A/N: I needed something to get me to April. This is part one of three; it had to be a trilogy. Update in two weeks or so.
Or, How Tori Learned to Stop Bitching and Love—Well, Tolerate Certain People
Considering their lives depend on staying hidden, Tori isn't the only who freaks out when some random guy on the street follows Chloe (it's always Chloe) into the park and introduces himself.
"Hey, Chloe," the guy she's never met says. "I'm Corey. Can I talk to you about Project Genesis?"
When Corey explains about headaches and the future (seriously?) and Project Phoenix it doesn't make any of them feel all that much better. But Chloe decides to trust him and that means Derek's going to pretend to trust him (for now) and Simon might actually trust him and Tori doesn't really get a say about anything (well, she does tell him, "Eyes up or I'll pull them out" and that makes her feel a little bit better—it's not that he isn't cute, but she's looking for an excuse to make him really regret this).
Corey explains that it's no accident he's talking to them while Lauren and Kit are off trying to make contact with yet another disaffected old scientist (how many are there?). He's sort of planned this out. Oh, and, by the way, do you want to meet my friends?
They expect a trap.
Graveyard, Tori suggests, and Chloe isn't happy, but she agrees. Tori's super-super-powered and Derek's handy in a fight (and Simon is...there) but Chloe in a graveyard should be impossible to beat. So, it's all dark and spooky (well, it's the middle of the afternoon, but they're paranoid so it feels spooky) when Corey calls his friends to meet them in a graveyard.
They're ready for a fight—Maya and Daniel happen instead.
They'd gotten some details out of Corey while they waited. He's Canadian (not really surprisingly seeing as they're in Canada) and can see the future (that's a little more surprising). Oh, and occasionally he gets headaches so bad he pukes everywhere.
Maya and Daniel arrive just in time to pull him away, hover worriedly over him. The four kids from Lyle House look at each other and wonder if they should trust them.
"They're just doing what we did," Chloe says. "Looking for someone to help them."
"I don't think he was faking," Simon says. Simon still has puke on his shoe and he's not exactly happy about it.
"I like them," Tori says, mostly because Derek's frowning. He scowls at her when she talks (he always does that) but it fades to something else.
"She can hear us."
Curiosity keeps them there. It turns out Maya's a skinwalker (nothing surprises Tori anymore). Maya's like Derek, except her powers don't suck.
Daniel's a witch-hunter.
"I knew I liked you," Simon says. Her half-brother, ladies and gentleman, always hilarious.
(There are some days, now, when Simon says things to her and she knows he's just teasing. Other days when she thinks he just hates her. Other days when he does just hate her. They're getting better, though. He nods at Daniel and winks at her and maybe he isn't so bad)
"What does that mean?" Derek asks. It's polite, for Derek. While he usually thinks he can get away with being a jerk, Maya makes it very clear he has to play nice or she's walking away.
"I can tell you're not human," Daniel says, still struggling with the way they aren't human. They're different (and Tori thinks it's a good thing, thinks it's the only reason she's still alive, the only reason her life sucks, doesn't know what to think, really) and Daniel's still struggling to make it make sense. "Well, except for maybe him."
She cackles at Simon's expression.
"He's just useless in a fight," she says. Probably shouldn't have said that, really, since now it'll be three on three, but Corey looks pretty useless too. Maya and Daniel don't. They're both muscular and carry themselves like Derek (they're fighters, all of them). Tori wouldn't have been able to tell that, a few months ago. Her mother tried to kill her—Tori's a bit of a fighter now herself.
"I can also tell you're...you might be dangerous," Daniel says, "But you're not the bad guys."
"That's it?" Not that Tori's disappointed, but everyone should be able to tell they're dangerous.
"And other things." When he continues, even though he doesn't really believe it himself, Tori gets it. They really don't have anyone else to trust. There's three of them and they're a team, but they don't know what else to do. They're trusting strangers because it's the only thing they can do. "I can...repel evil."
She didn't mean too, but...repel evil? Really?
(Except he can. It's pretty cool)
Maya and Daniel have a plan.
They need to go back for their friends and they have a plan and Corey (Corey found them the people for the plan). Talking everyone into trusting them enough so they can put their plan into action is harder. Maya speaks for the three of them, laying out the reasons they need to stick together. It impresses Tori, a bit (Maya's tough; the boys are smart enough to know this). Her word alone isn't enough but...
Maya Delaney, Daniel Bianchi and Corey Carling are on the lists they've taken from the Edison Group.
It's enough that they believe they're telling the truth. That's not the reason they help (Derek wouldn't have let them if that was the only reason). When they call Kit to tell them what they've found, he explains that, as a matter of fact, the threesome is the reason they're here in the first place. His contact called him because the three of them made contact.
"We really wanted to meet you," Corey explains. "And he would have made us wait too long."
Corey's already started trying to work them towards the proper end game, even if he only barely realizes it himself.
Tori goes in with Kit, Derek, Maya and Daniel (they don't have time to wait for reinforcements; the Nasts are planning to move their captives tonight). When Derek starts leading the way, she mutters, "Down boy," and he growls at her. Daniel steps in, reminds them they don't have time for bickering and Derek can't stand the thought of being considered the immature one so he stops.
Simon and Chloe and Corey are on surveillance duty. Liz is helping out today. Simon mutters something about being more useless than a dead girl and Tori tells him to sketch them an escape route.
Everyone's trying to be as quiet as possible until they have to fight their way out of there. They're sneaking around, quietly, quickly, when Maya just takes off. Tori casts the cover spell on both of them as they tear through the hallways. Tori has to jog to keep up with the cougar and then there's a door that Maya's unleashed her claws to tear apart.
Tori's learned an unlock spell or two. Maya gives her a look—a thank you—and Tori opens the door.
There's a cougar in there (Tori feels stupid, afterwards, since she'd been running around with a cougar the whole time, but how was she supposed to know that this cougar was a supernatural too?) and maybe Tori takes a step back or two. Maya doesn't. The two cats circle each other for one long moment and then Maya pounces. There's a lot of licking in the next minute or so.
That's how Tori meets Rafe.
Getting out of the building is a lot more complicated than getting in. It involves a lot more yelling and shooting and Tori isn't all that thrilled about it.
She watches in awe as Maya and Rafe leap and claw (she almost feels sorry for the guys—and then she sees the guns and her mental narration switches to "Faster kill pussycat"). The cats are fast and deadly and there is a LOT of blood in the hallway around them.
"We need to get through there," Kit says, pointing to the window at the end of the hall.
"Heads up," she calls and the glass shatters, leaving them an escape route. For the first time, Daniel really looks at her (it's not an admiring look). Tori can't stop the pleased grin, anyway. "That's the first time I've ever done that on purpose."
A combination of magic and rope manages to get them outside and to the building next door where they can lose their attackers.
Liz—or the floating wood that they assume is Liz—leads them to where the others are, in the van that Lauren's eager to drive away. They should disappear into the mall, some place way too public, but they stick to the van instead (the wild animals are a bit of a liability, she guesses).
It's almost too soon to be called a get away before they have to pull over so that Maya can shift back. Chloe goes with her; no sooner do they come back then Rafe needs a minute. "Great," Tori complains, but no one's listening to her as usual.
They have extra clothes for Derek. They're too big for Rafe, but Tori doesn't think Maya notices. When Rafe steps out from behind the trees, Tori's pretty sure Maya doesn't notice anything at all.
As cougars, they scared her. Human, they're making her blush. They're not even touching and Tori feels like a third wheel because their eyes are doing some seriously intense things to each other.
She's looking anywhere else, which is why she sees Daniel flinch.
"I guess animal magnetism is a real thing," she says, just to be sure. He's really not happy with that, but he doesn't say anything. New Girl—Sam Russo—does.
Tori saved her stupid ass and the girl has the nerve to start complaining about Tori and her inappropriate priorities.
"Why did we save her?" she demands to the group at large.
"Sam went to school with us," Maya says and it's pretty damn cold. Sam flinches, too. Maya doesn't notice (or doesn't care if she does), just turns her back on Rafe to check the cut on Daniel's head.
Derek manages to hold out until they're a little further along and then he has to change back, too. When he comes out of the forest, he looks exhausted. The skinwalkers clearly have the better deal. Rafe's practically glowing (though Tori thinks it might have something to do with Maya).
When they're safe, Rafe tells them that the Nasts put his sister down like the animal they thought she was (if they couldn't use her, they could use her DNA). Rafe tells them that he and Maya might end up mindless animals. It looks like Derek got the better deal, after all.
Maya takes it pretty calmly, considering.
"Thanks for coming to get me," Rafe says. To Maya. To Daniel, too. To all of them. "I know I don't deserve it."
"None of us deserve this," Daniel says.
They team up.
The five newbies aren't like some of the other kids they've found, with parents who know what's going on, parents who can hide with them, protect them. The new kids can't go back—they ask Kit if they can stay (Corey's certainty that staying together is the best thing for everyone is startling).
Maya talks him around, slowly but surely, all the logical reasons why the advantages of their combined resources outweigh the disadvantage that will be nine hormonal teenagers. Even now, they let her speak for them. Rafe wants in her pants and Sam seems only to be allowing it because it's what Daniel wants, but they let her lead them.
Kit eventually agrees.
It doesn't take them long to realize that it feels like they were always supposed to team up.
They find someplace new, out of the way. Lauren homeschools them (though Tori is aware she's going to be a freshman forever, at this rate). Kit has them training.
Tori and Simon work on spellcasting. Daniel and Sam watch, offer to help. Maybe Tori uses it as an excuse to knock Sam off her feet. Whatever. They four of them do sort of complement each other. The benandanti do something that might be spellcasting—whatever it is, it hurts. She's kind of impressed.
Derek and the skinwalkers head through the forest together (Simon tells Chloe 'Derek and the Skinwalkers' is going to be the title of one of their adventures in his comic he never talks to her about). Derek's never looked happier (he only scowls 95% of the time).
Chloe doesn't seem to mind doing her own thing (Corey keeps her company, too exuberant to annoy Derek; anyway, Chloe wouldn't stand for it if Derek started getting all stupid and possessive), but seeing her all defenceless gives Daniel the bright idea to help them improve their hand-to-hand skills.
Not Tori's strong suit. Not at all.
She takes the lessons, though. Next time she's on her own, she's not getting kidnapped.
Simon looks at her strangely. "You get along with them."
"I know no one believes me," Tori snaps, "But once upon a time I had friends."
"You still have friends," Chloe offers. Tori wants to hit her, though, so she's not sure if it counts. She doesn't hit Chloe with a brick this time (maybe it's a sign of personal growth). She walks away and mutters thanks (maybe it's because there aren't any rocks around).
Tori might not have Simon's artist eye, but she does know high school drama. Especially since Sam is like the most obvious person. Ever.
Sam isn't as good at the whole benandanti thing as Daniel. Simon is enough of a challenge for her (well, Simon isn't much of a challenge for anyone, but still). The two of them clear out first, leave Tori and Daniel for longer, harder sessions.
"You should tell B2 to cut it out," she tells him once they're done for the day. The room's still mostly intact (Kit worries about that, worries about her, and Tori's kind of glad). The water tastes good.
"If Sam keeps going on and on about how Rafe's ruining Maya's life, eventually Maya's going to realize she's doing it for you."
Daniel is the stereotypical boy next-door and he looks it, too (well, if the boy next-door was a wrestling champ because the biceps definitely give away that bit of history). His expression just then is not so pleasantville.
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Sam hates Rafe because he's ruining her one true pairing. Your one true pairing. You. Maya. Do I need to be clearer?"
"Maya's been my best friend forever," he says quietly, angrily. "She thinks of me like a brother."
"I ever tell you about the time I had a crush on my brother? Well, half-brother." He blinks. Tori hurries to add, "I didn't know he was my brother. I was on very heavy medication at the time. The point is you and Maya—"
"Which is why you can't even look at Rafe without turning green?"
Daniel just turns and walks away.
Before, Tori had a boyfriend. Boyfriends, if you wanted to get super technical. She knows how to talk to guys. After Lyle house, she changed that: she knows how to talk to guys who aren't Simon and Derek.
Lately, she's been thinking she should change it: she knows how to talk to guys who aren't supernatural.
Maya and Rafe aren't dating. There are issues, or something, between them and Tori totally respects that. Or she would, if they'd stop having eye sex across the breakfast table.
She doesn't totally blame Sam for going after Rafe. It's kind of uncomfortable. It's giving Derek ideas.
"Not that he's said anything," Chloe says to her. If Lauren wouldn't immediately disapprove of her having sex with a werewolf, Chloe would probably be talking to her. Chloe and Tori, Tori and Chloe...they have issues, too (mostly Tori's, Tori is aware, thank you). But she's the best (she's the only) Chloe's got right now. Sam's too hostile and Maya's not quite as familiar with the Derek situation as Tori. If Simon wasn't Derek's brother, maybe Chloe would talk to him but...well, that would be super awkward.
"But his hands keep wandering?"
Chloe blushes (and bristles). "He's not like that. He's just—he likes making sure I'm near him, now. He's always beside me. It's getting worse."
"Like he wants to mark his territory?" Tori offers.
"Yeah. It's been a lot worse since Rafe came."
"Another predator," she says. She wants to ask Daniel (maybe even Sam) if Derek and the skinwalkers feel different. Daniel said she and Simon feel different from each other, but he seems to be assuming that's the power difference (which is a lot better than Derek's assumption that it means she's evil). Daniel's been avoiding her, though. Tori has that effect on people.
"He doesn't want to eat me," Chloe says. She blushing bright red when Tori stops laughing; hip bumps Tori to make a point. "You know what I mean."
"I know you want to be eaten by the big bad wolf."
Tori knows if Chloe talks to Derek, he'll just feel guilty and then start withdrawing and repressing. She's heard Simon and Chloe complain (worry, it sounds the same) about Derek enough to know what he's like.
"Talk to the cougars. Maybe if they work their stuff out, the wolf'll settle down."
Whatever Chloe says, Maya and Rafe are holding hands the next time Tori sees them.
They're supposed to be playing basketball in the back. Team building or something. There's not much contact involved, so it's theoretically safe, though Derek prefers watching. Maya and Rafe are smiling at each other and it's sweet and sickly and Sam doesn't like it.
"What is with the bad boy thing?" she declares loudly. "After everything he's done—"
Maya can handle herself. It's like the first thing Tori learned about her. Maya can handle it. Rafe seems pretty tough too, just letting Sam's anger slide off him until he has to address it and then being pretty chill about everything. They could handle it.
But enough is freaking enough already.
"That's it," Tori says. "Stop it. You're acting like a crazy fangirl. I'm sorry, Maya didn't hook up with Daniel. Really, I'm terribly sorry. But the pairing only exists in your head. So shut up!"
Tori can feel the energy building in her fingertips. She's a little bit of a show-off. Her fingers are sparking with electricity and she raises them slowly up in front of her.
Sam snarls. "Little princess finds the internet and all of a sudden thinks she knows everything?"
"Our bitch is going to take your bitch," Corey mutters to Simon in the background.
"Did you just call my sister a bitch?"
The energy dies away. Tori looks over, certain she's heard wrong. They don't really talk about the whole sibling thing (that leads to thoughts about the whole crush thing that they both don't ever want to talk about). But it's...nice, hearing him say that.
"Nobody's taking anybody," Daniel says because he's been genetically engineered to always step up and be responsible. He steps between the two girls (keeps his back to Sam because Sam's devotion to him is just a little bit creepy). "Why don't we all take a break?"
Chloe grabs her arm. "We'll be inside."
Daniel's pulling Sam away for a conversation he should have had weeks ago, hopefully. Maya doesn't look very happy, but Rafe's talking to her. If they're lucky, they'll get all their drama sorted.
"I didn't mean anything," Corey offers as she storms past.
"I did threaten to enucleate you the first time we met," she admits. "If you're good, I'm good."
"It should worry me that you know the word for that," Chloe says. "Why do I find it comforting?"
"You're weird," Tori explains with a smile.
Later, she's typing away at the computer and Rafe comes and slides to the floor beside her. He's good looking in an exotic way, but he knows it and so clearly wants to be Maya's it's ridiculous.
"Thanks for that. Daniel's trying to call off Sam as we speak. Don't know if it'll work but—thanks for telling her to back off."
"I like yelling at people." Tori glances up. "Where's the deadlier member of your species?"
"She's waiting for Daniel to finish." He's a little bit jealous, but trying to do the mature thing. Rafe isn't the quarterback type. He's not her type, either. She's the geek chic queen and he's definitely spent some time skulking in front of the principal's office, but she rescued him. She feels a bit responsible.
"They're as tight as they look?"
"Oh yeah. They always need to touch base. They're used to leaning on each other," Rafe explains, real understanding in his voice. He glances at the computer screen. "You're still trying to find..."
"The other two." Hayley and Nicole. "And Maya's dog. Am I supposed to understand that?"
"Maya's an animal person."
"That would explain you."
Rafe doesn't seem to take offence. He looks thoughtful. "First thing I ever remember you saying was that animal magnetism was a thing."
"I'm not relationship girl." Tori had no idea why she keeps speaking. "But I figure if she just wanted an animal, she'd go for Derek. He's bigger."
"Cats and dogs don't mix."
"Opposites attract," she says back. "Derek and Chloe being proof, I think."
"Guys that tall always date short girls. It's like a law or something."
Tori has to concede the point.
Practice the next day is quiet. Tori focuses on her spells and does her best to ignore Sam, who is doing her best to ignore her, so everything works out. The Benandanti in Pyjamas (okay, so not really) leave first. Simon tells her Derek's not happy with her (he never is) but that he thinks she didn't screw up too badly.
"You were trying to do a nice thing. In a mean way but...you did it without losing your temper. He's not unhappy."
"Thanks, Simon. And thanks for—" She can't say it.
"The hand thing was awesome," he says awkwardly. "I'm definitely putting that in the comic."
They grin; they're good.
Daniel finds her in her room after dinner, looking like he expects her to kick him out. He's not as much of a dumb jock as he looks. "Can I come in?"
Tori goes back to her computer. "What do you want?"
He almost closes her door behind him, but seems to think better of it. The animals are going for a run, though, so he must have figured it was safe.
"You lied to Sam. It's not...not just in her head."
Tori's not sure when she became relationship girl, but apparently she did. Well, she already knows, so she suppose it's nice that he didn't bother to lie. It's enough for her to stop typing and look at him.
"You tell Maya that?"
"No. Even if Rafe wasn't there—"
"You're like her brother."
"She's my best friend," he explains. "I'm not ruining that."
"What did you tell Sam?"
"That it's in her head." He doesn't even look guilty. "And picking a fight with you is going to end badly for her."
"I wasn't going to kick her ass." Just scare her a little. A lot. "I could have."
"I know. Are you..." he searches for the words, "You and Simon—"
"Heavily medicated. I cannot stress that enough. Besides," she says, waving her hand and accidentally slamming the door shut, "I got over that before I knew he was my brother. One minute alone with Simon was enough to cure me, thank you very much."
His lips quirk.
"I was going to ask if the two of you are good representations of your...species." The word seems to pain him.
He sits down on Chloe's bed and waits for an answer.
"According to Kit, Simon's probably going to always be, like, the weakest sorcerer in the room. I don't know if he's ever said that to Simon but...yeah. He's like an average witch, Kit said." Tori's seen her mother and she has her own opinions about what a witch can do, but it's what Kit said and he's the one who knows everything, apparently. "I'm...well, you've seen what I can do. I can do a lot more when I get really mad. Kit and my mom weren't that powerful but...I'm way more powerful than they were."
It helps Daniel get just what they did to her (and to Simon). In that second she knows that he understands why they aren't going to stop until she's dead.
"Sam's really aggressive. She can't help it. Rafe's sister—Corey's headaches are getting really bad."
Really, really bad, though they don't say that.
"We all met in group therapy," she reminds him. "They screwed up big time—screwed us up. We're not really supposed to talk about this; it makes me start blowing stuff up."
Daniel nods. On his way out, he says, "Hey. I meant to ask you: what's a one true pairing?"
Of course he doesn't know. Tori wouldn't be surprised if he didn't know how to turn on a computer. "Okay, today is your lucky day because I'm going to introduce you to the world of fanfiction. You will never have free time again."
Daniel doesn't really get it. He doesn't mind it but it's definitely not his thing. But he does burst out laughing when she shows him the Snape/Teletubby smut-a-thon. He is quickly very disturbed, but he laughs first.
Tori never liked Chloe. She hated her, once, because of Lara. Now, she's not so sure. It mostly depends on how much she's slept the night before, how perky Chloe is and how much of a jerk Derek's being.
But the fact is only Tori is allowed to pick on Chloe.
So when Tori walks into the kitchen and sees Sam arguing with Chloe, she doesn't like it. And when she hears Sam's voice, even though she's down the hallway (Sam's yelling at Chloe?) she really doesn't like it—especially when Sam starts lecturing Chloe about how she shouldn't let Derek talk to her like that. The thing about Chloe and Derek is that they look bad together, look really, really bad together, but Chloe isn't the damsel in distress with the big hulking asshole and if Derek talks to her like a jerk, Chloe's going to call him on it. Tori knows this. She's seen it.
Tori's about to call out, warn Sam to knock it off, when Sam raises her fist. Against Chloe. Chloe.
Sam goes flying before Tori really stops to think about it.
"What do you think you're doing?"
"It's f—f—fine, Tori," Chloe says. "We were just—"
It's hard to tell that the benandanti are the same species—they're just so different. Daniel is calm and controlled and Sam is aggressive and, well, stupid. She's quick to go on the defensive, quick to argue, quick to fight. And maybe Tori gets it, a bit. Simon and Derek get it too, the moving around, the always being afraid. Maybe they could have been friends. It's not going to happen.
Sam gets off the floor and boom go her powers, knocking Tori over.
"Princess never learned to mind her own business."
"I'm a princess, huh?" Electricity is humming in her hands and it feels good. Kit tells her to be careful, to hold back—she's missed feeling like this. "Then start bowing."
Sam dodges what she can—excellent reflexes and all that—but Tori's better. She slams the other girl to the ground, before crashing her into the chairs. Then the table. Then some more chairs. Tori's so mad she thinks she might be able to rip the earth open (she's been wanting to try that since she saw Chloe do it).
"Tori, stop it."
Daniel's voice cuts through everything and Tori finds that the magic has quieted, the way it never does when she...she gets so caught up and she doesn't mean...she turns, wonders when Daniel got there.
"Now that is a super power I want," Simon says. "Since when does Tori listen to anyone?"
They're all there, now, staring at her and Sam and what used to be the kitchen table. Maya heads over to Sam to check for injuries but the rest aren't moving, waiting for an explanation.
"Shut up, Simon." She feels empty without the magic. But the anger is gone. It always goes quickly once she realizes... "I—"
"Tori was just—" Tori shoots Chloe a look and the blonde girl does not say 'protecting.' That would be wrong. "Sam and I had a disagreement. Sam got aggressive. Tori stepped in."
"You overreacted," Derek says, but he's going to Chloe and for once he doesn't sound like he wants her gone yesterday. From the shame on his face, Tori would bet good money he heard the entire thing.
"I've been known to do that," Tori admits.
"You need to control your temper better," Kit says, trying to sound sympathetic.
Maya stands up, pulling Sam to her feet. "Just some superficial cuts and bruises. She'll be fine."
"You went too easy on her," Daniel says with a startling finality. He's going to Maya and they're marching Sam out of the room and Tori is really glad she isn't Sam right then. Lauren looks like she wants to say something, but settles for turning to her niece and asking how she is.
Tori goes to look for a broom.
(It takes her hours to clean up, though she refuses help from everyone but Chloe, and when they go to bed they can still hear Daniel lecturing Sam on how pissing off their allies is a really bad idea).
Time goes by.
Hanging with Corey is fun; he's almost like a normal person except for the occasional headache. She knew too many guys like him in high school. Guys who weren't good at anything, so they didn't annoy her the way the jocks and cheerleaders did, but who knew how to have a good time. Corey's really chill. And he's getting worse and worse and Tori might be a little callous but she's not totally heartless.
Chloe and Simon are the diplomatic face of Project Genesis (does that make her and Derek the dumb muscle? Well, Derek's a genius so...Tori's not sure she likes that). Chloe mediates the arguments between the two groups because she is far, far too nice.
But it's Corey and Simon who get them all getting along (well, Tori and Sam are never going to get along because Tori is a better bitch and Sam just refuses to admit it). They're the type of guys who get along with everyone, really, so it makes sense that they get along with each other. Corey even gets along with her.
"Tori and Corey," he says. "It's like we're meant to be."
"I can set your insides on fire."
But she won't, won't ever, because Corey just laughs. He doesn't mean it like that, anyway; he's just trying so he doesn't get out of practice. He enjoys her list of the painful things she'd do to him ("Maya's list is more bloody," he teases).
"Can you really?" Maya asks. She's not scared, just curious, so Tori admits she's getting there. Tori can do a lot of things—doing them when she wants to is a little trickier, but that's what Kit's spells are for.
It's Maya who gets Chloe talking. The way she tells the story later is that Daniel had a bad feeling, so Maya sat Chloe down and they tried to get to the bottom of it. Maya and Chloe have become good friends; it's not long before Chloe almost tells her what's going on. Then she stops, and the two girls go and get Tori.
"Your mom's here," Chloe tells Tori. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner. I thought I'd be able to get rid of her by myself."
"Your mom's...?" Maya trails off.
"Dead. Then Chloe used her to kill Dr. Davidoff." If Tori sounds a little gleeful, well, then that's how it goes. "It was awesome."
Chloe doesn't think so—Chloe didn't sleep so well after they escaped—so Tori does her best to repeat it as often as she can.
Maya accepts it, for now, and they get down to business of getting rid of Chloe's pesky ghost problem. They have to tell the boys, but the sordid story doesn't really embarrass Tori.
"My mother was part of the Edison Project. She tried to hunt us down, tried to kill us. Apparently, she's not going to let death stop her."
It's a struggle, to keep her voice even, but she manages. Diane Enright was a bitch (this is a fact). Tori is not sorry she is dead (this is a lie).
No one really has anything to say about that.
"I think Dad should be able to get us in touch with another necromancer," Derek suggests and they begin to plan. Tori doesn't really breath until Chloe declares, "She's gone again. Hopefully, this time for good."
Great. Tori even manages a smile.
It's not safe to go outside by yourself, so Tori climbs to the attic. No one comes up here (except Chloe and Derek, sometimes, but they're asleep right now), so she fits herself into the corner by the dusty boxes and...well, she doesn't cry. Because she isn't sorry the witch is dead. She just...wallows a bit.
The door creaks open and she sees Maya's head, but she ducks into the shadows. Too slowly. Maya makes her way over and sits down cross legged in front of her.
"You didn't have to tell us if you didn't want to."
"We need to know everything about each other if this is going to work." Tori wrinkles her nose at the familiar words coming out of her mouth. "Tell your best friend he needs to stop talking to me."
Maya smiles, but it doesn't reach her eyes. Tori hates it when people pity her.
"It's not like I told you everything. Like how she knew what was happening to me and didn't tell me. Just blamed me for it, told me to take more meds. How I took them and when they didn't work she'd say it was my—"
Tori reminds herself to exhale.
"My biological father's out there right now," Maya says. "He's working for the Nasts—he might be the one who told them about us in the first place. He's trying to get me locked up. He didn't raise me, so I know it's not the same thing but...I want you to know I sort of get it."
Maya didn't spend her whole life trying to make him proud, trying so hard to be perfect just like Lara even though she couldn't, even though—Tori can't get mad anymore. Bad things happen.
Tori still sniffles a little, but Maya doesn't say anything.
Kit (Tori tried saying Dad, in her head once, and it was just...no) gets a USB from someone, but he leaves it to Tori to trudge through. It's what she's good at and he knows she likes this, being in control of what she's good at instead of having it about to blow up in her face every three seconds. There's a long story about how Kit got this, but that's not her job. Her job is to go through the files, find what's hidden just under the surface. They trust her for this. It was the first thing they trusted her to do and even now she takes pride in it.
There must have been about twenty messages to and from and about a Dr. Bianchi before the name clicks.
Tori has to go back, re-read the messages, to figure out...when she goes to find Daniel it's not because she feels sorry for him. She gets it too much to feel sorry for him. It makes her mad, actually, but she's working on her temper, so she just hunts him down.
Shows him proof that his mother thinks he's just a lab experiment gone wrong.
"There's about three dozen to do with her," Tori explains. Daniel keeps his eyes on the computer screen. "I don't think they're important or anything, so I was thinking just have you look them over or something and then I could just oops them into oblivion. If you wanted."
It takes a minute, but eventually Daniel stops staring at the words (that prove mommy never loved him). "What?"
"I've got mad computer skills," Tori explains. "Unlike everyone else, I know how to delete things so they stay gone."
"Nobody else needs to see this."
"Your mom send e-mails like this? Do anything she could to get away from you?"
"Nah. She wanted to kill me herself." Tori's a little proud of how nonchalant that all comes out. "My dad handed me over to the psycho over the phone, I think."
"She left me with my dad." Daniel's explaining all this to the computer and not Tori, but she stays beside him anyway. "He'd get drunk some nights. Most nights. Call me evil. A freak. An abomination. He knew there was something wrong with me."
"According to Sam, you're the most perfectest wonderfulest benandanti to ever exist. I think we can safely say your parents were idiots."
He laughs, not happily, but it's a laugh.
"Maya would take you in?" It's not really a question.
"Only on the really bad nights." It explains how he was so well prepared for a life on the run, Tori thinks. He already knew how to take care of himself. "She wanted me to just move but—I couldn't just leave him."
"That's really stupid." She tries not to look at him. "Almost as stupid as me still wanting to call my dad sometimes."
"Stupid to want to delete emails that might be important."
"Wouldn't want Derek to have to find a new insult."
"Leave them," he says. "We need to leave them in case they can help."
"It's only fair," he admits. "You told everyone about your mom. Maya's told them about her bio dad. Why should my mother be some sort of secret?"
"Because she's not actively trying to kill us?"
Daniel actually smiles. "Thank you, Tori. But leave them."
"I do not get your sense of right and wrong," she admits.
Sometimes, he and Derek agree so easily it's like they're one stubborn, over-protective person. But she's never seen him resort to Derek's brand of raised by wolves manners; Daniel plays the small town boy part perfectly. Always gentlemanly, always polite.
Derek just wants to protect his family; once Maya's safe, Tori's not really sure what Daniel wants. She thinks it might not just be about protecting himself; she thinks he doesn't mind when she tries to tear the world apart because...she's not sure. He doesn't yell at her, though, just tells her to work on her aim.
"Comes with the genetics."
"Probably all screwed up, then." But she says it with a smile and he seems to understand she meant it mostly as a joke.
He just says thank you again and she goes back to work.
They're hiding in plain sight but the Project Phoenix kids are getting nervous.
"I can't blame them," Simon says one night. It's just the four of them. They don't want to be the ones to point out the obvious. "Corey's going through three or four cans a day."
"The last time they went hunting Rafe..." Chloe licks her lips. "Maya thinks he might be starting to forget."
"Sam's still just useless and short-tempered," Tori says. "Daniel says his dreams are more vivid, but he seems fine."
"Dad's looking for help," Derek says.
"Do they trust that?" Tori asks.
"Will he be able to find it?" Simon asks, the more important question.
Chloe stands up. "We didn't know what our powers could do until we tried. Let's see what Corey can find."
Corey finds Hayley.
Not just Hayley, but if you listened to Corey, that's what it sounds like. They show him pictures of his friends, of Annie, and he looks at Hayley and finds her. Kit and Lauren say it's impossible. The kids say they're going in anyway.
Maya argues for ages. They don't want to go in alone, or anything, but they need to get Hayley back out. Kit is adamant—the Edison Group already has the St. Clouds on their tail. No one wants to give the Nasts a chance to join the chase. Daniel steps in, starts repeating the point, mentions what else Corey thinks he saw in there. It's enough to make Kit consider.
Kit and Lauren get on the phone with their friends. It takes days, weeks, but it doesn't matter that Maya and Daniel don't have a plan this time. Tori thinks Daniel's going to talk himself hoarse, but finally Kit's friends agree. They're going to storm the castle walls, see what other secrets the Nasts have in there.
Kit has one stipulation—it is a stupid ass stipulation.
Tori and Chloe are super-super-human. Not to brag or anything, but they are probably the most powerful members of their respective supernatural races. EVER. So why are they stuck as mere lookouts?
Yes, Tori is grumbling. No, she is not being mature. That is not the point. The point is that she is stronger than all of them and she gets stuck outside because Kit thinks he can control her life.
"He's just worried about us," Simon says.
"He should worry about you," Tori snaps. "But I'd be fine. And he's not stopping Derek."
Chloe flinches, nervous. Derek's seventeen now, though, so he gets a pass, or something. And he and the cougars work well together, communicating in body language and claws.
Corey's staying behind, but the other four are going in. Sam's going in and Tori could wipe the floor with her with her eyes closed. It's not fair. She hunts down Daniel to tell him so.
"I don't know what you want me to do about it," he says, bewildered.
"You talked Kit into this stupid thing. You can convince him to take me along." Derek might be able to, but Derek doesn't like having her around. Maya might, but Daniel knows what she can do a lot better than Maya. It'll sound best coming from him.
"I don't think anyone could convince him to send his daughter into this kind of danger."
"I'm not his daughter!" Tori shouts. The picture frames rattle and she—
"Calm down, Tori," Daniel says and she does.
She calms down, the way she always does when he tells her to. Even though she never listens to anybody, not Derek, who scares her sometimes, or Kit, who saved her ass, or Chloe, who keeps sticking her neck out for the dumb witch who keeps putting their lives in danger. The only person she listens to when she's beyond listening is...
"What did you do?" she demands. "To Kit? To us? What can you do?"
Daniel looks at her like she's crazy—she was. Maybe she still is. Maybe she went to Lyle House and never came out. But if she is still Tori Enright then she gets what she wants.
"I—I told you guys. I can persuade people do things for me. Small things, if they already want to do them."
Sure he told them; he didn't tell them he was this good at it.
"Like break into a Nast building?"
"For Hayley and Nicole. For Corey who—" is getting and worse. "For Rafe and his sister and—I had to, Tori. We promised we'd help them. We have to find a way to help us."
"Maybe you do but Kit and his friends—"
"They owe us," he snarls. She's never seen him angry before; annoyed, exasperated, scared, but not furious, hands shaking, red creeping over his face, wants to hit something until his bones shatter angry (angry the way she gets angry). "They had no right to do what they did but they did it anyway. They made us freaks, Tori. And they didn't tell us. They left us—sold us. They thought they could play god—well, that comes with responsibilities. They might not want to, but they're helping us."
The anger fades slowly. Daniel continues, "This is the least they can do for us. We're not putting you guys in danger, but those scientists? Ex-members of the Edison Group? Yeah, they're putting their lives on the line. They should put their lives on the line. They made our lives hell and patted themselves on the back."
"You're letting Derek come."
"I—Derek's very protective. I couldn't tell him no."
"Then why can't I come?"
"You still want to come?"
"Your power convinced me you're right. The way it convinces you." Because, Daniel? Always thought he was right.
He doesn't seem to like that, though.
"I wasn't trying to—It shouldn't have—"
"It didn't," she assures him instinctively. "I just like destroying things."
Anything, that her mother might once have—Diane Enright did important things. So many important things that she didn't have time for her daughter. Tori wants to destroy a lot of things.
"You get sloppy when you're angry."
"So, it's dangerous."
"I'm not saying you're not."
"I'm more powerful than you are."
"I'm not saying you're not powerful, Tori," he says, exasperated. "Unless we were with Chloe in a graveyard, I have no doubt you could take the rest of us out. Probably without even trying that hard. You are very powerful. But it doesn't matter if you're powerful if you don't realize that sometimes you can't do everything yourself. That's why you get left behind."
"You think you're always right about everything, don't you?" she snarls. And then has to take a few quick breathes so he doesn't catch fire (not that she can't control herself).
"I think Kit won't let you go. I think he's right."
"Right and wrong don't mean anything. All I have to do is go to Kit, explain what you can do, what you did, and I'll be right."
Because if you had the power, you were right. And Tori had lots of power.
"Daniel?" Maya pokes her head in. Tori knows she has superhearing, that she must have heard something. All Maya says is, "Ready to go save Hayley?"
They both look at her.
"Is that why you let her talk for you guys?" Tori demands. "Because you didn't want to make us do anything we didn't want to in the beginning? So we'd trust you, so you could manipulate us later?"
"I didn't let Maya do anything. She talks for us because she's smarter than I am."
He admits it easily, not afraid of Maya's power. He's never been afraid of her power, either (wouldn't be able to keep fighting her if he was), even though he's seen first-hand how little she can manage it.
"What have you made me do?" Her voice is calmer, though he better not think she's not still pissed.
"The only time I've ever used my powers on you is when you...get caught up in your magic." Her mother used to call them tantrums. "I swear, Tori. And I only did that..."
Someone had to. She couldn't.
"We need to go," Maya interrupts. "Tori, we'll disappear forever after this if that's what you want. If you think we should have explained more. But right now, please let us go save Hayley."
Maya Delaney looks at her. Nothing about her looks like Liz, Liz who was always sweet and kind and up, Liz who made her laugh when Tori thought she couldn't do anything right. Kit saved her life. Kit is part of the reason she exists in the first place. He's part of the reason she's a danger to everyone around her unless the witch-hunter tells her to knock it off.
Liz Delaney did not deserve her fate.
Tori's going to make the Edison Group pay for that, one day.
"When you guys get back, I'm going to be super awful to both of you. I'm warning you now—you should have let me come."
"Thank you," Daniel says and then both he and Maya are gone.
There is no one like Tori Enright. She's not bragging. It's just true. She's a super powered witch/sorcerer hybrid on the run from an evil mafia-like organization. There are others with her, other supernaturals, but they aren't like her.
But they're all she has left.
Sometimes she even thinks it's enough.