“I see from your reaction you’ve heard my name.” Doctor Redding crossed her legs and ran her finger across the back of my couch. “I cannot say I am surprised, as you are a Danevbie and I have been… vilified in your eyes. From your treacherous grandmother, I am assuming. Luna is your grandmother, correct? I can never keep track of your family.” She waved her hand impatiently. “I leave that up to my brother.”
“Um. Professor Redding,” I mumbled and she nodded. “So you–how come you never said? Your name?”
“I am not accustomed to speaking to an empty house,” she said, keepin’ her gaze level with mine. “You seem to act as if I was the one avoiding you.”
I twisted my hands and ducked my head. “Some crazy woman breaks into my house and I’m supposed to act like everything is fine?”
“I do not have any mental issues,” she said, eyes narrowing very slightly.
“Doctor, you broke into my house,” I pointed out. “I don’t think that’s a sign of–“
“Miss Danevbie, I did not come here to discuss me. I came to discuss you. Specifically, your abilities. If my theory is correct–“
“Mrs. Danevbie,” I said and she blinked. “I’m married,” I said, holding’ up my left hand to show off the ring.
Doctor Redding sneered slightly though her feelings didn’t change. “Married. I see. You Danevbies tend to do that, don’t you?” She uncrossed her legs and breathed sharply in. “That is irrelevant. Do not interrupt me again. If my theories are correct, and I believe they are, then your abilities are stronger than that of your genetic donor. You will accompany me back to my laboratory.”
My eyebrows raised up and I smiled as sweetly as I could. “I will not accompany you anywhere, Doctor Redding. A few years ago I did want to know more about–about whatever it is I have but I don’t have the time anymore. I have a job and a husband.”
Doctor Redding reached into her pocket and pulled out a very neatly pressed article from the newspaper. It was one of my ads. “A job as a psychic private detective? And you are not married. I have not seen any male come or go from this house other than your brothers and fathers.”
“Come and…?” I trailed off. “You’ve been spying on my house? You little–“
“Miss Danevbie, it would be easier to have this discussion at my lab,” she said smoothly.
“No it will not! There is no discussion with someone who’s been spying on me and breaking into my house! Even if you did create my–my–my genetic donor! You have no right to break into my house! My brother is on the police force, you know.”
“Half-brother,” she corrected me.
My face darkened, at least I was pretty sure it did. My mood certainly did. “How do you know that?” I hissed.
She stood up, foldin’ her arms. “Miss Danevbie–“
“MRS. Danevbie!” I snarled.
She slowly exhaled. “Mrs. Danevbie, I am not someone of average intelligence or means. I have done research and those I have seen at your house. Duncan Danevbie, born of Douglas McIntyre and Doctor Tony Perdue.”
I stared wide-eyed at her, my mouth opening and closing. Finally I gulped and found the words to speak. “Who is Doctor Tony Perdue?”
She unfolded her arms, placing her hands on her hips. “The other genetic donor of Duncan Danevbie. Did you not know? It was very simple to discover this information, so I do not understand why you sound taken aback.” She looked me up and down then smirked. “I see. Your family may be experts at being annoying, but good at research? Apparently not.”
I lifted a finger, pointin’ accusingly at her face. “You dare insult my family again–“
She brushed my hand aside. “Yes, you are a close family that will declare war on anyone who does not worship you. I am not here to deal with the trivial details of your family. I simply am here to take you back to my laboratory. If it is your job,” she spat out, “or your husband,” she added in the same time of tone, “then that is no reason not to come with me. You said not long ago you desired to know more about your telekinetic empathetic abilities. It is very important, is it not?”
I began chewin’ at my bottom lip. “I’m not arguing it isn’t important, Redding, but I am not–this isn’t the time anymore. Maybe a few years ago, maybe even a year ago but now that–I’m married… and my job… I’m not as unhappy with my, erm, telekinetic empathy stuff anymore.”
“Why would you be unhappy with such a fascinating capability?” she inquired, reachin’ up to touch her glasses. “You are able to perceive the emotional impressions of those around you, and influence them to your desires.”
“I don’t want to influence anyone’s emotional impressions!” I said, stompin’ one foot. “And I hate my abilities, for your information! If I could get rid of them, I would, and I think you’re–you’re–you’re a horrific Frankenstein for doing what you did! It’s your fault–“
“There is that word again,” she growled. “I am sick of you Danevbies flinging that word at me as if all your problems are because of me! I am more than willing to shoulder the responsibility of that which I am actually responsible for, which is more than I can say for you and your ancestors! Here is a piece of advice, Miss Danevbie: stop being so focused on your own life that you blame others for your problems.”
I couldn’t keep it bottled up anymore and I screamed. Redding took a step back and frowned as I grabbed a cushion from the couch and threw it across the room. I grabbed another cushion and this time I threw it at her. She stepped aside, lettin’ it fly past her. “And stop trying to use your emotional manipulation on me,” she said.
I screamed again and grabbed the lamp, about to throw it at her. Redding’s eyes widened a bit as something grabbed my wrist. That something was my husband’s hand. “LET GO OF ME!” I yelled, strugglin’. “I’M GONNA COMMIT MURDER!”
“I don’t think they’d give a ghost visitation rights,” Henri said calmly. “So please don’t. Hello ma’am. I heard some of what was going on. I don’t think you should have pushed her buttons like that. She’s got a bit of a temper.”
“You’re a ghost,” Doctor Redding said.
“Yes,” Henri said, pryin’ the lamp from my hand and setting it down on the stand. “Which is why you never saw me come or go from the house. Darling, calm down. We have some explaining to do, I suspect…”
“No explaining is needed,” Redding said, adjustin’ her glasses and taking a step closer towards us. I let out a guttural sound though she didn’t even bat an eyelash. “This is not the first ghost I have seen. And he will not be the last. Though… it is rather surprising to know you have wedded one.”
She began circling us and Henri pressed against me, lookin’ a bit uncomfortable. “You’ve dealt with ghosts before?” he asked, reachin’ down to hold my hand. “Not many people have. At least not really. Um. Properly. Not outside the, umm, haunting sort of deal.”
Redding crossed her arms again with a look on her face that might have been interest, though her emotions were the same. “No, not many people have. Miss Danevbie–“
“Mrs.!” Henri and I both exclaimed.
Redding sighed. “Mrs. Danevbie, your husband is permitted to come with us to the laboratory. Now let us go.”
“You really expect us just to go?” I demanded. She stared blankly back.
“I think she does,” Henri whispered in my ear.
“I know you will go with us,” she said. “I can do some exploration of your abilities and do some research on your husband.”
“Look here, the only person allowed to explore anything on me is my husband!” I pointed at her again and this time she didn’t bat my hand aside. She did, however, look unamused. “And there will be NO research done on him! This is why we’re keeping out of the public eye, or at least he is keeping out of the public eye so people don’t go nutso and use him to try to find a way to cheat death! I’m not having him being turned into some sort of E.T.-esque story! And third of all, who the heck is ‘we’? Are you royal now? Queen Bi–“
“We is myself and my brother, who is waiting in our car,” she cut me off. “You remind me a lot of your great-grandfather. He insinuated I was Frankenstein and called me what you were about to call me, though may I remind you that is what one calls a female dog and people tend to like dogs for some reason so using that as an insult is not the most insulting.”
“Then my great-grandfather had something right because you are!” I stabbed the air with my finger. “Both, for your information! That word may mean a female dog but it means something else and BOY are you it!”
“She’s met your great-grandfather? She looks our age!” Henri said into my ear.
“From what I’ve heard, she’s known our family a long time. I think she was my grandparents’ boss for a while,” I said.
“I was, until your grandmother stabbed my back,” Redding said. “All of this is immaterial. We should leave soon, it will take hours to get to the laboratory.” She turned towards the door and took a few steps then stopped when she realized we weren’t followin’ her. “You do not need to pack, there are plenty of clothes at the laboratory.”
“We’re not going,” I said, puttin’ my arm around Henri’s waist. “I’m sorry, but–well, no I’m not sorry. But no. There is no reason for me to go, or for him to go. Besides, I’m using my powers now.”
“As a psychic detective,” she said flatly. “I see. Well. Nothing I can say or do will change your mind…?” She hesitated when she saw our stern faces, then smirked. “Not even… say, a trip to France?”
Henri started and I jerked to look at him. He was falling back slightly, looking edgy now. “France?” I asked, looking back at Redding.
“I detected a French accent in his voice and have assumed his homeland is France,” she said, lifting her eyebrows. “As he is deceased, I am under the impression traveling will be difficult. I have at my disposal a private jet. It would not be difficult to arrange something.”
“France,” I said again. “That is, um–“
“No thank you, we said we wouldn’t be going with you and we won’t be going with you,” Henri said stiffly. “Remove yourself from our home.”
“I will do no such thing,” Redding replied in French, though I assumed that is what she said since I had learned some French since Henri died and was able to piece things together fairly well.
Henri replied something in French that I wasn’t sure what it meant though I had the feeling it was something along the lines of a female dog. Redding did not look amused. Soon the two were going back and forth in rapid French and I only picked up a few of the words, most of them basic. Then suddenly Henri broke back into English with a loud, “You’re the one who doesn’t understand!” Then he whirled around and zoomed through the wall into one of the empty rooms.
“Your husband is a bit touchy, isn’t he?” Redding was smirking again and I put my hands into fists, resisting the urge to punch her. “I take it the trip to France–“
“Just wait!” I rubbed my neck, trying to think. It was hard, as I felt under a lot of pressure and I knew I needed to talk to Henri about it but he was sulking in the other room because of what I didn’t know. “Wait. Just wait,” I mumbled.
“I am waiting, Miss–Mrs.–Danevbie,” Redding said, going back to the sofa and sitting down, crossing her legs. “Take your time though I advise not taking too much as we have a long trip ahead of us.”
“We probably don’t have any trip ahead of us!” I snarled. “I probably won’t be going with you–you–you–creeper! But if Henri wants to go to France–“
Redding spread her hands out. “He said he did not. I merely thought it would be nice for him to see his home again.”
It’s a lot more than that, I thought, trying not to show any signs of what I was thinking on my face. I tried to keep myself looking impassive, as impassive as her. I probably wasn’t doing as good a job as she was, though. “Stay here,” I said, pointing at her. She lifted and dropped one shoulder and I went to the empty room.
Sure enough Henri was sulking in the corner, grumbling to himself and kicking the wall. He heard me come in but didn’t make any indication of it. But he had to have heard me. I coughed, and he still didn’t look up. Finally he looked at me when I said his name. “I know what you’re going to say and I don’t want to go,” he said, corners of his lips tugging downwards.
“Henri. We need to tell your father,” I said.
“At least you acting like this is giving me practice for the terrible twos,” I grumbled. He shot me a glare but continued to pout. “Your father won’t hate you, you know. He needs to know.”
“He’s moved on,” he replied. “I don’t want to just burst into his life and turn everything topsy-turvy! You… you had moved on but you weren’t married, you didn’t have kids. He does. He’s married, and has kids, and what would be going back there do? He’d feel obliged to come back with me, I know him. I don’t want to live in France, I want to live here and with you, and he’d want to be here too–especially if we have kids!”
“Isn’t that why we should tell him?” I pressed. “For when he becomes a grandfather?”
He grabbed my hands, holding them up against his chest. “But what if–“
“There are thousands, millions of what ifs,” I said, interrupting him. “You had risks coming back to me, and it’s worked out.”
“Fine.” He sounded a bit harsh and I worried I had pushed him too far. But he looked more resigned than angry. “We’ll go. But with her? It doesn’t sound safe to me. We’ll figure out a different way.”
I looked at the door, silently agreein’ with him. The thought of making an agreement with her didn’t sound at all safe but we couldn’t afford a private jet, and I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to go on a commercial flight–smugglin’ a ghost to France. “What other way is there? We’ve talked about it a lot before and never got anywhere, and this is just going to keep happening if we don’t do something about it,” I pointed out.
“You want to go with her to a lab?” Henri asked, pulling me close as he motioned towards the door.
“N-no. But we can’t afford a private plane and how else will we get you there?” As I said it, I knew this would just go round and round, never stopping. There would be excuses, arguments, and… “Wait a moment,” I said then left the room to go back to Doctor Redding who was standing in front of the big window facin’ the waterfall. “Will you answer some of my questions before I make a decision?” I asked.
“Yes,” she answered, not turning around. “Depending on the question, of course.”
“Will I have to stay at the lab or can I come and go? I mean, I won’t have to live there, right? How long would you keep me? What will you do to me, it won’t kill me, will it?” I asked rapidly.
Now she did turn, starin’ down her nose at me. “It would be convenient if you lived at the laboratory. You would not be killed, not under my supervision at the least.”
Oh. That sounded very promising. “How long would I be there? If it’s longer than a week I’m not staying there.”
“The rest of your life,” she answered.
“Yeah no,” I said, turning to go back to Henri but then Redding cleared her throat and said, “Perhaps some alternate arrangement can be made.”
Before I could reply, Henri was comin’ out of the wall. “Alternate arrangements! That’s what we can do, Sen, don’t go with her. I’ll hide in a trunk. We’ll go on a regular flight. I don’t want you going with her. Especially not for me.”
Redding looked–and felt–very annoyed. “How do you expect to hide in a trunk? Ghosts have mass, though it is difficult to detect. However… they will probably use electromagnetic radiation and discover you. Electromagnetic radiation does not always work but I imagine in such close quarters it will.”
We both just stared at her, trying to decipher what she said. “You mean… x-ray?” I asked and she shrugged. “Why didn’t you say x-ray? Oh never mind.” I faced Henri again. “Do you want to do that? Spend two flights in a trunk?”
“They won’t have guards down there or anything, in the baggage part of the plane,” he said. “I can move around then, or something. It will work. It will be fine.”
“It will not work,” Redding put in. “Very well, you will not have to reside at the laboratory. You will merely come in once in a while so I may do research and perform experiments with your abilities. It will be a long drive for you, but if that’s what you desire then you only have yourself to blame.” If Henri was so adamant about the trunk thing workin’ then I didn’t need to fall into anything with Doctor Redding. Before I could say anything, she spoke up again. “If you desire a monetary compensation I can agree to that. A thousand simoleons per visit? Five thousand?” she added when I glared. “You surely are not earning much money by your little game of following cheating spouses.”
“I’m earning enough, and money doesn’t matter,” I said. “I said before I won’t go so I won’t. That’s the end of the story. I’m done arguing.”
“You almost did want to come along,” she said slyly. “Surely it wasn’t just the trip to France, was it? What else did you want? All the answers from my research? Of what you are? You do realize I have a vast expanse of knowledge at my disposal, and excellent research teams. Your half-brother’s other biological donor’s location, perhaps?”
“She said no, so no,” Henri said and I nodded, not wantin’ to say answers had been tempting. Knowing everything about my abilities… perhaps even a way to get rid of them. I could be free of this curse…
“How do I have this ability?” I blurted out. “Is it in my brain? When I feel–when I feel feelings, it’s like inside me. All over. Is it… wired into my nerves? How did you make someone with this ability? If it’s something you put into them, like something mechanical, then how come I have it too?”
“I am sorry but I must return to my laboratory and make do with the experiments I have left from Project D.” She spun around and went straight for the door. Though I couldn’t feel it, I knew she wanted me to stop her. Didn’t she? But I shouldn’t. Right?
“Wait!” I shouted and she stopped. I could feel her smirk already. “You–“
“No!” Henri shot by in a flash, streamin’ towards her. She was down on the floor before I could even react, knocked down by my husband who now had a foot on her, holdin’ her down. “NO! Serenity Jayne, don’t you DARE! This woman’s been breaking in and stalking you, and she’s done who-knows-what to–to–experimenting on things and–you–can’t! You really want to trust–“
But now he was being thrown back to the floor. Redding had grabbed his ankle and flipped him, and was reaching for a pen as she got to her feet. She started to poke him with it but it went right through him and she looked slightly startled as she stumbled. Most her hand was inside his chest now and he was folding his arms. “You can’t do anything to me,” he said. “You can’t touch me!”
Redding withdrew her hand, no longer looking startled. She fixed her glasses, smoothed down her skirt, and pocketed the pen. But she was ruffled now, I could tell. “Is that how you wish to play? Very well.” She looked at me. “One of my projects involves ghosts. Part of the R&D has given me a machine that sends a ghost to the afterlife. Whether they are truly a ghost or like this.” She indicated my husband. “It is not as portable as some of my weaponry but I can easily bring it back with me.”
“Now you’re threatening to kill my dead husband,” I said.
“If you agree to come with me, you will receive monetary compensation, answers to your questions, and perhaps other things that you desire. If you do not come with me then perhaps I should make sure the first half-ghost I removed from this world was not just a glitch in the machine.”
“As long as I don’t have to live there and don’t have to be there a lot, maybe once every few months, then–“
“–I will agree,” I finished. Henri looked devastated and it would take a lot of talkin’ to convince him it wasn’t just the threat on his life (which really was a big factor in it). I needed, and wanted, answers. And possibly a cure. I wouldn’t mention that part to her since it was the fact I had this ability that made her want me. I wasn’t sure how exactly I’d get to the point of asking for a cure, but there would have to be some opportunity. Even if all I got was answers to how this worked, maybe that would help me down the road towards gettin’ rid of it. And until then, I’d keep up my fake psychic act until the (hopefully soon) day when I would tragically lose my psychicness and be able to find a proper job.