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Memories Revisited by TalgoM
Nick took the seat that Cecilia Cryer gestured to in the living room. He studied the various tacky odds and ends scattered in the room, almost expecting to turn around and find a velvet Elvis on the wall behind him. He grinned to think of that image, looking over the bright colored trinkets that the woman had on display. Her face had not broken that annoyed; studying expression and Nick fought to keep his on as well, noticing that the woman was a bit nervous due to his presence. She would be more likely to answer their questions honestly if she thought Nick might know something, and by acting angry he felt she would believe he did.
"As I said Mrs. Cryer, we had some questions about your son's behavior. His teachers are concerned that perhaps something is going on that is disturbing him." Alex began, the woman never taking her eyes off of Nick's tense form.
"He's got reason to act strange." She answered back brusquely. Alex wondered if they would be able to get any helpful information out of this woman if she was content to keep the world from interfering in their lives.
"Have you noticed any behavior in him that has you concerned perhaps?" Alex pressed.
"Nothing I haven't seen happen time and time again. Something about the genes in this family. Boys get strange as they get older." She answered with an indifferent shrug. Alex held back the sigh she felt build, knowing for certain it was going to be difficult to get through to the woman. She would have to lead her to every answer; never getting anything by the woman's own desire.
"What do you mean they get strange and you've seen this happen before?" Nick leaned forward; hoping the increased closeness would unnerve the woman more still.
"They just get strange. They wander off more. Happened to my husband, happened to Richie, why should I find it strange that eventually Emmy gets to behave the same way?" Alex was instantly annoyed by the woman's calm acceptance of her son's behavior. How could she just sit back and watch without any desire to find out what was happening to her child? Whenever Alex had started to act strange growing up Grandma Rose immediately swept down with a million questions about her behavior. She had always appreciated the intense concern that spoke of, to think young Emerson Cryer got none of that at home was sad in Alex's opinion.
"Who exactly would Richie be?" Nick pushed, noticing Alex's annoyance at something the woman had said. What Nick couldn't be sure, sometimes Alex picked up on the smallest details that would upset her. Usually she would later reveal why and show that her concern was for good cause. Nick just wished that he knew how her sensitivity was so honed, so often accurate.
"My oldest." She threw a nod in the direction of the photo on the mantle. The frame was patterned gold with plastic gems imbedded in it. The photo inside was of two children, one looking to be in his teens, the other little more then an infant. The age difference looked to be about fourteen or fifteen years which was peculiar to Nick in itself. Why would there be such a gap in between the two sons? He had skimmed over the file that Alex had compiled about the Cryer family but had clearly missed the information about a brother. He did recall that Emerson's father had died when he was very young of some sort of terminal illness.
"Could we speak to him by any chance?" Alex asked.
"You can go down to Mercy just like I would have to." She said irritated that they would want to talk to her son. Clearly they didn't know the whole story just by the sudden look on the man's face. He was shocked by the revelation.
"What happened to him?" Nick questioned with surprise. He now wished he had studied the file closer or that Alex had at least given him some warning on the subject.
"That would be M.S. He'll die soon enough." She paused to think something over more closely. "Though he's been showing some improvement lately, odd." She shrugged off the idea.
"So you haven't noticed anything odd about Emerson's behavior?" Alex returned to the topic, forcing down her building irritation. How could this woman so flippantly just say that her son was soon to die? Did she care at all about either of her children?
"He spends most of his time out, says he sees his brother but I don't know about that. Seems like a bit much to me. Richie isn't exactly chatty, and he never had much time for Emmy." She looked up at the clock suddenly and stood. "You should get going, there's nothing I can tell you and you don't need to know nothing else anyway."
"Is everything alright Mrs. Cryer?" Alex asked following the woman's lead and standing. Cecilia automatically began to lead them in the direction of the front door. Nick lingered behind by a few feet studying the room carefully, looking over each of the trinkets.
"Everything's fine, you just need to leave now. There's no reason you should be worried about my Emmy. He's fine, you just need to stay out of things here." There was an apparent nervousness surrounding her now, an urgency she had not previously exhibited towards them. Nick glanced down at the watch on his wrist noticing that it would be just about the time her teenage son should be getting home. She didn't really act fearful of the boy but she also clearly didn't want to be discovered with them in the house.
"Mrs. Cryer we do want to help you with Emerson in any way that we can, or with your other son. The Luna Foundation is directed towards helping people who need it. But we must be told what we need to help you with." Alex tried for her sincerity but it was still shadowed in her quickly forming dislike of the woman.
"I said I don't need your help. I've been down this road before, I know how to handle it." Cecilia said with increasing annoyance.
"What road exactly?" Nick pushed for the details, feeling that they hadn't really learned anything in the visit. Cecilia rolled her eyes knowing there was no way she would be able to force the strong young man out of her house if he was determined to get answers.
"The men grow distant, private, hiding what they are doing and disappearing all of a sudden like they have an appointment. It doesn't mean anything. They grew up. Boys do that." She pulled the door open, stepping aside so that they would be able to easily go through. "Like I said, we don't need, or want your help. I know what I'm doing with my boys I don't need your money or anything else."
"We didn't mean to insinuate " Alex began to apologize, recognizing the woman's discomfort over being offered charity. Not many people were happy when they learned they were viewed as a charity case, an understandable reaction.
"Yeah well, you didn't " She retorted clearly not understanding the meaning Alex had. "I just ain't looking for help from no one. My boys will be fine, I'll talk to Emmy about how he acts in school." She finished just as Nick cleared the doorway. As soon as he was outside the old door slammed shut on them both. They turned to look through the glass window but Cecilia had already vanished from view.
He hadn't come here to do this again, Emerson thought as he circled the room, lighting the many candles he had set up. For some reason knowing that someone else had been in the house filled him with dread and anger. He felt his brother's urgency to complete the process. It had to be done soon, how many more times could possibly be necessary? Their voices were screaming at him in such numbers already, surely soon there would be enough to sate him.
He crossed the room with a purposeful step, hating the weakness his conflicting feelings spoke of. Hating that bit of himself as intensely as Richard would have. He lifted his father's book into his hands, drawing it close against his chest as he began to recite the chant he had been taught as a child. Richard said his own training had only begun when their father grew ill, he had not made the mistake of waiting with his brother. Since as early as Emerson could talk Richard had been preparing him for his 'mantle of power'. The level that their family was always intended to ascend to. He knew the ritual as well as he knew the Pledge of Allegiance. It was a part of him, even in those weak moments when he was trying to deny his place.
He closed his eyes at the end of the chant and waited. Waited for the inevitable terror filled scream that always bombarded him after the ritual. A scream that spoke of death and would ring in his ears forever.
Finally it came, pleading words first and then just one loud sound that finally faded away. Emerson's shaking arms let the book fall to the ground as he stepped back from the painted mark on the floorboards. He couldn't believe he had given in again. Why was he so weak? He hated everything about this place, all it meant for him. Yet he always returned to it, he protected it. He hated it but it was a part of him and he knew he would never be able to stop until the process was complete and his brother was whole again.
"Well she's trying to hide something." Nick pointed out the obvious as Alex finally stepped away from the door accepting that Cecilia would not come back to offer them any more information. She looked at him wearily, the same look she gave him whenever he said something too apparent. He shot her a quick appeasing grin to head off a lecture about his attitude.
"But what? Information or us?" Alex posed the question in both of their minds. Nick couldn't decide which it was so he just shrugged and started back to the car. "So it wasn't just me that got the feeling that she was afraid she would be discovered with us in the house?"
Nick shook his head, indicating that he too had noticed but still didn't know what the urgency had meant. Nick didn't need to point out that school would be getting out right about that time, Alex hardly ever missed those details. "You want to wait around, see when her 'little Emmy' gets home how things go? We were supposed to talk to him." Nick asked before climbing into his car.
"No, I don't think that will help her at all." Alex shook her head pulling her door open and climbing in. "We'll tell Derek, see what he thinks might be best to do." Nick nodded his agreement throwing the house one last leery glance. He tore away from the curb with the same urgency he always drove with. Alex absently reminded herself that she should fight more with him about letting her drive on assignments. There was enough to worry about without Nick terrifying her with his driving. She trusted his abilities but couldn't fight the lurches in her stomach whenever he confidently took corners without slowing down.
"What about Richie?" Nick asked, wanting to hear Alex's opinion on that issue.
"I'm not sure, maybe someone should visit him. See if he's more willing to discuss his brother." Nick agreed with her opinion on that. It appeared from what Cecilia had said that Emerson was spending a great deal of time with Richard, perhaps he would prove more capable of pointing out the source of his brother's recent difficulties. "I want to do some more research first, I don't need any more surprises like him."
"So you didn't know either, it wasn't just me?" Nick questioned with relief to discover he wasn't the only one in the dark about the issue. "Why wouldn't something like that come up in the original search?"
"Good question." Nick understood the suspicion Alex felt. It was rare that the Legacy missed important details, unless someone was trying to hide them. A terminally ill brother should have been easy enough to learn about. Silence fell in the car as Nick took back roads to the ferry, both thinking about what they had learned and failed to learn. During most of the conversation Nick had been wondering why they were even there. Nothing that was being described sounded more threatening then the average teenage angst most kids went through. Emerson was distant, spending less and less time at home, hiding things. Nick knew that when he was that age he could probably have been described with the exact same words.
Alex looked across the seat at him as twenty minutes later he drove on to the ferry. She hadn't been able to resolve the Emerson Cryer situation in her head and had decided to put it on hold until she could get some feedback from the other members of the house. Once she had that clear in her mind she had allowed herself to start thinking about her partner. She had been teasing him for days about the rather obvious feelings he had for their new teammate, allowing him to avoid other thoughts. She couldn't let that go on forever. She loved Nick too much to ever allow him to suffer alone, she felt an impulse to protect him as a big sister would even when he desperately didn't want the attention. Which, she admitted, was pretty much all the time. Nick always preferred to suffer in silence rather then let anyone know he was hurting in any way. Alex had never been sure if the behavior came from some general machismo or some other lesson that Nick had received. Whatever the answer she would never let him believe he was alone.
But it always had to be approached carefully. She had seen Nick have countless irrational outbursts, or at least what the rest of them considered irrational. She was certain that Nick always had motivation for his behavior, something going on in his head that the rest of them too often failed to notice. They were gradually learning the reasons, but with Nick, getting him to open up was often a painfully slow process. Someone had taught him along the way it was better to keep everything to himself, but with such a caring spirit Nick was bound to meet breaking points. There were so many things that could hit too close to home and rally his anger. She fortified herself for the annoyance her questions were bound to cause from her younger partner, but refused to allow herself to back down. Like it or not, Nick Boyle was going to learn that he was not as alone as he wanted to believe.
They got out of the car and went to the rail of the ferry studying the waters of the bay as they splashed against the side of the boat. Alex looked over at his face trying to find the tell tale signs that Nick was in a bad enough mood that now would be a bad time to push this topic. She was relieved to see him looking both calm and reasonable. She pushed her hair away from her face and when she dropped her hand back down to the railing she let it fall over Nick's. He looked at her with raised eyebrows. "Nick, you would talk to me wouldn't you? If something was bothering you, you feel comfortable enough to tell me about it don't you?" Her voice was so gentle that Nick flinched away from it.
Why did everyone do this to him? Corner him to ask him questions that he just assume went unanswered. He was impressed that evidently there was a specific waiting period given before approaching him about these subjects since Derek had also asked him about it earlier. Alex knew perfectly well that Nick trusted her, she was using that as a segue into what she really wanted to discuss. He smiled ruefully thinking that it was a behavior they all exhibited, sure that at some point he had given them cause to act this way. 'Leave me alone with someone long enough and they're bound to start digging.' He thought. He wanted to hate their constant watchful eyes but knew that in some way it helped to repair damage almost as old as he was.
"I know you care Alex, but I don't need to talk." He kept his voice even, Alex didn't deserve to be gone off on just because of her concern. If she pushed though that was different.
"I'm glad to hear that Nick. You mean the world to me, you know that right?" He nodded, only showing slight irritation. "Nick, I know certain things bother you but you hate to talk about them. I think it would be good for you if you felt comfortable doing it though "
"Alex don't." Nick warned casually, hoping that she took the hint.
"Nick just hear me out. Life in the Legacy is hard enough on us all. We all entered with our own baggage and on more occasions then I can count you have been there for me to help unload some of that. You have been a good friend to me. Can't you let me do that for you?" Nick shook his head and took a few steps away from her. "I'm sorry Nick, but I can see it in your eyes. Philip hurts you when he doesn't want to. You do it to him intentionally " She regretted the words the second they came out of her mouth.
"So what, I'm the bad guy?" Nick snapped, his dark eyes flaring.
"I didn't say that Nick. I'm just trying to explain to you." Alex floundered to keep the situation under control. She didn't want Nick to lose his cool in such a public place, knowing that it would only make him hate himself more for the weakness her words had found.
"That I behave childishly with Philip? Fine, point made." Nick's face locked, waiting to see what path she took next. He hated that Philip was always his weak spot, he honestly dealt better with references to his father then his best friend. What caused that he wasn't sure. A mix of his honest annoyance that Philip always left or the deeper pain that abandonment caused? Or perhaps it was his own regret over his treatment of the priest. Maybe when people pointed out how much he cared about Philip he was forced to face all the cruel things he had done to him over the years.
"That's not the point Nick. I don't want you to think that for a moment you're alone. That's all." Alex struggled to keep him calm, keep his mind away from things that angered him.
"Got it, not alone." Nick nodded and went back around to his side of the car as the ferry closed the distance to Angel Island's docks. Alex sighed, aggravated by her inability to get through to him. Yet she could also understand it. Compile his childhood and his military training and it was fairly easy to see where Nick would have learned to contain all his emotions except his aggressiveness, which was probably fostered often enough.
"I'm sorry if that bothers you." Alex said sharply, deciding to meet Nick with some of his own attitude. His eyes shot up to her, surprised to hear such a tone in her normally gentle voice. "But for some reason Nick I do care about you."
"I know that Alex. I just don't see any reason to talk about everything." He pulled the door open, his voice and facial expression both complacent. She almost wanted to laugh out loud to see him take on such a pitiful expression for her, knowing that he was using it to amuse her. She shook her head slightly at him, but couldn't help but smile fondly.
"Nick, someday you're going to give up this macho front." Alex said playfully.
"Who said it was a front?" Nick looked over at her curiously, his eyebrows raised sharply in a manner not so different from Derek's typical surprised expression. Now she gave in to her laughter and Nick, appeased by her amusement, started the car. He pulled off of the ferry, starting up the road to the house. He glanced over at her as she finally contained her giggles, deciding not to let up on her that easily he went for the same jab she had been giving him. "So, you and Gilby, little magic going on?" He nudged her in the ribs, just rejuvenating her fit of laughter.
Derek looked around the room to his gathered team. Alex and Nick had returned not long ago both clearly frustrated by their lack of success in the interview of Mrs. Cryer. Now they sat at the table staring at Derek awaiting instruction and possibly some opinions. Rachel's eyes studied him, still nervous after his attack earlier in the day despite his insistence that once away from the house he felt fine. Meanwhile Tangye was grinding away the lead on the pencil she had, pushing and turning it down into the pad of paper in front of her, in an unspoken acknowledgement of her troubled thoughts.
"I'm not really sure what to tell you." He admitted after Alex had explained the attitude they had received from Cecelia Cryer as well as the lack of information they had obtained. "From the nervousness you described I would say that she is aware of something going on. Alex, Tangye I want the two of you to try and talk to Emerson tomorrow. See if you can learn anything from them, Emerson might slip with something useful."
"I thought I was working with Alex?" Nick asked, surprised by the sudden change. Derek shot Nick a quick glance that told him not to argue.
"Honestly I don't want any of psychics near the house until some tests can be run. Can you and Rachel do that tomorrow?" Nick looked to the older woman, knowing she would be more likely to have a conflict. She shrugged her agreement. "Good."
"Mind if I ask what happened today? Could you describe it Derek, maybe I could do a little research?" Alex requested carefully, knowing how Derek liked to keep many things private.
"It was just voices, more then I could hear. I suppose I shut down." Derek sat down, waiting for Alex's evaluation of the problem. Sharing the bond of their Sight Derek grew to depend on his assistant more and more for her opinions of those things they experienced.
"And Tangye, it didn't effect you?" Alex pressed for more information before coming to any conclusions or deciding on a path for her research.
"I heard them." She answered quickly, keeping her eyes mainly focused on the pencil though she took a brief moment to look at Alex.
"But it didn't overload you?" She shook her head, offering no explanation.
"But she saw something." Derek supplied, Alex and Nick both looked at her expectantly not having heard this part of the story before.
"Two something's." She admitted. She put down her pencil, sitting back in her chair. Her jaw shifted back and forth a few times as she considered the best way to explain her connection to the woman she had seen in the house. "A man and a woman. I don't know the who the man was, he told me it was the house of their deaths."
"You did know the woman?" Rachel asked, noticing that she hadn't referred to both when she made the point of her lack of familiarity. Tangye glanced around the room quickly as if searching for someone to help her out of a difficult situation, but they all just waited on her answer. Finally she turned her light eyes back to Rachel and nodded with regret.
"Her name is Marilee." She bit down on her thumbnail waiting for the barrage of questions.
Derek immediately noticed her discomfort about the corner she was in and hated to see that in her as much as it would have bothered him with the rest of them. He looked at her with heartbreakingly kind eyes, and his accented voice was soft. "This was someone you cared about?"
She flinched at something about that statement but mumbled a quick, 'yeah.'
"You okay?" Nick whispered, hating the melancholy silence she had fallen into.
"I'm fine." She looked back up at the group with a deep exhale. "You have to understand, I cared about them all. My teachers and playmates were only there for a short while but I was just a little girl. I threw myself into love quickly." She brushed her hair back remembering how much she had loved them. How they would come into her life and she would instantly trust them. How simple things had been all those years again. "Remember when you were little, the person who would tuck you in to bed and sing or read you to sleep? It was easy to love that person because they were the one who watched over you. Theirs was the last face you saw at night, like some guardian angel. You trusted them with everything. When I was growing up that person was always changing for me but no matter who it was I felt the same. I looked at them through the same trusting eyes and loved them completely."
Rachel reached over and gently patted her hand, touched by something her words spoke of to the mother in her. Thinking of her own child and the eyes that Kat looked at her with. Even when Kat was most afraid she always looked at Rachel with trust and absolute faith.
"What do you know about this woman?" Derek asked softly.
"Not much really. She came when I was seven, stayed for about three weeks. I was still trying to push the spirits away most of the time because of Dorothy. I felt that I was keeping them with me and away from something better." She shook her head focusing her thoughts more on Marilee then the other memories. "She, ah, came to teach me French, gave it her best shot at least. She'd try to get me to sit still long enough to get my lessons but I wasn't really interested in any of it. She'd tell me to translate things and I'd do it in Latin just to be aggravating." Tangye chuckled slightly at some memory from those days. "She would reward me when I succeeded though which was the only way she ever got through to me. She'd color with me, taught me to make pudding., all sorts of things. She never told me anything about how she died or why she came to me. One morning I woke up and she was gone. I got upset, started crying, translated all of Cat in a Hat into French but she didn't reappear. I never understood why it happened, all the others had the courtesy to say goodbye." She looked at them all realizing that she had let the story wander off the point. "Eventually tears became anger, I was 'different' for awhile but I grew out of it." She shrugged remembering the hurt and disappointment from those weeks. She had felt turned on, as though she were going to fail over and over again by hurting the spirits that were visiting her. Why else would Marilee leave if not out of anger?
None of them pressed what she meant when she said she was different, unsure that she would be able to explain it. "There must have been a reason that she left, something that was done to her spirit." Derek said, not sure what could have been done.
"Something about the house?" Alex asked.
"Yes, or something going on in the house." He nodded his agreement.
"She wanted me to leave." Tangye piped up suddenly from where she was sullenly staring at the tabletop once again. "She was glad that Rachel showed up to get me out of there."
"So she's concerned about the threat, which means whatever brought her there is still around." Derek was glad to feel the case take on some direction. If they watched the house they would easily be able to learn what was going on within its walls, or he hoped as much. "Everyone get some sleep, I think we have a lot of work ahead of us." The group nodded in agreement, all sensing that this case was about to get much more urgent then just a house with some strange happenings. Yet they still had to figure out what was happening with Emerson Cryer as well, not wanting to leave the boy unsupervised to find more trouble.
Richard woke in the early hours of evening after a short nap feeling a familiar energy returning to his body. He lifted his arm carefully from the sheets, concerned by the pain the action might cause. But the pain didn't return. For the first time in months he moved himself in the bed without any discomfort. He looked around the room and his vision was clear after having strained to focus from his sleep. There was no blur around the edges that had been there for so long. He realized with rare glee that soon enough he would be able to climb out of the bed. It had been so long since he had felt the kind of strength within him that would be required for such an act.
His sniveling little brother was actually succeeding at something. He had never thought that would be possible. Emerson had always been the weaker one since the day his mother had him to appease their father's dying request. Why he had wanted to have another child Richard didn't know. He had everything he could have hoped for in his first son. Richard was a believer in their family's legacy, he sought the power that had been passed down through the generations but was always denied their line in full. He planned on changing that fact once he was free of the confines of his hospital bed.
He may not have understood the reason that Emerson had to be born but he was going to use the crybaby if he was around. With two people working on the rituals they were certain to be able to draw forth more power and offerings. Together they would be able to ascend to heights of power that his father had probably only ever dreamed of. His father would have had no idea that Emerson was going to turn out to be so weak, but he also probably would never have expected that his first son could use that weakness so effectively to his own advantage.
Emerson was crying out to be manipulated by someone and Richard was the sort to recognize the ease of that conquest. Emerson would do anything if given the right reason and as long as he felt he was helping his brother he would continue in the rituals he hated. Eventually the power at their disposal would overwhelm his young mind. Success would matter more and more until it was the focus of his every passing thought. He would not be able to fight off the type of power they were dealing with.
Richard flexed his hand a few times, stretching the fingers then wrapping them into a tight fist, glorying in the strength he felt there. He thought about his mother's reaction and couldn't help but smile. She believed she had reason to fear before, she would learn the truth quickly enough. Her life had been easy and full of forgiveness up until this point. When Richard climbed free of this bed he would make her regret her betrayal of his father. She knew nothing of hardship yet. He smiled at that, at the idea of getting payback on the woman he blamed for all that had come to destroy them but failed to defeat the power they held.
He just had to keep on Emerson, not allow him the option of slackening off their efforts to make Richard whole again. There would be no healing without his brother, he didn't have the strength to contain the power yet, but soon. Soon, he smiled, there would be no one that could hope to step in and stop him.
"So this is it?" Nick asked surprised as he pulled the Mustang over to the side of the road. He looked at the house that rang so familiar of a hundred other houses he had visited during his time with the Legacy. These old, dilapidated buildings just cried out 'haunt me' into the spirit world. He admitted to himself that he was always relieved to find places such as this with active spirits rather then somewhere anyone was actually living. It provided a safety net for their work, no questions, and no danger to bystanders, still there was something creepy about the abandoned houses they visited.
"You don't seem impressed?" Rachel joked.
"What are you kidding, this is great. Exactly what I see myself settling into." Nick plucked up his bag.
"When would that be exactly?" Rachel played along with his sardonic tone, looking for an admission from Nick. Rachel had always felt that Nick would make a wonderful father and at twenty-eight she could see he was finally reaching a stage where he might start to consider just that. He shot her a quick, curious glance knowing full well that she was fishing for something.
"Post mortum." He said as though it were the only possible answer. She shook her head at that dark side to his humor. She followed him up the walk to the broken front door. "We go where Tan saw the spirits, hopefully we can get something out of this trip." Rachel nodded her approval of that idea, knowing it would be her job to take him there. Then Nick would take over the operation with his expertise of the equipment at the Legacy's disposal.
Nick helped her past the broken door and into the house and then stepped aside to let her take the lead. She led him to the stairs, looking over her shoulder only once for encouragement. He nodded at her and then she proceeded to climb to the top of the staircase. Nick kept checking behind him as if he expected to be suddenly discovered in the house, by what he wasn't sure. He just felt that they weren't alone though he was hearing nothing from the voices that both Tangye and Derek had described. But he wasn't going to take any unnecessary risks, especially because he wasn't alone. Rachel was depending on him to protect her back and he would do just that.
At the top of the stairs she paused then turned, walking only a few more feet before stopping outside one of the rooms. "This is where I found her." Rachel indicated. Nick again nodded and stepped in first, looking over the discarded furniture left in the house, noticing a group of scattered papers on the floor, rotted drapes hanging in front of the window, and several signs that the house wasn't entirely free of animal life. He dropped his bag to the floor and started to unpack it. "So you think this will get us anything?" Rachel asked fighting against the silence of the place that she was sure was only skin deep. Underneath it all there were the voices crying out that had been described to her and left her so unsettled.
"Better." Nick answered quickly. He knew Rachel's faith in the ability of the equipment was sometimes lacking but it had proven its value time and again in Nick's opinion. Maybe there was no easy or completely reliable way to test for spirit activity but the scanners the Legacy had developed did pretty well. "So, tell me something Rach, why do you think Derek's so worried about the kid?" Nick asked hoping to distract her from the worried glances she felt it necessary to throw around the room. As far as Nick was concerned the Legacy really had no reason to be investigating Emerson Cryer, nothing really did indicate that he was anything more then an average teenager. Yet Derek insisted that investigation continued as though he knew something that the rest of them didn't, something that had managed to get him very concerned about the boy's activities.
"Probably instinct." Rachel shrugged. She had the same questions Nick did, but as much as she wrestled with the idea she couldn't find a satisfactory answer.
"You think he saw something?" Nick paused in his activities to look up at her for her thoughts. She didn't want to say that was it, knowing that meant he would have been keeping things from them again. She felt that Derek had finally moved beyond that annoying trait and was completely honest with his team. She didn't want to think that he had backslid into such behavior or into the lack of faith it spoke of. Rachel was loathe to admit it but she knew that the opinion of her fellow Legacy members meant much more to her than those held by her colleagues in medicine.
"I'm not sure. I just think that Derek's gut tells him when to be concerned about things some times." Nick hung the headset around his neck, accepting that answer.
"Got another question for you. Is multiple sclerosis always fatal?" Nick asked, remembering Cecilia's comment from the previous day but also feeling that something was wrong with that. He didn't know that much about the disease but for some reason that sounded wrong.
"No Nick, not at all. Why would you think that?" Rachel was very surprised to hear such a thing from him, wondering what could have put that concern in his head.
"Yesterday when Mrs. Cryer told us about Richard, she said that he would die soon enough. I didn't think it was always fatal, but I wasn't sure." Nick looked around the room trying to decide where he should start.
"And what's going on in that head of yours?" Rachel had grown to know Nick well over the past four years and she could always tell when he was trying to formulate information into an answer.
"Just seems odd. Why is she so sure that he'll die soon, what does she know?" Rachel smiled at the younger man fondly.
"It could be she may just know the truth." Rachel patted his back as he shrugged and turned the small scanner in his hand on. As soon as the power surged through it the readout began flashing. Nick was amazed to see that instead of one specific point lighting up, it looked almost evenly spread across the screen. Rachel looked at it with him, believing there had to be something wrong with the scanner. If the read out were correct that would mean they were completely surrounded, that there were spirits right on top of them. "That's not right is it?" She asked nervously, thinking to herself that Tangye would have mentioned it if she saw this number of spirits.
"It should be." He didn't want to commit to an answer, finding himself desiring not to trust the equipment to be accurate. "I'm going to walk around, see if maybe I can get a handle on this." He stepped back out of the door leaving Rachel alone in the room she had found Tangye in the day before. She wrapped her arms around her shoulders, hugging herself for some small sense of comfort. She didn't care how long she spent in the Legacy, she would never get used to the idea of being so close to someone's spirit. There was just something very disconcerting about the idea to her.
She looked around the room, really taking in the details for the first time. It had clearly once been someone's bedroom but there was scare furniture in the room now. Just a bed lacking a mattress, a small desk and an oversized wardrobe on the right wall. She looked over at the wardrobe thinking that if it could only be treated it would still be a beautiful addition to any home. She crossed over to it, tracing her fingers over the dust-covered carvings. The wood was still smooth to her touch, with subtle curves imbedded into it. She glanced down at her dirty fingertips and brushed them off on each other. She checked over her shoulder for Nick then reached out to release the latch that held the doors shut.
"Rachel, come here." She jumped to hear Nick's voice call out to her, his tone carrying with it an odd quality that Rachel couldn't quite place. She forgot about the wardrobe quickly and turned to follow the sound of Nick's voice. He led her down the hall and around one turn to where he was standing on the far side of a room next to another doorway. "Have a look." He held up the scanner, which was now entirely lit up, and no longer flashing. "Door number one."
He gestured to the room he stood outside of turning off the scanner. Rachel stepped through and Nick hit the lights for her to see the circle of candles set up on various pieces of furniture. There was a table over by the window that reflected clear light off of its top, rather then the dull light bouncing off all the other dust covered furniture. She was surprised that she even noticed it, it was such a tiny detail. She looked at Nick for his opinion and he just grinned. "Someone has been here." He nodded. "Recently, and there was some kind of ritual going on?" Again he nodded. "Nick, what are you thinking?"
He shrugged studying the room one more time. His eyes noticed in the corner of the room a small circular table with a statue of a man about a foot high on it. He noticed the intricacies of the features even from a distance. For a moment he thought it odd to see a piece of artwork in the room but then dismissed the train of thought, deeming it unimportant. So someone left a trinket in the house when it had been abandoned, why not? Everything else had been left as well. He shook his head and left the room with Rachel trailing behind him. "I'm going to get the camera." He said rather then answering her.
"Nick, what?" Rachel demanded. He looked over his shoulder at her, his face still grinning.
"Just, well, Derek is going to love this." He said lightly, and Rachel knew how right he was. This was what Derek enjoyed the most, the mystery and hunt.
Emerson heard the man's voice call out the name Rachel and moments later listened as footsteps retreated from the room. He let out the air he had been struggling to hold in his lungs, not sure what he would have done if he had been discovered. He gave himself a few moments, hearing the two voices discussing something down the hall. Feeling safe that they would not hear him he turned the knob controlling the outside latch on the wardrobe and pushed the door open. He checked the room, noticing a heavy duffel bag by the door. He glanced in as he passed it to see several expensive looking electronic devices. He ignored them and quietly moved in the opposite direction toward the back set of stairs. He crept down them not wanting to draw any attention to himself. He sighed, relieved to see that he had left the door open so he wouldn't make that noise.
He slipped by it and ran across the yard, hoping neither of them were near any of the windows and would see him. He went down a few houses through the back yards and then turned back to the street. He took a seat on a small power box to wait and see how long they took until they left. He had to go back and make sure that they didn't discover his father's book. He had hid it exactly where Richard had told him to but could still imagine his brother's anger if it was found. He knew that anger would be nothing if they decided to take it but he didn't want to think about that idea at all. He would have to get it back under any means possible, he couldn't lose the text.
They were investigating him. He thought with dread. He had no idea who these people were but they were looking into his life. They had talked to his mother. His anger began to swell to think about it. What right did they have to be digging into his life? Who were they at all to be investigating him or entering the house? They didn't understand how sacred the place was to his family and his brother's health, they had no right at all. He was certain that these were the same people who had been in the house the day before, it made perfect sense. They had disrupted the place yesterday and now they were back to do more damage.
He couldn't believe how quickly the anger overtook him. The mere idea that anyone would dare to enter the house his father had founded. A place that his soul fought with itself over. He couldn't come to a conclusive decision if he hated the place or not. He wanted to hate it, he knew that was the right thing to do but he just couldn't hold on to that. It was a part of him, just as Richie always said it was. He didn't like what the place stood for or the ritual he was expected to perform over and over again but he continued to do it due to some internal impulse that he couldn't force himself to ignore.
He sat there growing more frustrated by the knowledge that strangers were exploring the house, learning quickly about the anger that his brother said he should just give in to. Emerson knew he was weak, he didn't need his older sibling to constantly be reminding him of that fact. He never would show the strength of dedication that his brother had since he was just a child. He knew that his father would be disgusted to see what became of his second child whom he hardly ever knew. He just couldn't get past the weakness that was somehow engrained into his spirit. This whole legacy would be easier if he could only do that but he knew it would never be so simple that he could just tell it to go away.
Finally he saw the man and woman exit the house and go over to an impressive looking red convertible parked on the street. The man, who from the distance looked small but solid, tossed the bag he carried into the trunk of the car. They paused for a moment to discuss something, the woman nodding at whatever the man said. They climbed into the car and pulled away from the side of the road with a noticeable squeal from the tires. Emerson waited until they turned off around the far corner down the street before moving from his perch to go running back around to the back of the house. He ran straight up the stairs going to the far room where he had left the set up from the previous ritual. He studied the room and found that nothing was noticeably disturbed still he went straight to the old radio in the corner to be certain. He gripped the corner of the front speaker with the tips of his fingers and gave it a quick tug.
As soon as the material was removed he saw the cover of the book his father had put together for his sons. He reached out and gently touched the fabric cover, an unconscious scowl taking over his young face. They hadn't found it, they probably had no idea what was going on at all, even if they did know whom to associate with the house. They would never be able to prove anything, and even if by some chance they were able to figure the truth out, who in their right mind would ever believe the story that they had to tell?
He replaced the speaker and stood back up deciding it would be best if he avoided the house for the time being in case they decided to come back for a closer inspection. He would have to tell Richard about what was happening, his brother would surely know what to do.
Derek rubbed at his face wearily after hanging up the phone with Nick who informed him that he was coming back with some interesting pictures. Instead Derek had instructed him to go to the records department to see what papers they could dig up about the house. Evidently Alex had been able to learn very little through the database and they would need to do some research by hand. It was far from the first time that Derek found himself cursing the fact that some sections of the government or media had not yet got all their old records on a system accessible to the Legacy. Everything just slowed down so much when they couldn't get facts quickly in the control room.
Meanwhile Tangye and Alex had just left on their hunt for Emerson Cryer. They were planning on seeing if they could meet him as he left school, though how they were going to initiate that conversation he wasn't sure. Derek wasn't even certain though that the boy would be at school. Something about the youngster had him extremely concerned even if he couldn't name what it was. He just felt that the boy was in some sort of danger that he didn't understand, playing with something perhaps beyond his control. Derek had recognized the description the guidance counselor had given him instantly. In a sense Nick was right, it didn't really sound very different from the words people would use to describe the most average teenager.
Yet Derek had listened to so many of those worried details before, he knew which words to pinpoint by now, the words that carried a heavier meaning. Too often those cases when a parent or friend thought they were just being over protective the truth turned out to be something much darker. Why so many children got involved in magic that was clearly both destructive and terrifying he couldn't guess. He flinched at the involuntary thought that his father had done the same thing even with all the knowledge he had from working with the Legacy.
He was relieved to have a distraction from that recollection when the phone on his desk rung. He hit the speaker button absently and said a quick greeting. "It's Kristin, I just wanted to see how everything was going back there." Her surprisingly cheerful voice came through the static riddled speaker.
"Fine, how was your flight?" He answered back, knowing that she had called to dig. He hadn't said anything else about the small feud going on in his house, but he wasn't blind enough to overlook it either.
"Comfort of the Legacy jet and all that." She responded with humor.
"Who sent the jet for you?" Derek asked surprised to hear that she had taken it to London. They usually attempted to keep the jets set aside for emergencies or transport for the Ruling House precept. Since he knew that he hadn't arranged for the use of the jet at the small airport outside of San Francisco he was sure that London must have sent theirs for her. That just didn't fit with the general protocol normally observed in the Legacy.
"Jackson said he didn't want me to be kept away from there for too long, he thought a commercial flight would extend my trip too much." Derek nodded, glad that he wasn't on the videophone, he didn't want Kristin to see the look on her face.
"Have you been able to learn anything?" He asked, trying to sound as genuine as he could in his curiosity though he was really thinking of a different set of facts. Trying to figure out what was going on in London.
"Unfortunately no. I have a few more things to look over but I should be able to get back there in a day or two. Derek I really hope this hasn't been an inconvenience." She apologized again for leaving them when there was work to be done. Derek had been surprised by her desire to visit London which had come out of the blue but he had given in to her on it. Having a little time with her out of the house was probably a good idea as tension continued to develop.
"Not at all. We are still gathering information."
"Okay. Well I just called to check in. I should try to get some more work done so I can get back there." He noticed her insistence that she needed to hurry back despite his statements to the contrary. Again he avoided getting into that discussion with her.
"We'll be fine. You do what you need to." She said a quick goodbye and then the line went dead. Derek slid back slightly in his chair thinking over the call. He couldn't pinpoint when this latest round of suspicions had begun but it was something he had been feeling for months now directed towards Jackson and for the last few weeks he had been noticing more and more peculiar behavior from Kristin. She just was acting as though she was trying to hide something, not having answers to obvious questions. He wanted to believe he was just jumpy but he recalled too easily the days when Kristin did have her own agenda and behaved the same way. With the many changes going on within the Legacy Derek's feeling that something was coming on the horizon just intensified.
Nick had no qualms admitting how much he hated this side of his job. His nature just pushed him to be more active, more physical in his actions. Rachel could sense the irritation over the slow going process building in her associate and tried to do everything she could to distract him from it. As was often the case nothing got through to Nick and the manager of the city archives was growing uncomfortable being caught in the basement room with him.
He shoved the book away from himself wishing that he could have been the one still dealing with the interviews in regards to Emerson. Anything would have been better the shuffling through endless stacks of ownership papers trying to find the one belonging to the owner of the house. Rachel glanced over at him nervously, afraid of his frustration building anymore. She leaned over and whispered to him, sure that the small man across the room couldn't hear them. "What's wrong Nick? You want to strong arm someone into doing this for you?" She was teasing but had hit a sore spot with Nick and she knew it. She had hoped that by pointing out how he was behaving she could get him to return to something like a calm demeanor.
"No, but it would be nice if we got a little help from him." Nick nodded his head in the direction of the man who had stepped aside to allow them access to his records. He hadn't so much as offered to tell the layout of the room and where they might find what they were looking for. Seemingly annoyed by the interlopers he was told to allow access. He had merely opened the door for them and allowed them to go through everything in the room. Nick was sure he probably knew exactly where the papers were that they were looking for but he was not forth coming with the information.
"I don't think he wants us here in the first place, why would he want to make our jobs easier?" She questioned, giving the man a careful glance to make sure he wasn't listening to them.
"To get rid of us?" Nick suggested, thinking that if he were in the place of the man that would be exactly what he wanted to do. Nick had been told often enough that when he was annoyed or bored that he was not the easiest person to be around. Something about the way the two emotions came out in him. He rolled his eyes at that thought, wondering what people expected out of him. Everyone got frustrated when they didn't get results, and Nick had never cared as much about the process as the result. Alex was generally better suited for this side of the work. She loved the discovery, the work it took to build a solution and the revelations that it could provide. Nick was more focused on handling what those revelations brought forth.
"Good point." Rachel returned to her reading, trying her best to ignore his anxious fidgeting in chair beside her. Finally even the understanding doctor reached her end point and looked back over at him several minutes later. "Nick why don't you go get some coffee or something?" She was desperate to make the younger man go away for a few moments so she could focus.
"No I'll work." He answered quickly, sounding surprisingly ashamed of his behavior.
"Really Nick, I'll get more done with you elsewhere." He looked at her alarmed that she would ever admit such a thing. Rachel was usually so forgiving of his more irritating habits then those words indicated. He didn't argue with her, standing from his seat and quickly leaving the room. Rachel wondered for a passing moment if that hadn't been Nick's plan all along in order to get out of the musty room. She shook her head against that thought, knowing Nick better then that. It didn't matter if he hated the activity, if it was a part of his job he would always get it done. She credited her dismissal of him only to the fact that she couldn't deal with him at the moment, not a subtle manipulation.
He was only gone about two minutes when Rachel finally located the bill of sale that they were looking for. In 1948 the house was sold to a woman by the name of Shannon McCauley. Since then the house had evidently stayed in the name of her family since there was no later bill of sale. Rachel quickly jotted down the woman's name and began to gather her things off of the table. At least now they could return to Angel Island where Nick felt more comfortable surrounded by state of the art computers. She thanked the man now waiting by the door for her to leave and threw him a quick apologetic smile which appeased him for the most part. Rachel stepped past the door just as Nick was coming down the hall with two cups of coffee. She smiled at him with relief and held up the notepad she had jotted down the information on.
"We can go." He nodded pleased and in a smooth motion made a 180° turn to leave the building passing off the cup to Rachel, who could almost feel the case taking form finally.
"Do you really think that he is even here Alex?" Tangye asked turning to look at the woman beside her who was leaning casually against the railing on the stairs leading up to the middle school. Alex shrugged indecisively, the best she could do was hope that they found the boy at school. If he didn't show up here she really didn't know where to look for him and she definitely didn't want to return to his house and deal with his mother anymore. "I'm assuming you have some good intro all worked out. Something that doesn't involve the words 'guidance counselor' or 'big nutty behavior?'"
Alex couldn't help but laugh at that statement, which she knew, was exactly Tangye's intent. The twenty-five-year-old frequently went for the easy laugh to help ease the tension in certain situations. Alex wasn't even sure from where the tension in her had sprung. Her mind just kept returning to the words Derek used to describe the overwhelming voices he had heard inside the house, and to his discussion with her later in the evening in which he told her about Tangye's concerns about a spirits ability to die. She didn't believe it was necessarily possible, but at the same time she was also unable to entirely discount the idea. She smiled to think about the way Philip was always just shrugging his shoulders whenever something truly out of the ordinary occurred. He had a rare ability to take it all in stride and so often just state that 'stranger things have happened.' It was in Alex's opinion one of the traits that made Philip so fit for the Legacy. He always went for the impossible answer, believing before ever doubting. "No I don't plan on saying 'big nutty,' other then that I don't really have a plan."
"Just a suggestion that maybe you'd want to have one. Kids don't really react well to adults with a lot of questions. We're going to need someway to get junior to open up." Alex nodded her agreement at that idea, though she really hadn't given it any thought. But Tangye was right, unless they had good reason Emerson was very unlikely to have any interest at all in talking to them.
"Any ideas?" She requested but Tangye just shrugged her shoulders, turning to the school as the bell rung.
"No time it seems. Let's see the picture of big nutty again." Alex laughed slightly at the nickname Tangye attached to the boy, Alex just hoped that Tangye wouldn't accidentally slip up and use it in his presence. She handed the small photo the guidance counselor had passed along to Derek over to Tangye, who looked at it studying hard the features of his young face. She then looked up as the flood of students poured out of the front door to the building. She pulled her sunglasses away from her nose to be able to better see all the faces passing by her while Alex studied them closely as well. "Why do I feel like some dirty old woman scopeing high school boys?" Tangye mumbled.
Alex shook her head wearily, amazed by Tangye's ability to come up with the most out of left field comments. She looked over the myriad of faces in front of her, realizing just how similar so many of them looked at that age. Their haircuts were in one predominant style, clothes loose and in many cases tattered. Why kids thought that looking like their clothes had been worn for a hundred years was cool she didn't understand. She also admitted to herself that she would never voice such an opinion, knowing just how much that would wind up dating her. Alex Moreau didn't think of herself as old, she knew full well her best years were still ahead, but there were often times when she felt that the kids today were a world away from where she had been in high school.
Finally after the majority of the outpouring of students had taken place she saw the face they were searching for emerge from the front doors. She nudged Tangye in the ribs gently, motioning her head in the direction of Emerson Cryer. The boy could have easily blended in with any crowd and been lost within it. But Alex was trained to look for the tiny details, to trust her instincts that she had the right subject. Tangye nodded and they let the boy pass them. He threw them a brief look with some question in his eyes but proceeded forward without a word. They fell in step behind him waiting for the crowd to disperse a bit more. They didn't want to scare him if he noticed their lingering presence so as soon as they rounded the first corner Alex coughed to draw his attention back to them.
He turned, already angry by the invasion they were causing. "Who are you people?" He snapped, his dark eyes staring into them in a manner that left them both uncomfortable.
"My name is Alex Moreau, this is my associate Tangye Gaarlihn." Alex knew she had surprised Tangye by providing a completely honest answer. For some reason though she just doubted that Emerson was going to believe any ruse they might of come up with.
"What do you want with me?" Alex was surprised to see such a nervous defensiveness in the young boy. He was suspicious that everything was working against him just as his guidance counselor had said. As though he felt the world in general had reason to punish him and he had to try to protect himself from that vengeance. She knew that often enough teenagers stayed in enough trouble to make that not such a paranoid notion, but still she felt as if Emerson might actually have something worth hiding. His fear could work to their advantage though. If he felt he was caught he might just allow information to be revealed that he would not have otherwise. She looked down at Tangye, just hoping that the newest recruit would follow her lead without question. Tangye crossed her arms over her chest, keeping her back perfectly straight, acting very threatening, she knew exactly what to do.
"We just want to talk to you." Alex answered, again with honesty that was heartfelt. She didn't want to scare the teenager and ruin this chance they had to possibly get some answers.
"Well I don't want to talk to you." Emerson started to turn away from them but Tangye's voice froze him in his steps.
"You're messing with things you can't understand." She stated it matter-of-factly, though Alex wasn't really sure how she knew that or if she had just taken a leap of faith due to the boy's behavior. "The things you're playing with are dangerous, nothing else."
"What do you know?" Emerson stepped back up to her, trying to make her back off with his own bodily spoken threat. Tangye didn't give in that easily, in fact the attempt just annoyed her and strengthened her resolve.
"That you're scared, that you don't want to be doing this, but you think it's a part of you. We can help you." Alex spoke, leaving Tangye's presence to incite the boys nervousness while she maintained a sincere tone and expression that spoke of her real concern. She took the words the guidance counselor had said about her talk with Emerson and his fears, and allowed them to mesh with Tangye's opinion that whatever was happening to the boy he was the instigator.
"You can't help me. You don't even know me." Emerson insisted not wanting to believe that these people also knew his secrets. What was wrong with him, he wondered? The secret had stayed in the family for generations yet he couldn't keep it for a few years? He imagined his brother's hatred when he learned that somehow Emerson had drawn attention to their work. Bed-ridden or not, Emerson did not want to be the recipient of that fury. He just hoped that it was only one group that was doing it, and these were just two more people from their employ looking into him directly while others watched the house.
"I'm pretty sure you're coming up one merit badge short of Boy Scout, and that what you're doing scares you. How's that for knowing you? So give us a try, you might be surprised what we can do." Tangye said with a shrug.
"We know what you're going through." Alex hoped that statement was true, and if necessary she hoped that Tangye could provide the proof. She didn't know where Tangye was getting her information, not easily believing that the younger woman would have read Emerson's mind, but she trusted that she did have something.
"How, how do you know?" Emerson snapped, his anger actually managing to get Tangye to step back. Despite his young age, Emerson had already shot up beyond Tangye's less then average height. He had that advantage, but Tangye still didn't need to feel threatened by the frightened boy. Her eyes locked with Emerson harshly, immediately making Alex nervous for the direction of this conversation.
"We know the signs, little man." She answered evenly, her voice betraying no particular emotion but the title somehow warning Emerson that she would not be easily threatened.
"Well if you knew anything at all you'd know it can't stop." Emerson turned and started to walk off again. Alex didn't want to lose the boy when she was sure that he was looking for help but could never ask for it.
"We've stopped worse." Alex called, causing Emerson to stop in his retreat.
"This isn't something you can fight alone." Tangye stated off of Alex's words.
"And you don't want to hurt people, but you are. Soon Emerson you'll end up hurting yourself, these powers always turn on you." That effected the boy to hear by the way he flinched slightly. She thought for a moment that he was going to turn back around and seek their help but he just continued his retreat. Tangye looked up at Alex, questioning what they should do.
"He's in danger. Bad mojo just hanging on him." Alex nodded and pulled out a business card from her pocket where she always kept a few. She jogged to close the short distance that Emerson had covered in getting away from them.
"Please just take this, think about what we said." She held the card out to him, he reached up for it and Alex glanced down at his other arm which carried his books. She saw the spines on all of the books; Anthology of Modern Literature, Mathematics, Life Sciences, and Occult Magics in the Twentieth Century. She looked up shocked and Emerson realized that he had been caught with his secret in his arms. He had the book shoved in the middle of the stack as though to hide it from casual notice.
"You can't help." He recoiled from the card and dashed off down the street. Alex turned to her partner and saw her eyes following Emerson as he ran from them. When he finally got out of view she returned her attention to Alex.
"Thought you'd seen it sooner." She said casually walking to catch up. Alex had realized the moment she saw the title that that had been where Tangye had got her information from. She had just taken the small tidbit and formed it into something useful and by Emerson's reaction, had hit the nail on the head. "You were just going along with me?"
"Figured you knew something." Alex shrugged, glad she had never let herself believe that Tangye had read Emerson's mind knowing how much that suspicion would have bothered her friend. Tangye had insisted to them all that she did not use her talents like that ever since she had first been taught some limited control over what she heard. Alex was loathe to admit it but there were times when she had to question that statement. With such a gift it was hard to imagine not using it. Perhaps that came from the fact that she didn't have as much control over her Sight as Tangye was allowed with her telepathy. Alex's couldn't be turned off and on with the relative ease Tangye had to have in order to maintain her sanity.
"Not anything really, but only the 'special' big nuts ever visit that dark corner in the library." She laughed, knowing full well that Alex had probably done so on countless occasions for various reasons. "Seriously, though, it's not casual interest that drives you to pick up something like that."
"You're really interested." Alex nodded. "Or need information."
"On how to hide your 'I'm a big freak thinking I can get a date to the dance through creepy magic' secret in the modern world?" Tangye said, thinking about the title and the many meanings it might have. Alex sighed her agreement, hating to think that Emerson had become involved in something he felt that he couldn't escape at such a young age.
"Time to find out a little bit more about the Cryer family?" Tangye nodded and the two turned back to Tangye's car in the school parking lot.
Emerson attempted to steel himself against the anger he knew he would meet with the moment his brother heard that someone was investigating his activities. He knew the fury would be entirely justified from Richard too. The secret had been kept for generations and now Emerson had ruined everything that their family had been working towards. He didn't know why he always turned out to be such a let down to everyone in his life from whom he desperately wanted approval but it always worked out that way. He tried so hard to succeed but something was always waiting just out of view to trip him up. He knew too often that thing was his own sense of right and wrong, the ritual just felt wrong to him. He didn't know how to explain it, or who he was hurting whose screams they were, but it continued to nag at his vulnerable soul no matter what words his brother used to convince him it was right.
He rounded the corner to his brother's room and immediately noticed a small crowd gathered outside the door. His heart fought over which emotion to let loose, sadness or elation. He didn't necessarily want his brother to finally pass on but at the same time his death would free Emerson from the binds that held him. He would be free of the old house as well as the ritual it was necessary to perform. He inched his way down the hall and past a few of the bodies blocking the entrance to the room. He wanted to see for himself, but the sight that welcomed him was anything but what he had planned to find.
Richard stood beside his bed, not holding on to anyone or anything, a task he had not performed in months. He looked up to see his brother come in the room, and smiled brightly at the younger boy. There was a hint of maliciousness there that only Emerson was familiar enough to see. His brother knew exactly how this miracle had come about and for that he might be particularly forgiving of his sibling. Emerson stood staring at him in disbelief. Richard knew that he had probably been hoping for his death, and in a sense would be disappointed to find that was not the case. He looked around to the several nurses and doctors that had come to ogle at his miracle and felt an urge to laugh at them. They had no idea their silly little medicines or talents had nothing at all to do with his recovery.
"That's enough for today folks." He sank back down to the bed, dismissing them all with the authority in his voice. Authority gained through his own feelings of superiority. He knew that their precious science was nothing in comparison to the old magic he practiced but would never tell them such a thing. They could do great things with the power that he possessed but it would also take away from the glory he would one day reach through the practices.
"You just take it easy. This could be a fluke or a real recovery and we don't want to take any chances either way. You still need to rest." The doctor assigned to his case patted his back proudly, as if his words meant anything at all.
Richard nodded complacently, which satisfied all of the on lookers who slowly wandered out of the room leaving only Emerson with his brother. Richard smiled at him once again and the action sent shivers through every muscle in Emerson's body. Richard's smile was so genuine, so happy and yet he knew that others were suffering for his recovery. Emerson couldn't believe that his own brother was so sick that such a fact did not bother him. "Impressive, huh?" He jumped up before Emerson could answer. His steps were still unsteady and he looked ready to collapse but he gripped Emerson's shoulders roughly and gave him a shake. "You did this Emmy. You healed me."
"I know." Emerson averted his eyes. "But there's a problem." He didn't want to have to discuss his brother's recovery and to avoid it was willing to go right for the other topic he had wanted to avoid. At least then he wouldn't have to admit his disgust at seeing Richard on his feet again.
"What's wrong?" Richard asked with more genuine concern in his voice then had ever been there before. For the moment he was pleased with his brother to no end and was more then willing to display it. He made his way carefully back to the bed and slid into a resting upright position.
"Someone was at the house. Two days in a row. I saw them today." Richard's eyes could almost be seen changing. The anger that Emerson was so familiar with returned. "Someone talked to mom yesterday about me, and today two women stopped me after school and they seemed to know exactly what was going on." He looked down at his hands waiting on the anger.
"Who did you tell?" Richard growled, his voice lower by octaves then normal.
"No one. They just know, I don't know how." Emerson argued, shocked that his brother would think that about him. "I never even told mom."
"She knows you idiot." Richard snapped. "Well you have to move faster. I have to be healed then we can stop them together."
"They said it was dangerous." Emerson wanted to cry, to give in to all the fears that were building inside of him. He had never felt he was directly in any danger performing the ritual but the concern of the two women which was so genuine had worried him. Perhaps they understood things that he had never been told. Still he could not stop, Richard was his brother and despite everything he foolishly loved him.
"To them of course, they know what the power is and that it can be used against them." Richard demanded, not letting his brother's words effect him. "You must perform it again, tonight. If you succeed I should be healed." He noticed his brother's far away look and that rallied his anger. "Emmy are you listening to me? It must be done." 'He'll be healed, then I will have finished my duty', Emerson thought.
"Tonight, I know." Emerson nodded sadly, not seeing anyway to fight his brother. No one could ever protect him from his brother, even if the illness returned. He would do as he was told to survive and hope that his life was worth it.
"Where are you off to Hurry Man?" Tangye asked as Derek passed her on the stairs in a light jog. He looked back at her and there looked to be something guilty within his expression that she picked up on.
"There's something I have to do." Derek answered and continued on his way past her. She didn't know why her instinct told her to stop him, but it cried out within her to do something. She tuned and caught up to his pace.
"Do you have to go alone?" He paused and looked down at her sensing the concern in her voice. She looked up at him expectantly, waiting for him to answer her. She smiled half-heartedly trying to convince him with that look but Derek didn't take the presented bait.
"Yes, I do." He patted her on the arm for reassurance but for some reason the gesture just made her feel more leery of what he might have planned.
"It could be dangerous." She spoke to his retreating back. "I think I've figured you out enough by now to know that you're going back to the house. Curiosity winning out over reason? Don't you keep chiding me for that?" She asked with raised eyebrows not so different from the look he gave when he wanted to subtlety point out the foolishness of someone else's plans.
"I need to find out what's happening." Derek answered, but that did nothing to help Tangye feel comfortable with the idea of just letting him go. The house and its trapped spirits were too much for him, his collapse the previous day had proved that and nothing he could do would dissuade her from that belief. She wasn't going to stand by and let him go alone.
"Then I'm coming with you." She saw the argument start to form and cut it short. "I can talk to them, they have to be able to tell us something."
"Or something could go wrong." Derek pointed out, not wanting her in danger.
"That's not winning any 'I'm going alone' arguments. Derek I might be able to protect you, shield you in some way. Then maybe we can both learn something. It makes sense." He didn't want to admit it but it was true. He knew that she wanted to go both for his well being and her desire to see her old tutor again, he just hoped that neither would be a distraction in a dangerous situation. Finally he nodded his approval and she followed him to the door without another word. She grabbed her jacket off the hook and shut the door behind her. Derek was already walking to the garage when she turned back around from the house and she sped up her pace to catch him. Her car was blocking his and she smiled, relieved to have some power in the situation.
They got in the car in silence and when she hit the gas his arm instinctively shot up to brace himself on the dash as she caused the car to lurch violently forward. Derek let his mind wonder for a moment if she had been getting brush up driving lessons from Nick due to their similar techniques. He was certain that she had questions she wanted to ask him but she allowed most of the ride across the bay to go in silence while she stared out to the water. Finally Derek decided to put an end to the awkward enduring quiet. "I appreciate you coming along. I was being unreasonable to think I had to do it alone."
She glanced over at him, surprised to hear such humility. "It can be a hard lesson to learn. And then only if you're taught it." He nodded at that wisdom. By living under the enforced rule that no one should learn about her gifts she had been told that she was alone. Her parents had probably meant no harm by keeping her silent, but they didn't understand the effect it must have had on their child. Making her feel she had to keep everyone just out of arm's reach so they would not learn of her differences. Derek was thankful that had never been a rule his father tried to impose, yet his father lead a very different life from the Gaarlihn's suburban world. Winston Rayne's associates had been trained to accept the out of the ordinary through their work with the Legacy. Derek's gift had always been viewed as just that by the people his father knew, which, sadly for the early part of his life, were the only people Derek really ever knew very well. The family secret of the Legacy had done enough to keep Derek a bit further away from his schoolmates, not being able to talk about those things he knew even without his gifts being a concern.
Tangye tapped her finger against the window trying to formulate her questions. "Alex said that you've been reading your journals from childhood." Derek initiated the conversation for her, sensing her discomfort towards opening up to him. He had learned quickly enough that Tangye wanted to get her conflicting emotions and pain out in the open but always needed a little push to start.
"Yeah, it seems so far away now I've forgotten so much of it." Derek directed his eyes downward thinking about the one fact he had not yet informed her of. She was both upset and relieved to see one of the spirits from her youth again. Derek knew that Tangye had been fighting an aversion to spirits ever since her freedom was regained. Yet deep inside she probably recalled the days of her childhood when spirits were kind loving playmates and teachers. Perhaps seeing someone again in Marilee, that had never hurt her and had loved her without needing a reason would help her get over the fears she developed late in life. Still none of that answered the question of what her reaction would be to knowing her great grandfather was watching over her and had communicated with Derek.
"I was told once that you do that." Derek nearly whispered the words to see if she would take the lure and ask him about the statement. She nodded and for a few moments appeared not to register his words. Finally though her brow furrowed slightly and she looked at him.
"Who told you that?" Tangye knew that Derek had met scarce few people that she had known and it was strange that any of their mutual acquaintances would point such a thing out.
"Someone who knows you very well. They warned me once that you forget the little things." He avoided answering her just yet.
"And that means what? Tying shoes, turning off the iron? Or are we talking in more of grand life lesson scope?" She asked, further confused.
"It was when you were still in your house, I think they were telling me that you forgot that you had the strength all along to triumph." He answered, though that was only his assumption, he had never managed to get a clear answer from Charles. The only time since then Charles had contacted him he had made reference to the fact that Tangye was no longer in danger from an outside force but the danger was not past. The next day Derek had watched her stand on the roof of the steeple and that warning had become clear. Charles no longer feared what others could do to her, but what she might decide to do to herself.
"Who would have known that? No one even knew what was going on." She noticed the men at the gate of the ferry waving her forward and started the car, not diverting her attention from Derek for very long.
"I haven't told you this before because I wasn't sure how you'd react, but your great-grandfather contacted me through my dreams on three occasions. He's been watching over you." She looked away, staring ahead at the road.
"I know." She whispered with a reluctant certainty. "I didn't know he contacted you, but I knew."
"How long have you known?" He asked with sympathy.
"When you told me that he was in the Legacy I put two and two together. I'm not really sure how exactly. Just made sense to me. I always felt like someone was watching over me, not just all the ones I could see but some other presence that was there when none of the others were. When you told me about Charles it just clicked that it would have been him, none of the others had reason enough to stay. Charles would have known he could linger and since we shared a talent he would have had a special interest in me." Derek nodded at her logic. She had discovered in Charles' journal that he had also had a refined skill at seeing spirits. She had already brought the information to Derek and discussed the possibilities of passing on her traits when she would much rather it ended with her. She wasn't resentful of her gifts but had made it clear that it wouldn't bother her at all not to have them any longer. Whatever forces had bestowed them upon her just expected too much of her on countless occasions in her opinion and she didn't want to pass that on.
"Then you know he loves you very much." She nodded and silence fell again. Derek knew her flood of questions would come with time, once she resolved the truth now undeniable in her head. "Tangye you were saying something about your journal?"
"Yeah. I wrote something about Marilee telling me once that she had nothing to move forward for and she enjoyed having a little girl. She didn't want to leave, but when she did she didn't even say goodbye. I'm sure she was forced into that house, Derek, my only question is how?" She looked over at him with a quick glance, making sure to keep most of her attention on the road.
"From what Rachel and Nick found I would say the location is being used for some dark magic." Derek recalled the pictures Nick had developed back at the house. He had seen enough scenes like that in his life to know just what it meant was happening.
"But by who and for what purpose? They said it was the house of death for their spirits. I still can't believe that's possible. And what could be gained from it?" She sounded desperate, not wanting to believe the idea that what she had faith in being the eternal part of a person could also be murdered.
"I'm afraid any number of things. If it could be made as an offering a deal could be struck for about anything. Alex is looking into what Nick and Rachel found, but since we didn't come up with any symbols it might be difficult. We really need to catch whoever is performing the ritual." He said, his voice returning to that cool precept tone he always used when focusing on business.
"That what you had planned? Go corner the person by yourself?" She asked with both shock and amusement at Derek's inadvertent admission.
"I suppose that's true." Derek said, not letting himself sound the least bit ashamed. He had wanted to protect his people as was his job, but he had to admit that his curiosity had also pushed him back to the house. "Do you believe you can actually shield me from the spirits."
"I can give it a try, won't know until then. If it doesn't work I hope you brought your aspirin." She said with a forced smile hoping that warning helped prepare Derek for the worst. She suspected that her talents could be used in such a manner, the same way she occasionally helped protect Nick from further nightmares, but there were enough differences in the concepts that she couldn't be sure.