Thanks guys, I'm really happy to have spooked you. This is the last part of the story and I admit it, I've gone mad. This is a slight X-over with "the young riders" (don't ask where the idea comes from, I don't even know why I did it!). The parts in italic are for the flashbacks.
Anyway, enjoy the story and let me know what you thought! It is always greatly appreciated.
Such a lovely place
Part 2: back in time
The walls around them solidified once again, enclosing the couple, trapping them in a world where the rules they knew didn't exist anymore. Brennan stood in the middle of the bedroom, frozen. Ghosts That was something he didn't want to deal with. It reminded him too much of his mother and the childhood stories she had told him. Stories about his great great-grand mother and the people she used to work with. He knew his fear was irrational. He had seen thing far more scary in his time with Mutant X. Yet, the feeling was deeply ingrained in his mind, like a reflex. Shaking his head, he reported his attention on the room.
The rocking chair wasn't moving anymore. The music and the light cracking sound of the wooden floor had vanished leaving the place deadly silent. All they could hear was their uneasy breathing. The light provided by the candles flickered a little as if wind was blowing in the room; but there wasn't even a breeze. The psionic shivered slightly as she felt a cold rush of air brushing against her spine. Her eyes closed briefly, willing the fear away, but it was useless. Every time she managed to push it out of her mind, Brennan would unconsciously send her a fresh ripple of anguish. Another shiver went through her and her decision was made. A protective shield spread and surrounded them, giving the couple some much-needed peace.
Emma's eyes swept across the place, trying to find something, a clue that hadn't been there on their previous visit; but it was as if her memory of the place had been wiped clean out. Her gaze fell on the nightstand. A picture, encased in a silvery frame, was resting there. On it, a little girl was smiling at her, mouthing silent words. Though she could not hear them, she felt the words and it made her grip her companion's arm. "Tell him. Don't fear the truth."
Brennan winced slightly as he felt the iron grip of Emma's hand on his arm. Looking down at her, his fear skyrocketed, despite her shield and the soothing feeling she was sending him. Her face was ghostly white; her lips were trembling and her eyes were glued on a picture resting on the nightstand. The same little girl they had seen in the living room with slightly longer hair was there, smiling. Around her neck, there was a golden pendant he knew too well. It had belonged to his mother and it was currently around his neck. It was his turn to pale and shiver. The implications were simply unthinkable.
Carefully, as if the frame could burn or poison him, he took it before sitting in the rocking chair. For a reason he couldn't figure, he was attracted to the old wooden chair. Instinctively his right foot set a rhythm for the seat. The rocking motion seemed to awake the music for it started oozing through the walls again. His free hand reached for the pendant and got it out. Without a second thought, he ripped the worn leather holding it and rested the small piece of metal on the picture close to the smiling face of the little girl. The Chinese letters had worn with time but they were still recognizable; patience, strength, wisdom and love. He had clung to that little metallic piece during the worst moments of his life. It was a part of him, the only memory of his family and what they had fought for.
Emma watched her best friend, lost in his memories. She had often wondered about the Chinese coin hanging on a leather rope around his neck. Sometimes, he would play with it while reading; other times, he was staring at it as if it could give him answers. But he had never taken the time to explain what it meant to him. She could have read him. But it would be unfair to him. Their already too strained friendship would not resist such an imbalance. The psionic breathed deeply. She had the feeling that the secret he had kept from her had led them in that situation. The young woman kneeled in front of him and put her hand on one of his knee to gain his attention. Her friend looked down at her with a slight smile, perfectly knowing that it was time for some explanations.
"This medal belonged to my great-great-grandmother. Her husband won it for her in a poker game with a Chinese trader. The four signs on it somehow became the motto of our family. Love, patience, strength and wisdom. It's the only thing I've got left from my mother or my family for that matter. She gave it to me before dying."
Emma took his hand and squeezed it, waiting for him to go on. She knew how hard it was for him to talk about her and the little time he had had with her.
"The people you see on the picture are my great-great-grandparents, Louise and James and the little girl, Peyton Micheals, is my great-grandmother. They changed her name so that their past would not catch up with her. I think that this house belonged to them. This is such a twisted Christmas present."
Emma watched him for a few seconds before taking the newspaper from his hand. She got up and sat crossed legs on the wooden bed. She watched him for a few seconds, wondering what she should do. Brennan couldn't react. She could feel him remembering his mother, getting lost in his memories and pain. He could not help her; she would have to find a way out on her own. She opened the journal carefully. The yellow paper was so old, it crisped under her fingers. On the front page, the news of the death of a town marshal named James took most of the place; it explained how he had been shot in the back during a poker game. As she went through the paper, she felt sorrow and a deep sensation of loss settling in her soul. Something unusual she had felt only once, when someone had taken over her mind.
She didn't realize it when Brennan came to sit beside her. But when his arm circled her shoulder in a comforting way, she found herself transported to a place in time where she didn't belong to.
The warmth of the sun struck her as she found herself in the middle of a dirty road on a horse with carriages and people going past her. Her surrounding was strangely familiar and the clothing of people around her was old and dusty according to her standards. It took her several seconds to realize that her horse was trotting and that another rider was by her side. When she turned her head, she found him watching her, a slight smile playing on his lips. She returned the smile, noticing how her companion watched her, how his deep brown eyes seemed to search hers for all the answers, for love. Brennan's ancestors. The two men had the same eyes; eyes that made her shiver with anticipation and… love. The thought struck her like a lightning bolt.
Before she could utter a single word, her surrounding changed again. This time she was peering into a cloudless blue-sky, the smell of wildflowers drifting her way. She was lying on the soft grass with a soft breeze making her skirt float. The sensation felt amazing, especially for her. It was so unusual to wear a dress. A shadow hovered above her, darkening the sky. Another smile tugged at the corner of her lips. The psionic closed her eyes knowing what was about to come. Butterflies rose in her stomach, reaching her heart, gripping at it with a gentle strength. Anticipation. When soft lips touched hers, she felt like she had waited a lifetime to feel such sensations. Callous fingers brushed her cheek when their lips parted.
"Lou, Lou… Louise? Are you still with me?"
She nodded before kissing him again. But she didn't have the time to enjoy the feeling.
She was caught back in dizzying spirals that lead her back to the bedroom beside Brennan. The elemental was eyeing her curiously, wondering what had happened to make her blush like that.
"Emma? What happened?"
She carefully took his hand of her shoulder and got up from the bed, not trusting her instincts if she stayed close to him. She started pacing frantically, trying to figure what had happened. Were they trying to show her something?
"Brennan, what do you know about your ancestors?"
"Em, what happened?"
"Don't answer my question with another question. You know how much I hate that habit. What do you know?"
He came to stand beside her, near the window, and tried to take her in his arms. But Emma evaded his embrace wrapping her arms around her in a protective gesture. She was not supposed to be able to see and feel things while touching objects. It was unsettling, scary. She was nearly afraid to touch something in the room. And why was she seeing things from Brennan's family past? Did it have a connection to their situation? Did it have a connection to the feelings she had kept hidden so carefully?
"Not much. The only thing I know is that one of them was killed during a poker game. My mother never talked about them. Why, Emma?"
She nervously rubbed her arms. She knew she should tell him what had happened during those few minutes.
"I saw things from your family's past. And that's not a part of my ability. Maybe it's because I touched that newspaper. I don't know. I just want to get out of this place."
The young woman's last sentence was muffled against his chest as he wrapped her in his arms. Emma instinctively wrapped her arms around his neck, trying to find reassurance that the vision would not return. It didn't come back; the only thing she felt was Brennan tightening his grip on her.
The firelight shined on her face as they sat close by on the tree trunk. It was just another ride, nothing out of the usual. But still, he couldn't help but feel that things were starting to change between them. It was not about big stuff; it was in the smiles they exchanged, how their eyes locked every now and then, how they waited for the other to come back from a ride without letting it show, how they would always end up in the same meadow when they were stressed or worried about something. She seemed to understand the weight he was carrying everyday. And often, he had found himself looking for her presence when the burden became too heavy to carry alone. And tonight, he was just happy to be with her.
"You are a better man than you give yourself credit for Jimmy."
Their eyes locked. He couldn't believe what she was saying; it was too good to be true. Yet, she knew him better than anyone else; she knew things about his past he had never shared with anyone else. His hand went to her cheek, lovingly cupping it. He was in love. The truth hit him like the hoof of a horse in the middle of his chest.
"Bren, Brennan? Are you ok?"
Emma's voice filtered through the haze, bringing him back to reality. He blinked a few times before releasing her. If it was what she had seen minutes earlier, he understood why she had been so troubled. It was scary, frightening. Experiencing someone else's feelings was not something he liked. His shocked silence gave her all the answers she needed. He had seen similar things.
"You saw it too?"
He sat back on the bed, holding his head in his hands, trying to find a logical explanation. There was no need for that; she could read him well enough. His only worry was to find a way out before the visions could cause them any harm. Or worse, they could force him to recognise the feelings he had kept hidden. Looking up, he saw Emma leaning close to the window, her fingertips following the droplets. The clock ticked away the seconds, then the minutes as he watched her. A sense of familiarity struck him. Without realizing it, he came closer, the sound of his steps muffled by the carpet. One of his arms slid around her waist while the other simply rested on her hand tracing the rain pattern with her. Emma didn't react. After a few minutes, he felt the urge to speak but he couldn't. The sight outside the window had changed.
The day was bright and sunny. The street below them was swarming with people who were preparing a fair. The excitement of the little town around them was palpable and it made her feel slightly light-headed. The contact of the man holding her was not helping at all. His breath tickled her cheek pleasantly, calling back her attention.
"We'll have to tell them eventually. I know you're afraid about their reaction(s). But…"
He had not mentioned their common friend. It was not a subject they usually talked about. She kissed his cheek gently. He was right. They had to tell the others that they were leaving to move into the new town and that they had married barely hours ago. It would surprise some of their friends; it would deeply hurt others. But it was their choice. The choice of a new life, a new love, and a chance to build something better away from troubles.
"I love you Jimmy."
"I love you too and I will love you till the day I die Louise."
Their lips met for a gentle kiss that soon turned passionate. The couple left the window side, stumbling toward the bed.
The feel of his lips on hers, the slick wetness of his tongue roaming her mouth felt so unlike what she had experienced a few minutes earlier. The contact was soft, yet so urgent and demanding she wanted to give up analysing. It was real. The thought awoke her to the real world. And for the first time since coming in the house, she realized someone was inside her mind. It was not another psionic; she would have felt him or her before. No, it was the lingering presence of someone else's mind. A person who had the power to make her see or do things. Brennan was not kissing her, neither was she. This was just a re-enactment of a scene that had happened years ago.
Emma abruptly ended the kiss and opened her eyes only to find Brennan's face scant inches from hers; his body weighing down on her, restraining her breathing, his heat accelerating her already too fast heartbeats. Their entwined fingers were gripping at the headboard and when she tried to move them, he tightened his hold on her, pressing his body further into hers. The elemental was staring at her with a lost expression, as if not really seeing her but someone else. He grinned playfully before lowering his head slowly to kiss her again. She felt his teeth playfully nibbling at her lower lip. The soft pull called out to her soul and heart. She knew that it wasn't her. But it was so tempting, so perfect. It took all her willpower not to cave in and kiss him back. There was only one way to get him out of his trance.
A small psionic blast formed on her forehead and reached him, dissipating the illusion he was trapped in. The elemental blinked a few times, not understanding where they were or what they had been doing. Emma moved slightly under him and he realized that they were lying on the bed, their limbs entangled. He tried to disentangle himself but his movements only made Emma's breath die on her lips. The situation was rather awkward, even if he didn't mind being so close to her. One of his hands brushed against her cheek, causing her to shiver. The ghosts had led them there, in that bed, in that situation. If Emma hadn't sent him that psionic blast, they would have made love. The certainty of the fact created a lump in his throat.
Abruptly, as if her touch would burn him, he freed her hands and collapsed beside her. Brennan rubbed his face a few times, as if he could clear his memories. But it was useless. The memories were imprinted in his mind; one so old it seemed to have always been there with him and the other, so new, exciting, and overwhelming. With each passing minute, the first memory was fading into the background, leaving him wondering about the second and the sensation it had created. Where the ghosts trying to show them something? Or were they simply sitting in a corner laughing at their expense? Did this absurd situation make any sense? Maybe Emma might have an explanation. He turned his head slightly to look at her. She was laying by his side, silent, her eyes focused on the ceiling.
He shifted slightly, getting closer to her. Before she had the time to react, she was wrapped in his arms. They didn't exchange a word; there would be enough time to talk when they would wake up. As sleep came over them, they didn't see the two smiling people sitting on the window seat. They got up, getting closer to the sleeping couple. Louise stroked the cheek of the elemental. He couldn't feel her but it was good to see what had become of her family. Jimmy grabbed her hand and led her to the door. The bricks blocking the doors vanished as they left the room. Outside the sky cleared revealing stars and a full moon. Louise and Jimmy stepped on the porch like so many time in the past century.
"Do you think we succeeded?"
He smiled at her before wrapping his arms around her waist.
"They will talk tomorrow. We have changed things Lou. Emma will not die on that day and their children will fight for the future. We have accomplished our last mission. We can leave now."
As the two ghosts vanished, two words could be heard in the empty street as a good luck wish to Emma and Brennan from his ancestors.