|BACK TO FANFIC LIBRARY | HOME
Unheeded Warnings by TalgoM Unheeded Warnings
|[page 2 of 4]
He struggled with the simple of action of getting his eyes to open but found the effort to be futile. Wherever he was there was only imposing darkness waiting for him. No light penetrated the room or whatever it was he was in. He knew he was no longer in the house, the dank, moldy smell of wood was gone, replaced by something more earthy. Wet moss, that was it, which would explain the soft carpet under his hand. He heard the rhythmic sound of dripping water and vaguely remembered stories that the sound was used as a torture device in some parts of the world. He quickly berated himself for letting such a dismal thought in.
He had no idea how long he had been here, or where here even was. The last thing he remembered was the hand of the man reaching out and just brushing up against his bare arm. The sound of a record player came back to him with that memory. But that was impossible, there would have been no electricity in the house to fuel the device. Then again the whole situation was nothing if not a series of impossibilities so why should he deny one so trivial?
He tried to focus his eyes against the dark, straining his ears for the tiniest bit of noise to tell him he wasn't alone. Nothing seemed to work. He thought about the people at the camp, wondering if enough time had passed for them to be missed. Wondering if enough time had passed that his parents had been notified. He could only imagine how terrified they must be, or would be when they heard. They would blame Gilby for the whole thing, which was just wrong. The camp owner had been a good friend, and Jason realized he had betrayed that. If he and his companions couldn't be found Gilby's whole life would be destroyed and they would be at fault. He felt his guilt crash down on him over what he had caused without thinking. Gilby had tried so hard to keep him from doing just this sort of thing, always offering support and reminders of Jason's own strengths. Why had he not just listened? Why had he let Greg and Sean convince him to do this just by calling him some names?
"Greg, Jace?" The voice bounced around the space. It sounded so small and innocent. For the first time Jason remembered that despite their own bravado they were just children, scared kids.
"Sean? Is that you?" Jason asked back, sliding hesitantly toward the direction of the voice in the dark. The whole floor of the place seemed to be covered in the same moss and the sound of dripping water grew louder as he moved forward.
"Yeah, it's me. Where's Greg?" Greg, he remembered, had been the first of them to be grabbed. He hoped that didn't mean anything.
"He could be here, just unconscious. I can't see anything." He finally felt cloth under his hand and immediately Sean's hand shot out and grabbed onto his sleeve. "Are you hurt?"
"My leg." Sean answered back numbly, his voice pitiful. "What the hell was that thing? It was supposed to be a myth, a story they told us to scare us." He stammered. Jason put one arm around his shoulders in a vain effort to offer comfort. His terror had won out though and there was no soothing it.
"I don't think it was. They may not even know it was real though. They were probably told the story once too and just passed it on. I saw the guy." He shivered at the memory of that evil smile.
"He grabbed me too fast." Jason had known that but didn't point it out. "What do we do now?" Jason was a little surprised to find that this normally confident teenage was actually asking him for guidance.
"I don't know, someone will be looking for us. They'll find us eventually." His voice held little hope as he pulled his companion closer to both offer comfort and receive some.
"It's just over this hill." Gilby pointed to the top of the hill they were all climbing. He led the way with a deliberate step that Derek was beginning to see as the defining nature of this young man. He wasn't the type that gave up, no matter how impossible something seemed, or how hopeless. Derek had always respected that trait in people. Nick had it, Tangye did, it was common in the Legacy in fact. Even in the face of Rachel's cold stares Gilby Mayhew had pressed forward, knowing how important the task at hand was and not letting her accusation bear down on him. His own guilt had been pushed aside for the moment, focusing his energies instead on something that might be able to do some good.
"Have any of the kids ever wandered up here before?" Alex asked as she stepped up beside him.
"Not that I know of, but since it's off limits they wouldn't tell me. I talked to a few of the counselors who went here before I owned it and they said it used to be a sort of rite of passage. They admitted though that none of them ever actually went in." He paused on top of the hill letting the others catch up.
"What exactly is the story?" Alex asker curiously.
"Most common version? They say in the late forties that a man killed his mother in the house. When he was arrested it was decided that he was deranged and couldn't be held responsible for his actions. They remanded him into the custody of a mental hospital which five years later he escaped from. He came back up here and lived out his life. No one knows when he died or if he died, he still could be living here I guess. Anyway, they say that he's protective of the house and the land. Grabs anyone that comes near it for whatever reason crazy people have. It's easier to escape him if you don't go in, but treading even on the land supposedly angers him. The story is all he has to do is touch you and you can't escape." He sighed looking down at the small cabin being swallowed by the mountain fog.
"Have you ever been in?" Rachel asked, her anger still present in her tone.
"Of course. Dr. Corrigan you may find this hard to believe but I try to do right by these kids. I'm not the monster in the house. I came up here right after I bought the land to check it out. It's not stable but there have been some problems with getting it torn down." Gilby added without thinking.
"Such as?" Derek asked, sensing an importance in this.
"I own the land around it outright, but the acre that the cabin stands on is leased to me. There's another owner who won't allow it to be torn down." He shrugged, not thinking anything important in that information.
"Do you have the name of the owner?" Derek prodded.
"My real estate agent does, so does my lawyer. It's probably in the records in my office somewhere but really it wasn't something I could do anything about so I just let it drop." Rachel started off down the hill again with an indignant huff. "Wait a minute Dr. Corrigan. I really don't need this from you. You want to find the boys and so do I " Gilby let his frustration over her attitude win out.
"They shouldn't have been lost in the first place." Rachel snapped without turning to him.
"Thank you, thank you very much for telling me that." He retorted sarcastically, which just worked to annoy Rachel all the more. "I know they shouldn't have been up here, and I have told them that. I told the counselors to stop telling stories about this place so not to get the kids curious but they wouldn't. I can't put a muzzle on them and tie all the kids to trees. I do the best I can." He finished losing some of the strength in the face of his own weak arguments.
"Well it wasn't enough was it?" Rachel locked eyes with him, squaring her shoulders.
"No it wasn't and I don't need to be reminded of that. But ghost stories are a part of camp. And they are fiction. I have been in that house countless times, I was there yesterday and nothing has ever happened to me." His voice was just short of yelling and Alex felt the urge to step in, knowing the passionate young man was just digging himself in deeper with Rachel.
"True, and that's interesting isn't it?" She turned again.
"What in the hell are you saying? You think I grabbed the kids?" Gilby's voice was urgent. This was clearly what he had feared he would be accused of all along.
"No one is saying that, Gilby." Alex reached out and put her hand gently on his arm. She was glad that he didn't try to fight to get her off, hoping the gesture worked to calm him in some way.
"Maybe I am Alex." Rachel mumbled and went on down the hill. Alex saw the dangerous glint in Gilby's eyes, one she knew well enough from dealing with Nick. Derek moved forward to talk to Rachel hoping that Alex could deal with the camp owner.
"Gilby she's just thinking about her own child, it terrifies her to think something like this could ever happen to Kat." Alex kept her voice soft and even, hoping it would help to calm him.
"I know that Alex. I just feel like everyone thinks I did this, and I couldn't. It would never have even passed through my mind. Suddenly though I'm the most terrifying thing on this mountain. That wasn't a role I was prepared to play." He took off the baseball hat he wore and brushed his hair back in a nervous gesture. Alex clearly sensed the good in this man, his noble intent and honest desire to find the children. She also clearly saw his fear over the fact that everything he dedicated his life to had faded away in a moment so far outside his control. Her heart went out to him and she just hoped that the ending they found wouldn't have to totally destroy his life.
"Rachel, what do you think you're doing?" Derek stepped in front of her still halfway between the house and the pair they left behind. Her dark eyes fell to him with all her irritation showing.
"I'm being realistic Derek. What do we really know about this guy?" She answered back with annoyance at his naiveté.
"I don't think he is the cause of this. I don't get a sense of anything like this from him." Derek answered, keeping his voice in what he knew Rachel found as an aggravating evenness.
"You aren't perfect Derek, how many times have your senses of people let you down before? Hitchcock, Brian Krenshaw, Robert Boyle, to mention a few. You seem to miss it when you want to trust someone. You didn't even see the evil in your own father." She knew she had gone to far with that and the anger she saw in Derek's hazel eyes made it clear that he had been pushed enough.
"Let me make this clear to you Rachel, you can either behave in a professional manner or leave right now. I know you're a mother and it bothers you to even think about something like this happening to Kat, but that doesn't give you freedom to say anything you please. Alex and I will handle this investigation without you if need be. We will look into every possible angle and that includes Gilby, but I'm not excluding any possibilities that there is a dangerous spirit in the house." He voice was low noticing that Alex and Gilby were approaching them and not wanting his orders to be overheard, but it also made him sound all the more dangerous.
"As long as you won't ignore the possibility that he is responsible." She gave in, knowing that she had to for the sake of the children. It would also give her a chance to study the young man, see if his behavior betrayed anything that would make it clear that he was the cause.
"Tan, come on." Nick called upstairs for the third time, his tone exasperated. He sat at the foot of the stairs twirling the keys to his Mustang on his finger. Their appointment was in less then two hours and he wasn't sure what to expect from the midday traffic in the direction they would be heading in.
"The young lady taking her time?" Philip asked in a light tone, coming down the other side of the stairs. He held a coffee cup in one hand and a thick manuscript tucked under his other arm.
Nick grinned quickly at him, and Philip couldn't tell if he was annoyed or just impatient. Or if either emotion was directed at him. "She's doing it to bother me, that much I'm sure of."
"I think, perhaps, you are giving yourself a bit too much importance." She bounded down the stairs, dropping down beside him. She wore brown jeans and a cranberry cropped sweater. "I had to find some type of I.D. Didn't want there to be any confusion that I am indeed Tangye M. Gaarlihn." She held out her social security card and an invalid driver's license. "Think they'll do?"
"Don't see why not. So you're ready?" She laughed at him slightly then nodded. "No more stalling? You like your outfit?" He asked providing her further excuses
"Why, don't you?" She asked playfully. She started to go back up the stairs clearly just trying to be frustrating. Nick reached back and stopped her progress by gripping her hand.
"It's great, stunning, you'll knock out Derek's lawyers. Let's go." He got to his feet and guided her toward the door. She could tell he was uncomfortable being with Philip and was beginning to wonder if maybe it wasn't because of the fight rather then his feelings toward the priest. Was he feeling guilty about the things he had said but wasn't ready to deal with it? She kept her eyes on Philip, watching the pain that flashed across his kind face, as she pulled her jacket on. Her bright eyes were wide, and she bit down on her bottom lip, as she wished there were something she could do to ease the loss the priest felt.
"Will you be back for dinner?" Philip's Irish accented voice asked softly, afraid even this question would upset Nick, but before he could answer Tangye did.
"Yes. Thanks for asking." 'Well', she thought, 'at least that's a half hour they have to be in the same room.' She just hoped Nick could control his temper through one meal. "We'll be back by five."
"Maybe." Nick mumbled and led her out the door. "Why do you want to have dinner here?" He asked as soon as the door was shut behind them.
"Because I didn't want to leave Philip alone. It's not a big deal Nick, food's food, and Cook's is always good." She knew he was annoyed but wouldn't let his attitude effect her. He had already pulled the Mustang up to the front door and she turned to him. "Can I please drive?" She asked hopefully, pouring on all the charm at her disposal.
"Nope." He answered back quickly as he opened the door for her. She had been asking him the same thing for days and was always given the same response. He trusted her but didn't want to hear from Derek if he found out that he let her. Soon they would have to do something about her driver's license he noted to himself. But that would also mean she wouldn't be quite so dependent on him and he was enjoying the time they spent together going back and forth into the city.
They rode down to the ferry with idle chit chat and finally as they stood on the deck looking back at the island he asked what she had been waiting for him to. "You sure you're ready for this?"
"It's just a few signatures. I know how to spell my name, do you?" She answered lightly, trying to avoid what he really meant.
"Double a, l.i.h.n." He responded quickly. "You know what I mean, Tan."
"Yeah I do." She answered her voice low. "And I am. It's over Nick." Her eyes got that far away look that succeeded in breaking his heart and he knew her words weren't entirely true. There was a world of difference between her wanting to be over it and actually being so. "But, I do appreciate you coming along, just in case."
Her hand found his and gave a gentle squeeze. She looked up at him and was hit again by how attracted she was to this man. How badly she wanted to get to know him and help him in the same ways he had helped her. She wanted to do something for Nick, but more then that she just wanted to be with him. She wondered if she would ever forget the feeling of his lips on her own? How gentle he had been when he held her? How she had felt his abandon slip away when they kissed and he had turned himself over to a moment neither of them fully understood? One moment of magic that had given her back a life, a voice, and a purpose.
"So here it is." Gilby shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his canvas jacket, resting one foot on the front step. "Best way in used to be through the back but when I came here yesterday all the doors were open." He shrugged.
Derek nodded but was really studying the place more then hearing the younger man's words. One side of the upper floor had caved in, the front porch was sunk noticeably into the ground and all the wood looked rotted through with age and there were still paint peelings attached to some spots of the wood. The windows that were still intact were covered in dirt but through that the forms of boxes and furniture could be made out behind them. It was a dreary place at best. He sensed something about the house but couldn't put it into words. A desperation, hopelessness, and an underlying sense of evil. But those terms didn't even seem really appropriate.
"Shall we?" Gilby gestured to the front door. Derek nodded and pressed forward into the house. Directly in between the two front doors there was a staircase and rooms off to either side. On the left he noticed that the ruin on one side extended beyond the second story, the floor having collapsed to the room below making it impassable. To the right there was what looked to have once been a living room with several old couches crowded in amongst the boxes. "Previous owners used to use the place as storage." Gilby explained motioning toward the boxes. "The kitchen is in the back, along with the door to the basement. From the footprints I found it didn't look like the boys went down there."
"Where did they go?" Alex asked softly, not wanting to disturb the house or it's eerie silence.
"Looks like they came in the back, went through the kitchen into this room, then upstairs. It doesn't look like they were here very long." He said as he made his way into the room.
"What makes you think that?" Rachel asked suspicious that he would know that.
He kept his voice under control as he answered her. "Their tracks. They didn't wander around or do too much exploring. The prints they left were pretty much in a straight line. Come upstairs I want to show you something." He turned back to the stairs. Derek noticed the record player sitting on top of some boxes and for some reason felt drawn to it. There was a dusty and scratched record set up on it, and he noticed the cord coiled around the base of it. He reached out and as soon as his fingers touched it his vision went gray.
He saw a boy cowering in a corner of the room and a woman reaching out to him. He saw the same boy standing over the record player with blood on his hands as he put the needle into place. Then again the boy running from something but trapping himself in a corner.
"Derek? Are you all right? Did you see something?" Alex put her arm on his back in a comforting gesture. She knew the expression on his face well enough to know what it meant.
"Yes, let's check upstairs." He answered quickly. He didn't know what the vision meant but wished he had gotten pictures of the missing boys. Then at least he could identify if it was one of the boys in his vision.
Gilby waited at the foot of the stairs and let Derek go first, when Alex walked up beside him he whispered down to her, "is he okay? What happened?"
"Long story." She responded with a grin and followed her mentor up the stairs. She was careful over the gapping hole in two of the steps but Rachel coming along last didn't seem to notice it. Just before she tripped through the spot Gilby's arm shot out and balanced her.
"Careful." He guided Rachel safely the rest of the way up the steps, never removing his hand from her arm but as soon as they reached the top she shook it off. Derek and Alex were already in the center of the bedroom to the right of the stairs. "So this is where the boys came. Looks like they moved the chair over to get a better view into that hole. I checked it out; it leads to the attic. Something startled whoever it was though because when I got here the chair was knocked over."
"These clothes, was this a prank by the counselors?" Gilby shook his head in response to Derek's question. Derek didn't really believe his proposition the clothes looked clean and that was a lot of work for a prank.
"They've been laid out like that since I first came here. May sound crazy but I never wanted to disturb them. Maybe I do believe in ghosts. This is what's really weird though." He went over to the door on the far side of the room that stood open. Crouching down he pointed to he footprints in the dust. "Mine are the bigger set, but if you look at the smaller set they walk over to this door and then just stop."
Derek immediately recognized what he was talking about. The smaller footprints lead just inside the doorway and then vanished. "I checked the attic and there aren't any up there. It's possible that whichever boy it was he backed out but there's no way he placed his foot so perfectly in each step he left and there's only one set. Whatever happened he just vanished from this spot." Gilby glanced up for Derek's reaction.
"How do you know all this?" Rachel asked.
Gilby turned on the balls of his feet looking up at the doctor. "My father was a big hunter, taught me to track animals. Just using those skills in a different scenario. I know what you're thinking doctor and the evidence is right here that you're wrong."
"How so?" Rachel interrogated suspicious to hear what excuse he came up with.
"The footprints I left. If I was dealing with a struggling kid, or even just carrying one that age, my footprints would be smudged, distorted. They aren't. I came in the house yesterday and was very careful not to disturb the tracks they left. Not once does my foot land where theirs did, if I was managing to abduct three teenage boys I don't think I could have been that careful. Not to mention the fact I don't have that kind of strength. I would have had to knock them out and carry them out. That means at least two trips in and out, I made only one." He stood up brushing the dust off his dirty jeans.
"You seem to have given this a lot of thought." Rachel responded with her accusation.
"Yeah I have. This is my life we're talking about too you know. Damn straight I was going to have a defense if they decide to arrest me. Quite honestly I threw that away by coming back here with you. Now I've given them the two sets they'll need to convict me. But I'm willing to do that if you can help find the boys." His anger flared again. Rachel started to say something but Derek silenced her with a glance.
"The boys aren't in the house? You've looked everywhere?" Derek spoke, distracting the man from the stare he had leveled on Rachel. Gilby nodded. "Then they were taken somewhere." Alex noticed that the theory that this could be a prank had been dropped. "Where did the other two tracks end?"
"One at the hole in the stairs, floor must have given way underneath him. The others around the bottom of the stairs. That's the only spot the tracks are distorted. Like he was running back and forth." Gilby answered his voice full of the emotional exhaustion he was feeling.
"Alex why don't you and Gilby go down and check the basement, Rachel and I will look around the attic." The researcher nodded and followed the young owner down the stairs.
"So tell me what you really do." He asked, breaking into the noise of the footsteps above them.
"I'm a researcher for the Luna Foundation." Alex answered the formula response she always gave.
"Right." He said skeptically. "So, tell me this, what did he see?" Gilby stopped and turned to her just inside of the kitchen.
"Pardon?" She saw the knowledge in his eyes. "I don't know, he hasn't told me. He will eventually. Gilby, why did you throw away your defense by coming here with us? You could have waited outside." She asked, hating to think he had thrown his life away, but impressed by the dedication that the act spoke of residing in him.
"Because it's my fault, my responsibility." He mumbled pulling open the door to the basement. "She's right. I took on the job of watching out for these kids and I failed them. I'm not giving up until I find them. And if I get arrested, well it's not really wrong. I did make a promise and I didn't keep it." He said honestly though he clearly didn't like to think about that fact.
"Breaking a promise doesn't mean you should go to jail." She was touched by his sincerity. "Especially when you didn't mean to."
"But I did fail them anyway. I'm not going to forgive myself anytime soon, why should anyone else?" She turned her flashlight on when they stepped into the darkness of the basement. There were more boxes down here and she noticed immediately the light shining through the ceiling.
"That's where he fell?" She stepped as close to underneath it as she could but there were boxes below the spot. Boxes that were still undisturbed except for the wood that had fallen from the broken steps.
"Any of them would have fit through a hole that size, but this stuff wasn't damaged." Alex felt a cold shiver go up her spine.
"There's nothing up here Derek." Rachel spoke to the precept as he leaned in front of the hole they had noticed in the bedroom. The attic seemed to cave in near the back, sinking below ceiling level in the bedroom. Derek didn't acknowledge her statement instead carefully reaching out to the hole. He remembered that Gilby had said something must have startled the boy to make him and the chair fall over. As soon as his finger touched the rotten wooden his vision once again blurred.
A hand reaching out from darkness. A boy running. Wood breaking underfoot. The same boy standing at the bottom of the stairs staring up with horrified eyes. The record player. And finally a hand reaching out again.
Derek jerked his hand away from the hole reflexively. He clutched it in his other hand, no more sure what the visions meant. "It will be night soon, we should get back to the camp. I want to call Nick, have them come up here."
"Them? Derek is that a good idea?" Rachel knew what he meant by the word and for once today her suspicion fell away in place of her concern.
"What do you mean?" Derek looked up at her surprised.
"After the incident at the church " Derek shook his head to stop her. He knew exactly what she was going to say and didn't need to hear it. They had all been fearful that she chose to get on the roof not to help the spirit find peace but perhaps find her own. He was sure now that they were wrong about that and he didn't want to hear anyone accuse her of doing that. Tangye was not looking for an easy out.
"I've talked to her about that already. It won't happen again. If the boys are on this mountain we're going to need as many people as possible to help search for them." He turned to go down the stairs.
"Then why don't we contact the police?" Rachel asked, following him.
"If you'd like to explain to them that the angry spirit attached to this house has kidnapped the boys you can. But they will have no way of dealing with that." He snapped, more harshly then intended. She had been aggravating him all day, though, with her one sided way of looking at things.
"So you're saying it's definitely a spirit? Or are you just trying to make it a ghost story?" She responded with her own brusqueness.
"I'm saying I'm leaving that possibility open. If it turns out to be Gilby, well he hasn't run yet." Derek vanished down the stairs.
By the time Alex and Gilby joined them outside the tension and silence were noticeable to both of the newcomers. Alex quickly began explaining what they had found in the basement to fill the void of the walk back to the camp but her information only went on for so long and silence once again reigned.
"I'm beginning to think it's something about us Nick." Tangye commented as Philip dropped his bag near the front door. "Every time we come home, someone's leaving."
"Too bad it's not surprising with him." Nick said spitefully walking into the house without so much as bothering to throw Philip a dirty look. Tangye winced, not even having thought about the effect of her words or the sight of Philip leaving.
"Actually Derek called, he wants us to join them up at the camp tonight." Philip kept his voice calm not giving in to the anger in Nick's voice.
"Fine." Nick bit the word off and went up the stairs to get his stuff together.
"Won't even admit when he's wrong." Tangye patted Philip on the back when she walked by.
"He wasn't really. I can't stay here much longer Tangye." He didn't miss the hurt in her eyes. "I have work to do at the church and I'm not a member of the Legacy anymore. I don't belong here."
"If you insist on believing that I don't think I'll be able to convince you otherwise." She went up the stairs leaving Philip alone in the main hall feeling both guilty and wondering if she was right.
"So did you reach Nick?" Alex sat down on the rocking chair on the porch beside Derek. He was staring out into the night and she wasn't sure exactly what he was feeling. They had all eaten a simple dinner together in the lasting silence, and after that went their separate ways. Rachel had gone to one of the counselor's bunks to get some sleep and probably give Kat a call, while Gilby was cleaning up the kitchen. Derek had retreated to the solitude of the porch that Alex had been trying to leave him to but she felt he had information and needed to know what it was.
"I spoke with Philip. Nick and Tangye were still in the city at the lawyers." He answered half-heartedly, his mind far away in thought.
"So that's done with?" Derek nodded solemnly. "Well I suppose that's good. She doesn't have to worry about that now." She tried to sound relieved but her concern over what was going on in the mountain retreat wouldn't be overshadowed.
"They're taking the helicopter so they should be here shortly." Derek added.
"It will be good to have their help." She stared out into the night for a few moments but then her curiosity won out. "I know you saw something at the house. What was it?"
"I'm not sure really. I think I saw one of the boys as he saw the thing that took them. And another boy, and a woman. I saw the record player in the visions and also hands. Twice reaching out, one time covered in blood. I don't know what it means though. The first vision felt older somehow." His eyebrows rose on his forehead when he looked at his friend. Alex would understand what he meant, he was sure of that.
"We'll figure it out Derek." She paused for a moment seeming to consider something. "You don't believe that Gilby did this do you?"
"No. I understand why Rachel wants to believe he did, it gives a simple answer, but I don't agree with her. He seems to be a good man." Alex nodded her agreement. "His concern for them seems genuine, and it even seems to dispel his concern for his own well being which to me speaks volumes. If he had done this I think one of us would have some indication of it by this point." He turned his eyes to her and saw that she clearly had felt no such thing. "So whatever did this is definitely separate from him, something I don't think he understands. It's up to us to figure out what that is." He wiped at his eyes tiredly. There was still so much for them to get accomplished and like always they seemed to be held to very small time constraints.
"So where do we begin?" Alex looked to him for guidance.
"We search the mountains, there must be somewhere they've been hidden." It was a long shot and he knew it but he wasn't sure what else they could do. Hopefully the others would arrive with some information that would be of some use. He sat with Alex in silence for another ten minutes before the sound of an approaching helicopter broke into the night. He turned his serious expression skyward and saw the search light from the chopper scanning for a place to land.
"Down there?" Tangye pointed to the clearing below them beside the lake. Nick nodded and began to set the chopper down. None of them had failed to miss the picturesque beauty of the place but couldn't ignore what they knew to be happening either. At first Nick hadn't been sure that taking Tangye along was a good idea, but he didn't want to leave her alone either. He promised himself to watch over her; they would not become separated.
The chopper hit the ground gently with Nick's skill and he began shutting down the systems when he saw the forms of Derek and Alex approaching. Philip was first out of the chopper and Nick started to get out when he noticed that Tangye was lingering. She just wasn't sure what her place was here. Was she was expected to offer her help or was she just along to be babysat. She didn't want to think the latter but at the same time knew it could be true. She hated feeling so helpless.
Nick reached out and brushed her hair behind her ear, letting the back of his fingers trace down her face. "Come on, we have a job to do." She gave him a weak little smile and opened the door to the chopper on her side. Nick joined Philip and Derek with the files they had compiled back on Angel Island while Tangye wandered off a few yards from the chopper. Alex noticed the younger woman's lost look and decided to let Derek handle the explanation of everything and instead join Tangye.
"Busy day?" Alex asked lightly, Tangye chuckled lightly.
"I don't think I've ever signed my name so many times before. Got to the point where it looked wrong because I had written it so much." She brushed her hair out of her eyes looking out over the lake in the moonlight. "Why am I here, Alex?" She cocked her head in Alex's direction; her brow furrowed making her eyes small.
"We might need your help." Tangye dropped her head, obviously not convinced. "You have to give it time, Tangye."
"I know, but I was never acclaimed for my patience." Alex wrapped an arm around Tangye's shoulder. "By the way, next time the rest of you decide to jaunt off, take either Philip or Nick with you. I'd prefer not being stuck alone with the two of them again."
"I can understand that, better then you know." Alex laughed openly.
"Well at least if I'm just here to be watched the setting is nice. Beautiful lake, forest, fields all you could possibly want to keep an innocent little low level telepath out of trouble." She laughed with Alex.
"I would know that voice anywhere but it's just not possible." Alex turned to see Gilby stepping around the helicopter towards them, a large grin on his handsome face. She noticed that Tangye too was grinning before she even turned. Her brown hair tumbled into her eyes as she tilted her head in the direction of the voice, her chin against her shoulder. She bit down slightly on her bottom lip and shook her head.
"I don't believe it." She laughed.
"You don't? Come here you little imp." Gilby stepped forward and swept Tangye up into his arms spinning her around as she laughed and clutched tightly to his neck. She seemed so at ease with him from Alex's first evaluation, and seeing that relieved her of some of her worry.
"Gilby Mayhew, what are you doing here?" She asked as he put her back down. Her blue gold eyes were large in her surprise to see this man before her.
"Might find this hard to believe but I own this place." He answered with a grin.
"It's beautiful, just where I would imagine you." She didn't seem able to control the smile on her face that tugged at her cheeks.
"Yeah, I like it." She noticed the sadness in his eyes and suddenly remembered why they were here. She wasn't sure what she wanted to say to him, what could possibly help. He seemed to momentarily shake off that feeling and looked back down at her. "Wait a minute, what are you doing here?"
"Tangye works with us." Derek spoke as he joined them.
"Dr. Rayne." Gilby greeted the man but as soon as his eyes fell on the shorter man beside him his mouth dropped in surprise. "This is too weird. Nick, Nick Boyle?" He gave Nick a cock-eyed grin.
"Gilby Mayhew, how long has it been?" Nick shook the taller man's hand roughly.
"We were seventeen, you had big plans to join the military if I remember." Gilby laughed.
"You do. Four years in the Navy. And you're here? Responsible for all these kids?" Tangye noticed another flash of regret in the older man's eyes and found herself desperate to distract him from it.
"So you two know each other?" She asked a little too quickly.
"Gilb grew up down the street from me, best hitter on the block." Nick answered with a grin. "And how do you know Tan?"
"Who?" He stopped realizing whom Nick meant. He looked down at the smiling girl next to him who averted her eyes shyly. "Oh, well that says something."
"What?" Nick asked confused.
"Nothing Nick, don't worry about it." Tangye reached out and took his hand. Giving Gilby an exasperated look she answered Nick's question. "I knew Gilby from the camp I told you about, he was one of the counselors."
"Last time I saw her she was one of the most stunning sixteen year old girls I've ever known. To think it only got better." She turned her head away, blushing, and officially embarrassed.
"Isn't it supposed to be knobby kneed, gangly sixteen year old who suddenly blossoms?" Alex asked with laughter.
"Not this girl, never had an awkward day in her life." Gilby rubbed the top of her head playfully.
"Could we please discuss something else?" Tangye pleaded.
"Sure, Gilb can tell me everything about you later." Nick laughed.
"Great. Derek want to reign them in?" She turned to the precept for support.
"Yes, I do. We have work to do tomorrow and it's late enough. I want everyone to get some rest so we can go up to the cabin first thing in the morning. Philip, Nick, Tangye I'd like to tell you what we found at the cabin today, see if I can get your impressions." Tangye looked back at Alex and just let the smile touch her lips as she followed Derek and the others back up to the cabins. Alex turned back looking out at the moonlit lake.
"It is beautiful up here. First time I saw it I knew this was where I belonged. Guess I was wrong." He looked down at his feet and Alex strongly felt the agony all this was causing him.
"I don't think so. I believe you Gilby. I don't believe that you could have ever hurt those boys, this is out of your control." She spoke gently, not sure if her words would do any good but hoping that in some small way they would help.
"Thanks for that." He licked at his lips, biting down on the bottom one. "But I still feel terrible. Like I failed. Funny that by failing I was living up to people's expectations." He scooped up a few stray pebbles in the sand and started throwing them out into the lake.
"What do you mean?" She was surprised by the odd admission.
"My father. I wasn't exactly his ideal son. He had a lot of big plans for me, college, possibly law or medical school. House in the suburbs, corner office, and all that nonsense. When I choose to do this instead he saw it as me failing him again. Letting him down which he sees me as being very skilled at. Don't get me wrong, he's a good man, just very different then me. He wants the best for me; we just don't see eye to eye on what that is. But for awhile he started to see how happy I was here, he stopped fighting me about this. Now " Gilby's voice was low and just dropped off in the end.
"You think he's going to believe he was right all along? It doesn't sound like he was sure you would fail these children, just your own potential." She placed her hand gently on his arm and he turned his dark blue eyes on her. For the first time Alex seemed to notice how truly handsome this man was. With his deep passionate eyes, easy smile and chiseled features he was an extraordinary picture. More then that, though, it was the sense of his kindness that she found herself attracted to. That was what had made her linger and not follow her colleagues back up to the cabins.
"You're a good woman Ms. Moreau." 'And beautiful' he thought. He quickly chastised himself for even thinking it. This was not the time for such thoughts. He had to focus on the boys. But he didn't want to leave the beach, lose this moment to talk to her. "Strange that two people I haven't seen in so long should show up here now." He added trying to retrieve the comfort.
"Yeah, I guess it is. But in our times of strife we get what we need." She laughed slightly at the surprised look that he shot her. He turned to look back at the spot where the figures of her friends and his were just vanishing into one of the cabins.
"Nick looks like he's just the same as I remember him. Tangye looks so much older though." He sighed, turning back to Alex.
"She probably is." Alex responded softly. He couldn't have seen Tangye since she was a teenager and now she was without a doubt a woman.
"I know, but it's different. More then just years. She always sorta stood just outside of people; like she knew things others didn't and couldn't share them. Now that just seems more pronounced. Like she knows even more then before." He turned to her seeming to realize how odd that sounded. "Don't get me wrong, the guys loved her, girls liked her too but she never was quite like anyone else. It's hard to explain. I always felt close to her though." He finished with one of his heart stopping grins.
"I do too. Since I first met her." Alex responded honestly. "Gilby we'll find the boys, and Tangye may be able to help more then you can dream." She clutched his hand tightly within her own hoping her promise helped and that his faith in the young woman he once knew would give him hope.
"So it was definitely something supernatural, a spirit?" Nick asked after Derek explained everything from the footprints to his visions. Tangye kept silent through the whole thing, leaving it to Nick and Philip to question for details, still obviously unsure what her place was in all of this. Derek wished he had an answer for her, but he wasn't sure himself. He felt compelled to seek her help but in what capacity he didn't know.
"That is what it seems to be. I want to take the equipment up first thing in the morning and run a check on the house. See if we can get any readings. I'm also going to have Rachel go into the town and see what she can find out about the owners of the house. Gilby said that he only leases the land the cabin is on and the owner has insisted it not be destroyed. I'd like to find out why. Plus we must check the validity of these ghost stories attached to the house." Derek sat down on the bench putting an end to his pacing.
"Unfortunately we didn't find much in any of our searches in the database." Philip said.
"With a town this small that's not that surprising. Records may not have made it into computer systems yet which means we'd have no access. As it is anything we learn must be retrieved from hardcopy records. Rachel's opinions aren't very supportive so I think this would go better if I keep her and Gilby apart." Derek spoke slowly; keeping his tone even but at the same time his frustration over the day was obvious to all those gathered.
"What's her problem with him?" Nick asked, concerned for both his friends.
"She believes that Gilby is responsible for what happened to the boys. That he may be the one who took them and is trying to divert attention from his guilt with ghost stories." Nick's eyes grew wide. He knew Gilby Mayhew and knew the man to never be capable of such things.
"That's ridiculous. Gilby couldn't hurt a kid." Nick spoke angrily.
"I agree with Nick. We know him, it's just not in him to hurt anyone, especially a child." Tangye's light eyes seemed dark and cloudy suddenly to hear that Rachel had even considered assaulting the character of her friend.
"And I agree with both of you. We have seen no indication that Gilby is responsible, but Rachel is a parent and she is looking to the most obvious suspect." Nick slightly laughed at that logic. "Her opinions aside we have work to do, I think you should all get some rest. I know I need it." Derek added lightly noticing the anger on both Tangye and Nick's face. He knew he had to explain Rachel's opinions but at the same time regretted it.
"Sure, but let me make this clear. I haven't been able to count on many people from my past or in general." Philip felt Nick's cold eyes fall on him for just a moment. "But I count on Gilby. I've watched you believe unconditionally in old friends of yours Derek, I feel that way about Gilb. He wouldn't hurt a soul; his instincts always drive him to protect people. He didn't do this." Nick's voice was full of the old anger he carried with him.
"I said I don't doubt that." Derek said in that frustratingly calm voice of his.
"Good." Nick turned and stalked out of the cabin. Leaving them all wondering exactly what the purpose of that outburst was when no one had been arguing with him.
Derek stopped by the cabin that Rachel had kept herself secluded in ever since dinner. He explained to her what he expected of her the next day and about the past history between Gilby, Tangye and Nick. She knew exactly what he was trying to impress upon her but she refused to listen to him. She was sure her instincts about this were right, she needed them to be. A ghost couldn't be punished for this crime and someone deserved to be. She needed a guilty party, someone to blame and Gilby Mayhew was just that in her mind. He left her trying to lay down the law about her behavior but his stern words had no effect. She did decide to do her own line of questioning, to find her own proof.
She found Tangye at the next cabin over; her legs pulled up close to her chest as she sat on the steps staring off into the dark forest. She wasn't sure exactly how to approach the subject but she felt certain that Tangye would be more receptive to her questioning then Nick. Nick had a volatile personality and got angry quickly. From what Derek said Nick was already annoyed to hear that his childhood friend was a suspect in anyone's eyes. She was sure he wouldn't react well to the thoughts she was having and would provide no help in her questions. Tangye, on the other hand, might understand the need to suspect even someone she considered a friend.
"Derek told me you had arrived." She spoke softly so not to frighten Tangye with her sudden presence. The young woman seemed to know that she was there already and just nodded. "He also said that you went by the lawyers today."
"Yeah I did. Money's mine now." She leaned back, her elbows on the step behind her.
"How's that make you feel?" Tangye turned to look at Rachel, who had sat down beside her. She immediately recognized that bored look that Tangye took on during their first talk when she was accusing Rachel of being too much a doctor.
"Wealthy." She answered evenly. Rachel realized her mistake immediately. Tangye wasn't looking for a doctor, just a few friends, yet Rachel's instincts always made her behave like a psychiatrist when dealing with the young woman. After all she had been through Rachel felt she needed to face it all, talk it out, even if she wasn't interested in doing so. Not to mention her own instincts that pushed her to help people in any way that she could. "My family never really spent their money over the years so it's just been building up. Not that I want any of it."
"So what will you do with it?" Tangye shrugged.
"Let it sit, maybe find a place to donate it to. No rush for that." She paused then turned to Rachel her eyebrows raised. "I know what you're going to ask me and the answer is no." Rachel flinched at the tone in Tangye's normally soft voice. Like she was warning Rachel away from her suspicion. The doctor realized that she had said nothing to betray her real reasons for being out here.
"Did you ?" She started but stopped with Tangye's outburst.
"Damn, can't you have faith in anyone?" She snapped, jumping to her feet. Her light eyes truly angry about Rachel's unfinished question. "No I didn't read your mind, in case I didn't make it clear I don't do that sort of thing." She paced away a few feet. "It's written all over your face Rachel. I would have seen it even if Derek didn't tell us, and I sure as hell didn't have to read your mind to know it. You think he did this and I'll tell you right now that he is not capable of such a thing. And I didn't read his mind either, I just know that." She jumped in with the last bit before Rachel could say anything. "Gilby has always put himself last, and kids first. He would never hurt a kid in anyway. It's just not in his make-up. He's a good guy, better then most. Give him a white horse and cape and you have him to a tee. He's that type, not the monster type." Her voice held an angry finality to it that made it clear this was not an area she was willing to discuss. For the first time Rachel was getting an indication of some of the anger this girl held, and it was very similar to Nick's own that he carried with him. Quick to ignite and full of passion.
"How can you be so sure?" Rachel quickly got defensive right back. She had been hoping to avoid a fight by coming to Tangye instead of Nick but wasn't going to just back down from one. She tried to always be cool headed but sometimes her emotions still got the best of her.
"Because I am. Because when I was sixteen and he was twenty I watched girls throw themselves at his feet like he was some modern Adonis. In case you missed it he is a good-looking guy. Girls anywhere from fifteen to nineteen were after him and you know what he did? Nothing. Never laid a finger on one of them. He wouldn't have gotten in trouble with some of them, or probably even caught, but he just wouldn't do it. Why? Because it wasn't the place. He wants to be an example and that wasn't what an example did. He couldn't hurt a soul, except himself." She turned and stalked off, clearly finished talking to the older woman and hearing her accusations. Rachel wondered if that was a sign of the faith she had or her own doubts. Would she ever be certain to trust anyone again after all she had been put through?
Rachel sighed and decided to go back to her own cabin and get the rest Derek had suggested for them all. She was worried about the sudden outburst Tangye had but wasn't sure it would help to press the matter. She was an intense person; Rachel had already begun to see signs of that before. The way she threw herself into situations, into work. The way every emotion seemed to sink in so deep. But at the same time she had seen that those traits were balanced by her ability to cope quickly. Tangye would get angry or upset but a few minutes later the emotion would fade, she would burn herself out on it. Rachel brushed back her hair and crossed the few yards to the cabin giving the woman the cool down time she needed and focusing on the much-needed rest she wanted.