Author's Name: Merick

Beta: Daniel Rook

Chapter 1

Title: Mathew

"Please don't make me do this again?" The voice was soft, and might have been called musical were it not so despondent in its plea. Large eyes looked up at the giant of a man towering above her, his face showed no mercy, not to her, not to the human slumped in the chair in front of them both. Sometimes he smiled at her, the giant man, sometimes his long nose crowned the glimmer of white teeth splitting beautiful red lips. Sometimes his green eyes glittered, but not that day.

"Go into his soul, we need what he hides little one." At least his voice was not angry, she hated it when his voice was angry, it made her feel small, and worthless.

"But it hurts him." She pleaded.

"Then he will give us what we need sooner, and we can release him." His smile was indulgent, and she didn't quite believe that the man would ever let the human go.

She padded across the floor to the bound human, his head was hung down over his lap, and the only thing that kept him from slumping to the floor were the ropes that lashed him to the chair. She reached out a small hand to touch his knee, to rouse him; it was always easier when they were awake, or conscious. Then she didn't have to tear past the barriers of the closed mind. Doing that always hurt them more.

"Mathew?" She whispered. It was important to know their names; no one she had encountered thus far had been completely able to ignore their own names when she called them. This Mathew was no different. She felt his eyes open before she saw them, his face rising to look into hers. He was grey, his lips were pale and cracked, his eyes red rimmed, with dark circles, he was the epitome of misery and the sight of him brought tears to her eyes as well.

A hand on her shoulder did nothing to steady her.

"Come Aletheia. Find me the truth."

She put a second hand on Mathew's other knee, her despair as visible as his.

"I am sorry." She mouthed to him, and then she bowed her head. His fell back and he began to moan.

Her first incursions were always as gentle as she could manage, and she hoped with each foray that the fragile human would give her what she sought so she needn't rip. They rarely did, and Mathew was an even more difficult case. As the bonded of a Vampire, a Sheriff no less, his mind was better trained, and might have even been glamoured to prevent others from discovering the secrets. She could get past the glamour; with some effort. But to avoid leaving a useless, shredded mess behind that no one could salvage she proceeded very carefully.

It was like opening a book that had been soaked in water, having to turn each page with great delicacy, separating the layers of memories that were nearly meshed together, without tearing them, or reading through the transparencies and muddling the message entirely.

"Please Mathew," her voice had taken on the bell like quality that was most familiar to her, and to the giant who listened. "Please tell me where Gabriella has hidden it, and I will bring you water, and I will loosen your bonds. I will care for your aching muscles and torn skin. Just tell me where it is."

She could feel the tears rolling down his face even though she was not looking at him, it was part of her gift, part of her curse, she felt the pain she was inflicting. Not the actual pain, of having a mind torn, having small pieces of your soul trampled, no, but the misery it caused the humans and other creatures she worked her magic on.

"Gabriella." Mathew moaned, the cry punctuated by a sob that rocked his whole being.

"Stone work?" She said out loud, "He sees stone work, sandstone, it is at least a century old."

The giant behind her hummed, and stroked his chin. "How many buildings can there be in Chicago that are sandstone and over a century old?" He rested his hand on Aletheia's shoulder again. "It is a start my beauty. Thank you." She pulled herself back from the mostly intact mind slowly, trying to close each leaf of paper flat, without crease or tear.

"Thank you Mathew." She whispered to him, still holding his knees, feeling him tremble. "Let me get you some water."

His sob reverberated deep in her core.