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Messages - Saiketsu

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The White Rabbit / The Conundrum
« on: February 16, 2020, 06:14:39 AM »
Following 'A Demon Walks into a Bar'. Reserved for Billy and Cedar.

Damien reeled, his expression finally faltering after the demon slipped into shadows. He lurched forward in his chair but he could do nothing to prevent the monster from leaving, the table creating a significant obstacle between them - just as they all had intended when this meeting first began. He could feel the desire to wrap his hands around the demon's neck pulse beneath the surface of his fingers and, as promised, a buzzing of warning followed in his chest.

No one could be harmed within the White Rabbit. Not even the scum of the earth.

So Laurent had Sam, Jake's kidnapped fledge. He shouldn't have been surprised, and yet he remained stiff in the chair with the comprehension of it all. When he had first heard of Sam's kidnapping the night prior, he naturally assumed that Laurent had done it to get access to Rachel. But it never added up. Why would Laurent, one of the most wanted demons in the city, go as far as to kidnap Jake's fledge, whom he presumably had no prior contact with? Damien had left Jake, feeling confused and leery about the lack of answers and encounters. Now Laurent had both women and dangled that knowledge before them in the most sadistic of ways.

When he felt the presence of Va'tamal finally leave the room - leaving behind a hideous, sulfurous odor - he sagged in his chair, another ache climbing out of his temples and the exhaustion of maintaining such an impassable mask in front of his enemy taking their toll. If Jake reacted or said anything, he didn't hear, his thoughts turned inward. As he finally stood and faced the District Leader, pushing the chair out of his way, Damien felt lightheaded with everything that had occurred in the last 24 hours.

He needed Pierre now. He needed Rachel. He needed his people close and safe, out of harm's way. Wishful thinking now.

Damien sighed and straightened himself out, putting his tiredness and fear on the back burner for the sake of his hunt.

"He either has no ability to psychically attack or knows enough not to challenge me," Damien answered as if Jake had asked a question. As he spoke, he made his way to the door of the conference room and crossed the threshold into a hallway in the Warrens, expecting Jake to follow. "I've never attempted to read a shadow demon before, but they feel much different than reading a human - harder, like a sheer rock wall. Had I tried just then, I wasn't fully convinced that I would be able to reemerge."

Attica Villa / Re: Zoheret's GBF (Gay Best Friend)
« on: February 13, 2020, 12:12:31 PM »
The night of the election, she had Michelle set up a projector in her second-floor office, displaying the votes as they trickled in. Her office staff had been invited to attend, creating a small gathering of about a dozen or so humans and herself. That night someone had taken it upon themselves to bring out a celebratory bottle of champagne for when the votes displayed what they all knew was going to happen.

Zoheret, herself, was in a good mood. She laughed along with the others as she sat on the edge of her desk waiting with a pounding heart. Jesus, her driver, had poured her a glass first before he turned the bottle towards others and she gave the human a grateful smirk.

Tonight was the night the Brat Prince would be dethroned. It was Step One of his permanent removal.

The room hushed as the votes flowed in - slow at first, undoubtedly the human population in the know. Dozens of votes for Ben Samson for every vote for Jake. The prospect sped up her heart and she drank happily from her glass. But as the minutes wore on, Samson's count slowed and McCloud's picked up steadily. She pursed her lips and the joy in the room turned sour until the dark angel smiled. There was plenty of time left in the night for the numbers to change, she reminded them all. While they breathed a sigh of relief and returned to their joking, Zoheret's eyes hardened and fixated on the display before her.

When Samson hadn't broken away, she cursed under her breath. Fifty percent of the population totalled, then sixty, then seventy-eight, still with no clear winner. McCloud lead, then Samson, then McCloud rose again. Zoheret watched it unfold like a tennis match, anxiously willing the numbers to keep climbing on Samson's side. But as they inched nearer to a complete reporting, her good mood plummeted.

Twenty-seven votes.

The room was mostly silent as McCloud's name flashed in red and white on the wall in front of her, announcing him as the Central District Leader once more. Slowly, the eyes turned her way, their auras flickering with uncertainty and fear. Stiffly Zoheret smiled at her staff and put both of her feet back on the floor. The room took a step back from her, fearing her wrath. Zoheret sighed through her nose, that plastic smirk unsettled on her face.

Oh well, she had said, finishing her glass. No one else did the same. Nothing has changed, she told them stiffly. She would see them all back at work the next day. As they all filtered out of her home one by one, Zoheret maintained her composure if not her sobriety. She poured herself a stiffer drink of bourbon that she had, accepting no friendly affections from her staff and nodding at any of their attempts to relieve her tension. Thankfully, her human staff were seasoned enough to know when to approach her and when not to.

The screen was still flashing on the wall white and red as the last person left. She stared at it for a long moment, eyes flickering between the two sets of numbers as if she had made a mistake in her counting.

Twenty-seven votes.

With all of her strength and a shout of frustration, she hurled her whiskey glass at the wall. The glass shattered only after leaving a nick in the plaster, like an apostrophe between the syllables in McCloud's flashing last name. She slammed her fist down on the hot projector and cracked the plastic and metal. It was only as the machine spun off the desk and skidded across the floor in ruins did she realize that she had sliced her hand open on a sharp edge. Her golden blood oozed from the side of her palm, trickling onto her slacks as she stood looking at the injury with fury, bad decisions on her mind.

Zoheret flew down the stairs of the villa, grabbing the keys to the house and a leather jacket without stopping, placing the keys into the pocket of the leather as she swung it around herself. She yanked the door open and had only taken two steps when she widened her wings and took to the sky for the first time since she had returned from Greece. Her fury needed shedding and she was intent on ridding herself of it, following the coast south until she met land again.


She returned by car sometime late the next day and had been informed there had been a package delivered to her from the Ward immediately upon entering. With a throbbing hangover headache and a new apathy for the city and its civilians, Zoheret went directly to her chambers and didn't emerge until the next morning. It was a few days before she became aware of the package again. She hadn't returned to her office desk until three days after the election results and she had forgotten entirely about the package.

With a renewed sense of urgency, she picked up the package and knew that it was jewelry. Strange, she thought, ignoring the note that came with it to look at the jewelry. She was confused by the bright colors that shined cheaply at her. This was from the Ward? The engraving offered her no explanation either. J&Z? The only thing that came to mind was that ugly rapper who was married to Beyonce Knowles. Why would such a trinket be delivered to her from the Ward?

She opened the note and skimmed it for a few seconds before her eyes stumbled over the name. Her fist closed around the piece of paper before she really had the chance to finish its contents.


Zoheret groaned and flicked the bracelet off the surface of her desk as if it were some insect. Her face flushed with anger and she threw the crumpled ball of paper onto the floor, her thoughts feeding into the cycle of hatred and violence towards the re-elected Central District Leader.

"You son of a bitch!" She shouted, as if he would hear her. She pushed more items off the surface of her desk in her rage. Once again, she stood from her desk and turned to leave the room, giving the box and bracelet a good kick before she left Attica Villa.

Awelfor Manor / Re: Searching for a Former Clarity
« on: February 12, 2020, 12:24:22 PM »
Her words triggered a growl in him, and a chuckle from somewhere else. Laurent again, his leeches watching, watching, watching... There were pulses of sickness in his guts unpleasantly distracting from the issues at hand. Everything was simply out of control again. He could hear her, yes, feel that somewhere her words would have ordinarily stopped him in his tracks - scrub him from her mind? Why? Why? - but he was not his own anymore. He hadn't been since she had left.

Nikolai took a drag from his cigarette and then stood up, reaching for his pants as he did so. Pain rippled through his body as he moved too quickly, stepping wordlessly into his clothes like he had down with Mitchelletto the night before. The irony was enough to make the leeches giggle with pleasure, pulling on his ball sack like a school yard bully. Nikolai swatted at nothing, stumbling as his perception swayed.

"Enough already!" It was only afterwards that he realized the words shouted at the swirling shadows in his mind's eye were also murmured aloud beneath his breath. Sonya would have undoubtedly heard them. Even more reason to get the fuck away from her as quickly as possible. There was another inconsolable swell of pain in his chest that felt like being on fire. 

"Everything is different now, Sonya." He wanted to tell her just how different things were - about Mitchelletto's return, about Laurent's trickery, about his own submission to them both as he blacked out into a version of himself that he couldn't control - but his mouth filled with a black stickiness as soon as he brought either of the names to the tip of his tongue. Nikolai swallowed hard on Laurent's laughter in his ears. "More than you could ever imagine."

He couldn't look at her now. Not as he withdrew from the Venom and the heroin, not as Laurent crawled beneath his skin, not as he would be forced to obey whatever lunacy Mitch wanted him to do. Not as he burned  without her and drowned in consequences of his own madness. It was stupid to think that he could go back to who he was before she left, as if she would just allow him back in the way he was.

It was stupid to think he was the same person who fell in love with her, and that it would be simple to love her again.

Nothing mattered anymore. Not if she didn't remember him like he needed her to. Not if he wasn't his own.

The White Rabbit / Re: A Demon Walks Into a Bar
« on: February 11, 2020, 01:02:31 PM »
There was a small movement that Damien made with his mouth as he controlled a sneer that threatened to give away the intensity of his anger. As he bit his tongue and watched the shadows gathering around Laurent, he contemplated the decision to threaten the demon before him. He had Rachel and could do anything to her in retaliation of this meeting to her and Damien would have to live with those ramifications once Rachel was safe again.

If Rachel would ever be safe again.

He glowered at the demon down the length of his nose, feeling the demons' mental self begin to dissolve away as he shifted into the shadows like the coward he was. There was temptation to launch himself at the creature and disrupt his shift, to grab ahold of the once-solid flesh and squeeze the life from him. But Va'tamal towered over him and there was no telling what strengths he had while in that hard flesh. It was certainly possible for Damien to overcome him, but he was unsure of how likely it was. No, there was a much better chance when the bastard was in human skin, and Damien didn't foresee such a shift now that he had been threatened.

He watched Jake move only peripherally, listening to his words and movements when he had left his visual field - he never took his unblinking eyes off Laurent. As if in agreement to Jake's statement, Damien leaned back in his chair and drummed his fingers on the table before him. Otherwise, he said nothing, backing his own mental offenses away from Va'tamal in slow motion until they hovered like a kind of halo, unstretched arms ready to strike if necessary. He would need blood after this meeting.

The White Rabbit / Re: A Demon Walks Into a Bar
« on: February 07, 2020, 04:25:56 PM »
Damien increased the heaviness of his aura, making the air thick with dread and command. It was something that he had been forced to learn from Lucretia in his time spent at her side, something that had allowed him to manage otherwise unruly fledges and take control of minor chaos. It also helped in reminding anyone in the vicinity that he was capable of a great number of things when pushed too far.

He pressed sharply against the demon's mind, not knowing what he would find there but needing his practiced speed to approach nonetheless. It was nothing like trying to penetrate a human nor vampire mind. There was no malleability to be found, the surface hard like the flesh of the creature itself. He could try it - to dive into the demon's mind to find the answers he needed. It was a tempting impulse, but what would he find there? What was it like to break the surface of a demon's mind? Would he be pulled in, unable to return? Would he be able to read and understand like he did humans? The unpredictability kept him without, but Damien dragged his mind's eye over the demon's flesh like daggers. He didn't expect to find some way in - and he wasn't looking just yet. Examining, yes, a scratching of a blade over rock. The feeling must have been grating.

The subtle movements towards him increased the pressure in the room, and Damien was glad to have so many years beneath him. Could he hold his ground against a shadow demon? Possibly. He was stronger, faster, and more skilled than Pierre had been that night. He had never tried such things before, having never been given the opportunity. Perhaps he would before the night was through - but not here, not in the White Rabbit. This time it was Damien's turn to smirk at the slip in Laurent's temperament.

"No one here is in your trade, Va'tamal," Damien reminded the demon quietly. "You don't know what a fair exchange is. A soul for a life is not a fair trade - it is a bargain. If you are a so-called man of your word, you would be offering me an actual trade within a shared currency - life.

"I propose a better trade." His eyes were hard and firm, but his voice otherwise calm. "You give me Rachel, and I consider sparing your life."

The White Rabbit / Re: A Demon Walks Into a Bar
« on: February 07, 2020, 03:38:54 PM »
"No," Damien responded calmly, anger welling in the deep places of his chest. "You are a coward who only knows how to play in the shadows." He expected the smile that bloomed on the demon's face. "You have no intention of giving her back to me, to letting her return to a life without you. You want both of us to suffer for making you wait." Damien leaned in slowly, without ever taking his eyes off Laurent and placed his arms on the table before him. His stoney countenance had fallen into something condescending, something full of disgust and pity. "If you did, she would have been with you."

The White Rabbit / Re: A Demon Walks Into a Bar
« on: February 07, 2020, 03:01:29 PM »
For the sake of getting the information he needed, Damien ignored Lisa-Joe's impudence despite their shoulders brushing roughly as she passed and Jake's scrutiny of his behavior. All of that he would handle later when the demon that had once trafficked his lover was no longer making threats to kill her unless he succumbed to his demands. He settled himself back into his seat and crossed his legs, grounding himself with the sensation of the chair, settling his face into a stoney glower once more as he watched the Not-Rachel on the floor.

As the shift happened, Damien braced himself mentally for the change back into the face of Laurent. When the grey flesh of his true self appeared, he did his best to maintain his expression. As he rose from the ground, the only relief he could find in the horror of the sight before him was that he was no longer being taunted with Rachel's visage. Teeth set solid, he watched through a glare as the demon said that he wanted nothing more than his soul, not backing down from the challenge that those black eyes presented.

His instinct was to agree. If he could take Rachel and trade something as trivial as his soul, why would he bother refusing? It was the details behind his trade that made him uncomfortable. What exactly would this trade entail? What would he be afterwards? Why was Laurent so interested in his soul specifically? There was something that he was missing. He knew that demons dealt in souls, and that they had something to do with their abilities - hence why Laurent could manipulate fire - but it was difficult to find more information about such things. There was some kind of value on his soul that was worth the price of Rachel, the woman whom Laurent had been pursuing for years.

He hesitated, knowing that to agree to anything that Laurent proposed would open any number of doors for chaos. But to deny him left Rachel at his mercy, and the thought of being soulless felt more important than allowing the one good thing in his life be mutilated, abused, raped, and broken all over again.

He stared at the villian. "Why should I believe anything you say?" His voice was low and dangerous. "Especially now?"

The White Rabbit / Re: A Demon Walks Into a Bar
« on: February 07, 2020, 03:54:26 AM »
Damien had suspected that the demon would use such trickery - he had used it on Pierre, shifting into Nikolai's aspect back when Nikolai was working for Damien - when he had betrayed Damien. Multiple times he had reminded and prepared himself for his shift into Rachel's skin and thought himself equipped for such a deviant trick.

He was not.

His entire body stiffened and the stoney expression dropped into one of shock and anger for the briefest of moments. His hands curled inwards to fists and he leaned forward in the chair just in time to watch Lisa-Joe's lunge past him. The stiffness in his muscles made him slow, so he wasn't able to connect with her before she could put her hands around the demon's throat, nor stop the words that came from between her bared fangs.

Damien was on his feet before her sentence finished, stretching a hand out to Lisa-Joe's shoulder and grabbing it firmly in as polite of an attempt to get her to release Laurent as he could possibly muster. "While I appreciate the sentiment, Lisa-Joe," he sent into her mind forcefully, his voice unwavering in its conviction with the intent of making her release him, "this is not your place to negotiate. Back off. Now." His silver eyes were on the side of her face, and he was prepared to make her loosen her grip should she chose to disobey.

The White Rabbit / Re: A Demon Walks Into a Bar
« on: February 06, 2020, 01:27:12 PM »
He watched the demon closely for the little movements in his face and the language of his body, hatred coursing through him thick like mud. Damien's expression remained cold but he couldn't help but shift in his spot.

His soul.

Once, when he was a Christian, such a thing held meaning for him. Such a request would be unChristian, inhuman. But as he mulled over the demon's words, he thought about what Kerr Galvin had told him, about what Zeus had relayed to him.

Laurent dabbled in the trade and use of souls.

He had no idea what his own soul would be worth, nor what a demon could do with it. His instinct was to agree immediately - what was a soul to him anyway? But as he was making the decision, he paused, weighing how long it had taken Laurent to show his face, how long it had taken for the push to come to shove. He thought of the long nights with Rachel fearing for her life. What would she say if she knew he had made such a deal for her? Would he be the same? Would she still love him? Would he love her?

"Well," Damien sighed lightly, a humorless smirk pulling at one corner of his mouth. "I'm flattered that my soul means so much to you, but I think I'll pass on that, thank you."

The White Rabbit / Re: A Demon Walks Into a Bar
« on: February 06, 2020, 12:59:45 PM »
A flare of anger that he had to swallow before responding in a bitterly curious voice. "And what would that be, hmm?"

The White Rabbit / Re: A Demon Walks Into a Bar
« on: February 06, 2020, 12:53:44 PM »
Damien's eyes narrowed with his suspicion. "A trade?" The disbelief in his tone was plain and he made no attempt to hide it.

The White Rabbit / Re: A Demon Walks Into a Bar
« on: February 06, 2020, 12:39:43 PM »
Damien entered the room slowly with a stern expression pressed into his features. His jaw was set firmly clenched behind calm lips and his hands were in his pockets to prevent them from shaking with the rage he felt just below the surface. Pierre stood just outside the door as it closed with a snick behind him.

The pressure in his chest, the ache in his jaw, and the shaking of his hands all intensified the moment he laid eyes on the smirking demon. It was almost impossible to not launch himself across the table at him, to revisit thoughts of rending flesh and plucking eyes from their sockets. For Rachel's sake and the sake of getting something out of this he refrained. He ignored the smug smile, the unnerving brightness of the demon's eyes that followed him as he entered. Damien took his time, adjusting to the feel of the room and extending the heaviness of his aura to oppress everyone. He needed this fool to remember who he was dealing with - a once-emperor.

He let his eyes meet Laurent's as if he were looking upon a man who would be dead soon. As he sat in the chair across the table from the demon, Damien never dropped eye contact. He settled himself with a sigh, crossing his legs and tenting his hands over his abdomen as if this were just one more business transaction. His words, however, were less than friendly.

"What do you want, Va'tamal?" He watched the demon for his reaction, wondering how many knew his actual name.

The White Rabbit / Re: A Demon Walks Into a Bar
« on: February 06, 2020, 11:43:21 AM »
When the line went dead and Damien's ears were left ringing with Laurent's laughter, he nearly threw the phone through the windshield of Pierre's car. He spat out a string of curses in the first languages that rolled off his tongue, not bothering to make sense of with them. A deep, hollow silence filled the car as Pierre raced through the city and Damien seethed.

"This could be a trap, you know," Pierre said cautiously after a few moments. His sire remained quiet. "It probably is."

"No one can get into the White Rabbit with the intention to kill anyone inside," Damien reminded him with a tone of annoyance, though he wasn't pointed it at his son. No, Damien had let Laurent get under his skin and as he sat idle in the passenger seat watching the dark city pass by with only a flicker of streetlights, he tried to come to terms with why. The demon's words kept playing on repeat in his head -- sweet Guillaume -- until Damien's hands started to shake.

What was this all about? Why hadn't Laurent moved on from his pursuit of Rachel? Did he track all of his former girls down like this? Would he kill Rachel now? Damien doubted it. What was more likely was that he would return her to the way things were for a while, then kill her when he was done. Anger rotted his stomach into nausea.

"So what's the plan?" Pierre asked, glancing over at him with a worried expression.

He sighed. "We talk to Laurent and find out what we can."


As Pierre pulled up to the curb, Damien stepped onto the pavement with the car still in motion, the rubber sole of his shoes skidding briefly on the asphalt. His chest felt tight and the shaking in his hands had moved solidly up his arms until his entire body felt engulfed by his rage. He had quelled that fury by imagining all the ways that he would kill Laurent when he saw him - complete with rending flesh between neck and head apart in the goriest of fashions. With the speed that age had provided him, Damien made his way to the front door and placed his hand on the handle.

Something hit him square in the chest, stopping him in his tracks. He released the handle aghast, unable to explain what exactly had stopped him. When he reached again for the handle, a similar reaction, only this time he stumbled backwards from the door. He could see nothing, and yet he was prevented from entering, as if a sentry had stepped into his path and pushed him. Instinctually he scanned for the mental walls of a strong one, someone with the ability to keep him out of the club, but came up empty-handed. Pierre approached as Damien cursed at the club, stumbling backwards onto his knee as he made one final attempt.

"The Rabbit's magic," Pierre said, steadying his sire as Damien rose and dusted the grime from his jeans. "You have to calm down."

"I'm going to feel his skull collapse within my hands," Damien murmured darkly, staring at the door of the White Rabbit. He jerked himself out of Pierre's grip and walked around, calming himself. Pierre was right - emotion couldn't be his companion if he had any hope of saving Rachel. He scolded himself and tried to feel the connection between himself and the ground, but his anger and terror simmered on despite his best efforts. Never before had he been so distracted by his emotions that he couldn't focus on centering himself.

With difficulty, he banished thoughts of killing Laurent from his mind, replacing them instead with the importance of Rachel's smile, the curve of her hip beneath their sheets as she slept, the way she always filled his phone with pictures of her with Delilah. He sighed and tried the door to the Rabbit again. This time, the door opened with ease and allowed both vampires to enter unresisted.

His eyes searched the bar immediately, sending out a mental pulse to take the temperature of the bar. He looked at the bartender. "Where is he?" He demanded, scaring the girl who was wiping the bar. She managed to point towards the elevator near Lisa-Joe's office and Damien wasted no time in making his way down into the Warrens.

The White Rabbit / Re: A Demon Walks Into a Bar
« on: February 05, 2020, 03:23:55 PM »
Damien and Pierre exchanged a look as Pierre started up the Lexus and peeled out of the parking lot of the beach. He could hear the pleasure in the demon's voice as he spoke with a certain amount of confidence. He didn't wonder how he had gotten Damien's human name, though his mind wandered heatedly about the possibilities. That was unimportant for the moment.

"Jake," Damien said through grit teeth, hating himself for playing any of the demon's games while keeping his expression as neutral as he possibly could. He knew he should have called Laurent's bluff and stayed where he was, but nothing made sense anymore. He couldn't lose Rachel.

I love you, I love you, I love you, she had thought. Did she know that he had picked up that message?

"Shark tank," he coded to Jake. It was a phrase he had used to help Jake control his temper during the election. It was a reminder to contain his emotions and respond when necessary to survive encounters that would otherwise try to tear him apart, to keep his thoughts to himself and observe. Damien hoped he would get the message.

"Why should I trust anything you say?" He asked the demon with an even voice. "You spend years avoiding me and now you want to talk?"

The White Rabbit / Re: A Demon Walks Into a Bar
« on: February 05, 2020, 02:38:01 PM »
Around ten in the morning the dot on the tracking app finally stopped moving about, remaining for hours at the same location - Glitter Beach. It was the only moment of the day that he felt hopeful -- until the dot didn't move more. The longer the dot remained unmoving, the darker his thoughts grew. By early afternoon, he was sure that she was dead, laying on the beach. To confirm his suspicions, he turned on the human news and kept it low as he made his calls and did whatever searching he could from his house.

At four in the afternoon, Damien heard a whine and a soft scratch at the door. He leapt up from the office chair and pressed his ear to the front door, extending himself mentally.

Delilah and no one else.

A great swell of joy pushed tears to his eyes and Damien carefully opened the door to let the dog in, avoiding the sunlight that flooded the house by standing behind the door. He slammed it shut and went to cradle his dog, checking over her fur for injuries. There were knicks all over her, her coat covered in brambles and thorns and dried blood. She cried out when he pressed on her ribs too heavily and avoided him when he touched a very tender back leg. When he released her, she went straight for the water bowl with a significant limp that worried him. He would have to call the vet to come look at her.

By the time the sun dipped under the horizon, Damien was waiting on Pierre to arrive so they could both go search the beach. He tried not to think about the likelihood that Rachel was dead - after all nothing had shown up on the local media. Perhaps there was hope after all.

Damien drove them across the city to the beach as soon as Pierre had arrived, barely talking to his fledge. Everytime he opened his mouth to speak to him, Damien could feel the fear and anger bubble up in him, and he couldn't afford to give it anymore space than it already had.

They would find Rachel. They had to.

When they arrived at the beach, he followed the green dot on his app, eyes wide and scanning the beach for any sign that she had been there. He neither picked up her scent nor saw anyone that even resembled her. Damien was losing hope when he caught sight of something on one of the park benches nearby - a traffic cone. It was enough to draw him in, looking around as if it were some kind of trap. Pierre followed at a distance, allowing his sire the space he may need to maneuver, should the need arise.

Damien went closer, but an idea was beginning to form in his head. Sure enough, as he approached the traffic cone, he saw nothing out of the ordinary - until he lifted the orange cone. Beneath the hollow center was the small device that Damien had given to Rachel just yesterday. Disbelief surged up through him and he checked his phone to be sure. Both dots were in the same location.

Laurent (or some passerby) must have found the tracker and placed it here for Damien to find.

With an exasperated shout, he threw the tracker into the ocean, useless as it was now. Pierre stood silently by him and only interfered with Damien's frustration when he lunged for the bench and tried to wrench it from the concrete foundation in which it sat. Had it been anyone else, Damien would have used all of his strength to break free from that bear hug and kill whoever held him back. It was because that person was Pierre that Damien fought only briefly against the hold before giving into the other's strength and sagged in his despair after a few furious moments.

"I've fucked everything up, Jean-Luc," he whispered hoarsely, no air left in his chest. He felt as if he were being dragged into the sands and he wished for nothing more than for the Earth to just open up and drag him to Hell. The roll and spray of the ocean stood only as an ironic reminder of his loss.

"No you haven't," his fledge responded, still maintaining his hold on him, though it softened as Damien relaxed his violent impulse. "You did everything you could for her." Something about his tone sounded too final, too complete - as if the search for Rachel was over. He gathered breath and was about to give Pierre a taste of his anger for suggesting such a thing when his phone rang. Anger forgotten, he dug the phone out of his pocket, barely glancing at the name on the screen. For a moment, he stupidly believed it would be Rachel. Before he could even answer the phone, Jake's voice came through the line with a chilling message.

Damien swatted Pierre away, knowing that he had heard those words as well. Blood filled his ears in a rage as he processed Jake's words. Everything inside of him turned to fire and Damien started for the car. If Laurent was at the Rabbit, Damien could kill him and find Rachel. He didn't stop to think about why Laurent might be at the White Rabbit, those details seeming superfluous.

"Laurent is at the Rabbit? How the hell did he even get in?"

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