hiding place she had found in the tree. "Isn't this fun? And it's so pretty here, I hope we can come back and play some more."
"Peter I can't find her anywhere. Why do you let her do this?" The woman ran up to her husband where he was talking to his friend. The man was leaning over his infant son adjusting his small jumpsuit. Peter stood up and tried to get her to calm down by gathering her into his arms.
"I didn't let her do anything honey. You know how Erin gets, this is hide and seek heaven." Peter comforted her lightly, shooting his friend a quick glance hoping for support.
"Don't worry Georgia, we'll find her. There are cameras all over the island for security. I'll run in and check them as soon as Christine gets back. She loves to leave me with the little mongrel right when he needs changing. I think she has a sixth sense for it." The child reached up and yanked at his father's hair. "Not now, I don't want to play." Robert knocked the small hand away.
"Great, that makes me feel so much better." She snapped, finally giving in to her building annoyance. She just couldn't take him anymore, his casual air about her missing child, his unnecessary roughness with his own small child. How did Christine put up with it? He had been behaving as if he was actually angry that the seven-month-old child had needed to be changed.
"George, there's no reason to yell at Robert, he's just trying to help." Peter kept his voice gentle though his seriousness was clear.
"Then why doesn't he? I'll watch the baby." Georgia stepped up and scooped the small boy off the blanket, drawing him tightly to her chest though it was truly her own child she hoped to have there. Robert shrugged and sauntered off at what Georgia considered an aggravating slow pace. "Poor little boy." She whispered as she stroked the silken hair off the tiny brow.
"What's that mean?" Peter turned to his wife surprised.
"I'm not stupid Peter, don't tell me you are. Would you ever consider being that rough with Erin?" Peter turned away from the accusation in his wife's eyes. He had known Robert for years; he was a dedicated man driven by his convictions. He had seen the signs his wife alluded to but didn't want to believe in what they might mean. He didn't want to think Robert Boyle could ever hurt an innocent.
"No, but Bob and I are very different." He justified lamely.
"Let me guess at the next line... 'And Nicholas is a boy.' That's garbage. He's a baby, he can't even walk yet." She put down the boy whose small face watched them seriously and full of concern. Even at his tender age Nicholas knew that the tones he was hearing from the big people were bad, they scared him and his hazel eyes began to fill with tears.
"I'm not saying it's right, but we don't even really know anything, you're just jumping to conclusions. You're worried about Erin, that's upsetting you." Peter again tried to reason with his wife but it was clearly doing no good.
"Damn right it is." Her voice was threatening as she stepped up to him. He knew his wife well enough to see that she was looking for a fight to get into with him. She had a habit of doing that whenever Erin was in any type of danger, whether it was an illness or something more troubling. It gave Georgia something to control when situations slipped out of her grasp. He refused to allow her to bait him, they would gain nothing in an argument and it certainly wouldn't make Erin appear. Instead he calmed all of his features and decided to use what he had at his disposal to keep his wife quiet. He looked down at Nicholas and saw the tears making tracks down his face.
"George, you're upsetting Nicholas." Peter pointed to the child who was crying silently on the picnic blanket as though he knew it better not to draw attention to himself. Peter knew that would calm her down, just seeing the tears rolling out of those large eyes. She sighed wearily just looking at the baby and tried to shake off some of her irritation. Still she couldn't forget that they didn't know where her child was or the fact that they were on an island overlooking the San Francisco Bay.
"Dammit, where is she?" Georgia turned away pushing her hair out of her face staring off into the distance as the sun began its decline over the horizon.
The wind had grown stronger and louder as the six-year-old form moved down the tree. She wouldn't have heard it, wouldn't have known what it meant if she did. The limb slowly cracked under her small feet but more important to her was the fact she lost her grip on her favorite doll and companion. She watched as the doll fell from her hands, she tried to reach for her but the limb finally completed its slow process of breaking.
"Angie." The parents heard the scream in the distance and knew the voice crying out. The sound of the small light voice tore through them both in its desperation.
"Erin." Her mother's cry was from the depths of her soul as both she and her husband began running in the direction of their little girl's voice. They never saw what happened but as soon as they arrived on the scene they figured it out. The limb hung limply barely attached to the tree anymore. Georgia wanted to scream but her voice was caught in her throat, instead she managed a strangled moan as she buried her face into her husbands shirt, not wanting to face what they knew had become of their child. Peter just stared at the spot, knowing he would never forget the scene, hoping he could move past it.
Abandoned back on the picnic blanket Nicholas Boyle cried due to the fact he was alone, and because a sadly early developed instinct in him told him something very bad had happened. Something he would not remember in years to come, but the infant would have plenty of bad memories to overshadow this one in the future.
Nick Boyle sat up in bed gasping to force air into his lungs. He clinched his jaw and fists trying to regain some control over his emotions. He cursed his father once again for being the cause of so many nightmares, adding just another to a long line of curses he had delivered to the man. There had been some headway made between them when Nick had helped his father's spirit eleven years after his death but that slight reconciliation did not erase the years of fear and pain he had lived with under his father's rule.
He turned his hazel eyes to look at the young woman sleeping beside him; somehow just seeing her lying there made him feel more relaxed. They had fallen asleep in her room talking once again, an act that was quickly becoming habit. The physical relationship was still being taken slowly, but emotionally Nick knew he was in love with Tangye Gaarlihn and there would be no going back. He studied her childlike features that were halfway hidden by the way she had her face buried against her arm. He reached out and gently brushed her brown hair away from her face causing her to stir in her slumber. Her light eyes came open slowly and a smile formed on her lips.
"Hey there, you okay?" She mumbled, using her forearm to wipe the sleep out of her eyes.
"I'm fine." He looked away from her; afraid she might see something in his face that could betray the truth. He had yet to learn that she didn't need to see things to know them. She liked having Nick close at night, his form enforcing a strength in her she wasn't sure really existed anymore. Still she had become accustomed to his nightmares. Sleeping so close at night there was no escaping the intense images that bombarded him in his rest, or as close as he got to rest. She hated to tell him that his secrets had been revealed so she remained silent and did what she could to ease his dreams.
"So you wake me up in the middle of the night to lie to me? That's so sweet." She sat up in bed, reaching out to touch his arm softly.
"Why do you say that?" Nick asked more defensively then intended.
"Because you're sweating bullets and it's not really warm in here." Nick turned away again only to have her reach out and cup his chin in her hand, forcing him to look at her. "Talk to me Boyle. I want to help you for once."
"What do you mean 'for once,' Tan?" Nick allowed her comment to overshadow the real discussion she was trying to have.
"I mean, you've done a lot for me, I'd like to repay the favor." Without thinking Nick leaned in and kissed her. The kisses between them were still rare and tentative but in many ways that made them mean much more. Her heart still jumped into her throat when he touched her, but whenever their lips met she was sure it stopped completely. He traced the backs of his hands down her cheeks and slowly pulled away, placing a few more kisses on her lips.
"Consider it done." His voice was husky when he spoke, staring intently into her eyes. Their blue gold was clear even in the predominantly dark room and he took comfort in the color of the eyes that had come to mean so much to him so quickly.
"Go distraction man." She teased. "But I'm not that easy. Hate to break it to you but I still recall what we were talking about. You." Her eyes could be so intense at times, they bore into a person and made it clear she was capable of seeing more then what was on the surface. Nick admitted to himself that it was somewhat disconcerting, he hated to think what she might be able to learn. What she might have to experience second hand through him when her own first hand experiences had been so harsh. Still pushing her away was not an option that he was willing to consider.
"Tan, I'd really rather not " He began, keeping his voice low and sincere. He had to admit both that he wanted to hide from her and that he wanted to run to her offered open arms. He just couldn't decide which impulse was right.
"Listen to me, we've hit a standstill and that's the last thing I want to do with you. You feel like you have to hide from me the things that have happened to you, and I feel I gotta do the same with you. Nick we can't exist without our pasts even if they were crappy. But I'm pretty sure you have some good memories in there. I'd like to know about those, but I want the bad ones too." Her voice was so gentle, almost unsure if she should even be asking. She bit down on her bottom lip wondering if he would respond or if she should retreat now.
Nick gave her a quick half grin to help put her at ease and pulled her to his chest. "I want to tell you, someday." He added the last word hoping it would put an end to the questions for the time. "For now let's focus on the good times, we'll get around to the rest eventually, deal?"
"I have the feeling that's the best I'm gonna get." She reached down and took his hand in her own, studying its form. "What if I just start telling you about my baggage?"
"I'll do what I can to comfort you." She nodded knowing he wasn't ready to open up. He shifted his position and lay back down on the bed, pulling her with him. She rested her head against his chest, keeping his hand tightly gripped within her own. She waited out the next half-hour in silence until his breathing grew slower and more regular, letting her know that he was once again asleep. She knew the comfort of slumber would last too short a time though, nightmares were always waiting to wake him once again or at least distress him.
She focused her mind as Derek had been teaching her to do, reaching out to someone. It was easy with Nick because of the draw she felt to him on every level. She focused her thoughts on a recent memory of one of their days in the city. He had dropped her off at class and gone to run errands and buy parts for the Mustang. When she had arrived at their meeting place he was leaning against the car in a dark brown suit waiting for her. He explained that he had called Derek and he gave him the night off because luckily things were slow in the Legacy and with the Luna Foundation. So he had made reservations at a small Italian restaurant and even swung by the Island to pick up a dress from Alex who met him on the docks to make sure he wouldn't get stuck working. It had been a wonderful evening, after a delicious dinner they had taken a long walk along the beach. In his suit he had looked particularly handsome and he had made sure to shower her with compliments about her own appearance. Somehow that evening had quickly become one of her fondest memories of late; everything had been perfect in her opinion, particularly the company.
Now in the quiet night she carefully sent those memories out to him, letting him dream about that rather then the nightmares that normally tormented him. She looked up at his face showered in moonlight and saw the smile form on his lips. She lay her head back down against his chest relieved that she could be some small help to him even though she knew what she was doing was an intrusion. Still in this case the bad about the act was overshadowed by the good it was doing. Slowly she let herself drift off to sleep also focusing on the same comforting images.
Dominick finished his pre-breakfast activities carrying the last tray of food into the dining room and placing it on the buffet table. Cook had insisted on making breakfast once a week at least, opting to clean up her own messes rather then those Nick left behind when he attacked the kitchen all the other days of the week. Dominick knew Master Nick did his best to straighten up but it just didn't measure up to Cook's standards of neatness. He smiled to think of the residents of the house he felt so responsible for. He knew the secrets of the Legacy and the danger they all faced so willingly for the greater good. He was glad he was able to do his own part in that, even if his duties were to simply keep the house in order.
He heard the sound of someone dropping off the last few steps in the main hall and grinned knowing exactly who it was in the house that had that sort of energy in the early morning. Tangye came bounding into the dining room with Nick trailing behind her both already changed from their morning run. He couldn't help but smile over the attachment he had watched form between them. It had been a long time since he had seen such life in Nick's eyes; in fact he wasn't quite sure he had seen it before.
"Good morning Master Nick, Miss Tangye." Dominick nodded as he put down the last of the food. Tangye quickly swept down on the coffee and grabbed a blueberry muffin.
"Mornin' Dominick. Food, good." She said with a slight giggle. Nick shook his head at her infantile statement and followed her to the buffet just as Kristin joined them in the room. Tangye turned hearing her enter and that bit of nervousness returned to her eyes that was always there when she was with Kristin. The two just weren't able to find a common ground on which to deal with each other so for the most part they were content to avoid one another.
"Hello Nick, Tangye. Any exciting plans today?" Tangye fought not to roll her eyes at the mocking tone thick in Kristin's voice. Rather then let another little verbal bought start up between them Nick threw himself in the middle, cutting Tangye off before she had a chance to send a barb of her own.
"She's got class. Derek wants me to pick some package up at the airport." Nick answered with a shrug.
"Not just some package Nick. This is an artifact from Greece that was just uncovered. A box of some sort that is completely intact which is odd in itself." Derek said entering the room and quickly making his way to the coffeepot on the table.
"Which means there's something more odd about it, what is it?" Tangye asked pulling a chair out at the table and climbing into it, sitting on her feet despite the sideways glance it evoked from Derek. He knew that she had it in her to sit properly but she was totally disinterested in doing so.
"I'm not sure exactly. Thomas said that when the box was found no one on the team was able to get it open. They aren't sure that there is anything in it of interest but there was no lock or device that should prevent it from opening. They are hoping we'll be able to puzzle it out." Derek didn't miss the way Tangye averted her eyes at the mention of 'we,' sure she wasn't considered a member of the group. Derek again found himself wondering what he was holding out for. Clearly the young woman wasn't going anywhere, and none of them really wanted her to. Except Kristin, he reminded himself, which was a problem he would have to deal with soon enough. Yet he was still holding out on initiating her into the Legacy and as of late had been keeping her out any cases. He had to ask himself why, what was he waiting on? She had already proven herself both as a part of the house and a valuable asset to the Legacy.
"Why do we get the honor?" Kristin asked as she finished piling eggs on her plate.
"Track record, and for now Philip's here. His skill at translation is well known." Derek answered solemnly knowing the priest wasn't long to stay. Every day he was still there Derek considered a blessing.
"So there's translation to be done?" Nick asked.
"Engravings on the box. When do you think you can be back?" Derek looked over at Nick as he sat down at the head of the table with his coffee.
"'Round one-ish." Nick shrugged.
"That will have to do." Derek looked up as Dominick stepped back in the room, interrupting with a small cough. "Is everything alright?"
"Dr. Rayne, I think there's something you should see." Everyone turned to stare at the major domo due to the slightly nervous tone in his voice.
"Of course." Derek stood back up and left the room not surprised to hear everyone following after him. Dominick lead them back to the kitchen where Melissa was standing in the doorway staring into the room wide eyed.
"Dr. Rayne, I don't know what happened. I left to put the trash out back and If I didn't know better I would think Miss Katherine or Nick had been in there." She stepped out of the way for Derek to pass into the kitchen.
"Thanks, Melissa." Nick said with a slight laugh as he too passed her. It wasn't hard to guess what had her concerned once he saw the room. The entire counter was covered in flour and sugar, along with what looked to be several bags of chocolate chips poured out. Nothing looked damaged; in fact it looked like nothing more then an infantile attempt at cooking had taken place, lacking a bowl.
"How long were you gone?" Derek asked reaching out and taking a handful of the powder and chocolate but receiving no image from the mess.
"Two, three minutes at most." She answered shaking her head.
"Either we need to explain the bowl concept to you in some detail Melissa or we had a visitor." Tangye said popping a chocolate piece into her mouth.
"I think we all guessed that." Kristin said smugly throwing Tangye a disgusted look. Tangye sighed and rolled her eyes in the general direction of the older woman. "The real question is what."
"Someone playing a hoax?" Nick asked also scooping up a few of the chips to eat.
"No one else is here." Tangye stated, her voice sounding far away as she concentrated. Derek couldn't help but smile at how easily she was able to execute the psychic search of the house. She looked at him waiting for a response, an order on what they should do next. He sighed not sure what the answer was, this didn't indicate anything dangerous but still he couldn't discount the incident.
"I'll get Alex to check the security monitors, see what they picked up." Derek said thinking it was the best solution for now.
"Shouldn't we look around, see what we can find?" Tangye suggested her voice modest enough that the idea didn't seem out of line.
"Don't you have class?" Kristin asked, her tone showing her pleasure over having a way to get rid of the younger woman. She wanted to handle things here, prove that they had no need to keep Tangye around.
"Thank you for dismissing me. I was desperate for your approval." Tangye responded back quickly not able to hide the fact that she was tired of Kristin's constant attitude. The blonde had made no effort to hide her dislike of Tangye, even if she had never justified the reason for it. Tangye was sure that she felt threatened but what she had ever done to evoke that she couldn't decide. In the end she decided that the reason was just that she was here. Kristin felt her place was tentative as the newest and didn't want anyone else coming along that might make it more so. Even if Tangye had no plans of taking her place, she merely hoped to coexist with the researcher, Kristin was content to refuse to believe that. Still there were times when Tangye's temper and annoyance at the constant little jabs got the best of her and she snapped back, which merely infuriated Kristin more.
"We can handle this, you need to finish school." Kristin said with noticeable superiority, making Tangye feel as though she were just a child.
Tangye squared off her shoulders ready for the fight yet her voice was calm when she came back with her response, refusing to give in to the taunts by yelling. Still a little sarcasm wouldn't hurt to remind Kristin of Tangye's ability to go down fighting. "I just figured you'd want the artifact, but if a little cookie making has you all excited I revoke my offer."
"Enough, the both of you. Kristin, I need to talk to you in my office. Tangye, go to class." Derek ordered, finally exhausted of this on going fight between the two women.
"See, that's a dismissal I take seriously." Tangye said lightly scooping up a few chocolate chips as she left the room with Nick.
"Melissa, do you mind?" Derek gestured at the mess.
"It's what you pay me for Dr. Rayne." The elderly woman smiled, though the confusion over the oddities was apparent in her eyes. She knew what went on in the Legacy house but it was not something she had ever really been able to get used to. Derek stood at the doorway waiting for Kristin to exit the room so he could talk to her in his office. He didn't miss the disgruntled sigh she issued before she gave in to him and left the kitchen, walking up the stairs to his office.
"Kristin, let me make one thing clear to you. This is my house. I choose who stays or goes. I invited you to stay here a year ago, and I invited Tangye to stay here. I don't expect everyone will get along immediately, if ever, but you don't make anyone feel uncomfortable in my house. Tangye is not here to replace you, I think once you understand that you'll see why we all have grown to like her so much. But if this petty in fighting continues " He let the threat hang there. Kristin tried to force her face not to betray the dread at the thought he was alluding to. Tangye was a guest to the house with nowhere else to go. Kristin was the instigator of most of the problems and was a Legacy member who could be transferred to another house even if Derek didn't want to do that.
"Derek I just don't understand why she is here." Kristin showed a rare humility with her voice.
"Because I offered, that's all you need to understand. But... if you mean due to the fact she's not a Legacy member I remind you this is my home. The Rayne family home used as a Legacy headquarters not the other way around." Derek sat down and flipped open the file on his desk. His attitude was displaying a surprising annoyance for normally such a calm man. That alone let Kristin know she had pushed far too hard to get this type of aggravation to surface in Derek Rayne. Yet she thought it odd that Derek tolerated the constant arguments between Nick and Philip, even Nick and himself, but when she overstepped her bounds with Tangye he reacted harshly. What had the girl done? What did she mean to him? "I don't want to have this discussion again. Look into the disturbance in the kitchen with Alex, when Nick gets back with the artifact we'll have a meeting in the library." He directed his eyes down to his papers, allowing Kristin the chance to step out of the room humbly.
As soon as she was gone Derek sat back in his chair with a heavy sigh. He pushed the three-year-old report away that he had been looking at only to make a point; the only reason it was out was to be filed in the database not for study. He thought about his handling of the situation and though he hated to threaten Kristin he didn't see what choice he had. He had tried to reason with her to no avail, nothing worked but this. He remembered the moments he had first been getting to know Tangye, how relaxed she made him feel even despite the stress she was under from trying to readjust to her life. The warmth even her forced smiles were able to carry. He knew there were levels to the young woman that they had yet to discover, her argumentative side was just starting to surface now that she felt more certain she wouldn't be thrown out.
'She's yours now, enjoy her.' The words came back to him. The message that Charles Gaarlihn had communicated through Derek's dream the night before her release. He vividly recalled the sound of sadness in the spirits voice when he turned his great-grandchild over to someone else. The more time Derek had to think about the statement the more he wondered exactly what Charles was attempting to say. Who was he giving her to? Derek assumed that he had meant the Legacy, had been certain at first. As the weeks passed and he grew to know the young woman he began to see a different truth to the words.
'You would have made a good dad.' She turned to look at him as they walked into the Winston Rayne Hall of Antiquities at the museum a few days before. She nodded her head in agreement with her own statement which had taken him entirely off guard.
'Sometimes I doubt that.' He responded sounding disappointed, unsure if it was because he never had the chance to find out or because he truly didn't believe he would make a good parent.
'Why? Because you might be like your father? Nick told me that he was less then attentive at times. But if I remember correctly Dr. Rayne, it was you who reminded me not always like father like son. You would have done fine.' She said stepping away from him to study the suit of armor in the center of the room. Derek followed her curious to find out what had brought forth that sudden proclamation.
'Why do you think so?'
'Because you understand.' She answered with a shrug. 'You know people grow up, they have their own minds and paths to follow. You understand that eventually there comes a time when the best thing you can do is let them go. That's pretty much my criteria now.' He saw the far away look enter into her light eyes and knew exactly what she was thinking about. Hating that they could hurt her with a passing thought. 'Anyway, you aren't dead yet, get on the ball Derek.' She patted his back and left him standing there bewildered by her once again.
Derek smiled to remember the way she fought back her own demons by teasing him. "Who did you give her to Charles?" Derek asked the empty room. He shook his head to fight off the rambling thoughts that he knew he wouldn't receive an answer to. But a part of him already had the answer.
"I didn't think you were up yet." Kristin stepped up to Alex at her computer terminal in the control room. The Cajun woman turned with a smile to her friend in greeting. "Already hard at work I see. What are you working on?" Kristin picked up one of the files on the stack to peruse.
"Getting the database up to date. I got a call yesterday from London wondering why we hadn't worked on anything in over a month." Alex rubbed at her eyes sitting back. She knew that the Ruling house needed to be kept informed of their activities she just wished that it didn't always have to be so immediate. It had only been a two weeks since her experience with the demon and she was just barely recovered from the attack. Her memory was back in full, even if she regretted that she had to recall some of the things the creature hunting her had done. She had tried to go see Barry in the hospital but as politely as he could he had asked her to leave, not able to face the woman that brought such pain into his life. She understood his feelings but hoped that someday he would give her the opportunity to apologize all the same.
"Are you sure you're up to it. I thought Rachel told you to rest." Kristin handed her back the file and crossed to the security monitors.
"She did but this helps to make me feel better." Alex picked up the next folder on the stack, grinning to see the case it was in reference to.
"I know that look." Alex looked away shyly. "Don't suppose you got a picture of the man? So I too can ogle over him?"
"Actually." Alex slid her chair across the room and handed the candid shot she had made sure to take of Gilby Mayhew before leaving the camp. She had told him it was for the databases, which was only partially true. She had to admit that she also just enjoyed looking at that calm handsome face with shaggy blonde hair hanging down into deep blue eyes.
"Oh my goodness. Tell me he's really self centered, he knows just how good he looks?" Kristin smiled at the image that had captivated Alex. There was something very inviting about the young man's face, she could easily see why Alex would be attracted to him.
"Not that I could tell." Alex shook her head taking the photo back and returning to her computer. "Just one of those genuinely nice disgustingly good looking guys." Alex continued with her typing.
"Have you spoken to him?" Kristin asked curious.
"He called. We talked. He's coming in the city next week." Alex couldn't help but smile over the memory of the conversation. The way he had refused to bring up the closing and sale of the camp because he found the topic depressing and didn't want to be brought down when talking to her.
"Any pick him up at the airport duties?" Kristin asked teasingly.
"He's driving in. We're going to have dinner." Kristin nodded, pleased to see her friend interested in someone. She had seen the way Alex's eyes often lingered on Derek, but also felt that a relationship between them was fairly hopeless. She thought that perhaps Gilby would provide a bit more opportunity for Alex since from the descriptions she'd heard he was much more interested in a personal life then the precept had ever appeared to be.
They let silence fall between them for several minutes as they continued their work; Alex moving on to the next file before Kristin called her over to the security terminal. "Look at this." Alex joined her and stared at the screen as it played back the roll of film. It showed the kitchen just as Melissa left with a bag of trash and only seconds later some of the pantries began to open of their own volition. They watched as the flour and sugar bags were torn open and spilled out over the counter and onto the floor. A few more moments passed and a bag of chocolate chips floated over to the counter and was also torn open. Finally the small refrigerator door opened but just as it did so Melissa reentered the room and the door was quickly closed.
"What the hell was that?" Alex asked amazed by the sight.
"A hungry ghost with a sweet tooth?" Kristin answered lightly.
"Something's in the house?" Alex was surprised to learn such a thing since she had felt nothing at all that would indicate they had an intruding spirit.
"Obviously. Derek wants us to figure out what." Kristin sat back.
"Run it through the normal checks, see if you can get a heat register off the thing." Kristin nodded her approval at the plan. Alex started to return to her work knowing the tapes were a one person job and it was only wise to irritate the Ruling house for so long. Still her brow was furrowed with concern over what she had seen. Granted the spirit or whatever seemed harmless from its activities but Alex was not willing to write anything off as harmless when it had to do with the spirit world. She slowly reopened her file to continue her work though she was now distracted wanting to watch and see what Kristin was able to reveal from the tape. After a few minutes she finally forced her mind to focus on the task at hand and began typing. She read over the file she was working from absently, at first missing the important detail within it but as she reviewed her work the knowledge hit her.
"I need to go talk to Derek. Let me know if you find anything." She jumped up tucking the file under her arm and exited quickly to Derek's office. She knocked once lightly on the door and then let it slide open. Derek was sitting at his desk reading over the financial reports that Nick had helped her prepare the day before. "Derek can I talk to you for a moment?"
"Of course." He responded without looking up. Alex stood at the doorway, he nodded her in then went back to the paperwork spread out in front of him. She looked over her shoulder, an air of conspiracy in the glance she sent down both ends of the hall. She allowed the door to shut and entered the room sure they wouldn't be overheard. "Derek, I was " Alex took a seat and waited for him to turn his attention on her but he kept filling in paperwork. "Derek, it will only take a minute." She prodded.
"All right, I'm sorry, go ahead Alex." He put down his pen as a gesture to prove he was in fact paying attention to her. She shook her head slightly at him, usually you couldn't get him to do the paperwork he found so mundane and the one time she actually wanted to distract him he decided to make the task difficult.
"Okay, I was just updating the old files, finishing up reports and I came across Tangye's." She could see the concern on his face immediately; he had grown attached to the young woman so quickly it sometimes still surprised her, not that she could blame him. There was something about her that evoked a special feeling in them all, and Derek had started treating her like one of his "children" almost instantly after her arrival in the house.
"What is it, something we overlooked?" His smooth voice nearly cracked.
"No, nothing like that." She consoled with a small laugh due to his worry. "I just happened to notice that in three days, little Miss Tangye will turn twenty-five." Alex handed him the file with the personal information about her on top. He looked down to the spot where her birth date would appear and saw that Alex was right. She had made no indication that the day was coming up and would have probably allowed it to pass unnoticed even if that would upset all the other members of the house. "I didn't want that to be overlooked, I didn't think you would either." Alex smiled, seeing clearly enough that Derek wouldn't. The idea of a birthday, a happy day, excited Alex a great deal. The house needed a little party to brighten its spirits since tragedy was so much a part of their lives.
"No of course not. Does Nick know?" Derek asked, his mind already working to formulate plans.
"I would assume." Alex answered with a shrug.
"Make sure. I'm sure she doesn't want anything much but a nice dinner, a few gifts, that shouldn't make her feel uncomfortable." Derek shot her a rare grin over the conspiracy. "Tell Melissa, she can do a little spying into what Tangye would want for dinner and as a cake."
"Kat has a half day today, do you mind if I call Rachel and see if she wants to go shopping? I'm sure we can get back before Nick does with the box." Alex allowed her depression over the events with the demon to slip away in the face of something purely happy.
"He said he'd be back around one, but Tangye's class ends at noon." He looked over and consulted the schedule she had given him so he would be sure where she was, and also so he could make sure she was attending class. He had already caught her skipping . As she had told him she wasn't really focused on her education, but he didn't want her letting her studies slide so he choose to keep an eye on her schedule. "They'll stop somewhere for lunch as always. I'd say you have until two."
"That'll do. I'll let Philip and Kristin know too. Philip was packing this morning, you think he'll stay?" She asked concerned.
"I'm sure of it. You should get going. Remind everyone not to focus on it around her, we are dealing with a telepath and I'd like it to be a surprise." Alex nodded and started out of the room. "And Alex, thank you." She nodded with a smile and stepped out of the room with a new bounce to her step. Derek smiled privately knowing he already had the two perfect gifts to offer her.
Hours later Tangye and Nick arrived back at the house and quickly made their way upstairs with the small crate that Nick had picked up at the airport. Rachel, Kat and Alex had only returned to the island one ferry ahead of them but were already in the library acting as natural as they could. Alex and Rachel were busy pulling down texts to help them with their research as Kat worked on homework at the table. They came into the room and Nick immediately dropped the box down on the table with a loud thud. Tangye slid into the seat beside Kat putting her own bag down.
"You're back early." Alex said relieved that they had managed to beat them at all since it was only one thirty. She shot Rachel a quick glance but then noticed how Tangye was studying her and focused her mind solely on the box the pair had brought back with them, not wanting to get caught in their planning.
"Derek seemed anxious to have this. We got takeout, Melissa's warming it up." Nick said walking over to the hologram to go retrieve a crow bar to open the crate.
"Hey Kat, what do you say to a swim while the adults have their boring meeting?" The little girl's face lit up immediately at the suggestion but then she turned to look back down at her unfinished work. Alex also noticed how Nick paused for a moment at the hologram and couldn't help but laugh.
"Mom?" Rachel considered her daughter's hopeful expression along with the early hour and relented her rule about finishing homework first with a nod.
"I don't see why you can't." She answered with a smile.
"Let's go before they change their minds." Tangye and Kat both jumped out of their seats and started to run to the door.
"But " The girls both froze. "You're a different subject Tangye."
"I don't have class tomorrow, I'll do my homework then." Tangye whined, trying to sound as juvenile as possible and succeeding surprisingly well.
"It's not about homework." Rachel laughed at the young woman.
"Damn " Tangye cursed then looked down at Kat, knowing she shouldn't swear in front of the young girl she quickly added, "the river. You know, for energy purposes. Look I'm giving science lessons." She said proudly as though that was what she meant all along, even if the save was weak.
"Uh-huh." Rachel shook her head. "Tell Derek I'll be back in five minutes, I just want to check her arm." Tangye made a groaning sound from deep in her throat leaning her head back but following the doctor out of the room anyway, mumbling something about stupid demon's claws.
Nick came back in the room with Derek and Kristin in tow and looked around the room. "They went swimming?" He asked trying to sound natural and not as interested as he felt.
"Rachel's checking her arm first. But yes, I think they will." Alex answered with a quick nod.
"Nick get the crate open, I want to see what we're dealing with here." Derek ordered and Nick crossed to the wooden shipping crate and easily pried the top off. He pushed aside the cushioning wood chips to reveal the top of the smooth wood box inside. Nick stepped back slightly once he saw it; his mind flashing over the memory of the sepulchers though he knew this wasn't one of them. Still just seeing something so similar put him off. "Well?"
"Shouldn't we run tests, a scan, something?" Nick asked lamely trying to hide his real nervousness.
"That's already been done. The seals, whatever they are, are intact." Derek watched as the younger man still made no move toward the box.
"You big baby just take it out." Kristin stepped up beside him, brushing him out of the way with her shoulder. She reached in and carefully lifted the dark box out of the crate shaking off the last of the packing chips.
"Few bad experiences and you won't be so gung-ho either." Nick mumbled as he took a seat at the table while Alex and Derek converged on the box to study it. Other then a few etchings along the sides of the box it was fairly plain. A dark wood, somewhat worn over the ages but it still appeared to be solid. There was no line on it indicating how it would be opened, if it even could be. Derek had the impression from his phone conversations with Thomas that it would have been able to be opened though, so he looked it over carefully wondering why his associate had given him such an impression. He touched the carvings along the side not immediately recognizing them but trusting that the house would be able to puzzle them out all the same. And that was the first task that needed to be handled because Nick was right, they shouldn't be playing with this box without knowing what it was.
"I'm telling you Rachel this is totally unnecessary, I'm fine." Tangye called from the bathroom where she was changing after Rachel decided it would be easier to look at the wound without having to deal with the sleeve of her shirt.
"Just let me play doctor, it gives me such a thrill." Rachel called back lightly causing Tangye to laugh. She pulled open the door and stepped into her bedroom.
"Well if it makes you happy, I'll relent." Rachel shook her head as Tangye took her seat on the bed. She couldn't help but notice the excellent shape that Tangye was in now that she was wearing only a bikini top and pair of shorts. Her arms were strong but thin, her shoulders smooth rather then bony, her stomach flat, and legs tone and long even for her height.
"How many sit-ups do you do a day?" Rachel teased.
"What? A lot I guess." She looked up and realized that Rachel hadn't really been expecting an answer. "I have a lot of energy to burn." She added with a grin.
"I guess." Rachel chuckled. "Alright let's see that arm." Tangye held it out for Rachel to pull off the cotton bandage wrapped around her upper arm. Rachel was careful as she removed the tape holding it in place and slowly began to unwrap it. "So have you talked to anyone from home? Derek said you're friend Janet called the other day." Rachel asked; making small talk hoping to distract her from any discomfort her activities might cause.
"Nope." Tangye answered shortly.
"You didn't call her back?" Rachel pushed some more as she removed the last of the bandage. Tangye looked down at her arm as Rachel went to her kit for a fresh wrap and some ointment to help keep the wound from scarring. As soon as Rachel's back was turned Tangye began to poke at the scabs curious to see if they still were tender, which by her wincing expression they were. Rachel turned back around without Tangye noticing and slapped her hand away.
"You think I'll scar?" She asked in an obvious dodge of Rachel's questions.
"If you do it shouldn't be bad. It seems to be healing very well. So why didn't you call her?" Rachel gently applied some of the ointment, watching Tangye's eyes for a reaction to her question or pain.
"Nothing to talk about." Tangye answered with a shrug that caused Rachel to dab a little too hard with the cotton swab she was using.
"She's your godmother right?" Rachel prodded some more, trying to draw out an explanation.
"Yep." Tangye said with a quick glance up at Rachel.
"And you've known her your whole life?" Tangye nodded with a sigh seeing that Rachel wasn't going to just let the subject drop. "So?"
"So?" She sighed again and slightly rolled her head. "I don't know what to talk to her about."
"School, other people you knew," Rachel looked up at her with raised eyebrows, "Nick."
"I knew that was coming." She smiled, but then thought about the other things Rachel had said. "You can only tell so many people about your day at school before it's just boring and Derek's taken it upon himself to drill me on it every chance he gets. I'm not really concerned about people I knew; they'd never understand what happened. I don't want all that sympathy. You know why they think I was in there, and that, is so not right." She frowned slightly. "And I like keeping Nick to myself honestly."
"So you're just going to forget them?" Rachel stopped her activity to study Tangye's face for the truth.
"Dr. Corrigan." Tangye used the title as a reminder to Rachel that she wasn't looking for someone to clarify her emotions or help her deal with them. "I'm not saying never. I just need to figure out how to do it. Right now the conversation would be too hard. She tells me about a bake sale or how her boss yelled at her at work. What do I say? 'Well, I got attacked by a demon. I win, my crappy week was worse.' That just puts me off and I don't want to lie. So I avoid." She summed up with a nod.
"Okay then. I'll drop it, you seem to know what you're doing." Rachel said relenting to Tangye.
"Got you all fooled do I?" Rachel shook her head again at Tangye's humor that she so frequently fell back on. She finished wrapping her arm and taped the bandage in place. "Am I free to swim?"
"Just see me when you're done, we'll need to change that again." Rachel brushed her hands off on her short skirt and stood up. Tangye grabbed a towel off her dresser and started out of the room. "Tangye?" Tangye stopped and looked over her shoulder at the woman. "Thank you."
"For being such a cooperative patient?" Tangye asked, forcing her voice to be serious though she knew Rachel meant something very different.
"Sure, that too." Rachel smiled. She had been horrified to hear that Tangye had been injured in an effort to protect Kat, owed her so much for what the young woman considered an instinctive act. But anytime Rachel tried to show her appreciation for the act or how sorry she was for the injuries that had been received; Tangye dodged the thanks and made it mean something else. She recalled Dr. Berton's description of how she had stepped in to help the little boy when she was younger from an angry spirit only she was capable of seeing. Or Derek's explanation that they only reason she managed to fight off her parent's spirits was because Nick was in danger. Protecting others was her nature, and she often forgot to worry about herself in those moments. That just meant that someone needed to make sure that they took the time to watch out for her, and the Legacy house had the skills necessary to do just that. After all they had been trying to do the same for Nick and Derek for years.
"Do you recognize the symbols?" Derek asked passing behind Philip as he studied the box.
"Sure. Give me a few hours and I'll have it translated fer you." Philip sat back.
"I'd like Kristin to run some scans on it first. The tests were done in the field but I'd like them run again just to be on the safe side." Philip nodded at Derek.
"See caution." Nick smugly said to Kristin.
"What were you able to find out about the occurrence this morning in the kitchen?" Derek said ignoring Nick's comment.
"I ran the tape through the computer and came up with little. The heat register showed hardly anything other then hands holding the bags. I don't understand why we couldn't see anything." Kristin brushed her straight blonde hair back away from her face, hating that she had to admit in front of anyone that she had not come up with an answer.
"Alex will you look the tapes over?" She nodded and started to gather up her things from the table. Derek was glad that they were having a slow week. Philip didn't seem to think that the box was threatening in any way, thus leaving it as little more then a common artifact. Other then the cookies from the morning things looked prepared to stay quiet, and even that had not been too foreboding of danger.
"Um, you guys don't really need me, do you?" Nick asked, trying too hard to act casual.
Alex had to stifle the laugh she felt building. "Why Nick, doesn't this interest you? Or maybe just not as much as Tangye Gaarlihn in a pool?" She said mocking him.
"Just because I choose to stay in shape by working out? Swimming is good for the body." Nick defended himself but no one in the room was convinced by his argument.
"I gather she is too." Alex responded with raised eyebrows causing Nick to groan in her direction.
"Ha-ha, very funny. Can I go?" He asked turning to Derek.
"Fine Nick. I'll let you know when we need you." Derek nodded not really paying that much attention to them as he continued to study the box.
"Go chase those hormones." Alex got in one last jab as he retreated from the room giving her a sneer but she just continued to laugh. "Derek? Did you have time today to get anything done not so work related?"
"Yes Alex, I spoke with Melissa and Dominick. I also worked on arranging my own gift for her." He answered with a pleased grin.
"Wha' exactly would tha' be?" Philip looked up interested.
"You'll all find out. Nick and I won't be around tomorrow for a few hours though. Nick will get her out of the house most of Thursday and promised to have her back here by six." Derek informed them all.
"You're enjoying this." Alex said pleased.
"Yes, I am. That surprises you?" Derek asked with raised eyebrows.
"For some reason no." She smiled and left the room to go study the tapes.
"And what about you Philip. Are you surprised?" Philip smiled at his mentor and friend and shook his head. "Alex said you were packing earlier, you are staying for the party?" Derek tried to hide his concern over the thought of Philip leaving but it did no good against the observant priest.
"For the party yes. After tha' " Philip let his voice drop off, hating to hurt Derek with the fact he had to leave them all once again.
"Have you spoken with Nick?" Philip looked away with one of those heavy sighs he was so well practiced at. Derek didn't want to make him uncomfortable but also couldn't forget that he had interrupted what was obviously going to be an attempt on Philip's part to talk to his friend during the crisis with Alex. He knew it had to be done at the time, but still hated to think that Philip was going to just give up. "You were on the right track, Philip. He's in better spirits now then he has been in a long time."
"Le's no' kid ourselves Derek, it doesn' matter how happy Nick is he still has anger stored up waitin' to erupt. You've been on the receivin' end of it often enough. For now he's in a good mood, I'd like to let him stay that way." Philip brushed his hair back, both men having forgotten that Kristin was still lingering in the room waiting for the box to be moved into the control room. She studied the way these two interacted with each other, how it appeared to hurt both of them so much to cause the other any discomfort. There was a caution between them that clearly enough stated how well they knew each other and how much they cared for one another. She knew that Derek loved the members of his house but none held the special place that the priest who wasn't even a member any more, did. Philip was special for another reason; he was forgiven for everything he did to let them down by Derek so easily. She could also see that Derek desperately wanted him to stay in the house, that he would use any tactic to ensure that he stayed. She made a mental note to question Alex about it at some other time.
"It's not going to get better if you leave." Derek saw Philip's face constrict and regretted saying it instantly. "I'm just making suggestions. I trust you." He patted Philip lightly on the back and left back to his office. Philip lowered his head to his hands on the table with a groan, not knowing what was the best course of action to take.
"Mom." Kat cried from the doorway of her room. Rachel came running down the hall to find her daughter standing in the hall wrapped in a towel. From a few doors down Nick's door also came open and in his right hand he held a gun as he exited his room. His eyes were alert due to the distress he recognized in the voice of the eleven-year-old girl. "Mom, what happened?"
"What is it Kat?" Kat just pointed into her room as Rachel gathered her close to her chest. Nick stepped past them into the room and looked around for what might have gotten Kat so upset. He looked down at the little girl who he now saw was more confused then upset.
"When I left my room it wasn't like that." Kat proclaimed. Nick gave another look around studying the many stuffed animals that were set up in a circle on the floor, each with a small teacup in front of them. It was really a fairly typical scene for the room of a young girl but clearly it was not one that Kat had arranged. He patted his gun against his leg having nothing better to do with it since he was still only wearing swim trunks and a towel hung around his neck.
"Kat honey are you sure?" Kat rolled her eyes at her mother, and though Rachel didn't like it when her child did it she knew exactly what it meant. Kat couldn't believe she was even being asked such a question. "Okay, so you didn't do it."
"Nick?" Rachel asked turning her dark eyes up to him for an answer.
"I really hope you aren't asking me if I had a tea party with twenty toys." Nick came back at her with an amused grin. "I don't know what did it. If I had to guess I'd say it was whoever tried to make cookies this morning."
"Great." Rachel shook her head, feeling that old exhaustion settle in. Why did everyday in this house have to be surrounded by something odd happening, even if it didn't seem dangerous? She knew she wouldn't leave the Legacy but the merits of doing so were still clear in her mind.
"I'll get dressed and check out the security tapes again. Something is obviously hanging around and we should be able to get some reading from it. You should stick with Kat just to be safe." Nick patted his young playmate on the head as he passed her to go back to his room. He noticed that Tangye had emerged from her room, a towel around her waist, observing the scene with a slight one-sided smile on her face. He couldn't deny that he was glad he had the chance to take the swim with her and Kat. It had been a great deal of fun racing them and just generally playing in the pool, but also because, as Alex so astutely pointed out without so many words, he was undeniably attracted to her. The sight of her dressed in so little had just helped to compound the attraction he felt towards her.
He walked up to her and leaned down to whisper in her ear. "Shower?"
"Enjoy yourself, funny man." She patted his arm shooting down the true suggestion she knew full well that he was making. She shot him one of her best sly grins that left him wondering if he asked once more if she wouldn't jump at the offer. There was just something wicked about the look, something that he found so seductive. He was tempted to give the idea the extra push but then chose to take things on the slower path they both agreed without words was best.
Instead he settled for placing a gentle kiss on her cheek and retreating to his own room as Rachel lead Kat into her room to get dried off and changed. Tangye lingered in the hallway though, giving it a once over expecting to see someone there who was clearly already gone. She bit down on her pinky drumming her thumb against her index finger in thought. "Okay, where you hiding? I know you're here." She whispered to the empty hall. Getting no response she tapped her foot and stepped back into her own room.
"So Nick did you find anything?" Rachel asked as they all filed into the dining room later that night for dinner. Nick rubbed at his weary eyes, worn from staring at the computer screens all day.
"Actually no. Since there aren't cameras in our personal quarters I could only watch those monitoring her door and the area outside her window. Those gave me nada. Either this thing knew to avoid them and left when they were turned away or it just vanished." He pulled her chair out for her and then lifted Kat up swinging her over the back of her chair to sit. Tangye listened to him from where she was already seated across the table schooling her face to show no reaction.
"What about the tape from the kitchen?" Derek asked, knowing Nick would have had the most luck getting information from the tapes.
"Hands, not much else. For the most part it seemed to be blocked by the counter. So I'd say we have a very short intruder." Tangye grinned to hear him say that.
"Not much else we can do." Derek said disappointed by their lack of success, though he could see that Kristin was pleased that no one else had made more headway then she had. He paused to think for a moment and then turned his dark eyes on Tangye. "Tangye, would you just keep a look out?"
"What?" She asked surprised, hating herself for acting so guilty with the way the question came out of her mouth so abruptly.
"You'd be the most likely to have success locating this thing if it's a spirit, just listen for it or however you do it." She shifted her eyes away nervously, a gesture that Derek didn't miss. It was clear that she was hiding something, or trying to with little success, but he wanted to see how she played it out. It would serve as a good test of her.
"Sure Derek." She nodded.
"What about the box? Philip?" The priest thanked Dominick as he placed a plate in front of him and then turned to the precept ignoring the meal for the moment.
"The tests have been run, same results they got in the field. I'll start the translation first thing after dinner. Do you have any ideas what it might be?" Philip knew that Derek always had ideas, even if sometimes they were a little far fetched. He had seen the way Derek studied the rather mundane box earlier, with an excitement that was odd when elicited from such a thing.
"Some, but I'd rather not jump to any conclusions." They all turned to him with that admission, he knew he shouldn't have said anything, they were not going to let a comment like that just be dropped.
"C'mon Derek, jump." Nick goaded him.
"Well, if I were very hopeful I would say there is a chance we found a box never intended to be opened by man." Derek answered cryptically.
"Oh, that box." Nick said with an amused nod, turning back to his food. Tangye stared at her companion and then at the precept with wide eyes. He could tell that she had grasped on to his line of thinking with the one comment he made.
"What makes you think that?" She asked leaning forward, allowing herself a better vantage to study his face and whatever reactions it might betray.
"Because it is hollow. There should be some indication on the surface of how to get into it. Unless no one was meant to get into it." She gave him a skeptical grin and then a shake of her head, clearly not believing what he was alluding to. "Is it out of the question?"
"Yes, it's a myth." She responded as though it were the most ridiculous thing she had ever heard.
"Hold on. What are you talking about?" Rachel interrupted the almost private conversation. Derek sighed; he had not wanted to get into this conversation and was surprised that Tangye had made the mental leap with him.
"Far as I know there is only one box that was never supposed to be opened by man, but it was anyway. Right?" She shot Derek a quick look to make sure she was following his line of thinking. He nodded her on, leaving the revelation up to her. "What was the story? The father of the Gods was angry that the Titans had stolen fire from them so to counteract that they created a woman who was both good and beautiful." She recited the beginning almost sounding bored, then grew serious. "She was given to Epimetheus as a wife, he took her though he had been warned never to take a gift from Zeus. With her came a box that she had been instructed never to open, but curiosity won out and she did. From said box escaped all the evils of body and mind. She tried to shut it but it was too late." Tangye said summarizing the story she had learned as a child, she could tell Derek was impressed that she remembered the details so clearly.
"That's one version. There is also the idea that the box contained blessings that would have survived only if the box had never been opened." Derek nodded in agreement of her story.
"Whatever you believe is the original legend, it's still just a legend." Tangye said twirling her spoon in her hand, with a mischievous grin on her face.
"Why are you so quick to condemn something that seems hard to believe?" Derek asked, slightly disappointed though her version of skepticism was refreshing. She was calm about the idea he was having even if she didn't believe in it. There was no anger at the suggestion or annoyance that he would ever think such a thing was possible. She just viewed it as an opportunity to argue logically.
"Derek, I know there are things in the world that seem impossible but aren't, but Pandora's Box isn't one of them. It's a myth, a story to teach a lesson, nothing more. It serves as an excuse, someway for man to blame the evil they saw developing on something outside of themselves so they could avoid responsibility for their own actions. Just because the story has been told for hundreds of years doesn't make it true. Next thing you'll be telling me is that the Legacy owns the core of Eve's apple, which I'm sorry, but was a morality lesson too. In fact they are really the same story, just in different cultures." Derek shot her a quick look that she wasn't quite sure wasn't intended to tell her to shut up.
"Tangye you read the inscription in the library?" Derek asked calmly.
"Faith has need of the whole truth?" Derek nodded her on, knowing that wouldn't put an end to her disbelief. "I agree with that Derek, but some truths that will be uncovered are that certain things are no more then myths." She kept her voice calm and it could be seen on her face that she was enjoying the fact that she was being given the chance to argue intellectually.
"All myths are based in some fact." Derek added logically.
"Right, bad things happen. Pandora's box was a justification, a displacement of blame." Tangye repeated.
"Why are you so unwilling to believe?" Derek asked still surprised.
"Because I refuse to give mankind that out. Sure it would be great to think that without one moment we would still exist in a safe Eden but I don't think people should be able to blame their atrocities on a single moment hundreds of years past. People do bad things because they choose to or because something is wrong with them. There shouldn't be a free pass. People shouldn't be allowed to dodge responsibility for their choices. You should have to be accountable for your actions, for all the pain they can cause. And what about all the people who haven't committed the crimes that Pandora's box would have brought forth? How did they avoid being effected?" Everyone turned to wait for Derek's response. Nick got a clear sense of the truth behind her words, who she was thinking about shouldn't be just forgiven their crimes because they were not responsible for creating them. She had told him in no uncertain terms that she was not willing to forgive her parents for their acts after death and she was equally unwilling to allow them an excuse for what they had done. Nick had to admit he sided with her on this issue, people made their choices and they should have to live with them, there should not been an easy escape route from responsibility.
"Then we disagree." Derek said with a shrug, sensing what was going through her mind and easily recognizing the growing tension in her voice. At some point the conversation had slipped away from being an enjoyable debate into a reminder of the pain she lived through. She averted her eyes when she realized that everyone in the room was staring at her.
"Yeah, I guess we do." She mumbled her apology. Derek quickly looked around the room, telling everyone gathered clearly enough with only his eyes to continue eating. Nick wasn't so easily distracted; he couldn't just turn away from the pain he that saw on the face he had grown to love. He reached out and brushed the loose locks of hair out of her face, then gently traced his fingers down the soft skin of her cheek. She caught his hand in her own and gave it a tight squeeze to reassure him that she would be fine.
"So if it is Pandora's, big if, what good will it do to open it? Everything has already been released." Rachel asked hoping the question didn't cause any more difficulty.
"Not everything. The legend is that she shut it in time to keep one thing inside, hope." Tangye said with a quick lop sided grin. "And depending on what you think that means either hope will be lost if it's opened or true hope exists in it. If the latter is true, and it is what the box is, I say we rip the thing open under any means possible." Tangye's intense stare landed on Derek.