After Grandma died, it was hard adjustin’ to… well, everything. Ever since I was a kid I felt her presence in me, no matter what. She and my maternal dad were always here. Now I was empty. Mom was still there, a little piece of grief digging at me. That plus the emptiness was so hard on me that I focused more on work than I should have. I took on a lot of jobs and was often comin’ home real late and just falling asleep. Henri was mad at me for this but the thought of sitting at home with the pain was not a happy thought.
During this time was when I got called back to the lab. I was too tired and miserable to even think about dealing with Doctor Redding, so I said no. “Maybe in the future but not right now,” I said to the Professor. “I just can’t right now…” I took in a deep breath and then said, “My grandmother passed away three weeks ago.”
“L…Luna…?” Professor Redding squeaked. “L-Luna d-died? Oh. Oh, S-Serenity, I’m so sorry. I–oh… I’m so sorry.”
I felt the tears wellin’ up in my eyes again. It reminded me how much I really did like Professor Redding, and knew Grandma had liked him too. “Thank you, Professor. I appreciate it. And really, maybe I should just quit coming to the lab.” I looked towards Miracle’s door then at Chance’s door. I didn’t want them to go through what I went through, though I had my doubts that Chance would since I couldn’t feel Henri or his feelings. Would he even be able to inherit this power? “I just don’t want my kids to have too many problems,” I added under my breath. “I hate what I’ve been through and can’t stand the thought of my babies going through this.”
“I underst-stand, I do. B-but there isn’t a c-cure. I–if there w-was, I would tell you.”
“As of right now, no lab for me. Maybe I’ll come back eventually soon, if your sister doesn’t want to blackball me.”
Professor Redding snorted. “She m-might. I hate you b-being here but… if you w-want me to, I will convince her not to be t-too mad at you. She knows you are s-strong so I think she’d l-let you come back.”
How hard it must be for him, not wanting me to be there at all but willing to help me come back if I wanted to. “Thanks, Professor. You’re a great guy, you really are. And thank you for your sympathy…” We got off the phone and I went to lay on the couch, starin’ out at the waterfall. Henri came floating over and settled down next to me and I moved to put my head in his lap.
“Everything okay, darling?” he asked, strokin’ my hair.
“I won’t be going back to the laboratory for a while,” I muttered, closing my eyes. “But I have to someday soon. For Miracle. And Chance. And if we have any other babies.” I reached down and rubbed my stomach. Henri’s fingers slid along my skin, just under my shirt. We had not discussed this but part of me did not want anymore kids at all. Mostly for the fear of going through the ordeal of a ghost baby birth. That had been so painful. That stupid shell inside me had felt like it was a glass ball ready to tear up my insides when it broke. “Do you want more kids?” I asked, looking up.
Henri stared down into my eyes then bent in to kiss my lips. “I would like more children, yes. That being said, there is no way on earth I want you to go through that again. I was scared I was going to lose you. I couldn’t handle that.” His fingers moved up inside my shirt, massaging my ribs. “I’m not as strong as you.”
Now I sat up and moved so I was sitting across his lap, arms around him. “You are strong,” I said, buryin’ my face into his neck.
“No I’m not, not like you. If you hadn’t been there for me, I would have given up a lot earlier in my life.” I felt his hands on my back, gently rubbing to keep me calmed down. “You know, there are other ways around having children. I don’t know how well adoption would work since we can’t have people poking their noses into our business…” He nuzzled my hair, kissing the side of my head. “Now’s not the best time to be talking about this right now though, love. Maybe you should take a break from work. Maybe a vacation. You and maybe Kaylee could go to the spa for a day, or an overnight trip somewhere…”
I shook my head against his shoulder. “No, just some sleep will help. Besides I have too much work to do.”
“You’ve been working nonstop for a week–“
“Can we not talk about this right now either?” I grumbled.
Henri was quiet and then I felt his body relax a bit. “Of course. I’m sorry, mon amour.” His lips found mine again and then we snuggled up and enjoyed the quietness before the kids woke up from their nap.
I did not tell Henri the secondary reason for taking on such a ridiculous workload. Bills. Without the money comin’ in from the Redding lab work, it didn’t take too long to realize financial limitations. Two horses were a lot of money and sometimes I thought about enterin’ Storm in competitions but I was too old now to really deal with that, and there was no way I could deal with hiring people and all that stuff. I thought about it being better if I sold Storm to a professional stable that would give him the lifestyle I originally had planned for him, but I didn’t think I could. I loved him, and also did not want to take away Night’s only companion now.
So all the bills were quite a bit, but if we did not have two kids we would be able to afford a lot more. However… two kids meant a lot of education funds. Especially for Chance. I did research into home education and was dismayed to see how darn expensive it would get when included with the fact I would have to go to college in order to get the proper education level needed to educate him! So that meant, an online college education for me. Then again, how much education could I even give my son? He did not even have a proper birth certificate. He could not get any schooling beyond what we gave him, and could not get a real job. Perhaps we could just do our best… but was that fair?
Then again, we were considering givin’ Miracle a home education. I had taken her to daycare once to get used to being around other kids and the caretaker phoned me up with concerns that my daughter seemed to think her father could be walked through. If we sent her to a real school… it wouldn’t take long for them to get anxious if Miracle kept saying her father and brother were ghosts. I could chalk it up to an overactive imagination but I was worried eventually they might start lookin’ into her home life.
So with great reluctance, I signed up for online college classes. The money I was gonna use to buy the kids a pony was used to give me the documentation I could educate my child. Though Henri would be doin’ a lot of the teaching. The worst part was not being able to let even Miracle have much of a social life outside her family. When she was a bit older and we could teach her not to talk about Henri and Chance, but for now she just played with her cousins and brother.
Work, school, school, work. I was beyond exhausted and the weeks went by in a daze. It had been so long since I had any education and I never technically finished high school so I had to get a freaking GED before I could take college classes. But I was able to get my GED, and started up the college classes, and worked hard with the police since the police chief wanted me more and more as it became so obvious that my psychic abilities were more reliable than most. I worked on some cases that just sucked the life out of me. Children being kidnapped or hurt and sometimes dead. After those I would come home and cling to both my children and cry.
Still, despite everything, despite all my efforts to be known for other things, relationship problems were my number one clientele. Though I was also gettin’ in the occasional parent wanting to know what their kid was up to. If their kid was doing drugs, or gettin’ into trouble, of if their daughter was pregnant, or if their son was drinking. I felt very uncomfortable with these sorts of jobs and even though I sympathized with the parents I decided to put up an age restriction. I would not investigate anyone under the age of eighteen. Unless, of course, asked by the police. One job did require me to speak to a fourteen-year-old girl who had witnessed the violent bullying of a fifteen-year-old girl. So if the police asked me to, I would. Otherwise it was a no-go.
During all this, Henri and I sometimes were like we were before I told him I was pregnant with Chance. There were times we didn’t get to see each other much and a lot of times where the relationship seemed strained. We both tried our hardest but often argued and snapped; not that that was anything new. His biggest issue was the work thing, and I could not tell him the truth because I knew if HE knew about the possible money issues, he’d feel guilty he couldn’t contribute. I knew he already felt guilty enough that it was because of him Chance was a ghost. There were ways for him to work without being seen but nothin’ he was really good at. His paintings never turned out too well, he couldn’t write very well, and there really wasn’t a whole lot otherwise. So when he started on about me working so much, I did my best not to remind him of the bills.
“Can’t believe Amy is starting third grade this fall. Kids grow up so fast nowadays, I tell you. Not fair.”
“Oh shut up, I bet our dads would say the same thing about us, that they blinked once and we were suddenly graduating school.”
Duncan and I were on a stakeout, waitin’ for a potential criminal to come home. It was late in the day and I was really grouchy. Miracle had the chicken pox and had been up most the night crying, so I hadn’t gotten much sleep. A busy day of following people and making reports, then havin’ to sit in a car with my moaning brother was not exactly making me in high spirits. I just wanted to get home, get a bath, and spend time with my family. Though Duncan was right. Kids did grow up way too fast. Chance was already two and a half, and Miracle was four. I understood his position completely. I just didn’t want to hear about it for the fifty zillionth time.
“No matter how hard Katherine tries, Amy still doesn’t like her too well,” Duncan said, chomping down on a sandwich while we waited. And waited. And waited. I checked the clock. It was nearly nine! Where was this guy?
“Is she still mad about the new baby?” I asked, squinting at the darkness. Did I see someone move? No, it was an animal. Darn it.
“Oh yeah, she wants to go live with her mother but you know her, too busy to take care of her own daughter. You know, that bitch had the audacity to tell me that it was my fault that Amy doesn’t like to–wait.” Duncan set his sandwich down and jerked up the binoculars. “Can you extend your range a bit? Looks like half a block farther.”
I did so, and picked up the guy we were waiting for. “He did it,” I said right away. “And he happily did it. Oh, oh, it’s awful!” I covered my ears as if to block his rage, but could really do nothing since I had to keep tabs on him. He had killed a young boy though there was not much evidence for it. With me backin’ up the force, they would be able to question him. I didn’t want to be there for it and go through his disgusting, blood-thirsty feelings but oh well. I was just glad that this night finally had an end in sight.
Duncan waited till the guy got to his house before he got out of the car. We had just barely enough evidence to arrest him but the chief wanted to wait for my opinion on the matter. It was kinda nice, really. I watched as he was joined by two other police officers who had been waiting down the street. They went up to the guy’s house and knocked on the door. I felt the guy’s suspicion and then fear. I jumped out of the car, even though I wasn’t supposed to, and waved my arms.
“He’s going out the back!” I hissed out as quietly as I dared. “Out the back! Making a run for it!”
Duncan and the other two got out their guns. One stayed at the front while Duncan and the other guy went around towards the back. “Serenity, get back in the car,” Jeremy Martin told me. “Now.”
I backed up but then winced. “Jer, he’s darted down the alley–he’s intending on looping around and getting to his car.” I pointed at the garage and Jeremy nodded, mouthing a word of thanks. I began going as fast as I could back to Duncan’s car. This type of thing terrified me. Especially as I picked up that this criminal had a gun on him. I had to warn them but didn’t dare as the criminal had gone through a backyard of a neighbor and was coming in quick. I got to the car and glanced back, tryin’ to figure out where he was. Just past the house, I figured. Duncan was hot on his trail though.
Oh… no… NO! I took off running, not even thinking twice even though what I was doing was completely illegal and so dangerous that I knew everyone and their aunt would be mad at me, but I wasn’t really thinkin’ properly. GETONYOURKNEESGETONYOURKNEESDROPTHEGUNANDGETONYOURKNEES! I was screamin’ in my head. I turned the corner just as on the other side of the house Duncan turned the corner. The guy lifted his gun. KNEES YOU WANT ON YOUR KNEES! I used every ounce of willpower and threw it at him. He staggered slightly and then dropped to his knees. Duncan saw the gun and held up his own now.
“DROP THE GUN!” he yelled. And I was screaming in my head for him to do it, and he did it. He dropped the gun, put his hands on the back of his head, and stayed put. “What the hell do you think you’re doing here, get back to the car right now!” Duncan snarled at me as he grabbed the criminal to cuff him.
Jeremy and the other police officer were hurrying over, neither of them happy I had done such a stupid thing. The criminal looked at me and a flicker of recognition went through him but nothing really big, just from the fact I had ‘ruined’ his sister’s relationship by exposing to her husband she had been cheating on him. I backed up, heart about to leap out of my throat. I had just gone runnin’ towards a dangerous criminal who had a gun. He could have shot Duncan. He had been ready to. And Duncan didn’t know he was armed. He could have been shot. I couldn’t just let that happen. As stupid as it was… I know I had done the right thing.
“ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?! ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FREAKING MIND?! VOUS AURAIT PU ETRE FUSILLE!!! Que pensiez-vous?! Vous ne pouvez pas faire ça!! Que faire si vous avez été abattu? I cannot lose you, Sen! Miracle and Chance need you! I need you! You could have died, you could have been killed!”
“Duncan could have been shot!” I exclaimed. “I couldn’t let that happen! Everything is fine and now he’s being charged with everything and–“
“I don’t care what he’s being charged with, you could have been killed!” Henri stared at me in shock and fear. “Sen. Sen.”
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I couldn’t let Duncan get hurt! He–“
“Je sais! Je sais. Oh Sen.” He pulled me against him and kissed me hard. His ghostly tears ran down, drippin’ onto my face and mingling with my own tears. “My darling, my love. Serenity. Sen.” He kissed me again and again, holding onto me as if I might just run off. I held onto him too, still almost not believing what had happened. I had been chewed out by everyone, and especially the police chief who told me that for the time being I was no longer a consultant due to the fact I risked the lives of not only myself, but Duncan and the others. I just nodded and accepted the blame. One day I would come back as a consultant but not anytime soon.
“Mama? Mama, tings okay?” Chance asked as he toddled through his door. I wiped my tears and went over, pickin’ him up.
“Yes sweetie, everything is okay,” I said. “You need to get back to bed, it’s late.”
“Mama, no cry,” he said, giving me a crinkled-nose look.
I carried him back into his room and set him in his crib. “Baby, you need to get to sleep, okay? Miracle is asleep,” I added though I knew she wasn’t. Henri had told me he had just given her another oatmeal bath shortly before I got home. “Go to sleep, all right?”
“Otay, Mama,” he said, smiling his adorable smile. “Nye-nye.”
I kissed his forehead and then went in to check with Miracle who was indeed awake and asking if she could take off the mittens we were having her wear. She noticed my face and like her brother, made sure I was okay. Once I got her tucked in, I went back to Henri and we went to our bed and stayed up for a very long time just holding each other as I tried to beat down the waves of fear that were surroundin’ me. Not just from the physical danger but the mental stuff goin’ on. When I had used my abilities to get him down on his knees, I had felt this tiny shiver of power go down my spine. Something I hadn’t felt since the days of show jumpin’ and affecting my scores.
I burrowed close to Henri and closed my eyes. It wasn’t as if I had set out with the intent of using that dark side of my abilities; it was an emergency and that was okay to do. I wasn’t going to go around doing it to everyone. As tempting as the power sounded, and felt… I wasn’t. I was stronger than that.
I could use my powers against criminals. The bubble of thought that had been floatin’ inside me all night came back to the top. No no no no! I couldn’t, because where would the line be drawn? I start controlling criminals… But criminals are different. I could mentally push them into confession. But what if I pushed an innocent person…? No, I can tell who is guilty and who is not. I’m not the Watcher, I should not be able to do that. I should not do it. But criminals are bad, and so I’d be using this for good. Until it was cured. But if I root out a lot of bad people… Where was the line drawn? using my powers for good… No, it was wrong, I was not Judge and Jury. Just tip someone real bad into confessin’ his crimes isn’t bad.
I clung to Henri even tighter and I did not sleep at all. Henri’s breathin’ slowed but I could not sleep. Every time I almost did I saw that jerk raisin’ his gun at my brother. My imagination could see the bullet going into him and the blood spraying out. I could see his body hitting the ground. Dead. Gone. I cried as softly as I could, trying to make sure not to wake my husband. People like that horrible guy–killing a teenaged boy, almost shooting my brother–did not deserve to same justice other criminals did, like stealing cars or whatever. Murder and intended murder were a whole ‘nother level.
What was so bad about using the controllin’ part of my powers against people like that? Intended murder is not murder itself. He would have shot Duncan. This isn’t Minority Report. I cannot just send someone to jail for something they INTEND to do… but how could I wait till after the fact, for it to be done? If someone is intending on killing their spouse or something, should I wait until after an innocent person dies before doin’ something?
But I was NOT Judge and Jury. It was a slippery slope, usin’ that side of my powers. So many thin lines that could be crossed, even if I was determined now not to cross those lines what if one day I did, and send an innocent person to jail? It sounded nice and fair now, commanding murderers and rapists and evil people like that to confess. But one day I could–and possibly would–tip would-bes into confessin’. And with a power like this… Ugh it was just too much of a slippery slope.
But oh, it sounded so tempting, as wrong as it was.