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Memories Revisited by TalgoM
She shot a quick glance down at her sleeping charge, a warm smile lighting her face to see the little one curled up around the oversized alligator that Carlo had brought her earlier. Where he had gotten the thing she didn't want to know but she had to admit the child was adorable with it. She shut the book carefully not to make the tiny noise that was all that was necessary to wake the child. She looked around the room she had so quickly become fond of since first arriving at this house to help in the care of the little girl. There were stuffed animals covering the bookshelf, but they were quickly being run off their home as books took their place. There were scattered crayon drawings littering the floor, the colors in them were bright and happy but there was something somewhat dismal about their forms.
She reached out and gently stroked the silken blonde locks of the child's hair. The sensation of touch was so different now; it was distant and harder to hold on to. Still she could not resist the need to touch her, to comfort the images she feared might be plaguing a mind so young. A brilliant yet cunningly aggravating mind she admitted to herself. It became quickly obvious to any that encountered the child that her mindset went well beyond her seven short years. Her tone would grow serious when she joked with them, as if explaining obvious truths that couldn't be ignored. Her large expressive eyes could stare any of them down when she tried. Yet she always knew when she was about to be caught manipulating them and would flash that beacon like smile. The one that put any annoyance to rest as the dimple creased her cheek.
She pictured for a moment the child grown, beautiful in adulthood, as she was adorable in childhood. Something above capturing her in a more favorable light as she moved through life, no darkness ever shadowing her radiant eyes. She saw the child grown tall and exquisite, her features thin and mature, but her smile would never change. It was cruel to offer such a gift to the world only to have it fade with years. She wondered over the many successes that the little one would have in the next twenty years, so much could be accomplished by this one so quickly. She was not sure exactly how she had found her way here, but she would never openly question the gift she received.
She turned suddenly to look out the window as she felt something stir there. Surely it was nothing more then a night breeze but she had been warned that the little one had to be protected. That was their duty as much as anything else. She pulled the covers up to the child's shoulders to warm her against the night air. Just as she leaned down over the girl's head to kiss her goodnight the feeling returned to her. She crossed to the window, looking out into the dark night and its wooded backdrop. She laughed to herself to see the empty yard holding no danger within it.
"Look at me, I let them all get me worked up. Nothing out there is looking to hurt you." She reached out to pull the windows closed and started to voice her next thought before something yanked violently at her outstretched arm. She tried to fight it off but nothing she did earned her escape. She gave one quick glance at the child. Allowing her to be the last sight she would have on this world before being torn from the window into only blackness, the scream on her lips not even having the chance to form.
The girl in the miniature bed across the room stirred suddenly and came awake. Looking around her dimly lit room for the source of the disturbance that had woken her she sat up in her bed. Her face took on a suspicious expression though she was certain there was no one with her. She did not typically wake in the night unless a nearby noise roused her; she knew her own patterns well enough. She ran her two front teeth over her bottom lip several times thinking over the situation. Her eyes shifted to a sudden noise in the hallway, her parents making their own way to bed. They were joking fondly with one another and the child couldn't help but smile at the sounds of love she heard and felt in their voices. A light breeze suddenly brushed past her ear and made her notice the open window on the opposite wall.
She squirmed her way from under her sheets, pushing Carlo's alligator to the side. She admitted that she liked the toy, she just wished he could have shown a little control and not obtained something so imposing. She had to sleep with it at least one night, she had resigned herself to that fact, but it wasn't taking up most of her bed every night. She padded her way over to the windows, yanking them shut by grabbing the bottom of each pane. "Some outside noise, nothing here." She nodded confidently as she bounced back up into her bed. She pulled the sheets back up to her chin, not able to shake the fear that something had happened nearby, something that successfully woke her. Her eyes patrolled the room once again trying to puzzle out the answer, then she settled down on the sheets to return to sleep.
That was when it hit her that something was wrong, something in her room. She was alone. She was never allowed to sleep alone, it was their rule. She didn't understand the reason but it was fact. Someone was always there to stand guard, and for the first time in her memory she was alone at bedtime.
"Alright, two things on the plate." Derek said as he started what Nick insisted on calling staff meetings. Derek refused to acknowledge them in, what in his opinion, was such an unfavorable light. He told them they were merely meetings or briefings at worst. They had to keep in contact and decide roles someway; this had always worked even if Nick didn't like them. "First a house in San Francisco. Neighbors have reported hearing strange noises in it at night, but as of yet nothing has been seen. The house is supposed to be condemned so there should be no one inside doing this. Tangye." He slid the file in her general direction, eliciting a bright smile from the young woman as she raised her head from where her chin had been resting on her stacked fists.
"Yea, me." She exclaimed as she pulled the folder closer to herself.
"Rachel and I will be with you." Derek added.
"Not so yea supervised me." She corrected her excitement opening the file to study it. Derek shook his head slightly at her comment. Ever since she had been officially let into the Legacy he had been telling himself to warn her to watch her light heartedness at times but kept putting it off because he enjoyed it. Still if she ever met someone from another house she would have to be prepared.
"Secondly, there's a seventh grade boy whose guidance counselor says that he has been exhibiting strange behavior. Alex I want you to check out the story, Nick will help. The counselor is concerned because he has been displaying, in her words, 'an abnormally dark side'. The rest of the notes from the counselor are in the file. It might be nothing but I don't want it overlooked." He handed the second file over to Alex. "Kristin, you still wanted time off to visit the London House?" Derek turned to the only unassigned member of the group.
The blonde looked up at the precept with a quick head jerk, drawing Tangye's eyes up from her papers due to what she considered a guilty gesture. Something about what Derek had made her jumpy. "Yes, if it's not an inconvenience. I've been doing some research and the Ruling House seems to have the best information on the subject." She only stammered over one word but it captured even Alex's attention. Kristin never sounded that unsure of herself, even with Derek. Realizing that just about everyone in the room was now staring at her Kristin shifted uncomfortably in her chair.
"None at all." Derek answered her request with a smile. "Well that's everything I suppose. I want to leave tomorrow by nine?" Rachel and Tangye both nodded to the precept even though they were still watching Kristin out of the corner of their eyes. "Good." Derek closed his own folder and turned away from the table in the direction of his office. Kristin was the first to vacate the room in what looked to be a rush, followed by Alex and Rachel chatting about something that Kat had done. Nick turned to look at Tangye who's eyes were still directed at the chair Kristin had been in. He saw her jaw jerk quickly to one side, noticing the way her lips were pursed and the upper one slightly curled up. "What's up?"
"Huh?" She looked at him drawn back to the present. "Nothing, I just find it odd that she would choose now to leave. I mean there's stuff going on, I'm doing something and she didn't even try to step in?" Tangye studied Nick's face for his impression of her point.
"You've been official for nearly three weeks now, she can't deny your right to help." Nick said with a shrug though now he had the chair caught in the corner of his eye, wondering about the truth.
"Get back to me when you believe that." She stood ruffling his hair in a gesture he hated. "Let's not pretend Nick. She doesn't like me, and quite honestly I think it's in her day timer to go on not liking me for a long time. In respect of that I choose not to like her either. If she can't trust me, why should I give that to her?" She stated as if this was all very obvious and simple.
"Be the bigger person?" Nick suggested as he followed her out of the library.
"I still am, I don't attack openly like some people in the house whose names begin with 'k' and end with 'risten.' I haven't started anything with her," she reminded him, "not even after her not so veiled comments at dinner the other night." Tangye leaned against the wall in the hall, deciding her own room was a little too close to Kristin's quarters to carry on this conversation there.
"Which? The 'old beliefs were that any who could call on the dead were in league with Satan,' or the 'how can you trust someone who could just choose, at any time, to learn your inner most secrets?' Don't take that stuff to heart." Nick joked with her, remembering his own anger towards Kristin for daring to say those things.
"Yep those. Though I did like the way she put her foot in her mouth with the in league with Satan thing, Derek and Alex sitting right there after all. So desperate to hit me she'll just spray bullets all over the place." Tangye's voice was bored but she still chuckled lightly at the memory, making a sweeping gesture with her hand. "She made that up anyway." She shrugged. "I'll keep an eye on her, just for my own peace of mind. If she starts being nice to me, good." Nick didn't miss the fact that Tangye didn't mention what would happen if Kristin continued her present behavior. For some reason he got the distinct feeling that as smart and strong as Kristin was she wouldn't enjoy going up against Tangye Gaarlihn. He trusted Tangye that she wouldn't instigate anything but she wasn't going to stand by and be attacked either. Tangye turned her blue gold eyes to him, her face serious, and he could almost see the gauntlet going down.
"Richard I don't understand." The young Emerson Cryer begged of the form in the hospital bed he sat vigil over. His dark brown hair tumbled down into his eyes that were brimming with tears he refused to let fall, knowing how much his older brother would hate him for the weakness. Richard turned his head ever so slightly to stare harshly at his sibling.
"We've been over this." His voice came back weakly but also clearly spoke of his annoyance.
"I know, and I want you to be better, but is this the way?" He asked, his voice breaking.
"Do you know another way?" Richard growled. He was exhausted with this argument, why couldn't Emerson ever realize that this had to happen? Why did he always have to be weak? He had done this same thing for their father years ago when he was younger still then his brother was now. He had failed because of his weakness but he would not allow his brother to do so.
"But I can hear them now." Emerson cried.
"Good that means you're getting powerful, soon I will be able to help you again. Then He will give us the strength." Emerson averted his deep brown eyes, hating how angry his brother's face looked whenever Richard spoke of the thing that guided him, and was quickly entrapping his brother. Emerson had never wanted to become involved in the magiks that had been passed down in his family for generations. He had hoped that as the youngest he would never receive the burden. His brother's illness had robbed him of such hope. Still he did not fully grasp the things he was doing.
"When you're well again, you won't need me." Emerson pointed out, hoping for agreement.
"Don't you see how much more we can do together? Never before has our family held that strength, you can't walk away from it." Emerson wanted to tell his brother that he could and would in fact run away if only allowed the chance, but the words would not come under the angry stare waiting his response.
"No, you're right." Emerson looked down at his kneading hands in his lap.
"Of course I am. You just keep doing as you are told." Richard moved his hand slightly in an effort meant to bring his brother some happiness over that tiny improvement. The younger boy didn't notice the effort or the strain it brought to Richard's pale face. He was just fighting to resolve issues in his mind. To come to terms with what he was trained to do, when his instincts said it was terribly wrong. But Richard would provide no support in his desired alienation from their legacy, so he voiced no more of his fears.
"Nick can I speak with you for a moment?" Derek asked as Nick wiped dry the last dish from breakfast. The younger man glanced over his shoulder in the precept's direction curious by the careful tone he heard in Derek's voice.
"I'm right here." Nick responded with a shrug, assuming Derek wanted to lay down some law about how he felt the interview with the boy should go.
"If you think this is private enough." Derek hesitated as he stood up. He didn't want anyone else accidentally stumbling in on them if it developed into a yelling match. Nick sighed putting the dish down, knowing exactly what Derek meant with that comment. Derek was obviously already suspecting that Nick would not react well to whatever he had to say, which meant Nick probably wouldn't. Derek rarely ever walked backwards into one of Nick's sore spots anymore. Derek had insight about what would bring forth an adverse reaction, and tried to handle them as best as possible though they were not avoidable.
"Okay, what now?" Nick asked exasperated.
"I just wanted to check on you." Derek's voice was sympathetic as he closed some of the distance between them.
"Oh God, what brought this on Derek?" Nick looked away, hating it when anyone asked how he was feeling, always believing that they were digging for information. Derek knew better then to push Nick about his emotions, the reactions were never good. Nick wished he could make it clear to the members of the house that he didn't always have to be watched. Why they felt it was necessary he didn't know, but he didn't really care either, he just wanted it to stop.
"I wanted to give you enough time to accept it but Philip's departure, and the reminder Georgia gave. Nick I know you want to just forget that anyone has ever managed to get through your defenses, sometimes I'd like to do the same, but " Derek began, his voice low and caring as he tried to reach out to the member of his house least receptive to his efforts. Nick wanted to be strong, needed to prove he was to someone, but in many ways Derek knew that made him more vulnerable. By refusing to face those things which hurt him Nick left them open to be manipulated to cause new pain.
"But nothing Derek, I don't want to talk about it. It has almost been a month, you think it takes me that long to adjust?" Nick realized that he had no other activity left with which to occupy himself and thus prevent himself from looking up at Derek. He allowed his green hazel eyes to gradually meet with Derek's that were just a few shades darker than his. "Philip did what he had to, or felt he had to. I'm not his keeper I can't expect to make his choices for him." Nick shrugged, his words reflecting a reason that Derek didn't feel Nick really held. He was using the explanation as a cover from admitting the truth. "As for what the woman said, what's that matter? Someone was bound to guess at what was going on, she's just the first I met who did." Again Nick's shoulders rose and fell as he struggled to keep his voice indifferent.
"If you really feel that way " Derek started about to give in but wouldn't let himself leave the issue at that. Philip had asked about things that brought back a set of memories and fears that Derek felt he had finally conquered. Now they were plaguing him again and he hoped Nick could provide the reassurance that he needed. "Nick it's just important to me that you understand that you don't have to keep everything inside. I know when you first came to me about what your father did I was rather dismissive of it." Derek admitted recalling the scene in his mind as Nick painfully let the truth burst out. He hated to think of the way he had said a few comforting words and then told Nick he had to swallow his pain. The exact trait that Rachel thought most dangerous to allow to persist.
"Derek it's no big deal. You were right. I didn't need all of that going through my head during the case. The kid could have been hurt, or it could have turned out worse then it did. I told you I'm fine." Nick stepped away from the precept not feeling comfortable standing in his shadow. "Do we really have to discuss this?"
"Yes Nick, I think we do. This makes you vulnerable." Nick's eyes shot up harshly to stare at Derek; the older man had known how that would effect him. Nick hated being accused of any type of weakness. "Nick to be honest this isn't only coming from me." Derek stepped away, dropping the information out there as bait.
"From who then?" Nick asked, his voice snapping off the words with a noticeable edge about whoever would question his ability to get his job done.
"Nick every year you go through an evaluation for the Legacy, you know this. Part of your score is based on a personality profile worked up. Some of that profile was flagged by the Ruling House." Derek felt he had to warn Nick that he was on thin ice. With his increasing suspicion of Jackson Parker, Derek wanted everyone working with him to be watching themselves for flaws that could be exploited by someone wishing to split the house. Derek didn't know why anyone would be interested in doing such a thing but he wanted to prepare for the contingency. He knew that he was standing on the same thin ice Nick was, but he had to make sure his younger colleague was alerted to their status.
"Which part would that be?" Nick asked, his voice putting Derek on alert that the outburst would come any second. Nick's eyes narrowed down to dangerous slits as he waited for his answer.
"Nick something is going on. I believe that Jackson is keeping secrets from us, as a house. I don't know if this is happening anywhere else right now. If Jackson has got it in his head that for some reason there is a problem with San Francisco then I would not put it past him to pull forth a tribunal or at least an investigation. We don't know what Jackson is after." Derek was surprised to hear himself admit his suspicion to Nick but could also see that the words swung Nick back away from his anger. Derek had him intrigued, and gave him a new target. Derek could always count on Nick to put the house before any other personal problems that might be occurring.
"So you think he's looking for excuses to bring down the Legacy on us, and something in my file may have given him ammo?" Nick asked curious, hating to think that something destructive happening could be his fault due to some personality trait the Legacy perhaps disagreed with.
"Not only yours." Derek answered recalling that Alex had seen the same flag on Derek's evaluation. Knowing what had been flagged, glad that Nick hadn't pursued the issue of learning what, Derek was sure soon enough there would be another such flag on a newer file. "Nick whatever is happening we need to be at our strongest. If you have any reason why you can't be then I need to know, we need to deal with it." Derek looked at his friend again hoping for a more honest response. Nick merely smiled menacingly.
"I'm up for a little Ruling House challenge." He answered, worrying Derek with his threat.
"So the Ruling House has some new information on a subject you're researching?" Alex asked as she stepped up to Kristin's doorway where the slightly younger woman was busy packing for her trip. Kristin had been acting jumpy ever since the meeting the previous evening and despite the trouble she often caused Alex still thought of her as a close friend. Granted Kristin had often chosen to keep her motives and actions a carefully guarded secret, but Alex always understood that came from living in the Boston house which was run very differently then San Francisco. Still there was a noticeable improvement in that sort of behavior in the past year as she began to understand on how many levels Derek ran his house in a more liberal manner. After everything he had been through the precept just had a better understanding of the need for personal crusades.
Kristin looked at the woman who had made such an effort to be her friend time and time again, even when there was no reason for the attempt. She tried to put on a warm smile for Alex, but the effort it took to do so was clear, which answered Alex's suspicion that something was going on that Kristin wouldn't speak of. "Yes, some resources that are housed in London may be able to help me."
Alex didn't fail to notice that the answer didn't really say anything. "So what new subject has you so interested?" Alex lingered wanting to see what Kristin's reaction would be to being questioned.
"I'm looking into cults. After what happened to Ethan I think it's important to learn as much as we can about them. Their methods of gaining trust, of manipulating people." She nodded to her own answer as if she approved of it. She placed one last neatly folded blouse in the suitcase and then pulled the top closed, turning to wait out Alex's next question. Kristin wasn't stupid, she knew her behavior from the previous evening was bound to elicit some suspicion, she was just surprised by who was cornering her with it. She had been expecting Nick or Tangye, even Derek to show up at her door all morning. She had wrongly assumed that Alex would be able to overlook her odd behavior, being more trusting by nature.
"That makes sense, and it's a good idea. But, you don't have to constantly do everything alone, you know." Alex reminded gently not wanting to make her friend think that she was being observed as closely as she was. Alex didn't want to create a false sense of trust in Kristin; she abhorred anyone who used such a technique to get information. But she also felt Kristin already knew that the others had questions about her motives, she wanted to remind her that she was not as alone as she might feel she was.
"I appreciate your concern, really I do, but I work best that way." Kristin glanced over at the mantel in her room and at the photo of Ethan resting there. She had in fact once made a promise to him that she would do all that she could to make sure what had been done to him never happened again, and refused to break that vow. Even if that task was impossible she couldn't rob from him the hope that maybe things could still be changed for the better. Her little brother didn't yet understand the intricacies of life, the many complications it could present though he was slowly learning. It was still difficult to explain to him how much harder an already trying life could be when one chose to be involved in the Legacy. With the evil they faced head on there were bound to be areas of their lives that could never reach normal, how so many members managed to succeed in even small ways she would never know. She just didn't see herself finding the proper balance.
"I wish you wouldn't insist on believing that. That attitude too often gets people hurt." Alex softly placed her hand against Kristin's arm, but she jerked away from the touch. "Are you sure you're okay?" Alex asked surprised by the abrupt motion.
"I'm fine. Just a little jumpy from the excitement, but also the fear that this will provide nothing new to me. I didn't mean any offense. You, in particular, have been very kind to me Alex. Even when my behavior may not have warranted it." She smiled fondly at her friend, but still the hint of sadness rung behind her blue eyes.
"Don't worry about it. We've been down this road before, after all we helped gather the five sepulchers for Derek. That project wasn't so different from yours, it was something he had to do. Just remember that even the great Derek Rayne eventually had to ask for help." Alex laughed hoping that would help to break some of the tension she felt permeating the room.
"And I will if I think you can help me, but for now I don't see that it's necessary. After all it's just research. Really Alex, I'm fine." Again Kristin tried to ease the worry she saw in her friend's face but her words just didn't appear to break through much of it. She was probably very used to hearing such reassurances by living with men like Nick and Derek, who never to readily admited their weakness and felt they had to face so many things alone.
"Then I won't push. But if you do learn anything important, don't just run off and try to save the world by yourself. Be careful and come home safe. Remember all you have to do is call and we'll back you up." Alex shot her one last closing smile before retreating from her bedroom, feeling she had done as much as she could.
"Thanks." Kristin sank wearily onto her bed, wondering to herself how long that promise would be held if Alex were to discover the truth. She let her face fall into her hands, hating herself for what she was about to do, wishing she had never let herself be backed in to caring for these people so much. Why did they have to welcome her so openly, allow her to grow so close to them? Were they trying to make her job harder, or was it purely on instinct that they behaved in such a way? She hoped it was the former, she hoped they would never be caught in the crossfire the way they were bound to be if the second answer was accurate.
"This should be it." Derek said pulling the car over to the side of the road that ended as a dead end three house down. Most of the neighborhood looked fairly dilapidated, barely seeming to hold itself together anymore. There were still scattered signs of life, toys left discarded in the front yards, small flower boxes on the porches, but there was no one out on the street. Derek glanced across the seat from himself to Rachel who was still reviewing the file on her lap. During most of the drive Tangye had been drilling her from the back seat with questions or letting loose a stream of one liners. Derek was quickly beginning to believe that after so many years of silence she was planning on getting out every word she hadn't been allowed to speak as quickly as possible. He was just glad so much of it was coming out as levity, rather then the initial dismal sadness that had engulfed her.
"Lovely." Tangye mumbled looking out the window to the house. It had stone work corners that were probably all that was succeeding in keeping it standing. It had probably once been a beautiful house, but now only carried a whisper of that past on rotted wood and untreated paint.
"Well it has been abandoned for the past twenty years." Rachel pointed out, pushing her door open. She had to admit that the sadness of the house had hit her too, to see something that once was probably so grand had just been allowed to decay. "You just want to go right in Derek?" Rachel asked over the hood as the precept climbed out of the car, a far away look taking over his face. Tangye shot Rachel a nervous glance, pulling her sunglasses free of her nose; they both knew what that look meant. "Derek are you okay?" Rachel rounded the car, while Tangye's eyes began a more intense search of the area. Something nearby had probably brought forth the vision that Derek was caught in, she wanted to make sure there was no direct threat to Rachel or Derek.
Rachel reached out to Derek but he quickly brushed her concerned hands away, his eyes refocusing on the world around him. He gave her a conciliatory look, hoping that it would appease her. She sighed at him and turned to Tangye for support as she gradually joined them. Tangye's eyes were once again hidden behind her sunglasses but it was clear that she was also concerned for Derek's well being. "How is he?" She asked softly.
"I'm fine, it was nothing." Derek straightened himself up but the strain was obvious on his face.
"Derek, if you saw anything we should know about " Rachel began, trying to get him to open up but using a ruse he was more likely to give in to.
"I didn't see anything." He shook her off once again. It hadn't been a specific image, more of a barrage of several, none of which could be registered. He had not even got a distinct feeling from the experience. But whatever it was, it had been powerful. He could tell that Tangye was trying to search out whatever had caused it but doubted that she would discover it so easily. "Tangye grab the equipment if you would?" Derek figured while she got the items together that he would have enough time to gather himself. He took several deep breaths wishing he could sort out the myriad of pictures that had flashed in his mind. He knew it had been like watching a movie in fast forward multiplied by ten, there was nothing to see but the story was in there somewhere. He took in a few more deep breaths to calm himself, refusing to give up his predictable stoicism. He needed to be strong in order to do his job and he would not let his team down.
Tangye held the small handheld display unit out to Derek while she turned on the rest of the equipment Nick had been teaching her to use over the past few weeks. Derek was impressed by the young woman again when she displayed such an affinity for the machines he had such distaste for. He had noticed with some concern though that Tangye was more interested in learning to use the equipment and Legacy lab then in her studies at school. He hadn't said anything to her about the habit yet hoping it would pass but he knew soon that he would have to speak up. "I want to move in slowly."
Tangye nodded quickly at the order then looked up from the small Geiger counter like machine she held. "Your show." She agreed with him and allowed him to start to lead the way up the yard with Rachel in the rear. Derek paused for a moment several times as they walked, making a play at checking the readout on the LCD in his hand, but both women sensed it was something more.
Derek felt the sensation building up in order to crush him, wave after wave bearing down on him, each with a new desperation. He tried to get his mind to focus but it grew to be harder and harder, the images overlapping at even a more powerful pace. He used every technique he had ever been taught to help him control the images his Sight was presenting but nothing to worked to control the onslaught. There was no way he could hope to fight the pain the experience was beginning to push down onto his fragile mind. He looked up at the house with drawn eyes, straining to maintain focus, hoping for one clarifying image but the deluge merely continued to rush over him.
When they were only about twenty feet from the front door Derek finally lost the battle he was in, issuing forth a deep moan and collapsing down to his knees. Rachel dropped down beside him; helping to keep him upright as his body gave out from under him. Tangye started to pull the equipment off of herself, dropping it down into the overgrown grass. She crouched down on the other side of Derek as Rachel tried to get him to focus on her. His eyes glazed over with deep pain and he couldn't get them to settle on her face.
"Derek, what is it? Derek, can you hear me?" She shook his shoulders slightly to try and draw him away from the intense pain that was crashing down on his mind. "Derek, listen to me, focus on my voice." Rachel tried to guide him back while Tangye sat by watching helplessly. "Derek can you hear me?" Rachel pleaded.
Tangye looked around herself, struggling to find the source of what was causing it and when she finally stopped looking with her eyes she had it. "Help me get him to his feet." Tangye suddenly blurted out grabbing onto Derek's arm and starting to haul him to his feet. Rachel looked up at her shocked, wondering what she thought she was doing. "The house is what's doing it, he needs some distance." She explained and immediately gained Rachel's help with the words. When Derek was out of the danger from the house Rachel's training would be what counted, but so long as they were this close Tangye's understanding of the spirit and psychic world could not be ignored. Rachel got to her feet and then helped Tangye lift Derek up so they could walk him out of the range of the house.
"Derek, is this helping?" Rachel pleaded and after a few more steps was glad to see Derek nod. His dark eyes turned to look at her and he tried to gain control of some of the pain that he could tell was written on his face. "Are you alright?"
"Fine " Derek whispered, not able to force his voice to come out any stronger. Tangye stopped and began to lower Derek back down to the ground since he now appeared to be a safe distance away. As soon as she got him relaxed her head jerked to look back over her shoulder in the direction of the house as though someone had just called her name. Neither of her companions noticed the motion concentrating on each other as Rachel tried to help Derek through the powerful attack. Tangye pivoted on the balls of her feet and rose back up, keeping her eyes locked on the house.
"Derek can you focus on me?" Rachel asked, sounding distant and hollow to Tangye.
"I'll be fine." Derek insisted once again, though the pain in his head was arguing the point. "Something is in the house, confused, scared." Derek admitted sorting through some of the emotions he had felt wash over him in such a hurry. His eyes turned suddenly to look up at the newest member of the Legacy. She had now wandered a few feet in the direction of the house, staring up at intently as if hearing a voice no one else could. Derek knew instantly that was probably exactly what she was doing and couldn't help but worry what the effect might be. If the house had been able to bring him to his knees he could only guess how painful it could be to her, if she had noticed anything at all. "Tangye, are you alright?" Derek asked softly, hoping to break into her concentration.
"Quite a party going on." She answered absently then her mind to snaped harshly back to the present as she spun back around to face Derek and Rachel. "Rachel, take him back to the car so he can rest a little." Tangye ordered not even thinking that she was probably out of line giving directions.
"What are you going to do?" Rachel inquired nervously, hating Tangye's honed instinct to stroll into dangerous situations on her own.
"Nobody invited me, I'll assume my engraved invite got lost in the mail, luckily I was always the party crashing type." She quipped, then realized that neither of the older Legacy members probably appreciated her levity. "I'm going to go have a look-see." She responded, returning her attention to the structure in front of her with a curious glance.
"Tangye I don't think that's a good idea." Derek protested. He wondered if perhaps she was not yet feeling anything from the house due to the distance, he didn't really want to see what might happen if she chose to close some of that gap. The images had completely overwhelmed him and his Sight was not as open as the telepathy that Tangye possessed. He was certain that he had better defenses against such onslaughts, Tangye having always been taught to be open and welcoming to her visitors from the grave.
"I'll be fine, I can already hear them." She said in way of an answer though it clarifed very little for her companions.
"Them?" Rachel asked, latching onto the plural term.
"What hit Derek. I can sort them out." She hoped they understood the explanation but could tell when she looked back at their faces that they didn't. She fought to find a better way to explain what she was feeling. "It's like when you're at a party, or any place crowded. There are lots of voices all trying to be heard while you're trying to make sense of one over the noise. Only real difference is that here they are all trying to talk to us, probably anyone really, just not each other." She exhaled deeply, not sure if she made any sense. "If I focus on just one, I'll still be able to make out background noise from the others but it isn't as overwhelming." She saw Derek nodding in acceptance of her statement, but could also read the concern on his face. He didn't want her to go into the house but she had backed him into a corner. They had to know what was in the house and he couldn't do it. Rachel wouldn't have been able to see anything, which left Tangye as their only option.
"Be careful, get out the moment it starts to overwhelm you." He instructed seriously but his voice was still strained so the order didn't come across as imposing as he intended. "Or scream."
"Can do, screaming's easy, open mouth, project from the diaphragm. But you don't come in after me." She smiled at him in her own warning then turned back to the house taking the first step in its direction. Derek and Rachel watched with anxious eyes as she closed the distance between herself and the front door. She made her progress slowly and carefully, and Derek had the distinct impression the caution was for his benefit more then her own. She was giving them what they wanted by acting cautious about her approach. Derek waited expecting to see her fall at any moment, for her legs to give way as she reached the point she couldn't progress beyond. His worries were beginning to overwhelm the headache that had been bearing down on his brain.
As casual as Tangye might act about her abilities his research was quickly giving him cause to worry more and more about her. Rachel and he had discovered several cases in which the stress brought on through the use of telepathic gifts had resulted in tragedy. There was only so much that the human mind was intended to endure and the strain of communicating directly with another mind might be beyond those natural limits. In order to open herself up Tangye had to let some of her mind's natural defenses down, defenses that would help to protect her from overload. At the same time there was the strain the reaching out itself caused, asking more of a mind then was to be expected from it even if the talent came naturally. Tangye's cavalier attitude could be her downfall if she didn't start to recognize some of the danger but whenever Derek tried to corner her with the information she fought not to hear him. She tried to explain to him that she could never just stop using her talents even if she wanted to, so much of it came out on instinct, flowing from her without effort. Despite that Derek didn't feel that she should push her luck when she could avoid it. Reflecting on her personality though Derek realized that she would never show that caution, she needed her defenses to be indestructible now and would not accept that they were anything less then that. He feared the day she would be forced to realize the truth.
She stepped up onto the porch, all her equipment still discarded in the lawn, she was going in with only her more natural scanning techniques. She threw Derek an appeasing glance to let him know that she was fine before reaching out and pulling open the front door to the house. She gave it a hard yank, fighting against the rust that had formed in the hinges over the years and finally it pulled free from where the wood had swollen to nearly shut the entrance off. The upper hinge snapped and the door slipped free to hang on its bottom hinge at an angle. She stepped through the doorway that swallowed her within its darkness leaving him nothing to do but wait.
Wait for her to scream, a scream that didn't come as the neighborhood sat in silence.
"Nick calm down." Alex pleaded with her younger partner as he continued to pace the control room in annoyance. She privately smiled to see such anxiety spring forth in him, now at least he had an idea of what he put the rest of them through time and again. Until Tangye's arrival Nick had always been the one running foolishly into dangerous situations and the rest of them had been forced to watch and wait for the outcomes of those moments. Now Nick knew what it felt like to be on the waiting end. She just wished he would take a seat and stew in his own juices for awhile, his nervous pacing wasn't helping her at all.
"I can't." He snapped with more anger then he ever intended to direct in Alex's direction. "For God's sake did you see the look on her face? She was excited to get to do this." Nick ran a rough hand through his dark hair, wincing at some memory. "She's in the Legacy a not even a month and Derek lets her just stroll in there?" Nick asked with complete annoyance at his precept.
"Nick think about who you're talking about. Do you think he could have stopped her?" Alex protested the attack on Derek immediately. That was the last thing she wanted to be caught in the middle of again. Nick being judgmental of every choice that Derek made. Always searching for a flaw in his plans that could cause harm. Nick was confident once again in his precept's abilities and judgement, she didn't want to return to the much more stressed days when Nick lacked that confidence. Nick had an uncanny ability to make situations awkward and stressed, seeming to work better when things were just that way, but it was not a favorable situation to anyone else. She just hoped she could do something to derail Nick's distrust before it could grow.
Alex's thoughts turned more inward as she attempted to ignore Nick's pacing. She thought about her own words and Nick's myriad of comments since they had received the phone call a few minutes before. She recalled the look on the younger woman's face as she had left that morning, knowing exactly what Nick had been referring to when he mentioned her excitement. There had been sheer thrill on her pretty face despite Derek's tense warnings in regards to how dangerous the situation could be since they really knew so little about what was going on. She easily remembered her own hesitation and concern upon seeing that look. Tangye hadn't even behaved as if she were registering the truth that she could be hurt, possibly killed if the situation slipped out of control.
Alex let herself admit the truth she had been trying to avoid ever since meeting the spirited young woman; perhaps Tangye understood perfectly the danger but just didn't care. She tried to resolve the aspects of Tangye's personality into something that made sense but the telepath acted content not to allow that. Her motivations remained her secret. She considered how excited Tangye grew over the simplest pleasures, when one tiny thing seemed to make all the strife worth enduring. She smiled to picture Tangye running down the stairs with childlike abandon, jumping clear of the last few and throwing her arms around Dominick's neck when she had discovered the flannel sheets on her bed one evening. Or the happiness she felt whenever she checked sports scores and found teams she rooted for winning once again. Then there were the moments when the pain still lingering so close to the surface was allowed to win out. Alex had been cornered by that anguish not terribly long ago when she had discovered Tangye in the library in the middle of the night sitting at Philip's table on the balcony reading a Legacy journal and allowing the tears to flow. Alex had got the distinct impression that Tangye had been hoping for Philip to discover her, their bond had formed quickly and she had needed him at that moment. But Philip had returned to the church and Alex offered herself as support in his place. Tangye had handed over Charles Gaarlihn's journal telling Alex to read it as her only explanation for her mood. Alex had hesitantly complied and read the words of a man so loving that there was no hiding it. His emotions poured out through his entries and carried themselves over generations. She thought about the man who had sacrificed his life's passion in order to hopefully repair wounds of anger between himself and his son. He was a man willing to do anything only to make sure his child had no reason to hurt or feel neglected. Alex knew exactly what Tangye had been thinking upon reading those words, 'why couldn't I know him?' Why couldn't he have passed that blind loyalty on?
Then Alex flashed over the memory that in her opinion was the one none of them would ever truly escape. The sight of Tangye standing on the steeple roof arguing with an angry spirit, trying to goad the woman's ghost into pushing her off. There had been no pain at that moment, no joy, not even real anger. Tangye had been acting disconnected from it all in the opinion of the observers. She hadn't acted as though she cared one way or the other at that point. Alex wondered to herself as her partner continued pacing, wishing she could join him, what the young woman wanted, what made her rise in the morning?
She allowed her eyes to scan the room quickly, her face locked and betraying no emotion as she diligently studied every corner. She could hear all of them, a din of voices each attempting to be heard over the others, while she tried to find one to focus on. She needed someone controlled, logical, a voice that could perhaps explain what was happening in the house. None were willing to respond to her needs though as she progressed through the house. She looked up at the tall staircase in front of her leading up to the bedrooms and with a resigned sigh began to climb them, a feeling of dread finally attaching itself to her. What in the hell was she trying to prove? That she had the strength to be in the Legacy after so obviously showing her fear so many times? No one had uttered a word of concern over that behavior. Even after the events with Georgia and Erin Baker Derek had settled for giving her a long lecture and then forgiven her for what she had hidden, though he made it clear that if it happened again it would not be as easily dropped.
She reached the top of the stairs and checked down to either end of the empty hall, finally turning right into the first bedroom. She stepped clear of the door, crossing to the desk on the far wall. She rustled through some of the papers when a voice with clarity spoke from behind her. "You live, what are you doing here?"
She couldn't have hidden the small jump hearing the voice caused her, nor the papers that fell from her hand, scattering on the floor. She forced her voice to be strong when she responded, not allowing any more of her weakness to seep through her exterior. "I came to ask you the same thing, dead guy. See the idea is, you die and then you go, vamoos, paradise, punishment, eternal, ring any Sunday school bells?" She was impressed by her own tone, sounding so confident. She wanted to keep this situation on her own terms, and she felt more in control when confusing others with statements that were out of place.
She turned to see the haze begin to take form in front of her, finally coalescing into the body of a man that looked to be in his mid-thirties with a worn look to his dark face. His black hair hung down to his shoulders in countless dreadlocks and he wore simple black clothes. His eyes studied her, looking for answers that she wouldn't voice and she fidgeted anxiously under that gaze. When he gained whatever insight he was looking for the spirit finally turned his gaze back to her face.
"This is the house of our deaths." He answered simply. Tangye stared at him shocked to receive such an answer; there was no way that was possible. She was hearing so many voices, there was no way that many people died in this house and no one knew.
"You died here?" She asked, hating her voice for the quiver she heard in it.
"In a sense, our spirits did." Tangye stepped up to the man and noted the smile that formed on his face with that move. He was pleased to see the intruder was so strong, her fear was obvious but she was unwilling to cower behind it. This one was a find, one he could do nothing about because of his binds.
"But that's what you are, spirits don't die. It's a one shot deal, or everyone would be doing it, just to get a taste. You don't get to decide you don't like it." She asserted. She didn't want to consider what he could be saying. Could spirits really die? If that was possible, then what had she done?
"I'm merely the impression of my spirit now. A fingerprint left on this place." He answered cryptically, his answer clarifying nothing to her and that fact amusing him.
"Impossible." Tangye answered back, not believing the words that she was hearing. A spirit was the part of a person that lasted after death, the immortal part, there was no way that part could be killed.
"Is it, little one?" Another voice joined their conversation with clarity as all the others continued to vie for her attention. Tangye realized immediately that she was trapped between the two spirits.
Derek and Rachel waited in a strained silence, watching the house for any sign. Derek recalled all too easily the last situation like this that he had been forced to endure. He had waited outside the Gaarlihn house for hours, looking for a sign of how things were progressing. That memory was painfully recent as he thought about the fact that walls of a house once again separated her from them. He turned to look at Rachel whose face held the same anxiety that he was feeling.
"Do you think she's okay?" Rachel asked hopefully.
"She has three more minutes." Derek proclaimed not removing his eyes from his friend's face.
"Then?" Rachel looked at him curiously, wondering what plan he had formed.
"Then you go after her. You should be fine." He added the last words to offset the fear he saw on her face. "Whatever is in there is loud, but you won't hear it." She nodded though she wasn't quite as confident as Derek was in that evaluation. Still she couldn't just leave Tangye in there if she didn't come out of her own accord. Not after everything the girl had done for Rachel by protecting Kat.
They both turned their attention back to the house waiting for any sign at all.
"Not so little anymore, all grown up now." Tangye flinched from something implied in that statement but then the voice began to click into place for her. She turned to face the woman behind her, whose spirit looked even less formed then the man's. Both were to be fighting to hold on to the physical world and showed a lack of success through their inability to form completely.
"I know you." Tangye whispered, shocked by the familiarity of the face before her.
"I would hope so, none managed to infuriate me as much as you in life, much less in death." The woman smiled fondly at some memory and then directed her attention to a closer study of the girl she had once known. "I hope your lessons came along well." Tangye nodded dumbly as the woman closed some of the distance between them. Her eyes were dark and kind still, despite the struggle she was in to hold on to her form. "But some of your lessons were too hard, weren't they?" She reached her hand out, resting its cold breeze against Tangye's face. Again a smile replaced her straining expression. "But through it all you held onto that strong child within you. That shall always survive."
"I suppose." Tangye answered finally finding her voice again.
"Nonsense, you know it. I see in you still that child that made me wish I could pull my hair out." She shook her head to look at the face she knew so well, changed so much over the years. She was a beauty but it was rare and harder to define then the exquisite almost angelic images that she had once pictured the child growing in to. Not so much perfect but well mixed. There were imperfections but they were overshadowed by something that had existed in her since she was a child. "All grown up now."
"Eighteen years passed, it happens." She shrugged forcing her shock to slip away.
"Indeed it does." She nodded her agreement. "I thought your talent would fade but clearly it has not." She sounded almost sad to make that point, as if she regretted what the statement meant.
"It's a part of me, Marilee." She spoke the woman's name as her weeks with this woman resurfaced. Of all the spirits from her childhood there had only been a few whose visits stretched into weeks, and only one with more then nine weeks, Dorothy. Marilee had been with her for nearly three weeks when she had suddenly vanished. Marilee had taken it upon herself to teach the seven-year-old Tangye French. Tangye remembered aggravating her by constantly wanting to run off and play with new friends who were appearing with alarming frequency. Yet never once during all those times had any temper flared, and the rewards she gave for successful lessons were wonderful.
"I wish it didn't have to be." Marilee admitted with regret, seeing on the once happy face before her how much pain had been afflicted over the years due to her rare talents. She had always prayed that the child would be released from the pain her gifts caused but clearly that was a wish no one heard or listened to at the very least.
"Tangye." Rachel's voice calling from downstairs broke into their discussion. Tangye looked over her shoulder having forgotten that the man was even there patiently waiting out their talk. She missed the look of anger and fear crossing Marilee's face to see the man so close to her last memory of the world beyond this house. Tangye looked back over her shoulder as she heard Rachel begin to ascend the stairs. "Tangye, come on, where are you."
"Your friends are worried, that's good." Marilee said with an approving nod.
"What happened?" She asked quickly, wanting answers before Rachel scared off her tutor. "You just vanished one night."
"You must go." Marilee stepped back without responding as Rachel stepped into the room. She saw that Marilee was relieved to issue that order, glad that she could make Tangye leave. Rachel reached out grasping Tangye's arm, not seeing either of the two figures that Tangye was talking to. "Quickly, go, this is no place for you."
"Wait, please, I need to know." Tangye pleaded as Rachel pulled at her arm, but she didn't even acknowledge the doctor's presence.
"I said go." Marilee insisted before vanishing. Tangye turned quickly hoping to get an answer from the man but he too was no gone and only Rachel stood in front of her, a worried look on her face.
"Are you okay?" Tangye nodded checking the room one last time before allowing Rachel to drag her along down the stairs.
"Fine." She whispered her answer, though she admitted she felt that was less then true. What was Marilee attempting to protect her from? What had she been doing in this place? What had they meant when they said this was the house of death for their spirits? She just hoped Derek's expertise could provide some solutions to the questions overwhelming her mind.
Alex hadn't been able to convince Nick to leave until the moment he had seen Tangye back at the house and safe. She had been oddly quiet in the few moments Alex had passed her in the hall, acting deep in thought rather then her normal jovial self. Nick had been satisfied though and that had given Alex the opportunity to drag him out. Now as he pulled the car over to the side of the street in front of the home they were to find the boy in, she tried to contain her pleased grin. Nick had caught her with the goofy smile on her face several times already during the drive over and hadn't been particularly amused with her. He pulled the keys free of the ignition and looked over her, actually acting quite humble when he mumbled his quick, "I'm sorry I held this up."
"Don't worry Nick. I understand." She said patting his leg fondly and climbing out of the car. Nick stifled his next comment about her mocking his plight. He joined her outside of the car, looking over the roof at her seriously.
"You amused by something?" He asked, trying to sound harsh yet his voice still joking underneath.
"Not amused, happy. I'm glad you found her Nick, that's all. I think eventually you'll realize that you are too." He looked at her curiously wondering why she would say such a thing. What had made her believe that he wasn't glad he had Tangye now in his life? He wondered if Tangye felt the same thing, that maybe he didn't appreciate all that she did for him without knowing she was. He told himself that he would have to find a way to convince her otherwise. He had made too many mistakes in the past; he wasn't going to let himself repeat them now. He would do things right, tell her what she needed to hear from him.
"How 'bout we focus?" He suggested not really wanting to continue the line of conversation.
"Fine by me." Alex nodded and began to wander up the front walk to the house with Nick only a step behind her, in a defensive position as always. She stepped up to the front door, checking the address one last time to make sure they didn't approach the wrong household. She gave a quick nod then Nick's hand shot up, rapping three times hard on the door. He glanced at her curiously, neither of them really knowing what to expect to find. They waited for several moments and one more impatient series of knocks from Nick before the door was jerked open.
The woman standing on the other side of the door was a small, thin, strained looking fifty-year-old, with a shock of gray hair and a face lined with deep wrinkles. She looked the pair on her porch over with immediate disdain. "What do you want?"
"Cecilia Cryer?" Alex asked in answer to the question.
"That's me, why do you care?" Her anger came from nowhere really, just annoyed by the mid-afternoon disruption. It didn't help much that the two standing there were both so young and pretty and seemed to mock her with that. They were preserved in her quick evaluation due to any easy life, probably having been protected from all the bad things real people experienced. She disliked any of those upper crust crybabies with their fancy cars and beautiful clothes who knew nothing of the real world.
"My name is Alex Moreau, this is my associate Nick Boyle, we work for the Luna Foundation. Your son's guidance counselor brought some concerns to our attention and we wanted to speak with you about your son." Alex realized how out of place they were, they really had no solid purpose for their visit, she just hoped the woman didn't fish for one.
"I don't know what you want with my Emmy but he ain't here." She started to close the door on them, not understanding that they necessarily looking for the boy.
"Mrs. Cryer, we would like to talk to you as well if possible." Alex pushed the woman, trying to be admitted inside. The woman studied them over one more time then stepped out of the doorway, curious what the pair could want. She noted that the man was content to stay predominantly a figure of strength behind the woman. His face was held in a distant blankness as his eyes studied her back. The woman on the other hand appeared to be sincere in her words of concern. It was under that belief that Cecilia admitted them into her home.
Emerson came here as he had everyday after school since his brother's illness had set in. He hated this place; the voices he had begun to hear crying out to him did not help him gain any sense of comfort, as he grew more familiar with the rooms. He glanced over his shoulder in the direction of the book his brother had instructed him to find as soon as he was admitted to the hospital. He refused to let his eyes linger on it. He didn't want to have to do it again; he never wanted to touch the accursed book again.
Instead he left the room in the back of the second floor. He tried to listen in on the screaming around him, attempting to sort it out into something logical. But there were too many voices, none able to get through to him. He wondered if he practiced as his brother advised if eventually he would be able to make out what was being said. It was logical, if this was their place of power then everything should be easier here. He dragged his fingers over the dry and cracking wallpaper as he wandered the length of the upstairs hall.
His brother had been trying for so long to explain their father's secrets, insisting that Emerson had to embrace their heritage. Richard had told him that it didn't really matter but it would be better if Emerson accepted it himself. Eventually Emerson would be swayed whether he liked it or not. He hated to admit it but he could feel it happening within him. A compulsion to perform the ritual more often, to study his father's book, to grow in his power.
But he fought to deny those building feelings. He glanced in one of the rooms as he passed by its open door. He froze immediately, his eyes registering the tiny change to the room. A few papers scattered on the floor by the desk. He knew they hadn't been there before. He turned and ran halfway down the stairs. He had entered the house through the back and this was the first time he had seen the broken front door. Emerson was surprised to feel anger building within him to think that this place had been invaded, the power slipping its hold deeper into him.
Derek hated the accursed machine, or, he admitted to himself, he hated it when under his control. Alex could get the computers to perform dance routines he was sure, meanwhile he had trouble getting it to run a simple search. He was not about to let a collections of wires and chips to be his undoing though, not when he had defeated demons, vampires and body snatching spirits. He had allowed Tangye the privacy the young woman obviously craved after coming out of the house. Something she had seen or heard within the walls of the house had disturbed her but she didn't act yet ready to discuss it. Instead she had retreated out to the gardens in silence when they had returned to Angel Island. He knew he would have to press her for an explanation yet felt it would be better if he allowed everything to settle in her mind.
Rachel meanwhile had been dropped off in the city to finish some work and pick up Kat from school, but she had promised to return in the evening. That left only Derek to look into the history of the house, a task quickly making him wish the computer had never been invented. He didn't know if perhaps there was nothing to be learned about the house or if he just didn't know the right routes to take for the information. He had already accessed the city records but been unable to find the facts relating to the construction of the neighborhood or the house itself. Now he was focusing on the small area of San Francisco the house stood in. Perhaps that would be the key, looking at everything in a grander scope.
"Luckless?" He had heard her enter the room but hadn't acknowledged her arrival, not sure why she had come here or if she would want to talk at all.
"To put it simply. Perhaps you could help?" He looked up at her almost pleading with her through his dark eyes. He was glad the hangdog expression brought forth her first smile in several hours as she pulled a chair up beside him.
She began typing in the information Derek wanted looked into, scrolling through and selecting several search parameters and avenues. She let silence fall between them as her fingers found the stone hanging around her neck. Derek had noticed that she had taken up the habit of playing with it in place of her older habit of chewing on her finger. Now that action was reserved for more intense moments, those when she felt she had reason to be named guilty of something.
He thought about the expression he had first seen on her face when Rachel had dragged her out. She had been yearning to go back in the house, as though there was something she hadn't quite finished. Rachel had told Derek that she had neither seen nor heard anything, that statement evoking only one comment from Tangye. 'They're in there.' What she hadn't said and after those words she had fallen into silence. An action that worried Derek more then her expression. Any number of things could have brought forth the pained, nervous look on her face. Any number of memories could have resurfaced to offset her balance. But when Tangye grew quiet and pensive Derek immediately became concerned. Those just weren't traits that he had learned to associate with her. Even when she was frightened she went on talking. He recalled the minutes before they had called forth the spirit of Georgia Baker, the way her litany had gone on and on as she fought to find another way to deal with the problem of Erin. She talked to hide her fear, to put the energy somewhere beside in her head. Silence automatically gave cause for fear.
She sat back in the chair, waiting for the computer to do its work but appearing to be disinterested in the process. She lifted the leather string into her mouth, throwing Derek a few quick glances to see his expression. It was obvious she had him worried but she wasn't sure how to explain what had propelled her into moody silence. He had an expertise in the area that her mind was formulating questions in, so she didn't see where she had a choice but to ask him. She took a deep breath, checking the status bar on the computer almost wishing it would indicate that they didn't have time for talk but it was unwilling to cooperate. The search would take another few minutes at least.
"Derek?" She began, drawing his full attention to her. "Can a spirit die?" The question sounded strange to her ears and she knew why she was asking it, she could only imagine Derek's opinion.
"A spirit is already dead technically." Derek answered back simply, not sure what she meant or how to explain the answer.
"I know, that part's pretty obvious, but can that spirit then be killed as the body was? I mean, how many levels of death are there?" She wasn't sure how better to explain her concerns, she could only hope that Derek knew what she meant with the question.
"Well, typically the spirit is viewed as the bit of a person that lives forever, where it lives of course depends on the person. I suppose the movement out of limbo into a more final resting place could be viewed as a second death, perhaps." He nodded at that explanation hoping it provided what Tangye was fishing for. He was concerned by the nature of the question and the pain it was inflicting on her. His instincts told him to press her for details but he feared that was more the precept side of himself then the man who truly wanted to help this young woman find answers.
"Right, but you can't just " She struggled for the right word, "destroy it? You can't disincorporate it? I know that's not a word, but you know what I mean right? I mean when the Legacy fights some evil spirit bent on revenge, they don't just end it? They send it someplace?" Derek's mind finally clicked on what he thought was the real question she was driving at though he didn't know what had evoked the thoughts in her. It was obvious to everyone in the house that she was content to avoid the truth of what had happened to her, forcing the memories as far away from herself as possible.
He kept his in voice that gentle soothing tone that had worked on her already, he was sure the only reason it ever did comfort her was because she could tell how sincere it was. He wanted to help her, he wanted her to feel as though he was someone she could depend on. "Tangye what you did to your father was merely force him to lose his hold on this plane of existence. You made him move on, but you didn't just end him. I don't think that's even possible." She wasn't surprised that Derek had jumped to that, she had too after all. But with more time to think about it she had realized that she just didn't care what had happened to her father. If he was unwilling to give up his anger up even at the end she saw no reason that she should ever be expected to lose hers. She didn't have it in her to care what had happened to the man she once loved.
"Thanks for that effort Derek, but I'm not asking for his sake. Whatever happened to him it's still not enough." Her voice held that underlying fury that always overtook it when she mentioned her parents, rare as those incidents were. Derek had hoped that the more time that passed the more she would begin to separate her parents and their spirits. That she would allow herself to remember the happy times she had once with her family. He knew all to well what it felt like to always be questioning those times, looking for an ulterior motive. The discovery that his father had been turned to evil before his death had been something he tried to ignore, but he had never had many happy memories of his father to overshadow that knowledge with. Instead as he thought over his time with Winston prior to his death Derek was always questioning what exactly his father had been grooming him for. The Legacy or some other servitude.
He didn't press Tangye to lose the anger though, seeing that it could be the only thing keeping her sane in many rights. As long as she hated her parents she was focused and in a sense safer for it. Nothing would get through her defenses when she refused to consider letting her guard down for an instant. That had been the only thing to gain her forgiveness after the lies she told in regards to Erin's presence. Derek knew she had been trying to protect them due to her natural aversion to spirits that had developed late in her life. He understood perfectly that desire to protect others and to fight the battle alone; it justified enough of the secrets that he himself kept. It was still his job as precept to convince her otherwise.
"I saw someone at the house." She struggled over the words, not sure if she was ready to explain what she had seen. "They said that it was the house of their death, all the voices I was hearing had died there." She brushed her hair back nervously. "But they said that their spirits had died there, not their bodies. I don't see how that could be possible." She shook her head slightly and pushed her chair back to begin pacing.
"But you saw a spirit?" He questioned, confused by what she had said, the pieces not coming together in any logical way.
"Sort of, they said they was more of a fingerprint left on the place. But that doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense either because she talked to me. Not just left some message to be found, but answered questions, she was reacting to me. If she was dead in spirit and body that wouldn't be possible." Derek smiled privately to hear her mention impossibilities again. Her standards were so different then most people's, some even in the Legacy. She readily accepted the existence of sprits and demons but beyond that she had her own brand of skepticism. She just didn't want to believe in certain things; things that complicated truths she felt very grounded in.
"An impression could have been left, a bit of self not entirely destroyed." Derek answered, but wasn't really sure what a proper response was.
"Then it can happen? A spirit can be destroyed not just moved from one place to another. They can be killed?" She latched onto that statement, unduly upset by the idea. "Someone can just destroy a spirit like a bullet could kill a man?"
"I've never heard of it before, but that does not make it an impossibility. Yet there is also the theory that nothing can be created or destroyed, merely reformed." Derek added, hoping that eased some of the anxiety he saw forming on her face.
"Reformed and used in another way?" She asked heavy in the thought, leaving Derek nothing to do but nod and wonder what conclusion she had just come to.