When You Assume 12/?

"I don't see a search function. Where do we start?" Johnny asked quietly, leaning slightly over Bruce's shoulder as he sat in the only available chair.

"Mmm. Good question." Patrick replied. "I don't think he can be older than thirty-five or so. Mid to late 70's birth records would be a good jumping off point."

Bruce began slowly scrolling through the many pages while the other two studied the screen intently to be sure they caught anything he might gloss over.

"There. Hold it right there. Myer... The last name isn't right, but it's the only Wayne Steven I've seen so far." Patrick announced

Johnny nodded.

"That feels right. Whatever happened to him and his parents, I'm sure children's services, or what passed for it then, changed his name. Can't let a kid grow up with that following him around."

Bruce clicked and pulled up the record full screen.

"Born March 18th, 1976 to Isabelle and Robert Myer. Did you see him as a kid in that vision at all, John? If we knew how old he was when it happened…"

Hearing the front door ease open, all three men gazed up to see two roughly dressed men enter the building. Johnny paled slightly and gripped his lover's shoulder. "I know, I don't like it either, babe. Just stay cool, yeah? Looks don't necessarily mean anything. They might not be…"

"Staring right at us? Sorry to disappoint you, but they are." Patrick interrupted, tension in his voice. "There's scrap paper just to your left. Write down the address as quickly as you can. I'll go provide the distraction."

"Not a chance!" Johnny hissed, glaring fiercely at the other man. As usual, Patrick grinned and took absolutely zero notice.

"We don't have time to argue. Get that address and try and find a way out the rear of the building. Go now!" he demanded under his breath, already sauntering back towards the front of the room. Johnny thought seriously about decking him and dragging him along, but he knew there really might not be a moment to spare. A moment later, Bruce pulled him away from dark thoughts of knocking Patrick senseless.

"I got it in my pocket. Let's get the hell outta here, babe."

"We can't just leave him…"

"He gave us a shot, John, we can't ignore it."

"Okay, okay, but I get to knock his block off when we find each other again."

Bruce cleared the screen and rose and the two swiftly made their escape. At the front, Patrick addressed the assumed threat with a bright smile, while also squeezing the young clerk's shoulder, hoping she would understand the silent message to follow his lead.

"Afternoon gentlemen. I'm the new supervisor. Can I help you find what you're looking for?"

The taller of the two men grinned and took a single step forward, crossing his arms and looking Patrick up and down.

"You can tell me where to find the guys that were on that computer back there."

"I'm sorry…"

"No you're not, but I can make that happen real easy." The man broke in, still smiling. "I want names. I wanna know where they went."

Patrick turned briefly then faced the threat again with a carefully schooled expression of surprise.

"Well… I'm afraid I don't know. They must have finished their internet research and headed to the microfiche room."

His inquisitor took another step and Patrick, knowing he needed to appear cowed in order to sell the performance, moved back the same distance and allowed slight concern to creep into his face

"What research?"

"The history of witchcraft and the occult in the early days of California." Patrick blithely ad-libbed. "They'd apparently heard something regarding this particular area. Truthfully, I don't think they'll find much. This seems like such a quiet town. Almost worthy of being called sleepy or one-horse."

"You'd be surprised." The thug assured him in a low, warning tone. "Names."

"They never gave me any. It's not a requirement, you know."

"The system have a camera?"

"No. It isn't exactly new, nor is the software. It won't support recent technology."

The man looked up and around but saw no security cameras either. Grunting softly, he turned his attention to the clerk. Patrick had an immediate, visceral urge to get between them, to shield the pretty teenager, but he held back, all too aware that it wouldn't be expected of the kind of timid, bookish character he was working to project.

"You like your new boss, sweetheart?"

The young woman blanched, but, remembering Patrick's demeanor when he first entered, she was able to produce a genuine smile.

"I do. He's really kind… and smart. He knows everything about state history."

Again, the man snorted under his breath. For a moment, Patrick and Ashlynn weren't at all sure what he'd do, but after a minute or two of ominous stillness, he gestured to his companion and both exited the building. Patrick maintained the façade a bit longer, just to be sure, but eventually he released an audible sigh and relaxed. He looked over just in time to prevent Ashlynn from sliding out of her chair.

"Easy… easy does it. You're alright now."

"No… no, you don't understand, I see them in town sometimes. Everybody gets so quiet when they're around. We're all scared, even the police!"

"Trust me, it's fine. You did beautifully. They believed every word."

Shifting her eyes away and grinning shyly at the desk, Ashlynn responded in a mildly embarrassed mumble.

"Maybe 'cause it wasn't all a lie…"

"The sentiment is much appreciated. I have to go find my friends now. You take care."

"Oh, I will."

"I think the best thing would be to close down for the day… go home to your parents and a hot cup of tea. Tea always soothes my spirit."

"I don't have any. Parents, I mean. Working here *and* nights at a local restaurant lets me afford a little place of my own while I finish high school. A cup of tea sounds really good, though."

Patrick frowned, suddenly feeling the need to sit and draw her entire story from her, but he knew staying would only put her in further danger. Mentally grinding his teeth, he vowed to return, take her to a safe place and encourage her to tell him everything.

"A girl after my own heart. Remember, straight home, yes? Soon as possible."

"No problem."

"Good. Nice to meet you, Ashlynn."

"You too."

Turning, Patrick headed to the back and discovered the same escape route he assumed the other two had taken. He found them still inside, however, staring out at an alley through a small glass pane in the rear door. He made his footsteps louder so as not to startle them, but Bruce still swung around, glared and hissed a question.

" *Where* have you been? I was goin' crazy wonderin' what those guys might be doin' to you and that girl!"

"I did what I do best. Why aren't you both in the car by now?'

"There was another guy out back. He walked off a minute ago, but we couldn't be sure if he was really gone yet." Johnny said quietly.

"He is. Ashlynn and I convinced them there was nothing and nobody to find."

The others breathed out heavily and straightened up.

"Then let's get the hell out of here, shall we?" Johnny added. "You and I need a quiet, isolated place to have a very serious talk…"

TBC…