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Memories Revisited by TalgoM
"So what have you got so far?" Nick asked coming up behind Alex in the control room and putting a cup of tea down beside her terminal. She leaned back slightly to look at him with a tired grin.
"Actually I think I did get something. Take a look at this." She tapped a few keys and the picture on the display changed to a newspaper clipping. The headline read 'Local man practices witchcraft for audience.' Nick looked down at her curiously, amused by the title.
"Okay, so this proves what, people will pay to watch anything?" Nick pulled a chair over beside her and sat down in it backwards.
"That, but more interestingly this is Richard Cryer, Sr. I think we all know this type of stuff is often passed on. Think about it, Cecilia said that she had been down this road of odd behavior before with both Richard and his father." Nick nodded.
"Okay but what type of magic?" He asked, knowing Alex's skill level at her research usually presented results quickly. "I mean was there a point or just general hocus pocus? If so why the dark side to Emerson's recent behavior?"
"I wouldn't say 'general'." She tapped at the keyboard again. "Evidently he would first say some words of honor to this man. Story is one of their ancestors made some deal with this man and the dark side, I'm working on accessing the journals of the Legacy members who stopped the ancestor." Nick stood and stepped around the desk to get a closer look at the engraving of the man's face. As soon as he saw it something about it rang very familiar to him but he could not place the familiarity.
"I know this guy." Nick said sounding far away.
"That surprises me. Do you know from where?" She looked up at him but he merely shook his head in response. He kept his eyes locked on the etching, still striving within his memory for the familiar face. "Well, anyway their father would perform rituals for an audience until the show was closed down because he performed some sort of blood ritual on stage. That was when Richard, Jr. was around six. Their father then died when Emerson was an infant from a heart condition."
"But Richard would have been old enough to be taught by then." Nick guessed at her line of thinking, she nodded in approval of his statement.
"Exactly. So the father passed it down to him, and he probably then taught Emerson. Considering the book Tangye and I caught him with it all makes sense. But he is scared Nick, if you could have seen him today you wouldn't have any question about that." Nick leaned back against the table.
"I don't. You think he has any idea what he's doing?"
"Somewhat, I think. He said it couldn't stop. I'm not sure why, but we need to find the answer before he gets hurt. Or inadvertently hurts someone else." He nodded his agreement to that statement hoping that they could find those answers quickly enough.
"You want me to call Derek, see what he thinks?" Nick looked at her, his hand moving toward the phone. Tangye had only called a few minutes ago to let them know they were out working on some research in regard to the house.
"No he's focused on the house right now, maybe the two of them can figure out what's going on there, we'll work on this." Alex returned to her search of the journals while Nick wandered out of the room still trying to force his mind to remember where he had seen the face that Alex had shown him.
"Why do I feel like we're walking in to a trap? Walk in door, anvil falls on our heads?" She mumbled to Derek as they closed the distance between the street and the front door. She kept a careful eye on Derek studying his reactions from the close proximity to the house. He was clearly straining to fight off the images he was receiving but didn't look to be in actual pain yet. She was trying to reach out to him and erect a buffer between his Sight and the crying voices in the house but she wasn't entirely sure how to go about the act.
"We may be." Derek stopped, reaching out to keep her from walking any further. She looked up at him worriedly but he just shook his head. "If we are I want you to remember that your first priority is to protect yourself. That will be our only chance."
"Derek, I won't just " She started to protest but he cut her off quickly.
"If something happens and you're injured then I will probably already be useless. You have to protect yourself. Understood?" Derek stared at her seriously, she could never lie to him under such a gaze. She nodded reluctantly knowing that he was right but hating it all the same. He nodded his acceptance of her response and started back up to the house. She took the lead at the front door and threw him another glance to make sure he was still following. His steps were heavy and slow but he was pressing forward despite the overwhelming voices that were pushing past his defenses and her shield. She slipped past the broken front door and looked around the house. She could hear all their voices but didn't understand why she saw no bodies to go with them. She realized immediately that if there was already someone in the house, if this all was some elaborate trap that she would never be able to locate the living amongst the countless voices of the dead. Whoever was using the house could easily sneak up on them, and that knowledge put her infinitely more on edge.
"Nick said that the room with the ritual set up was upstairs, that's where I saw Marilee too." Derek nodded, following as she went to the stairs. She walked up them carefully, keeping her pace slow so that Derek didn't fall more then a few strides behind. "Which room first?"
"See if you can reach Marilee, she may have some answers." Derek's voice struggled against the crushing weight descending upon his mind. She was helping, he was sure of that since it had been much worse the previous day when he was still further away, but nothing she could do could fight off all the images. He didn't even have the chance to recognize what most of them were, they played by his mind in a blinding speed, trying to be absorbed, fighting for notice but his mind couldn't do it. The resulting pain had his vision fuzzy around the edges with bright bursts of light like a camera's flash going off.
"In here." He heard her voice and nodded to it, though it sounded as if she were miles away. He forced his Sight back so that he could see the room around him clearly for a moment, but the effort was too much to maintain, and Derek realized that he was essentially blind. As long as the visions bombarded him he would see nothing of the world around him. He felt Tangye's hand reach out and grip his arm, and for a moment the pain dissipated almost completely. "Better?"
He nodded to her and turned his eyes to look at her as she studied the room. "Did you know?"
"What?" She looked at his tired eyes surprised. "No, it just hit me that it might help. Give you a type of anchor, and maybe make it easier for me to reach you." He nodded, wiping the sweat from his forehead. The images were all still there fighting for attention but somehow the touch of her hand gave him something else to focus on.
"I might be able to sort it out now." She nodded suddenly lost in her own thoughts. He followed the direction of her eyes and knew immediately that he was seeing the woman Tangye told them about due in part to his and Tangye's present connection. Her hair was curly down her back and a deep red against the pale features of her face. Her dark eyes studied the two living people in front of her with sympathy that Derek didn't understand. Finally her face broke into a warm motherly expression, saying so clearly that she was disappointed that they had come here but still amused by the curiosity it spoke of. She wouldn't get angry at them, merely frustrated by their stubbornness.
'I need to know some things.' Tangye spoke without moving her lips. Derek wasn't sure that he was meant to be privy to this conversation but couldn't keep it away from himself.
"Always inquisitive, a lack of questions was never your problem." Marilee smiled fondly.
"Why did you leave me? You said you'd stay, then you just " Tangye's voice caught telling Derek clearly that she had not come here for the case nearly as much as she had for her own sense of peace. Marilee shook her head at the child she had so loved, and who, she acknowledged, that she had continued to hold in her heart for all the years since her forced departure.
"I never had a little girl." She whispered, still holding onto her smile. "Do you remember the time we spent together?"
"Vividly." Tangye answered in a lost tone. Marilee nodded her approval at that.
"I do to, I've held onto those days for all these years. I remember this wonderful child who ran like angels flew, yet still could look at me with eyes of fear. You were so afraid that you were causing us pain and you were always trying to show us that we could have flown away. After your Dorothy explained everything to you, you were changed, always afraid you would cause further pain." She stopped and thought for a moment not noticing the beginning of tears on the grown face of the child she spoke of. "She was your favorite, your grandmother, you told such wonderful stories of her. And as an adult in a baby's body you agreed to let that love go." She reached up to Tangye's cheek and touched it for a moment.
Derek's mind gained a sudden sense of clarity as Marilee's contact with Tangye sent a clear vision into his mind. He saw the world through the eyes of the woman as she looked down at a sleeping child with sandy blonde hair. He knew on instinct that the hair would darken in the years to come and the child would grow into the woman with him. He felt the intense love of the woman as she guarded over the sleeping child. Then the sudden impression that they were not alone. Her eyes looked over her shoulder nervously but then decided to dismiss the idea of a threat. The window on the far side of the room was open and she went to check it anyway. The darkened yard beyond was empty and he felt her relief sweep over him. He saw her hands reach out to pull the window closed and then felt the horrible yank on her. She fought to remain in the room, fought to even just scream, but there was nothing she could do. He felt as if his body was being dragged behind a car as she was ripped over the distance from the sleeping child's room. He nearly recoiled from Tangye's touch due to the intense pain but fought to finish the story being played out for him. The last image he saw was a young boy probably not even seven reading a book in a room full of candles. The child looked up as her spirit joined him in the room and gave her a vicious smile that chilled Derek.
She withdrew her hand from Tangye's face with a nervous glance at her companion knowing that he had just experienced her memories just by the stricken look suddenly on his face. "I heard the stories of her and I realized that your life would be a series of those reluctant good-bye's. It broke my heart to think of you that way, always abandoned. You asked me why I left, but I didn't leave you."
"Then what happened? I was angry for so long that you left me without a goodbye, I deserve to know how you didn't." Tangye's voice caught in the middle of her words betraying her pain.
"It was not my choice. Had I been given one I would have stayed with you. No one awaited me on the other side, I was in no rush. I would have gladly watched you grow." She looked away, remembering this child's protective nature. How a tiger could so easily be released when someone or thing she cared about was in danger. She didn't want to be the cause of the bold child she recalled going into danger because of something that had happened to her. Yet if Tangye could protect others from her fate perhaps it was worth the risk, she had friends who would clearly protect her when she forgot to do it for herself.
"Something took the option from you?" Tangye asked shocked by the final proof she had obtained for the idea that she and Derek had just begun to formulate.
"I tucked you in that last night and felt as if someone were closing in on the house. I tried to dismiss it, they all constantly made such an issue of protecting you but it was always from some nameless threat. I believed their paranoia had begun to get the best of me. I checked the yard to be safe and when I went to close the windows there was a pull. Pain like nothing I had known in life. I felt myself slip away but I reached out one last time and left something here that only one who had known me could find. We all have done that, you know none of the others." Derek looked at her amazed by the understanding she held about what had happened to her. Saying that their spirits had died here was clearly not entirely true, more as though they were amputees, missing large parts of themselves but holding on just enough to hopefully communicate something.
"I remember that night. I woke up and I closed the window. Then I realized I was alone. That was odd because there was always someone watching me. But I kind of thought it was a test, like getting me to sleep with the light off. Could they have helped?" Marilee's eyes shot wide, terrified by the implication of Tangye's words.
"No, none of them. You did the best possible thing even if you didn't know it. If they had looked for me they surely would have earned my fate. No, I'm glad you went back to sleep." She shook her head, hoping to convince Tangye that she hadn't been disappointed by the lack of a rescue team looking for her.
"So I can't see them because I didn't know them, but I hear them because of my talents?" Marilee nodded. "Their death cries?" Again her only answer was a nod. "Then what about the man I saw yesterday? I never knew him."
Derek noticed the frightened look on Marilee's face at the mere mention of the man. "He built this house." She whispered then recoiled. Tangye looked over her shoulder, sensing that there was some nearby threat that Marilee was stepping away from. She saw the man from the day before, a menacing grin on his face.
"And I built it on pain, never forget that." His hand shot up throwing Tangye back away from Derek whose Sight immediately crumpled him to the floor in agony. Tangye hit the wall and fell down in a heap against the wall.
Emerson stepped in to the house through the back door going straight for the rear stairs and to the second level. He checked his watch one more time making sure he still had enough time to get his work done before the appointed hour. He knew he shouldn't have taken the time to go to his house and pack a small bag but he didn't feel he had a choice either. Richard's miraculous full recovery was clearly close at hand and he was not going to be around when that happened. Just because Richard was healed he knew that didn't mean that anything would change. He had heard the stories of his father's obsession which Richard viewed as loyalty enough times to know that the horror was just beginning. He couldn't leave and just allow his brother to die, he would at least make sure that Richard was healed but after that he knew he had to get as far away from this place as possible.
He walked down the hall towards the back room and carefully checked the rooms he went past. He didn't want to be caught in this place by the people who were clearly investigating him. He just hoped that they were not here now so he would be unable to perform the ritual. He came to the room where he had found the disturbed papers and saw two unmoving bodies lying on the ground. He recognized one as the woman named Tangye, who had approached him earlier. The other was a man with graying hair. Their eyes were closed and he started to go check that they were still breathing when someone else grabbed his shoulder.
"You'll be late." Emerson turned to look at the face of the man before him. He had heard his voice often enough, guiding his actions in this place but never before had their eyes met. Emerson cowered slightly away from the anger he read in the man's eyes. "Your brother is almost fully healthy, I'm doing what I can to help and when he's better then the next stage can begin. I will keep them out of your way." He said looking down at the two unconscious forms.
Emerson nodded dumbly, hoping that he wasn't agreeing to their deaths. He just couldn't stand down in the face of the man. He hadn't been able to fight his influence all these years, how could he hope to fight his form? He went down the hall disgusted by his own weakness, knowing that he didn't have a choice.
Nick glanced down at his watch to see that it was already past nine. He was surprised that so many hours had slipped by without him really realizing it. He figured that Derek had decided to wait at the house to see if they could catch someone entering. He ran a hand through his hair as he continued to flip through the pages of the book in front of him. He had seen that face Alex had shown him before and to occupy himself he decided to see if he could find where. The phone beside him suddenly rang breaking into his thoughts. He reached over and hit the speaker button below the numbers and greeted the caller.
"Mr. Boyle? This is Cecilia Cryer. You said you wanted to help?" Her voice sounded surprisingly urgent. She also was keeping it just above a whisper as though she was afraid that she might be heard.
"We do, is something wrong?" Nick pressed.
"I can't talk about it now, I need your help though, you have to stop him." She pleaded.
"Emerson? What did he do?" Nick tried to get the woman to give him some indication about what he was being asked to walk into.
"No, not him." The line suddenly went dead and Nick sprung from his chair forgetting the task he had been occupied with. He passed through the hologram quickly informing Alex that he was going to the Cryer home and that she should continue her research. She didn't act as though she was pleased to have the task assigned to her while he was once again taking a more active role in an investigation but she didn't voice her complaints, knowing that they could only succeed if all aspects were handled. He ran to his room, quickly grabbing one of his guns, just in case, then dashed down to his car. He didn't allow his mind to wander, preparing himself mentally for the worst as he drove, hating the slow ferry for suspending his effort, but glad that he had managed to catch the last one.
He managed to get to the Cryer house in just under a half an hour acknowledging only for a moment the many traffic laws he had let slide in his trip. He slammed the door to the car shut and ran up to the front porch of the house. He knocked only once before the door was yanked open. Cecilia Cryer had clearly been waiting for his arrival and as soon as she pulled aside the door she reached out roughly grabbing his shirtsleeve and pulling him into the house. She indicated quickly for him to be silent and dragged him to the back of the house. She stopped in the kitchen waiting a moment to make sure there was no movement in the house and then appearing to be satisfied that no one was coming she looked back at Nick.
"What's going on?" Nick asked. He looked her face over noticing that it was more severely strained then it had the day before, but what caused that Nick didn't know. She held none of the disdain she had at their last meeting, in fact she was looking at Nick rather hopefully.
"You said you were worried about Emmy?" Nick nodded in agreement with her assessment. "Well, he came home today, he didn't know I was here. He came home for a little while and then left again, when I looked in his room, I saw he packed some of his stuff up. I didn't know what to do then about two hours later, someone else came home." She again checked over her shoulder, shutting the kitchen door to prevent unexpected interruption. "Richie came home."
"I thought you said " Nick began, shocked by the revelation.
"I did. That's why I called you. There's no way that in twenty-four hours that boy could be back on his feet again. He insisted that he had to come home, that he had wasted too much time as it was." She sent another nervous glance over Nick's shoulder expecting to be caught at any second and to have to endure the wrath of her older son.
"Wasted time on what?" Nick pressed the woman who was on the verge of hysterics. She shook her head, fighting to find the way to explain what she had known all along. "If I'm going to help I need to know what's going on here. Your sons aren't going to say, I need you to tell me." Nick demanded as gently as he could.
"I'm not sure exactly. Their father passed it on to them. It's some sort of religion that I was never meant to understand. When my husband died I read about it in some of his books but then Richie hid them all away. It was all about offerings and a need for something pure to help feed something." She struggled with the memories from the texts that she had found years ago. She had a better understanding then she was willing to admit to because of the rather clear connection her knowledge gave to the horrors that were being perpetrated, and the possible crimes she could be implicated in.
"Feeding, with what?" Nick tried to pry the information out of her. She turned away from him, looking out the dirty back window into the yard.
"Something pure, you tell me what that means." She answered, her voice sounding low.
"Listen, we know your husband practiced witchcraft of some sort, and he taught your sons. Anything you know about what exactly he was doing could help us put an end to this." She spun around to look at him now angry.
"I don't know anything, none of this is even possible. I didn't even know what my husband was doing until he got shut down and it was in all the papers. Whatever my sons are doing it's wrong, that's all I know." Nick could tell she was lying just by how angry she got, it was a defensiveness over something.
"Where would Emerson go?" He asked hoping he could distract her for a moment and then loop back around to the real questions.
"I'm not sure. Richie might know." Nick looked at her shocked that she would even suggest such a thing. If Richard was involved he didn't want to tip their advantage to the boy. "You have to talk to him, explain to him what he's doing. It will kill him, that's all it wants."
"What do you know?" Nick raised his voice slightly, hoping it would worry the woman over the attention it could draw and get her caught talking to him. The tactic worked as she anxiously shushed him.
"I couldn't stop him, you have to understand that. There was no stopping him, he would have killed me." She was desperate to get that point across before admitting anything. "He was obsessed with it and no one could stop him." Nick nodded trying to hide his annoyance over her display of self-interest. She took a deep breath and pulled him further away from the door. "The books said that there was power to be obtained for his family."
"We know, some ancestor made a deal with the dark side. What was the deal?" Nick tried to hurry their conversation as a deep dread began to settle into him.
"Power, life, but when the deal was sealed he could never tell his children what the price was. They didn't practice the power for years, then my husband's mother picked it back up. She taught it all to her son and he passed it on to Richie. When my husband died the pact was sealed again. Richie has been teaching Emmy since then. I couldn't stop him, he would have killed me." She was near frustrated tears, Nick wondered if she felt any remorse for what she had watched happen, how she could just let it go on.
"He's your son." Nick pointed out surprised that she would believe such a thing.
"It doesn't matter to him. He only wants the power. My husband wanted it and I believe that he succeeded, I just don't think he got what he expected. In his book he said that he would be given life and power with a sacrifice and if he could prove his loyalty." Nick tried not to roll his eyes, obviously this woman knew answers to all of his questions but she was making him fight for them.
"How would he do that?" Nick kept his voice calm.
"He had to suffer but never renounce the one he followed. And he did. When he died he was in terrible pain but never once did he ask for forgiveness from God."
"What was the sacrifice?" Nick felt her nervousness getting to him.
"A soul pure in intent." Nick sighed aggravated by her vagueness. She recognized his annoyance and finally gave in to his wish to get somewhere. "Someone who meant no one harm, whose thoughts were only directed to love." She edged away from Nick slightly, her voice filling with a type of disgust. "I don't know how he finds them but he does and he destroys them."
"He offers people's souls? Not a new idea, but how is he getting them, from where?" Nick asked shocked by the implications of what that said about the man she had tried to protect. It also meant that the situation with her sons was all the more dire.
"I don't know how it works, I never want to. I just know he was dying and then, Richie performed the ritual for him and he was miraculously healed. It was several years later that he got sick again as a test of his loyalty. If Richie is suddenly healed that means it has all begun again. Richie was made sick as a test and now he's healed because he didn't renounce whatever it is. I don't know how Emmy is doing it but he is. The people they're taking, hurting, they aren't dangerous and they don't deserve this. I was just so afraid I was sure when Richie got sick, he would just die and it could finally end. I never thought Emmy would do it, he can't possibly know what he's doing. He would never hurt them. He wants to save Richie, not hurt people." Nick nodded, formulating it all in his head.
Marilee struggled, using what was left of her spirit in an attempt to wake Tangye. She saw the blood trickling behind her ear and down onto the shoulder of her jacket. Luckily the flow was slow and didn't look too serious. She recalled worse wounds in the brief time that she knew the girl, and sensed that there had been many more since those times. It was something changed in the girl's eyes, the defiance now there was against something that had happened to her. Whereas the little girl she remembered was defiant just because she could be.
"Wake up little one. You must wake up. If you're here when he's done you will surely " She wouldn't allow herself to finish the thought. She recalled how she thought all the others had once been paranoid for the child's safety. She now knew they were right to have every passing concern for the child. Not only because so many forces worked to hurt her due to her talents but also because of her own disregard for danger. "Please Tangye, wake up, you're in danger and they would never forgive me."
She wished she could do more then yell, that she could find it in herself to maintain some bit of a corporal form for just an instant more. She searched the room for some way to get the child's attention, to stir her, just as she did Tangye's eyes fluttered. "They who?" She whispered, immediately regretting the choice to speak due to the thunder it caused in her head.
Marilee jerked back around, her form slipping away for a moment. Tangye wiped at her eyes hoping to clear away some of the spots. "The others, they all watch over you."
"So I have an audience? Can't disappoint." She staggered to her feet, pressing both her hands against the wall behind her for support. "Nice sucker punch." She looked up, her eyes clear and she saw the man behind Marilee immediately. Despite the pain in her head and the nearly overwhelming nausea she felt she acted without thought. She didn't have it in her to dissipate his specter but she knew she could at least hold him. As his hands reached out to Marilee, probably intending to reach right through the French tutor to her student, Tangye gathered her strength and reached out in her own way. It was easy to find him now, he was fully here unlike the others that were just bits left. She grabbed onto his mind and held his motions.
Marilee turned around to look at him frozen in place, surprised that Tangye demonstrated such power without really trying. Then suddenly his face contorted in pain and he stared at the young women with amazement and horror. "My sucker punch was better." She smirked feeling her knees start to give way under her. Her hand shot out and caught herself on the corner of the desk.
"What did you do?" Marilee asked shocked.
"Fed him a little pain, the memory of what he gave to you." She looked around the room and saw Derek's form still crumpled on the floor. She unsteadily went to his side to make sure he was breathing regularly. She gave a sigh of relief to see that he was, then sunk back onto her haunches. "Crap. Waking him up won't do any good, not with the overload it causes him." She brushed her hair back trying to formulate a plan, and when she brought her hand back down she saw it covered with red. "Great more of my own blood. I really need to consider careers where I don't get my butt handed to me every other day."
"You're babbling." Marilee pointed out.
"I like to call it yammering." She smiled, realizing how hard it was to keep her mind focused on more then the single thought of maintaining her hold on the man's spirit. "Okay, I need a plan, a plan, a plan. I need to stop saying that. Crap." She cursed between her clinched teeth one more time for good measure.
"Alex, it's Nick. Have you been able to find out anything else?" Nick spoke softly into the cell phone when Cecelia left him alone in the kitchen. She didn't want Richard to come downstairs and discover her holed up in the kitchen with the stranger. She felt at least this way if he posed a threat to Nick that she could give him some warning before he was discovered.
"Not really, you?" Alex asked, her voice somewhat distracted by whatever task was occupying her back on the island.
"Actually, plenty. Evidently the demon or whatever they've been worshipping will heal them for sacrifices. But whoever it is doesn't seem fair in the deal. Richard, Sr. was killed as a test of loyalty, to make sure that he didn't back out. Mrs. Cryer said she read the book her husband used, and it said that the ancestors were never told when the deal was sealed." Nick explained, a connection was nagging at the back of his mind which he couldn't place.
"What did she say exactly Nick?" Alex asked urgently.
Nick sighed trying to think back to the women's exact words. "They'd be given power, but that when they got it, when the deal was done they could never tell anyone the price. She seems to think that when her husband died the pact was sealed again, that he succeeded but didn't get what he thought he would out of the deal." Nick began to pace the small room looking at some more of the small figurines that Cecelia decorated so much of her house with. He picked up one that was made of solid stone, neatly carved with intricate detail. He was impressed to find that the piece was actually very nice, where so much of the other stuff was just garage sale junk.
"That makes sense Nick." Alex exclaimed.
"Really, didn't to me." Nick shrugged.
"Nick think about it. They could never tell when the deal was complete, but she thinks that he got what he was looking for. He got it when he died, he got the power in the afterlife. Which means that no one in the family probably knows. They keep doing this again and again thinking they've all failed before but they haven't. Which means Emerson, if he succeeds, will be killed." Her words came out in an excited rush, glad to finally have some answers.
"Then you really don't want to hear this. Richard came home from the hospital today, he's been healed." Nick looked over his shoulder, checking the doorway once nervously. It was empty and he heard no sounds beyond it.
"Nick we need to find Emerson, stop him before he seals his own death and condemns his soul. We need to know what he's sacrificing." Nick looked back down at the statue in his hand. His stomach lurched as his eyes fell onto the stone face the reaction nearly caused him to lose his grip on the piece of art. His eyes darted around the room, looking again at all the trinkets scattered on various shelves and counter tops, and it all clicked into place.
"I know Alex. I know where I saw the face of the guy you showed me before. In the house. Find the pictures I took of the ritual site. There was a statue, it's him." Nick didn't hear the noise behind him as his mind raced. "She said they were sacrificing souls that were pure, innocent. She meant spirits. Oh my God, Derek and Tang " Nicks words were cut off as the chair came crashing down over his shoulders and he fell to the ground.
"I'm sure no one said innocent. Just pure in intent will do." Richard growled as she stood over Nick and discarded the remnants of the broken chair. He was extremely glad that he had insisted he be released from the hospital despite the doctor's wishes. It all could have been ruined, but he was preventing that. He turned to leave the room, in search of his brother, seeing in his mind that all his plans were finally coming together. He heard slightly the cries of the name Nick repeating from the small portable phone but didn't bother wasting time to cut the line off.
Tangye finally felt that she was in control of her thoughts once again, that they had stopped swimming in random directions. As she fought back her headache she was also able to keep the many voices around her from bearing down on her as much. She still heard them but they were more easily disregarded. She shook her head one last time and stood back up. She staggered slightly but quickly found her bearings. She turned her eyes in the direction of Marilee, whose expression mastered a look of sadness without words. "You won't leave, will you?" She asked with regret, wishing the girl to safety.
Tangye's expression turned hard with a glance at the man. "If he does, I will."
"I'll hold your still beating heart." He snapped back his answer.
"Then I guess I stay. Thanks for the imagery though." She looked back at Marilee for answers.
"The boy is down the hall. He must be stopped. I believe he is close to success." Tangye nodded wishing she had a clue what she was supposed to do, wishing Derek would just wake up and take charge. She was angry, frustrated and in agonizing pain, her instincts just telling her to cause damage and be done with it. But she doubted if that would really stop anything. Still she couldn't just wait on reinforcements that may not be coming, it was up to her to do something.
"Big vacation in my future." She mumbled as she walked out of the room, before turning down the hall as she shot Marilee one last glance. If all went well she would be released from her prison and Tangye would never see the women again. It was the first spirit from her past that she had ever been given the chance to see again, and the years that had passed had taught the young women how important those friends were to her. How much she truly missed them. How much she loved each of them in a way that didn't vanish with time. They were her family as a child, and she held onto them all as an adult. Not just their lessons but the very people they were. She smiled, which relaxed Marilee ever so slightly. "Tell them I said hi."
"They can hear you. They've been proud of you every day, especially your father." She whispered and Tangye merely nodded to that response, ignoring the reference to the man who just served to bring more of her anger to the surface. She didn't understand why Marilee would ever mention him, or know he felt such a way but she also was glad to have something to distract her from those concerns. Whatever her father felt it did not matter to her now. He was merely the monster she hoped to keep locked in the closet.
She fortified herself for whatever type of confrontation lay ahead and walked down the hall in the direction of the room where Nick and Rachel had found the setup for the ritual. She turned the last corner and stepped into the doorway seeing the back of a young boy, hearing his voice over the countless others around her. Every muscle in her body was tense and on edge, waiting for some sort of an attack. She had expected an adult, thinking that Marilee just called him a boy, the same way she still referred to Tangye as a little girl. But this was in fact just a child, and even with the many distractions the telepath knew who it was. "Hey big nutty, didn't your mom tell you not to mess with the dead. It only means you'll join 'em sooner."
She hoped she could keep him off guard, not sure what sort of power he had through the ritual he was in the middle of performing. Emerson spun around to face her. He saw the blood on her shoulder but that didn't take away from the strength that she stood with. For a moment the young man was sure she was going to kill him just by the look of absolute hatred in her light eyes, but then he saw the movement behind her, movement that he was surprised to find hope in.
Nick struggled awake, opening his eyes to see the face of Cecelia Cryer looking down worriedly at him. He pushed himself up on his elbows with one thought running through his mind. Tangye. She was in danger. He had to get to her, do whatever he could to protect her. Even if she would never admit that she might actually need it. He climbed to his feet, he could feel his anger starting to build, wanting to boil over. Cecelia's hand attempted to brace him as he stood but he stepped away from her touch.
"Did he leave?" She nodded sadly. "Did he hurt you?" She shook her head in response. "You just let him ambush me? There are people where he's going. People I care about." Nick's voice rose quickly.
"I'm sorry." She diverted her eyes from his angry stare.
"That doesn't help." Nick shook off her hand again. "I know you were scared but that doesn't make up for what you let him do. You just better hope my friends are okay." Nick reached under his coat and felt the handle of his gun there. At least Richard hadn't thought to search him, which also made Nick hopeful that the young man wasn't quite as smart as he evidently believed himself to be. "Stay here." Nick demanded, scooping his phone up off of the floor.
He shoved the door of the kitchen open in front of him with his forearm, allowing it to slam into a small decorative table behind it, causing several of the figurines on it to crash to the floor. He hit the speed dial on his phone as he went to the front door.
"Nick are you okay? What happened?" Alex's anxious voice came over the line.
"I've been in better moods. Richard and Emerson are performing their rituals at the house, and I think they're both there now. Have you heard from Derek?" He prayed that she had, that the precept had called and was on his way back to Angel Island and safety. He knew by the pause Alex let hang that wasn't the case. "I'm going to the house now."
"Rachel's on her way, she'll meet you there. Nick, please be careful. We don't really know what they're capable of." Alex pleaded, unsure if there was even a chance that she could get through to Nick.
"This can't go on anymore Alex. They want their deal sealed, I'm more then willing to help." Nick's voice had the tone of a wild animal. He was operating solely on rage at this point and that immediately made Alex nervous.
"Nick, Emerson is just a kid, he probably has no idea what he's doing " Alex continued to try to get through to her partner.
"Fine Alex, but Richard does." Nick slammed the phone shut as he got in his car. He had no interest in continuing to argue with her. All he could think was that Tangye was out there, in danger and she might not even be given the chance to see it coming. He was not going to loose her. He knew he was lucky to find someone that understood him with such ease and tolerated him so well. His luck had never been much to speak of before but he'd do anything to beat fate this time. He was not going to lose her. He yanked the door closed and slammed down hard on the gas, sending out a piercing squeal into the night.
"Lesson for the day." Tangye said, still staring straight ahead at Emerson. But her elbow shot back to meet with Richard's sternum. "Don't try and sneak up on a telepath. It never works." She spun around quickly while Richard was still doubled over from her blow, and deftly grabbed his wrist, twisting it backwards in one of the self defense moves Nick had been showing her. She forced him further into the room, so that she had both of the brothers in front of her. "I don't know if you have any idea what you're doing, and I don't much care. You hurt someone I care about and that kids, is a no-no. So you have two options. Stop with the magic or my bad, there's only one option."
"You can't hope to stop us." Richard's voice came out unnaturally low, causing his younger brother to stare at him wide eyed. What had happened to his brother, what was he becoming? "Finish the ritual Emerson."
"Do it and I break your brother's wrist." Tangye warned, she could see the conflict on the boy's young face. He didn't want to be playing with these magiks but he thought he was doing the right thing for his brother. He wasn't sure what he was supposed to do.
"It doesn't matter. When the power is ours bones will mean nothing. Finish it." Richard yelled.
"Emerson do you have any idea what he's doing to you? He's damming your soul. You're just a tool to him. I can help you, I swear, but you have to stop this yourself." Emerson averted his eyes from them both. From his brother's anger, and the fury of the woman. He tried to get his young mind to accept the whole situation but it was too much for him.
"You don't understand. He would have died. I had to help him, he's my brother." Emerson wanted to fight the tears that he felt burning his eyes but it was no use.
"Some things are meant to happen, even bad things. But you can't fix that by killing others. That's not balance. Think for a second what you're doing. You can hear them can't you? Those are souls you've murdered. Hundreds of souls are worth less then your brother?" She hated letting herself reach into the child's mind that way but she didn't see a choice. She needed some ammunition, some sort of weapon to convince him to stop and the only way she could get that would be to pluck it from him. "I know you think you can help him. I know all you want to do is save his life. That's really noble but this has gotten out of hand. This isn't just about your love of him anymore. You know you're scared, that you don't want to do this yet feel you have to. But pure intentions don't mean anything if they lead to evil." She screamed.
"But I can't just let him die, that's not right either." Emerson cried. Was she right? Did his love for a brother that he feared justify any of the pain he knew he was causing? Was he just as evil as he believed his father and brother to be, even though he just wanted to help Richard?
"I can stop you if you make me." She gave the final warning. It was the last thing that she wanted to do but if he left her no other option what else could she do? She could not let them continue to hurt spirits who had no way to fight what was being done to them.
"Only if you're conscious." She heard the voice from behind her. She hadn't realized that her attention had slipped so much, she hadn't remembered that she needed to still think about keeping the man's spirit in check. Instead he was loose and she couldn't focus on everything at once. She didn't have a chance at getting him back under control.
"Quiet, you all have to be quiet." Marilee demanded of all those trapped in the house with her. She had seen the man walk away, released from the hold that Tangye had been exhibiting over him. She knew that he would kill the child and she wasn't prepared to let that happen. "Shut up, all of you." She screamed. For years now their cries had been her entire existence but if they couldn't be quiet now she would never be able to rouse Tangye's companion. She had heard Tangye talking to him, somehow he too heard all of them but they overwhelmed him. He would not wake as long as they all went on screaming in agony. If only she could get them to be silent
She was fighting off so many thoughts that she hadn't even noticed when finally there was absolute silence in the house. She looked around her, seeing the faces of the others damned to imprisonment in the house with her. They watched her anxiously. Hoping that these sudden visitors she was trying to help would indeed be able to provide them some release from the walls that had held them for so long. Anything was better then the agony that they had endured in this place for so many years. If these people could set them free they were willing to do anything she asked.
It took no prodding from her for the man to rise. As soon as they fell silent his eyes came open. There was still a lingering pain there from both the attack and the noise but at least he was awake. And with him awake there was hope. "Tangye?" He looked around the room but did not see the young woman who had come here with him. Instead he saw only an empty room, yet still he knew he was not alone. He sensed countless others around him, but more importantly he heard voices from somewhere in the house.
Rachel wanted to believe that Nick would approach the situation in the house with all of his military training in the forefront of his mind. She didn't want him to thoughtlessly run into danger. But she knew people better then that. She thought about how she reacted every time Kat was in danger. All of her Legacy training slipped away in those moments and she just acted. How could she really believe that Nick would behave any differently knowing that people he cared about were in danger?
Knowing that Tangye was in danger, she admitted to herself. Nick cared about her, and he had lost so much in his life, he would not let himself stand by and lose something else just on the cusp of realizing what he had found. He couldn't do it, she knew that. And for that reason she carelessly drove down the winding streets of San Francisco. She had to beat him to their destination.
Nick slammed his foot down on the brakes harshly, and he felt the back of the car begin to fishtail. He fought with the steering wheel to stay in control as he was jostled from side to side. Finally the back tires made contact with the curb and that imposed control on the motion. He jumped out of the car, climbing over the passenger side seat and hitting the overgrown grass in a run. He made his way quickly across the yard, noticing the light coming from one of the upstairs windows. Light that flickered and danced as only candlelight did.
He had seen Tangye's car just down the street from where his was now barely parked. Which meant they were still here, and probably inside, with no knowledge as to how much danger they really were in. At least he hoped they didn't know what danger they were in. That way he could get them out before any harm befell them and deal with the problem with a plan. Rather than be ambushed.
He heard the sudden honking of a car horn behind him but didn't pause to look back. He reached the front porch, noticing immediately that the broken door had been put back into place. "Nick wait." Rachel screamed as she got out of her car. He didn't stop to answer her, just raised his foot to kick the door down.
"Amazing how quickly things go from bad to worse." She jumped out of the way just barely missing being grabbed by the man. "Listen to me Emerson, I came to help you, if I get killed trying that's on your head. I'm not just a spirit. I'm still alive." She yelled the words, hoping to stall for some time. Her mind was racing too fast now. She had to keep Emerson from saying anymore of the ritual and also stay ahead of the man's spirit, not to mention keeping away from Richard. It was all just too much for her and she couldn't decide what was the dominant need of the situation.
"You can't concentrate can you? You're powerless if you can't focus." The man mocked her as she worked her way around the room, trying to get back to the door and make a run for Derek. It was time to admit that she was out of her league, she needed to get out of the house.
"And your point would be?" She snapped. She nearly lost her footing as she dodged around a toppled over chair, but she caught herself. The stumble almost gave Richard the time he needed to grab hold of her but once again she evaded his touch.
"You'll be killed, and I will get the body I need finally." He laughed, knowing that it didn't matter anymore if the truth was known. After generations of suffering the worship of fools he finally had a chance for more then food. If the boy completed the ritual he would be given new life. He was not prepared to allow one girl to stand in his way of that glory.
"Pardon? I lost my script, you're just talking in code to me." Tangye knew that, if even in a small way, her constant talking was distracting them. Why else even pay attention to her? They could just make Emerson finish the ritual and then it would all be over. "What body? I'm hoping you don't mean me because I have an intense lack of interest thing going on."
"No, you have mixed intentions. This is not only about helping the stupid boy. You're angry and I have no need for such a dirty emotion." Tangye didn't need to hear any more. Richard fell into the same dirty emotion category that she did, he wanted power and that was selfish, just as her anger was. But she remembered the short glimpse she had into Emerson's mind.
He was acting out of only his love for his brother, his desire to save him despite his fear of what he was becoming. She had said it herself, his intentions were pure. "Holy crap, Ghostman. You want Emerson. You got Marilee because at the moment she was only feeling love, but the spirits just food. You need someone alive and pure to get the food and the body. You sick twisted "
"That's what evil is, isn't it? And I think you would know." She had finally managed to get to the doorway. She didn't let her mind dwell on his words, on his assertion that she would know evil so well. She still wanted to help Emerson but she was too out classed to stay in the situation. She just hoped that knowing what he now did, that he was just a tool, Emerson would not proceed forward. She turned and dashed down the hall, certain she would be followed.
"Derek." She called rounding the corner to the main hall. She looked up and saw her precept standing in the doorway to the room where she had seen Marilee. She felt only a moment of relief but then remembered how out of control everything had become. "Derek, the thing wants Emerson. It wants his body so it can live again. And it's after me."
Derek looked down the hall as Tangye reached him, having managed to stop her fast progress just past where he stood. "How?"
"We chatted, I'm really just looking for a plan here." She said urgently, not thinking they really had that much time to discuss what she had learned. Derek nodded. "Richard's here, healed, Emerson's probably nearly done with the ritual, though hopefully he has to start over, and whoever they've been worshipping is the man I saw. Go with a plan." She looked up at him, checking over her shoulder nervously but knowing the man could appear from anywhere.
"That's quite enough I think." In the second she spent looking behind her for him, he appeared directly in front of her and with one easy shove sent her backwards down the stairs she was standing just in front of.
The front door gave way easily under Nick's assault, swinging clear of both its hinges and crashing into the house. Just as it landed, so too did Tangye's form fall to the bottom of the stairway. Nick felt his heart stop, recognizing her dark hair and darker jacket, even without getting a clear look at her face. He heard Rachel come onto the front porch beside him. "Oh my God." He heard the words moaned beside him, but fought off the dread he also heard in them. She would be fine, she'll roll over, look up at him, and make a joke. Please God let her make a joke, Nick begged.
But she didn't move and Nick's eyes caught motion at the top of the stairs. Derek was up there, and still in danger. "Rachel, stay with her." Nick ordered and moved into the house towards the stairs, hating himself for stepping over her discarded form but he had to focus on the task at hand.
"You." The voice said no more but both Derek, in his shock, and the spirit, reveling in his triumph, heard it. Derek saw Nick coming toward him, he wanted to warn him of the danger that was probably obvious but he couldn't find his voice as he saw the woman. He remembered how she had looked when he saw her through Tangye's eyes, concerned but full of love, emotions that went hand in hand. The woman he saw now did not reflect that softness. She was full of rage. The anger born of her love for the child who he had so callously cast off and therefore in her heart nothing had changed. She was still motivated solely by her love. "You robbed me of her once. Used my love. You will not take any more from her." Her voice was low and threatening, for the first time Derek began to see the kind of dedication that the spirits of Tangye's past felt for her. He wondered how many of them would willingly be damned to protect her and why.
He had no time to wonder about those answers or what had started it all, he knew Marilee was presenting him with an opportunity to get to the boys and stop the ritual. Nick reached the top of the stairs and noticed the confrontation of the two spirits just on the other side of the stairs from Derek. He shot his precept a quizzical look but didn't wait for an answer. "The spirit needs Emerson to finish the ritual so that he can make it fully over to this side." Derek explained quickly. "Richard is with him, we have to stop them."
"Fine by me, I owe Richie a little something anyway." Derek didn't stop to ask what Nick might mean by that comment, instead just running down the hallway. They turned the corner and were both surprised by the scene they found.
Richard stood over his brother, who was hunched down on the floor crying. "You're weak, you're just going to let me die because of what she said? She doesn't know anything, she can't stop us so she lied to make you stop. Don't let her manipulate you." Richard screamed at the destroyed figure of his brother.
"Is it better that you do?" Richard whipped around to see the two men. Nick already had his gun out and leveled on Richard.
"Step away from him Richard." Nick warned, he didn't want to shoot but the image of Tangye hitting the floor at the bottom of the stairs just kept replaying in his head and he wasn't sure he would be able to fight the anger it brought forth.
"Do you see what you've done. They'll kill me. You did all this to keep me alive and now you're just going to let him murder me." Richard started to pull his foot back to kick his brother but Nick froze him by pulling the trigger and shooting just wide of his head.
"Murders subjective. Now get the hell away from him." Nick's voice was barely above a threatening growl and it caused a moment of hesitation in both the brothers. Just as Richard was about to move away under a mortal threat, his little brother realized just how much danger they were both in from the intruder. The man was serious, he would kill them both to stop them and Emerson didn't see even a bit of hesitation on his face.
Emerson shut his eyes tightly, praying that he didn't live to regret his choice and began to utter the words of the ritual under his breath. Nick shot Derek a nervous look, wondering what his precept wanted him to do. No matter what the cost they had to stop the Cryer's from completing the dark ritual but Emerson was still just a child, confused and acting out of desperation.
"Emerson listen to me. You don't understand what you're doing. You'll be damming both your brother and yourself. You'll let loose evil that you can't possibly comprehend. This won't save your lives. Your brother will still die, at least now he has a chance at redemption. You must stop." Derek stepped forward, moving closer to them both as Nick kept Richard in place with his gun. Emerson didn't bother to look up at the man speaking to him with so much compassion, he couldn't. He had to finish what he started.
"He doesn't know what he's talking about. We'll live forever, we'll get power. I won't have to suffer anymore. We'll be like gods." Richard argued, smiling when his brother didn't let either of them distract him from his recitation. For all the years that Richard had believed that Emerson was nothing more then a weak, sniveling child he was finally proud of his sibling in what he felt was their greatest moment, and that more then made up for all the years of disappointment.
Derek's eyes settled on the book behind Emerson, clearly the boys had the ritual memorized but hopefully that did not diminish the power that the book held. He was only a few feet from the brothers now, luckily neither had made a move to strike out at Nick or him yet. Emerson was concentrating hard on getting the words out despite his tear-choked voice, while Richard just watched Nick carefully. Staring at what he saw as the true threat in the room, Nick's 9mm.
"You don't want to do this, anyone can see that. Just stop and we'll do whatever we can to help both of you. Your brother doesn't have to die from his illness, but you shouldn't have to die for him either. Think about what you're doing. You're frightened, don't let your fear win." Derek distracted them both from his movements by talking to them.
"I get even an inkling that you're past the point of no return and I'll kill him." Nick added, hoping a more immediate threat would stop him. "You'll die for nothing."
"He's right, you don't want to die for this." Derek added, though he hated to hear such a threat from his younger associate. He didn't want to think that murder was their only recourse to stopping this, that Nick would be made to do such a thing. It was one thing to kill a demon or some other evil creature but as long as they were alive the boys could be saved. Still if there was no other option Nick would have to kill them before they completed the ritual, and thus they could only die while they could still be redeemed.
"You know it now don't you? He wants this, he knows it's right. You can't stop us." Richard laughed sure now that the men knew the situation was beyond them.
"Pray for your soul that's not true." Derek yelled reaching out and knocking one of the candelabras over and onto the open pages of the book. The flame took to the brittle old pages quickly and the small fire grew into a larger blaze.
Both Richard and Emerson spun around to see their heirloom being destroyed. Recognition took only a moment, and immediately Richard rushed at Derek in fury. Before Nick had a chance to make his shot and stop the man he was on top of Derek screaming without any clear words coming out. Emerson didn't even pause in his recitation of the words he had been taught as a child. They had destroyed the book, his father's book that he had protected his whole life. He wanted them to suffer for it.
"What have you done?" The man's voice boomed as his form suddenly appeared in the room. Derek looked up as he struggled to keep Richard under his control, luckily the boy was still somewhat weak from his long illness. He had hoped that by destroying the book the boys would be set free, that the spirit would be sent back to whatever corner of hell it had come from.
"They destroyed the book, Master. Kill them." Richard screamed, realizing he had no chance to beat the older man's physical strength. He didn't want to give the younger man time to get involved, he had the look of a wild animal about him. Richard was sure Nick could kill him easily and quickly.
"I care nothing for the book. It means nothing. It only held the words so your simpleton family could recall the ritual." He looked down at Emerson, still crying but repeating the words to the ritual for a second time. "I will have to begin again, you've ruined him for me."
"No Master, he's still perfect for you. He loves me " Richard pleaded desperately seeing his whole life's ambition falling away from him.
"Perhaps true, but he hates them as well. He no longer acts for love." He gestured and Emerson was tossed across the room. "At least I can kill you and no longer have to suffer your foolish dreams of power. To think for generations you were so easily manipulated by any word I spoke."
"Master you promised. It's our birthright." Richard begged, unbelieving of the words he was hearing.
"Your birthright is nothing more then death." He laughed. "But you did one thing well, you brought the Legacy to me. And now I may kill these two as I killed the girl."
"Nooo." Nick screamed with heart wrenching agony, hearing those words and knowing exactly whom he meant. The man looked over at Nick and smiled. With another gesture he tossed Nick off his feet and across the room. He approached him with an evil grin on his face.
"You care for her, perhaps even love. How wonderfully pure." He hissed the last word and Nick couldn't help but recoil from him. The slight shift in position made Nick notice something just on the other side of the room, and seeing it he brought his gun back up.
Derek grimaced, knowing too well the pain he saw in Nick's face. He had seen it once before and it had been etched into his memory as the one expression that he hoped he would never have to face again. Now that it had returned, he wasn't sure if Nick would ever make it back from the place of such pain again. Even if they were somehow given the chance to get out of this place.
"Fool, you don't think your weapons can effect me. You can't harm me with your crude little toy." The man started to reach out for the gun but Nick pulled the trigger quickly.
"Not you, son of a bitch. Something behind you." The first bullet missed but the second and third found their mark and in and explosion of stone the statue, the object that had guided Nick to the connection of the two cases, was destroyed.
The man's face contorted in horror and a scream issued from him. He looked down at Nick as his form began to lose its cohesion and Nick was sure he saw the creature smile, as though he was impressed that someone had finally done him one better after so easily manipulating others for years. "I take what I gave." He said and then loosed another wrenching scream before vanishing into a stream of deep red light.
Nick finally let go of the breath that he had been holding onto, and then swallowed back the lump that formed in his throat. He looked over at Derek who was pushing Richard off of him. "Will you be okay?" Nick asked, hating that his voice sounded so pained.
Derek nodded and Nick got to his feet quickly and went running out of the room. Emerson looked up at the man next to his brother. "What did he mean?" Emerson asked, confused by the man's last words before he had vanished. "What had he given?"
"This." Derek said pointing down to the young man beside him. Whatever life Richard had been living was clearly on time somehow granted by the spirit and now that he had been destroyed, so too was the life he had given. Richard's body had gone limp the second the bullets had destroyed the statue, his eyes still open and staring at nothing.
Nick froze at the top of the stairs, looking down to see Rachel cradling Tangye's head in her lap. There were no tears on the doctor's face but she did look shell-shocked. She was trying to take it all in, deal with the truth. Nick's head dropped, fighting back the tears he felt building and struggling to be released. His mind was asking a thousand questions. Why had he found her only to lose her? Why did he have to go through life all alone? Why was she granted her freedom if it was going to be so short lived? Why hadn't he ever, just once, done it right? Why, was all it came down to. Why him, why her?
He tried to remember her smile, a smile that in the months he had been watching for it had provided so much light in his life. He tried to remember how she would turn to look at him, how her dimple would spring forth onto her cheek, and suddenly there was no darkness. He tried to remember the feel of her hand when she would reach out and stroke his hair or his cheek. So gentle, almost fleeting. A touch soft like a breeze. He tried futilely to hold onto the memory of the feeling of her body against his, seeking refuge and protection that he had failed to provide. The way her warm breath would brush across his neck. But he couldn't, all he could see was her form, held by Rachel, at the bottom of the stairs.
"Nick? Don't you want to hold her?" Rachel asked softly, noticing him standing above them.
Nick couldn't look up, he grimaced to think he was being asked to hold her broken and de "Nick I've had a horrid day, I know I don't look my best, but I could use you right now." He almost started to laugh as air finally found his lungs upon hearing her voice.
"Emerson I'm sorry." Derek knew his words meant little, but he felt he had to say something.
"Then it's over?" Derek nodded. "I'm finally free?" Again Derek nodded. Emerson turned away from his brother's body and started out of the room. "I wanted to save him." He mumbled. "He never wanted to do it for himself though." Derek again merely nodded. Clearly the young boy understood what had happened to his brother well enough. No words Derek said could have made it any easier to face the fact that his brother was gone, nor that he had deserved his fate. Derek followed Emerson through the house, down the stairs, both making sure not to disturb Tangye or Nick. On the front porch Emerson finally turned to the man who had been one of the few to ever try and save him. "I don't know what you're going to do to me, but you have to know, I did what I did for him. I know he was evil, but he was still " Emerson looked away ashamed.
"Your brother." Derek agreed, finishing the boy's thought. "We can talk later, I think you need to go home now. I'll take you." Emerson nodded his approval, knowing that these people were probably far from finished with him after what he had done.
Nick reached out and gently brushed her bloody hair away from her face. He put on a small smile hoping it would help to comfort her in some little way. She looked down at her hands as her mind finally gave into the torment it had been striving to fight off every time she entered this house. They had all been in so much pain, an agony they couldn't escape from, and it had wanted all along to swallow her up within it. Somehow she had fought, hidden what the attack had done to her, but with nothing left to fight she didn't know how to do it anymore. She bit down on her bottom lip, causing Nick to fear that she might bite through it. He glanced over his shoulder making sure that for the moment they were alone. He pulled her form close to himself, his chin resting against her cold cheek.
"Tan you'll be okay." He whispered to her comfortingly.
"All of them, Nick. They're quiet now." It was a silence deafening to her ears.
"They're gone now Tan, free." He tried to explain to her but she shook her head adamantly.
"No, they're just gone." She corrected his statement, knowing that the damage the Cryer family had caused to those forced into imprisonment in the house could not be undone. They had spent generations causing pain and nothing the Legacy could do would be able to fix that. They had been murdered as spirits. What that meant in the long run Tangye wasn't sure, but she knew they had not merely been released. They were just no more.
Nick wasn't sure how to comfort her in the face of what she said, certain the truth had upset her instead of the injuries. He just held her close to his chest, allowing both their bodies to rock ever so slightly in a comforting rhythm. Suddenly he remembered Alex's statement from a few days before. She said that someday he would realize how much Tangye meant to him. Holding her at the bottom of the stairs he knew just what Alex had meant. He had been worried at first that he hadn't been showing how much he cared, now he knew it was more what he hadn't yet verbalized.
In a little just about of three months he had given up a part of himself, turned it over to her for safekeeping. He leaned in closer still to her, his voice husky with emotion as he whispered, for her ears only, the words he was sure would change his life forever.
"Tangye, I love you." Her grip on him tightened upon hearing that simple phrase. She knew how hard it was for him to put those words together, to let them out in the open. She held onto them with all her heart.
His admission ended her resolve to hold back her tears and she allowed them to flow down her cheeks. "One thing." She mumbled. He looked down at her shocked by the words and what they might mean. "I need one good thing. Something good that I can count on not ever becoming bad, Nick" She shifted her position slightly to look up at him, not attempting to hide her tears. "You mind being it?"
He couldn't keep the smile from his face to hear her say that she wanted him to stick by her, to think that she felt it possible to count on him as her bright spot. He nodded his approval of his idea.
"Then maybe the rest won't be so bad." She sank back down against Nick's chest.
Derek coughed from the doorway causing Nick to glance up at his precept and friend. Derek's eyes were filled with an aching sympathetic gaze. "We're ready to leave." He kept his voice low, not really wanting to disrupt the moment he saw taking place. "We'll see you at home?"
"Sure." Nick nodded and turned his attention back to the woman in his arms. He felt her blood and tears seeping into his button down shirt. He brushed her hair back again to study the cut on her forehead, forgetting that Derek was even there. "It's not too deep." He comforted. She nodded but didn't really care. Physical wounds would heal, the deeper scars she now wore were what really scared her. The knowledge that one of the spirits she had cared for was now unjustly damned. The fact that she indeed might be capable of doing that kind of damage herself, possibly already had. She could hate her father for all eternity but she was finally willing to admit to herself that she had no right to decide the fate of his spirit and she couldn't say that she hadn't done just that. Didn't that make her just as bad as her father and the Cryer's? Finally there was the fact she had to face that she was powerless against so much, herself included. She had always wanted to use her anger as strength but she now had to wonder if it didn't make her weak and easily manipulated. With her accursed gifts what damage could that weakness mean?
The flesh wound might not be too deep, but how deep did the other scars she had received run?
She forced these thoughts away from herself and instead concentrated on Nick's statement. He loved her. She hadn't made him say it, it wasn't his duty to do it, he said it because it was honest. Of all the battles she might some day have to fight none would ever be as important as earning and deserving his devotion. Perhaps she would find a way to triumph for that, if not herself.
"So for once my gun, actually wins the day?" Nick spoke from behind Derek who stood on the balcony over looking the gardens. The precept laughed lightly at Nick's comment. After they had all pointed out so many times to Nick that his guns couldn't do anything against a spirit he had finally found a way to prove them all wrong. Nick stepped up and joined Derek at the railing. "Tan's resting. Rachel said she'll be fine, mostly it's just bruises and some cuts." Derek nodded. "Why did he say it? Why say she was dead?" Derek had known Nick would ask, he was also sure that Nick knew the answer but he wanted someone else to explain the reason for those moments of agony he'd been put through.
"Confidence. He assumed he would kill us, that you would never get the chance to know. Why not hurt you in those last moments, he probably enjoyed that." Derek explained. Nick sighed heavily.
"After Julia " Nick paused trying to gather his thoughts. "I swore I'd never let myself be hurt that way again. How did I let myself get right back there without even knowing it? I hate that fear "
"But do you hate the fear more then you love the other side Nick? You can't avoid one without giving up the other. Would you trade your time with Julia?" Derek asked softly.
"If it meant she could be alive again, that I never got to know her but she got to live ?" Nick stopped himself before answering, realizing that he was going to lie. "Is that totally selfish of me?"
Derek smiled and patted Nick gently on the back. "Not at all, because Julia would have said the same thing. She wouldn't give up her time with you for anything Nick." Derek walked back to the door, to leave Nick some time to think. "And neither would Tangye. In a few months you brought her back to life, Nick. Don't let yourself forget that." Nick heard the door shut behind him and turned his eyes up to the sky. He felt a small smile begin to form on his lips as he let himself remember his times with Julia and those more recent ones with Tangye. He thought about the circumstances he had met each of them under. How he was drowning in old guilt and anger both times, and in their own ways they had both saved him.
He smiled realizing how much Derek must have really known. How he must have seen Nick's guilt over falling in love again, the betrayal that he told himself it was to Julia. How without even saying it, Derek reminded Nick that doing that, finding his heart again and offering it to someone, was just what Julia would have wanted for him. For the first time in too many years, Nick realized, that thinking back on his memories of Julia didn't cause him pain.
'The last few days have been hard on us all. Whenever children get involved in Legacy business it's always scarier then we want to admit. Luckily we got Emerson out with his soul. We lost Richard, but I keep telling myself he was an adult, he made his own choices. But how much of that is true? Didn't his father force his hand, just as he tried to force Emerson's? Richard thought his brother weak, when he proved to have strength his brother never could, he had been fighting all along. Fighting the misery he was born into and lived under. He did what he did for the best motives, love of someone who maybe never knew how to love at all. To me, with all that's happened, that's the saddest part. That Richard never really had anything he could love, something to hold onto when everything went dark, so he went alone. Too often I've felt that was the best way for me to go. Alone so no one would get dragged into my pain. But now I can't imagine anything scarier.
'I don't know if there's ever been a moment in Tangye's life when she was truly alone, when someone wasn't watching over her. I wish I had that, but I'm glad I've never been forced to endure the constant loss she was forced to know because of those passing guards. She knows how to let go too well now, she's mourned countless times, and yet each time the pain is real, new and specific. I hope I can find a way to make her mourning easier, I hope I can be more then just a memory of something else mourned and lost. I just want I want to I'm not even sure, I guess it's really just that I want her. I want to let her be for me the type of strength that Emerson's love was for him.'