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Being Human

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16. Blackmail

Nici.

She tried to feel anger, tried to bury the pain beneath something: betrayal, anger, rage, anything. He was the reason Gem and Evony were caught; the reason she was lying on a bed, whimpering as Jenkins sewed her up; the reason that the room was so quiet, that Jenkins looked at her differently. He was the reason.

Except he wasn’t. He was just a tool. Light Fae, with a kid who was held in custody. God, he had a kid.

Lauren squeezed her eyes shut, trying not to jolt as the needle slid into her flesh. She was trying to pretend the wetness around her eyes was from pain.

In truth, Lauren knew that she was the reason. It was why she’d rang up Dyson and Tamsin, telling them of her whereabouts, briefly whispering that she needed them, something had happened. Gem was involved. Gem shouldn’t have been involved. Jenkins shouldn’t be sewing her up. The war for them was over.

She didn’t tell them about Evony, her heart twisted no less when she thought of what the fae would do to her, guilt rose and spat in her stomach like bubbling tar, but the truth was, Dyson would never understand. Tamsin would laugh. Better off would unspoken, and spoken venomously between the two of them as Lauren did her best not to strangle them. Not to scream that maybe there was something underneath that chilling mask Evony wore.

She couldn’t let them know how easily Evony got under her skin, almost as though she invited her there.

But Gem, Dyson would understand, even Tamsin would. No one gets left behind, you don’t allow comrades to be taken, not ever, not for the greater good, because there was no greater good when it came to the fae. And not for her own survival. Living with Gem and Evony’s death on her hands, on top of Nici’s, was not survival, not for long.

“Lauren?”

She blinked. The pain had ended, her side finished and bandaged. Taking a breath, she felt her body whimper, but rather than speak, she nodded. Jenkins knew how she felt, knew that the tears were no more about pain, than his own were. She brushed by him, unable to touch his shoulder to reassure him, because her own thoughts, her own touch, felt like poison.

Everyone she loved eventually died. Except Bo.

But Bo kept leaving, didn’t she? No, that wasn’t true. She kept leaving Bo, and maybe that’s why she was still alive.

“Laur-“

“No,” she said. Tiredly she moved into the bathroom, the door shutting behind her with a distinctive sound of wood against wood, the lock clicking into place. She filled up the sink with warm water, watching it bubble. Some cheap motel, it was always a cheap motel these days, two single beds, the RV parked. If anyone entered the vehicle, they’d see her blood against the kitchen bench and the couch, where she’d laid still, feeling it hot and thick against her fingers.

Staring at the sink, she watched the water fill. The mirror was rusted in spots, mould growing between the glass and the metallic backing, still, she could see the bruises and cuts on her skin. Jenkins had pulled out all the glass that had shattered against her back. She hadn’t felt it until he’d brought her into the room, telling her to lie on her side.

Taking a cloth, Lauren undid her shirt. It was spotted with blood, stained forever. She placed it up, hanging it off a hook on the door, and slowly washed herself. She didn’t want a shower, didn’t want to feel herself collapse underneath the spray, no matter how much good it would do. Something menial was easier. Something that forced her attention would have been better.

She’d scrub the blood from the motel room, then the RV. It was still menial, but cleaning helped. Cleaning kept her attention focused when Nadia died. She’d been the one to scrub at the carpet, the one who cleaned and cleaned until she eventually rang up and had the carpet stripped and replaced.

Looking up at the glass, she turned to look at her back. It was bruising, marks of where small pieces of glass had been removed, blood coagulated over to make dark scabs.

“Lauren,” Jenkins knocked on the door, muffled and respecting her privacy. “I’m going to move the RV, do you-?“

“I’ll be okay,” she answered. She trembled, afraid. Still not sure if Jenkins was safe, still not sure if anyone was. God, doubting her friends was a terrifying experience. She shouldn’t doubt Jenkins, or Gem, or…

Or Nici. He shouldn’t have been in that situation. God, her thoughts were circling.

A knock sounded, distant, further away. Lauren grabbed the gun at her waistband, opening the door and looking to Jenkins.

“Lauren?” Another muffled sound, familiar. Grabbing her shirt, she nodded at Jenkins as she dressed herself again. Jenkins had seen her stripped to nothing, because of drunken ideas of streaking, or because there just wasn’t time to care about privacy. Dyson and Tamsin were a whole other issue.

The door opened, Dyson looked, confused from Jenkins, then to Lauren.

“I’ll go fix the RV,” Jenkins said, bypassing both of them without another look. He wouldn’t be far away, she knew that. Jenkins would keep listening, looking to the room to make sure everything was as it should be. There was comfort in that.

Dyson and Tamsin watched him leave, before turning back to face her.

“What the hell happened to you?” Tamsin asked.

Lauren felt her mouth open, a sob rise before she shut her mouth, shaking her head. She watched expressions soften, felt disgust rise in her throat at the idea of being pitied. Taking a breath, she shut her eyes. She couldn’t cry, not in front of them. She couldn’t do it. She took a deep breath, eyes rolling to the ceiling, and forced herself to say the words, “Nicholause Giannopoulos.”

Dyson frowned at her. Tamsin just quirked an eyebrow. Neither of them recognized the name. No, probably not. Mostly likely it was a cover name. God, why had he been in the army with her, before she even knew about the fae? That didn’t make sense. None of this made sense.

“Lauren?”

She shook her head again. “A friend turned out to be fae, I knew him before but…” she took a breath, “he told the fae where we were, apparently the Light are holding his son hostage. They…they took Evony, and Gem. God, why would they take Gem, she’s human, isn’t she? She’s not fae, not like Nici. She’s human, she has to be human.” Her throat choked and Lauren took a breath, clenching her hands at her sides. She couldn’t look up, couldn’t let them see her shatter.

“Lauren?”

“I mean, how long do you think they’ll hold her? Evony, Gem. Gem would be longer right, though she was shot at the time, unless they were planning to extract information I doubt…but Evony, they wanted her, they wanted her alive so clearly they want-“ she choked, terrified of the theory swimming in her head. She remembered Nadia crying out for her in the middle east.

“Lauren-“

“Stop saying my name!” she snapped. “The Light have Gem, they have Evony, and I don’t care what you think of her, I did this, I made her powerless, I made the fae come after everyone, I’m going to fix this, but like hell I’m going to let them kill Evony.”

“If you’d let us fucking talk for once,” Tamsin snapped. “You’d hear that the fae don’t have Evony.”

Hope bubbled, then burst inside of her. Tamsin was mistaken. “They do. They came into our room, they took her and Gem. Jenkins saw them.” Firmly she looked up at them. “They have them both and you’re going to help me get them back.”

“No, impossible,” Tamsin shook her head. “They would have told us.”

“Maybe they knew you’d come to me, or-?“

“No. They would have told us. As soon as she was captured, they would have called us back. Resources are limited and there’s serious shit going on back home. The only reason we were sent out here was because we knew you.” Tamsin shrugged. “They figured we could get on your tale fast, want to save you and all that shit.”

Lauren paused, looking to Dyson. He nodded in agreement. “What’s going on back home. Are Bo and Kenzi…?”

“Safe. Delayed, however,” Dyson explained. “They was put on a random goose chase to prevent her from finding you. As were we, apparently,” Dyson looked to Tamsin. The valkyrie rolled her eyes, shaking her head.

“Boston seemed probable, how was I supposed to know that they’d changed their orders from capture to kill on sight? You fucked up, doctor,” Tamsin sighed, looking up to Lauren. “Not that we would have captured you. Evony’s another thing.”

“I wouldn’t have let you.” Lauren blinked, surprised at the venom in her own words, Dyson and Tamsin too paused at her. “I owe her,” she told them, “What would you do if I stripped either of you of your faehood and then left you as you were to deal with it?” Tamsin quirked her eyebrow, curious to where Lauren was going with that, Dyson however, seemed confused. “You’d go to someone, right? A friend, someone you could trust. God, you’d go to Bo. But Evony doesn’t have anyone to turn to. There’s only me, and I’m going to fix this.”

“And turn her back?” Tamsin asked.

“I-“ Lauren paused, frowning. Even without running tests, she already knew. “I don’t know if I can do that. At the time I had access to both the Light and the Dark resources, though limited in the former.” Lauren sighed. Some changes couldn’t be undone. “But I have to get her somewhere safe, give her a fighting chance at least. I owe her that.” She paused, steeling her spine as she looked up at them firmly. “So tell me where they’d be keeping her, I’ll move on and you can go back to Toronto.”

“Look, if either the Dark or the Light had Evony, it would be well known, within minutes,” Tamsin explained. “Someone else has her, and let’s be honest, she’s not exactly Miss Congeniality. Narrowing down which one of the millions Evony pissed off isn’t going to be possible.”

“The attacks stopped,” Lauren said. “They stopped coming after us.” At least, she believed so. She hadn’t seen them, and the woman who could teleport would have caught up with them by now, if she was still running after them. “They have her and Gem, and if I can’t save Evony I’ll make damn sure I save Gem.”

“Look, they probably stopped coming because of a change in orders.” Tamsin shrugged. “Happens all the time. If someone saw her taken, there’s a good chance they’d follow that lead. Though why they didn’t tell us…?” she trailed off, looking over to Dyson.

“We’re not trusted.”

“Sure, but you’d think they’d call us back, rather than have us wander around Boston aimlessly?”

“Probably distracted. We should check in, say we didn’t find any sign of them yet and came back here to look for them on a hunch.” Tamsin nodded, giving permission for Dyson to walk off and make the call. Leaving Lauren to awkwardly stand in the room with her.

The door shut, Tamsin looked over at Lauren and quirked an eyebrow. Silence held between them, Lauren moving to sit down on one of the single beds, when Tamsin spoke. “We’ll figure this out. It won’t be too difficult to work out if the fae have them, so you can untwist your panties.”

“Good.“ Lauren nodded. “I appreciate you’re help. I’m just-“

“How long have you and Evony being fucking?” Lauren stared up at her, mouth agape. A blush ran across her cheeks as she stared blankly. The valkyrie was taking no shit; arms folded, eyebrows raised, waiting for her to answer.

All Lauren could manage was a feeble, “Sorry?”

“It’s not subtle. You’re freaking out, you’re acting like she’s almost as important as your comrade Gen?”

“Gem,” Lauren corrected.

“You’re defensive and…you care for her. A sharp change in feelings from the last time I saw you.”

“I- I don’t… Care is a… She’s my patient!” Tamsin snorted. No wonder, it was the worst stumble in history of lying. “We became…friends?” she tried awkwardly. The words didn’t quite sit right. Close did, but Tamsin would definitely take that the wrong way. “It’s complicated, but absolutely not what you think.”

“I don’t buy it. You look like a terrified lover, not a worried friend and I’ve seen plenty of both.”

Sighing, Lauren shut her eyes. “We haven’t…it’s….”

“Don’t give me that bullshit. I was in more wars than you were, I know what happens.” She looked at Lauren carefully, tilting her head to study her. “But Bo won’t.”

“What?” That was a switch. When did Bo come into this? Lauren felt a pang in her heart, stumbling to connect Evony and Bo. So far, she’d been managing to keep them separate. Evony was now, temporary. Bo was…Bo was when she came back.

“Bo won’t understand. She’s been in battle, but nothing like you or I. She doesn’t understand what it’s like to last days in the middle of a war zone, taking comfort where you can get it. All she’s going to understand is that you went off to protect Evony, and then somehow managed to fall for her.” Anger bubbled inside Lauren. “Look, I’m not trying to get under your skin, I’m just telling you, she’s not going to get it.”

“So what? I should-?“

“Be prepared for that conversation. Work out what you want, and what you need. Evony’s fucking dangerous, human or fae, she’s always survived.”

“I know,” Lauren glared. “I’m aware of that and I’m not falling for her. I love Bo.” Tamsin snorted again. Growling, Lauren shouted, “I do!”

Tamsin shook her head. “Evony works differently to most leaders. She doesn’t use the stick, well that’s bullshit, but she doesn’t use it right away. She’s far better at gaining loyalty through seduction, believe me. Half the time you’re aware of what’s happening, but you still feel yourself…wanting what she offers. I’ve been with the Dark for long enough, was willing to do a lot for them, under her. By the time you actually feel the stick, you think you deserve it.”

Lauren swallowed. She never got the stick from Evony, not really. It’d always been the Ash. She’d been careful in the Dark. “It’s different. Here, Evony…”

“It’s not. People like Dyson won’t see it, even Bo didn’t get a real taste of what Evony’s like, she’d already seen her at her worst, but I’m guessing she did the same thing to you as she did to me. She made you aware of her intentions, what she was doing to you. Made you feel respected, wanted. And…more importantly,” Tamsin looked away, a soft flush on her cheeks, “she made you feel needed.”

Lauren swallowed, remembered Evony’s words, that sharp snap as Evony told her I need you.

“Maybe with the fae,” Lauren whispered. “But it’s different now.” Lauren clung to the words, as if she could hold them to her chest. They were real, she knew Evony’s games, knew how she worked. But now…it was different. It had to be.

Tamsin paused, staring at her quietly. “You really fucked up.”

“I know.”

“Not in that. I mean right now, you fucked up. She’s going to ask you to follow and you’re going to do it. Un-fucking-believable.” Shaking her head, Tamsin turned away. “You’re supposed to be a genius and you’re just…” She gestured, making a face. “You can’t even see that she’s playing you. I mean, for fuck’s sake, you can’t have a future with Bo, and that’s all you want, but get over it. White picket fence and the two point five kids aint gonna happen, princess.”

Lauren blinked, a lump in her throat. “What are you talking about?”

“You want to grow old with someone, want the whole no secrets thing. A relationship with someone who just gets it. And look, I don’t blame you, human desires, people get it. But you can’t have that with Bo, so don’t push that on to Evony. Just because she’s human, doesn’t mean that you finally found someone to have that life you always wanted with your coma-girlfriend.”

“Don’t-“

“Don’t what? You’re breaking Bo’s heart, you’re tearing her apart for what? For some woman that-“

Don’t,” Lauren growled. “I love Bo. I will always choose Bo.”

“No you don’t. When it came between Nadia and her, you chose Nadia.” Lauren looked up, feeling the words hit like a sucker punch. “Bo chose you, and you left her, and you may think it was to save her, but I think deep down you don’t see a future between you and her and you’re afraid that one day she’s going to get up and walk away from you and you wanted to be in control before she does. For fuck’s sake, you- both you and Dyson are so controlling, do you know that? You don’t want her to make the choice between you, you don’t care about her happiness, you want your happiness with her, you want her to live the life you choose for her.”

“I-“

“I’m not fucking finished,” Tamsin spat, “You have manipulated her, and yes, at times I’m sure it was for the greater good, but you have stripped her of the ability to make a choice because you thought she’d choose wrong, you have lied to her because why?” Tamsin laughed. “Because you couldn’t get over yourself for two seconds?”

“Because…” Lauren floundered, her mind chaos. She was angry, so angry and frustrated and… “She-“

“Because you were scared, yeah? You didn’t tell her about this, what you were doing until she couldn’t follow, you have lied to her over and over, terrified that her opinion wasn’t what you wanted. You don’t trust her.”

“I love her, I did everything for her, what did you ever do for her?”

“Love her unconditionally,” Tamsin snapped. “I never made her choose, never asked her to. And yes, I fucked up, I made a huge mistake the first year and tried to… but I never lied to her about herself, never tried to hide the truth when shit was going down and I always trusted her, even if I didn’t think we could pull through it, because like hell we can control her, but at the very least I can stand by her side. So what the fuck did you do?”

Silence rang out through the room and Lauren felt her heart beat, low and loud in her chest. She would not take relationship advice from a valkyrie who tried to kill her girlfriend.

She rose, very carefully from the bed. Anger dulling away into a quiet calm. “Bo is one of the single most important people in my life, and if I screwed up, I’ll have that conversation with her, myself. You are not apart of our relationship and I don’t care what your feelings are for her, or her for you, but don’t ever tell me how I feel about her again. Do you understand?”

Tamsin blinked. Her expression shifting before she nodded. Lauren breathed out, feeling her hands shake at her side. Bo was important, one of the most important people Lauren had, but if she was safe, she was second to Gem and Evony’s safety.

“Good, now, I want you to tell me what’s going down in Toronto. Why are resources limited in your Division?” Last Lauren heard, nearly a week ago, everything was fine.

“Humans,” Tamsin said shortly. “Humans who know.”

“About the fae?”

She nodded. “We think so. People who used to work for Taft is our best guess. But…” she trailed off.

Lauren frozen in place. Taft. People who worked for Taft. They knew her, they knew she’d been working with the fae. Some of them might have escaped and… oh god. She didn’t know how many knew, most of them maybe, if not all. All recruited, all there to learn and…

Lauren felt sick. Her head bowed, nausea taking over. She couldn’t deal with that on top of everything. Not Taft, not humans. They knew her. They were going to come after her, because…

“They’re human, or they were, but-“

“But they’re turning themselves fae,” Lauren whispered. “Fae are going missing and new people are popping up with their abilities, not knowing…because of my research.” That’s why the fae wanted her. That’s why there were after her too. Maybe they thought she was apart of it, no, they definitely thought she was apart of it. Oh god. Evony wasn’t just on the run, she was too. And she’d dragged Gem and Jenkins into the middle of it.

“Are you going to vomit?” Tamsin asked, worried not for her, but for having to witness it.

Lauren stood up, dizzy, before walking into the bathroom and shutting the door. She locked it behind her before she collapsing down onto the tiles. She’d been strong up until that point. But Taft. She’d allow Dyson to kill him, transformed him and handed him over like a pig for slaughter.

He’d been despicable, but in truth, she understood that anger, that rage. Hadn’t that been how she felt with Evony? The Dark? And now there were other humans, other scientists like her. God, Taft had been so far ahead then, what were they like now that they were organized again? More-so than before maybe? Or less, if the fae knew about them?

Now, more than ever, she could hear the sound of the helicopter taking Nici away, leaving her left behind because Jenkins, when he looked around, counted Gem twice. It wasn’t a hallucination, not a flashback, just the deep sound of the blades going round and round, cutting through the air as it took off.

It wasn’t his fault. Helmet on, hair tucked away and dirt on their face, they were similar enough. Especially under the circumstances. Jenkins’ hands had never been the same after that, though Nici had healed surprisingly well.

Now she knew why.

But the sound in her ears reminded her viciously of standing there, watching it leave. She felt alone, that sinking awareness that she wasn’t going to go home, that she was trapped and statistics said that she was going to die in the next twenty-four hours. She felt it again. She felt it like a wet blanket, like she was suffocating.

Her eyes squeezed shut, trying not to remember being captured, trying not to remember Nadia holding her after she screamed and screamed as they interrogated her. She couldn’t go through that again, and the situation was different, but it felt the same, it felt too close to the same.

And Gem and Evony were experiencing that now. Humans. Lauren swallowed dryly, remembering the fae captured by Taft. Humans. Nazi-Germany, and how many others? Humans. Humans were the monsters in the night.

She didn’t know how long she stayed in the bathroom, but there was a knock eventually, from Dyson. She ignored, not caring what he had to say. Then, there was murmuring behind the door before Jenkins knocked, low and heavy, as if he knew she was sitting down.

“Lauren.”

She didn’t reply.

“Lauren,” he said again. “We need to get Gem.”

She still didn’t reply, but her head bowed, eyes squeezing shut. He was right. But she didn’t want to do this. The humans, the fae… she was tired, she didn’t want to be apart of either line. She didn’t want to go through that again. Call her selfish, fuck, for once she wanted to be selfish, only think of herself, screw the others.

God, she was so tired of running and now, again, she was on the run.

“I sent the…officers,” Lauren almost laughed at the skepticism in his voice, “to see if they could spot any clues. But we need to work out a plan, we have to get them back. So, you have to open the door because pushing a piece of paper back and forth to make a plan is time consuming.”

She didn’t reply.

“You’re scared, I know. But right now you need to use that to fuel your anger, okay? We have to get them back. We can’t let what happened to you, happen to them. No one deserves that.”

Slowly, Lauren opened the door. “They’re gone?” she asked, looking around the room. She had her back to the doorway, still sitting on the floor. Jenkins was crouched low. A small, tight smile filled over his features, showing off his dimples.

“Yeah, they’re gone.” She breathed out a sigh of relief, looking up at him hopelessly. “Now, are you going to tell me what’s going on?”

Lauren opened her mouth, looking into his eyes, and everything poured out. The bomb she made, gave to her brother, why she joined the army, Nadia, the fae, everything that was relevant. Jenkins didn’t speak a word. His brows pulled together, but something settled over him, a sense peace as he listened. When she was done, he nodded thoughtfully.

“I’ll need to see it for myself,” was his reply. “But, for the most part, I…think I could believe you.”

“Really?” She choked, blinking rapidly up at him. God, she wouldn’t believe her self, how could he?

“Well, you’re different. A lot of it made sense, what you said. And you’re not creative enough to come up with that good a delusion.” She laughed, he wasn’t wrong. “I’ll have to see it for myself, but for the most part, I think there’s the possibility of it being true.”

“I turned her human,” Lauren said. “I turned her human and…I got you all in this mess. I got Nici-”

“You can’t look back, Lauren. You can’t change it, you have to accept that you made some big mistakes, but you also need to learn from them.”

Lauren sighed. She wanted to be told that it was okay, to be reassured that maybe it was the right decision, but Jenkins wouldn’t allow that. It hurt, stung, but he was right. As usual.

She screwed up, massively. And now two people she cared about were…god, she didn’t want to know what was happening to them.

“I know you’re scared, and I know why,” Jenkins continued, “But right now, you need to pick yourself up, dust off and get Gem and Evony back.” Swallowing, she nodded.

“I know,” she whispered. “I will.”

“You’ll be okay.” She froze, feeling a hand on her shoulder. “You’re not alone, Lauren. I’m not telling you to do this alone. I’ll help you fix this, and I’m assuming, so will the two…others…are you sure they’re cops?”

Lauren laughed, blinking through tears. “Yeah, they are. Detectives. Tamsin’s only been one shortly, but Dyson…” she trailed off, shaking her head. Years was limited. Years was human standard. Dyson had been a detective for decades. “I don’t know how to save them,” Lauren admitted. “I don’t know who has Gem and Evony, I don’t…I don’t know how to find out.”

“We’ll find out.”

“But-“

“We don’t allow those thoughts. Our mission is to save Gem and Evony, we know they were alive the last time we saw them. We look for evidence, a heading and we move. Got it?”

“Yes sir,” Lauren smiled. “When did you become the commanding officer?”

“When my superior couldn’t do the job,” leaning forward, he pressing a kiss to her forehead. Lauren trembled, feeling a fresh jolt of tears slip down her cheeks. She felt pathetic and…loved. “We’re survivors, and so are they,” he told her. Lauren shut her eyes, nodding as she felt the tears slip down her cheek.

Jenkins was right, they had a job to do, they were trained soldiers. They could do this.

He went to move and Lauren grabbed him, pulling him into a hug before she let go. “Thank you.” She pulled away then, confused when an expression passed over his features. “What?”

“The fae,” he murmured softly. “They-“

Oh. “Nothing permanent.” Nothing physical. Not really.

Jenkins took a breath, unconvinced as he rose to his feet, before helping her. “Come on,” he said. She rose to her feet, moving to follow him. She’d get back Gem. And if she didn’t, she was going to be unstoppable. Nothing in the fae world could prevent her from tearing them apart.

But Evony. Lauren’s thoughts trailed, hearing Tamsin’s words in her head. Evony being human had been something she was always aware of, but consciously, she never thought about a future, about a life together, about the possibly of having someone to grow old with. Tamsin was wrong.

The RV was scrubbed clean when Dyson returned. “Tamsin’s getting food,” he explained. Lauren nodded, sitting on the bed curled up.

“What did they say?”

“Who?”

“The fae?” she asked. Dyson looked to Jenkins. Lazily, Lauren waved her hand. “I told him,” she explained. “I’m done lying to them.”

Dyson took a breath, before nodding. Whether he understood, or he knew now isn’t the time, Lauren didn’t know. But she appreciated that he didn’t press the issue. “They want us to keep looking for you, however they’re about to call it off.”

“Why?” Lauren sat up straight, looking to him. “They have-“

“They don’t. Trust me. Something’s happening back in Toronto. Fae are going missing again. Evony’s a low-risk in comparison. They can place someone as a replacement Morrigan until they terminate Evony.” Lauren flinched, looking away. Terminate. “What’s happening in town now, they’ll deal with it before coming after you.”

“Humans,” Lauren nodded. “Tamsin told me. She says you think they’re part of Taft’s team.”

Dyson nodded. “What do you know about them?”

Shaking her head, Lauren shrugged. “I don’t know much and believe me, if I did I’d share the information I had. I wasn’t there long and I didn’t make friends. They were just people. The only person I knew – thought I knew – was Taft.”

“You’re not with them? Any connections, even just friendly?“

“With them?” she asked. “No, I’ve been busy dealing with the Dark and Evony.” She sighed, dropping her head. “I know you have to ask, hear me say it, I understand, but I”m tired Dyson. So the answer’s no. Did you find anything back at the other motel?”

“Yes. Blood.”

“Gem’s.”

“And someone else’s. Human.”

Lauren sat up, curious. “Human?” she whispered. “Fresh?”

“Yes.”

Lauren nodded, uncurling from the bed as she looked to Jenkins. He nodded with her. “Is Tamsin aware?”

“Yes.”

“Okay.” Rising, she ran a hand through her hair, taking in the information. “They’d have to take them nearby. Gem was bleeding out. I didn’t see where, but there was a lot of blood. They’re doctors so they’d just need a warehouse or something. They probably already have supplies. They’d-“ she paused, looking to Dyson. “Can you get security footage? Tap into local cops, find out where the car is?”

Dyson took a breath. Then, slowly, nodded. “Okay.”

“Thank you. I appreciate it.” It was something at least, short of ringing up every scientist she could get a number for and asking ‘are you working for the fae?’ finding out what car they took Gem and Evony in could go along way. Dyson could put an APB on them, and from there it was a matter of time. Except…Dyson wasn’t FBI and this wasn’t his jurisdiction.

No, she couldn’t allow doubt to rise.

“Lauren?” She looked up from the ground, staring at him. Her heart dropped.

“I understand, you have a job, you-“

“They’re going to come after you,” he said. “The fae think you’re involved and they’re going to come after you, capture you and torture you for information.”

“I know.”

“They’re not going to use tools. There are fae that can extract information, but…survival is rare.” Lauren swallowed, nodding again. “Going after the humans is dangerous. The fae could have someone on the inside and you might not know. If they see you-”

“I don’t care,” she snapped. “I don’t care if they see me with the humans. Hell, if I have to go in there and become one of them to get them out, I will.” Taking a breath, Lauren felt her chest constrict. She was tired. “So, this is what’s going to happen. You’re going to pull resources, I don’t care where, you’re going to tell the fae that you’re on the tail of Evony. We’re going to find her, then, we’re going to disappear and you and Tamsin are going to tell them we escaped over seas and ask permission to follow pursuit. They’ll deny it.”

Tamsin walked through the door then, dropping beer and thai food on the counter. “Some plan,” she said. “But it’s crappy.”

“Then we’ll work it out,” Lauren said. “I don’t care what happens between now and then, but you’re going to find Gem and Evony, because otherwise the next step is me getting involved with the humans again, and I can be very persuasive.”

Tamsin blinked, slowly turning to look at her. “Are you blackmailing us?”

“Lauren, we’re already doing everything we can-“

“It’s not good enough,” she snapped. “I appreciate you, both of you being here, don’t mistake this for me not understanding your positions, or…” she trailed off, taking a breath. “This is me helping you have the options to do things off the books. The fae don’t want me to have the ability to turn every one of them human, but I have it, and I will hand it over, I’m sure, as law-abiding citizens of the Light and Dark, you would want to keep that away from the general public and would be willing to do everything to stop humans from developing that, by helping raid their labs because they get a chance to develop the serum. Do you understand?”

Dyson paused, looking to Tamsin. “Yes.”