Author: morgana07 PM
AU story with original characters mixed in./ LaFiamma vanishes after investigating a possible cult and it's up to Lundy and friends to find him as Joe wonders about his life.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure - Words: 12,086 - Published: 02-05-08 - Status: Complete - id: 4055801
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
All Houston Knights characters in this story are owned by their creators. My people are owned by me. This story is rated PG for content, mild language, etc. It was written for reader's enjoyment and because I promised Rita that somewhere in this story is Father Joe. All feedback is welcomed. Thanks and enjoy. Tammy
"What if we never took the roads we had? Damn, that boy worries me at times." Sgt. Levon Lundy muttered, driving home after a day of hard and essentially useless police work.
The Houston police sergeant and his now long time partner Sgt. Joseph LaFiamma had been tracking down what appeared at first to be a serial killer with a hand in the satanic movement. Weeks now into the investigation had taken a deadly turn when one of their snitches had been found dead, the victim of an obvious sacrifice.
While the two partners rarely agreed on anything, it wasn't like the Chicago native to get moody or reflective in the middle of a case like this.
The lanky Texas native was hoping the visit by his cousin would cheer his friend up. Though it was bound to drive Lundy himself to distraction.
He was almost home when the radio in Jimmy came to life. "Lundy." He was short and to the point.
"Levon." The voice of his superior, Lt. Joann Beaumont, took him by surprise and so did her tone. "I need you to come back to the station."
Lundy nearly groaned out loud. He and LaFiamma had worked nearly 72 hours straight. "What's up Joann?" he asked in his usual soft drawl. "Get a break in the case?"
"A black and white unit called us when they spotted Joe's car abandoned on the road." Joann's voice was grim. "Levon, he's not there and we can't find…"
A quick flick of a knob jerked the radio off as he was spinning the Jimmy around in a tight U-turn to head back into Houston. "Damn, LaFiamma now what did you get yourself into?"
"The forensic team can find no evidence of foul play, no fingerprints of any kind including Joe's." Carol 'Legs' O'Brien laid a file on a desk in the command room of the Homicide Division.
The tall, slender blond policewoman looked worried. As did the others in the room.
"LaFiamma loves that car too much to just leave it." Lundy argued firmly, turning from the window. "Why the hell was he on that stretch of road anyway?" he demanded. "His apartment is in town, almost an hour from where the car was found."
Beaumont, a petite red haired woman and Levon's former partner, frowned slightly. "After you left, there was a call from someone claiming they knew who was behind the killings."
"What? Why the hell didn't someone contact me?" Lundy knew why. "Damn him. Why did he go alone?"
"Joe said he knew you were tired and that he could handle the meeting." Legs answered grimly, taking something else out of the plastic bag the forensic team had brought in. "This was also in the car but no one knows what it is or even if it says something."
Lundy looked at the withered parchment with a frown. The writing looked familiar but he couldn't place it. The card he knew well because it had been left at the other crime scenes.
A blood covered card with a knife sticking through a heart. The calling card for whatever cult was preying on Houston.
A knock on the door and a uniformed officer stuck his head in, looking wary. "Umm, Levon? I hated to interrupt but I thought you should know that well…your cousin is here."
Lundy winced. He had forgotten Morgan was arriving but she was early and that bothered him. "Be right back." He took the parchment with him on a hunch.
"Johnson, you are so transparent. Something is wrong or you wouldn't be pacing." The soft British lilt was tense tonight and as Lundy entered the squad room he also seen that his cousin was also tense.
At 26, Morgan Harrison had seen and done most things girls her age would either die for or of. An internationally known business leader as well as former government agent and now solo operative, the 5'6 auburn haired ½ British; ½ German young woman could tell when some things just weren't right.
"Hey sugar." Levon greeted her warmly but he could tell she already knew something was wrong. "You're early."
"Where's Joe?" she demanded after returning his hug and looking around the room. "Levon, where is your partner?"
Lundy caught her eyes. "Darlin', I'm going to be honest with you. We don't know where LaFiamma is right now." He held out the plastic bag with the parchment inside to her. "This is one of the things that were found in his car."
Blue eyes, just like Lundy's, landed on that paper and froze. All color from her face went away as she gently took the bag from him. "What the bloody hell have you two gotten into?" she asked in a whisper.
"A serial killer has been loose past couple weeks but recently things have gotten nastier and Morgan?!" Lundy caught her arm when he seen her falter.
"Not a serial killer, luv." She whispered, allowing him to lead her back to the conference room but was practically oblivious to the others in the room. "Black magic big time."
Esteban Gutierrez, a detective originally from Mexico, looked at her. "Witchcraft?" he frowned. "Satanic cultists went after Joe? Why?"
"They aren't Satanists. They are witches but so engrossed in the dark that it is hard to tell them apart from Satanists." Morgan was staring at the paper then at the card before swearing softly. "Joann, you need an expert. May I call one?"
Joann blinked, all this was new to them but she slowly nodded. "I'll take any help we can get. How long will it take to get him here?"
"Depends on what he's doing." Morgan replied, closing her eyes and concentrating. "Devan." She called softly, frowning. "Devan!"
Joe Bill McCandliss nudged Lundy's elbow. "Think it could be….holy crap!" he hissed as a bright light hit the room then faded quickly leaving behind in its wake…
"Don't you people have normal lives without bothering me when I finally get a date?"
The new arrival was young, about Morgan's age outwardly, with long black hair and electric blue eyes. He looked normal but the powers that sparked from his eyes clearly stated that he was not.
"What's…oh, never mind. I see the problem." He held out a hand and the parchment flew to him.
Devan McShayne to the public was the owner of a chain of bookstores called Books Unlimited, including a branch in Houston. Privately, the young man was a master sorcerer or warlock. Older than he appeared, he and his group were actually a subsidiary of Harrison Enterprises and also Morgan's mystical protectors.
"Alright so we have some VERY nasty guys trying to use the Solstice to bring up some VERY wicked power." He frowned as he read the paper. "Sacrifices to their Gods, blood sacrifices are very messy these days. Nine victims to overturn the good of the number nine. On the 9th night of the Solstice, the 9th victim will be slayed and the coven will be unstoppable. At least according to this."
Lundy watched the young man he'd only met a few times. "We've had 8 killings so far."
"They plan on making Joe the 9th? Legs whispered in horror. "But why him?"
Devan looked around as if thinking hard then nodded. "Your buddy was depressed right?" he asked Levon then going on without allowing time for an answer. "Questioning his life and its purpose? Right, makes sense."
"To you. Translate that into something like English." Morgan ordered tensely. "Why would Joe be depressed?"
"Has been since he came back from a fortune teller." Levon shook his head. "One of those small time shops in the market place. He thought it would be fun and we were looking for clues into this case so we went in."
Morgan hated that already. "What did she tell him?"
"Just that his life would change soon and he would have answers to what he seeked but also he should also wonder what his life would have been like if he had not taken this path." Levon rolled his eyes. "It was bunk but for some reason Joe bought it."
"Hmmm, maybe we'll have to check this place out cause it doesn't sound right." Devan murmured to himself. "The other victims, any connection?"
Legs shook her head. "Most were runaways or homeless. The last two were different because they were middle class homemakers."
Again, the mystic nodded. "Check out the fortune teller. My guess is she was the contact between the victims and the coven. The more hopeless the sacrifice the better for them.
"I can't get directly involved due to the Solstice but once you find your man and get him out then my people could probably lend a hand." Devan looked at his employer. "Be careful because these guys have access to all of LaFiamma's memories and aren't above using them to stop you."
With that the young man, flashed out like he came. "Oh, that was a lot of help Dev." Morgan muttered sourly, waving McCandliss's complaints away. "I know, I know. I hate him too."
"How much time do we have left?" Joann wanted to know.
Morgan examined the papers and a wall map marking victims. "Tonight." She whispered. "We find him tonight."
"How?" Legs asked. "We're no closer to finding these people than we were when it first started."
"I….I can find Joe." Morgan sighed, feeling her cousin's eyes on her. "We'll need to stop by his place first."
"McCandliss, you and Esteban go with them." Joann ordered firmly. "I am not risking any more people to these fruitcakes."
The large Texan threw off a salute but held back Lundy. "How does she plan on finding our boy?" he asked curiously.
"Longer story." Levon muttered.
The ride to LaFiamma's apartment was silent. Finally Lundy looked next to him. "Kelly in town?" he asked, speaking of her main subsidiary unit, the Queens Court Raiders.
"They will be soon." The girl replied, distracted and worried. "Not sure how McCandliss or Gutierrez will react to what will happen."
Lundy already knew that. "I think Esteban is expecting anything after Devan appeared like he did.
"Considered that Levon." Morgan sighed, looking up as they parked in front of his apartment. "If I thought Zach could help on this I'd call him in a bleedin' heartbeat but no…this time of year I should have expected this."
As Lundy used the spare key to let them in, it was like entering a tomb. Joseph LaFiamma's apartment felt so cold as if it sensed its owner was dead.
"What we doing here anyway?" Joe Bill wanted to know testily.
"I need something of Joe's." Morgan answered back, ignoring his tone. "Something important to him."
Estaban frowned slightly. "Something with a current sense of LaFiamma, like if he had just touched it."
"Very good, Detective." Morgan nodded, slowly going up the steps that led to the 2nd floor and the missing officer's bedroom.
"Levon, we don't have us a bloodhound." Joe Bill complained.
Lundy wondered how to tell his friend what was going on but was cut off by the pained scream from upstairs. "Morgan!"
"Knew this was going to be bad, amigo." Estaban muttered, running after Lundy with his partner close on his heels.
Morgan Harrison had always known that eventually one of the other parts of her life would come back to haunt her. She was just hoping that it wouldn't involve Joe or Levon this soon.
"Damn, I hate witches." She muttered, glancing around Joe's bedroom with a frown. It was clear he hadn't been home for awhile because of the thin layer of dust and some discarded clothes like he had changed in a hurry and went back out, which was probably the case.
The Italian bred cop differed from her Texan cousin in almost every way but it was his style that showed the biggest gap between them.
LaFiamma loved fine clothes which showed in his closest full of Italian suits and leather loafers. It was what always differed him from Lundy since all the Texas native wore was jeans, boots and work shirts.
Morgan looked around carefully; knowing the item she chose for this had to be something of great importance to her friend. She closed her eyes and let her fingers guide her to what was needed.
"Bingo." Her fingertips brushed a silver coated picture frame of Joe's mother. He rarely talked about his family yet she knew from what little he did say to what certain employees of hers in Chicago said that LaFiamma's mother had been and still was his greatest influence. She hoped that was true.
Morgan had been adopted by several families but it was her natural father, whom she knew very little about, that had given her this special birthright, among others.
A powerful if young sorceress with other unique powers caused by a gene that granted her certain abilities, the girl knew to find Joe she would have to draw on all of or most of those powers tonight.
What she hadn't been expecting was the sudden power rush that touching that frame would cause or the unexpected connection it brought.
The scream couldn't be helped as Morgan fought the powers to control them and dampen the sudden onslaught of feelings she was getting.
"Morgan?" Lundy knelt by his younger cousin where she had collapsed on the bedroom floor, lights and power flashing around her. "Darlin', what's wrong?! Damn it, Morgan! Answer me!"
Esteban froze when he seen what he did and quickly held back his partner, figuring that Joe Bill's normal Texas thoughts wouldn't allow him to accept or understand what was going on.
Not knowing what else to do, Lundy gently reached through the lights to grab hold of the girl and shake her not too gently, hoping that might break whatever connection she had made. "Morgan!"
"…Levon..?" it was several agonizing moments before the room slowly came back to focus for Morgan and the lights dimmed. "What..What happened?"
"You tell us, kid." Joe Bill exploded, shaking his head. "Damn if I have ever seen anything like that before."
Morgan looked down at her hand, seeing the frame. "Joe…I felt him." She whispered, not sure why the feelings had come on that soon or that hard. "He's…he's…"
"Sshh." Levon quietly soothed her by easing her closer in his arms but still felt her shaking. "Can you use those feelings to find him?" he asked warily. "Without hurting yourself?"
Morgan could only shrug. "Don't know but we don't have much time. We need to find him and stop them."
"Great. Assuming we even find LaFiamma, how do we deal with these wackos?" Joe Bill demanded crossly. "Stakes, cross, silver bullets?"
"Stakes and crosses are for vampires and silver bullets were for werewolves." Morgan corrected, allowing Levon and Esteban to help her up.
"Witches may have power but can still bleed. Kelly's people and Devan can deal with the coven."
Lundy didn't like how pale she was. "You still linked to Joe?" he asked softly, giving her some time to rest as they got outside the building.
"Barely. Enough to feel him but…this is stronger than it should be Levon." Morgan sighed, leaning against the Jimmy as several high tech motorcycles arrived. "Late as usual."
The lead biker said something under his breath as he took off his helmet. "We stopped by the precient and talked with Joann. She told us about some coven grabbing my less than favorite cop."
There had never been any love loss between the members of the Queens Court Raiders and many of the police officers in Houston. That hatred run deep but the dislike between the 'Raiders leader, Kelly Robinson, and Lundy's hotheaded partner was more like a friendly rivalry that started when Joe had told off the young merc via the telephone some months back.
"What's up?" Kelly asked, leaning forward on the bike to see his employer's face better. "Not good if you accessed those damn powers to find him."
"We find him tonight or it's too late." She returned firmly. "Feel like dealing with some would be witches?"
Kelly's long blond hair blew in the fall air as he grinned. "I said it once and I'll say it again. Nobody but me kills LaFiamma."
"Good backup." Joe Bill sighed, wincing as his skinny partner hit him in the ribs.
Only slightly more confident, Levon looked down at Morgan. "Can you tell where he's at?"
Morgan hesitantly frowned then closed her eyes and thought of the dark haired, green eyed Chicago native, feeling her mind go out slightly and got the images again.
"I…I can see a building. It's cold there, damp." She bit her lip as the pain increased. "He's alive and aware somewhat of what's happening."
"Try to get past that and give us an idea of where they are." Kelly urged, knowing it was risky to ask.
Again, the pain hit with a blinding light that nearly took her breath but Lundy's hand steadied her. "It's in a neighborhood or something. Buildings are close but not connected. People come and go but aren't aware of what's below…he's below ground. A school or something…I hear lessons or...No…lessons in protection at night."
"A night school?" Esteban frowned, shaking his head. "Don't sound right."
Morgan school slightly as she tried to see more. "It's his fear and pain. It's bloody hard to get past that but…oh damn." Her words drew off as she allowed herself to see the images she was getting and just accept the pain.
"Sugar?" Lundy didn't like any of this and was about to say something when his cousin gasped and fell against him, pain obvious as was the fear and shock. "What happened? Morgan, what did you see?"
"A priest. Makes bloody sense why most of the victims were runaways." She whispered, looking up at him. "The new shelter on Sandalwood drive for runaways or homeless. It's a cover."
The cops and mercs were silent. "Hell, Carol and I were there after the 3rd victim was found with their address in her pocket." Esteban stated thoughtfully. "It was run by a branch of Christians called the Church of God's…"
"Children and Hope." Robinson finished for him grimly, growling under his breath. "I just knew those jerks would come back."
McCandliss gave the younger man a look of surprise. "You know 'em?"
"Some pals of ours stumbled into them down in New Orleans a couple years back and it was a close draw as to who actually won." Robinson explained sourly. "Their leader was, at the time, a Reverend Isaiah Jones whom we thought had gone up in smoke along with their base."
Morgan was ignoring the talk going on around her. "Joe." She whispered, suddenly digging nonexistent fingernails into her cousins' arm. "The shelter is a cover for the group. They use it to find the best candidates for either sacrifice for conversion."
"Conversion?" Lundy repeated, furrowing his brow at that. "Like converting from Baptist to Catholic?"
"Try more like brainwashing hopeless kids into following them." Robinson amended, looking back slightly at one of his team. "Pat, Sammy's out of this one. I won't risk it again." He ordered his 2nd.
"The 'Raiders went to help some chums I worked with off & on with Jones' people. Sammy's original from New Orleans so he was perfect for undercover work but it got too close when we had to spend the next 6 months in rehab deprogramming him." Morgan explained softly, eyes going haunted again and she shivered. "We have got to…"
Lundy squeezed her hands gently. "We'll going to get LaFiamma back, sugar and we'll put this Rev. Jones down again too." He promised, figuring they were wasting times. "Joe Bill, radio Joann and let her know what's up. We'll need backup, probably some paramedics and…"
"A search warrant." Esteban reminded them grimly. "That shelter has city approval don't forget."
"We don't have the time to get a warrant." Morgan snapped. "I feel Joe getting weaker. Kelly!"
Robinson reached into his pocket for a pack of papers. "I'm sure I have an extra blank warrant here, plus we got authority when we arrived to handle whatever came so we're cleared to bust some caps."
"Kind of want to keep the city in one piece this time, kid." Joe Bill spoke dryly as he and Estaban headed for their car.
"Can't promise you that McCandliss." Kelly returned then spoke to Lundy. "You get the city boy out and leave Jones' to us."
The Houston cop knew what that meant but what bothered him more than the thought of turning the hyper active mercs loose were his cousin's eyes.
"Morgan, can you talk to Joe?" he asked, knowing how stupid that sounded.
"Been trying but he must be drugged or hurt cause all I get are dim whispers of what his life would be if he hadn't become a cop." She blinked and looked at him. "I'm losing him Levon."
Lundy knew how close the girl had been getting to his partner and he had been having serious doubts about that but now he was worried about what would happen if his friend didn't make it out of this.
"We're gonna get Joe, sugar. I promise." His hands clenched on the steering wheel and prayed that he hadn't just lied.
"Why we waiting out here and while kiddie patrol scouts the building?" McCandliss demanded in a whisper, hating to be just sitting around. "This is our case."
Lundy felt his cousin tense at this. "Kelly's people have more experience with stealth and surveillance Joe Bill." He replied in a tense whisper.
It hadn't taken long for them to arrive at the building that housed the HQ for the Church of Gods Children and Hope. What took longer was determining if any civilians were in there that could be endangered by their approach.
"The inside is clear as far as we can tell. There's a sign in the door stating gas problems caused them to close their doors in the protection of lives." Robinson rolled his eyes at that thought. "I figure they had to close up for the ritual. I know this is a police case but it is also outta your league."
Lundy accepted this. "We'll follow your lead so far Kel." He replied, looking at Morgan who had been getting paler. "Can you handle this?"
"No." Kelly answered firmly, his tone giving no room for discussion. "I want you and Sam to stay out here with Brian's team. Any stragglers deal with 'em but stay out of the building."
Morgan looked ready to argue with her subsidiary leader but finally nodded slowly. "Levon, be careful and remember, not everything you see or hear will be true."
"Great enthusiastic bunch we deal with." Joe Bill muttered, tapping Kelly on the arm. "She's got a link or something with LaFiamma. Why'd you make her stay outside?"
Robinson stayed silent as he stared at the night before finally turning back to the cops. "I didn't want her to come in because I'm not sure what kind of reaction she'd have if Jones is really here.
"In New Orleans, Sam wasn't the one who got hurt. While he took the worst mentally…the coven decided Morgan would be a good sacrifice. When we finally got through the grunts to the main ceremony room, she was on this alter, totally aware but drugged so she couldn't move…I don't want to face that again."
Lundy swore. His cousin was too good at keeping things quiet from him and he didn't like that. "Let's go."
"McCandliss, you and skinny go with Pat's team in the back door. Lee's team will come down from the roof and we go in the front." Robinson decided, double checking the .357 Desert Eagle Magnum he always used and looking back at Lundy. "You ready?"
"Been ready, Kel." Levon replied grimly, ignoring the cold chill he was getting. "How do you plan on getting in?"
Robinson smiled. He loved dealing with cops. They were just so cute when they asked stupid questions. "Like the 'Raiders usually go in, Levon. Fast, loud and deadly. Mr. McDowell, are we ready?"
The sandy haired British merc looked up from sticking a small detonator in the glob of gray putty like goo he had just smeared on the front door.
"Ready mate." He acknowledged, motioning his teammates back a few yards. "C-38 isn't a powerful as C-4 but with this much and the detonator I used it'll still be quite a show."
"Kelly, won't this alert the coven?" Lundy suddenly asked when the plastic explosives went off and things got lively. "Never mind."
The entrance was perfect. It gained them entry to the building and also got the attention of the enemy. Hopefully for long enough to stop the ceremony.
"Lundy! With me! The rest of you know what to do so do it!" Robinson snapped over the confusion, grabbing the cop's arm as several of the mercs broke away from fighting the coven's sentries.
Lundy wasn't real clear on what was going on but it seemed to be working. "You know what we're doing? Kelly!"
Robinson had been turning to reply when he ran into a mountain of flesh and his head slammed into a wall.
"Levon, keep going till you hit the basement!" Kelly called over his shoulder while picking himself up with a grunt to face the huge, blank eyed man. "I hate zombies worse than I do vampires. GO! Lee or Pat will meet up with you."
Not having any other choice but to leave the young man, Lundy pulled his Colt and continued slowly down the stone steps toward the basement.
He knew from the building records, this place had once been everything from a military post during the Texas revolution to a paper making factory but something still made his blood run cold the deeper he got.
"Levon." The voice was what stopped him after he heard it the 3rd time. He'd hit a small landing with more steps leading down when the voice called again and he finally recognized it. "Caroline?"
The Texan blinked, knowing what he heard and saw couldn't be true but it still made him falter. "Caroline…it can't be you?"
The vision of Caroline Lundy smiled as she always had as a long slim hand extended to her husband. "Darling, I can't stay long. It has been so long since that explosion killed me when it was meant for you."
The words made all the guilt he still felt triple as an ice cold hand reached to touch him. "The guilt Levon, hasn't it eaten you up enough? Join me, my love and we can..."
"'Not everything you see or hear will be what it seems.'" His cousins' soft warning rang in his ears until Levon opened his eyes to stare at his 'wife'.
He forced his mind to blank all thoughts of Caroline out, refusing the feelings he felt and concentrated on taking the next step down. "You boys must be pretty desperate if you're resorting' to using' my feelings against me." He called out loudly, feelings the chills fade as he went past that ghost and toward a few more.
Lundy knew now why it had been so important to keep Morgan away. Her thoughts and memories were still so raw at times; she wouldn't have been able to cope.
"Got a lot of guilt in me for a lot of things but I'm tired of this." Lundy snapped, raising the Colt and firing once and hearing a grunt as a black robed figure fell from the shadows. "Hate telepaths."
He heard sounds of gunshots and of McCandliss yelling to Esteban to be careful but soon Lundy hit the bottom step and could hear the deep droning sounds of chants.
Quickly he neared the door, took a deep breath and kicked in the basement door. "Police! Everyone…" he stopped in mid-yell, almost stunned by what he was seeing.
What should have been a small room was a huge stone chamber filled with large burning candles, silk drapes the color of blood, cages surrounding the outer walls and in the middle of this was a huge stone alter prepared for a blood sacrifice.
The room also was filled with about 10-20 black robed figures, while standing prominent on the alter with a large dragon shaped dagger was a huge black man with a shining bald head dressed in white with animal hides covering the robe as he prepared to use the dagger on the victim stretched on the alter.
"LaFiamma." Lundy breathed at the site of his partner laying still on the stone surface, covered only in a white sheet. His skin a deathly white and obviously injured yet he was still breathing and the Texan intended to keep it that way.
"Drop it 'Father'!" he snapped, raising the Colt in meaning and figuring the odds were REALLY stacked against him this time. "The police are here and you're getting shut down for good!"
Reverend Isaiah Jones just looked at the lone cop and laughed in a deep booming voice that seemed to echo throughout the cavern.
"Such bravado for one so foolish." His voice held a heavy island accent as he glowered at the cop with deep eyes that seemed to exude power. "You really don't know what you're doing boy. You cannot stop me now! I am on the threshold of gaining true power! With this mortals' death, the master will grant me all consuming power and I will be this planet's new God."
Lundy groaned silently. 'Great,' he thought sourly. 'Not only is he insane but he's insane with a following.' "Let my partner go Jones or I shoot!"
Jones just laughed, waving the dagger. "My children! Take this fool heathen so we may continue our passage into immortality!"
As the black robes began turning toward him, Lundy knew things couldn't get any worse for either him or LaFiamma.
"Damn those kids." Lundy swore silently, wondering what had happened to the 'Raiders. He knew he had a full barrel of ammo but couldn't possibly hope to stop all those robed goons.
"Levon, the talisman above the alter." A voice spoke in his head. "Shoot it! Now!"
Not sure why, but going on a gut instinct, Lundy raised the Colt and quickly fired 2 rounds at the golden talisman that hung above the alter and just prayed for the best.
"NOO!" Jones screamed at the talisman was struck and dropped from the ceiling. "Get it! Don't let it fall!!"
The robed followers turned from attacking Lundy to go after the talisman when a flash of light turned them back with pained screams.
The gold talisman fell toward the hard earth but was snatched up quickly as a body stepped from the light.
"Hello boys and girls." Devan McShayne greeted with a smile, giving Lundy a reassuring nod before turning to face the leader of the coven. "Hello Isaiah, remember me?"
Jones' look of quick fear turned to a sneer as he raised his hand. "I am not afraid you demon! I now have power of my own!" he made a motion and a bolt of dramatic lights flew from his fingers but dissipated as Devan lifted a finger with a grin. "HOW?!"
"Your power was a thing of your mind and also a whim of your master." Devan reported grimly, fingering the talisman before causing it to vanish in a burst of flame. "You will find Isaiah that your 'master' is a very fickle demon. If you disappoint him more than once you lose favor and you just lost that favor."
The former coven master looked around quickly then raised the dagger he still held. "Release me or I will kill this man."
"Damn." Lundy swore, looking quickly toward the boy warlock who seemed amused. "Devan, this isn't funny. Joe's life is at stake."
Devan shook his head as he easily approached the alter, looking firmly at the black man. "How will you kill him Isaiah?" he challenged coldly, snapping a finger. "Do you plan on killing this man with a simple garden snake?"
Both Lundy and Jones looked at that and the dragon shaped dagger had indeed turned into the rather large looking snake.
"NOOOO!" Jones dropped the dagger but the snake had curled around his arm and he fell off the alter in terrorized spasms.
"He's scared of snakes." Devan explained calmly, making the snake vanish at least to the normal eye. "Check on your friend Levon. Jones is my problem."
Lundy didn't choose to argue with that as he quickly made for the alter. The robed figures were now like mindless sheep mulling about. "Devan, what about them?"
Devan seemed oblivious to the followers then he sighed. "Some of them will need to be dealt with by my people but the others, the local authorities can handle once I make sure they don't remember any of this."
As Levon quickly got to where his friend was still laying on the alter, eyes open but unseeing. "Joe?" he called loudly, carefully easing his friend to a sitting position but got no response. "Joe!" he snapped.
Hearing the alarm in the Texan's voice, Devan turned from the convulsing Jones. "Hell Isaiah, what did you do?" He quickly made a motion that took him to the alter where Lundy was now getting more panicked.
"Kid, I thought you said this would be easy?" McCandliss was complaining as he, Esteban and several Queens Court Raiders finally appeared.
Kelly Robinson was wincing and checking his jaw. "Never…said anything about being easy…and oh shit, now what?"
Devan's blue eyes were flashing as he looked deep into Joseph LaFiamma's blank green ones before pulling back. "He's in a deep catatonic state."
"Coma?" Lundy stared at his friend.
"No, not exactly a coma." Devan sighed. "Stan can explain it better but in layman's terms your friend has retreated from the pain and fear and unless we can bring him out of it then he will die."
Lundy was cold. He couldn't believe any of this. All of this to save his partner and it could still be too late.
"What about Jones?" Robinson asked coldly, his eyes glaring at the man. "Mine?"
Devan motioned to McCandliss to help with LaFiamma as he stepped from the alter. "No. This time I will hand deliver what is left of his smoking carcass to my father and make damn sure he knows this will be the last time I deal with his little group of thugs."
All 3 cops heard this. "Your father?" Estaban blinked, wary. "Your father was behind…"
"Yes Detective Gutierrez, my father is the master that Jones was referring to." Devan acknowledged with a cold smile as he looked back at the know still black man and raised a hand that ignited a power that shook the basement room and a whole seemed to open in the floor and claw like fingers emerged to drag the screaming coven leader down into a fiery pit.
"You see, my father isn't your typical Dad. He didn't go baseball games or that. When your father is a 3000 year old demon lord and your mother is a casted out angel, it's a given that you spend most of your life playing mediator and keeping the peace.
"Kel, you need me anymore, yell." With that Devan vanished in a flash of light that left a slight echo and a very uneasy merc leader.
Kelly just raised his hand. "Don't." he urged, not needing all the questions right then. "Lets just get Joe topside and then I'll try to answer your questions."
A loud voice caused all the men to turn around as Sam Jefferson ran down the steps.
"Sammy, I thought I told you to stay outside with Morgan." Kelly sighed, wondering when he had lost control of his life.
The youngest of the 'Raiders, Jefferson was a pure Cajun born and bred with blond hair and blue eyes. Right then, he looked scared to death.
"You did Kelly, but…Morgan just collapsed and Stan can't get her to wake up."
"Devan!!" Kelly shouted as he bolted for the steps leaving his team to help with LaFiamma and wondered what the hell the girl did to cause this.
"Go through that one more time." Sgt. Levon Lundy urged, rubbing his eyes. All of this was getting to be a bit too much.
After using all his available power, Kelly Robinson had gotten them a secured section of Houston General and that was when things got weirder.
Devan McShayne was swearing in every language he knew and some he didn't.
"I told you that your partner was catatonic and if his mind didn't wake up soon he'd die. Well, I forgot that Morgan had a link to him. When she sensed the problem…the only obvious thing I can think of is that she either couldn't pull back or went in to pull him back."
Joann Beaumont had listened to her officers' tale and honestly didn't know to believe any of it but this was just too farfetched. "Are you seeing she went into his mind?"
Devan and Kelly exchanged looks. "She's a telepath. It's simple to do but being as how she's so close to Joe…I'm not sure how simple it will be to get her back." Devan murmured, looking down at the still form of his employer.
LaFiamma's condition was listed as stable but critical. His physical injuries were serious, several deep cuts and burns. Bruises but his mental injuries were what were bad.
"Alright. All I want to know if how do we get them back?" Lundy demanded looking between his cousin and friend before back at Kelly. "Call someone to help them."
Robinson winced, knowing who that meant. "Levon, the X-Men have had some serious problems as of late and we aren't on real good terms with…Levon."
The Colt aimed and cocked firmly as Lundy pointed it at the 'Raiders leader. "Find someone who can save both of them kid or I quit forgetting just how bad I hate you."
Neither the present mercenaries or the police in the private room knew exactly what to do as Robinson and Lundy exchanged glares.
"Kelly, I've sent Ginger to New York to see what they say but the one problem we have is that Morgan is immune to telepaths. They can't touch her." Devan spoke carefully before easing between the 2 glaring men. "Joe isn't and since he is at the root of our problem, it might be better to deal with him."
McCandliss had been silent. "Telepaths?" He repeated, frowning. "Aren't those fake?"
Devan rolled his eyes. "No but we might not need them. If Abby can do her job right."
"Who?" Lundy and Kelly both turned to look at him but the master mystic just sat down.
"A friend." He smiled, motioning. "Sit. This may take awhile depending on what is in LaFiamma's head."
Lundy blinked. "Someone else is Joe's head? Hell, there ain't much there to begin with." He muttered but did finally pull a chair closer so he could be between his cousin and his best friend.
'What if?' the question had been tormenting him forever. It hadn't been the first time that Joseph LaFiamma had asked that question himself or been asked. 'What if he had never been a cop?' 'What if he had taken another road?'
That question had certainly been the clearest since he lost consciousness and gave up trying to fight his captors. He knew without a doubt he was going to die. What got him what that he was going to be killed by demon lovers. Him, a nice old fashioned Catholic boy.
Catholic boy. He could remember going to church every Sunday, every mass. His mother and aunts had even talked once of him joining the Church. 'What if I had?' he asked himself as the drugs and pain drew him down.
Father Joseph LaFiamma could never recall loving anything more than when he had become presiding priest of St. Michaels in Chicago. He could remember coming here as a child.
Yes, it had been an inside joke in the seminary that he was working so hard to be a priest when the majority of his family had ties to the Mob or other illegal or immoral acts.
But despite those odds, he had won and become an ordained priest two years ago last May. Now as he walked through the main Church checking the pews to be sure all was ready for his next service when the front door opened letting in the fall chill.
"Joe?" his brother Tony was the only one who still called him that and sure enough it was his little brother he had entered.
"What's wrong?" Joe could read his brother's face easily since Tony had always been closest to him. "Tony?"
Anthony LaFiamma, at 23, was tall and slim with pure LaFiamma looks. The dark hair he wore longer than usual and deep green eyes. But he was also the one who attracted the most trouble.
Father Joe looked hard at his brother and could see the worry in his eyes. "I need help…Joe. Well, actually a friend of mine needs help. She's hurt and scared and I can't risk leaving her with any of the others because of who she is."
"You know the Church always welcomes those in trouble. What could be so bad that you would think I would turn a lost soul away?" Joe asked gently, seeing the ring on Tony's hand. The one he never wore when near their family. "Still working?"
Joe knew if having a Priest in the family was bad then having Tony and Michael working for the enemy was worse.
Two of his brothers worked openly for a local branch of an international corporation. Harrison Enterprises…that name brought pain...had ties to the government and had often been at odds with Joe's Uncle Mikey.
"Yes and its Morgan I've come to you about." Tony motioned him to follow him out the back door. "I had to park in the alley because of more than Mikey's snitches."
Tony's new blood red Ferrari was parked in the back of the Church. The younger LaFiamma quickly went around to the passenger side and opened the door, kneeling down and speaking softly in what Joe knew was German before glancing back at him.
"Father Joseph LaFiamma, my employer, Morgan Harrison." Tony eased back and Joe blinked suddenly, his blood going cold for some odd reason.
The young woman his brother had brought, Joe Knew, was in her mid 20's with auburn hair and blue eyes. Any of this was hard to tell by the amount of bruises and blood.
"What….what happened to her?" he demanded in a low tone, not sure why seeing this girl was making such a reaction in him. He had certainly seen his fair share of abuse cases, first as a uniformed…no that was wrong. He had never been a cop…always a priest.
"Job took us into the wrong area. Her cousin did this and it's him I have to deal with." Tony was gentle with her but Joe shook his head, "Go inside and get some ice. I'll help her."
His brother looked odd but didn't object as he went to do as he was told. Father Joe gently lifted the limp young woman into his arms and carried her inside the church as if he was holding fragile glass.
"Her cousin did this?" he asked Tony, unaware of how he was shaking as he laid the girl on the bed in his private chambers. "Why?"
Tony shrugged. "Way I got the original story, her cousin used to be a cop in Houston Texas until his partner got killed in some kind of bust gone bad and his wife died in a bomb meant for him. Well, I guess the bad blood between them goes to the fact that Morgan killed a few of Levon's buddies after one of them had raped her…Joe?"
Joe had to sit down. The pain he'd had for weeks was returning with a vengeance. "No…that's not right." He whispered, feeling for his cross under his shirt but felt something else in its place. A badge…No.
"You cool?" Tony asked in concern, going on. "Anyway, this job we had brought us into contact with Lundy and his new pals. After he quit the Houston force, he went into rodeo for awhile because he's a cowboy but soon fell in with some bad people, gun smuggling, drugs, hookers, etc.
"We shut 'em down but what I wasn't expecting was that Lundy would follow us back here to Chi Town. Last night I came back to the office and found her…" Tony trailed off as his fingers softly traced the girl's cheek in a way that Joe found VERY bothersome. "She was bleeding bad, whipped. God, you should see…Joe?!"
His brother seen Joe go pale before but never like this. "Maybe I should have risked Uncle Mikey."
"No. Go do what you have to." Joe shook his head. "She'll be safe here."
Tony nodded. "Mike or I'll be back but first I have to deal with Lundy."
After his brother left, Father Joe sat beside his bed and looked at this pale, fragile girl and relived what he'd heard. "Morgan." He breathed; fingers shaking as he lightly touched her cheek and felt her stir. "Dear Lord." He breathed, jerking back at his thoughts and hearing something in the Church. "Be back, babe."
Those words weren't lost on him and he pushed them out of his mind as he stepped out into his Church and looked at the tough looking Cowboy leaning on the alter. "Lundy."
The Cowboy shook his head. "So, little Tony's brother really is a Priest?" he laughed, taking the hat off to comb fingers through unruly blond hair. "Doesn't that go against the family code?"
Joe knew this man but couldn't say why. He just knew this was all wrong. "Yes, I'm Father Joseph LaFiamma, Sgt. Lundy but you don't want to do this act."
Lundy blinked then laughed. "Ain't been a cop in awhile now 'Father'." He replied bitterly. "Not since my last partner got killed. Now, I have nothing against priests but you have something that is mine and I want her."
Joe frowned at the tone, shaking his head. "No. She's under my protection. She's your family Lundy. How could you hurt her like this? Those things you were told were lies!"
Neither man answered right away and Joe wasn't sure why all this seemed so wrong to him. Concentrating so much, he didn't see the fist that hit him in the jaw.
"Damn him, always in the jaw." Joe swore then froze, not believing what he had said when the scream brought him up fast. "Lundy, stop this!"
Lundy turned to stare at him as if surprised. "You're stubborn for a priest." He chuckled, twisting the arm of the injured frightened girl he was holding. "But tell me 'Father', is she worth your time or trouble?" he asked sarcastically. "You mind your business Priest and I won't kill you but she's mine and nobody keeps that from me!"
"Leave...him be Levon. You hate me fine but Joey's done nothing but…" the girl collapsed as the backhand struck her and she fell between two pews.
Joe felt anger and reached for something on instinct and pulled the 2 Colt .45's from under his jacket. "Step back Lundy!" he snapped, barely aware when the other whirled and he fired until he dropped the guns and looked around him. "No, no, no. no." he groaned as the pain in his head and body made him fall to the floor. "This isn't….right."
"No Joseph, it isn't." a bright light came from the front of the Church and so did the soft loving voice.
Joe looked up through his pain to see the figure of a young woman step from the light dressed all in white, her lovely face framed by thick and long black hair with genuinely kind green eyes as she drew closer.
"Lord?" he blinked, sure this was the end when the woman knelt next to him and he saw her clearly. "Mother?"
Gabriella LaFiamma smiled at her eldest son, smoothing back his dark hair with a touch so familiar to him that it hurt.
"Yes Joey. Oh my poor baby. You are so confused aren't you?" she asked, looking around the Church. "You were right, this scene, this life isn't right because it isn't true."
Joe stared at her. "But, I'm a priest…no..." he stopped and groaned, looking down at his hand and seen the blood from his wounds. "Mother?!"
She gently took his face in her hands. "Joey, listen to me. This world is in your mind. You were hurt terribly recently and in an escape from that pain and fear you hid away from it, creating a world of illusions, of what ifs?
"Tell me the last thing you can recall before becoming Father Joe?" Gabriella asked gently.
"Pain. Got set up, drugged and…" Joe shut his eyes to ward off the memories until he looked up. "The coven. Lundy and I were looking for a serial killer but it went bad. I…was going to die Mother. A sacrifice and I couldn't fight the pain and drugs anymore. Am I dead?"
Gabriella laughed softly. "No, not yet but you are still in danger Joe. Clear your mind and take all this away."
Joe thought that was silly but had never defied his mother so he did as she said but when he looked up again the church was still visible but something was different. "What?"
"Joe, do you recall a voice in your dreams?" his mother asked softly, her mist green eyes looking down the aisle of pews.
He followed her look and froze. "Morgan." He whispered, looking back at his mother. "How?"
"All will be explained soon but what you need to do is face what happened to you and…go to her. She is the link to your life to your friends." Gabriella stood to go but looked back. "I love you Joey and don't ever think your father and I aren't proud of you."
Joe started to say something but stopped, blinking hard as his eyes misted then a soft moan got his attention. "Morgan?"
The Italian slowly moved to where the young woman was laying limp. With this change of memories, her injuries had gone away but she was still too pale for Joe's liking.
He was careful when he gently lifted her from between the pews into his arms, surprised by the emotions he was flooded with when he held her close. "C'mon baby, talk to me." He whispered.
Morgan didn't wake, just moved restlessly in his arms. "Home." She murmured softly. "Go home, Joe. Please."
"Yeah, babe. We're gonna go home." Joe winced as pain shot through him as he stood and looked around the Church, not knowing exactly how to go about getting them home but figuring the door would be a good start. "We're going home." He repeated, walking out the Church door and into a flood of light and sound.
"I said, shut the hell up and let me concentrate!" Levon Lundy's ticked off Texas drawl was the first thing Joe heard and it had never sound better. "LaFiamma, you in there yet?" he demanded loudly. "Joe?!"
Other voices filled the void, voices that seemed familiar but he couldn't quite place them yet.
"Kel, if you don't get that damn mystic outta my face I'm gonna call a vampire myself!" Lundy was snapping when a low, raspy chuckle made him whirl back around. "Joe?"
LaFiamma had to fight to make his eyes open but finally did so and looked up at his very worried partner. "Lundy, yelling…at Kel is my job." He rasped through dry lips. "You look like…hell, partner."
"I look…" Lundy stopped and couldn't help but laugh, first in relief then out of exhaustion. "If you think I look bad, pal you should see yourself." He returned dryly.
Joe could imagine that if he looked half as bad as he felt but then something else made him stop and reach for his partner's arm. "Lundy?"
"What?" the Texan was worried his friend was having a relapse or something as the Chicago native tightened his grip. "LaFiamma, what do you want?"
"I saw Morgan. Where is…" he stopped as his chest hurt and he had to let his breathing slow. "Is she o-kay? Here or..?"
Lundy smiled, stepping back slightly and kneeling down next to a chair close to his friend's bedside. "She's fine now, Joe." He assured the worried cop, and then lowered his voice as he gently nudged the sleeping girl's hand. "Hey sugar, wake up."
Morgan's eyes snapped open at her cousin's voice and she blinked sleep from her eyes to look at him only to see him nod toward the bed. "Joe?" she looked quickly. "Joey!"
Lundy was close if she fell since none of them were quite sure what had happened. Morgan couldn't or wouldn't say much when she had woke up just that it was over and then she had curled up in the chair beside Joe's bed to wait.
"Hi, babe." Joe relaxed the rest of the way but caught the way his partner was watching the girl as she got up too quickly. "Look better than he does anyway."
Several snickering mercs could be heard as Lundy restrained his comment. "Wait until you get outta here LaFiamma then I'll get you back for that." He warned, looking over at a humming medic. "Well?"
Stanley Blackwell shook his head and tossed a chart. "He's awake and picking fights with you. I say he'll be fine with some rest."
"And Morgan, Stan?" Kelly Robinson asked, eyeing his employer as she sat on the edge on Joe's bed still looking pale.
"Kelly, give a thought to how long she's been out and all she's went through. It'll be some time until either of them are over this fully." Stan rolled his eyes. "Be good kids while I go try to kick Devan out before someone we really don't want does show up."
Joe had listened to this before looking more closely at Morgan. She was pale, her blue eyes lacked the usual energy they had and her hands were shaking. "What happened?" he asked.
"Later LaFiamma." Lundy replied firmly. "When you're stronger I'll explain the whole mess, but…"
"BUT, you need to rest." Morgan finished, absently and unknowingly tugging at the blanket on his bed. "Stan said sleep and that's what you need."
Robinson rolled his eyes at Lundy before going in search of Joann Beaumont.
"Stanley said you need to sleep too, sugar." Lundy reminded his cousin, seeing her wince and tense. "Morgan, we both know what using those powers for so long does to you and the fact that you tried to put McCandliss out a 12th story window says how tired you are."
"Wish I could have seen that." Joe yawned, moved warily to test what was going to hurt. Much to his and Lundy's surprise, not as much as should have.
The Texas native looked at his partner before turning a deep frown on his cousin. "Damn it Morgan! Are you trying to court Death or what?" he demanded in a low harsh whisper.
"No, but I figured if I used one power I may as well use another and take some of the pain away." Morgan murmured, casting her eyes down at her cousin's voice deepened. "Levon…"
"Lundy, back off." Joe caught his friend's eyes and held them. "Leave her alone."
Joe yawned and winced. "Damn, I still feel bad but at least I'm feeling something." He stated, moving carefully in the bed as if still testing his injuries but he had moved slightly over to one side.
"I better go throw Dev out before Kelly does." Morgan started to move when Joe's hand caught hers and Lundy shook his head. "Levon, Joe needs sleep and I…I need to throw my mystic out…"
The girl yawned absently and wasn't really aware of the look that passed between the two partners.
"Sugar, you stay with LaFiamma and I'll go throw out your boys." Lundy replied gently. "All of them."
"Leave the…the 'Raiders." She murmured, sleep coming quickly as her eyes closed. "I'll sit with Joe but…not going…to sleep."
LaFiamma grinned. "Sure babe. Whatever you say." He met Lundy's eyes. "Your choice Lundy."
"Damn." Lundy knew what a job it was to get Morgan to sleep when she didn't want to go and he knew right then she was asleep but if he moved to lay her in the other bed she'd be up again. "Stan won't like this and Kelly will probably have a minor stroke but…." He cursed silently but finally nodded. "She can stay with you until I get back from kicking the boys out."
The Chi Town native nodded his thanks, also knowing the young woman wouldn't sleep if they woke her up.
Morgan was curled on her side next to Joe, still giving him enough room to move without waking her, and she was sleeping peacefully.
LaFiamma laid still to listen as his partner hit the hall and began shooing mercs and cops alike out before looking next to him, wondering if he would ever know or understand all that had happened to him and what exactly part Morgan had played.
"She's a witch?" Joe scoffed, looking at his partner as if he had just grown another head or three. "Yeah Lundy and I'm a little green man."
Levon Lundy knew his partner wouldn't accept this but also knowing Morgan had been avoiding Joe for days just for this reason.
"LaFiamma, I told you my cousin was different than most girls. Well, I meant different. Not in only her self confidence or her lifestyle but different, different."
Joe lay back on the pillows of his bed thoughtfully. It had been a week since he'd woke up and had caught the odd vibrations now whenever Morgan was close. Also that for the last few days, she'd been working hard at staying away from him.
"While I was in that place Lundy, I could hear her." He spoke quietly, as not wanting to admit it. "At first I thought it was just the drugs and pain, but then the longer it went…I could hear her. Almost feel her and before I woke up. I had this vision and in it…it was so weird."
"LaFiamma, I can't tell you what to think or stuff. She's the same girl you met before but if this will change how you look at her or feel toward her…" Lundy paused to shrug when they both heard the knock.
"Levon?" Morgan Harrison had argued violently with Kelly Robinson about coming to Joe's apartment. "She knew by now either her cousin or McCandliss had told him about what had been going on or that Joe probably knew or suspected she wasn't what he thought she was. "Levon?"
Lundy had his hat in hand as he came down the steps, pausing briefly to kiss her cheek. "Thanks for coming sugar. I just need someone to sit with him while I go down to the station and finish up some reports." He spoke quickly before she could argue. "Stan will be by in a little bit. Bye. LaFiamma be good and I'll bring some of Chicken's ribs back with me!"
Morgan couldn't get her voice working fast enough as her cousin slammed the door and she was stuck. She knew that Stan didn't want LaFiamma on his own for a few more days cause he was still weak but this…there was no way in Hell this was going to work.
She paused helplessly, looking around at the loft. It was clear Esteban and legs had been by because the apartment was clean. So, that threw that excuse out the window.
"You going to pace a hole in my rug, chew your lip off or just bite the bullet and come up?" Joe called down lightly, almost picturing what the girl was doing by her silence.
Cautiously Morgan climbed the steps to the upstairs bedroom, warily looking toward the bed. "Hi."
"Hi yourself." Joe eased himself into a better position and winced. "Damn, Stan and I will have to talk about his idea of taking it easy."
LaFiamma looked better than he had. His injuries were healing quickly. He was just weak from blood loss and the shock. Also, mental mind trips weren't easy on a beginner.
"Stanley says pretty soon you can be mobile full time. Not exactly working which is ticking Levon off since he hates the 'Raiders hanging around so much but…" she shrugged uneasily, eyes moving quickly and rapidly to look at anything but him. "Maybe a change in scenery could help. Levon's got lots of room. You could stay at the ranch."
"Me and Lundy under one roof?" Joe scoffed, leaning back and stretching to far and hissing as pain shot through his ribs.
Morgan whirled at his voice. "Joe?! What's wrong?" she demanded, forgetting herself and moving closer to see if he was alright. "I'll buzz Stan; he can be here…huh?"
"No." Joe reached over to take the phone off her. "I'm fine, just stretched too far. You've been avoiding me?"
"No, of course not." She laughed; starting to move away from froze at his touch. "Joe, please."
"Four days Morgan. 4 days and you've 'been busy'." Joe snorted, holding her wrist loosely but turning it when he seen the red mark. "What happened?"
The girl tried to jerk free but suddenly didn't have the strength. "Stupid accident. I wasn't paying attention one day and dropped a jar and it shattered."
"You're weak." Joe knew that. "Lundy says you're not sleeping again. Why?"
"Nerves, business trouble…you." Morgan looked away. "Levon told you."
Joe knew what she meant. "About you? Yeah, he mentioned something about it. Then McCandliss had been ranting about McShayne, flashing lights, you having seizures because you hooked a link with me and that you finally slipped under. Nothing much." He shrugged.
Morgan bit her lower lip. "That all?" she asked softly, recoiling automatically when he touched her arm.
"Hey, wait a minute. Morgan, you avoiding me because you're scared of me?" Joe was stunned. "You think I'd hurt you?"
"Joe, you knew about Zach and some vampires, you met Devan but you weren't prepared for anything like this." Morgan sighed, looking back over her shoulder at him. "The short of it, my father was a warlock. I inherited his powers, several of my family members through adoption are witches and by act of birth I was given powers which grant me certain other powers like telepathy and what not. I also have an odd sort of power that allows me to heal people, not myself but that works well.
"The powers are usually and carefully buried because I don't use them unless I have to. This time, to save you, I had to. I was avoiding you because I wanted to tell you this but I needed to be calm to get through it. When Levon returns, the boys are I are leaving. I won't be back to Houston. If anything requires attention, Kelly will come back."
"I see." Joe kept his voice level as he stared at her back, noticing the tremors going through her. "Why're you leaving?"
A bitter laugh surprised him. "Because I'm a freak, Joe. Didn't my cousin mention that?"
"No, he didn't and if he had I probably would have slugged him." LaFiamma declared, sitting up and casually moving the back of her hair aside to expose her neck and shoulders. "Someone try to hurt you Morgan?" he asked carefully. "Cause of these powers?"
"Mutants or freaks are always feared and hated Joe. Nothing new." She muttered, jerking as he touched her neck. "Joe?"
He noticed the bruises on her neck and figured they were from trying to work out the knots in her muscles. "You aren't a freak." He corrected softly, lightly brushing the bruises with a finger.
"Got a new term Sgt. LaFiamma?" Morgan asked, determined to get through this without tears but he wasn't playing fair. "Believe me Joe, I have heard them all."
"Beautiful, successful, caring, intelligent. Got a million of them, babe." He leaned closer to softly kiss the base of her neck and felt her tense slightly then relaxes. "Want to hear more? I have resourceful, stubborn, adorable, gentle, sexy…don't like that one?"
Morgan closed her eyes to concentrate. "I'm not and you aren't playing fair Joe. You know I can't think when…when you do that."
"Do what?" he teased, again kissing her neck, then her shoulder. "You may be different but that does not make you a freak. Kelly's a freak."
He heard her giggle at that and then felt the pain in his ribs again. "Damn." He hated to lie back because he knew once he lost contact with her she'd probably bolt.
"Broken ribs take time to heal." She admonished him gently, before slowly turning back to face him. "You…don't…hate me?"
"Hate you?" he laughed until he seen her eyes. "Is that what this is about? You think I'd hate you? Morgan, I put up with Super Merc, your overly hyper protective cousin and a bunch of vampires for you. I don't think some powers will change what we have."
Morgan looked at him oddly. "What do we have Joe?"
"I heard you in my mind when I was hurt…no Morgan." He caught her hand. "I felt you, your thoughts and your heart when you were sleeping beside me in the hospital. I can sense your fear now. We're friends. If we ever become more than that, it'll be your choice. It's your choice what we are right now too."
"My choice?" she repeated unsure of that. "What does that mean Joe?"
The dark haired Italian looked at her then smiled. "It means it is your choice if we stay as we are."
"As we are means no kissing?" she asked softly and frowned at his nod. "I don't like that Joe. I like…your kisses."
Joe smiled at her, reaching out to touch her cheek. "It means we can go for dinner, sometimes even without Lundy, maybe to a movie."
"What else?" she asked warily, a fear he had seen before coming into her eyes. "Joe, I…"
"Your choice if we ever make love. I won't rush you or hurt you. Hell, your cousin and those boys would kill me." Joe declared with a mock groan, relieved to see her eyes lighten again.
Morgan looked down as his fingers curled with hers. "You hungry? I can make soup."
"No." Joe kept watching her eyes as he caressed her face. "I want you. Just let me hold you Morgan." He amended quickly, seeing her eyes go wary.
"If I do, I'll go to sleep." She argued.
"No joke Sherlock. That's what I want." Joe grinned at her look. "You're tired, I'm tired and Lundy won't be back until LATE if Kelly did what I told him to and misplaced the files."
The girl stared at him then laughed. "He'll slaughter you if he finds out. Joe, I don't want to hurt Levon and he's…"
"A pig headed over protective jerk?" Joe finished for her. "Yeah I know that babe. "Lundy and I will talk and I think he knows I like you a lot."
"How much?" she asked suddenly when he gave a slight tug on her hand and pulled her closer. "Joe?"
LaFiamma gently put a finger on her lips. "A lot." He repeated, not holding her until he seen if she wanted to stay with him. "Morgan?" he looked down after a few minutes to see that she had curled up in his arms and was sleeping with her head lying on his shoulder. "I love you." He whispered against her hair, closing his eyes and going to sleep.
"Kelly, I hate you." Lundy was tempted to slug the smirking mercenary leader after he learned who had misplaced all the files for this case.
Robinson shrugged and put the box of food on the kitchen table. "I was following orders Levon."
"Yeah, orders. I'll give him a few orders." Lundy muttered, going up the steps to check in on his partner and cousin when he stopped at the top step.
LaFiamma was asleep soundly for the first time since his release from Houston General and the Texan noticed his friend was relaxed in his asleep with the only movement being his hand unconsciously moving through Morgan's auburn hair.
Lundy looked at his cousin lying in his partner's arms, sleeping peacefully for the first time in days. He knew she was asleep because she didn't feel him approach to carefully lay the quilt over them. "Night sugar." He murmured, feeling LaFiamma still.
"Go back to sleep Rambo. We'll deal with this later." Lundy looked back before going back downstairs to see Kelly watching him curiously. "So Kel, you want to call Zach or should I?"
Robinson groaned and slumped on the couch, muttering about how much he hated Texas in the summer and leaving Lundy to laugh softly. "Kel, has he ever seen her really mad?"