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Everett's good at what he does. He, which is being one of the Occult’s most effective agents, and one day he wants to be the boss. Only his sister – ranked above him and always smug about it – stands in his way.
When they are targeted by the infamous Illusionist, they must decide where their loyalties lie. To each other, to their overbearing father, or to the new member, who seems to know more than he’s letting on.
Warnings: Mentions of crime, non-graphic violence, spoilers for The Occult
“Sam!” Everett cried. “Help!”
The air had been knocked from his lungs – not just from the impact, but from seeing Sam’s smirking face. He was suspended on a pile of cardboard boxes on the basement floor of the mansion, peering up at his old friend. Every bone in his body had been shattered and he was struggling to breathe.
He tried moving, but his body screamed in pain. He was delirious, and pushing down the urge to panic, when he saw Sam looming above him through the hole.
His friend smiled down at him. It was not a look for concern or worry; it was a smirk of victory.
Everett’s stomach sank.
“Do you really think I’m going to help you?” asked Sam, with a roll of his eyes. “You must be dimmer than I thought.”
“Sam!” Everett cried, unable to compute what was happening. His mind was racing. “This isn’t funny. Help me up.”
Sam reached towards him and for a moment Everett felt a stab of relief. Then, he realized what Sam was doing. Everett tried to struggle, but his limbs were not cooperating. Sam unhooked the mic from his ear; so, Prue couldn’t hear him, so he couldn’t call for aid.
Then, he pulled a pair of cuffs from his trousers, and chained Everett’s wrist to one of the basement pipes. Everett tried to pull it away, but the water pipe creaked, and the cuff dug against his tender skin. He jerked again and it rattled.
“You don’t deserve my help,” said Sam, and Everett was taken aback by the resentment in his tone. The rage, the jealousy.
Everett’s head was spinning.
“What?” Everett croaked.
“To be so high a rank and to not deserve it,” Sam told him, the words acidic. The hurt as much as Everett’s injuries. “You got here due to favoritism from your father and nothing more.”
“That’s not true,” Everett argued, instinctively. “You know my father.”
Sam knew better than anyone how Everett had struggled with his father’s expectations. How his father had always favored Prue. How everything he did was never good enough. He had dedicated everything to his father’s goals, his father’s vision, and he had never been acknowledged for it.
“Always so good at everything without even trying,” Sam hissed. “Always better than everyone.”
“I don’t think like that,” Everett said, but he knew Sam was not listening. “My father doesn’t think that.”
Sam took one last look at him, pleased at his suffering, and said, “They’ll be here for you soon.”
“Who will?” Everett cried, struggling again. “The Illusionist? Sam! Sam!”
Everett saw his red disappear from his eyeline as Sam walked away.
He didn’t know how long he’d been waiting, led on the cardboard boxes in the basement. His wrist was throbbing, rubbed raw in his struggle, and he could feel blood now dripping from his fingers.
He had spent a long time screaming for help, his throat dry, but it didn’t appear Prue had made it into the building yet. Everett prayed she would reach him before the Illusionist did – it was surely his only hope of escape.
No sooner had the thought floated over his mind when he saw someone else in his periphery. A head had appeared in the gap. It wasn’t Sam’s though. He didn’t recognise it.
It was a girl – similar in age to himself – with dark skin and curly hair. Her curious eyes peered down at him and for a moment he thought her a hallucination.
“Hello!” whispered the girl. “Are you ok?”
“Who are you?” Everett asked. He was definitely not ok.
She hesitated for a moment, before saying, “Lily.”
“What are you going here?” he hissed because the mansion was full of traps. “It’s dangerous.”
“I work here,” she admitted, in a small voice.
Everett blinked. She worked in the mansion. Was she part of the reason he was trapped?
“Did you set these traps?” Everett pressed.
“No,” she replied, shaking her head empathically. Her eyes were wide and fearful. “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry for what?” asked Everett, confused.
“You’re hurt,” she said. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s ok,” said Everett, because she was talking, and he didn’t want to scare her. He needed to get out the cuffs, and perhaps she was sympathetic – perhaps she could help him.
“Who do you work for?” he asked.
For a moment he thought that she might not answer him, but she turned and pointed behind her. On the wall of the living room that Everett could still see from the basement was another painting; the Illusionist seemed like a keen artist. The style however was different and not one Everett recognized.
It was a family portrait, and older than the paintings at the boat or gallery. It was more traditional too. It showed two teenagers – a boy and a girl. They appeared to be siblings, perhaps even twins. They were both blond haired and blue eyed.
“The twins,” Everett said. The more he looked, the more he realized he knew those blue eyes. “I know that man. He’s the one from the alley.”
The deaf man.
He did not recognize the girl. The sister.
“What alley?” asked Lily.
“Do they live here?” Everett continued. He might still be chained to the water pipes, but he was at least getting answers. He could push down the pain for a little while longer.
“Not anymore,” she replied. He could sense no deception in her tone.
“Where do I find them?” he pressed.
“Not far from here,” she said. “They own lots of properties – shops and clubs.”
“Where?” Everett cried.
“I can’t say,” squeaked the girl.
“Ok, ok,” Everett replied, because she looked terrified. He tried a different tact. “Please, can you help me?”
She jerked back from the gap and for one horrifying moment Everett thought he had scared her away. “I can’t free you!” she insisted, and she looked on the verge of tears.
“Why not?” Everett asked, trying to suppress his disappoint. They were running out of time. He was led in a trap and the Illusionist would soon be here to collect him.
“I just can’t,” replied Lily, swallowing hard.
“Ok,” said Everett. He didn’t want to frighten her off. He tried another solution instead. “Look, I need you to find someone for me instead.”
“I need you to find my sister,” Everett told her, unable to disguise the frantic tone of his voice. “She will set me free. You don’t have to do anything.”
Lily stared down at him. This time, she hadn’t refused. Everett sensed weakness.
“We won’t tell anyone,” Everett said. “I promise.”
“You swear?” Lily whispered.
“I promise,” Everett repeated. “Please find my sister.”
Lily nodded then and Everett felt a stab of relief. She staggered back to her feet and then her head vanished from sight. His arm was throbbing and his vision fuzzy.
He didn’t know if Lily would really find Prue; he didn’t know if she had simply run away. He hoped she would really help him. He would just have to trust her.
He could do nothing but wait.
To be continued…
Once Lily had left, and Everett was left to dwell in the silence, the pain returned tenfold. He did a quick body scan and was relieved to find all his limbs were still responsive – he didn’t think anything was broken. But his head was sore and his wrist bleeding.
He took in a deep breath, trying to calm his racing heart, and waited. He could do nothing more but wait – wait for Lily to find his sister.
He was too impatient to just lie there, but he had little other choice. For once in his life, he had to trust a stranger to save him; he hated the very thought.
He stared up at the portrait of the twins, which was blurring in and out of his vision. He was trapped, chained, and all he could see was them; he was sure it was some sort of karmic punishment. Punishment for his sins and his failure to realize how unhappy Sam had been. He had underestimated Sam and overestimated himself.
Not for the first time. Maybe he had gotten what he’d deserved.
Just when he’d lost all hope, and he was starting to lose consciousness, there was clatter in his periphery.
“Everett!” came a voice, at long last.
Everett blinked, refocusing on the twins, when another head popped over the hole. It was not Prue, as Everett had hoped. It was a familiar set of light eyes and wavy hair.
His brow was damp with sweat. He looked worried and it took Everett a moment to realise he was concerned about him. It was not his sister, but at least it was not the Illusionist.
Lily appeared behind him, and Everett gave her a wobbly smile of thanks. He hoped she knew how grateful that she had honoured her word; she was a better person than him.
“Are you ok?” Noah called.
“Not really,” Everett replied dully, because he was beyond the point of lying. His head was throbbing, and he was chained to a water pipe. It was hardly his finest moment. Damian and his father never going to let him hear the end of it.
“What happened?” Noah cried.
“Sam,” Everett croaked. His voice broke and he could say nothing else.
Noah stared down at him with understanding in his eyes – and perhaps even pity. Everett could hardly bear it. Instead, he diverted Noah’s attention.
“Prue – is she ok?” he said instead.
“Yes,” Noah replied, and for once his eyes were clear, they were honest. “They had trouble getting through the back entrance, so I followed you in the front. Lily found me.”
That was good news, at least. The Illusionist did not have Prue and Nate.
“We’ll get you out of here,” Noah said instead. “I’ll find something to cut you out.”
“You don’t have much time,” Lily reminded them. “I have to go.”
“Lily,” said Everett. “Thank you.”
She nodded and then was gone.
Noah remained; Everett could hear him searching for something to cut the cuffs.
Everett went limp and everything went black.
When Everett blinked his eyes back open, he was flat on his back in bed – not in the mansion basement, but in a spacious room he recognized as Occult headquarters.
He felt a jerk of relief, before he remembered what happened.
His body was still burning in pain, but in a way that was dulled by painkillers; his head was throbbing, and his vision was blurred. He blinked again – trying to break off the fog. He jerked his fingers and then his toes and was relieved when they responded accordingly. At least his limbs were still working.
His movements seemed to have alerted Prue, who he realised was perched next to him with a jolt. She looked on the verge of sleep; it must have been night-time, as the lamps were all lit and there didn’t seem to be anyone else in the vicinity.
“You’re finally awake,” Prue said, peering over at him.
Everett groaned. The events of the mansion were beginning to come back to him, and it was a horrible realization.
Sam had betrayed him. His friend… his brother.
“I wish I’d stayed asleep.”
“You were knocked unconscious in the mansion,” Prue replied. “The doctors said you have concussion and severe bruising.”
It certainly felt like it. He hated being sick or injured. He felt useless, no use to his father and no use to Prue.
“Nothing is broken?” he asked, to make sure.
“No,” she replied.
Phew. That was something, at least. Physically he would recover but he was not sure he was going to forget Sam’s actions so easily. It was a searing burn, sour and bitter. He was angry, but more so, he was embarrassed.
How could he possibly admit it to Damian or his father. Yet, he did want to admit it to Prue.
“It was Sam,” Everett told her, in a croaky voice.
He could not look her in eye, as he didn’t want to see any disappointment there.
“I know,” Prue replied, and her voice was not mocking, it was sad and maybe that was worse. “I’m sorry.”
Everett said nothing, trying to swallow through a lump in his throat.
“I know he was your friend,” Prue continued.
“Apparently not,” Everett replied, sourly.
He didn’t want to think about it anymore. He would deal with Sam eventually.
“How did I get out?” he asked, desperate to change the subject.
“You don’t remember?” Prue asked. “You were in and out of consciousness. Noah freed you and then found us. Everything around the back was blocked out and riddled with traps.”
“Why?” Everett asked, his head spinning. “You think the Illusionist is just messing with us?”
“I don’t know,” Prue replied, reluctantly. It was not like her to admit she didn’t know something – she was frustrated too.
The events at the mansion were coming back to him. He remembered falling, Sam’s sneering face, and someone else.
“There was a girl at the mansion,” Everett mused, trying to remember the fragments of their conversations. “She worked for them. She was called Lily.”
“Them?” Prue asked.
“The twins who lived there,” Everett said. “One was the man from the alley. The other was a girl.”
“It could be another trap,” said Prue.
“Maybe,” conceded Everett.
He didn’t know anymore.
Everett dozed for a few hours. Prue had gone and he’d lost all concept of time, mulling over Sam’s betrayal. He had dreamt of their childhoods – playing in their gardens and pulling Prue’s hair. It seemed like a distant memory now.
His chest felt heavy, almost suffocating.
He was interrupted by Noah who shuffled through the doorway. He was in clean clothes with fresh, damp hair and Everett was struck with jealousy; he craved a shower, and hot running water, but the doctor had ordered him not to move his head.
At least his vision had returned. Noah was clear now.
“Hey,” Noah said, with a smile. “Prue said I could come and see you.”
“Hey,” Everett replied. He tried nodding but his head screamed in protest.
“Are you feeling better?” asked Noah, perching on the chair Prue had dragged next to his bed.
“I’ve had worse,” Everett told him.
That was true. Their line of work was not without risk or danger – but it was not like them to turn on each other. The Occult was for life.
“About Sam,” Noah said, uncomfortably. “I’m sorry.”
Everett did not need the reminder. “I don’t want to talk about him,” he replied, cutting him off.
Noah nodded in understanding. “Ok.”
Everett licked his lips – unsure on how to start. It was not often that he offered thanks, and the words felt heavy in his mouth, caught on his tongue.
“I did just want to say thank you for rescuing me,” he said at last.
It was hurried, and slightly reluctant, but Noah smiled.
“Of course,” Noah said. “No problem.”
To be continued…
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