Yay! It's almost done!

Thanks for the reviews, once again. I really do appreciate it, I'm just way too lazy to do the username thing today. Once again. Laziness is my specialty, I suppose. But yeah, I do plan on updating my other stories as well, it's just that this one was so close to being done it made no sense to just leave it. I'm trying. Lol.

So, I hope you like it. Blah blah, rabble rabble.

Disclaimer: O_o Ya'll should know by now.


The Woods

May 21, 2016
Woodcrest, Maryland

"Do you think they'll find her?"

"Depends." Maya Johansen didn't even look up from the TV screen; Hiro sat beside her on the couch, staring up at the ceiling with a contemplative expression on his face. She continued to flip through channels, bored. "Would you like the optimistic version or the pessimistic one?"

Hiro eyed her. "You're about as optimistic as the grim reaper."

"Shut up." Maya still didn't tear her eyes away from the TV. "I hope they find her because she's nice and no one deserves to be murdered like this guy's been killing people. But…I mean if this dude's following a pattern like with the others there's what, three days left? Face it." She shrugged. "They haven't found any leads, at least according to every news station I've looked at, so it's looking pretty grim." She smacked the back of the remote with her hand, her brow furrowing. "Why the hell won't you work right? I've changed the batteries like three times-"

"Maya!" Her younger sister, Karinne Johansen, raced down the stairs, a deck of cards in her hand. "My, you won't believe what I found out-"

"Lord, Kat, are you still playing with those freak cards?" Maya sighed with exasperation, looking at Hiro. "She's been playing with those dorky tarot cards since she got them for her sixteenth birthday last year." Kat stopped at the bottom of the staircase, her gray eyes narrowed. "She suddenly thinks she's a prophet or some shit."

"I do not." The seventeen year old glared. "I just happen to use them and whatever I predict with them happens to occur."

"Whatever. It's called probability and statistics." Maya attempted to use the remote again, her eyes narrowed in concentration. "You know, it's like those morons who say they can see the dead or communicate with them and all that bullshit. You could easily do a cold reading on some random stranger and convince them of your abilities by using vague terminology and playing off their emotions. It's not difficult…goddammit!" She finally threw the remote across the room, throwing up her hands. "Can a bitch just watch Animal Hoarders? Is that really too much to ask?"

"Someone misses Japan," Hiro mumbled, smirking. Maya bopped him with a pillow.

"I don't even watch TV in Japan." She snorted. "When you work for the film industry your desire to watch regular sitcoms diminishes dramatically."

"My!" Kat snapped her fingers. "Yoo hoo!" When both Maya and Hiro finally looked at her she held up the cards. "Listen-"

"Get out of here, you raggedy chickenhead!" Maya hurled a pillow at the younger sibling; she yelped and flew back up the stairs. "Jesus Christ. Get me a plane ticket back to Tokyo now."

"You just got here!"

"And already I regret it." Maya sighed, massaging her temples. "Maryland is stupid."

"Wasn't stupid when you were living here," Hiro pointed out. Maya snorted.

"Yeah, it was. I just didn't have the means to leave." She dropped her feet on the coffee table, yawning and stretching. "And when I got those means, I left."

Hiro eyed her. "But was it worth it?"

She dropped her arms and turned towards him. "What do you mean?"

"I mean…I don't know." Hiro shrugged. "You were just kind of the glue for your mom and your sister. And the whole Huey thing-"

"Okay, for one, I am not my sister's keeper. Or my mother. They hated me being here as much as I hated it, so that's just a logical fallacy on your part." Hiro rolled his eyes. "As for Freeman, he would've done the same thing if he were in my position. If anyone should understand me leaving it should be him."

"Well I'm so glad you thought all this out." Hiro's voice was full of sarcasm. Maya poked him.

"You left for California and abandoned me! How do you think that made me feel?"

"I didn't know that Maya Johansen felt anything." Hiro's tone made her frown. "That's a first."

"Whoa." She scooted away from him, giving him a wary look. "Don't do the passive thing. I hate the passive thing. What did I do now?"

"Nothing!"

"Oh, right." Maya laughed. "That's why you're treating me like I ran over your dog."

"I just wonder how it made sense to you," Hiro snapped, "to leave the way you did." Maya's eyes narrowed. "You didn't even tell me you were leaving! You didn't even tell me you were getting a divorce! You didn't say when you were going, you didn't bother saying goodbye…and now you're back and you just expect us to be best friends again?"

Maya blinked. She slowly shook her head.

"Where is all of this coming from?" She gaped at him. "We talk on the phone all the time when I'm in Japan! I've visited you in L.A. like, a million times! Of all the times you've had to catch feelings about the entire situation why is it just coming up now?"

"Because, Maya." Hiro sighed, gesturing to the TV, where the twelve o' clock news was silently playing. "This entire thing going on with Jazmine…life is short." She blinked again. "It's bullshit how short life is. You should know that being that your dad-"

"Stop," Maya said in such a hard tone that he clamped his mouth shut. She took a deep breath, as if trying to compose herself, before staring at him.

"I'm sorry." She sighed. "I didn't mean to leave you hanging with everything. I just…it was a bad time." She let out a low whistle, shaking her head. "It was a really bad time."

"Well, you should've let someone be there." Hiro gave her a look. "I'm pretty sure Huey would've accepted you leaving because you had to handle your dad's death and the job was a perfect way to start over. Just going 'I'm outta here, I don't care what you want, fuck you,' isn't always going to be translated into something different for you."

"I know." Maya sighed, drawing her knees up to her chest. "But at the same time I felt like I was doing him a favor." Hiro gave her a confused look. "Oh, come on. Hiro, if I was a man and I met a woman like me, I wouldn't touch her with a ten foot pole."

"Well, that's your self esteem issue," Hiro replied casually, making Maya's jaw drop. "Doesn't mean he didn't mind dealing with your crap. Obviously it didn't bother him too much since he tried to make it work-"

"I know. He did. And I'm a bitch." Maya shrugged. "It could've worked…but something tells me that it's alright that it didn't."

"Well, that's good." Hiro pat Maya's shoulder, shaking his head as he pushed off the couch. He went to retrieve the remote Maya had discarded. "This is what you do when you're tired of anything, isn't it? Throw it away."

"Not when I'm tired of it, just when it pisses me off. Hey," Maya suddenly said, as if remembering something. "You know who did really help me when my dad died?"

Hiro looked interested. "Who?"

"Jazmine." Hiro looked so shocked that she burst out laughing. "I know, right?"

"Wait…how did that happen?" Hiro snorted. "For one, you hated her. I didn't understand why, but you did."

"I didn't hate her." Maya flipped her hair. "I actually like her. Just…in doses. She's super sweet to the point where I feel like I'm getting a toothache being around her. Kinda like Kat's annoying ass-"

"Hey!" A shout came from up the stairs.

"Whatever, freak! Anyway," Maya went on, as if she hadn't just shouted at her younger sibling, "I never personally had anything against her. Oh, I was a huge bitch to her once though," she reminisced, snapping her fingers. "It was when she was tutoring Huey our junior year with math, and I got pissed off cause he would blow me off to go study. Which, that's no big deal, but when you're a crazy hormonal sixteen year old you see it as some hussy trying to scam on your man. I was already irritated since I'm horrible at math," she added. "So…I was kind of mean to her."

"Lord, Maya." Hiro lifted his eyes to the ceiling. "When are you never mean to someone?"

"I don't know, when the Lions are playing?"

"No, you're meaner, because if anyone says one word to interrupt the game-"

"Shut up!" Maya rolled her eyes. "I wasn't that mean. I just advised her to stay away from him."

Hiro blinked. "That's not "that mean" to you?"

"It's not mean for me; I'll put it that way." Maya clapped her hands, regaining his attention. "Okay, but that's not the point of Johansen story time!"

"Johansen story time!" Kat leaped down the stairs again, causing Maya to groan; she stopped, giving Maya a confused look. "Wait, wouldn't it still be Freeman story time? I mean, did you change your name back after the divorce or-"

"You of all people should know how I feel about women changing their surnames for some man." Maya snorted. "You know I never changed it."

"Okay, Johansen story time!" Hiro rolled his eyes; as much as he loved Maya, she got off track easily. "So, how was Jazmine your solace in your dark time after your father's death?"

"Whoa." Kat gave Maya a horrified look. "Your dad died?"

Hiro slowly looked at Maya, who shrugged.

"When you said you didn't tell anyone…you weren't kidding." Maya shook her head, shrugging.

"I told you no one knows outside you and Macy!"

"Goddamn, Maya Grace! Who doesn't tell anyone that their own father died?"

"It's not like he gave a shit about me, so what was the big deal?"

"Obviously it was since you had your little emotional breakdown. Which I would know more about if someone would tell me-"

"Alright, alright!" Maya took a deep breath before pointing towards the stairs. "And don't interrupt me, you runt."

Kat, for once, obliged.

"Okay, so I'm at the airport, right? I was on my way to Dubai for his funeral. I'd taken all my stuff here since, you know, Huey and I had literally just decided to divorce, so yeah. I was mad distressed. And my flight had the nerve to be cancelled because of some snowstorm bullshit in New York where we were supposed to layover, and the next flight wasn't until eleven the next morning. Only, due to the time difference between here and Dubai, the funeral would be over by the time I got there."

"Oh, damn." Hiro frowned.

"That sucks," Kat agreed. Maya cringed.

"This is why I don't tell people these things." She glared at them. "Sympathy is awful."

"It's not sympathy. It's empathy." Kat shrugged. "There's a difference."

"Sit down, slut. Anyway," Maya continued, ignoring the gasp that escaped Kat's mouth, "so I'm sitting in the airport terminal just crying my eyes out, and I'm trying to stay calm and rationalize things out and think of what I need to do, and I just can't. Like, my brain just was not working right. It was ridiculous."

"Yes, Maya." Hiro spoke as if she were a toddler. "That's called grieving."

"Well, whatever it is, I hate it." Maya rolled her eyes. "So yeah, that's going on, and I didn't want to come back here because there was no way I could pretend everything was okay, and I didn't want to go back to Huey cause-"

"-that would've involved being a bigger person?" Hiro supplied.

"-Because you're a punk?" Kat offered.

"No, and shut the hell up." Maya held up a hand. "Spare me, assholes."

"So Jazmine comes into this how?" Hiro asked, once again snickering at her lack of direction when it came to storytelling. She groaned.

"I was getting to that! Alright, so all that is going on, and I hear someone ask me if I'm okay. And I look up to say 'do I look okay you stupid asshole, fuck off' and it's Jazmine. And-" Maya looked pained, "-she looked so concerned that I started crying all over again."

"Cute."

"I know. I was a hot ass mess." Maya shrugged. "But yeah. She took me to a Starbucks which, I usually hate but at that point I didn't care, and she bought me a coffee. And she just let me cry." She couldn't help but smile, although it was faint. "That's something I have always liked about her. She doesn't try to prod in your business like a nosy ass bitch and force you to acknowledge shit. She doesn't press you. She just lets you cry." She sighed. "It's like she could tell that I didn't want to look weak or pathetic, so she just sat there so she could be there in case I did decide to talk to her. It was odd because that's something that Huey does so I cried a bit at that too, but whatever."

"Well, that was nice of her-" Hiro started until Maya was smacking his shoulder. "Ow!"

"I'm not done!" she snapped. Kat, who was sitting on the bottom step, waved her hand.

"Well, get on with it!"

"Stay over there, peasant." Maya smacked her lips before going on. "That's not the really nice part. The really nice part was that I ended up telling her what was going on. Well, not about the divorce, but about my dad and the whole flight situation. So, I guess I lied." She held up her fingers. "You, ma and Jazmine knew about my dad dying."

"I'm glad we have that all sorted out." When Maya glared at Hiro's comment he shrugged. "Go on."

"Right. So she was all sympathetic about it, which made me mad a bit, but then…she offered me her plane ticket."

Hiro blinked. Kat let out a low whistle.

"Who would give something that pricey to your-"

"Stop right there, troll," Maya shot towards the stairs before looking back at Hiro. "Right? I looked at her like she was nuts. But she was persistent about it. Something about her dad's frequent flyer miles, but whatever. She was very smart about it. She was on her way back to Miami because her winter break was halfway through and she said she was sick of Maryland, which I could relate to. She checked with one of the airline employees on when an international flight to Dubai would be leaving out of the airport in Miami, if one would be leaving, and by some miracle there was." She snorted. "So, she's the reason I even got to my dad's funeral."

"How benevolent of her. Cause I wouldn't have helped your ass." Kat stuck out her tongue. "You're a bitch."

"Yeah, and the sky is blue." Maya sighed, sinking back into the couch cushions. "But yeah. I was already stressed because I found out about his death two days before his funeral, and the time zone thing made it worse. But it worked out." She frowned. "That's why I really do hope she's okay. I mean, if something like that happened to me it would be like, 'oh, well that asshole had it coming'. But she's not like I am. I don't think she has a mean bone in her body."

"Maybe we should turn this," Hiro said, giving Maya a look; she looked like she was lost in her own thoughts. "We can't sit around watching it all day. We'll go crazy."

"I've been there." Maya shrugged. "Crazy's not such a bad place."

"Yeah…" Hiro's nose wrinkled. "Only a crazy person would say that."

"Shut up." Maya smirked, turning back towards the TV. Kat got up, disappearing around the corner into the kitchen. "Don't eat my Sun Chips, you freak bitch!"

"Whatever!" Kat shouted back.

"Like I was saying before though," Hiro said, regaining Maya's attention. "Life is short. And whenever something bad happens you can't just run away and try to start over. Life doesn't work that way."

"Mine does."

"For now. But it won't always." Hiro changed the channel. Maya looked up as she saw Kat bound around the corner.

"My," she said, taking a deep breath. "When is mom supposed to get off?"

"I don't know Macy's life." Maya snorted, snatching the remote away from Hiro and rolling her eyes. "Why?"

"She was going to let me use her car, since I knew you'd be a jerk and not let me use yours."

"Good thing I'm being a generous bitch today then, huh?" Maya reached in her pocket, tossing a set of keys through the air; Kat caught them, looking amazed. "Don't scratch my shit."

"I love you!" Kat squealed as she ran up the stairs. Maya gagged.

"Gross," she said, a disgusted look on her face. Hiro shook his head.

"You're really going to watch the news until this entire thing is over, aren't you?" Hiro asked. Maya nodded, never taking her eyes off the TV.

"You can go if you want." She shrugged. "I won't be much fun today."

Hiro shook his head, settling into the sofa as well. He couldn't help but be surprised.

"I didn't know you cared so much."

"And if you enjoy living, no one else will know either." She glared at him before her eyes were softening and she was staring back at the television. "I just have to see how it ends."


New Orleans, Louisiana

"Holy…fucking…shit." Owen swore as he, Huey, Denise and Skyler stared at the edge of the swamp. "That is a lot of fucking trees."

"You think?" Denise rolled her eyes. "We knew this was going to happen! We just have to hope this crusty thing can give us some clues." She eyed the diary Huey was reading warily. "It's like a morbid scavenger hunt."

"Well, standing outside of the swamp's not going to do much for us, you know," Huey pointed out. He felt his pocket vibrate and groaned, answering it without even looking at the screen. "What? Oh, hey Grandad." Owen snickered. "No, I'm not near the house right now. Actually, I'm kind of out of town." He paused, sighing and lifting his eyes to the highest treetops before shrugging. "I'm sorry Tom and Sarah won't stop blowing up your phone to ask if you've heard from me. No…yeah. Orange juice when I get back. Alright. Yes, Grandad, by now I am fully aware that you prefer it pulp free! Tell Riley I hate him, too. Goodbye." He glared at Owen as he cackled. "At least someone cares about me enough to call me."

"Burn," Denise giggled. Owen smacked his lips.

"Please. He called you for orange juice. You can ask a waitress for orange juice and that don't mean you care about her."

"True," Denise pointed out. Huey eyed them before groaning.

"What is wrong with you two?"

"There's no need to be on edge," Skyler said casually, taking in everything with pensive blue eyes. "We have plenty of time to get what we need."

"What I need," Huey mumbled to himself, closing his eyes, "is a new partner."

"Hey, look!" Denise's voice, which was suspiciously far away, caused the men to look up. "There's a cemetery over here!" There was a pause. "And it's old as fuck!"

"Old enough to have been here in the eighteen hundreds?" Owen shouted back. There was another pause, before Denise's voice was floating over to them again.

"Yup!"

"Why are you two shouting?" Huey asked Owen as the three of them kicked through the nearly knee high grass. "You're not being very inconspicuous."

"Please. If this guy's gone this long without getting caught then he's not going to be this close to civilization." Owen pointed towards the road. "It's far, but it ain't that far."

"He does have a point," Skyler agreed.

"HA!" Owen pointed in Huey's face. "I'm not as stupid as you like to think I am!"

"But you are stupid enough to put your finger in my face. Don't do that." Huey pushed past him. "You're lucky I'm busy. Everybody gets one. That was yours."

"That diary mentioned a cemetery, right?" Denise asked once they were closer. Huey stopped, his eyes scanning it, before nodding.

"It does." He frowned, staring at the crumbling headstones. "But finding the right one to make sure this is it might be a bit difficult."

"I highly doubt there's eighty more cemeteries around here, Freeman." Owen spun around in a quick circle, tilting his head up towards the sun. "This is the place."

"You can't go off assumptions all the time, Mr. Sheldon," Skyler said, already maneuvering around the jagged markers, trying to make out the faded names on the stones. "It is best to check. Especially when, if the culprit is sticking to the original plan-" he checked his watch "-we have five hours."

"But it took us almost four to find this place!" Owen nearly whined.

"Well, some of that time was from us getting guns from Denise's shady ass hookup," Huey pointed out. Denise smacked her lips.

"You sho did grab them guns from that shady ass hookup quick tho!" she yelled over her shoulder. Huey shrugged.

"I said your hookup was shady. I didn't say I don't appreciate their selection of weapons."

Denise stopped at a headstone, her eyes narrowing. "Hmm…that's funny." She smirked. "Hey Freeman, you might have some family down here yourself." He gave her a funny look. "There's a headstone here with a dude named Matthew R. Freeman."

"Do you know how many Freemans there are in the United States?" Owen asked. He shook his head. "God, even this Freeman knows that-"

"This is the right one." Huey nodded, casting Owen a glare. "That's my great-great grandfather."

Owen blinked. "You're kidding."

Huey made a face. "Does it sound like I'm kidding?"

"Honestly, with you I can never tell." Owen shrugged, throwing up his hands. Denise was still reading. "Alright, so we found some decrepit cemetery. What now?"

Huey flipped through the diary, searching for certain pages he'd marked. "She talked about some trail that led straight from the cemetery to her mother's house. I remember that because she wondered how no one had found them when all they had to do was follow it." He looked around, sighing. "But the path's probably gone since it's been so long…"

"Yeah, I don't see one." Denise frowned. Owen shrugged.

"Guess it's time to go in, then." He looked up at the bright blue sky, exhaling dramatically. "It was nice knowing you, cruel world."

"Shut up," Denise snapped, elbowing him hard in his ribs; he grunted. She looked at the seemingly endless line of trees. "How do we know which way to go?"

"We don't." Owen shrugged again. "So we might as well just split up-"

"I am not gonna be in those woods on my own," Denise said in a horrified voice. "I know ya'll niggas seen Scooby Doo!"

Huey, Owen and Skyler exchanged looks before shaking their heads.

"Yes, Denise. We have indeed seen Scooby Doo." Huey sighed. "And?"

"And whenever they split up, they get into trouble!" Denise rolled her eyes.

"But they always solve the mystery and save the day," Owen pointed out. Skyler nodded.

"He is right."

Denise groaned. "The point is, if you all think I'm going in there by myself, you can kiss my whole asshole."

"I'll…pass." Huey rolled his eyes. "You can come with me if you're that worried about it."

"Oh, thank you!" Denise hugged him dramatically, causing him to stumble. "You do care!"

"Don't flatter yourself. I just want you to shut up so we can get this over with already." He pried her off his shoulders as gently as he could, exasperated. Skyler nodded.

"It most likely wouldn't be best for anyone to be alone. Mr. Sheldon, you come with me."

"Hey, this is kind of funny." Owen snickered when the other three gave him puzzled glances. "I mean, if you think about it…"

"What the hell," Huey snapped, "could you possibly find funny about this?"

"No, not this." Owen snorted. "I mean how we split up. It's like, the team of white people and the team of black-"

"Just stop," Skyler said in a deadpan voice, clapping Owen's shoulder. Huey and Denise blinked. "If you go further than that, I can't save you from their wrath."

"Oh, ha ha." Huey grabbed Denise's wrist and dragged her towards the woods as she glared at Owen; he had obviously ignored Owen's words. "Racism is a hilarious thing! You have such a good sense of humor! L O L white people!"

"Denise!" Huey turned around, flinging her arm away and glaring at her. "Really? Really?" She abruptly shut her mouth. "You think that what you're doing is necessary right now?"

Denise sighed, looking guilty. "Okay, my bad. Damn." They both stopped yards from the closest cluster of trees, peering in. They looked at each other.

"It's mad dark in there considering we still got some daylight left," Denise said, sounding nervous. Huey shrugged.

"It's just all the canopies of the treetops blocking most of the rays from-"

"Don't be a nerd right now, please." Denise held up her hand. He rolled his eyes, starting forward.

"Then don't start whining about a lack of sunlight. What?" he taunted when she glared at him. "You scared?"

"No," Denise snapped, stomping up to him and plucking him in the forehead. "God. Don't be a douchebag."

"See?" Huey gestured around them; Denise looked up with wide eyes when she realized they were already within the trees. "Not that bad, is it?"

"No, it's not." Denise pointed in the direction they'd come from. "Because I still know how to get out."

"You're acting like we don't have a GPS." Huey rolled his eyes, already continuing on his way. "Even if we get lost in here we can find our way out. Don't be a baby. We're not going to die."

Well at least she, Owen and Skyler weren't going to die. As for himself, however, he didn't know how much longer he was going to last. It wasn't even the other things that had been going on as much as it was his head. It seemed like the closer they'd gotten to Louisiana the more his headache had grown, finally throbbing to the point where it hurt just keeping his eyes open. At least the lack of sunlight helped that. He wasn't sure how Denise would feel if he suddenly dropped dead from an aneurysm, though.

"If Owen and Skyler went in that way and they're heading southwest, then we should probably go north," Denise suggested. Just as he was about to nod in agreement a particularly strong pang sliced through his head. He squeezed his eyes shut.

They'd left her alone. It was as if they were so confident in themselves that they didn't feel like it was necessary to guard her. Almost like they were giving her a last day to herself.

Good.

She breathed in deeply, staring at the rope that was lying abandoned on the floor. She narrowed her eyes, inhaling sharply when the rope burst into flame. She looked at Angela Ragland, who sat beside her. The ghost smiled, nodding.

"Perfect."

"What?" Denise asked. He opened his eyes, taking a deep breath and looking around before staring at her.

"I am losing my mind."

"What? Why?" Denise started towards him. "I didn't know you had much of one to begin with-"

"No, I'm serious." He shook his head. "This entire vision thing is going to make my brain explode."

"What did you see?" Denise looked curious. "Was it something about Jazmine?"

"No, it was something about the plight of the manatee." He rolled his eyes; luckily, the headache was starting to fade. "Really, Denise?"

"Well." Denise watched him rub his head. "You don't have to be such an asshole about it."

"Whatever." He felt ridiculous talking about it. "Yes, it was about Jazmine. But nothing was happening. She was just sitting here."

"Alone?" Denise asked. When he nodded she threw up her hands. "And she's not making a break for it because…?"

"Because," Huey pointed out, "she obviously knows things that we don't, so she's waiting for the right time."

"The right time." Denise snorted, fumbling with one of her guns. Why anyone would entrust Denise with a gun he'd never know, but from what he'd heard she was a sharp shooter so he couldn't complain. "The right time to me seems like the moment I'm left alone. I'd dip out quick."

Huey rolled his eyes, both of them continuing to push through shrubbery and step over tree roots. Thinking about why Jazmine hadn't run yet made him remember the second murderer in this entire thing and he inwardly cringed, casting Denise a worried look. Should he warn her what they were up against?

On the other hand…could what they were up against handle a psycho Denise?

"This place is massive," Denise mumbled, shaking her head. Although she was talking normally her voice sounded like a whisper. "How the hell are we supposed to know where to look? Or how to get out once we find her?" She rolled her eyes. "We are going to fucking die in these woods messing around with you and your girlfriend-"

"She is not," Huey snapped, "my girlfriend!" He groaned. "Not you too!"

"Whatever. I'm only kidding." Denise snickered. "Why do you get so worked up about that?"

"Why is it," Huey replied, irritated, "that I'm the only one out of the three of us who can stay focused?"

"Focus on what?" Denise shrugged. "We're essentially lost in the middle of the woods. There's not much to focus on. Everything looks the same."

She did have a point. Huey stopped, looking around. Denise flopped down, checking her phone. He blinked.

"What…are you doing?"

"Checking my phone." Denise held it up, making a face. "Verizon better make my expensive ass phone bill worth it. Yup." She grinned. "I have a signal."

"Great!" Huey threw up his hands, his voice filled with mock happiness. "Can we go now? And I really would recommend not sitting down there," he advised. Denise stuck her tongue out.

"Why, cause it's dirty? You think since I'm a woman I'll be scared of a little bit of dirt on my…ahhhh!" she shrieked, jumping to her feet and scurrying towards him, frantically slapping at her legs with her hands. "Oh, my god! Did you see that goddamn spider?"

"See? I wasn't even going to say you were afraid of dirt." Huey smirked. "I was going to say you're afraid of bugs."

"Shut up." Denise smacked at her back once more before shoving past him. "Let's just find her so we can get out of here. My perm does not do humidity."

"You don't even like spiders." Huey shook his head, sighing in a sympathetic way. "I'd hate to see what you'd do if we ran into an alligator."

Denise froze in her tracks before whipping around, panic written all over her face.

"No one said anything about alligators!" she nearly yelled. Huey had to force himself not to laugh.

"Calm down. They typically don't even attack humans. We'll be fine." When Denise looked hesitant he waved his hand, turning away and continuing towards the hints of sun he could see emerging from the west. He heard Denise chase after him and then she was nearly knocking him over. "What?"

"Sorry." She shook her head. "I thought I saw a snake."

"Oh my…woman!" Huey groaned in frustration, spinning around. "Do you want to go wait in the car? Because you are not going to jump at every minor movement in this place. Okay?"

Denise looked past him, her eyes narrowing.

"Can I jump at that?"

Huey turned around. There was a figure standing a good twenty yards away, even though the thicket of trees between them made them appear further away. They blinked. Huey and Denise stared back. As he did so his head began to burn again and it took nearly everything he hand not to cry out.

"How will I know if it works or not?"

"Trust me." Robyn evaluated her with a smirk. "I'm sure you've mastered harder."

"We should kill them," Denise was hissing. Huey had to shake his head to get the pain to ebb away, focusing once again on the mysterious person.

"We can't just kill people on the spot. Wait." Huey scrunched his eyes in concentration before he was reaching for his gun. "Never mind. Actually, killing her is a good ass idea-"

Only on the word "idea" the figure suddenly vanished. Denise swore while Huey groaned.

"Who the hell was that?" Denise asked. Huey winced, turning towards her.

He might as well be honest.

"So." He gave her a look. "You know that witch I was telling you about? The one who's conspiring with Julius?" She nodded slowly. "Alright. Well. That was her."

Denise blinked. He watched her, waiting for her to start panicking. Sure enough-

"Oh, hell naw." She shook her head, turning around. "Nope. This is like Coney Island all over again-"

"What happened at Coney Island that left you that traumatized?" Huey asked. She held up a hand, breathing deeply.

"We don't talk about Coney Island. Ever." She shook her head. "How the hell do you think four humans or mortals or whatever the hell we are…what, muggles?"

"This isn't Harry Potter, Denise."

"Whatever! The point is, we ain't gonna be able to kill no witch!"

"I don't know how useful it'll be to you." Micah shrugged, glancing at the woman, who gave her an appreciative look.

"Thank you."

"What are you doing?" Huey opened his eyes to see Denise giving him a baffled look. "Are you hugging a tree?" He looked down. Sure enough, he was clutching the tree as if there was no tomorrow.

Him and his goddamn head.

"…And if I am?"

"Freeman, stop." Denise yanked him by his shirt away from the tree with a surprising amount of strength, swatting him. "I'm serious! We're not going to be able to kill someone who can manipulate forces I didn't even know could be manipulated!"

"If we reach Jazmine in time," Huey pointed out, "she may be able to help us."

"Um, if she's a witch and she hasn't been able to escape," Denise pointed out, "what the hell makes you think we'll be able to get her?"

He couldn't believe he was saying it, however…

"Stop being so damn pessimistic. We'll be fine." His headache was flaring up again. "Well, ya'll will. I've accepted that I'm going to indeed die."

"You're not going to die."

The voice that nearly pierced his skull was enough to scare the shit out of him for two reasons. One, there was a voice that wasn't his subconscious in his head, sounding as if it were a person standing next to him.

And two…it sounded exactly like Jazmine.

He'd really appreciate it if people would just leave his mind alone.

"No one's dying. Damn." Denise pushed him forward, both of them resuming their trek through the woods.


They were just being careless at this point. This was exactly why she'd never desired unlimited power. Power just made people crazy, and they got egos, and they started making mistakes.

Hopefully, that wouldn't happen to her.

She pretended to be asleep the few times he stuck his head in to make sure she was still there, not being able to keep from smirking at the wall when she heard him disappear again. He and the woman probably though that even off the sedatives she'd still be weak. That probably would've been the case…if it wasn't for the several ghosts of her former comrades who had come throughout the day to give her their powers.

How funny. Her captor had gone into this entire thing striving for the very thing she was receiving. It wasn't even that fact that had her excited, though; she'd never wanted any more power than the ones she was born with. No, she was mainly happier at how she felt. It was as if she'd never been denied food, doped up on muscle relaxers and given essentially no sunlight in the first place.

Not even that. She felt stronger than before the entire ordeal. She felt like she could lift a truck. A bus. A tank

'No.' She forced herself to focus, reminding herself that she wasn't invincible. That attitude was what got people killed. That attitude was what made people like the woman do stupid things such as take her off sedatives. Not that she was complaining.

It was also that same attitude that had gotten her taken in the first place. She'd broken away from home and had found herself around people who were like her, who understood her. She'd found someone who could teach her. She'd gotten stronger, and she'd felt unstoppable.

She wouldn't make that mistake anymore.

She knew the woman was out there somewhere, but it no longer fazed her. She'd expect her to be weak. Everyone always thought she was so goddamn weak. Shit, it would probably be that way for the rest of her life.

The rest of her life. For the first time in weeks she was able to imagine a future for herself after this was over. She'd go home, see her family, get her diploma that she'd worked her ass off for…did these people trying to kill her know how much she'd sacrificed to be able to live a normal life and a witch's life at the same time? Did they even realize that she didn't even want to mess with anyone, that she just wanted to be able to grow old and be happy? And they had the nerve to try and take that possibility away from her?

Fuck that.

The moon was high, but not high enough. She didn't need until midnight, but she'd need to get as close as possible to midnight to be able to hold her off. The man, he was of no concern to her now. It was just her that she was worried about. No matter how strong she was, the woman was centuries old. She had to be wiser, faster, and stronger. She'd need more than the moon to help her.

The spell book? She glanced up at the table, frowning; it was gone. She sighed, glancing towards her left and jumping, letting out a tiny squeak.

"Jesus Christ." She blinked at the ghost, making a face. "Matthew?" Sure enough, Matthew Freeman was staring down at her, his face showing that he had no idea what to make of the current situation he was witnessing. She hadn't seen him since she was sixteen! What was it, a phantom convention? "Do any of you ever pass on?"

"We pass on when it is time. And, at least for me, the time has not come." He blinked. "You look terrible."

"Oh, crap." Her voice was filled with sarcasm. "That sucks. I was trying so hard, too."

It didn't hurt to use her voice! She didn't feel exhausted just sitting up and tilting her head back to stare at the ghost! She'd get up and dance if she didn't want someone to spot her doing so. There was no way they were going to sedate her anymore. Matthew glanced around.

"I had heard that you were in trouble. This, however-" he glanced around, his nose wrinkling, "-is abhorrent."

"But it's okay, because I'm getting out of here." She shook her head, sighing. "I just wish I knew my way around, or at least where I was."

Matthew stared at her. "You are serious?" She looked up; a look of disbelief sat on his features. "You cannot be."

"Well, I am." She shrugged. "I wouldn't still be here if I knew where I was, Matthew."

"Valid reasoning." He shrugged as well. "You have just always seemed perceptive to me. I thought you would have discovered why you were here by now."

"Because they're crazy, that's why." She snorted. "There's not much more to it I'm sure."

"There is always more to it." Matthew smirked. "It may just be simple to me, however, since it is what I grew up knowing." Her eyebrows drew together. "I would never forget where I am truly from."

He disappeared. Her eyes widened and she clamped her hands over her mouth to keep from shouting in excitement.

She knew exactly where she was. She could feel the adrenaline building inside of her as a plan began to formulate in her head nearly effortlessly, as if the fragments of information were simply puzzle pieces that needed to be placed together. It was like they'd been there the entire time, waiting for her to make the connection.

She flicked her hand, watching the glass shards from the evening before float towards the ceiling. She drew her fingers back so that they froze in midair before dropping her hand so that they clattered to the floor. She rolled over again to face the wall as she heard angry voices outside.

"...no, you idiot!" The woman was snapping at him. "We can't just go ahead and get on with the ritual! It won't work before midnight! And there's no way they're not going to find us before then!"

What was she talking about? She cracked an eye open. Who was she so worried about?

She was not trying to have to avoid even more psychos.

"I am not in the mood to have to cover up mortal deaths tonight!" she yelled. "And you'd better not be taking this lightly because you're the one who'll be executed, not me! I'll be long gone!"

"There's nothing to worry about." The man's voice was calm. "Everything will work out.

"You'd better hope so," she nearly spat. "I'll be back." Her voice lowered. "Check on the witch. Don't let her out of your sight." There was a pause. "I might have to take back what I said about the sedatives. Do what you must."

Her eyes popped open at that one. Well, that was a good time as any. She waited until she heard his footsteps alone entering the room before sitting up, turning to face him and sighing. She stood up, shaking out her arms as he glared at her.

"Wrong about the sedatives my ass." She threw up her hand so that he froze on the spot and started past him. When she saw what he was holding, however, she backtracked and smiled.

"I need that, thanks." She tugged the spell book out of his stiff hands, tucking it under her arm and leaping over the steps, starting into the woods.

"You're not going to die," she whispered to herself, repeating it in her head until she could make herself believe the words.

She was going to get out of there, and those morons were going to be sorry that they'd ever even thought about killing her.


"Freeman's the one with the diary," Owen pointed out as he and Skyler pushed through the trees, both of them vaguely aware of how quickly the sun had dropped out of sight, how the woods were becoming even darker than they already had been. "How are we supposed to find her and he's the one with all the clues?"

"I have a feeling that we'll be fine." Skyler scanned the perimeter warily, his eyes narrowed. Owen, however, did not possess the same confidence.

"I don't know. We've been out here for at least an hour. I feel like we're walking in a circle."

Skyler nodded, stepping up to a particularly thick cluster of bushes and pushing through them. He blinked.

"Interesting."

"What?" Owen shoved the branches aside as well, stopping beside him. They were now in a circular clearing, Skyler gesturing towards the marsh that was in front of them. The water was murky and still. Skyler, however, was focused on what was reflecting in the still water.

"It seems to be a full moon tonight." He smiled, lifting his head to the sky. "Luck seems to be on our side."

"…You're worried about a moon." Owen's tone was flat. Skyler sighed, shaking his head.

"In due time, you will understand. But for now, let's keep looking." He paused. "I do have a feeling this place will be important, however."

"Why?" Owen asked. He shrugged.

"Call it intuition." He turned around, passing through the trees again. Owen followed him.

"Do you believe all this magic crap?" he asked, staring around. Skyler continued to stare straight ahead.

"I don't see why it's such an impossible concept, but I can understand the reluctance to believe in it," he said lightly. "Oh, look. A helper."

A woman was walking towards them, her eyes narrowed. Skyler sighed, shoving his hands into his pockets.

"I didn't think we'd run into her so soon," he mused. Owen took a step back.

"Who is that?"

"Oh, someone we don't have to worry about yet." As the woman walked closer he lifted one of his hands in a wave, nodding.

"Ah. Serenity. It's ironic," he said in a lower voice to Owen, still looking at her. "Her name is synonymous for tranquil, yet she's the most destructive witch I've ever met."

"You met her?" Owen gaped at him. Skyler laughed, as if he were in on a private joke.

"Something like that."

"Well." The woman, Serenity, stopped in front of them, her own hands in her pockets. Her eyes narrowed. "This is interesting."

"Very." Skyler nodded again. "How have you been?" She glared. "Is this the new form?" He made a face, shaking his head. "Doesn't suit you at all. Blond was much better."

"You stupid-" she started before he was holding up his hand. She stopped, her glare intensifying. His eyebrow rose.

"Don't do anything you might regret. Especially," he went on, nodding towards Owen, "in front of the mortal."

Serenity's eyes narrowed. "You two aren't the mortals I saw earlier."

"There's more of them around?" Skyler looked around, appearing amazed. "Interesting."

"Don't play stupid, Skyler." Serenity looked disgusted. "Even I can admit that stupidity has never been a word to describe you."

"I'm glad we can agree on such a fact." Skyler gestured to Owen, who gaped at him. "Serenity, this is Owen. Owen, this is Serenity." He turned back towards the furious woman. "She's going to be aiding us with finding Ms. Dubois tonight."

"You're crazy if you think I'd help you," she spat, casting a look of disdain towards Owen. "I don't act reckless and expose myself in front of mortals like you apparently do. At least," she added casually, "not mortals I don't plan on killing."

"Oh, my god." Owen looked ready to pass out. "You don't have to show me anything. Trust me."

"Shut up!" Serenity yelled. Skyler sighed.

"There's no reason to yell at him." He looked amused. "How funny. You used to be so concerned with concealing yourself from mortals."

"Exposure means nothing to me at this point!" Serenity snapped. "In just a few hours I'll have a new body and once again, no one will know who I am."

Skyler sighed again, shaking his head. "Just let the girl go." Her eyes widened. "She'll kill you, you know."

"What?" Serenity burst out laughing. "That half witch half bitch is going to kill me? Surely you haven't become that naïve since we dated."

"Whoa." Owen took a step back, his face deathly pale. "You two dated?"

"For a short period," Skyler said casually. He looked back at her. "It was before I learned her true nature."

"And before I learned what a coward he is." Serenity sighed. "And now, you're dead."

She lifted her hand; Owen let out a high pitched scream but Skyler was tugging him behind him so that the bright blue energy blast she'd thrown flew straight towards him…however, before it could hit him it was striking some invisible wall, dissipating as quickly as it had been thrown. Serenity dropped her hand, screaming.

"You and your goddamn shield!"

"Let her go, Serenity." Skyler's blue eyes hardened. "Because if she doesn't succeed in killing you, I will."

Serenity shook her head, holding up her hands. She smirked.

"Let the games begin then, witch." And with that, she vanished.

Skyler dusted himself off, glancing behind him. "Alright there, Sheldon?" He blinked before sighing once again and shaking his head.

"You don't have to cry, Owen."

"I feel like my entire life is a lie!" Owen squeaked from where he was lying curled up on the ground in the fetal position. He was hyperventilating, his gun beside him. Skyler stared at him, trying to decide if he should feel bad or laugh.

He did both.

"You can get up now. She's gone." He watched him slowly sit up. "That wasn't the most masculine of reactions to this entire thing."

"I can't help it." Owen shivered. "I've always had this…phobia of there being people you couldn't see, or ghosts, and it's actually real." He snorted, shaking his head. "Ain't this a bitch?"

"Well, don't worry. We'll be done soon." Skyler frowned. "We're going to have to find Ms. Dubois quickly though. I have a feeling Serenity's not too pleased that people are looking for her."

"How do I know you're not on that woman's side?" Owen said, taking a step back. Skyler rolled his eyes. "I mean, you're both…" His words trailed off and Skyler blinked.

"Witches."

"Yeah. Those." Owen shrugged. "How do I know you're not evil? In fact, how do I know that this Jazmine woman isn't evil, too? From what I've heard all you guys do is kill each other anyway!"

"That is not all we…oh, good lord." Owen had taken off in the trees, disappearing in the darkness within seconds. Skyler groaned.

"You're going to get yourself killed, you big idiot." He shrugged, shaking his head and continuing on his way. Owen would be fine on Serenity's part; despite what she said, she rarely killed mortals who weren't involved in her plan. It was, as she would put it, "less of a cleanup". He was just considering changing directions when he heard panting, followed by Owen stopping beside him. He rested his hands on his knees, taking deep, full breaths.

"Alright. I got that out my system…" He straightened, looking at Skyler's surprised, yet amused, expression. "What?"

"What was that about?"

Owen shrugged, cringing. "I don't know my way out of here, and I remembered that. So I figured that I'd believe you're not going to kill me and just stick with you." When Skyler continued to stare at him as if he were trying not to burst out laughing he snapped his fingers. "C'mon, son! We've got a witch to find!"

"Believe it or not," Skyler responded, deciding against continuing to discuss Owen's mini episode, "our search may almost be over." He looked up, nudging Owen. "You see that?"

Owen stared up as well, his eyes narrowing. The sky was now a dark blue so close to black it was nearly impossible to tell the difference. Stars were dotting the darkness like freckles…

…and a thick cloud of smoke was rising somewhere out of the trees. From the looks of it, it wasn't too far.

"Well." Owen followed Skyler as they quickly stumbled through the trees towards the source. "I guess we're about to find out."


Serenity burst into the cabin, her eyes narrowed as she stared around the darkness. When she realized that her hostage was gone she groaned, turning towards Julius.

"What the hell are you doing?" she snapped. When he didn't reply or even turn to acknowledge her she blinked, noticing that his hands were at an odd angle, as if they were holding something. He wasn't even blinking.

"Julius!" she snapped her fingers. When he still didn't move she yelled, kicking the lone chair by the desk. "Goddamn it!"

"What are you doing…wait." He blinked, nearly falling forward. "Where did she go?"

"What?" Serenity's voice was nearly a growl. "You let her go?"

"I…I don't know what happened." Julius looked perplexed. "I was just coming to sedate her because you just told me that I probably should. I come in and she got up and…" He rubbed his head. "I don't know how she got past me-"

"She froze you." Serenity closed her eyes pinching the bridge of her nose. "She fucking froze you!" She threw up her hands. "She's not supposed to be able to do that! She's a telekinetic! That's the only active power she should have!"

"Well…" Julius's voice was timid. "You can just do that seeker thing to trace her, can't you?" He could tell his suggestion was the wrong thing to say since Serenity rounded on him, her eyes blazing.

"She's only twenty one!" she screamed in his face. "She hasn't reached the age of conscience! She can't be traced!"

"She can't have gotten far-" Julius tried, but she was laughing.

"Oh, well, she can't freeze time either. Oh, wait!" She stormed out, staring around. "She can! You can do whatever you put your pretty little head to, can't you?" she screamed into the air, the sound so piercing a flock of crows flew from out of the treetops. "It doesn't matter because I'm still gonna KILL YOU!"

Her scream echoed through the clearing. She spun around, grabbing Julian by his collar.

"You'd better hope I find her," she growled, her grip tightening; his eyes widened. "Because I can make you see your sister real soon. But it won't be in the way you imagined." She shoved him away, letting out one last angry yell before disappearing.


Jazmine looked up as she heard a high pitched wail from the direction she'd just come from. She groaned, spinning around in a circle.

Well. Someone wasn't happy with her absence.

Hide. No, don't hide. Run. But run where?

She needed to find the cemetery her great-great grandmother was buried in. It was one of the few spells she remembered from her days in Miami, one that Lydia had taught her. She didn't remember which direction it was in, though. If only she had Anya's diary…she walked a few steps forward before stumbling; she regained her balance and strained her eyes, crouching down and picking up a book. She shifted the spell book to her other arm, opening it. Her eyes widened.

Anya James' Diary.

"What…the hell."

She wasn't even going to try to think of how that had even gotten there. So many weird things happened when magic was involved that to try and rationalize it would make someone crazy. She took off running again.

As long as she didn't stop running, the woman wouldn't be able to track her down.

At least, she hoped not.


"Did you hear that?"

"What?"

"That scream." Huey gave Denise a look. "Oh, come on! It was loud as hell!" He suddenly reached into his pockets, groaning. "I dropped the diary!"

"Oh, my god." Denise sighed. "You can't be serious!"

"Well, I'm pretty serious."

"When'd you drop it?"

"Oh, I don't know, somewhere between that one tree and that other rock." He closed his eyes. "I don't even know what time it is!"

"At least I have service!" Denise chirped brightly, staring down at her screen. "It is…ten fourteen."

"Goddamn! We've been out here for three hours?"

"I guess time goes by fast when everything looks the damn same." Denise pressed a button, putting the phone up to her ear. "I'm calling Owen to see where his ass is."

"I'm pretty sure if they found anything we would've known about it by now-" Huey started before he heard a rustling. "Wait. Don't say anything."

"What?"

"What part of don't say anything do you not understand?"

"Sorry." Denise held up her hands when Huey glared at her. He pointed towards the bush that he'd heard the sound emerge from, creeping towards it and nodding towards Denise. She nodded, giving him thumbs up and following him towards the dark leaves as she lifted her gun. Just as Huey was about to pry the leaves apart-

Bang!

"What the hell was that?" Denise yelled, whipping around. Huey did the same.

"It sounded like a gun." He and Denise exchanged looks before they were both running through the trees towards the sound. They'd been so distracted that they didn't see Jazmine quickly scramble out the bush, exhaling with relief.

"Thank god," she mumbled, turning around and continuing in the opposite direction, relieved that she'd managed to escape her captors at least for a while longer.

It was weird, though. For a moment, they'd sounded like completely different people.


I should be updating again sometime this week since the next chapter's already around halfway done. Wooooo!

Thanks for reading! And...I can't think of anything else so say, so I guess I'm done now. ;)

-Kelsey