As soon as Apollo’s phone rang relief flooded her body. She said she’d go check on Joy and quickly ran off to the nursery. Joy was sound asleep, her tiny face scrunched up, dreaming whatever dreams babies had. Dakota smoothed down her pretty blonde hair then climbed out the window.
She went off into the woods until she felt she had sufficient enough privacy, then first texted the Professor and then, after receiving confirmation, she flipped open the face of her watch. There were three buttons. A square, an arrow, and a red button. She hit the square and waited.
Light surrounded her body and her stomach began swooshing around as she was yanked through space, a sensation she never got quite used to. It felt a bit like motion sickness only a lot worse. Ick.
Kaleb was waiting for her in the labs. Dagger glanced around to make sure there wasn’t anyone else waiting. She wondered what the Doctor had to say about everything but first things first.
“I have information. About–about it.” She pointed at the screen of graphs that was always kept up, even when they weren’t working there. “Apollo talked to me about the vision that I think is what this event is.”
She sat down and began telling him everything, including the fact the Doctor was in the vision. Kaleb’s eyes grew round at that and he went very quiet, not making any noise until well after Dagger finished telling him everything. Then he wheeled himself to the computer showing the graphs and began typing quickly. The graphs remained unchanged.
“J-j-just knowing what we d-do about the–the vision Apollo has d-doesn’t change anything.” He rubbed his chin. “M-maybe it’s n-not–“
“It is that Spike of Destruction!” Dagger said, the words bursting forth. “How can it not be?! The times match up, from what Apollo thinks about how he looks in the vision. ‘You’re going to kill everybody’? It’s someone trying to destroy the world! But why? He doesn’t know who it is.” Dagger glanced at the floor now. “Though you fit the description a bit, except this guy is standing.”
Kaleb turned his chair around, a small smile on his face. “I have n-no intentions of k-killing anybody.”
“What if it’s your sister doing it?” she asked, unable to stop herself. The smile now disappeared. Dagger felt heartbroken as she went on. “What if… she is trying to do something to communicate with them?” She jabbed her finger upwards to indicate aliens. “What if this thing is something to talk to them? You would help her. Wouldn’t you.”
It wasn’t a question and besides, she already knew the answer. Kaleb sighed and turned his gaze back to the graph. “You s-said he’s st-standing so it isn’t m-me.”
“Unless she succeeds in her weird obsessive intention to get you back on your feet. Apollo says the guy isn’t yelling or anything, whatever he says Apollo can’t hear. He knows the Doctor is yelling though, but he can’t make out the words. What if–“
“S-stop!” Kaleb pleaded. “Stop.”
Dagger moved to kneel down next to her beloved Professor, the man who saved her life and essentially raised her most her life. The only one close to a father figure she ever knew, even though he now looked about the same age as her. She knew about the youth potions the doctor and the professor took. She wasn’t sure how she felt about them, but she certainly knew about them. “We don’t know what this machine does. His vision doesn’t cover it. All we know is it is something that has the ability to kill a lot of people and do something very bad to the world. And your sister is there, as well as a man who could be you.”
“It c-can’t be me.”
“It could be,” she said softly. “You love your sister and I know you’ll do almost anything.” She hoped her words weren’t hurting him. “What if you help her do this without realizing what could happen? What if what you’re saying is ‘we didn’t know it would be like this’ or something?”
Kaleb took in a deep breath, a look of determination filling his face. “B-because if she wants to make anything th-that looks like that, I w-will make sure it d-doesn’t happen.”
“Even if it’s what she really, really wants?”
Kaleb twisted his head away. “I’ve st-stood by and l-let her kill a lot of p-people before, wi-without knowing wh-what was going on. I won’t let it happen again.” He clenched his hands into fists. “I w-won’t let Ancora h-happen on a bigger s-scale.”
Dagger just stood back up. She had always suspected the Doctor had killed people before but until now she didn’t have any confirmation. However, she didn’t press Kaleb anymore. Instead she went to the computer and hit the update button. The graphs didn’t change.
“Th-there are a lot of p-people with b-black hair and g-glasses,” Kaleb whispered. “It’s silly t-to think it might be me. It w-won’t. That p-proves it.” He pointed at the graphs. “Now I know t-to b-b-be wary and it hasn’t ch-changed so…”
Dagger flipped her hair back and let out a sigh. “So who might it be? Your sister is there, and Apollo is there.” Kaleb just stared at the graphs. “Professor…?”
“I d-don’t know. Only Apollo c-can know.” He pushed himself closer to her and reached out, taking her hands. “You n-need to go back and f-find out more information.”
She stuck her lower lip out. “I’ll try, but he doesn’t know who the guy is and I doubt he’ll have the vision again soon!”
“Yes.” He let her hands go and then smiled. “B-but I have an idea. Of c-course… it… m-might be d-dangerous… and you c-cannot do this t-to him without his permission.” Dagger tilted her head and Kaleb went on. “If w-we can m-maybe trigger a v-vision…”
“You mean by touch? But the only one we know is there for sure is your sister!” Dagger exclaimed. “You don’t mean to have him and the doctor interact. She’d rather slit his throat. Hell she’d probably rather slit her own throat.”
Kaleb flinched. “No. N-not that. I need t-to study more. We d-did some research on h-his father and aunt wh-when they were young, and we have a l-lot of data about his great-grandmother and of course… McIntyre… and th-the other psychics.”
Dagger began nodding at that. Of course. Where Apollo got his psychic abilities from, his bloodline that led back to the monster McIntyre. One night when she was watching his house, Dagger had wondered what would have happened if Serenity had never been born. The only kid born to Sebastian and the monster (as she and the professor called him). The only one with the psychic ability. She knew Kaleb hypothesized it was the mixture of psychic and Danevbie blood that produced someone with Serenity’s abilities, and then down the line to Zaid and Illuminata’s abilities, and therefor Apollo’s abilities. What was his name… Duncan. The monster’s only other kid, he never had any sort of ability nor did any of his descendants, and none of Sebastian’s other kids or their kids had any ability. Just Serenity and her line.
It really made her wonder about the Danevbies.
“What would studying the data do?” Dagger asked.
“If I c-can figure out a w-way to trigger the v-visions somehow, we m-might be able to f-focus them.” Kaleb sounded more scared than excited. “If he c-can have visions by j-just touching someone, it c-could work…”
“But it could be dangerous,” she added, knowing perfectly well why he sounded the way he did. Kaleb nodded slowly. “Which means if we figure out a way to do this, I’ll have to tell him. Everything.” She began tugging at the hem of her shirt. “Including who I am and what I do. ‘Oh yeah remember that chick that saved you and your friends from that murderous ghost one Halloween? That was me! I work for a lab studying the end of the world and I can teleport around and I lied about who I am in order to keep an eye on you while taking care of your precious child’. Oh. Yeah. He’ll love that!”
“He’s b-been through a lot–“
“That makes it worse.”
“He’s s-smart, he’s been in th-the supernatural w-world for a while. It won’t b-be as weird t-to him as… s-say…”
“Eye?” Dagger asked with a wry smile. She remembered when he first joined the group as a very bitter and jaded teenager, just a year older than her. He had run away from his horrible family (for good reason, as it turned out) and the doctor had somehow discovered his magic flowed in such a way that made him an absolute genius with tech. Apparently one of Apollo’s friends–that Eli guy–also had this same ability but when the doctor approached him after graduation, he sent a shock wave spell at her that had knocked her out momentarily. She never spoke of him again (though the Professor did confide in Dagger that he had never seen his sister incapacitated before so that Eli kid’s powers had to be strong).
Of course Eye had been raised in a rather anti-supernatural environment and had been very resistant to the idea that his talent with computers had to do with the fact he was magic. And when true teleportation came up, he laughed in the doctor’s face (something he regretted immediately and he swore to Dagger his arm didn’t heal right). He also laughed at Dagger when she told him she had a talent for teleporting and in fact was the only one who could. They fought quite bitterly for a while until finally he came to accept the supernatural ways, and the connection between magic and teleportation–and his talent and magic.
“It w-won’t be f-for a while, before I c-can figure this out. If I even c-can. In the m-mean time j-just continue with wh-what you’re doing.”
“I’m surprised you’re alone in here.”
Kaleb smiled at that. “My s-sister is v-very angry. She s-seems to think y-you forced me, so I’m still p-perfectly able to c-come in here. She d-doesn’t think I had anything t-to do with it. I know she d-doesn’t w-w-want to go after you b-because you’re l-living in Apollo’s house. So I th-think you’re safe… for now.”
Dagger gave Kaleb a hug and then got back into the area to be sent back to the same spot she left in. She returned to the house, climbed back in through Joy’s window, and was sitting there when Apollo came up a little while later all freaked out over whatever his phone call had been about, and wondered how many weeks or months or even years it would take the professor to figure out how to force visions on this poor boy.
“…so I go to the reception and meet up with my date. We go in and she’s all happy because finally the family isn’t gonna be harping on her about being single, yeah? We go in and she introduces me to family and then we meet the mother-of-the-bride, her really interfering aunt, main reason she wanted a date. Well as I turn to greet her with my most charming smile, she freezes up because lo and behold–“
“No way!” Kiley shrieked, already guessing.
I bust up laughing. “Yes, she’s hired me before! So we stand there for a second just staring but then I smile and offer my hand. She gives my date this look, real quick, then she shakes my hand with a smirk on her face. My date has no idea and she’s all on cloud nine–poor girl–and we meet more people and guess what?”
Sam’s eyes danced. “You gotta be kidding,” he said while Kiley practically fell over, giggling.
“Yes, another one. But not just anyone…” I waited for a second then grinned. “The groom himself.” Kiley practically split her sides. “And worst thing, it was when he was with his now wife, because it was just like, a year ago, and they’ve been dating for two years according to my date. Well he absolutely freaks out once he recognizes me. It took him some time. He totally freaks. Finally he yanks me into a bathroom and wants to know if I’m trying to blackmail him.”
Kiley clapped her hands over her mouth. “What did you say?”
“I told him, politely, I had no idea who he was or why he thought I might blackmail him. He stared at me and I repeated–firmly–I had no idea who he was. He then bolted out of the bathroom and was a bundle of nerves, at his reception. Watcher.” I shook my head. “I felt so bad for his wife but then it turns out they’re not exactly hopelessly in love. As the reception wore on she got really mad at him being all jittery and then they got into this big fight right there in the middle of the room.”
“Yep. They start screaming back and forth and it culminated in kinda confessing the whole thing, in front of everyone. That he had hired me as an experiment.”
My sibling-in-laws just gaped. “So, everyone heard it?” Sam asked.
“Pretty much. Chaos then broke out. ‘What do you mean hired him’ my date’s mom totally flipped too and started screaming at my date that she hired a gay whore to pass off as her date and she starts screaming at the groom and the bride runs off crying and locked herself in the bathroom. My date left, taking her mom’s expensive car. The mom took off after her. The groom started drinking a lot while his mom screamed at him for ruining the wedding.”
“So you were left there completely alone?”
I shrugged. “No, I left with someone.” Again, another pause. “The mother of the bride.”
Both of them laughed so hard they had tears in their eyes and once they managed to calm down enough to talk they both accused me of making it up or stretching the truth. I promised that I hadn’t. Then they wanted to know what wedding, as ‘proof’.
“Nope, not saying. All I’m saying is it happened in the past month. And–“
“Daddddyyyyy!” Joy came running into the living room, arms outstretched. “Monsta under my bed!” she cried, throwing herself into my arms.
I hefted her onto my lap and she stuck her thumb in her mouth. “What kind of monster?” I asked patiently.
“Uh.” She wriggled and then pressed her face into my chest. “I’m firsty.”
“Joy.” I shifted her so I could look her in the face. “Are your really thirsty or are you just trying to push your bedtime back?”
“Noooo!” she protested. “Nuh-uh. I’m firsty and want story.”
“I read you two stories and sang to you three times, and you had plenty of water.” I tickled her stomach. “Tell the truth.”
“Ooookay. I’m not seepy.” She spread her chubby toddler hands out. “Do I hafta?”
“Yes, you hafta.” I stood up and set her on the ground. Joy tilted her head back and took my hand in hers. She had learned quickly that her daddy couldn’t carry her around much, so she liked to walk holding my hand even though I had to bend over to reach it. She was three years old now and the center of my universe. I would do anything for her, and often did. But sometimes I had to be firm. This was the fourth time in a week she tried to push her bedtime back and for once I wasn’t going to let her.
Dakota ran down the stairs. “I am so sorry, Apollo! I didn’t realize she had gotten out of her bed!” She picked Joy up who whined. “We’ve talked about this, lil miss.”
“Daddy says I can stay up,” she lied sweetly. I scoffed loudly and folded my arms, tapping one foot theatrically. Joy ducked her head. “Um. Greefa says I can stay up.”
Greefa was her nickname for my grandfather. Not Grandpa, she called him ‘Geepaw’. As soon as Joy began talking she began conversing merrily to ‘Greefa’ and soon we learned she could not only see my dead grandfather but interact with him. We all wondered if she could see other ghosts, but so far we hadn’t tested the fact. Grandpa had been pleased, though, that someone else could see and hear his husband. He was especially close to Joy.
“Oh, so you’re accusing the one person who can’t say you’re fibbing?” Dakota asked, hitching Joy up a bit. “Should we ask Chance?”
“Noooo!” Joy scowled now. “Fine, I go bed.” She stuck her lower lip out far, and her eyes went very big. She looked so miserable I wanted to cave in, but before I could Dakota whisked her back to her room. She did so amazing with Joy, still a real life saver. Without her I think everything would just fall apart. She did all the things with Joy that I couldn’t and then some. She had become a good friend to me but, despite what several people said, nothing more. Oh sure I wondered occasionally, those nights we’d be sitting up in our pajamas nursing a sick Joy, I felt closer to Dakota than I ever did anyone else. But something about it felt wrong.
I returned to the living room where Sam and Kiley were still recovering from my story. “You didn’t give in this time?” Kiley asked.
I stuck my tongue out. “I don’t always give in.”
“Just, oh, 99 percent of the time?” Sam added and I kicked his shin.
“You’ll understand in a few months,” I said then vaguely regretted my words. When Reeny had announced her pregnancy just a couple weeks ago everyone in the family had been happy, except later that night I found Kiley crying. She and Arty had been trying to have kids for two years and it wasn’t working. They had suffered two miscarriages and Kiley was terrified she’d never be able to be pregnant. Arty didn’t really want to be pregnant though she’d be very willing for Kiley whenever Kiley gave the word.
Kiley got a distant look in her face. “I can see you just giving in to every little thing. Reeny is gonna have to be the tough parent.”
Sam rolled his eyes. “I’ll be a tougher parent than Mr. Bought his 3 year old a convertible.”
“It’s a TOY convertible!” I snapped.
“And the silk sheets?”
“She prefers the feel of silk to sleep on,” I grumbled. Okay, so I spoiled her. I couldn’t help it. I knew material possessions weren’t important and I gave Joy all the love and attention I could. Just, part of me wanted to shower her with physical gifts as well. She was–everything. Everything to me. If she wanted the moon, she’d have it.
My friends just continued to tease me, and I accepted it with false protests. I knew they loved Joy and spoiled her in their own ways. She loved her Uncle Sam and Aunt Kiley (as well as her aunts Reeny and Arty). She loved everyone and her name had been fitting, as she spread happiness to those who met her. Well. Most. I still thought about her mother, who she could have been. The police weren’t actively searching anymore but I knew they had feelers out. I wished I knew who it was. I looked at my daughter and studied her face, trying to take the pieces that weren’t Danevbie and try to place them with no success. Still, maybe one day a look or the way her blonde hair fell around her face or maybe the way she spoke would trigger something.
What would I tell her in the future? About her history? Probably a little bit of the truth until she got old enough to hear the whole truth. Or… should I even tell her the whole truth? The cough medicine, abandoned in the park? The thought of her hearing these things made my stomach lurch. My little princess…
“DADDDYYY!” Joy ran back into the room and launched herself into my lap. “Need a song. Pllllleeeasseee?”
Sam and Kiley watched with amused looks. I set Joy down and took her hand to walk her back to her room. “Okay, but just one.”