"He traced my name," Indy grimaced, still poking through computer files in Schaefer's laptop. It was almost two p.m., and he'd only been awake for four hours. Yesterday had been frantic. Then sleep had devoured the time left in the day plus the entire night . . . "There was a discrepancy in some of the dates that set him off. Damn, I thought I fixed that -"
"He found a picture." Gabriel held up an old black-and-white photo as he rifled through Aaron's desk. Indy saw himself and his father smiling out of it, on either side of Marcus and Sallah. The four who had gone in search of the Grail.
Indy reached for the picture, and gazed at familiar, long-dead faces. "Even though we 'failed' in our search for the Grail, there was quite a lot of publicity. I thought I burned all of it – newspaper articles, archives. I guess I missed a few things." He grimaced. He was at heart an archaeologist; it went against everything he was to destroy history.
Gabriel shrugged, pushing wavy hair back from his face. "You were quite a noted scholar at the time," he said quietly. "Your colleagues probably knew where you were going and wanted to know what you were up to. And they kept private notes, and news articles, and such. There was no way you could have erased all sign of what happened."
Indy deleted a few more computer files, biting the inside of his cheek. "I guess you would know," he said at last.
The hunter laughed.
It was strange, Indy reflected. Michael had never been this warm or open, though he'd only met the other entity for a short time. It seemed to him that Gabriel was more alive, more human, than his brother could ever be. And he was glad for it.
"No, wait – look at the date on this," Indy said softly, attention ensnared by the computer files. "It's old. Years old." A horrid sinking feeling weighted his stomach.
Gabriel peered over his shoulder at the laptop's screen. "All the Grail research is," he noted, looking over the harddrive's log. "No wonder he was so desperate to make you talk."
"What?" Indy twisted, trying to read the other man's expression.
Powerful shoulders lifted in a casual shrug. "He bargained his soul to open up the gateway."
"And he thought the Grail could save it," Indy put the pieces together. He might have been a little out of his depth when it came to miraculous beings and the war between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness, but he understood people. "He planned all of it in advance. He was trying to double-cross the devil."
"That's all you have to say?" Indy bit down on a laugh, pulling up older documents. He was going to take a magnet to the harddrive as soon as he was done here.
Gabriel sifted through more papers, setting some off to the side. "It's been tried before," he said absently, reading something that had Aaron's loopy handwriting all over it. "Usually by the clever or the foolish. Look at this."
Looseleaf paper, filled with lines of writing. Gabriel tapped one paragraph in particular, and Indy read.
'I believe it was a publicized failure, to conceal their success. The only question is, what did they do with it? None of the men came back with the Grail. It wasn't passed down to their descendants; only the Egyptian had any to be concerned about. It gave them the power to live forever.
'I am going to find it. It must be hidden – and Henry Jones Jr. knows where. It is a gift from the devil that he's here, in my grasp. And I'm going to use it. Now that I know the tales of the holy relics are true, then it must follow that the legends of my family are true as well. If the Black Mass can confer incredible power, and if it is a rite that will bring power beyond imagining . . . I will have it.'
"Legends. About the Black Mass." Indy set the paper down, and met comforting hazel eyes. "God."
Gabriel shook his head in frustration. "There's a few more drawers here, but more files on the computer, probably."
Indy leapt back for the keyboard, typing and searching. Half an hour was lost to the screen, and the few windows that he pulled up didn't clear his confusion. Rubbing tired eyes with latex-covered fingers, he sat back. "Find anything?"
Gabriel was putting papers back into the desk, and he shut the final drawer with a sigh. "Just a few things that detail his suspicions about you. Some notes on the Grail that should be destroyed. What more was on the computer?"
"I found the legends about the Black Mass," Indy shrugged. "A lot of it just looks like propaganda. "And -" he reached for the mouse. "And what looks like a family tree."
"Wait. Scroll back up," Gabriel snapped, leaning over the archaeologist's shoulder. Surprised, Indy went up, and froze when the hunter hissed. "Pardoe."
"What do you know about them?" Indy probed. The names were foreign to him.
"Kevin and Louisa Pardoe," Gabriel said, matching up the dates. A finger drifted close to the computer screen, but didn't touch. "They lived in Boxborough, Massachusetts, until spring of 1889. When they left the town was the last I knew of them. But if they passed down these – tales – to their children. . . they were more dangerous than I realized."
"They were Aaron's maternal great-grandparents. The name lasted until Aaron's mother was married, just after the second World War," Indy mused.
"It's all direct-line descendants," Gabriel noted, going further and further up the tree. "No branching, and no more relatives than necessary. There has to be more family than this."
"He's protecting them." The implications were enough to make him sick. Indy swallowed hard, staring at the screen. "There's no way of knowing how many more people are aware of the Black Mass. Not from just this."
"With luck, they'll give it as much credit as Schaefer apparently did, before he found out about the Grail," Gabriel said grimly. Meaning, none at all. But hazel eyes didn't believe the hope.
"What are we going to do about it?"
Gabriel started, then shot him a small smile. "Nothing."
Gabriel rubbed a weary hand over his face, and began to explain. "We don't know who these people are, or even where. It would be difficult to find them; why do so if there's no certainty that they even believe these stories?"
It sounded thin to him. Indy narrowed his eyes, and studied the hunter. Gabriel still looked tired. Some of that was doubtless from . . . whatever had happened. As far as he could tell, Michael had gone to sleep, and Gabriel had woken up. As for summoning the weapon – Gabriel spent his spirit like coin to protect the peoples of Earth. So his body was still tired from the previous day, even though his soul had been . . . elsewhere. Indiana didn't think about it too closely. "Fine."
Gabriel relaxed; and the archaeologist got his answer. Whatever might happen with this, it was the hunter's mission alone.
To tell the truth, he wanted no more part of death. For seven years, he'd tried to help by being a policeman. He'd spent time the previous day tendering his resignation letter.
"Is there anything else?" Gabriel asked.
"Just let me wipe the harddrive clean, and we'll be ready to go." Magnet in hand, Indy poked through plastic casing, searching for the disk encoding the computer's memory.
"Good." Gabriel stripped off latex gloves, flexing his fingers. They had license to be here, and go through Aaron's things – but there would be few ways to explain if they left prints where they shouldn't be. And all of them were extremely unpleasant.
Indy opened the doors on the way out, closing them carefully before yanking off his own gloves. He scrubbed sticky palms against his jeans, grimacing at the powdery plastic sensation that lingered on skin. Sliding behind the wheel of his police car, he skimmed his fingers along the wheel, waiting. "Back to the station?"
Gabriel nodded. "I have a few things to clear up before I head out of Chicago."
Indy turned the key, and the car flared to life. He understood; he was planning to do the same himself. He pulled out of the driveway, hanging a quick right before a stream of cars left them trapped. "How long are you staying?"
"I'm leaving tonight."
It was soon, and sudden. He was accustomed to it, but sometimes he wished he had a little more time with the people who now made up his family.
"How's your father?" Gabriel asked suddenly.
Indy grinned, weaving around a slow-moving Oldsmobile and its elderly driver. "He's good. I called him last night. He's got a few plans for underwater excavation of Tartessos."
"The Iberian Peninsula, in Andalusia," Indy confirmed, warming to the topic. "It was a harbor city from at least 1000 BCE. He wants to look deeper and see if the ties to Atlantis are more validated than current theory projects." A thought hit him, and he gave his passenger a sideways look. "I don't suppose you'd know anything about that?" He had to slam on the brakes as someone cut him off.
"Tartessos?" The innocent look was belied by the smirk that followed, but Indy wasn't fooled. Gabriel just grinned. "Every sunken city is believed to be Atlantis. At least until someone finds a new one."
Unable to argue with something that was a basic fact, Indy shook his head. The near pile-up drifted back into the flow of main traffic; instead of following, he pulled into the station parking lot. "Dad's heading out next month."
"Are you going to go with him?"
"Maybe next trip," Indiana said evasively, unbuckling his seatbelt. "This one's bound to keep him occupied for at least the next three years."
"That's not long," Gabriel noted absently. "Tempus fugit."
Indy snorted. "No shit."
It surprised an answering grin out of the hunter, before the Captain saw that they'd both come back and hustled them off to his office to find out what the hell was going on. After experiencing fifteen minutes of hell in the form of the most thorough debrief he'd ever been subjected to, with the added promise of more later, Indy was freed to find solitude in his office.
Crouching in his chair, he tried to take in the idea that they were done, and the case was solved. For once, they'd caught the bad guys, and true justice had been carried out. Indy trusted the law – but it wasn't infallible. And its faults costs lives, sometimes.
But not this time.
He woke up his computer, and pulled up his resignation letter. Once the details were wrapped up with this case, he was giving his two-weeks' notice. Printing it out, he signed the paper and folded it into an envelope. That went safely into a desk drawer, and Indy turned his attention to the open file on his desk; the file was renamed now with Schaefer's name. Indy didn't bother to find out whatever macabre moniker the dayshift had dubbed the serial child rape-murders. He honestly didn't want to know.
A noise at the door pulled his attention from the file. Gabriel leant against the doorjamb, hands comfortably tucked in his pockets. The black hair was tied back once more, and hazel eyes were calm.
It was a ritual they'd observed every time they parted, in one form or another. "You headed out?"
"See you around," Indy offered. And they both knew he would. It was just a question of when. Time was tricky that way.
Gabriel inclined his head, hazel eyes locking on grey with the steadiness of promise. "Sure thing."
It was eerily close to what Michael had said, yet uniquely his friend. Indy smothered the shiver and managed a smile before the hunter walked out the door. And was gone.
A/N: This one goes out to all my great reviewers for putting up with my abysmal delays and encouraging me every step of the way! This wouldn't be done without you! Want proof? Kudos to trecebo for catching the (now fixed) typo in this chapter:)