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Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Red Sinfonia, May 18, 2015.
Marcus Cade walked through the front doors, and stopped. New place. New sights, new scents, new things to hear, things to memorize. Golden eyes flickered. Left, right, all around, all was normal and usual in a human office, or so he figured, and the guy who ran the place was walking on ahead as if nothing was amiss, and he'd know, wouldn't he?
Sure he would.
Grrr. Shouldn't have stopped. Humans don't stop, unless they're confused, and then they shrug before continuing. Cade shrugged, and trailed in his boss's wake. The whole moment had taken maybe a quarter of a second. An outside observer would have assumed that Cade was trying to remember if he'd locked the car, or something like that, but still. Hadn't meant to.
Cade absolutely hated doing things he hadn't meant to. He sauntered on, his movement the casual roll of a man who rules everything within arm's reach. The short, powerful man was dressed today in jeans and a tee shirt, which clung tightly to his biceps. Female humans noticed his appearance, and appreciated. So did the man by the coffe machine, but Cade didn't care about that. He could tell at a glance that the man was a bitch anyway, and Cade only found himself interested in his peers, human, wolf, or their cousins the werewolves. Now that girl by the window... she was a dominant personality, he could tell by how she walked, and how other people around her did what she told them to. She would be a tolerable... fuck.
Grrr. Stop overthinking.
He mentally shook himself, and stepped through the door into the small neat conference room. Instantly he knew that very few actual humans came through that door, that this room was reserved for the special members of the Unknowns.
The man gestured at a seat before moving around to the other side of the table. Cade preferred to stand when in an unfamiliar place, but he nodded his head politely and took one of the seats. The seat was quite comfortable, Oh, and he could see his reflection in a big mirror across from him. That wasn't so comfortable. Mirrors looked too much like windows. Every time Cade was in a room with one, he found himself trying to catch his reflection doing something wrong. It hadn't happened yet, though he kept trying.
The human form he'd been given appeared to be in his late twenties, with hair that was black as his fur, the same golden eyes, and a 'fine' physique. Whatever that meant. Cade had been wearing this skin for two years now, and he still couldn't get over the marvelous things that were his thumbs. He twiddled them now, and stared himself down in the mirror, and waited for the door to open again.
A beat-up Ford was nestled beside the copse of dark oaks, their sorrow bleeding from their entangled roots beneath a tearful sky. Kate sat in the driver’s seat, her forehead veiled in a sheen of sweat and leaning against the split-leather wheel. Her breaths exuded in shaky, controlled puffs of cold air, curling away from her lips. It wasn’t cold outside, but the chill that had blanketed her soul escaped desperately from her body. The length of her lithe body trembled beneath the recurrent shocks, but it served as a means of pleasure as opposed to pain. Absorbing another life force was dangerously exhilarating.
A figure like black tar coiled in the seat next to her, two perfectly round, red eyes peering from a featureless face. Its body shifted forward, leaning over the dusty cupholders with inquiry. Kate glanced at him from the corner of her abyssal eyes and a smile curved her expression. A deep laugh rocked her chest, and she leaned back in the seat. “Don’t look at me like that, Ralph,” she said. The figure paused, wavered where it was. “It meant nothing to me.” It was a joke, and Ralph seemingly relaxed. Or, at least, it appeared that way. When she’d started telling jokes to wraiths and giving them responding emotions, Kate couldn’t even say. We’re late. “Oh, shit. Shit, I’m late!” The figure folded into the aether, leaving the woman seemingly alone to her panic as she jangled the keys. You are never alone. The thought was not her own, or at least she didn’t think, but a silent threat, or assurance, or any number of things that wraiths meant.
The car rattled to life and left the green field to its grief, only to come to a stop an hour later in the parking lot of an office building. It wasn’t often that Kate White ever came here. She preferred her slew of previously-haunted houses, far away from the comfort of civilization because fuck reason. She climbed from the decrepit vehicle into the weepy rain armed with grey sweatpants, a dark green tanktop, and the worn leather jacket which she pulled from the backseat. Her spirals of dark brown hair were thrown haphazardly into a bushy braid, loose strands framing a heart-shaped, toffee colored face. Pretty, possibly, to some, but with the exhausted bruising beneath her almond eyes, and the lines that had begun to form on her forehead, she felt barely fit for social company. If she cared, of course, which she didn’t really.
Her wraiths didn’t make her feel inept. They knew her worst, were in her mind where her most perverse dreams lurked, but they just could not give a shit. Like perfect pets. We are not pets. “Of course not. Just like them,” she whispered. The dark pit within her remained silent.
Kate approached the front door with her jacket shrugged up to cover her head and shouldered through the glass and metal door. The woman at the desk with a shock of platinum hair and a gorgeous smile nodded her through. It had been sometime that she’d been here, but her feet seemed to know the way, trekking down the halls and ignoring scoffing onlookers. When she reached the door to the conference room, her hand lingered on the handle, and she sighed.
True, she had wanted a partner and true, she had submitted a ridiculous, formal request for it, and of course, the higher ups were sure to make sure that it had gone through all the red-tape phases expediently, but Kate wasn’t sure about it. It was one thing to want it, but another thing entirely to get it. Would she be at their beck and call now, associated with an agent? That, and her behavior was unpredictable. She’d never had to worry about a partner before.
You’ve worried about us. “You don’t count,” she whispered harshly, feeling the wraiths lapse into what she supposed was an offended quiet. Rolling her eyes, Kate stabbed at her doubt with reason and opened the door. At once, her gaze caught the man standing at the front, his arms crossed expectantly. A head if she’d ever seen one. Then her view was quickly dragged to the man sitting in the seat. There was no denying his handsome features and the charm that emanated from them. For a moment, she bit her lip, before the wraiths within chided her. ‘But how am I to work with him? Come on.’ They offered no advice. ‘Right.’
“Ms. White. You’re late,” the voice was unexpectedly booming from a creature that looked like it should be timid.
Kate exhaled harshly and moved to the opposite side of the table of the interesting man, though her eyes were trained entirely on the boss. For a second, she glanced at her watch and shrugged. “Don’t ever ask an exorcist to half-ass a job. It leaves a mess for generations.” She took her seat, leaning back in the chair.
“Yes, well…” The man flustered a moment, unsure of how to respond. “I know we took some time processing your request,” he said, changing direction. Kate tried not to roll her eyes. Hardly. This was all a show, she knew. “I think we found your man. Ms. White, meet Marcus Cade. He-”
Before the boss guy could fill the air with meaningless compliments and listings of expectations, abilities, so on, Kate turned and stuck her hand out towards Marcus. “Hey. I’m Kate. Kaaaate.” The stressed word was said pointedly at the man in the front.
The door opened. In the mirror, Marcus saw a young woman, features that he supposed fit the 'exotic' catagory, messy hair, casual clothing, smell... interesting. She smelled human, but there was another scent about her that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up, as if she's sprayed on the wrong perfume. Threat? Unknown, often not threats, this world is different, maybe it was something normal. Grrr. So why was he fighting to keep his face relaxed? Unnerving. Grrr. Calm down, wolf, it's just something new. Something else to learn. The Unknown wouldn't knowingly set him up. All right, settle down, hair stop bristling...
He smiled at her, standing and taking her hand across the table. Marcus didn't grip too hard, but his shake was powerful and controlling, as befitted a dominant predator. "Kate, is it? Nice to meet you. I am Marcus Cade. I am told I will be working with you from now on. It is good to meet you at last, they haven't told me anything about you. It has been like the lottery with these people."
Was that a good metaphor? Probably. Don't overthink, trust your human side.
He settled down again, and looked across at the boss. "Well, we've met now... what's the gig?"
There’s something about him… Voices rose from the silence of her mind, urging her desperately with a pressure that turned into a headache. ‘Hush’, Kate thought with deliberation, before realized she’d almost said it outloud. The man seemed innocent enough. He was attractive, strong, didn’t seem to be a creep, was amiable and had clasped her hand without hesitation, yet she couldn’t throw off the feeling that her wraiths only sought to confirm. The smaller hairs on the back of her neck turned upward like needles, as one’s might if they thought they may be prey, but were still frozen in the unsurity of it, only listening. Pushing the strange reaction on the backburner, she chalked this initial meeting up to the fact that she didn’t get out often enough. Ghosts were what she surrounded herself with. Ghosts and haunted mirrors and wraiths and all sorts of spiritual anomlies, but people… they were a whole different animal.
By the time Kate had returned to her seat, she’d convinced herself that that was the only probable explanation. The man before her didn’t give her the same reaction because she’d seen him many times before, and he always had that ill-mannered ‘I’m-the-man-behavior’, but her wraiths were attracted to the errant fear and disgust that his body filled itself with when she was near. He would bark and snap and yap like a nasty dog on a leash, but he would run if it anyone crossed the fence.
“Mr. Cade. Kate. I am Mr. Collinger. Superintendent Levi will be your case worker from here on out, but I will be standing in for him today. He has requested that I start you off with this.” Collinger tossed a manilla folder onto the table, sliding just enough to fit between the two of them. Kate admired the trick before she turned and popped open the folder with a finger. There was a thread of surprise that weaved through her expression to see the relatively thick sheaf of paper that greeted her.
“Someone’s been busy,” Kate mumbled under her breath before peeling aside several formal requests to have the beasty dealt with and got to the gold underneath. Several papers were there, clipped together, that logged the discretions of the cretin that had been reported by Agents - seen with a thick, blue line at the top - and then civilians - marked by a thick, red line.
“Indeed,” Collinger replied. “You’ll notice its movements. It is not a ghost that seems particularly tethered to one spot. More a whole area.”
Kate put down the papers, her brow furrowed with confusion. “This is little stuff. Why won’t you send-”
“Superintendent Levi sanctioned this case and put it to you two himself.” Mr. Collinger glared, a mean smile behind those eyes to say that he’d won, no matter what she came back with.
Kate knew Levi. He was an old friend of her great grandfather’s, and once you’ve made proper friends with a shade, they pass down through the bloodline like a family blessing. It had been destined that he treated her like family outside of work. Within it, he wasn’t afraid to beat her ass around for putting up lip. In his own way, of course. As a contractor, no one here was her boss, but her tethers to the Unspoken were shaky and only Levi kept those bonds surefire. He was not someone she’d cross and Mr. Collinger seemed to know that.
“Now. I’ll let you two get to it. Don’t take long to discuss. We need this room in five. Happy hunting.” With that, boss guy was gone, leaving Kate alone with Marcus and all of her wraiths.
“So…” Kate started as she stood, flipping through the papers to pinpoint the last known location. Its latest haunt seemed to be a small town not far to the north in a particularly woodsy area. “Have you hunted ghosts before?”
Marcus watched the papers, bringing all his human analytic abilities to bear to decipher the information. It was... difficult. But in a good way, like an extra long run. Marcus didn't resent what he'd become, nor did he fear his own abilities. He liked to learn, to expand, to grow, and that was why he'd been chosen originally. Intrigued, he leaned over to get a better view, and narrowed his yellow eyes.
He ignored Collinger as he left, but grumbled a bit under his breath. "Five minutes? What am I supposed to do in five minutes, memorize it? Why don't I just set it to music while I'm at it, and dance? All those resources, and they don't have another conference room? I think he's just doing that to push us around, remind us who's in charge. I'll show you who's in charge..."
At Kate's question, he frowned. It was always difficult to put this into words. It was wholly of the wolf, and thoughts of the wolf didn't translate well into spoken words. "Well... yes. That is, I've tracked them. I can't actually do anything about them when I find them, but I can at least confirm if a place is truly haunted or not. And more often than not, it's completely safe. Most people don't understand that ghosts and demons aren't the only spirits in this world. There are... well, there are..."
There were places.
Places like that forest in Texas, where the river flowed uphill, impossible to notice unless you were really smart and had measuring equipment. The island off the coast of New Jersey where that pirate's ghost had remained. That one hole in Maine that just kept going down. Little pockets all over Louisiana like blemishes on the skin of the earth. They were angry places. Not angry ghosts, not angry demons... though usually they were the cause of it.
"The world is... alive," he tried. "It's alive, and it's old. And some places are even awake. That's normal, or it's supposed to be. Places wake up, then go on dreaming. But sometimes your ghosts or demons, they wake them up early. And then the place comes awake angry, or afraid. Sometimes it's a feud, sometimes it's not. Usually the place, which is supposed to be there, can ignore the ghost or demon, which isn't. But sometimes... it's like an infection, and it can get ugly if it's not contained. It can get really ugly. Sometime the place turns evil itself, sometimes it just goes to war and back to bed. It's never good for anyone when a place goes to war. Usually makes the history books, if anyone's smart enough to realize what's happening and write it down. The earliest recorded instance that's confirmed was Vesuvius."
He shuddered at the thought. "I don't want to see places wake up wrong. They need to be left alone. I can sense a place, and how it's doing. I can sense both what's supposed to be there, and what's not. Like I said before, I can't do anything about it, but I can warn someone who can."
When Marcus had muttered about Collinger in a way that Kate could agree with, down to the dancing, she had tried her damnest not to laugh. ‘I like him.’ You would. Turning her attention back to the folder, she flipped through the civilian papers and stuck them back inside.
Describing the living places, it took Kate back to sitting on the floor of her grandmother’s house, playing in front of the fireplace. “Back when my family was on the reservation, there was this… wrinkle? Grandma always described it like a wrinkle in fabric. If you were walking on it, of course. And small.” Kate stopped herself. Communicating her thoughts had become frustratingly difficult when the recipient couldn’t just see what you were saying. “Anyway… if you went about it the wrong direction, you’d walk right over it - from one fold to the next. But if you found the right spot, in the valley of that wrinkle, you’d find a place that you wouldn’t find any other way.” When he’d finished going over the preliminaries of the papers, she tucked them together, straightened them, and closed the folder.
“I don’t know if that’s what you mean. It always felt like that place was asleep, until one day when people started disappearing in the wrinkle. I hadn’t seen any spirits, but it sure as shit felt like something was there.”
Kate remembered the first time she’d gone there. The serenity was palpable upon entering and the body seemed to know that it had entered something special. There was a lack of animals, as the beasts seemed to avoid entering the wrinkle. Perhaps they knew, like Marcus, that it was only sleeping. The last time she’d gone there was after the disappearances started. Before she’d entered, she’d felt a violent pull, like she should forget the wrinkle, forget how to get in. So quickly, it had become a festering wound on the earth, a sense of danger immersing her with every step. Now, she had wondered if a wraith could have lurked among the shadows, bleeding the place for all it had.
Kate picked up the folder and walked around the table. She handed it to Marcus. “Here. I don’t need it. Just need to know where we’re going. Once we get there, well… I’ve got you now,” she said with a grin. Flirt. ‘Am not.’
Pulling her truck keys from her pocket, Kate turned to walk to the door and then stopped, turning back on her heel. “Look, I haven’t had a partner before. At least… not a living one.” ‘Pleased?’ Yes. “So I’m not familiar with any of this, but would you like a ride?” Couldn’t you have just asked the question without any prelude? ‘He may have thought I’m creepy.’ Only silence, but Kate wanted to shake her head if it would have rattled them. They were always being snarky when they were silent.
The place she described sounded like a wounded place. One that would wake up wrong, however that would turn out. The odds were minimal that anyone would notice the conflict between the place and whatever was trespassing, but things had been known to get out of hand. It would keep. More important things now. The folder? Why couldn't the human do it? She had human finger. Human eyes. She could read it.
Or he could, for the practice, right? Grrr.
He took the folder. "A ride would be good. I usually take public transportation, but that's overrated. Do you have a map of the area, or one of the GPS things? We should be able to get there before dark, I am thinking."
The elevator was... as usual, a little weird. Marcus didn't cling to the wall as he had the first time he'd set foot in the floating box, he leaned against it in a casual and dignified way, his arms crossed. "So I am assuming then that if we find the demon, or whatever it is, that you will be able to deal with it? They did not brief me on the details of your nature, only assured me that you were a competent field agent who could be trusted to do her job well."
“A GPS,” Kate assured him. She’d done with the maps for years, as her mother had used on all of their travels, but the amount of tearing that she had wreaked upon the poor things had rendered them useless. She was not a map person. Stick her in the middle of the woods and she’d generally be able to find her way back without a compass, but the map may as well have been in a foreign language. She would lose herself for hours on the veins that covered the paper before she nearly lost it. Of course, she wasn’t going to tell him any of that, especially if he had a knack for tracking anything.
To his question about the spirit or ‘demon’, as he’d put it, Kate hesitated. Just in time, as the elevator doors opened and deposited them on the first floor. She walked out, leading the way back down the halls with their tongue of green and blue carpeting between white walls. “Yes…” ‘Deal with it’ was a much gentler word than was the reality. He’s going to find out eventually. ‘Yes, of course, but to what extent does he have to know?’
Despite Levi’s influence in the Unspoken ranks and the great deal of help that Kate’s gifts offered the organization, she had come across no small amount of disgust or fear upon further inspection. Perhaps that was why they hadn’t informed Marcus of her true nature, which only made her worry more. At the very least, if they’d mentioned that she devoured spirits and wraiths for a living, serving the creatures inside her an all-you-can-eat-buffet, she wouldn’t have the stress of dealing with the great reveal herself and watch her new partner turn-tail. It should have been in the screening, but she wondered if Levi was just testing her in the cruelest sense she could think of.
“I have a unique… ability.” Kate could almost imagine the snort of derision. She had a whole new plane of existence living within her soul, housing ancient Otherworldly ghosts that ate other ghosts. Was there an eloquent way to say that upon first meeting? ‘This is the Unspoken… I’m sure he has ghosts in the closet too.’ We have no doubt. “I don’t know how to describe it without you seeing it first, but look, if you don’t like ghosts, or they freak you out, especially wraiths, you should stay in the truck after we find it.”
Pushing open the door, Kate held it open for him before leading him to the parking lot. The rain had stopped, but the sky looked drearier than an overwatered flower. Unlocking the doors, she climbed into the driver’s seat. For a woman who worked alone, the inside of her truck was clean - except for dust - and smelled only faintly of her gardenia shampoo. Pulling the GPS off the stand, she punched in the address, and started up the truck. It shuddered and groaned to life. Kate smiled sheepishly. “She’s more trustworthy than she sounds, I promise. Mostly.”