Toby shivered in his coat as he followed Michelle up to the dressing room. All around them were teenagers, American as well as Canadian, dressed in lacrosse uniforms.
It was meant to be a friendly tournament arranged by the Canadian lacrosse organization, inviting high scoring American teams for a couple of games to go up against the best junior teams in Canada.
Walking among the crowd filling the stadium, Toby was starting to get a headache from taking more than a few reads. Tension, excitement, fear, curiosity, and question after question of what was going on.
At this point, all they knew was that a member of a local team had been attacked, and since he’d been found behind a locked door, the immediate suspects were members of the American team in whose dressing room the kid had been found.
Dev was back at the office, looking to see what he could find on their victim, while Toby and Michele were about to have a talk with the Beacon Hills coach, who was their chaperone. Under normal circumstances, this case should have gone to Metro. But after two previous kids had ended up in the hospital in similar scuffles and with all the attention from the press and the international PR connected to the tournament, the IIB had gotten the call instead.
As he entered the locker room scanning for information in the players’ thoughts, the kids seemed almost unconcerned, especially considering that someone had been beaten close to death in their dressing room. Then he heard a stray thought, he wasn’t even sure where it came from.
**Oh come on, we’re not even in Beacon Hills anymore, can’t we ever get away from this weird crap?**
Toby tried to look around, reading as much as he could.
**What if they think it’s me? Scott will believe me, right? ** He focused on the younger boy who was looking at his lacrosse stick, one foot on the bench as he cleaned it.
**Scott will know what to do?** Another kid thought as he leaned back against his locker. Images filled the second kid’s mind as he chewed some gum — a blond boy on the field, and a black girl who was taken in by the cops.
**Please don’t let it be giant lizards again.** A third kid thought, combined with images that could only come out of some kind of horror movie. He’d have to ask Oz or Dev if it was out of some video game.
**My mom is never going to let me out of her sight again.** Which seemed to be a pretty common thought in the room.
**Man, what’s up with this stick, I’ll never be able to play if I don’t get it untangled.** The boy didn’t even seem to care about the cops, and Toby quickly dismissed him from his thoughts.
**These fries are good.** Moving on.
**I hope they don’t find my stash.** Toby smiled, doubting that anyone would care about a few cigarettes. **Let McCall handle it, It’s probably more of that crap him and his gang deal with.** The kid’s thoughts continued as his eyes focused on a couple of kids sitting in the back of the room.
**So much for our vacation.** The next kid thought as he sat down. The boy was thin, wiry, slightly taller and pale compared to the darker-haired but more muscular boy who was sitting across from him. They were joined by the only girl in the room, one of the few girls in the competition, Kira Yukimura had been the focus of more than a bit of press attention. She shouldn’t really be in the boy’s locker room, but Toby guessed that especially at a time like this, she wasn’t about to be on her own. She seemed more nervous than any of the others, but relaxed as the shorter of the two boys put his hand on hers. Their friend rolled his eyes at the sight, but ignored everything otherwise. His eyes linked with Toby’s for a moment.
**Oh great, the cops. And without dad to keep us from getting in trouble. ** There was something about the kid’s thoughts that gave him a headache — the way his thoughts kept jumping from one thing to another. Toby quickly ignored him and moved on to the others.
It wasn’t until he allowed himself to sink into the Latino boy’s thoughts that he realized what he’d been feeling all through the room. That sense of presence, as if he was around something… more… for lack of a better word.
It wasn’t exactly scary — maybe slightly wild, sure, but comforting in a way. As if there was this large protective force standing over him and taking care of him and everyone around him.
He gasped at the warmth. Michele gave him a look and he quickly shook his head, before she said anything.
“Hello, my name is Toby Logan,” he said, nodding a greeting to the Latino boy. “I’m a special consultant with the IIB.”
The boy looked at him, his eyes felt wrong, as if the warm brown irises hid something deeper, something powerful.
“Scott McCall. I’m the team captain.” The boy said. His thoughts were filled with images of the team, pride in their accomplishments. **I hope they’re safe. I have to keep them safe, all of them,** kept going through his mind.
Toby couldn’t help but smile at him, to put him at ease. He hadn’t felt this sure he needed to make a good impression since he’d first met Tia’s friends.
“These are Stiles and Kira.” Toby looked at teams list that Dev had printed out for them before they left, Stilinski and Yukimura. “None of us saw anything.” Images of Scott and the other two in their room at the hotel, watching television.
“What about any of the others? Did any of them tell you they saw something?” Scott looked down, his thoughts going to every other member of the team, protective. “I don’ t think so. We played our game yesterday. Then we had dinner at the hotel, before the coach sent us off to our rooms. It wasn’t until this morning that we found him.”
Him, aka Jimmy Dugan, a member of the Toronto Rock junior team. A rising lacrosse star who was their latest victim. The boy had been missing since last night, and no one had thought to look for him in one of the guest locker rooms.
Dugan had had contusions all over his body, as if someone had used him as a punching bag and then left him bleeding on the floor. By the time he’d been found, he’d already gone into shock, and fallen into a coma. Metro was still waiting for him to wake up.
“Did you meet Jimmy Dugan?” An image of Dugan in his uniform, facing off against McCall and a younger boy. The same one that Toby had read before. The one who’d been hoping that Scott would believe him. And the same one who was coming up to them now, setting himself down beside McCall and his friends.
“Liam, are you ok?”
The kid nodded. He seemed worried. **I didn’t do it. It wasn’t me.** was all that kept going through the kid’s head. As if he was trying to convince himself of the fact.
McCall touched the boy for a moment, before smiling at him. The kid relaxed almost instantly. If Toby hadn’t been there, he might even have leant into him.
No one seemed to think anything odd about this. So Toby ignored it for the moment.
It was then that the loud guy, Finstock, the Beacon Hills coach, came up to Toby along with a larger Asian man, Yukimura, the school’s history teacher.
“McCall, Stilinski!” The coach seemed to instantly focus on the two kids that Toby had been talking to. “Please tell me you two aren’t stupid enough to go talking to the cops without an adult present.”
“I definitely wouldn’t say that, Coach,” the Stilinski kid started. But the coach just glared him down.
“Scott was just telling me that they spent most of last evening in their hotel rooms.”
“They’d better,” the coach muttered, an angry tone in his voice. Even if his thoughts hinted at nothing but worry and concern over his entire team.
“Did you know if anyone on the team has an issue with Jimmy Dugan?”
“No,” was the instant answer. Even as the man thought of breaking up a scene between Dugan and the youngest member of his team. Liam seemed to have been barely held back, mostly because McCall had been right there with him, calming him down. Even as Dugan kept insulting him.
They asked some more questions, but it was clear all too quickly that nothing more was going to be revealed. Just the fight, that Dugan had tried to start and Liam backing off.
When Toby mentioned what he’d seen to Michele, she didn’t look surprised. “I had Dev check up on the Beacon Hills team. Dunbar has a history of violence, was even diagnosed as Intermittent Explosive Disorder. He’s been in therapy for a few months now.”
Toby took a look back at the kid, he seemed pretty relaxed, considering. His thoughts seemed to be of the woods, running. But running closer to the ground, and a presence shielding him. McCall. When McCall looked at them, Toby almost pulled back as he got the image of red eyes staring him down. They were gone just as quickly.
“And then there’s McCall and Stilinski who had a restraining order put against them after kidnapping a classmate and keeping him locked up for several hours. Seems like Stilinski’s father barely managed to keep them from getting prosecuted.”
“Are there any connections with the other two victims?” Toby asked. “The Dunbar kid, he just didn’t feel that off. More like he didn’t want others, McCall, to think he’d done something, than if he’d actually done something wrong. And McCall himself...” The boy reminded him of a kid he’d known back in foster care. A boy that had spent most of his time protecting the younger kids in one of the homes Toby’d been in. He’d ended up in jail for beating up one of Toby’s foster parents. Their foster parent had never been physical, but that was about the most positive thing anyone had ever been able to say about the guy. Hadn’t saved the kid involved though.
“The Beacon Hills team went up against both. That’s about all we know.” Michelle seemed to be looking at some facts that Dev had sent to her phone. Toby looked at the place where Jimmy Dugan had been found, his blood still marked the spot.
Toby shivered, following Michele as she went to talk to the two adults on the team, one of which was the father of the only girl on the team. It was all too obvious why he’d decided to come along on this trip.
“The problem is that I don’t know what’s wrong in Beacon Hills, but that place is a hotbed of weird stuff. Unsolved murders, frequent attacks on the police station, the school and even the hospital. They even had several hired hitmen converging on the place only last month. Even the FBI didn’t know what they were after.”
“Strange? That’s putting it mildly.” The sergeant seemed caught in thought. “What’s even stranger is that McCall and Stilinski were often in the middle of most of the weirdness happening. Either as witnesses, or victims. Several kids in their group, including McCall’s previous girlfriend, died in the past year.
“No wonder he’s so worried about keeping everyone safe.”
“It’s the main thought in his mind. Stilinski seemed more worried about their vacation getting ruined.”
“I can’t imagine why.”
“So what do we do?”
“The same thing we always do, Toby. We figure it out.”
He let himself bask one last moment in the warmth of the presence before leaving. Hoping this wouldn’t be one of the few times they’d failed.