|BACK TO FANFIC LIBRARY | HOME
Regrettable Choices by TalgoM
She fought every instinct within her that wanted to erupt in maniacal laughter. It would just draw more attention to herself and that was the last thing she needed. After all she was already the focus of the entire room as it was. Their eyes all looked at her with suspicion and regret. Every one of them was busy wondering what they had been thinking in ever trusting her with a single secret. They felt that she was unbalanced since the beginning, yet they had let her into their little club because it was her birthright and she had managed to finagle herself into their good graces.
How would those fools feel when they heard the truth? When they learned how much she had taken from them all, when they discovered how she had manipulated them? She regretted that she would not be given the chance to flaunt what she had done to all those who had put faith in her. So many of them were now gone, lost in battles waged the world over. But luckily there were still a few remaining who she would be able to destroy with the truth. One moment had already taken precedence in her mind, a moment that would have to be carefully crafted in order to ensure its success. But if she could steal him away, take away his most precious belonging, then all her work would be worth the lies.
"Do you deny any of these charges?" He had a voice that was supposed to be stern enough that it would cause fear, bring any to their knees in submission. It only helped to bring her laughter closer to the surface. Did he really believe for a moment that he had any kind of power over her, that there was a single thing he could do that would shake her resolve? Foolish until the end. They felt above and beyond any sort of recrimination, she anticipated the moment she got to prove to them how vulnerable they really were.
"Why would I? They are the only things I have done in which I have any pride." She sneered at the man at the center of the table. She would like to make him crumble, just for the fun of it. But she knew that he was too well protected, she would never be able to get close enough to him. Yet if she put all that she had learned to use she might be able to bring him down with the other.
"Then you leave us no choice." He looked down at the papers in front of him sadly. He so hated to admit even the tiniest type of defeat. All along he had been waiting for her to repent, deny one of the charges, even if it would never have absolved her of the crimes they all knew she had committed. He just didn't want to admit such a betrayal could happen on his watch.
'Of course I didn't, that was the point.' She thought to herself. They had all played into her hands with such ease, as if she had in fact been somehow dictating their every move and thought. She wasn't but she knew well enough how all of their minds worked. It was simple enough to formulate her plan when she knew just what every reaction would be. She was getting exactly what she needed to put everything into motion. They would never see their downfall coming, they had no reason to, and by the time they saw what was coming it would be too late. The truth would be out, shared with the world.
"You have broken the laws too many times." He began his sentencing. The others sitting at the table of judgement in front of her watched his face closely. They knew how difficult it was for him to utter the words, to admit the personal failure that was carried with them. He had trusted this woman, admired her. She was probably one of the few people he had ever really had faith in. She was the first to receive a promotion under him when he took on the position of power in the organization. Now he had to condemn her for acts that she perpetrated despite his trust. She had disregarded every rule she could and had to be stopped, but that didn't make the task any easier on him. "You know what your punishment is."
"I want to hear you say it." She smiled sweetly at him; a smile she knew had drawn him in and made him forget any warning others had given him about her. He shook his head, in disgust or disbelief, possibly both. It was all too perfect. Perhaps she was wrong, perhaps she had already destroyed him just by her betrayal of everything he believed in and had taught her. She realized that even events she had no control over had worked perfectly to her advantage. If he hadn't had to assume power when his predecessor was lost she would have never got this far. He was so much more willing to forgive her, to overlook so much. She would have been punished long ago by the other man.
"What happened to you? Why have you done this to us, to me?" He questioned, ignoring her request. The fool was still thinking she might change that there was a good explanation for her acts beyond just malice. She let the joy of the situation sink in deeper, answering only with a shrug. "I'll never understand but that doesn't change what I have to do." Jackson coughed once to clear his throat. "Liz Cannon, this tribunal has found you guilty of all charges brought before it." He involuntarily winced at having to say the next words. "From this day on you are banned from any affiliation with the Legacy."
Derek drummed his fingers against the top of his desk while reading over the many reports that had stacked up on him when he hadn't been looking. At times, he was almost willing to believe that a majority of the files he was told to look over were nothing more then a hoax. A cruel trick used to greatly diminish any personal time he might be given. There was just no reason this much work should come his way. He wasn't the head of the Ruling House, but just one, how in the world had Sloan ever managed to do it?
He absently signed the spot where Alex had put a small 'x' for his signature, closing the front of the file. 'One down' he thought to himself, refusing to look over at the rest of the stack. A part of him kept waiting for the phone to ring signaling some new emergency. Wasn't that always the case? Whenever he really settled in, resolved himself to this task, something always happening to make it impossible for him to finish.
Instead of the anticipated interruption though he was met only by silence, almost a disturbing level of tranquillity that didn't fit his house at all. He hated to admit how empty the whole place felt when the other members of the Legacy were gone. He had given Nick and Tangye a week off and they quickly left town to ensure that the offer couldn't be revoked. Kat was still in school while Rachel was staying on the other side of the bay to make sure she got caught up with some of the patients who she felt she too often neglected. Meanwhile Alex was spending as much of their downtime with Gilby as she could, not to say she didn't always seem to be there when Derek needed her but he hadn't missed the amount of attention that Alex was giving the man either. As for Kristin, she was around, but ever since her return from London she had been keeping more to herself then Derek recalled from before her journey.
As he thought more about the absentee members of the house he grew more disgusted with himself for not using some time for himself. He knew that he had work to do but at the same time he deserved a break as much as any of them did. He scanned the words of the report in front of him, some financial breakdown from the last quarter. He trusted Alex to have everything balanced perfectly and without studying the details too closely signed off on it. He reached over and grabbed the next bundle of papers off the top of his stack, still refusing to look at the height of it.
Luckily this one required nothing more then for him to read it. He began to scan the monthly activity reports from the other Legacy houses around the world. Each house was supposed to submit a chronicle of their activities to the Ruling house on a regular basis. The London house then compiled those into reports of interesting or difficult cases that were distributed to all of the precepts for study. Derek flipped to just past the mid-point in the packet to look at what Alex had submitted for them. He cringed to see that where most of the reports took up no more then a page, the San Francisco house had three full pages dedicated to it. With all the suspicious feelings he was having towards Jackson Parker lately, he didn't like to see so much attention once again centered upon his house. It didn't help to see predominantly three names appear throughout the report. His own, Nick Boyle and Tangye Gaarlihn. Derek knew Alex hadn't left the information so focused, she would have done all she could to distract from their recklessness by discussing the activities of the others. This though had been edited to let others know exactly how the Ruling House felt, and it didn't help to settle his nerves. Clearly judgements had already been made. They had pegged the ones they would watch, and Derek was no longer alone on their list.
"Just tell me, has he ever told you?" Liz's eyes settled on the woman in front of her. There was something so kind about her face; she was a mother to the very core of her being. She was the type of woman who understood because it was just in her nature; there was no better explanation for her kindness then that. Liz could tell the older woman even wanted to be sympathetic towards her as she presented the horrible facts. She didn't want to believe anything that she was hearing, but no matter how awful the truth, it was still just that. She could try to deny all that she was hearing but it would do no good. She was clearly also a woman who knew the truth when she heard it.
She probably had reason to suspect for decades, but she wanted to believe the nature of man was one of goodness. To have such facts robbed of her was painful. Liz hated naivete. This woman had more reason then most to doubt the 'goodness' of man. She had seen it destroyed so often throughout her life. Why did she insist on holding onto it?
Liz admitted to herself that she didn't much care what the reasons were she just wanted to be sure that by weeks end it would no longer exist. If she could destroy this woman's faith, then so too would the other fall. Then she would be able to bring down the others. Slowly but surely they would all fall and she would walk off with the prize.
She recalled the last report she had read before being thrown out of the Legacy and reminded herself that the stakes had increased. The prize was no longer singular.
She had watched them for the perfect moment to strike and if she could only get this woman on a plane today she would have the time she needed for her work. One was there for the taking; the other would arrive too late to do anything but fall. She had already brought on the downfall of one group, just to test her theories. She had to be certain that she would still be able to manipulate them despite the banishment. Striking at a weaker group was necessary to test her power. Jackson had played into her needs perfectly by failing to tell any of them anything more then the fact she had left the Legacy. He should have told them why; they would never let her in the front door if they knew. But the fool just couldn't shake the faith he had put in her, he wanted to believe in her and he couldn't admit his own failure in judgement.
"He never did tell you did he?" She questioned again, this time the woman looked away, hurt by the accusation. Liz kneeled down in front of the woman, striving to portray a type of kindness the woman would accept. "I thought you should know. For your own safety. He was probably trying to protect you by not telling you the truth but you see what harm that could do. You're in danger and you have a right to know that."
Finally, begrudgingly, the woman nodded her agreement. Liz felt the laughter building in her again and fought to keep the pleased smile from her face. 'Perfect,' she thought, 'now run and accuse him.'
"So things are still all hush, hush around there?" Derek smiled to himself as the voice on the other end of the line greeted him before even receiving a hello.
"I didn't expect to hear from you." Derek answered in a light tone.
"Well that's me, responsible to the end, gotta check in at work daily." She joked. "Well once while we're gone anyway. Just wanted to make sure you weren't all lonely in that big empty house." There was sympathy to her voice. He was surprised that even on the other side of the continent she had such an instinct for how he might be feeling. Not due to any of the rare skills she had but just because of a special instinct about others tones and tendencies. The house was indeed too large for him to be in alone, and it just served as a reminder to him of the other aspects of his life he was alone in. It didn't help to see those around him finding relationships either, though he was happy for them. "You know Derek, there's a whole big world outside the Legacy, all kinds of folks you have a lot in common with. Similar interests, hobbies, physical attraction " She let the words hang.
"So how is New York?" Derek asked rather then discuss that with her.
"New Yorkish. You know, lots of big buildings, hot dog vendors, stinky river." She answered nonchalantly.
"And how are you feeling?" Derek's voice betrayed his concern.
"Stop taking bets folks, the girl wins. Under one minute and the man checks on the girl's health." She paused a moment, letting Derek get her sarcasm, as if he could have missed it. "Physically fine, mentally fine there too." She paused just long enough between words to give him time to worry.
"I think she should say, fine by her standards." Derek heard Nick's voice join them.
"Are you implying I'm normally not chock full of mental stability, Mr. Boyle? I might occasionally demonstrate some slightly off kilter behavior, but that's not the norm." She argued her case.
"Of course not." Nick teased. "So Derek, is everything still quiet on the home front?" Derek returned his focus back to the question, breaking away from his enjoyment of their banter.
"Yes, in fact I don't think it could be quieter." Derek replied.
"You're bored out of your mind." Nick laughed. "Do me a favor, boss man, don't go wishing for excitement while we're gone."
"I wouldn't dream of it. Nick can I speak with you a moment?" Derek remembered the report he had read earlier in the day. He had already informed Nick of his concerns stemming from Jackson's strange behavior and the flag on Nick's file that Alex had discovered. He wanted to make sure that Nick was kept up to date on everything he learned, and that knew to be careful while outside of San Francisco.
"My cue to leave. Just remember Derek, big world, lots of people, girls. That's all I'll say." Derek heard Nick lift the receiver off the hook, cutting off the speakerphone. Derek stifled his laughter over the not so subtle suggestion that Tangye had repeatedly made to him.
"You know she's right Derek. I mean when was the last time you went on a date, excluding those when the woman ended up being some sort of demon?" Nick asked his voice still sounding light and happy.
"Not important." Derek responded, dismissing the line of questioning. "Nick, I read the monthly reports this morning. It looks like the Ruling House is still watching us very closely." Derek explained.
"By us, I'm assuming you don't mean Alex, Rachel, Kristin or Tan, just us." Derek knew Nick's tones well enough to hear how defensive he was even with the mention of this.
"Actually, us and Tangye." Derek answered carefully, not wanting to upset his younger colleague. "The report went into great detail about every risk taken, judgement calls, actions, but it was focused on the three of us. After reading it objectively, I think that we sound like we're little more then dangerous to other houses. A safety risk, unpredictable. I just want you to stay away from the New York house while you're there. Don't do anything that would give them reason to concern themselves with you." Derek instructed, hoping that Nick would listen to his advice and not get it in his head to try to find anything out about where this new suspicion was coming from.
"You have any ideas what's going on?" Nick asked, keeping his voice even.
"Right now, no. And there's little we can do about it until they play their hand. But we do need to stay ready." Derek sighed. "Just, please, don't go looking for trouble."
"We're here on vacation, nothing more." Nick said, though his voice immediately made Derek nervous.
"You have to admit that it endangers lives. All the secrets, the half-truths. They put so many innocents into danger. You lost your own wife to this evil before you knew it really existed. Don't you think others are going through the exact same thing? Tragedies that could be prevented." She gently stroked his black hair away from his tired eyes. Eyes that watched her suspiciously but his body had begun to respond. She wondered how long it had been since he had allowed himself to be touched by anyone. Since he let anyone get close enough that he might be in danger.
Her mind was torn. She wanted to rush across the ocean and observe her plan being played out there but she knew it was better if she appeared after the damage had been done. She would arrive in and if she played it right he would view her as a comforting element in his life. A friend perhaps who could help heal some wounds. To bide her time she decided to plant some seeds in Athens. She had always loved the city.
He stood up suddenly resisting her touch and surprising her by doing so. She put on her best shocked expression in case he suspected any of her true desires. She studied his tense form as he stalked across the room, pushing his own hair back in a frustrated gesture. "What is it? What's wrong?" She was amazed by how sympathetic her own voice could sound. She remembered the few times she had met this man before. Remembered the look of his dark eyes, so detached from the world, as he studied various artifacts. How his body was straight and rigid, always on guard for some sort of attack. She couldn't deny her attraction to him, but now he was nothing but a tool. A means to the end, and she no longer saw any of his attractive traits, she only saw the weaknesses. With him there had never been more then one of those.
"Everything." He mumbled. "You being here, now of all times." He gestured in her direction but did not look at her.
"I can leave." She stood and started to gather her coat from where she had thrown it. She tried to keep her motions slow, giving him time to argue, without making it obvious that she was doing so.
"No." He finally stopped her. "That's not what I mean." He turned away again. She let herself smile as he looked away, knowing that her attack was perfectly executed. "I heard you left the Legacy."
"I came here as a friend. I needed to get away, and we've talked many times of my love for Athens. You said you'd be happy to give me a tour someday, I'm here to collect." She reached out and found his hand. She kept her touch soft within his, but she could tell even that tiny gesture made him uncomfortable. Could it be that he still felt guilt when near women? Even after his wife had been dead for so many years?
"Unfortunately now is not a good time. We've been very busy lately." He quickly withdrew his hand and stepped further away from her.
"Tell me something, will there ever be a good time? Will I ever get a tour of the city or was it just something that you said?" He leveled his dark eyes on her, under that stare anyone could have been broken. But she had built up her will against Jackson, and few men were stronger then him when they wanted something done.
"Why did you say what you did? About the secrets?" His voice was low, and she couldn't quite tell if it was meant to be a threat or if he was curious but didn't want to be overheard.
"Because it's true." She answered without hesitation. As strong as he might be in stature she knew his heart had been weak since he lost his wife. He was the perfect puppet. "I never knew Violet, but she must have been a wonderful woman to inspire such devotion in you. You were meant to be with her for all time, and the secrets took her from you. You would have known to seek help, where to get it from. But their lies denied you that chance to save her. Every time I think about it, the whole thing makes me sick. To think there are others out there going through what you are because of their fear." She realized she would need to be more careful with her tone, she couldn't allow so much hate to enter her voice the next time.
"The reasons have been explained." He answered quickly with words that had been engrained into him to justify just these sorts of questions.
"But do they outweigh the need for the truth?" She questioned back as quickly, hoping not to give him too much time to think over his answer. "I couldn't be a part of that anymore. Think of how many people they aren't helping just to protect themselves. How many innocents they could be protecting." She intentionally said 'they' so to reduce his connection to the Legacy, to keep them on the outside.
He brushed his hand over his mouth and eyes, struggling with her words and those he had been taught by the Legacy. She didn't mind the turmoil she was putting him through at all, he was so close to the edge. If she could pull him in with her she could find so many uses for him. Not necessarily here in Athens where his friends could possibly stop him. But if she could remove him to a new place he could easily reek all kinds of havoc for her and never once would he guess that he was being manipulated.
As she looked over his strong form she saw many uses for him. Both personal uses and more public. But to lower him to the standards that she would need him at she would need to do more then just tear him away from the Legacy. She would have to break his spirit completely. She started to formulate a new plan in the back of her mind as she waited for him to speak. She would need to create some type of evidence but that could be done easily enough. A picture, a report, anything would suffice. One bit of proof that he never should have trusted the Legacy and he would be owned by her because he would have no where else to go. She knew from his profile that he had cut himself off from all his friends and family when he entered the Legacy because he hadn't been able to face them after losing his precious Violet.
His Violet, whose death had been accidental and pointless, but was about to become much less so.
"I should go, I've clearly bothered you with all of this and who knows, you might be right." She again went for her coat but his hand shot out and grabbed her wrist to freeze her in mid motion.
"They're not." He sounded like an animal with those two words, angry and dangerous. "I've tried to deny what you're saying for years, but I can't. You're right. God forgive me if this is wrong, but I believe what you're saying. If I had known who to go to, I could have saved Violet, and I will never forgive myself for that." Her hand reached up to his cheek.
"There's nothing for you to forgive yourself for, they are the ones who will be praying for forgiveness when the end comes." She let her face take on an expression of sadness and regret. "I'm afraid that there's more I haven't yet told you. Much more, and much worse." Again the laughter fought for release and she knew she was getting ever closer to the moment when she could let it go.
Jackson stood on the balcony over looking the gardens of the London house. It was a beautiful sight at any time of day. The myriad of colors that were scattered throughout in no particular pattern, almost verging on chaos, which was something Jackson had never developed a tolerance for. Still it spoke of such life and vitality that even in its wildness it garnered respect from him. What was it that she had said one of the many times she had found him out here studying the garden? 'You want to find an appreciation for it but you can't, can you? You can't forgive it?' At the time he had disagreed with her but he was left to wonder now if it was the fact that someone knew him so well which created the need to argue.
He was tired of thinking about her. More exhausted of trying not to and failing to succeed. Of all the people he had come to know in the Legacy, in life he admitted, she had understood him better then any. He had put a trust in her that every instinct told him never to turn over to anyone. Now he knew his instincts had been right. He had made a mistake and nearly destroyed them all with his poor judgement. His first act upon becoming ruling precept had been to promote her. He had been the one who gave her access to all the information they had caught her with. He had given her the means and he didn't know if he could ever forgive himself for that lapse.
He tried to justify the mistake. Excuse it as one of few he had ever allowed himself. 'To err is human.' He thought over the trite old expression but none of his efforts did any good to assuage the guilt. He still couldn't admit his error to others. That was why he had sent her away from the Legacy without an explanation to the other houses. The tribunal was never mentioned, nor the banishment. He wondered if that would prove another mistake. He was trusting her to stay away on her honor and she had proved clearly enough that was not a trait which she exemplified. He knew he should notify all of the precepts but to confess what had happened so soon after he had taken over left him open for criticism and removal.
Those were two things Jackson was definitely not prepared to accept.
He turned away from the serenity of the garden. It did nothing to ease the torment he was fighting with. Instead of trying to deal with any of it he turned his attention elsewhere as he sat down on his bed. He lifted the files off of his bedside table and opened the one on the top. He glanced for a moment at the picture but it was a face he knew well. He remembered one occasion, when speaking with Sloan, that he had received an honest description of the man.
'Derek Rayne, is probably one of the most thick skulled people I have ever known. Impulsive to say the least, impossible to control.' Sloan had then turned and smiled at Jackson. A wicked little grin of pleasure that reminded him that Sloan and Derek were friends despite their differences. 'He's also brilliant, a genuinely good man. One of the best assets the Legacy could ever ask for.'
Jackson only hoped that Sloan's friendship had not clouded his judgement as his own had been with Liz. But even Sloan had been willing to admit that Derek needed to have more attention afforded to him then many of the other precepts throughout the Legacy. He was a man who too frequently had his own agenda. He put the file aside and opened the next.
He took more time to study this picture. She was still a wildcard and he had concerns that she would remain that way. Derek has taken an immediate liking to her and already was defensive whenever conversations found their way to her. Unfortunately he knew very little about her. He knew of her talents, her past, and her family's history. Beyond that he only had Derek's reports which were be shaded at best. He could tell that Derek lied to him about her involvement in cases and that automatically caused suspicion. What about her did Derek see a need to hide?
He had to also wonder to himself if Derek was not now hiding information because he knew that once facts had been kept from him, a juvenile type of revenge. Jackson didn't regret the choice to keep the information about Charles Gaarlihn hidden. He told himself it wouldn't have done any good. It would have only distracted them. He also had to admit that he had been afraid she would be given shelter by the Legacy for that reason instead of her own abilities. Derek had seen something in her immediately though, before he knew about Charles, something that convinced him to offer her sanctuary in their world. At least Jackson told himself that, otherwise Derek had allowed the secret to get out.
He put her file aside making a mental note to himself that he should take the time to visit the States and meet the girl. See what he could make out of her in person rather then depend on Derek's annotated reports. Not that he had much reason to trust his judgement of a person, but it would make him feel slightly better to look in her eyes.
The last file he knew well. It had always been the one that so many called attention to. Nick Boyle could be as strong as he wanted, defiant and he could, and more then likely would, survive beyond them all yet none of those traits would do anything to erase the marks he would carry through his life in the Legacy. He wondered what the young man's reaction would be if he ever learned that the secret he had fought to keep hidden for so long had become common knowledge in so many corners of the Ruling House. There was certainly reason to worry about the young man, but at the same time there were plenty more indications that he would always find a way to persevere.
Still the concerns could not be dismissed. Sloan had stated them in no uncertain terms. 'He's so busy fighting not to be his father that he might sometimes forget what he should be fighting for. He has all of Robert's good traits, but all the bad locked away in there as well. Still he'll always protect those that need it and that is still why the Legacy exists.' Those words had never been the comfort that Sloan had intended them to be. It classified Nick too much as his own man, he might always put his own desires before those of the Legacy and in Jackson's mind he didn't need that kind of opposition.
Nick Boyle had been given too many personal battles to fight throughout his life and when he didn't have one he often times created them. Perhaps many would see that as noble but it concerned Jackson. Nick was a soldier, he knew how to take orders he just often chose not to. As long as Jackson held the role of the general he needed to make sure all of the soldiers understood the importance of listening to him. Derek had always been too lenient with the young man, allowing him to follow his own path even when it lead to danger for him and the others. Why he did it Jackson wasn't sure. Trust? There was that word again, Jackson sneered to himself. It was a word he was no longer sure had any meaning. Or was Derek trying to atone for past sins by allowing Nick his freedom?
He dropped the file to his side and looked at the three names again. Sloan had allowed the house such freedom and that had clearly been his mistake. Perhaps there was a new player, and others that Jackson didn't view in the same light, but as a combination he had trouble believing that allowing them their independence had not proved fatal for his predecessor. He was resigned not to meet the same fate.
"Liz would be laughing at you now." He sank back against his pillows, allowing his thoughts to go where they wanted to even as he tried to distract himself. "She would say that it would all handle itself. Give it time and time would get them. But is that fair to them when I can see it coming? No, but they'll never hear you, no one can make them listen. You can't make anyone hear anything they don't want too." He shook his head, annoyed with himself for carrying on a conversation with a woman he would never see again. No longer sure that he knew anything about her, much less enough to fill in her answers for her.
If she had the ability to write a controlling script, something that would dictate their every move and reaction she couldn't have created a more perfect situation for herself. As soon as she had realized his many uses it had been simple enough to create the evidence she needed to completely sway him, and thus leave him no where to turn in the world but to her. In his emotionally crushed state he had taken to her every suggestion with as much enthusiasm as he could muster about anything. But she didn't need him to be excited by the prospects of what he had to do, he merely had to believe that they were the right things. Necessary actions in order to prevent further tragedy. A tragedy of course that had been nothing but a fluke, but he would never believe that again. He now saw it as a conspiracy. A lack of regard that the Legacy held for the uninitiated. They were sheep to be lead to the slaughter, saved if some higher power in the organization deemed them worthy. Naturally in this styled world that she had created for his benefit the higher powers had not seen his wife in such a light.
She had barely needed to form even somewhat viable evidence to the conspiracy. A few reports postdated stating that the Legacy had prior knowledge of the demon that had eventually killed Violet. Reports dismissing the importance of the occurrences that the young couple had blindly stumbled upon. She had even managed to come up with a picture of the dig that Violet had died at, a photo taken before the destruction of the equipment, before the bodies had begun piling up. He had accepted it all easily, yet she knew that if anyone not so distraught with loss had seen what she presented not a word would be believed. But that was this one's greatest asset to her, his weakness.
She turned her thoughts back to her mentor when thinking of that word. Jackson Parker hated weakness of any kind, he had just never developed a tolerance for such a human failing in those around him. That made this small victory all the sweeter. The more pain she could inflict on Jackson the better. What would it do to him to think that one of his precious Legacy precepts, a man he had placed such faith in, had been so easily manipulated? Soon he would be doubting every decision he had ever made, every failing he overlooked in those around him because in so many other ways they had earned his respect. This wasn't about Jackson she knew, but every ounce of pain that she could levy on his pompous shoulders would make the win more delicious.
Surely he was already doubting himself. Wondering what he had ever saw in her worth trusting in the first place. Wondering if those still working for him were given their places of high regard for the same trait that had turned on him. Wondering if he should do away with them all, start fresh and pray that he did not make the same mistakes twice. But he would, she was certain of that. Jackson questioned the wrong people. He hated human weakness, but he had no idea of what the definition of the term really was. Those he studied for weakness were not the easiest targets because they had something to hold onto, the exact thing that made them frail in Jackson's mind.
She patted the leg of the silent and dejected man beside her. He had to believe that she was sympathetic to his plight. He would only be useful to her if he saw her as his only ally. Someone that viewed the Legacy the same way he did, and someone who cared about his pain in the way she had him believing the Legacy never had. He was really no more then a toy truthfully, a test to see how far she could push a man with just the right words and actions. The one she wanted would prove much more resistant to her but she was certain that she was striking his softest point and at the perfect time.
He was the greatest triumph any could ask for. His whole world was tied up in the secrets and shadows that defined life in the Legacy. In many ways the group kept the blood going through his veins, giving him a reason to rise. A battle to fight that defined his life with a purpose it would otherwise have lacked. It was his legacy in more then just name, it was the one thing that his father had passed on to him, and somehow that had always kept him connected to the man. She doubted that he had any life without the group now, without the members of the house he was entirely alone. She still believed he could be turned though, and if she could do that none would be able to stop her plans.
She reminded herself that if she could get him then the other would certainly follow. So young and vulnerable, willing to follow the lead of any who offered it to her. With her came the power of more then words. He offered the respect of society, a voice that people would listen to. The other a voice they would not be able to ignore. How perfectly it had all come together. Five months ago the pieces had not all been together, if she had been discovered earlier none of this would have worked out the same.
But she smiled to remember that somehow it was all working in favor of her plans. As if this was the way the universe wanted it all to come together. It brought the puzzle pieces together, she merely was left to form them into the picture of her liking. "Don't worry Julian, we'll be there soon. Then you can begin to set it all right. You can protect them all in the way the Legacy never allowed you to." He had never uttered a single question about why it was necessary to traverse half the globe to do his work. He was allowing her to do all the thinking for him.
She smiled over the perfection that even Jackson would appreciate, a plan without fault, continuing on its own course with little guidance. This was one of the few things that Jackson Parker had ever had appreciation for.
"Derek." At first he didn't believe the voice he was hearing. There was just no way the idea was even possible. But if any voice was unmistakable to him, that was certainly it. He shot up from behind the terminal and went rushing out of the control room. To his amazement it was indeed her, standing just inside the entrance to the library.
"Mother." He greeted her with a pleased smile as he wrapped his arms around her slender shoulders. "What a wonderful surprise. Why didn't you call, let me know you were coming? I could have met you at the airport." He kissed her cheek and for the first time noticed the stiffness about her. "Mother, is everything alright?"
"Honestly Derek I didn't want you to have time to prepare for me." Derek was taken back by that statement which was so uncharacteristic coming from his mother. He looked at her face more closely and saw something there that he never had before and whatever the unspoken emotion was, it filled him with dread. "Sit down, young man, we need to have a talk."
Derek was grateful that he was alone in the room with his mother, he could only imagine what Nick or Tangye might say if they heard someone refer to him as 'young man.' Seeing the kind of mood his mother was clearly in he doubted that she would appreciate even their most good-natured teasing at the time. He carefully took a seat, completely confused as to what would make his mother travel so far in such a humor. She joined him at the long conference table and let her hands both fall over his. He wasn't sure if the gesture was meant to comfort him or to hold him in place, whichever it was it just compounded the nervousness that he was feeling.
"I need to talk to you about something, and more importantly I need you to be entirely honest with me." Her eyes, so much like his own, fell onto his face and he found that he couldn't escape them.
"Mother you say that like in the past I haven't been." Derek stated, his tone holding onto a calm that had completely abandoned him otherwise.
"I know that the Legacy requires you to keep certain secrets. Even make choices that I might disagree with at times, but Derek family, is family. Legacy or not, that will always come first." She instructed him in the tone that he had not heard since he was a boy and she had been teaching him some new lesson. He wondered for a moment to himself if he would ever escape being a child with this woman. If she would ever look at him and see the grown man that he had become. He quickly answered that by reminding himself how he still viewed Nick too often as the little boy he had once been, and he was finding it hard to see Kat as a young woman and not the child she had been when he first met her.
"Is this about Ingrid?" Derek asked, feeling the fear begin to rise within him, no longer directed at what his mother wanted but some threat that it was so easy for him to imagine.
"No, Derek. This is about you and the Legacy." She corrected him quickly, not wanting to allow his imagination to run away with him.
"Alright, what do you want to know?" He had no idea what she was going to ask, but what came out of her mouth was definitely the last thing that he would have suspected. Her voice was thick with accusation when she spoke and let Derek clearly know that there would be no deterring her from her inquest.
"I want to know what happened to your father."
"Okay let me get this straight, I'm new to this whole Legacy lingo. Derek uses the phrase, 'steer clear of the New York house' in layman's terms. So in compliance of that, we follow Legacy members?" Tangye asked as they walked down the streets of New York, about a half a block from Nick's chosen target. "Call me crazy, but that's not what he had in mind is it?" She was keeping up with his pace, but only out of necessity. Nick had decided he needed to do this she was sure it was going to lead to trouble and she wanted to do what she could to prevent that. She'd already had enough lectures from Derek about her own habits of ignoring directions and she had promised herself not to make another necessary.
"Listen Crazy, sometimes we don't always do what we're told. Or should I remind you of the phrase, 'stay away from the demon?'" Nick answered her smugly. He put his arm out to stop her progress when the man they were tailing stopped at a corner and looked around the streets for a moment. She rolled her eyes at the stealth he was approaching his little project with, yet in his single mindedness he didn't stop and think how ludicrous the whole notion was.
"Yes but that was different. I also had instructions to watch Kat, I just choose to obey that instead. See difference." She responded smartly. "Any-who, we only have two hours till batting practice."
Nick paused to look at her, trying to appear disappointed but unable to fight his amusement. "Nobody goes to watch batting practice."
"Welcome to my world." He shook his head and started back with his pursuit. She let out an annoyed breath hanging her head in exhaustion. Could he just listen to her for once? "Nick, please. It's really fun to watch Tino and Paul launch home runs." She managed to get her voice well submerged in a whining tone hoping that tactic worked better.
"Off of really easy pitches." He added.
"Please, you couldn't get one of those easy pitches out of the infield." Nick froze, turning with raised eyebrows to her. She bit down on the tip of her tongue with a wicked grin, she had known all along that insulting his machismo that way would finally grab his attention. "They've got arms like tree trunks. You may be big and strong, but you're no Yankee."
"Again with the Yankees." Nick rolled his eyes and picked up his pace. This had become a common argument between them because it was one of few things they entirely disagreed on, and for some reason it was a fun sort of game. Tangye didn't even bother to follow in pursuit at first. This was absolutely ridiculous in her opinion. What did he hope to learn by following this man?
"Hey I didn't choose the city we came to Boyle. But you can't put me here during the season and not expect to see them." She yelled after him. "Not to mention that you bought the tickets. Dammit." She let her voice drop off. "This is so stupid." She said to herself and didn't fail to miss that several people walking past her took a moment to stare. "Great, now I'm a nut. Then stop talking to yourself, Gaarlihn." She continued her dialogue with herself, realizing that even the warning didn't deter her urge to go on talking even if no one was really listening to her. She shot one of the passerby's a quick hesitant grin, but the woman just shook her head at what she probably assumed was some drugged out youth.
Rather then try to do anything else to redeem strangers opinions of her she took off running after Nick. She managed to catch him at the corner and instead of making another effort to talk him out of his activity she decided to just distract him. She reached up and grabbed each side of his face and pulled him down the several inches that stood between them. Pushing her lips against his own, she finally found something that completely removed Nick's attention from his hunt. After only a few moments she forgot herself what she was using the kiss to do and instead just enjoyed the closeness it brought them. She let one hand reach around his neck to make sure that he didn't try to pull away, while the other gently stroked his strong arm. She felt one of his arms reach around her, also serving to keep her close against his body. His other hand found her waist, and the bare skin exposed as her waist length shirt lifted due to her raised arm.
They stayed locked like that, and Tangye could sense that she was drawing much more attention by doing this then she had when she was talking to herself. But she didn't much care about what the population of New York thought about her, she was just enjoying the moment. The feel of his lips, his breath passing into her, everything about them melding into something more complete.
Until she also felt Nick's hand sliding dangerously far up her shirt, which brought her quickly back to reality. It was just so easy to allow herself to get caught up these moments and even Nick who she didn't take for a public affection sort of guy was unable to fight it. Such closeness had just been so long denied for them both and when the opportunity for it appeared they both latched on with fervor. She pulled away from him, striving to catch the breath that had escaped her sometime during the kiss. "Street corner, New York." She said, though she was only moments away from not caring if Derek was standing next to them. Every time he touched her it was so much harder to step away from it.
"You know eventually this whole, kiss Nick as a distraction thing, isn't going to work anymore." Nick said looking around himself, a bit embarrassed that he let himself get so caught up in what he'd been doing on such a crowded street.
"So you're onto my whole ploy?" She took his hand within her own but didn't make a move to cross the street and continue following the older man from the New York Legacy house, who was now luckily out of sight and therefore unavailable to be followed.
"Yeah, I'm onto you. Considering you use it to stop arguments with me, keep me from looking at stuff you're writing and now " Nick suddenly remembered what he had been doing before she had stopped him. "Dammit Tan, he's gone."
"Thus the reason for the distraction, try to keep up Nick." She saw the annoyance form in his eyes. Rolling her neck to crack it she prepared her argument. "Boyle this is getting us nowhere uber-fast. What do you think he's going to do? Stop by and pick up the 'Top ten reasons not to trust Derek, Nick and Tangye' T-shirt. They don't have them." She lowered her voice as if telling him a secret. She could tell she wasn't getting anywhere with him though so she continued. "We aren't going to learn anything like this, so can we please vacation on our vacation?" Nick sighed. She watched as his jaw shifted from one side to another as he thought. She knew the gesture well enough, she did it whenever she was annoyed but was fighting to keep her comments to herself. "Listen to me Nick, there is no way to know what's going on just by following him. If you want I'll read his mind, though I am morally opposed to it. But if it gets us doing fun things then I'll do it." Her eyes were sincere letting him know just how much the whole real vacation idea meant to her.
He knew she was lying, he also knew that she was right. It was just that every time Derek mentioned to him the mounting suspicions that the precept had, he felt an intense need to solve the mystery. If the Ruling House, or Legacy in general, had something planned he would feel much better with some knowledge about what was coming. He sighed once again and looked back down at Tangye. She smiled at him sheepishly, hoping that she hadn't pushed him too far with her stunt.
"Fun, huh?" He asked, slightly leery about what suggestion she might have. Her kiss had plenty of ideas roaming around his mind but he still wasn't sure if they were at a place where he should mention them.
"Big fun." She turned on a childish tone that made it impossible for Nick not to laugh. He knew she had it in her to be serious, but when she was playful like this he found her irresistible. She could make him laugh and it felt like it had been far too long since someone had been able to do that with so much ease. Her smile suddenly turned wicked, that look that kept Nick guessing just what might be running through her mind. "After all it is the city that never sleeps, think of the implications."
He stepped back, shocked by the lack of subtlety to that statement. He glanced around the surrounding area, occasionally shooting his eyes back toward her face to make sure she wasn't teasing him. "Can I talk to you about big fun?" He asked and she shrugged, showing only the slightest hesitation about what she might be getting into. He grabbed her hand and pulled her along after him just a ways down the street.
"Woo-hoo, dirty empty diner. We should talk about your definition of big fun." She quipped as he lead her into the decrepit looking store off of the street and away from the flood of people. As soon as they were a few feet in he grabbed her about the waist and pulled her in close to himself. He planted a firm and none too subtle in its own right, kiss on her as soon as she was near him. He let it linger as his hands wandered over her body, then eventually moved away from her mouth to kiss along the line of her neck and jaw. "Or " She said with a gasp. "It might be my definition that's all kinds of bad."
He pulled away for a moment and looked at her. A grin played at the corner of his lips but his voice came out serious. "Shut up for like two minutes." He suggested then leaned back in, continuing what he was doing. He kissed her across the throat as he worked his way to the other side.
"I could so easily take offense to that." He finally found her ear and with it her weak spot. She felt his warm lips take the lobe into his mouth, his teeth brush against the susceptible flesh, and finally his warm tongue tracing the lines of her ear. "I'm not planning on doing so of course." He felt her hands grip tightly into his shoulders as he found himself moving forward, until her back met with the resistance of the brick wall. She felt strong hands begin to move up her sides, underneath her shirt.
He pulled away from her long enough to whisper one word in her ear. "Hotel?" He asked suggestively.
"What a great big fun idea. Plus maybe then we can start acting like normal people with each other." She said breathlessly back to him. "And hotel without question is better then here." The tension was definitely building between them into something that they couldn't ignore, and it was distracting them both. She was sure this was not Nick's normal mode of behavior, and knew it wasn't hers. But she wasn't about to say that she didn't enjoy it, he was so relaxed and happy, which was what she most wanted.
"I had to get you alone so you couldn't deny my charms." He took her hand and led her back to the street.
"I'm sorry, had I been?" Nick laughed and started to walk in the direction of the hotel.
"Nick?" They both heard a man's voice call from somewhere behind them. "Nick Boyle?" The young couple turned to find Nick's earlier target of interest standing not far behind them with a pleased smile on his face.
"Good you manage to convince me not to follow him, get me interested in something else, and he finds us." Nick plastered a smile on his own face as the man closed the distance between them. "Bruce, amazing that we run into each other here." Nick extended his hand.
"You here on vacation, my boy? Or is it official business?" Bruce asked warmly. Nick knew he was a nice enough man but at the same time he really didn't want to be with him now. He was sure that whatever offer he made to Tangye in two hours she wouldn't be deterred from Yankee Stadium, not when she was so close now with only one chance to go. He definitely had a limited window of opportunity. He admitted that trait in her amused him, he enjoyed seeing her so passionate even if it was for something so ridiculous, but he had his own suggestions about other things she could get passionate about.
"Vacation. Bruce Honeycutt this is Tangye Gaarlihn, newest member of the San Francisco house." Nick gestured to the disinterested woman beside him. She shot Bruce a quick smile as she shook his hand.
"Well if it's a vacation, you have to let me take you lunch." Bruce again smiled.
"Actually, we had ah we were " Nick struggled to find an excuse.
"We're going to the Yankees game, and I have this whole batting practice thing, gotta watch it or just not the same." Tangye supplied. "So we really appreciate the offer but "
"Nonsense that isn't for another two hours, you have plenty of time. We can eat near the stadium." Nick couldn't even manage another smile for him as he pushed them along down the street. When Nick gave Tangye's hand a quick squeeze she looked up at him. He gestured upwards with his eyes and she knew the little signal well enough by now. Once Derek had talked him into becoming a guinea pig for her to practice her talents on he had seen the advantage to being able to talk to her absolutely privately. Now he used the tiny gesture to tell her when he had something to say that he didn't want anyone else to hear, alerting her silently to read his mind. She hadn't exactly mastered the skill but if they both concentrated she could get it done without much strain.
'Can we change our answer to official business?' He pleaded, pulling forth only a small laugh from her.
'Well now at least you get to keep an eye on him.' She shot back quickly.
'And yet, now I don't want.' His mind wandering back to the conversation that they had just been having, and the implications of it that were now out of reach.
'By the way, Derek's still going to kill us for this.' She reminded him smugly.
'As if I needed a reminder.' He was going to have to come up with one hell of a story to cover this one.
"Mother I don't understand why you're asking this. I told you what I saw in the cave that day." He struggled even while his instincts told him that trying to lie would do no good. She clearly already knew enough to come here with such a question. She turned her eyes away with a disgusted sigh.
"Yes Derek, you told me all about the sepulcher your father finally found. How he told you that he had to open it, he needed to see the truth. You told me about how you begged him not to do it because of the evil you sensed in the place and how he callously discarded you while you pleaded with him. You also told me about the demon that appeared and killed him, how he passed his ring to you then. I have heard that story, I know it by heart, what I want to know is what has happened since that day." Derek looked away. Then she definitely knew. Someone had gone to her with the horrible truth and she was justifiably enraged that he had kept it from her.
"Mother, I " She pulled her hands away as he struggled to find the proper words. Her dark eyes were filled with such pain. Disappointment in her son that he had hidden such truths from her. He had let her live on believing in a man that had caused her child so much pain even after death. She didn't even attempt to explain how that fact bothered her more then the truth about Winston. She had seen a darker side to Winston even when he was alive then she ever cared to confess. She had always sensed something about him that didn't quite fit with the battles he fought for the Legacy. She told herself it was drive and passion. Intense needs to know all things, but clearly Derek had learned a very different interpretation.
"You never told me Derek that you sought out the other sepulchers. That you had found them all and brought them to this house." She led him on towards the confession. Making it clear to him that she didn't need to hear the words to know, but she wanted an admission out of him.
"No. I remembered how much you hated father's obsession with them. You knew it was more then just another Legacy artifact to him and could never understand why they had to be so important to him. I thought it would hurt you too much to know." She turned away from him again, looking over to the window with the stained glass etchings above it. Words that she knew far too well staring back at her from the colored shards of glass.
"Then why did you do it? Why did you go on such a quest knowing how I felt about it. More importantly knowing the evil that they contained?" She whispered, her voice unable to disguise the disappointment of this betrayal.
"Father died to find them. I felt I needed to finish what he began." He supplied. He wasn't sure if that was the whole truth. His own search for the sepulchers had become very personal the longer he had looked for them. For awhile they had been very much a driving force in his life. The same way they had been for his father, paramount above so many other things. He had fought off their influence though displaying a strength his father had lacked.
"And you did, was it worth it?" She may not have known how hard her words to hear before she uttered them but certainly did after just by the look on her son's face. His mind's eye flashed over images of Julia hung from the makeshift crucifix, heard Nick's anguished scream ring through his memory. He saw Rachel as she struggled to deal with a demon born in her son's form. Alex being struck as he set the boxes in place to open the gate to hell. Last there was William Sloan. Sacrificing himself to destroy the evil that the small old containers represented. Vanishing from sight, choosing eternal torment for himself rather then face a world with such evil.
"They had to be found, they couldn't just be left out in the world. They can do untold damage " He attempted to explain but that was not the answer his mother was looking for.
"Don't you mean have? They have already done that damage." She corrected, but did not give Derek the chance to clarify. "The search for them ended not only your father's life, but Julia Walker's as well didn't it Derek?" He looked at her shocked, certain that someone had gone to his mother with this information. In his mind he tried to think over any that would want to cause him this sort of pain but the list just went on and on. There would be no way of knowing that fact without someone in the Legacy providing it to her. "Think of the pain you caused those you care about by needing to find those damn things. I remember you telling me about Julia, about how Nick was struggling with his feelings for her because you didn't believe he was ready to give in to such things. She was Alex's best friend. You let your father's obsession become yours and the fate was just as terrible, except this time someone else was killed instead of you."
Derek recoiled from the harsh words she uttered. He had never wanted to admit that truth to himself but it had always existed inside of him, threatening to tear him apart. The sepulchers were his obsession and it would have been just if they brought an end to his life. Instead Julia, who had instinctively feared them as any should, had died in his quest to locate them. But she was not the only casualty of the mission. Something in all of his friends had died because of them, and William Sloan had been damned to protect the world from them. "Mother please "
"What Derek, has no one ever questioned your decision to find them? Has no one ever asked for a justification for the tragedy? I doubt that. I'm sure your friends have said the same and much worse over the years. I want to know what happened to your father. And don't you dare say that it is Legacy business, he was my husband and no matter how I felt about the sepulchers I loved him. I want to know if I was blind to do so, and you have that answer." Her tone droped off in a manner that he found very threatening. He wasn't sure how to put the answer. His father had made mistakes, and perhaps in the last moments had been consumed by the evil that the cases represented but Derek had never willingly accepted that as the truth of his father.
"Father was a strong, brave man, driven by his beliefs." Derek began, thinking about the words that had been used to describe his father so many times.
"But were those beliefs what any of us thought they were?" She bit off her words.
"Yes I think they were. Up until the end I think father truly felt what he was doing was for the best of mankind." His eyes fell to the table, unable to look upon her gaze any longer.
"Then why would he ever think to open one. He knew what they contained, what he would be releasing onto the world. Why would he do it?" Her voice rose a notch but Derek still did not look at her.
"Because there is always a chance it was just legend." Derek attempted to reason but it did no good. It was an excuse, one his mother knew to be untrue.
"And he had to know that answer so badly that he would take such a risk?" She snapped, annoyed that her son was trying to protect someone that had caused him so much pain. If it had been any other time she might have been proud for that loyalty but with the truth coming out she was beginning to wonder if there was any reason to show Winston Rayne such dedication. Not when he had never been able to return it.
"You know father only wanted to find the truth. That was paramount to him. That more then anything defined him." Derek stood up, needing to move, to put some distance between himself and the accusations being flung at him.
"The Legacy has taught you well." He spun around to look at her, shocked by those words as much as by everything else she had said. "I came here looking for answers and you won't give them to me, you protect them against me. But you've forgotten to protect me. Why? Because I'm not initiated?"
"Mother, that is exactly what I'm trying to do. Why should I destroy your faith in him? What good will that ever do? You knew father was flawed, you never needed me to tell you that. What would be gained from destroying your love for him?" Derek pleaded. She was not going to give up until he said what she was waiting to hear, yet he still fought doing so.
"You couldn't do that. No matter what became of him I will always have my good memories of the man I fell in love with. Nothing you can say can take those from me." Derek suddenly heard another voice in his head, a voice expressing a much different truth. 'The good memories are just gone, they made sure they were dead. I can't go back to them now, they'll just serve as a reminder to the bad years. That would let them win, and I'm not letting them win this.' Some things were just too awful to forgive and he feared that perhaps his father's actions would be such a thing.
"Mother what brought this on?" Derek asked, annoyed that his voice actually quivered with the words. He was the precept of the San Francisco Legacy house, he had faced down countless minions of hell, defeated death on numerous occasions. Despite that he was still cowering against his mother's anger.
"It's my turn to ask the questions of you Derek. I want to know all that you have kept from me about your father's death, and " She let the word hang their for a moment just as she had done when he was a boy and she wanted to let his anxiety over his punishment build. "What he has done since that time." She was not going to be deterred, no matter what Derek did. He finally gave into that. She wanted to know that Winston had let evil consume him, that he had returned from death to finish what he began. Derek was going to have to tell her.
"I just hope that you can remember that you did love him, that he was a good man much longer then he wasn't." Derek began. "You know most of the details about how he died. He told me to wait for him, but I saw something and went in after him. When I got to the cave he was about to open the sepulcher. I begged him to stop and he said he had to know the truth. He then threw me aside, I continued to beg him to stop and at the last moment he seemed to hear me. He stood up and said that we should leave, but it was too late by that time. He came over to help me up and from behind him I saw I screamed a warning but there was no time for him to react. He was thrown across the cave and then the creature began to drag him back to the sepulcher. I tried to help, but he told me to turn the key. I did and it was locked back up. When I went to father he told me that the burden was mine and gave me the ring, then he died." Derek wiped at his face, knowing he had told his mother all of this before but he had to reiterate to her that his father had listened, had in the last moments turned from the darkness that had begun to consume him.
"So he only heard you after the sepulcher was opened? He knew he had already turned the key and rather then locking it again, he went to you?" Derek stared at her shocked that she would come to such a conclusion. His father couldn't have known that the evil had already been released, he didn't realize it. Derek told himself that over and over, but his mother's words overshadowed his claims. "Only in the face of his own death did he insist that you lock it again. He tried to save himself when it turned on him, but he was willing to leave it open and walk out of the cave with you."
"Mother, I don't think he knew " Derek pleaded, hating the conclusion she had drawn and the implications of it. If his father had known the sepulcher was open and was willing to just walk away Then his gesture of reaching out to his son meant nothing, he would have decided to release evil on the world and not fight to contain it as his life work suggested he would do.
"Derek there was very little that escaped your father's notice. He must have known it was open, he just didn't know how quickly it would be released. He probably never thought that it would turn on him." She stood up and crossed to the window, looking out on the bay. "Since then? You have seen him again, haven't you?" Her voice was low, the pain finally sinking in past her resolve to know the truth. She wanted to hear the story but hated what it all meant.
"Twice." Derek whispered in response.
"Yet you never mentioned that to me? To Ingrid? You knew your father was out there and that he could choose to strike any of us, yet you never saw reason to tell us?" She asked, not turning to face him.
"It has been handled." Derek informed her weakly, knowing that would not be answer enough.
"Tell me. I want to know." She reiterated her position, though Derek was no longer certain that she did. But it would do no good to attempt to resist her request any longer so he forced out his voice.
"The first time was when we returned from Ireland, after locating the fifth sepulcher. It wasn't really him, just the demon using his face in an attempt to get the key from me." Derek's tone was low and full of remorse. He had never accepted that to be his father that confronted him, yet doubts had resurfaced in the years since that day. His father had later returned in an attempt to open the sepulchers and release their evil. Maybe it wasn't actually his father that night in the library trying to persuade him over to the dark side, but perhaps that was exactly what the man's spirit wished to do. Perhaps the demon hadn't been mocking the memory of his father by posing such an option. "I attacked, and in a moment of guilt over what I had done the key was taken from me. But that was nothing more then a ruse, a mask used to make me weak."
"But the next time you saw him it was not that simple was it?" She accused.
"No it wasn't. I didn't actually see him, but he was here. I was doing research on the sepulchers, there was a power outage somehow he returned and possessed me. He wanted to open the sepulchers but he needed a body to use for the task. From what I can remember and what I was later told I don't think he really knew that he was using me do it. At first he knew he was dead and that he was controlling me but the longer he was here the more he seemed to sink into the delusion that we were separate. I'm not sure how to explain it exactly, but he was mad with his desire for the sepulchers. That seemed to cause him some confusion over what exactly he was. He attacked Alex, planned to use her as some sort of sacrifice but she managed to get away." Derek wandered across the room as he told a story that he had put together after the fact. His memories of his possession were not entirely clear but those who had been witness to the events had filled him in as best they could. Even without a defined recollection of the acts his father both made his body do and what had occurred after, the pain associated with that night was still very real.
Barbara could sense her son's turmoil and for the first time since the woman had appeared on her doorstep with such damning statements about her deceased husband, Barbara began to wonder if it was better just to leave all of this in the past. Maybe knowing wasn't worth the pain it would cause Derek to have to reveal the truth. Before she could tell him of her growing change of heart he went on.
"Sloan and Nick had arrived at some point during the night. They found Alex and Sloan left Nick to guard over her while he searched for me. He found me in the attic, just about to open the sepulchers. He tried to explain to father what he was doing was wrong, that he wasn't Winston but me. Father wouldn't listen. He admitted that he had started out looking to destroy the sepulchers but in the end something had changed. Nick arrived, threatened to kill me, but still father wouldn't listen." Derek stared down at his hands hating the words he was about to utter. The memories they would destroy, the faith. "Sloan then offered himself in my place. Saying that father could rule the whole Legacy if he let me go and took him instead. The offer was too good to refuse I suppose."
"Then that is what happened to Sloan? I know he vanished without much explanation, but I never thought Nick was left no choice but to kill Sloan?" Barbara whispered horrified. Derek turned to her quickly, disliking the very idea she had in her head.
"No, he couldn't do it. I don't think he would have killed me either, no matter if he knew it was right. When father released me, I collapsed. Nick checked on me and was distracted. Before he knew it Sloan was opening the boxes. Nick begged him to stop but evidently father's hold over Sloan wasn't as powerful. William was still in control of himself. He told Nick that he had to stop the evil and take it back where it belonged, including father. He opened the portal and vanished, somehow succeeding in rendering the sepulchers powerless." Derek finished, not able to force out any more.
"Take him back to where he belonged?" Barbara asked, her voice low and full of regret over what she had put Derek through. "That means " She let the words hang there, knowing Derek would understand exactly what she was asking.
"That father had been in hell since he died. Yes." Derek answered simply. The implication of the single word struck her like a blow. For so many years she had believed despite his many faults that Winston was a good man at heart. That his obsession had never managed to so fully corrupt him. With one word Derek shattered that illusion and no explanation he might offer would do anything to rebuild it. He didn't even bother to try to do such a thing.
"And you have known this for more then a year, yet you felt no need to inform either Ingrid or myself of any of this?" She turned to him with renewed accusation. He had been sure that her resolve was faltering in the face of what she was learning, but that was gone now.
"I didn't really see what good it would do. Does it help to know what has become of him? Does that make it any easier to try and remember the days before any of this began to build?" Derek attempted to defend himself. He didn't even know why he was bothering with the effort. After all that had happened, after all that his father had done did he have a right to be remembered in a favorable light?
"Those are my memories, you will never take them from me. But I deserved to know this. It was my right Derek." Her voice rose a notch in her irritation over the lies. How many times had she made some off hand comment about how much Derek was like his father? How many times had she hurt him with such a comparison, one that she would never make again. No matter how much Derek kept from her he did so for good reasons, motivations that were driven only by his love for her. Her son was nothing like the man he had watched die. Derek was everything that Barbara had convinced herself that Winston was, but that he failed to live up to. She turned to look out the window again. "Did the Legacy tell you to do this?"
"What?" Derek asked, shocked by that question as much as by any of the others that she had come here with. She had never made much of a secret of her dislike for the Legacy, and a number of their methods, but still she managed to amaze with such an angry question.
"Did they tell you to keep this secret?" She turned and grabbed his hand, gesturing angrily at the precept ring on his finger. "Did they convince you this was Legacy business and not family? Do they have you believing they are more important then me? Is that the sort of hold they have over you?"
"No. No, I made this decision myself." Derek stammered. Why would she be thinking such a thing? Why drag the Legacy into all of this now? Then he remembered that was how it had all started. She had arrived accusing the Legacy of keeping secrets, but pointing out that family still had to come first. She did blame the Legacy for this.
"Then tell me, how can you live under those words?" She turned, pointing with hate at the words in the stained glass. "How can you claim to believe in what they mean if you aren't willing to follow them? Faith has need of the whole truth, Derek, yet you didn't think I would hold on to faith with such truth. You betrayed yourself Derek, everything that you have claimed to believe since you were a boy." She roughly let go of his hand, yet the release didn't make him feel any better. "I deserved the truth." She brushed past him toward the door and he stood in the middle of the room helpless. "I came here, praying that you would say it was all lies. That none of what I had been told was the truth, that it was just some enemy of yours trying to hurt you through me. I wanted so badly to believe that, because it meant I could still trust you. But they were right, Derek, they were the ones who told me the truth. Evidently I can trust them more then I can believe I'm getting the truth from you."
"Mother please. I did what I thought was best." Derek pleaded, not wanting her to go like this. So full of anger and distrust. He needed to find a way to make things better.
"You were wrong. I just hope you know you have someone out there that hates you a great deal. Someone told me to come here to do just this. I just never would have thought that the truth would be just as damaging as a lie. Not where you were concerned Derek, because I really believed that the truth was what mattered to you the most." She stepped out of the room and disappeared.
Derek felt his world crashing around him. How many times had he been accused of keeping too many secrets? How many times had Nick or Alex told him that he risked too much by not being honest with them? Was the habit unbreakable? Would it eventually destroy his relationships with everyone he cared about? He prayed that wasn't the case but seeing such disgust on his mother's face had forced him to consider that would be exactly what happened. He had truly believed in his motives, felt that the decision had been right, yet he had never planned on what might happen if she somehow learned the truth. He had never allowed himself to consider the damage that discovery might cause. Now he was left standing in the wake of it, wondering how he could repair it. If there was a way to do so at all.
He turned back into the room, deciding it was better not to follow her. He didn't want to provoke any more of her wrath, not only because of how much pain it caused her but he wasn't sure that he could take any more of it himself. His mother had walked out lacking the one thing that she had always had for him. So many times she had found herself on the other side of debates with her son, disagreeing with his choices, annoyed with his intense involvement with the Legacy. Yet she had always had faith that what Derek did he did for the best motives, even if she didn't like what those actions might be. No one else in his life had such absolute faith in him, and without it Derek wasn't sure what to do. Even when she was hundreds of miles away, even in the long months that he didn't see her, he had always known in his heart that she was out there holding onto that faith. In an unspoken way that knowledge had made every part of his life a bit easier, had helped to renew his belief in himself and his actions.
He stared with hate at the words in glass looking down on him, mocking him. He flinched when the front door to the house was slammed as a last statement of her anger. He didn't want to think about what was walking out of his life at that moment but he couldn't escape it. He would be left only with his regret when this was done, because even if she managed to return to him she would never be able to look at him in the same light. Something was dead, and Derek wondered how many corners of his life that would effect. She would certainly go to Ingrid with this information, what would his sister's reaction be? She was trained in forgiveness and Derek was sure that she would offer it to him. Yet she too would always be wondering if perhaps Derek was not manipulating the truth to his liking, or lying altogether. She would forgive him because it was her nature but it would never be as simple with her either.
In time the members of his own house might start to see this lie as more significant as well. They too might begin to doubt him. Wonder what horrible truths he might be hiding from them. Sometimes they already did just that, but if they thought about what he had kept from his mother and sister, wouldn't they naturally believe he would be willing to keep even worse secrets from them? After all, as much as he cared for them all, they were not his blood relatives and thus it should be easier to lie to them. His mind flashed over all their faces, in moments when they had been angry over his choices, and he tried to recoil from that fury but it did no good. He had created this situation for himself, and he didn't see much reason for them to trust him after many of the choices that he had made. Yet for now they did, but with time that too would probably fade away. He would decide to or even inadvertently give them reason to question him one last time and eventually it would be someone else slamming the door as they walked away from him.