Chapter 11:


Dinah and Tony attended Greg's funeral in Annie's place the Wednesday after he died. She closed her eyes against the barrage of thoughts that had slipped from the minds of those around them. His mother was a mess. She'd seen the remains, and had fainted that the knowledge that her little boy was actually dead. Unfortunately for Dinah, the image was the one that passed through the woman's mind uncontrolled by filters that most people let work unknowingly.

His father had gone cold. His youngest boy, his pride and joy was gone. They'd fought the last time they'd seen each other. The last words he'd shouted at the boy were, "You'd damn well better not come back to this house until your ass is ready to apologize, you ungrateful little shit." Not words one wanted to remember as the last ones having been said to a dead child. Not that one ever want to outlive their own children.

And his brother was furious. Police had found the remains, scorched and gnarled as they were, but had no possible suspects. Useless fucks at the station were probably twiddling their thumbs rather than looking at evidence. No wonder there was some psycho out there killing people and charring the bodies. He'd be getting the hell out of town if he didn't want to see his brother's killer brought to justice.

He looked around at the people in attendance, and Dinah felt his worry rise at the absence of Greg's best friend. Annie should have been in attendance. They'd been inseparable. But then he'd heard about some girl having disappeared after having been seen on the roof of one of the buildings. Could that have been… He shook his head.

No. She was probably just sick after the death of her best friend, he was telling himself. He remembered the way she'd gotten after she'd broken up with her boyfriend in high school. She'd been a wreck. He couldn't imagine what happened after the death of a best friend. He knew he felt sick and furious and lost and so much more after the loss of his brother. She'd been like their sister.

He'd have to pay her a visit. Make sure she was all right.

Dinah felt herself straighten unconsciously as Greg's brother's attention turned to her and Tony. They were the strangers. The blonde in a black dress with a small blue belt, and the lanky goth guy with his hair pulled back in a ponytail. She was leaning on him, sobbing softly as her stroked her back. He wondered how those two knew his brother. She seemed broken up by his loss. Maybe she was an ex he didn't know. He had a feeling he should go thank them for attending since he doubted his parents were in any shape.

"I need to get out of here," Dinah whimpered as she felt the pressure of the grief building up around her. She could barely breathe as she buried her face in Tony's suit jacket to bury the sobs that wracked her delicate frame.

Sometimes, he wondered how she'd dealt with this sort of scene before they'd found each other. Then he remembered the small scars that laced up and down her inner thigh, hidden there where she thought no one would ever see them.

She'd been born a telepath but over time empathy had developed as a gift that Dinah hadn't wanted. She'd told him of times in which she'd felt herself have a panic attack because someone across the room had been having one. The time she'd broken someone's nose because she'd been around someone angrier than she'd ever been, and she lashed out.

Now, she was dealing with grief, and it was probably enough to almost send her into hysterics. He was surprised when she'd volunteered to go in Annie's place. She'd been working on her control while being on a college campus, but he doubted anything had ever been this intense. Even he could sense it, and he barely acknowledged his own emotional state of being.

He pressed a kiss to her crown and tried to focus his own sense of calm towards her. She shifted in his hold, sniffling softly.

He blinked when he saw a shadow fall over Dinah and looked up to see Greg's brother looking at the two of them.

"I'm Geoff," he said. "I just wanted to say thank you for coming."

"I'm Tony, and she's Dinah," he said motioning to the two in turn before taking Geoff's outstretched hand. "And it's all right. We're sorry this had to happen."

"Can I ask how you two knew him?" he asked softly.

"Annie introduced us. We're friends of hers. She'd be here, but… She's a wreck right now," Tony said as he imagined her acting the way Dinah was now. Broken. Sobbing.

"Will you have her call me? I haven't heard from her in a few weeks, and Greg told me she'd been having a hard time lately. I just want to make sure that she's okay," he said.

"Yeah. When she's up to it, I'll tell her to call you," Tony replied. "Right now, though, I think we're just going to head out. Dinah is… She doesn't handle funerals well."

"I guess that's why Annie didn't show. She's… She's never been able to handle this sort of thing. Or crowds really..." he sighed softly, running a hand through his short hair. "I guess I'll talk to her soon." He stopped and patted Tony on the shoulder. "You two be careful going home, all right?"

"Yeah," Tony replied. "You too."

He watched as Geoff turned and walked over to a pair of older ladies with white hair. Sick anger rose up in him as he remembered the white of the older version of Annie's hair. He wanted to do something to punish the woman, despite having seen the original version rendered useless in bed while it all happened.

Fuck, his arms still hurt from trying to hold her down in the aftermath.

"Come on, Dinah… Let's get out of here," he told her as he carefully led her from the grave site and towards Harris' car.

"Are we sure about this?" Dinah asked as she looked from Harris to Tony. "We might get stuck in there as well."

This wasn't how she'd planned on spending her evening after having been ripped apart emotionally at a funeral. She appreciated Harris' idea that giving her something to focus on would help, but there were better things to focus on. Like Tony's face when he was hovering in that space between sex and slumber. Just after, when he was spent and she was enjoying the buzz coming from both herself and him.

"We've exhausted other options. Using your telepathy to channel my healing into her broken psyche might function as a means of getting her back into the world of the living," Harris stated drawing her out of her reverie. "Unless one of you has a better option. And no, pissing her off until she wakes up doesn't count as an idea."

Tony rolled his eyes at Harris' assumption. They both shook their heads though, leaving them with Harris' idea of trying to draw Annie from her world of dreams.

Dinah sat at Annie's bedside, her fingers lightly pressed to Annie's temples. She felt Harris' and Tony's hands on her shoulders and closed her eyes. She built the mental bridges between the three first, just as she had done the times they'd gone into Annie's dreams to build the world they'd once called home.

She reached out to the chaos that was Annie's subconscious and struggled to form some sort of anchor for the three of them. Once she felt the connection form, she let her mind focus on trying to bringing down some of the walls. Before she even had a chance however a sharp stabbing sensation ripped through her.

A sense of foreboding washed over her as she felt wind curl about her blue clad form.

"Mine!" a voice roared into her mind before ejecting the three of them from the connection.

Harris managed to catch Dinah before she hit the ground, and looked down to see that she had blacked out. He hoped she'd come out of it soon, but had no way to tell for sure.

"What the hell was that?" Tony asked as he watched Harris lift Dinah and set her on the cot he'd been using the first night after Annie had been brought to the house.

"Our friendly neighborhood opponent. And he's got one hell of a hold on her. An anchor stronger than the one Dinah could form," Harris commented

"So she probably had no idea that we were there?" Tony questioned.

"Shit ton of aspirin. Need now." The two looked to see that the blonde wasn't out as long as had been expected. Tony couldn't help but feel relief when he heard her speak. "She knew, by the way," Dinah murmured. "She knew because he knew. He came the second the connection was anchored. I'm hoping that maybe it gave her some idea that waking up is possible."

"IF she wants to wake up," Tony said. "What is she going to have to come back to when she does?"

"We'll get to that when the time comes," Harris stated.

"He's got some sort of physical anchor. Something's connecting him to her, but I don't know what. That's why this person is able to keep her in there, though," Dinah told them as she sat up slowly. Her head was throbbing at just how roughly they'd been ejected from her mind.

"Get some rest. We'll see what we can do about getting her out once you're back to full strength," Harris stated as he helped a wobbly Dinah to her feet.

"I'm fine," she insisted. "Besides, he might try to do something to drag her further or make it stronger or… God, she's fighting it, and she needs help. I need to get back in-"

"Dinah, listen to him. You've been working on getting her back for far too much time during the day. You've only stopped the day Greg was killed and that was because he was brought here. You need to stop and give your brain a break before your brain actually breaks," Tony told her as he cupped her face in both of his hands. He leaned over and kissed her brow softly before smiling softly at her. "For me. Please."

She sighed and nodded slowly. "Fine… I'll be good. Just… God… I hope…"

"Nothing's going to happen," Tony stated as he pulled her to him, letting her head rest on his chest.

"You two should go get some rest. I'll see what I can do about detecting any sort of physical abnormalities," Harris advised them as he leaned against the wall with a tired look on his face.

Dinah could read from his expression that he doubted he would find anything. He'd used his powers like this repeatedly over the past few days, and aside from a few wounds manifesting because of the intensity of her dreams, he was not finding anything. There was a physical anchor, and it was not allowing itself to be discovered.

"You should rest too," Tony insisted. "You can't heal people if you're dead on your feet."

"Cute," Harris muttered. "I'll rest later. For now, just let me see what I can find."

Dinah watched him sadly as he pushed himself from the wall and walked over to the bed. She leaned against Tony as they walked out of the room and upstairs.

Harris took her hand in his and closed his eyes. He'd gotten used to finding abnormalities before by focusing his powers into scanning a person's body. He felt a distinct impression from her mind, a cavity in her jaw, scar tissue along her collarbone and upper left arm. He let his powers drift through her body, nothing strange in her chest or any of the organs. Her midsection. Scar tissue where the appendix had been taken out. Nothing out of the ordinary, though, as always, it seemed. Through the pelvis and legs. Bruises where she'd been caught that always seemed to come back. A possible sign of how strong the physical anchor was tying her to her dreams, whatever they were. Weakness in her right ankle. Sprained it a few times, he figured. But still nothing.

"Damnit," he muttered.

If there was indeed a physical anchor, he didn't know what it was. Couldn't detect it. This was going beyond his powers, leaving him lost. What was it then? And then he realized a possibility. Given how much Alex apparently knew about Dancer, he wondered if he'd considered her finding her way to them.

"How is he camouflaging whatever he's using?" Harris asked as he looked down at the sleeping face of the girl. "Some idea would be nice right about now, Annie."

There was a pounding at the door the next day as Dinah walked down stairs to go make herself breakfast. She groaned as she picked up the intensity of the emotions coming from Louis who was still slamming his fist on the door.

"Jesus, that's not metal. You don't have to try so hard to destroy it," Dinah commented as she opened the door.

What she saw before her was startling. Louis stood there trembling, his eyes shifting from blue to black to gray rapidly. He was a mess wearing a pair of sweat pants and a hoodie and flip-flops.

"Help me," he croaked, the rasp barely recognizable coming from the figure before her.

She slipped an arm around his midsection helping him walk into the den as the vibrations coursing through his body rippled through her.

"Harris!" she cried out, wincing as Louis flinched beside her. "Sorry. We'll fix you up."

She had a feeling that the "I hope" came out as implied as she had intended it not to. Attempting to figure out what was happening to him was giving her a headache. There was so much static that she couldn't break through and get a clear impression.

He stumbled and muttered softly in a language that Dinah could only vaguely ever remember hearing. She knelt down in front of him after settling him on the center cushion of the couch.

"Dinah, that made my ears ring. Was that really necess-"

"Shut up," she cut in as she tried to stare into Louis shifting eyes. "Louis, I need you to focus on me. That might be a little hard at the moment. I need to know what happened to you if you want us to help you."

For a moment, the eyes lingered on the blue she recognized, and then they weren't. Black dominated the iris and then the sclera.

"She keeps dying. Hundreds of thousands of times over, I watch her die. Then, I follow her. Every time, she always dies, and I fail to save her," he murmurs, a barrage of images flooding his mind, giving Dinah countless memories of lives she couldn't remember living. "She came to me, and now, I can't stop seeing her die."

"She came to you?" Dinah asked. "Who?"

Before he spoke, the image of her filled Dinah's mind. Sad, metallic eyes and long white hair. Silver cloak and trembling hands. Tear filled voice and broken sobs. Annie had come to him, pleading and then, she'd given him back the power that he was struggling to cope with. A roar filled her mind as he slipped out of the driver's seat, pained and mournful. She pulled back from him, breathing hard.

"Harris!" she almost screamed.

"What?" responded the person in question as he walked into the room. When he saw the scene before him- the visibly shaking Louis and the shaken Dinah. "What's going on?"

"He's waking. Annie's forced him to realize-"

"Annie has?" Harris asked as he walked around and perched on the edge of the couch beside Louis. He kept his ears open for Dinah, but kept his eyes trained on the figure beside him.

"Not the one upstairs. The one we saw who killed Greg, but different. This one... This one was alive. Not like that dead thing wearing the sleeping girl's face," Dinah stated.

"I need to see her," Louis stated. "I need to ask her why she would do this to-"

"You know you can't. She's still up there, unconscious. She still hasn't woken up from Alex's-"

"Please," he pleaded softly. "Let me see her."

Dinah felt her insides tighten, and her eyes burn as she fought to keep the feelings pouring from Louis onto her under control. Her breath was barely escaping her as she fought to force herself to relax.

"She's doing it again!" Tony shouted from the top of the stairs. "You all might want to get up here!"

In a flash, Louis was up and racing up the stairs, shoving Tony against the wall. He stopped in the doorway of Annie's room and stared. Her lips were open in a silent scream.

"Danni?" Dinah whispered as she walked up behind Louis.

The word was being screamed over and over inside Annie's mind, filling Dinah's head with images of a tiny girl with black curls and a featureless face. A sense of mourning passed over her, clenching her throat shut.

She watched as Louis stepped forward, the flickering bleeding down his form from his eyes until his skin flickered beneath the clothes he wore. He drifted to the bed, and with a trembling hand, he reached out to gently touch her brow. The flickering from the olive to the luminous black faded as she felt his mind calm. The worry emanating from him was still palpable, but at least it was all Louis' mind now.

He leaned over Annie, speaking soft words to her that Dinah couldn't make out. She started to step forward when a pressure built up inside her mind, until a veritable explosion tore through her mind and she passed out.