Once she was sure Davy was out, Gina called to Geoff, then began tying Davy down using the bed’s built in restraints. She heard the door open, but Geoff didn’t say anything when he entered the room. When she looked up, she saw the pain and fear in his eyes. It was more than just worry over Davy. Something had passed between the two of them, and it had hurt Geoff deeply.
“Geoff, what did he say?” she asked gently. When Geoff didn’t respond, she walked over and took his hand in hers. “Geoff?”
She was completely surprised as Geoff pulled his hand away from hers and turned away. He stood there, looking more lost then she had ever seen him. “Geoff?”
When he didn’t speak, Gina moved in front of him and again took his hand in hers. “Talk to me,” she pleaded.
She saw the turmoil and pain as they played across his face. The evening’s events and the tension that had been building up since Boomer and the boys had headed out finally overwhelmed him.
“Come on Geoff,” she urged as she led him to a chair and got him to sit. “Talk to me.”
“Gina, I... I’m not... I don’t...” he stopped, fighting back the tears that threatened to come. His expression was so completely lost that all she wanted to do was hold him, but something told her that was the wrong thing to do.
“Geoff, talk to me hon, you aren’t making sense,” she urged.
“Davy... I ... he,” his breath was ragged as he tried to explain and failed.
“He’s going to be alright,” she assured him. “Now talk to me,” she demanded as she forced him to look at her. “Geoff, tell me what he said.”
Geoff bit his lip, she could see him warring with himself and finally he bowed his head. “Nothing I didn’t deserve,” Geoff answered, then moved to leave.
“Where are you going?”
“You two should be alone,” he told her softly. “I need to let the others know what’s happening.”
“No,” she stated as she blocked his way. “Davy said something to you and by-god, you’re going to tell me what he said.”
For the first time, Geoff turned and saw the turmoil in her eyes. She was afraid that Davy was protecting her from something. Then he realized he was: he was protecting her from him.
“Gina, I love you like a sister. Nothing has made me happier than when you two started dating. But Davy saw something I hadn’t even realized was there...I ...” he felt the anger welling up inside himself. After everything Davy and his family had done for him. Everything Davy had suffered to protect him... he was jealous of his brother. The shame ate away inside him.
He turned away again, the shame and bitterness filling him up until he could no longer contain it. “I have to leave, Gina. I have to make things right, see to it that you’re both protected.”
“Not until you tell me what he said,” she repeated angrily.
“Gina, please,” he begged her.
“Geoff, tell me what Davy said!”
Geoff paced the room as he tried to explain. Finally his concern for her overrode his pride and he finally spoke.
“He saw the way I look at you,” he whispered softly. The childhood fears crept into his voice, making him sound even more ashamed. “He told me not to touch you. That I...I was an ungrateful...” he stopped unable to continue.
“Geoff,” Gina gasped as she again took his hand in hers. “Geoff, you brought us together. You got him to look at me the way I wanted him to see me. Davy loves you more than any other being on this planet. You know that. And he knows your heart. He would never...” Gina stopped in mid sentence as her eyes flared.
“Get Gran TwoBears here now,” she ordered.
Geoff looked at her for a minute as he tried to comprehend Gina’s reasoning. When he shook his head, Gina gave an exasperated sigh.
“Go get Gran, I’ll explain it later!”
As Gina began checking Davy’s medicine levels, Geoff headed out the door.
Gina forced herself to remain calm, but the fact that Davy had accused Geoff of, of what, trying to steal her away? Davy knows Geoff would never hurt him, never betray him. Davy knew that, but whoever or whatever was controlling Davy, wouldn’t. Gina turned as Gran entered the room.
“Geoff told me you wanted to see me child?”
“Yes ma’am,” Gina answered then looked around. “Where’s Geoff?”
“He said he had some things to take care of,” Gran answered evenly. “Would you be so kind as to tell me what is going on?”
“Davy said something to Geoff, that, to be honest, he would never say to Geoff,” Gina answered.
“Why is he tied up like this?”
“He was trying to strangle Geoff when I came back in,” Gina answered evenly.
“Dear,” Gran swore. “That is very unlike Davy,” she agreed.
With that, Gran sat down next to Davy and began pulling things out of her bag. Before she could begin anything else, she felt a presence in the room. As she stretched out her feelings, she found the presence was actually outside the door.
“I’m sorry ma’am, you can’t go in there,” she heard one of her grandsons state.
“Nonsense,” she heard a woman answer. “Davy is like family to me.”
To her surprise the door opened and the woman entered the room. She could sense the power even before she saw the woman, but Gina merely gasped.
“Minh, what are you doing here?”
“I came to see you and your brothers,” the woman answered as she looked at Gran and smiled. “Your grandson is resting,” she stated quietly as she bowed formally towards Gran. “He is under the protection of my house until he is well, or until you have made other arrangements.”
Gina was surprised as Gran returned Minh’s bow and smiled. “If he is under your protection, there is no need for other arrangements. We are indeed honored by your presence and your favor upon our house.”
Minh rewarded Gran with a half smile as she looked at Davy. “I sensed a wrongness here,” she commented as she stretched out her senses.
“Saints no,’ she gasped as she recognized the presence she’d felt.
“Minh?” Gina called worriedly.
“Gina, leave,” Minh ordered. “Both of you, leave and do not return until I tell you it is safe.”
Something in her tone brooked no argument. As they left, Minh turned towards them. “All will be well,” she assured them, her face once again calm and serene, but Gina knew it was a front to make them feel better.
‘Betrayer, Oath breaker, Corrupter,’Minh’s disgust was evident as she called her brother forth from the body of her friend.
‘Sister, is that you?’ She was unprepared for the joy and relief in the answering thoughts. ‘Lei Minh?’
‘You know it is,’ she answered. ‘Enough of these games, what is it you want?’
‘It walks the earth again. It has attacked one of our kin in my name, please you must stop it.’ she could hear shame and rage in his thoughts as he reached out for her.
‘What do you mean, ‘it’? You are part of it, it is part of you,’ Minh answered, barely controlling her own rage.
‘No, dearest flower, it controlled me. I was never part of it. It has rejoiced in my pain all these years, all these centuries. When you banished it, you were forced to banish me as well. Please, you must stop it. It will not quit until it destroys the gate. Until it destroys us all and you, dearest one, it wants to use you... toy with you as it has me.”
‘How can I trust you?’ Minh answered in disbelief.
‘I open myself to you,’ he answered slowly. ‘Freely and willingly. Seek the answer within.’
She could feel the submission in his thoughts, the willingness. She took a deep breath as she forced her mind into his.
He stood before her, small and alone. He was a shadow of the once great being he had been. Gone was the haughtiness, and with it, much of the pride. She could still sense the determination and ferocity that had been Rahalleth. As she watched, she saw his heart, his chi. He had been beaten, used. The creature that had controlled him had taunted him, as he turned everything to his use. She could feel the weight of the centuries as the creature grew weary of his toy and moved on. She could also feel the patience he had developed over the centuries.
His submission to her was complete, yet with it, she could feel the warning. Do not trust me, other than what you see before you now. The greatest portion of my will, myself, is still with it.
‘Thank you brother,’ she answered, but as she pulled away, she felt another presence. A presence that was filled with rage and pain. Rahalleth had used him to hurt his brother.
‘David,’ she called to it. ‘He did not know.’
‘Hurt, Geoff,’ the thoughts were disjointed. This level of communion was never meant for humans, and the contact was straining him to his limits.
‘It will be handled,’ she promised. ‘I will explain,’ she tried to calm him down, but still he fought to communicate to her.
‘Geoff. Lost... Called him... called him..’
‘David, you are hurting yourself!’ she scolded as she forced all of them to a level where Davy would be able to communicate. She was surprised by the rage in his eyes as he faced off against Rahalleth.
‘There is more at stake here,’ Rahalleth told him. “More than you could possibly understand!”
‘That does not give you the right!’ Davy growled. ‘That man deserves nothing but respect, and you used me to hurt him.’
‘He wants your woman,’ Rahalleth yelled as he reared back.
‘He protects her. Yes, he loves her, but he know her heart. He knows that she loves me, and he’s the one, the one who made me see it! There is nothing he wouldn’t do for either of us.’
‘But...’ Rahalleth stopped and bowed his head. Then he turned to Minh. ‘You are right, I do not understand their kind. But why are you keeping us here, when the enemy must be fought?’
‘Because you must understand them, if you are to join us in the fight. That is your wish, is it not?’
‘Very well then.’ she answered then turned to Davy. ‘Will you rest now child, and let me talk to Geoff?
Davy nodded as he saw Minh for the first time. ‘Watch over them,’ he pleaded.
‘Always,’ she promised.
Minh checked on Davy. Once she was sure he would be well, she concentrated on Rahalleth.
‘Please, you must listen to me, it came into the world the same as I did. He left the gate open and I escaped.’ He was trying to explain it to her, but he didn’t fully understand it himself.
‘And you have hurt three people since you returned,’ Minh reminded him.
‘I am sorry,’ he stated evenly. 'I did not know. But I do know there will be far greater suffering if we do not stop it NOW!’
‘Will you still sacrifice as many as necessary to your ends?’ She asked evenly.
‘The sacrifice will be their’s to make, but if we do not act, we will serve his purpose. What would you have me do sister? Allow others to suffer as I have? It must be stopped!’ his rage filled him until he finally saw what Minh was trying to tell him. ‘I have become more like it haven’t I?’
‘Yes,’ she answered gently.
‘I will leave, but first, you must know. You must know what it will do, what it has done. The child, is he... well?’
‘No,’ Minh answered. For the first time, she admitted that Kai had been injured far greater than she thought possible.
‘Lords of Heaven, no!’ Rahalleth felt his heart break as he thought of the child who had bravely faced off against it. Faced its wrath and survived. ‘It was more than just my form it used,’ he told her softly. ‘It used its own power as well.’
‘What can you tell me of its power,’ she asked. He could sense her desperation. ‘Tell me what you know brother, and then your duty here is discharged.’
‘He is stronger than when you and Yung faced him...us,’ he corrected. ‘He has taken others unawares, but this is the first time since then that he has found a vessel to walk this earth. Worse, he has found two. It has taken me a long time to learn to hide even this smallest part of myself from him. I wish... I wish there was more that I could do...’
‘There is,’ Minh finally answered. ‘The child, Kai, he is dying.’
‘Dearest, I would heal him if I could, but I have only just learned to fight this thing,’ he answered sadly. Another of his kind would fall because of his pride.
‘He will die, unless you teach him to fight as well,’ Minh told him. ‘You are hurting the mortal who’s body you walk in. You do not understand his kind. Come, I will take you to our brother.’
‘Will you...apologize to them for my actions?’ Now she could feel the shame in his thoughts. ‘I did not mean to harm them.’
‘It will be done,’ she assured him. ‘Now, leave this mortal, and I will take you to our injured brother.’
She felt the change as Rahalleth moved from Davy’s body to hers. ‘I am truly sorry,’ his thoughts echoed hers as she placed an hand on Davy’s head and began healing his injuries. As she finished, she saw the image of Geoff in Davy’s mind. She could feel both his sorrow and the pain in Geoff’s heart at what had been said. Through her, Rahalleth could feel it as well. She could feel his shame and sorrow, but she could also sense that Davy understood.
‘Tell Geoff,’ Davy’s thought drifted by as she pulled out of the trance.
“All will be well,” she told them both. “All will be well.”
“Easy dere, little one, all be well,” Gris urged as the woman tried to pull herself up and failed. “You jus trust ol’ uncle Gris.”
“Good lord Gris,” Jade swore as she sat down next to them. “You’re scaring her.”
They watched as the woman struggled to focus her eyes on them. “You’re safe now,” Jade told her, as she looked at them questioningly. “Do you remember what happened?”
Jade gasped as terror filled the woman’s eyes and she began shaking her head violently. Even more unnerving was the complete lack of sound as the woman fought some unseen demons.
“Easy,” she called as she tried to calm her down, but the shaking had become more violent. In desperation she called for help.
Wulf came running when she called, with Ni right behind him. When he saw the woman struggling Wulf stiffened and looked at the others.
“Gris, Jade, move away from her,” he ordered softly. “Just ease away. She’s been through a lot. Let’s just give her some room.” His tone was even and gentle and something about it cut through her madness enough that she stopped thrashing and looked at them warily.
“Its okay,” he told her gently. “Its going to be alright.”
She looked at him in disbelief for a moment and then smiled.
“Just rest,” he suggested as he pulled the blanked off of the floor and covered her with it. “You’re going to be alright, you hear me.”
Still smiling, she nodded and eased back onto the couch.
Duck allowed herself to relax. Bear had somehow found her. She didn’t know who these people were that were working with him, but they were with him, so she knew they were her friends as well.
Her body felt sluggish, but she knew that was the drugs. Bear would take care of that too. As she closed her eyes, she could feel him watching over her.
She let the exhaustion overcome her as he gently covered her. She knew she was safe now. Bear would watch over her, and then, when she was well enough, he would tell her how he’d found her. Together they would laugh about it all. How she longed to hear his laughter.
*** *** ***
Wulf signaled the others closer as the woman finally settled down. “Less than an hour after we picked her up, somebody came for her. Daff’s been following them with a remote. He’s not close enough to hear what they’re saying, but he’s keeping track of them.” He turned to Ni and nodded. “Good idea having him track them.”
Ni practically beamed at them, then turned back towards their guest. “She going to be alright?” he asked softly.
“Hard to tell,” Wulf answered as he checked the med-unit. “From the chemical’s this thing’s picked up in her system its a miracle she’s even marginally functional.”
“What all dey give her boss,” Gris asked as he leaned closer.
“Some kind of neuroblocker and Sepherax,” Wulf answered tersely.
“What does that mean?” Ni asked quietly.
“It mean she loopier den I am,” Gris answered as he looked back at the woman. “It mean she goin’ to have some problems.”
Wulf nodded then looked at Ni, “And that’s putting it mildly.”
“Then we should take her somewhere,” Jade told them. “We aren’t equipped to deal with this.”
“I would if there were someplace safe to take her,” Wulf answered softly. “But there isn’t, so she’s with us.”
“What about Sable?” Jade asked.
“You think she wouldn’t sense him, sense the similarities to Briar.” He looked at them and then back at her. “No, she’s better off here.”
Jade looked at him and saw the worry in his eyes. “How much Seph, did he give her?” She asked gently.
“Two, maybe three doses,” Wulf answered tersely as he looked at the machine.
“Two maybe tree?” Gris growled. “She be lucky, she can tie her shoes after dat!”
Jade could feel Wulf fighting to control his emotions as Gris sat there shaking his head. “Alright Swamp Thing,” she urged as she pulled Gris away. “You’ve done enough damage for today, go check on Daff and Meri.”
Gris looked at her for a moment and then realization hit. “Boss, I’m sorry... I...”
“Its okay Gris,” Wulf answered. “I know you didn’t mean anything by it.”
Gris bid a hasty retreat from the room, but Jade could hear him berating himself as he walked down the hallway. With a nod towards Ni, she passed a simple message. ‘Wulf and I need to be alone.’
Ni merely nodded and shambled off saying. “I better keep an eye on him.”
Jade watched Ni go and smiled. The man had a lot more sense then people gave him credit for. When they were alone, she turned to face Wulf.
“Wulf, you okay?” she called gently.
“Not really,” he answered as he stared at their guest. “Just ghosts.”
“You want to talk about it?” she asked gently, not wanting to force the issue.
“Maybe later,” he told her. “Maybe later.”
Images of Nadia played in his head. She could deck like nobody’s business, but then one day her luck ran out. They’d been setup. She took the fall, protecting him and the rest of the team, but the Corpers, they weren’t going to settle for one lousy decker when they could have the entire Wulf Pak.
They’d questioned her, she resisted. They tried everything, drugs, magic: nothing. Finally they’d given her the Sepherax. She survived. That was about all anybody could say.
She’d been with him since the start. She was his second in command, his partner, his lover. Nada, that was the name she’d gone by, and after the drugs, it was even more fitting. All that was left was the shell.
She’d died that day, not physically, but she would have been better off. Wulf tried to deny it, but it had killed something inside of him as well.
Felix and Jade were the only members of the Pak that had survived the incident. Now only Jade knew how much it had effected him.
He turned and saw Jade watching him carefully.
“Just memories,” he told her, then looked back at their guest. “The fact that she’s fighting is a good sign.”
Jade shook her head slowly. “Wulf,” she stated quietly. “If you want, I’ll take care of her. You don’t need to do this to yourself.”
Wulf shrugged, still looking at the woman. “Maybe its just what I needed.”
Jade watched him as he thought about what she’d said and nodded. “Maybe,” she answered. “But she’s injured, and we’re in the middle of a firefight.”
Wulf nodded. “I don’t know Jade,” he answered softly. “Why do I do half the things I do? But I do know,” he added as he turned and met her gaze. “That it always seems to work out for the best.”
“I hope so,” Jade answered. “‘Cause I’ve lost enough friends already.”
Wulf caught her meaning and nodded. “I’m trying to be objective,” he told her.
“Like you said,” she offered. “Your six-sense has never let you down before.”
“I just have to be sure its my intuition and not my heart talking,” Wulf answered with a wry smile. “I hear you old friend.”
“Watch who you call old,” Jade answered. Her tone was one of indignation, but her expression showed only the compassion of a dear friend.
Wulf rewarded her with a wry smile. “You, my dear, are anything but old.”