La magie nous libre

Authors: Dallion

Hosted by VendrediAntiques.com


1: 9/17/87

September 17th 1987
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Micki walked through the darkness of Vendredi's Antiques, feeling uneasy and slightly scared. Just the week before hand she received the letter stating Lewis' death, and the store that by default to herself and her cousin Ryan. A distant family member she had never seen before or heard about. Shortly before leaving, she had lunch with her mother and asked about him.

As her mother stirred her tea she simply rolled her eyes and told her that Ryan wasn't blood related. That he was Ray's eldest son and the last time she saw that part of the family was when Micki was just born. Paying no further mind, Micki decided to get this over with and quickly return to her normal happy life.

Sighing, she looked around and the thick scent of dust and mold filled the air. The same smell you got whenever you went up in an old attic. Feeling homesick, she couldn't believe she had to come all the way down here to tie up affairs. She hoped she would be able to sell everything off within the week and part ways with this cousin of hers and return back to Lloyd.

Thinking of Lloyd, she glanced down at her ring she faintly smiled.

The wedding was only in a few months.

Trying not to think of the constant worrying and planning that had been going on, she hoped once she finished here she might be able to truly figure out what was going on in that head of hers.

She was twenty-five years old and had her entire life ahead of her. Now finished with college, she worked for her father and had been engaged to Lloyd for nearly a year now. Knowing this was exactly what her father wanted, he saw Lloyd as a smart successful lawyer who's family name would go perfectly with theirs. Charlotte had all ready let down her parents so far, now it seemed as though all the pressure was on Micki.

Trying not to think about it, she searched for a light switch.

Lifting up a few sheets that covered things, she looked around rubbing her hands together from the gritty feel of dirt. Looking over at the glass counter, she saw a few candles were lit. Feeling extra nervous she stepped forward, hoping somebody was around. Backing up, she leaned against the glass counter, the silence making her feel uneasy. Just then a person jumped up from behind her. An awful ugly mask on and began to laugh. Spinning around she screamed and grabbed the first thing she found.

Taking a small glass vase she screamed and busted it over the person's head.

Ah!

The person bowed down before she eyed the stairs, waiting to run towards the door at any second. Just then a young guy came around, dressed in jeans and a faded pink T-shirt. Holding his head he squinted at her.

Hey that really hurt!

He then looked her up and down, his expression changing.

Whoa...who are you?

Trying not to show the panic in her face, she straightened her back before letting out her hand.

Don't tell me, your Ryan Dallion?

The guy cracked a grin.

Yeah that's me, I'm Ryan the lion...how did you know?

Uncle Lewis' lawyer said you would be here, I'm your cousin Micki...how do you do?

Micki let her hand out and Ryan just stared at it. Slowly he reached out, looking confused and shook it.

Michelle Foster?

Micki sounded annoyed, this wasn't her idea to come to this dirty store in the first place.

Ryan's eyes then lit up before he laughed.

Michelle! I'm sorry I thought the letter said Micheal...I was expecting a guy. Forgive me please...

Ryan looked Micki up and down again, a smile behind his eyes.

I guess that changes things huh?

Micki crossed her arms.

Not really...

Ryan smiled before clapping his hands together and walking around.

Well, place sure looks great...will be a blast fixing up.

Micki followed Ryan, a look of disgust as she scanned the cluttered room.

Place all ready looks blasted...

Micki then tried the phone before rolling her eyes.

Perfect, no electricity.

Don't worry, it will be turned on tomorrow.

Micki then crossed over to the phone.

Where you going?

Ryan asked, leaning against a table. His eyes still fixed on her. Micki turned and shot him a look.

To call my fianc√©‚€™ to tell him I arrived safely...is that okay with you?

Sure, hope you can yell real loud.

Micki picked up the phone and found it dead.

Don't tell me? Tomorrow?

Yep...

Micki walked over to where Ryan stood.

I take it you had a little turbulence on your flight?

Micki sighed.

I've had a little turbulence all day.

Ryan glanced over at her before smiling and walking over to a few things covered in sheets. Micki watched him, feeling uncomfortable, and a little home sick. Walking behind him she wished she could get get this entire thing over with and sell it off.

For a brief second while Ryan was running around, pulling sheets off things and cracking jokes, he glanced at Micki and they made eye contact. Ryan faintly smiled before moving onto the garage.
___________________________________________________________________________

Ugh! This place is a mess!

Micki looked around in the upstairs apartment where Lewis had lived. The place was packed with boxes and old piling newspapers. Opening two doors that lead into the bedroom, she saw the bed was covered in musty old sheets.

This place was a complete disaster, and just the idea of having to sleep there send shivers down Micki's spine.

God I should of checked into a hotel...

Micki mumbled to herself before Ryan came behind her.

That defeats the whole idea of roughing it!

Micki turned, her voice slightly annoyed.

I haven't "roughed" much in my life.

That's a surprise...

What?

Nothing, here take this.

Ryan threw a blue sleeping bag at Micki. Catching it, slightly off guard, Micki stared down at it before slowly picking it up.

What's this?

I brought an extra just in case.

Micki stood in the doorway, looking over the sleeping bag that had a vinyl like feel to the fabric before watching Ryan begin to clear stuff off an old cot right outside the doors.

What are you doing?

Ryan looked up.

I thought you wanted the bed, I'll just sleep here, hell better then my dorm room in college!

Ryan grinned before finishing throwing the last things off the cot and unrolling his own sleeping bag. Micki leaned against the doorway, clutching her own and watching him.

I can't believe this place...

Ryan jumped on the cot and began unzipping the sleeping bag.

Don't worry Micki, I'll protect you.

Micki snorted a dry laugh.

Against what? Ghosts?

No...rats.

Micki's entire face drained of color.
___________________________________________________________________________

That night Micki found herself unable to sleep. Laying there in Ryan's sleeping bag on top of Lewis's old bed, she looked around at the shadows that casted off the walls. This place gave her an awful feeling.

Thinking of how that china doll moved, she turned over and stared at the dirty glass doors that lead into the kitchen. Wanting to return home worst then ever, she hoped she had talked some sense into Ryan about really selling off everything. Her father had taught her well about business and she knew within the week after talking with the bank, this would all be over and done with.

Thinking of this past evening, between getting stuck in that vault downstairs, or that strange book they found she couldn't drift off.

Deciding to get a glass of water, Micki silently slipped out of bed and walked across the wooden floor in her bare feet. Dressed in only a nightgown, she quickly tied her robe around her before walking out into the darkness.

Glancing over she saw Ryan sleeping peacefully, his headphones on blasting music. Faintly smiling, she couldn't believe she had never met him before. How could somebody like this somehow have a link towards her family. Shaking her head, she thought Ryan was annoying, and childish, yet seemed friendly enough.

She hoped after everything was finished, she wouldn't have to deal with him again.

Walking over to the counter, she took an old green colored glass and went to fill it up before glancing over her shoulder at Ryan sleeping.

She knew she was acting like a snob. What would Lloyd think if he met him?

Pausing, she shook her head and got her water.

Why was she thinking about this?

Walking back to the room with her glass, she looked at Ryan one last time.
___________________________________________________________________________

As soon as the bedroom doors shut, Ryan's eye cracked open. He had been watching Micki the entire time. Smiling to himself, he rolled over and thought to himself he had never met anyone so beautiful before.

2: Stay

Micki remembered sitting down with the stranger named Jack Marshak with Ryan and explaining the business he had done with Uncle Lewis. Worst then that, the business Uncle Lewis had done from Hell. Never really believing in anything before. She was raised just to have an open mind. But all through Micki's life she believed if she can see it or touch it then that's it. There was no curses, heavens, or hells. All this good against evil seemed more like a fairytale then anything else.

Until then.

The antiques, the objects that were in Lewis' store, were all cursed from the Devil himself. Pure evil causing pain and death were things he sold in order to never die. Then when he tried to stop the madness, he was killed. There was no stopping this. After looking trough the mainfiest and reading the newspaper clipping, she had to believe. Even though this stuff wasn't possible, there it was right there around them.

More people would die if they didn't get back all the items they sold in the last day. Hundreds had come this morning, buying everything half priced. People from the city, or traveling. Then the objects Lewis had all ready sold in all the years he lived here.

Micki felt an empty hole develop in her stomach. A hole filled with darkness and fear. Ryan and her didn't even know what they were doing.

They had to stop this.

Micki felt as though the entire world was spinning. Just a week before hand her greatest worries were impressing her family at the country club, or trying to decide her wedding themes. Or how alone she felt during this entire engagement. That was madness to her before this happened.

She couldn't...could she?

She had to stay, even if it was just a few weeks. She couldn't just turn her back on this no matter how badly she wanted to. She knew she really couldn't explain to her family, and most of all Lloyd. But she had to stay and help Ryan and Jack, they all took part in this.

Feeling a heavy weight in her chest, she had no idea what she had to face from that moment onward.
_____________________________________________________________________________

She lied to everyone back home, telling them Uncle Lewis had a lot of unsettled affairs dealing with the business and his stock. She told them it might take a month before getting everything finished with the bank.

Lloyd took it the worst, arguing with her over the phone. Telling her he had dinners and meetings he wanted to bring her to for their engagement. But Micki had to hold her ground. She told him there was no way out of it and she had to get everything done before the wedding.

Feeling a slight ache in her heart, she knew he was upset. Hating herself even more for letting this happen, she tried her hardest to make her emotions.

Her parents were upset, but more concerned then anything else. Her father told her if she needed any advice settling up Lewis' affairs, to just call him. Her mother meanwhile had more questions about Ryan and what he was like more then anything.

Micki told her the truth, he was different.

Pushing forward, Jack decided to stay at the store as well. Fix it up and run it for business and draw people in. They sent mailers to every address in the mainfiest with hopes of getting and buying everything back. Right away a few clueless people came forward selling some stuff back. But there were still hundreds missing.

There was a long road ahead for them.

Jack did research, and knew most history dealing with the items.

Ryan felt a very upbeat attitude towards the entire thing. Micki had learned in the past week that Ryan went to an art college in the city before dropping out and working odd jobs.

Now here he was.

No family, no other job, and no other place to live.

He found this entire awful thing interesting, and admitted he felt better trying to do something with his life. Something that really mattered. Micki tuned him out most of the time. They changed the store's name to curious Goods to let new people come and buy non-cursed items Jack had bought during his many years of traveling.

Non-cursed, the word stuck Micki as funny.

Fixing up the place had been tough, but really all it needed was a good clean. Micki had taken over the master bedroom, and decided to make it her own during her stay there. Jack was pleasant to live with, and they got along like good friends right from the start. Jack reminded Micki of her grandfather who she used to visit when she was a child. He brought some feeling of comfort, while she missed home.

Ryan took over the cot right outside of the kitchen, and made it into his own little pig pen. Ryan was a lot like the guys she went to college with. Childish, playful, and never fully acts their own age. Ryan wore ripped jeans and T-shirts, he ate pizza, loved baseball, read comics, and loved scaring Micki at night.

Micki rolled her eyes at him, he was just like a big kid. So much energy and outlook to make this awful thing seem not so bad. Ryan wasn't anything like Micki, but they got along. Ryan wasn't messy anywhere else but his bed. He was a big help fixing up the place, and always had something funny or amusing to say, even if Micki wouldn't admit it.

It was true, he was different.

But kind, in fact Ryan was really a good person, and just what she needed along side with Jack during this.
___________________________________________________________________________

For the next two months they recovered a cursed pen, a cupid statue, a tea cup, the magician's cabinet, the scalpel, the boxing gloves, and faced Uncle Lewis from beyond the grave.

Everything Micki had once believed in had now changed.

More people would die as they went on.
___________________________________________________________________________

November

Micki just finished her latest phone call with Lloyd.

Tears falling down her face, she looked around the dim lit bedroom. Two whole months had really past.

"Of course I still want to marry you."

The words rang through Micki's head.

What was she doing with her life?

She couldn't do this forever.

"No I am not having an affair!"

That's when Lloyd hung up.

Sitting on the edge of her bed she tried wiping her eyes.

Just that night Jack had read about the cursed mulcher.
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The next few days Micki was upset. She felt as though she would be stuck here forever looking for the objects. That she couldn't go on doing this, knowing she was throwing her entire life away.

She wanted so badly to just turn her back and walk away.

She was loosing Lloyd.

In fact just this morning, she explained to her mother she might not be able to make it for Thanksgiving. She heard Lloyd was upset and wouldn't even speak to her.

Ryan meanwhile noticed the change in Micki. Just the night before he even mentioned to Jack while they were upstairs in the kitchen that he was worried about Micki getting so upset over a loser like Lloyd.

Jack didn't seem to notice.

Ryan couldn't believe such a beautiful woman like Micki was with someone like Lloyd.

That night Micki sat in front of her mirror brushing her hair. A million different little thoughts going through her mind. Lloyd was mad at her, and her entire family had no idea what she was really doing. Could she lie forever? She knew she might really miss her one chance at being happy if she stayed.

Feeling sick about the entire thing she stared at her reflection.

How could she have let this happen?

Just then a shadow went across her window. Glancing over she saw a figure at her window. Her heart jumping in her throat she remembered the cursed boxing gloves.

"He's not my boyfriend!"

She screamed as the man had a knife to her throat. That's when Ryan attacked, using one of the cursed objects to help her.

Jumping up, she heard a few noises and felt complete panic. Rushing out where Ryan was, she saw him in a T-shirt and boxers. Acting like a complete idiot with his guitar and music blasting through his headphones.

Ryan!

Grabbing his headphones off him, Ryan jumped up.

What? What?

There's somebody outside my window looking in!

Ryan slowly lowered his sunglasses.

Can you blame them?

His playful eyes looked her up and down. Micki meanwhile rolled her eyes.

I'm serious there's a burglar out there!

Ryan grinned at her before a noise came from Micki's bedroom. Jumping back Micki let out a slight cry. Slowly Ryan got up from the bed, holding his guitar before stopping.

Micki hid behind him.

What are you doing?

67 Stratcaster, no burglar is worth that.

Micki hid behind Ryan, holding onto the back of his shoulders. Her heart pounding in her chest Ryan slowly opened the door. Within seconds Ryan charged with all his might at the dark figure in the bedroom. Tackling him to the ground, Ryan grabbed onto the man's shirt. Right away, much to Micki's shock she saw Lloyd laying on the ground.

No! Not Lloyd!

Micki threw a very stunned Ryan to the ground before grabbing into Lloyd.

Oh baby are you all right?

Micki put her arms around him while Ryan sat across from them.

So we finally get to meet face to face, I'm Ryan the lion.

Micki and Lloyd just stared at him.

Hey don't look at me, most people ring doorbells. Could of been a burglar.

Micki slowly helped Lloyd up as he fixed his tie.

How many burglars wear Brooks Brother's virgin wool.

Micki stood beside Lloyd before seeing Ryan watching them in the doorway.

Lloyd what were you doing outside my window?

Would you excuse us?

Ryan rolled his eyes before shutting the door behind him. Right away Micki lowered her voice. Ryan stood outside the door listening. That's when he heard them.

That's no excuse for spying on me.

I felt I had to...I needed to make sure there wasn't another man in your life. And frankly I'm not convinced.

Ryan then heard Micki's voice raise.

What Ryan? You can't be serious! He's my cousin.

Only by marriage! I had him checked out. Anyways stranger things have been known to happen.

Nothing would be stranger then being involved with Ryan!

Ryan's eyes dropped as he walked back over to his bed.
____________________________________________________________________________

One day later, Micki tried to explain things to Lloyd.

He didn't believe her and walked out.

Ryan watched the entire thing, and saw the heartache in her eyes.

Jack simply shook his head as Ryan watched her run up the stairs.

Give her time Ryan, give her time.
___________________________________________________________________________

The next day, Micki talked with Lloyd again. He gave her a choice. The store, or him. Micki laid there in her bed, looking in his eyes as they both drank in the early afternoon.

Lloyd was successful, handsome, and had a leveled head on his shoulders. He was just what her father had always wanted for her.

Kissing him, she told him she was coming home.

She wouldn't waste her chance at a normal life.

Shortly after Lloyd left, planning on picking her up for the airport, Micki saw utter disappointment in his eyes. Both stared at each other.

Ryan had spent the day with Jack looking for the mulcher.

Still a little dizzy from the drinks, Micki smiled as she tied her robe.

Didn't hear you come in.

Ryan just stared at her.

He wouldn't even look at Lloyd as he left.

Micki felt uneasy.

Ryan, I don't know what to say...

Your going back with him?

Ryan's voice sounded angry.

I've been pulling weeds all day trying to find a murderer while you've been with him...

Ryan's voiced trailed off as he shook his head.

I don't believe this. What about the pact we all made.

Micki stood back shaking her head.

Hey I never made a pact with you.

What about all those people? All those antiques we sold to them? Huh? What about them?

Hey you can't blame that on me! We had no idea!

So what?

We still have a responsibility!?

Cut the crap Ryan, the only reason your still here is because you like it!

Ryan dropped his eyes.

Look, there's any problems in this world I won't be able to solve, and that's the plain simple truth. Where is it written that I have to give up my happiness for this place?

Ryan rolled his eyes.

What do you have to give up? Other then snot nose Ivy League...

Micki slapped his face.

The two stared at each other in silence. Micki never felt so angry before. Looking up, slightly ashamed at what she had done, Ryan's eyes looked very sad and forgiving.

Micki, we need you for this to work...

Ryan stared right in her eyes.

I need you...

Micki shook her head.

I'm sorry...

She walked back in her bedroom and shut the door.
___________________________________________________________________________

The next day plans changed.

They had recovered the mulcher and watched yet another person die.

Sitting in the public garden with Micki, Ryan put his arms around her as Lloyd stood with Jack by the mulcher and watched them. Micki's eyes studied Ryan's face and her thin fingertips touched where he had hurt his head.

It was made clear then they couldn't just leave. They had to stick together, even if it meant giving everything up.

Afterwards, once the mulcher was safe in the vault, Lloyd talked with Micki.

Micki...with all this magic business, don't you see what's happening? We saw a tragidy happen today, and those two clowns!

Ryan glanced up, he was easedropping.

Don't call them names...

Your "friends" have you involved in something dangerous. And that madman...

Don't you see that's what I have to do!

I think your fooling yourself with that art school drop out...

You may not be able to see it! Ryan may not be Harvard material but he's honest and he cares. He knows we can't walk away from what we have to do!

Micki...

Micki turned around, putting her back to Lloyd.

Lloyd stood there for a moment before leaving.

It was finished.

Ryan watched Micki slowly walked upstairs.

Hey...Micki?

That's your problem! You always do things your not ready for!

Micki ran into her bedroom slamming the door. Ryan silently followed. He knew what had just happened. Going to the closed doors, he leaned up against the glass.

Micki? Is there anything I can do?

Leave me alone!

She sounded as if she was crying.

Well if you want me I'll be in my room...

Walking over to the cot, Ryan pulled out the banner he had made this afternoon. Hanging it up, Micki opened her door and looked out. Her eyes filled with tears.

Ryan I'm sorry...

She then froze.

"Welcome home Micki!"

The banner said. Micki stood against the doorway softly smiling. She might of lost Lloyd, and knew her life would never be the same. But she had good friends, and no matter what Ryan would be there for her.

Deep down inside she knew things with Lloyd were a mistake, and next time she spoke with her family she had a lot to explain. But at that exact moment, she simply looked up at Ryan smiling.

Well I just thought...

Ryan smiled back at Micki.

Thanks...


3: What if?

It was the week before Thanksgiving, that Micki began thinking more about Ryan. Now nearly two weeks since her breakup with Lloyd, things seemed to have a completely different outlook for herself. She had spoken with her parents and both sounded very disappointed. In fact her father mumbled something about her throwing her like away running an old antique shop. But Micki couldn't help it. She had made her choice.

With Jack away trying to recover another object, Micki and Ryan were headed out of the city for a few days. One of the mailers spoke about a few items sold to a small farming town. Micki jumped at the chance to escape for awhile. She had a lot of things on her mind and just needed time with herself. The idea of being out in the country right before the holiday sounded pleasant.

Packing for the trip, Micki heard Ryan yell downstairs that he was putting the heat on in the car before they took off. Folding her last sweater in her bag, she caught her reflection in the mirror for a second.

Looking down at her hand she sighed. She still had Lloyd's ring on her finger. Quickly pulling it off, she threw it on her dresser and went downstairs to join Ryan.

Both bundled up for the crisp cooler weather, they sat in the car and took off before the traffic started. Sitting there as the land began to unfold in front of them, Micki gazed at the brown and golden looking trees and the meadows that went on forever. Snuggled down in her seat she read about Jack's latest postcard.

Looking at Ryan, Micki smiled.

Just a few days ago they recovered the cursed comic. After this Micki began to look at Ryan differently. He was passionated about what he loved, and was a very talented artist himself. Even though such childish things like comics brought joy to Ryan, Micki understood. He really didn't have much in life, most of all growing up.

This was just another escape from his problems.

Much like what she wanted.

Ryan and her were becoming slowly more comfortable with living with each other. Before Micki would always tie her robe on before getting up. Making sure she never bumped into Ryan using the upstairs bathroom. Barley spending any free time sitting around relaxing with him. But now things seemed different. Micki knew Ryan was safe and didn't feel so embarrassed about her body. She enjoyed now talking with Ryan, even though they had nothing in common.

They were worlds apart, yet enjoyed being around each other. Micki spoke about the things she liked, he did the same. Slowly Micki was becoming a fan of baseball and pizza. And had a completely different outlook on the world of comics. Ryan was adapting himself. Micki's big passion in life was fashion. Just a few times while shopping in the city on a free afternoon from the store, Micki would bring Ryan with him.

She kept going on and on about how just a few simple changes would make his style a million times better.

That's when Ryan laughed looking at his short pants, T-shirt and tie. Maybe a few changes wouldn't be so bad.

Both liked talking with each other, and developed a close relationship in which they became slowly good friends. Ryan even told Micki if Jack wasn't back for Thanksgiving he would drive her to have dinner with her family upstate.

When Micki invited him he simply smiled and shook his head. He really wasn't used to family things.

That's when Micki decided to stay for the holiday week. She really wasn't looking forward to greeting her family after the breakup with Lloyd. Both families were close, and she didn't want to risk running into him. Wanting a little escape, she told Ryan she wanted to stay here for Thanksgiving. That the two of them would whip up something good and enjoy each other's company. Ryan grinning ear to ear thought that was a great idea and even joked about cooking together after they came back.

With that to look forward to, Micki found herself having a very deep understanding for her cousin.

Soon after they arrived in town, they learned of the scarecrow.
___________________________________________________________________________

While asking for directions when they pulled over looking for the farm, Micki learned about Ryan's younger brother Jimmy.

Holding the baseball she felt guilty. Never before had she seen Ryan get so upset.

About an hour later something happened.

While speaking with the farm owners, Micki wanted a chance to look around. Asking to use the bathroom, the farmer told her where it was. Turning, she decided to put on an act. Leaning in close kissed Ryan gently on the cheek.

I'll be right back dear.

Keep them talking...

Micki whispered. Ryan's eyes seemed slightly stunned by this show of affection as she walked off. While looking around, Micki thought for a brief second about what she did.

Smiling, she opened the next door she saw.
___________________________________________________________________________

That night the scarecrow came to the inn they were staying at. Screaming and jumping back at the sight on the porch, Micki grabbed onto Ryan who she had yelled for.

Holding other his muscular arms as he looked out into the chilly night, Micki never felt so scared before in her entire life.
___________________________________________________________________________

By the end of the weekend, the scarecrow was stopped, and another item was recovered. Both Ryan and Micki, slightly unnerved by what had happened, got back into the car and silently drove out of town right before sunset.

Micki had learned about Jimmy and his death. How Ryan's parents blamed him, and the guilt he's had all these years. Micki's heart broke at the story. Now she fully understood his need to escape.

Sitting beside him after asking what the scarecrow had done with it's heads, they drove past some fields as the sky darkened.

Micki thought about those things Ryan said the night before. How he let his guard down and told her the truth about his past. Looking him over she smiled, she was glad she had met him and that they were doing this together.

Ryan flipped on the radio and a Christmas song began to play. Smiling he put his headlights on as they drove down the empty highway.

Still on for tomorrow?

Huh?

Thanksgiving, the whole nine yards.

Micki smiled.

Of course, better stop by someplace so we can get groceries.

Both smiled at each other as they kept driving.
__________________________________________________________________________

That night the two were laughing about how happy they were to be back for once. Dropping their bags and putting on the heat, Ryan brought up the food they had bought and got Micki to take out an old cook book.

For the next three hours they blasted music, laughing and cooked beside each other making a complete mess. Finishing up with the cookies, both kept throwing stuff at each other as they stood side by side at the counter. Ryan was in jeans and his Illinois T-shirt, which had the sleeves rolled up. Micki meanwhile had borrowed a T-shirt from Ryan and wore sweats. Sugar and powder all over them. Laughing as they finished up, both turned towards each other.

Think we got enough to get for tomorrow?

Micki lifted the last tray and placed it in the fridge.

I think we'll be okay until New Years!

Laughing Ryan walked over as she turned around, right away their eyes locked.

Ryan stepped closer, right away butterflies danced in Micki's stomach.

Ryan's hand reached out and gently brushed her face.

You got powder all over you.

Ryan laughed, Micki looked up at him smiling.

We better get to bed, big day tomorrow, we got lots of eating to do.

Ryan smiled before turning around and putting the bowls in the sink. Watching him for a second, Micki smiled before turning around.

After she went to bed, Micki laid awake in bed. Somehow she felt better with everything that was going on. Her heart still ached over what happened with Lloyd, but just spending time with Ryan made this awful place not seem so bad. Slowly drifting off, she thought back to when he smiled down at her.

Feeling safe, she slowly fell asleep.
___________________________________________________________________________

Micki and Ryan shared a very comfortable Thanksgiving together and even welcomed Jack back home the next day. Somehow, as odd as it sounded, these two men were slowly becoming her best friends.

Micki enjoyed her time with Ryan, and found herself the end of that week sitting on the couch stuffed and for once letting her guard down. Not having to be so proper and up tight.

Seeing the winter ahead, Micki decided to make the best of things and get used to her new life at curious Goods.

She enjoyed Ryan and Jack's company. Even the harmless flirting and jokes that came from Ryan on a daily basis made Micki feel better. It was a strange feeling as her life completely changed, but it didn't feel bad at all.

Time past and more objects were recovered by them working together.

The lantern, the glove, the tattoo needles, the electric chair, and the trephinator. This made Ryan and Micki get a better outlook on Jack, and saw he was just as human as them. They were bound to loose people they cared about along the day.

Ryan and Micki were like best friends, close roommates and felt as though everything was second nature. They were used to each other and had a certain bond few could explain.

Then they traveled to find the Quilt of Hathor.

It was shortly after Christmas. Yet another holiday Micki avoided from spending with her family. Enjoying herself at the store, on Christmas eve Ryan and her had a snowball fight just like children in the back ally. She felt different here and was slowly forgetting how her old life used to be.

It was just the three of them...

Then while they were staying with the Penitites, Ryan met Laura.

A simple farm girl, young and innocent. Somebody completely unlike Micki. Watching the way he acted in front of her, Micki couldn't believe it.

Things were going perfect between them. Nobody had said anything, or changed. Micki had a few feelings and thoughts that she kept hidden in the back of her mind. Thoughts of how good it felt to be around Ryan, and how he wasn't anything like Lloyd. In fact he wasn't like anyone she ever met.

Certain things about him made her jealous that he was acting this way around this girl. Things that made Micki feel betrayed. First he got in trouble by being caught with Laura at the stalls. Singing and dancing even though it was late at night and Laura was to be married. Even though these people had rules and Ryan was not like them at all.

The next day at the court house Micki stood back slightly stunned.

What was going on with him? Why all this sudden interest in this other girl?

Trying to find the quilt quickly as more people died, Micki slowly watched Ryan go against all odds and risk his life to be with this girl.

She tried to talk sense in him, slowly admitting she cared for him and didn't want to watch him make any mistakes.

But it didn't work.

Within just a few days, he fought another man and went against a whole town in order to be with this one girl. This girl who wasn't like him at all, and lived a different life.

Almost like the two of them.

Micki hated looking back at that week. In fact that's when Micki really thought things were falling apart.

The way he fought at night near the fire pit, and how he went into Laura's arms, making Micki watch in the shadows. The eager sound in his voice, whenever he went to visit her.

Finally he did something Micki never planned on.

This time he wanted to leave.

He wanted to stay with Laura and her people. He claimed he was in love and liked the peaceful way of life they had here. Micki blinked looking at him and couldn't believe it. Not only were they trying to recover the quilt, there were also unsolved deaths all around them.

He couldn't stay.

Micki tried telling him he wasn't anything like Laura, and how he had to come back with her. They had the store, and all the objects to get back. This was the reason she gave everything up, counting Lloyd.

Knowing that was a stupid excuse, she watched helplessly as Ryan told her the truth.

He was in love and wanted to stay behind.

But the entire time, unknown to Micki...Ryan was uncertain. He knew Micki would be upset, but he never thought how badly she would react. As if she was heartbroken.

Did she care about him?

Ryan never thought he had a chance with a woman like her. In fact she was still getting over Lloyd.

But what if...

What if she did look at him that way?

Micki couldn't believe it. Never before had her heart hurt so bad.

Within a week the real quilt was recovered and more were dead.

Ryan had finally decided that Laura and her could never work and returned back to the store with Jack and Micki.

Watching him sleep, completely exhausted in the rocking chair downstairs. Micki put another quilt over him and stood back.

She knew deep in her heart he wouldn't stay away. She knew they needed each other.

They had been through a lot, but he was back and that's all that mattered.

Micki couldn't believe how jealous she became of Laura, and how grateful she felt having him home.

Home...

Was that was it really was now?

"Hush a by, don't you cry. Go to sleep my little baby, when you wake you will find all the pretty little horses."

Micki smiled looking at Ryan.

The thought of him being with Laura made her stomach sick. She didn't know why she cared so much.
___________________________________________________________________________

Trying to go ahead as usual, winter was still full blown in the city and made the entire store freezing and gray during the early mornings.

They ran the store and kept up with their research for other items.

Micki had been thinking a lot about what happened with Ryan and Laura a few weeks ago. If he really was serious about being in love with her. Somehow these thoughts bothered Micki.

What bothered her even more was when Ryan began seeing a young woman named Cathy almost a month later around Valentine's day. She had come into the shop once and both exchanged numbers.

Micki meanwhile sat back, trying her hardest to pretend she wasn't bothered.

What did he see in these women?

She thought to herself.

Only two weeks into dating Cathy, a cursed camera was recovered and she was dead. Ryan had taken her death pretty hard and blamed himself. One evening Micki found him sitting around downstairs dressed in his Illinois T-shirt and looking off into space.

The last few months had been hard on him. In fact it seemed as though Ryan was desperate to be in a serious relationship. That he wanted so badly for somebody to just love him back.

He even said it himself.

Maybe they were the cursed ones.

Micki tried being there for him as he was for her before.

Jack took another trip searching for another item, before they got a mailer from the coast.

It seemed as though a cursed foghorn was recovered that Lewis had sold.

Both planned on going together.

Little did Micki know, the first step in this strange relationship with Ryan would take off that week.


4: Take a chance

Joe once said, that every sailor expects to die at sea.

Ryan stood across from her, his eyes serious as she cried.

I guess he was right.

Micki felt horrible about what happened. Yet another innocent person died due to these terrible cursed objects. Feeling guilty and helpless, Micki had began thinking back on this past year. So many horrible things had happened. She had been staying in touch with her family, but she could sense disappointment from her parents over her choice with Lloyd. Was this really what she might be doing the rest of her life? Watching good people die over and over again? Feeling her emotions getting out of control she sat downstairs weeping, hoping Jack would return from his latest trip soon.

Ryan had come downstairs and tried cheering her up.

But Dewey was a good man.

Micki glanced up at him.

You know he really cared about Barney, a little old drunken man that nobody else wanted. He saved my life...

Micki felt awful about what happened, over and over everything placed through her mind. The foghorn had been recovered, but was paid for in blood. Now back safe at the store, an awful cloud washed over Micki. Somehow not even the future looked so hopeful anymore. Her makeup running, she sniffled before Ryan told her the truth about Joe and Dewey. Feeling as though a knife had cut through her heart she breathed deeply.

His own brother...

She thought to herself.

Ryan saw how upset she was. In fact lately she really had been down knowing deep down inside this really might be it. That there was still so much to do, and at any moment evil could harm them. Somehow other then Jack and Ryan, Micki felt completely alone.

Ryan's arm then reached out and touched Micki. Looking up she saw how big and brown his eyes looked. Slightly smiling he said...

Maybe there's a special place in Heaven for people like Dewey.

Micki stared at him and that odd feeling entered her stomach again. Feeling her heart begin to pound a million thoughts rushed through her head. Every look, every joke, every moment seemed to make sense. Even if more people died, somehow having Ryan there beside her, Micki didn't feel so empty and alone. They had been through a lot together in the last few months, and here they were.

Micki slowly brought Ryan's hand which held hers up to the side of her face. Slightly feeling his skin, she felt comfort.

Taking his hand, she began to lead him up the stairs. Before finishing the flight, she threw one of the gold coins down on Jack's desk and walked into the upstairs kitchen.

The two stood together in silence for a second before Micki wiped her eyes.

You okay?

Ryan asked, his voice sounding slightly dry.

Micki turned, trying her hardest to smile before nodding.

Yeah, thanks...

Micki walked over to Ryan's bed, which was unmade and had some crumbled up clothes and comics laying on it. Sitting on the edge, she stared off into space and sighed. Ryan joined her, putting down the book he had in his hands and looked over at her.

Micki glanced up before Ryan's hand reached over and wiped her face again gently. Both smiled at each other before Micki took his hand again. Looking at it, she laced her fingers around his and brought it up to her mouth.

Kissing his hand, Ryan stared at her.

I just...I want you to know Micki, your not alone.

Micki held his hand, looking down at it, almost studying before looking back up.

I know...

Both stared at each other before Micki's spare hand reached up and brushed away Ryan's bangs.

That's when they kissed.

It was a simple kiss, closed lips and only lasted a few seconds. When both opened their eyes and looked at each other, all Ryan could do was smile.

Opening his mouth to say something, Micki smiled and kissed him again on the cheek. Getting up she said something about taking a shower and walked away. Ryan meanwhile smiled ear to ear sitting there watching her.

Both didn't say anything the rest of the week about the kiss, but Micki couldn't help this feeling that was slowly coming over her. Ryan on the other hand seemed as though he was on the top of the world. His mood was always happy and full of energy. Micki tried not to read that much into the kiss and thought it just happened because of the moment. She needed comfort and both were very comfortable to share affection like that. But somehow as the next few days went by, Micki couldn't help but feel happy.
___________________________________________________________________________

One weeks later Tim came by.

Micki couldn't help but enjoy the tables being turned. She noticed just from the beginning that Ryan was jealous. Tim was an ex boyfriend. Long before Lloyd. Tim was handsome, but had so much mystery behind him things never worked out.

Micki really had no interest in him, but decided to be nice and let him hang around for a bit. Anyways, watching Ryan made it worthwhile. For once he now got to stand back while she flirted with another man. She cared for Ryan deeply, and still hadn't figured out her feelings for him. But at the moment it seemed right.

Only a day into Tim visiting, Micki noticed Ryan coming in with a few bags.

"Where have you been?"

"Gym..."

Ryan mumbled.

"Gym! You!"

"Hey, nothing wrong with staying in shape..."

"What else do you got there..."

"Hey!"

Micki laughed before looking at his bags. Inside was a nice white suit jacket. Holding it up, Micki was impressed.

"Very nice, just get it?"

"Yeah, decided to maybe start picking up a few new things, get with the style."

"Style?"

Micki smiled before Ryan blushed and took the jacket back. It was that moment onward that Ryan began to take a great deal of interest in himself.

But as always, things weren't so pleasant. At the end of the week the badge was recovered and Tim was gone. Micki really didn't know how to feel about it, only that like always things happened for a reason.

Sitting on the downstairs couch, dressed in her robe one night, Ryan sat beside her trying to cheer her up right after everything happened. Micki really felt guilty about not feeling that bad about Tim.

Micki then thought back at the last couple of days and how much of a fool she was making herself out to be. As much as she enjoyed making Ryan jealous, a small part of her felt awful. She knew anytime Tim kissed her, Ryan was watching.

But did he care?

She didn't know.

They had gotten really close, and all this childish flirting he had done with her. All the hand holding, kissing on the cheek, and then that kiss they shared the week before.

Micki saw that look in Ryan's eyes whenever he watched her and Tim.

It was heartache.

But with everything going on, and how different they were...they couldn't take it any further.

Could they?

Ryan sat beside her, dressed in his new white suit.

It's done.

Micki sighed.

I'll say...

Ryan leaned in close, that friendly kind smile still on his face.

Anything I can do? Make you so tea?

Micki softly smiled and shook her head. Ryan then sighed.

I guess Tim was one of the good guys huh?

Micki glanced over at him.

I thought you didn't like him?

Oh no! I liked him, we just never got the chance to...well we never...

What?

Alright, alright I was jealous...he was to slick. To much competition I guess.

Micki smiled up at him, amused.

You look pretty good to me.

Ryan smiled before Micki looked up at him. Reaching up, she pulled on his jacket and brought him down to her lips. Slightly caught off guard, it only took Ryan a second before his mouth began to open and close. Micki needed this more then ever. Laying half on her, Ryan held her face as he passionately kissed her. His lips roughly going against hers. Micki began to feel her heart pound as the room began to spin.

Ryan's legs moved against hers.

Feeling as if she couldn't breath, Micki opened her eyes and looked up at him.

Was this really happening?

Just then the door opened, ringing the bell. Right away Micki and Ryan's expressions changed.

Jack?

Instead it was Ryan's friend Danny, who worked down at the garage.

Anyone home?

They heard him call out.

Quickly Ryan slid off Micki and tried fixing his shirt. Micki meanwhile saw her robe was slightly untied and that Ryan was this close to opening it. Fixing them selfs, they glanced at each other slightly nervous before getting up and greeting Danny.

As always, Danny took a good look at Micki up and down before offering to buy them a couple of beers down at the pup. Yawning, Micki past before glancing at Ryan. Smiling she wished them a good time and went upstairs for a nice hot shower.

Now alone, she had a chance to think about what happened. Stepping out of the shower and wrapping a towel around her she saw the first signs of a hickey developing on her lower neck. Slightly embarrassed, she blushed before walking out to her bedroom. This was just like high school again.

Getting her in nightgown, she kept thinking over and over again if that had been a mistake. She really didn't know what was going on with Ryan and her, and if they were taking a risk. Trying to not to pay any further worry about it, she was sure Ryan and her would have a chance to talk about it before Jack returned.

Getting into bed she smiled, thinking what an amazing kisser Ryan was.
___________________________________________________________________________

The next morning, Micki woke up to find Ryan's bed made and him all ready downstairs working. Dressing and making the two of them coffee, she walked down the steps and was greeted by a huge grin from Ryan. In his hands were the mail.

Hey....

Micki smiled before handing him his cup and going behind the counter.

Sleep well?

Both burst out laughing before Micki turned her back to set down her coffee mug.

Oh no...

Micki turned and saw Ryan's expression changed as he stared down at an open letter.

What is it?

Ryan held up the paper.

My dad is getting married...again.

Ryan began to walk behind the counter, Micki smiled feeling happy for him.

That's great!

Ryan then tossed down the letter.

Ryan!

Micki quickly picked it up.

Ryan as long as you've been here I haven't seen you get so much as a phone call from your father, now your just going to ignore it?

Ryan tried to look busy before nodding.

Yep.

But he's getting married!

Let's just drop it.

Ryan tried to walk past her before Micki held out her arm.

Not until I get a reasonable explanation!

Micki held up the letter teasing Ryan. Both had a lot to talk about, but right now they seemed to even ground. Nothing seemed to ruin anything after last night. In fact, Micki wanted to see how far they would take it before finally somebody said something.

We just don't get along.

Why?

I don't know, I guess I've always been a disappointment to him. I quit school and ran as far away as I could from him.

Micki knew from his brother's death, that Ryan had a tough life...most of all with his parents. Something he tried to keep hidden.

Micki felt uneasy for a second. She wished they hadn't gotten into this. Bitting down on her bottom lip she shrugged.

Maybe he's mellowed out, he's stared a new life.

Ryan looked serious and uneasy.

You don't know him.

As long as you keep running he won't be able to tell you he loves you. It's time to make peace...

Ryan ran his fingers through his hair, this was bothering him.

You'll never know until you try. Anyways you need a vacation, and it's only four hours my car.

Ryan looked off.

I don't know...

Micki tried to smile.

Looks to me like you do.

Ryan sighed before slightly nodding.

Okay, I'll go...but one thing.

What?

Ryan smiled touching her shoulder before clmibing the stairs.

Says I can bring a guest.

Micki tried to say something but Ryan was all ready up the stairs. Looking at the invitation she smiled.

Maybe this was Ryan's sign of talking things through with her.

Anyways it would be a chance to see more into Ryan's life. Something she had been thinking about for a long time.

Turning, she followed Ryan.
___________________________________________________________________________

The drive up was nice, Ryan seemed nervous and barley spoke. Micki meanwhile looked out at the winter covered trees and smiled. Maybe a chance to get away from cursed objects and spend a little time with Ryan, see where they stood now.

Ryan's father seemed like a bitter man and deep down inside Micki could see how terrible he had treated Ryan as a child. Feeling pity about all the silly worries she thought she had, she tried to make the best of their time there until they discovered Ryan's father was close with Uncle Lewis.
___________________________________________________________________________

Ryan's father was dead.

The cursed pipe was recovered, and both Ryan and Micki were back home.

Ryan hadn't really said much since they left. An awful worry filled Micki's heart. Maybe this was enough for him. Maybe he was finished now after what happened with his father and wanted out.

Ryan cried and Micki was there to comfort him.

They hadn't found the time to talk about what happened that night they started kissing. But right now it didn't seem so important.

Jack told Micki that all Ryan needed was time.

But watching him cry like that, she now understood why this place was so important to him.

He had nothing left.

Micki decided to wait. But Ryan needed right now was a friend.
____________________________________________________________________________

A few weeks past and spring slowly began to come.

The weather warmed up, and most of the trees seemed in full blossom. Business at the store was going well and a few more objects had been recovered.

Ryan was still getting over his father's death and seemed somewhat distant. He was still just as friendly and playful, but never brought up that night Micki and him shared together.

One afternoon, both had gone shopping.

In the last few months Ryan had changed a lot. He seemed more fit and tan and began to take interest in buying new clothes other then T-shirts. Micki decided to take him out and get his mind off things for awhile.

Enjoying their afternoon together, Micki picked out a few clothes that she thought would look great on Ryan. Admiring his muscular arms and thin build, Micki found that Ryan's new look and hairstyle was working very nice for him.

That's when Ryan laughed and told Micki he wanted one of his ears pierced.

Come on it will look cool!

Ryan said as he dragged Micki into the shop. A little while later he walked out with a small stud in his ear.

Micki kept laughing and holding onto his arm.

I can't believe you went through with it!

Ryan laughed showing it off as they walked down the sidewalk.

Makes me look cute huh?

Micki kept cracking up before they returned to the store. Looking at Ryan, she knew things were all right between them.

That week they recovered the cradle.
___________________________________________________________________________

Finally the cursed bottle happened, nearly killing them.

Shaken, and scared they sat together as Jack explained that Uncle Lewis would return.

Sitting together, Ryan's hand slipped into hers. Looking at her, his eyes worried.

Leaning over, he kissed her on the forehead.

You okay?

Micki slightly nodded before laying her head against his shoulder.

Yeah...I'm fine.

Jack watched them, knowing deep down inside that maybe their hearts were to strong this time to stop. Maybe Uncle Lewis would have to try again...maybe their hearts were still beating for a reason.

Maybe.


5: Never had a chance to live

Micki?

Micki walked out of the bathroom holding the first aid kit they kept underneath the sink. It has been an exhausting week and yet again Micki felt uneasy about how much they had been risking their life's. In just the matter of a month a lot had happened. Uncle Lewis had been stopped sent back to Hell again, and a cursed mask had been recovered. Ever since Lewis' first attempt to escape and harm the living, Micki tried her hardest to have better sense. She knew this work was dangerous, and there really was a chance they might run out of luck someday.

For the last few days they had been tracking an antique radio that was being held in a mental asylum. Within those last few days both Ryan and Micki were nearly killed. Micki knew Jack had to travel in order to track down other objects that were sent around the country, but whenever he wasn't around she felt as though Ryan and herself couldn't handle things.

Micki thought back to what had happened and felt a chill run through her body. Just a half an hour ago while returning the radio to the vault, Micki had gotten a scare and didn't plan on going down there for a very long time. Wanting a shower badly, she thanked God for not being raped by that man earlier and remembered how much she had screamed for Ryan while being attacked.

She knew they were lucky this time.

Ryan meanwhile had nearly gotten killed twice and burned his leg pretty bad after a run in with an electric fence.

Micki found Ryan dressed in his Illinois T-shirt and boxers on the edge of his bed. He looked just as tired as she did.

Yeah?

Ryan held out his leg, a small burn went from his upper thigh all the way down to his leg.

You think I might need to go to the hospital?

Micki shook her head before pulling up a chair.

No, I think you'll be fine...lucky that didn't kill you.

Oh you know me, nine life's.

Micki smiled before she uncapped some burn cream and reached over. Right away Ryan and Micki locked eyes before Micki's fingers began to slowly rub against his skin.

There was silence for a moment before Micki's fingers worked down his leg and slowly up to his thigh. That's when she glanced over and noticed what was happening to Ryan.

Ryan quickly moved back a little bit, trying to avoid eye contact while shifting a bit. Micki right away looked up at him.

Did I do that?

Ryan looked over, embarrassed.

Ummm, sorry...

Micki stared at him, slightly smiling before Ryan saw it was all right. Giving a nervous laugh they just looking at each other before downstairs they heard Jack coming through the door. Quickly the two of them went down to greet him.
___________________________________________________________________________

That night before bed, Micki walked past Ryan who was laying back on his bed and sketching. Leaning over she noticed it was of the radio they had just recovered.

Wow, that's good.

Ryan glanced up smiling before giving a shrug.

It's nothing really...

Micki leaned over and took his sketch pad from his hands and looked over the drawing. The fine detail looked like something that really belonged in an art book.

No Ryan, this is amazing...

Handing it back Ryan blushed.

Yeah, should of really stuck with school...one of the few things I'm really good at.

Do you just do drawings?

No, I do painting, sculpture...pretty much anything I find interesting.

Sculpting huh?

Yeah, in fact I bought three bricks of molding clay a few months back. Just sitting under my bed, a waste really.

Oh don't say that, why don't you work on something?

Like I have the time.

Ryan laughed.

Micki crossed her arms before rolling her eyes.

Come on Ryan, you really have talent...you should brush up on your skills.

Ryan hiked himself up on his elbow before grinning.

Alright, tomorrow night...your my model.

What?!

Ryan laughed.

Come on Micki, it will be a still life, anyways I'll be gentle, I'll swear.

Micki playfully hit Ryan before walking into her bedroom. After closing the doors Micki smiled to herself before going to bed.
___________________________________________________________________________

The next evening they learned about the cursed coin.

Tails you live, heads you die.
____________________________________________________________________________

It started off as a perfectly normal evening. Micki was posing for Ryan as he tried molding the clay into a bust of her head. Jack meanwhile fixed some tea and looked forward to just sitting back and relaxing.

That's when they got the phone call.
____________________________________________________________________________

The next evening Ryan decided to go to the museum and find anything out about this cursed coin. Jack and Micki meanwhile went back to the taxidermy shop where they believed the coin was being used.

In Micki's mind it all happened within the matter of seconds. The cult below had spotted Jack and herself and both took off running. Jack yelled something about meeting back at the store and next thing she knew she was running around in the dark lost.

That's when she ran into a dead end. Turning around she saw the head priest from the cult raise up the coin.

terrified she cried...

I didn't see anything!

Then perhaps you would like a better look.

That's when he flipped the coin.

Nearly in slow motion Micki watched the glowing coin drop to the ground. An awful heavy feeling went through her heart...knowing this was it.

Darkness.
____________________________________________________________________________

Jack returned back to the store fifteen minutes later. Ryan standing behind the counter reading.

Hey Jack come check out this book I found at the museum...

Where's Micki?

Jack gasped, still out of breath.

I thought she was with you?

Jack then slowly lowered his head.

Ryan's eyed widened.

What's wrong?

We decided to go back to that taxidermy shop and found a damn cavern underneath it, a bunch of witches chased us and we split up.

You mean she's still down there?

I'm afraid not, let's go!

Ryan ran as fast as he could, pulling on his jacket as he ran ahead of Jack and out onto the dark sidewalk.
_____________________________________________________________________________

Ryan and Jack quickly walked down the three blocks as smog drifted through the night air. Finally reaching the parking-lot Ryan spotted the parked car. Right away a heavy weight replaced his heart.

Jack...

The car, she must be around here someplace.

That's when Ryan saw the crowd further up ahead and the taped off police area. Lights flashed as ambulances and police cruises were parked around.

Oh my God Jack...

Ryan wait!

Ryan ran ahead pushing back an officer who tried to stop him.

MICKI!

Ryan ran past some paramedics and behind the parked ambulance before finally seeing her. In just the matter of a few seconds he saw Jimmy's lifeless body laying in the street so many years ago.

Cathy's blood sprayed across the walls in her apartment.

The painful and mislead look in his father's eyes before he died.

There was his Micki, sprawled out on the wet pavement like a rag doll. A police officer took photographs while one wrote down stuff in a small notepad.

NO!

Ryan skidded to his knees and screamed at the top of his lungs. It couldn't be, not Micki...not her. Gathering her up in his arms he screamed her name again and completely broke down. Jack quickly followed behind trying to catch his breath. Right away he stopped looking at the sight.

They had killed Micki.

She can't be dead! She can't be! Micki wake up! Please wake up!

Gently Ryan rocked her back and forth. Brushing back her hair and kissing her forehead. Tears gushed from his wide and shocked eyes.

Do you know this woman? Do you have any idea what she was doing here at this time at night?

Jack turned to face the approaching officer. Shaking his head he told him it wasn't the time. Standing back he watched as Ryan clutched onto Micki's body and cried his heart out.

She can't be dead!

Jack knew what had happened and felt the same exact pain he felt when his son died so many years before hand.

Son why don't you...

The same officer tried to move Ryan away from the body. His cries were drawing a crowd.

DON'T TOUCH HER! LEAVE HER ALONE!

Ryan snapped.

The officer stepped back.

Jack went down to Ryan, watching him hold onto her and whisper for her to open her eyes. Tears ran down his face and he hitched in to try and breath. Watching him hold onto her like that, Jack knew in fact feared this day would one day come.

Ryan...

He softly said.

I'm not leaving her!

Ryan! Look at me! There is nothing more we can do here!

Ryan shook, looking up at Jack.

Seconds later Jack was able to help up Ryan as he laid her body back on the ground. Leading him to the car, he saw Ryan wasn't in reality. He had completely snapped. Opening the door, he put him in the car and silently drove back.
____________________________________________________________________________

An hour later they were back at the store.

Both hadn't said anything since they got there. Ryan stood looking at the mold he had been working on Micki's face. Over and over again it flashed before his eyes.

Micki was really dead.

Thinking back to her beautiful face, his heart ached. God couldn't be that cruel.

You didn't tell me what you found at the museum?

Does it matter anymore?

Of course it does...

Jack slowly turned around to face Ryan. He knew he was doing bad. There was silence.

Ryan?

Ryan started at the mold, his eyes filling with tears again.

She never had a chance at life Jack. So beautiful...

Ryan held in another cry as he began shaking his head.

She didn't deserve this!

Jack turned around sighing.

She knew our luck would run out one day...

Well where does it say she had to keep doing this? Where does it say she had to throw her life away chasing some damn coin!

Ryan paced back and forth like a madman.

Jack couldn't find the words, simply shaking his head he looked up.

She knew what had to be done Ryan...

WHY? AND WHY DID YOU RUN OUT ON HERE?

Ryan paced back and forth pulling at his hair. He was having a full blown nervous breakdown.

I didn't run out on her...I bought her all the time I could.

Ryan started at Jack as if he was mad. Slowly he crossed the store and faced him.

It wasn't enough...you let them get their hands on her, you BASTARD!

Ryan went to attack Jack, but he was quick with his movements and held him back.

Ryan for God's sake!

Jack and Ryan started at each other before Ryan broke down in his arms, crying as hard as he could as Jack held him.

Oh Ryan don't you know I loved her too...

I know this wasn't her job...it isn't yours and it sure as hell isn't mine. But who's going to stop what began here?

Ryan looked at him.

If we don't do it...what's going to happen to other people, other people love?
__________________________________________________________________________

Jack?

It was an hour later.

Jack turned to face Ryan. The two of them had looked over the books and figured out what these people were planning on doing with the cursed coin. Ryan had destroyed the mold of Micki's face and had it rolled into a ball beside the open book.

Jack was on his way to get the car, every moment they wasted added onto the risk of this plan not working.

If this doesn't work...I'm finished after this.

Ryan...

I made up my mind, I can't do this.

Jack took a deep breath and started at the back of Ryan.

I can't go through this when you die.

Jack slowly nodded as Ryan gathered up the rest of his things.

Let's go make them wish they were never born.
_____________________________________________________________________________

An hour later Ryan watched in the darkness of the cave as the clay mask broke apart. There a very stunned Micki sat.

Alive.

Running towards her, he fought to hold onto her and protect her.
____________________________________________________________________________

The next morning the cursed coin was buried under the darkness of the rumble. Those who had tried to harm them were dead, and Micki was returned safely and alive. Laying in her bed, she felt weak and barley able to keep her eyes open.

Jack and Ryan sat beside her, finishing their story of their plan.

She couldn't believe it.

Had she really died?

Those thoughts scared her to death. She didn't want to think about it. All she remembered was blacking out and then waking up with Ryan and Jack dragging her away. Had she really died? And what happened? Nothing?

She couldn't explain it.

But all Jack and Ryan knew, even if the coin wasn't recovered...they had saved her, and that's all that really mattered.

Jack smiled as sunlight slowly poured in Micki's room. They were all together again and safe. Getting up, he gently kissed Micki on the forehead before leaving her room.

Now alone with Ryan, she slowly cleared her throat before tears filled her eyes.

Was I...

Shhh...

Ryan leaned over, brushing away her hair.

Don't talk about it, your okay now.

Ryan...

Her voice was choked up and uneven.

Reaching up, Micki didn't care anymore. If she really had died, she kept thinking about the risk they took on trying to save her. What if their plan hadn't of worked. Would she still be dead? Thinking of how much she really didn't want to die, she began to think about all the things she hadn't done yet. Looking at Ryan, she knew now he was really the one she loved. Just the thought of never seeing him again scared her.

Wanting so badly to forget she tried to kiss him.

Ryan pulled away.

Don't...

Ryan?

Ryan stood up, tears slowly coming behind his eyes. Rubbing the stubby side of his cheek, he stared at Micki before lowering his voice.

I don't know what I would do if I lost you.

But I'm here...because of you...

Micki tried to sit up and take his hand again, but he stepped back.

Please don't, everything I touch dies...

Ryan?

Quickly Ryan went out and slammed the door behind him. Laying there, Micki never felt so alone in her entire life. Curling up, she softly began to cry.


6: Live your Life

One month later
______________________________________________________________________________

Micki sat back in the taxi that was taking her to her parents house upstate. Sitting back and nervously playing with her nails, she glanced out the window and felt a sudden wave of homesickness. Slightly smiling she couldn't believe she even felt that. Nearly a year before hand, the place she was traveling to was her home, and so wasn't her old life. Slightly stunned at how things had changed she tried her hardest not to let anything bother her and enjoy the peaceful ride. All worry and thoughts of seeing her family again drifted away as she wished deep down inside that Ryan had taken her up on the offer to come along. Remembering the smile he gave before he put his headphones back on as she packed earlier that day.

Thanks but no thanks Micki, I don't think I would very much fit in with your family.

Sighing, Micki wished she had tried more in asking him. Before leaving she noticed Ryan was calling a girl he had taken out a few times again. Feeling that empty pit replace her stomach, she simply walked out hoping this awful feeling wouldn't last forever.

It had been one month since the coin happened. One month since...

She couldn't even say it. Looking out the window again at the graying sky she tried her hardest to remember what happened that night as the coin dropped in front of her. Had she really died? She knew very well there was a Hell...but what about a Heaven? This empty blackout worried her and had changed her relationship with Ryan a great deal.

Ever since he almost lost her, there had been distance.

Micki tried talking to him, but whenever she brought it up he would get upset. Knowing he needed time after everything that had happened this year, she tried to put herself in his shoes. How would she feel if she was this close to really loosing him. Over this past year they had gotten close, and maybe began drifting towards something more. But somehow faith wouldn't let them. Thinking of really what life would be like without Ryan beside her send chills through her body.

They had made so many mistakes.

Shortly after the coin once Micki got her strength back, she tried getting some alone time with Ryan. Taking him to the Symphony in the city, she hoped maybe that night they might get a chance to talk things through. Ryan was a good sport about the whole thing until he spotted one of the players. Quickly he seemed interested. Micki knew this wasn't like him. In fact this woman wasn't like the others, nor really was Ryan's type. She knew he wasn't trying to make her jealous...simply trying to forget about what had happened. Jack really hadn't said much about how Ryan acted the night the coin happened, only that what he saw behind Ryan's eyes as he held onto her lifeless body scared him.

Ryan began seeing Cathy while Micki knew there was more going on that it seemed. She knew something was wrong, and maybe...just maybe involved a cursed object. Ryan meanwhile acted as if Micki was doing this on purpose, but she wanted to badly to show him she cared.

Within only a week another object was recovered and Cathy was dead. But somehow Micki saw something was different. Ryan didn't seem that upset over what happened...in fact he seemed more angry then anything else.

Trying to talk to him around the store began getting harder and harder. Ryan didn't seem that playful anymore and often snapped at her. Micki knew he didn't mean it...but part of what he had said before was coming true.

Maybe they really were cursed.

Micki then thought back to the week before and felt tears begin to build behind her eyes. She didn't know what was going on with Ryan, or if he would ever be the same again. Meeting William Pratt seemed like a dream come true. Micki wanted to forget about how hard things were with Ryan and just wanted to live a fairytale. But yet again a cursed antique got in the way. Instead of seeing the handsome man William was, she saw an empty lost soul with nothing else inside.

She didn't know how Ryan felt about things. In fact the distance between them was so far, neither had really gotten through things just yet. Micki wished none of this had happened and that God would just let them be happy. But every time somebody entered their life's...an object got in the way.

Micki wanted Ryan, and wished so badly he felt the same. But after her dying, she knew he was scared.

Needing time to think things through, she looked forward to the weekend and seeing her parents. Maybe a good talk with her mother might fix things...maybe.

Just then it began to rain.
_____________________________________________________________________________

An hour later Micki stood in front of her large family home with her suitcase sitting beside her. Silently the taxi pulled down the road where other large build wealthy homes sat in perfect neat little rows behind large pines.

The rain had stopped and the pavement and grass was still wet. Seeing the sky darkening again, she quickly picked her bag up and started down the cobble stone walkway. Pausing for a second, she tried to prepare herself before ringing the bell. Moments later the door opened and her mother appeared.

Micki! Oh you made it!

Her mother opened her arms as Micki smiled and hugged her. Through her life her relationship with her mother had been very healthy and normal. She was a respected woman who was one of the leading ladies at the country clubs and town meetings. With slightly graying hair, Micki stood back and knew in another thirty years this would be exactly what she would look like. Letting her mother help her in, right away all the familiar sounds and smells entered her as she stepped into the landing. Right away Rosie, the housekeeper greeted Micki and took her coat and suitcase.

Leading her by the arm, her mother went on about the wedding and how she's been looking forward to this visit all week. Turning into the living room, she spotted her father right away. Sitting in his easy chair reading the paper. Smelling pipe smoke, Micki stood beside her mother and remembered the last time she saw them in person and hoped things went smoother.

Right away the paper lowered to reveal her father's face. Set like stone, and very old.

Hi daddy...

Micki said feeling her insides twist.

She wished to God Ryan was here with her.
___________________________________________________________________________

An hour later the three of them sat in the dinning room and silently ate while Micki's mother's radio hummed classical music softly in the background. Sitting up straight as she picked at her food, Micki's eyes danced across the dinning room and remembered the many meals her family shared here.

Micki finally cleared her throat to speak.

Any news on Charlotte?

Her father made a noise, almost in pure disgust. Micki glanced up for a second and saw her father's eyes were still fixed on his plate as he kept eating. Finally Micki's mother simply sighed and said something about getting a phone call a few weeks ago. It seemed that Charlotte was visiting another boyfriend down state.

And JB?

Her mother sighed.

I really don't know, she didn't mention anything.

That's one person that shouldn't of ever been a mother.

Micki looked up at her father as he chewed his food. Quickly looking over at her mother, she saw a complete tension of unease.

Please dear, not now.

Why not now? I mean we shouldn't dance around the fact that Charlotte has always been a disappointment. Dropping out of school, going from one guy to another, then having a baby before she could even land a job?

Please dear, don't spoil dinner.

Micki's father drank from his wine glass before rolling his eyes.

Just makes my bones ache, knowing all the time and money I spent putting into these two girls and the results in the end. Knew I should of had sons...maybe then something good would of come out of it!

Hearing her mother gasp, Micki decided she didn't even have the energy to fight back. She knew her father felt bitter with her decisions in life. Throwing away her future, leaving Lloyd, and staying at the store. Between Charlotte and herself, she knew it was a lot of stress for him. She just wanted so badly for him to accept her for the way she was. To try and understand and stop thinking what his friends and partners at the country club thought. So many years of the best schools, lessons, horse ridding, finishing school...and now here she was. If only he knew the truth...maybe then he would know why she felt she had to stay.

But was that really the only reason she was?

A slight ache went through her heart. She wondered what Jack and Ryan were doing right now. Almost seeing Ryan, laid back on his bed listening to his headphones brought a smile to her face.

Her father had left the room, most likely to his study. Her mother simply sat there in silence, finishing her wine before she noticed her daughter's expression.

I know that look.

Micki snapped out of her thoughts.

What?

That's the look a woman gives when their in love.

Micki smiled before feeling color rush into her face. slightly waving her hand she quickly changed the subject.

It's nothing...is he okay?

Her mother looked over her shoulder before sighing.

He's just been worried lately.

About what?

You.

Mother...what is there to be worried about.

Just then Rosie came in to clear the plates.

I don't know, just after Lloyd a lot of people have been talking. You know how he is.

Both stood up and walked out to the back sun room. It was nearly dark now and still raining outside. Walking out, Micki saw outside where her mother's garden was. Finding a seat in one of the wicker chairs, her mother joined her. Shortly after Rosie came in with tea.

Once they were alone they began talking.

Her mother filled her in with a few things that were going on. Same talk, same people, same old news. Finally they got to the store. Micki found that leaving almost all the important details out her life really did seem boreing. She spoke about doing some traveling, keeping up with the store, Jack, and then finally Ryan.

Micki asked a few questions, as in how they really were cousins. After some hard thought her mother was able to trace back in her head far enough and it was true. They really were only cousins through marriage...very distant second cousins in fact. Micki's mother said she only met Ryan's parents once, long before they had any children. She then began to ask more about him.

What's he like, he about your age right?

He's a year younger...I don't know, he's different. He's a very talented artist, true shame he gave it up.

Does he still speak with his family?

Micki shook her head.

Barley, he's had a very tough year...but he's really fun to be around with. I mean we really have no common interest, but he's so funny, and interesting as well.

Are you two close?

Micki shrugged.

We're around each other so much...I guess so. Ryan really has been a comfort this past year...I don't know what I would do without him...

Micki's voice drifted off and her mother studied her face.

Just then her mother reached over and touched her hand.

Micki?

Micki looked over.

Don't feel guilty about what your doing with your life. Don't ever let anyone point you in the wrong direction, not even your father.

What?

Her mother's eyes were serious.

I think that's what makes me so proud of you. I knew the moment you ended things with Lloyd, you weren't going to let anyone map out your life. Trust me dear, money and a good name isn't everything...I should know.

Micki noticed her mother's voice was lowered. In fact this was the first time in her entire life that she saw this serious look in her mother's eyes.

You want something special, you want something you don't regret once you get older...

Just then thunder began to sound off. Micki glanced up at the glassed in room and somehow knew what her mother was talking about.
____________________________________________________________________________

The rest of Micki's weekend was pleasant. Her father kept giving her the cold shoulder the entire time and locked himself up in his study. On Sunday evening he went off with a few friends of his to go golfing.

Meanwhile Micki tried to enjoy her time with her mother as much as possible. Never really having close relationships with either of her parents, she began to look at her mother in a different light. Her entire life everything had to be a certain way. Ranging from her Sunday dresses, to what school she attended, to even how she carried herself as a woman. The one thing she did get from her mother was style. Once, very long ago her mother originally modeled in Bangkok for a brief amount of time in her late teens. Around this time she met her father who was an up and coming lawyer and soon married. Her father being fifteen years older then her mother pretty much summed their relationship up. He controlled everything and held onto the money and house. Her mother meanwhile put on the act of the perfect wife and changed herself for him.

They weren't ever a loving close family, everything was about looks and status.

But enjoying a Saturday shopping spree with her mother, the two walked around uptown and for once seemed at ease with each other. The entire time Micki kept thinking about what she said in the sun room the evening before hand.

Now sitting in the living room, her bags packed and on the landing. She sat on the sofa waiting for her taxi to arrive. Her mother meanwhile shared a bottle of wine with her and sat by the fireplace talking.

It had started to rain again.

Micki glanced up at the clock.

What's taking so long?

Why don't you just stay another night, call a taxi in the morning dear.

Micki was about to say something when the doorbell rang.
___________________________________________________________________________

Opening the room, Micki stood back shocked.

Ryan?!

Ryan stood in jeans and a jacket, soaking wet with a piece of paper in his hands.

Hey Micki!

What are you doing here?

Jack said you were coming back tonight, decided to take you back myself.

You drove all this way?

Ryan held up the soaked piece of paper and grinned.

Took a few wrong turns, man Micki this place is out in the middle of nowhere!

Micki began to laugh before letting him in.

Come in your soaked!

Walking in, Ryan's hair dripped before he locked eyes with Micki. Both laughed at the same time without even saying anything. Just then Micki's mother walked out.

Micki who is it?

Ryan stood beside Micki before she smiled and held onto his arm.

Mother I would like you to meet Ryan Dallion.

Micki's mother's face looked just as stunned and then smiled before walking out.

So your the Ryan I've heard so much about...pleased to meet you.

Ryan shook her hand before noticing how soaked he was.

I'm sorry, I'm getting your floor all wet.

Micki's mother waved her hand smiling.

That's fine, would you like a towel dear?

I'd love one but the roads are getting pretty bad, we better head out now.

Oh so soon?

Micki smiled.

He's right mother, it's getting late.

Micki's mother studied Ryan before smiling again.

Just what I thought you would look like, I must say my daughter has taken a liking towards you.

Micki stood back embarrassed while Ryan and her mother laughed.

Well your daughter is a very amazing woman.

Please, do stay for a cup of coffee, I want to ask you all about the store!

Ryan and Micki glanced at each other before Ryan smiled.

All right, a coffee would sound really good now.
___________________________________________________________________________

A half an hour later Micki's mother walked the two of them to the front porch. Rain still poured down. Ryan holding Micki's bags thanked Micki's mother once again for the coffee.

Over that time they sat together laughing and pretty much talking about nothing. Micki's mother shared embarrassing stories of when Micki was younger, and asked questions about Ryan's art background. Micki was slightly stunned to see that Ryan and her mother both knew of the same artist and galleries. The entire time, Micki's mother closely studied how much Ryan and Micki would laugh together, hold onto each other's arms, and smile looking into each other's eyes.

Please watch out, these roads are awful at night!

We'll take it slow. It was nice meeting you.

It was nice meeting you to Ryan, good to know my daughter is in good hands.

Micki smiled before kissing her mother goodbye.

I'll visit again real soon.

Micki's mother looked her daughter in the eyes before watching Ryan make it down the steps to load her bags into the car. Moving on, Micki's mother caught her off guard as she hugged her tightly. For a brief second, Micki thought she heard her mother whisper something into her ear.

Just then Micki's father's car pulled up. At that exact moment Ryan closed the trunk and waited for Micki as she went down the steps. Micki's father got out of his car, his golf bag by his side.

Micki stopped for a second as rain fell down on her. The two locked eyes before Micki motioned towards Ryan.

Daddy, this is Ryan Dallion...

Micki's father shot Ryan a look as Ryan tried to wave. Looking at Micki he walked past her.

Sighing, Micki watched as he walked past her mother and inside. Looking at her mother for a second, she saw a slight smile on her face and knew she couldn't feel bad. Joining Ryan, she got into the car and waved one last time before Ryan pulled down the road.

The drive back was nice, Ryan put the heat on as rain poured down on the car.

Once they reached the freeway, Micki looked at Ryan and smiled.

So what did you think?

Of what?

Of my parents?

Well your father isn't much of a talker, but your mother seems great.

Micki smiled.

Thanks so much for coming, it meant a lot to me for her to meet you.

Ryan glanced over for a second and the two smiled at each other.

So...anything interesting happen while I was gone?

Ryan looked over at her.

I guess you could say that.

Yeah?

Oh yeah...ended up going to that state fair after all...
____________________________________________________________________________

By the time they got home it was nearly one in the morning. Ryan had finished his story about handkerchief and admitted to Micki he had missed her. Helping her bring her bags upstairs, they tried keeping their voices down since Jack was fast asleep.

Once upstairs, Micki shook her wet hair and looked around smiling.

It was good to be back.

Wishing Ryan a good night, Micki went into the bathroom to take a nice warm shower. While standing underneath the warm beads of water, Micki began to think about tonight.

After drying off and throwing her robe on, Micki walked out towards her bedroom. Pausing for a second she saw Ryan with his headphones on and sleeping peacefully. Stopping for a second, Micki smiled and knew what her mother had whispered to her.

Live your life.


7: Dreams and nightmares

It was a snowy winter day.

Micki was sitting in the back seat of the car with Ryan. There was a driver up front, but she couldn't get a look at his face. Knowing from the back of him, it wasn't Jack. Almost in complete silence they rode together, watching the vast farmland and bare trees in the gray winter light. Feeling snuggled up in a beautiful dress with a flowing shirt, she sat beside Ryan who more a dark suit. Looking over his face, she felt her heart begin to pound. Looking over each feature of him as they sat together, the same urge came over her.

Then...

He turned, his large brown eyes looking at her. Licking her lips, without even thinking Micki leaned forward and began to gently kiss his soft lips. Closing her eyes, she felt his arms go around her as their mouths opened and closed. Knowing how badly she wanted this, she began to feel dizzy as Ryan began to lower her down in the seat. Opening her eyes, she went to say something when she felt Ryan's grip and touch was getting much worse. His mouth covering hers, he began leaning the two of them down to the floor of the car. Micki's eyes bugged out knowing something wasn't right.

Being laid on the floor, Micki then felt Ryan's grip tighten as he began trying to lift up her dress. Right away panic jumped into Micki's heart as she tried to pull herself away.

Ryan...

Ryan wouldn't stop, kissing her even harder his force began getting stronger as he laid her down on the car floor as it moved and tried to keep lifting up her dress. Now knowing this wasn't how Ryan acted, Micki began to scream. Struggling she began to fight him and get his weight off her. Still going for between her legs, he fought with her to stay still.

No don't!

Micki cried.

Ryan then used all his strength to lift her legs up in the air, each on one of his shoulders. Crying, Micki kept trying to get away while.

No!

Ryan then tore apart her dress, ripping the cloth and throwing it to the side. Laying her body back down, his removed the last of the dress which covered her crotch and began spreading her legs. Crying, Micki kept begging Ryan to stop. Moving in between her legs, Ryan laid himself on top of her and began adjusting himself to go in. Fighting, Micki kept trying to squeeze her legs shut. But it was to late. Entering her with full force it wasn't anything Micki thought it would be. In just the matter of seconds everything fell apart for her and went blank. Going all the way inside her, Ryan held onto Micki tightly before thrusting. Quickly finding a pace, he pumped into her without even the slightest sign of stopping. Micki's legs were still spread and up in the air and gently moved as he kept going. Her arms laid limp and she stared up at the celling of the car. Glancing over at the driver, she saw he hadn't even turned around.

Crying, Ryan kept pumping into her before slowing. Arching his back, he held onto her with all her might before almost stopping. Micki laid there for a second in silence as he didn't move. Just then out of nowhere, Ryan's hands went down and tore the rest of her dress. Revealing her breasts, Micki screamed and tried to cover herself. Here Ryan fought her, trying to spread her legs again. Pushing him away, Micki blinked and nearly screamed.

It wasn't Ryan that was raping her. It was that terrible man that had tried to rape her before when they got the cursed radio. Screaming, Micki shut her eyes.

Then...

Micki snapped awake.
___________________________________________________________________________

Screaming at the top of her lungs, Micki shot up in bed. Quickly Ryan flung open her bedroom doors and stood only wearing boxers. Micki, who was still half awake felt her heart pound as her eyes adjusted to the darkness of her bedroom.

It was just a dream.

Feeling sweat roll down her body, she gasped for air before Ryan sat down beside her in bed. His hands rested on her back as his worried eyes looked her up and down.

Micki it's okay! It was just a dream! I'm here it's okay!

Micki blinked before looking at Ryan. How could she have dreamed something so horrible about him. Slightly shaking she began to cry. Gathering her up in his arms, Ryan held her.

They were going through another somewhat tough, and confusing time for the two of them. Getting two cursed objects, one a pocket watch, and the other a boutonniere. People were involved, and harmed as always.

The last month or so had been good for Micki though. Ever since her visit with her mother, she began to have a clearer understanding of her life now. This was simply what she did now, and would die until somebody stopped her. She believed in other things now, and understood that she had made the right choice in staying.

The time with the coin haunted her and Ryan. But as time moved on Micki tried to patch things up in their relationship.

Life was to short.

After seeing the life she left behind, and how her mother acted...she felt at home here. It seemed to be her place now...with Ryan.

He still kept his distance for awhile, but over time Micki tried spending more and more time with her. Cooped up together in the store most of the time helped them. Ryan couldn't avoid her and began seeing that nothing harmful would happen to her again. Micki tried flirting here and there, and making them a close as possible. Having dinner together, bonding, going into the city, traveling with Jack for cursed objects, and opening up to each other in general began making Ryan not so scared anymore.

Micki knew this would take time, but Ryan as odd as it sounded seemed right for her.

She was taking her time, and enjoying herself with him.

With now flirted and nagged each other almost like an old married couple. Jack would often joke as the two stuck close to each other and had no idea how comfortable they really were getting with each other.

Lately, the looks, and awkward moments were building the tension high.

Shhhh...it's all right.

Ryan said, holding her as she get herself under control. Most of the time she never acted this way, it was just these nightmares that were making her so scared. It had to mean something.

Looking up at Ryan her heart pounded.

He would never do anything like that, not Ryan.

Wanting him so badly, she reached up and covered her mouth with his. Ryan kissed her gently before opening and closing his mouth for a second. Getting deep into the kiss, Ryan made a slight moan before breaking it.

Micki felt out of breath as she stared up at him.

Kissing her forehead, he slowly got up and excused himself quickly. Micki heard the bathroom door close within seconds and knew what he was doing.

Always the one to have control.

Micki thought before laying back, still tasting him on her lips. Laying back in the darkness, she began to think of what it really would feel like to make love with Ryan.
___________________________________________________________________________

The next morning Micki woke early and decided to start cleaning around the shop. Keeping herself busy, she opened up and began dusting the counters and shelfs. Jack woke up soon afterwards and mentioned something about arranging some of the books that were kept upstairs. Keeping to herself Micki hummed softly to herself and stared out the window.

The trees outside were all ready starting to change color again.

Had she really been there for this long?

Enjoying herself, she flicked on the downstairs TV and began watching the news. Reports of local children going missing were it's top story.

Just then Ryan and Jack came downstairs, right away Micki felt that odd flutter deep down in her stomach. This started happening lately. She felt as if she was in high school again.

Both were in the middle of talking when Micki hushed them to hear the story. The three of them gathered around the small TV and watched the two small children getting interviewed. After the story Jack shook his head as he walked over to his desk.

It's bad enough with what's going on it the world then to put those terrified children on display!

Micki sighed as she snapped off the TV, Ryan stood close to her.

I don't know what that sicko would want with all those children...

Ryan looked over at her, still partly distant. Something Micki had been trying to be working on. With the pocket watch she saw how comfortable they were being with each other. How they bickered and seemed playful again. Micki kept her hardest to be forward. Flirting, being nicer to be, admiring how much he had changed for the best over the past year.

But it was still a struggle.

The three of them walked over to Jack to see what objects were up next to find.

One was a playhouse.
___________________________________________________________________________

That night after supper, the three of them drive back to the shop. Micki sat in the backseat bundled up in her old fur coat. Knowing this wouldn't be warm enough for the up coming weather, she tried to remember which other coats she had stuffed in the back of her closet.

It was a nice evening as always. Micki laughed and enjoyed herself. Somehow Jack and Ryan had become her family. The entire night she kept looking across at Ryan smiling. He really was perfect.

How badly she wished she could just tell him the truth. Stop playing these games and wasting time. She only hoped he felt the same way. Or maybe she missed her chance? Plenty of things had happened...mostly for the worst.

She wanted to show him the coin wasn't his fault. That she was alive and wanted to be with him.

She didn't care if it worked or not, she just wanted him.

But she feared everything would be destroyed. How close they had gotten since the accident, their entire relationship. She knew he was scared, but had to keep working on it.

Ryan and Jack sat up front, the heat on and talking back and forth. Micki stared out the window and remembered what her mother said.

"Live your life"

Once they got home everyone went in different directions for bed.

Brushing her hair at the front dresser, Micki stared at her reflection before seeing Ryan walk around in the next room. Pausing, she set her brush down and walked out in her nightgown.

Ryan had just flung himself on his bed, his yellow Illinois T-shirt on and boxers. Micki right away felt her heart begin to pound as her eyes drifted over his smooth tanned arms.

Looking up, Ryan's eyes seemed serious.

What's wrong Micki?

Micki silently walked over and sat on the edge of his bed. She never felt so nervous before in her life.

Ryan...

Yeah?

Never mind...

Micki quickly stood up before going into her bedroom. Ryan watched her slightly confused before he saw her shut her lights off. The next day they went searching for the Playhouse.
___________________________________________________________________________

Three weeks later.

The playhouse, the projector, and finally the compact were finally recovered. A great weight had lifted off everyone's chest at the store. Winter was coming soon and they seemed to be making good time.

Micki meanwhile was upstairs resting.

They had just gotten the silver syringe back.

More people had been killed in terrible ways, and nobody could do anything about it. Somehow that cruel fact in life was something everyone at the store was getting used to.

Ryan stood downstairs with Jack upset.

Micki had nearly been killed again.

He had never seen her act that way before. Almost like a wild animal. He hated to think of what that sick bastard had done to her. Thinking of how he hit her to make her stop, he cringed. He never wanted to ever lay a hand on Micki. Feeling upset and guilty, the thought of still loosing Micki haunted him.

He had tried so badly since the coin to keep her away. To avoid her advances. To stay away and give her the cold shoulder. He knew how she felt...but why had they been apart, so scared for so long.

Ryan knew if he had been there to protect her none of this would of happened.

He knew she would recover, but still he felt awful.

Even keeping her away...danger still went after her.

Pacing back and forth, Jack offered him a drink.

Ryan felt exhausted. Somehow this entire year had brought him down. He no longer saw this as some great big adventure. But as the curse it really was. He didn't care that he didn't have anywhere else to go, he was starting to hate it here.

Expect for Micki.

She was his only reason he stayed.

Deciding to check on her, he excused himself from Jack and silently went up the stairs.

Why was he doing this to himself? After everything they had done through?

He thought of everything that had happened, how lately they had started getting close again and how forward she had been acting. How he clutched onto Micki's hand when they were trapped in the playhouse. How Micki had saved him from the projector, and how scared he was thinking he would never see her again. Finally getting the cursed compact back, showing some hope that maybe they would recover a good number of the lost objects.

But all this death seemed to crush Ryan, he had lost so many all ready...

Micki laid silently in her bed, her skin pale and weak. Ryan slowly walked in. Clearing his throat he stepped forward.

Micki?

She was sleeping, but she was moving her head from side to side. The expression on her face looked terrified as she began to cry in her sleep. Right away Ryan raced over and shook her. Snapping awake she nearly scared. Ryan held her by the shoulders, his face full of worry.

Micki! Wake up, your just having a bad dream!

Micki blinked a few times, her eyes filled with tears. Quickly she reached up and grabbed Ryan as she cried.

Oh Ryan it's awful, it never goes away!

What Micki?

The nightmares, they keep coming! Over and over again!

Ryan held Micki as she cried and shook. He loved this woman, but didn't know how to show it anymore. Micki buried her head against his shoulder.

Don't ever leave me Ryan...promise me that...

Ryan lifted his head and looked at her as tears fell down her face.

Promise me the same...

Micki held onto him tighter crying before she began to slowly settle down. Ryan held onto her, softly rubbing her back as she calmed down. Finally once the tears stopped, she asked Ryan to stay with her until she fell asleep again.

Sitting up beside her in bed, he opened his arms and let Micki lay against him. Sitting there, watching the morning light begin to fade, he looked down and watched Micki as she silently slept. So beautiful...

Leaning down, Ryan kissed the top of her head.

He didn't want to ruin things. Both had been through so much. He would let them live their own life's and not try to screw things up. Sure she was acting this way, but he knew it was because she was so scared. Within time she would move on and so wouldn't he. Time was all they needed. Until then he would let her life her life, and still protect her.

Things would go back to normal he prayed.



8: Crystals and glass

Five weeks later

Hey why are you so dressed up?

Ryan asked from behind one of him comic books. Ryan had just walked into Micki's bedroom and threw himself across her bed, sneakers still on. It was Saturday night and they had just closed. Ryan looked as if he was planning on spending the rest of the evening relaxing. Micki turned, slightly amused as she fixed her hair in the mirror.

Going out with Johnny.

Ryan put down his comic book, his eyes slightly serious.

Huh?

Micki turned, dressed in black dress and heels.

I promised Johnny dinner remember? He's taking me out someplace near his apartment...sounds nice.

Micki turned checking her makeup before noticing Ryan's expression from the mirror's reflection. Right away a funny little flutter danced in her stomach.

Was he jealous?

She thought.

Turning, she gave a nervous little smile.

Something wrong?

Ryan tried his hardest to shrug and sit up.

Nothing...nothing at all.

Micki stepped forward.

Ryan...I thought you said you trusted him after what happened. I mean Jack even said he might come to some help...

And look what's all ready happened.

Micki crossed her arms and sighed. It was true. Less then a week ago the jacket had been recovered, and Johnny's father had been killed. All ready involved, he had lost someone close to him.

Johnny had just been some guy Ryan knew from some bar downtown. He had helped locate the cursed pool stick that they had gone after. Micki remembered feeling slightly easy with his stranger helping her. Jack and Ryan had been away when this happened, and somehow the crazy world Jack, Ryan, and herself had lived for the past two years had been opened up to Johnny.

Yet he believed, and didn't seemed freaked out. In fact he was interested in helping.

That's one thing they needed lately...

Help.

The objects were being recovered faster and faster. It seemed as though every day another thing was being placed back safely in the vault. Most of the time they didn't have a hard time getting the things back.

But like always...there were still those few things.

It had been a tough year, most of all on Micki.

This entire summer Ryan had sent her mixed signals. Micki knew he was working on opening up to her again after what happened, yet still there was distance. Micki wanted him, in fact she knew now deep in her heart she cared for him.

But somehow it seemed as though it was too late. One second Ryan would be flirting with her, the next his attention on something else. Micki really didn't know what to do now.

When they got the bauble back, things had been good. This was shortly before Johnny came into their life's.

Micki had called her mother a few times to check up, and she often asked about Ryan.

Micki really didn't know what to say. It seemed as though things were waiting for just the perfect time for things to happen. But then again...would they ever?

They were always around each other. Comfortable, and close. They flirted, touching each other, cute little playful punches and tickles. The way they somehow had such a good understanding they could just sit together for hours without even saying anything and just laugh. How they had adjusted to each other's own personality, and how cute Ryan acted whenever he was around her.

And each night, Micki would lay awake, wondering if he really meant it.

Micki began to day dream on how it would be like to make love to Ryan. Judging from the time that had past, and her constant scans of his body from brief glances in the store...she knew it would be amazing.

Yet still there were other things.

When the snowglobe happened, how quickly he handed her off to a man from her past...when usual he would be jealous and act bothered.

Yet still...he had been the one who saved her.

She remembered laying on the floor with Jack, slightly dazed from that nightmare she had just escaped. Pieces of glass and fake snow all over the wet floor.

How Ryan had crawled over to her, his hands holding the sides of her face. How she had shook, soaked in her dress. Then, he opened his jacket...slight shaking before gathering her up in his arms. Micki placed her head on his chest and began crying as he held her. Later that night as she laid in bed, knowing how close she had come...Ryan stayed by her side.

How badly she had wanted him to make love to her.

Now here they were weeks later, and Micki never felt so confused before in her entire life.

Why had this happened to them?

Zip me?

Micki turned pointing to her dress. Ryan got up and zipped her, his hands resting on her back for a moment. Micki stood there, not able to face him.

Ryan, Johnny is just a friend...I want him to feel welcome after all the help he's gave us...

Ryan rolled his eyes and mumbled a whatever before leaving the room. Hearing him go down the stairs, Micki sighed.
___________________________________________________________________________

Micki? Hey earth to Micki?

Johnny's hand waved in front of Micki's face during dinner. Snapping out of her thoughts she looked up at Johnny slightly embarrassed.

Sorry...guess I'm somewhere else tonight.

Johnny smiled before raising his wine glass. Smiling back at him, Micki raised hers...all the while thinking about Ryan.
___________________________________________________________________________

Micki had made sure there would be no goodnight kiss. Thanking Johnny for dinner, she quickly went inside before felling uneasy and weird. Looking around the darkness of the store the oddest thought filled her mind.

What if Ryan wasn't around anymore?

As she went up the stairs she knew that was a silly thing to think. Ryan was of course upstairs, as he always was. Most likely fast asleep and still not talking with her.

But why did she think that.

She knew she couldn't keep doing this without him.

Maybe that's what Ryan thought. Maybe he really was jealous and thought Micki was replacing him. Shaking her head she finished the stairs.

Nobody could ever replace Ryan...

She then saw Ryan wide awake, sitting up in bed and silently watching the TV. Micki glanced at the clock and saw it was after one.

The two stared at each other. Micki felt uneasy as she threw her purse down on the table.

What are you still doing up...it's late.

Ryan looked down before flicking the TV off.

I just wanted to make sure you made it home all right.

Micki then felt an overwhelming feeling for Ryan, she could hardly control it. Slowly walking to her room, Ryan glanced up at her.

So how was your date?

Micki stopped, looking at him.

It wasn't a date...trust me.

Ryan locked eyes with Micki before slowly nodding.

Jack said something about getting something with you tomorrow night?

Micki nodded, leaning against the doorway of her bedroom.

Yeah, a witch's ladder...some kind of thing that friends of Jack have found. They know about Uncle Lewis and want us to hold onto it for safe keeping.

Sounds like a good plan...

Yeah...

Both stared at each other before Ryan cleared his throat and ran one hand though his thick brown hair.

Well...I better get to bed, Danny is picking the car to work on in the morning...

Ryan quickly got up and headed to the bathroom. Once alone Micki sighed before going into her bedroom and shutting the doors behind her. Changing, she got into her nightgown and crawled into bed.

Laying there, she watched her bedroom doors before all the lights went out.

Thinking of Ryan, she sighed before turning over and sleeping.

Ryan meanwhile laid awake, looking off into the darkness and thinking of how jealous he was of Johnny.


9: It's all ready here...

That night Micki slept deeply.

She began to dream, slowly tossing from side to side in her bed...muttering in her sleep. All the meanwhile, Ryan laid awake right outside the door, listening to his headphones and slowly drifting off.

In Micki's dream she was standing on the sidewalk across from the store. It was chilly out as it was now...mid November. The sky was an overcast bluish gray as the first signs of dawn began to peek across the buildings, sending beautiful rays of golden and tinted red sunlight on the street. The few trees that lined the sidewalks were bare other then a few crunchy leafs that danced from side to side from the cool breeze. Micki stood there, looking at all the sleeping buildings and then the store.

Her heart filled with such happiness when she looked at it. Something when she first arrived so long ago, never thought she would feel. No, this was now her home now. The place where she belonged. She had given so much up, but now she was free. Often she wished this had never happened and that one day she would just wake up with the danger and dread over. But really what made this place so special for her was Jack and Ryan. They had protected her and showed her more love then she had ever felt before in her entire life.

Ryan...

She softly said. Thinking about him made the store across the way seem even more inviting. He was inside there, waiting for her. Waiting for her to finally stop worrying and just tell him the truth.

You've heard about this place haven't you?

Micki turned, slightly caught off guard and saw a teenage boy standing beside her. He was average height, deeply tanned, and thick choppy looking light brown hair. He was dressed in jeans and a black ski jacket. His hands stuffed in his pockets, the breeze moved his bangs out of his eyes a little before he stared at the store as she did. Micki found this funny, and gave a soft slightly uneasy laugh.

What?

Micki asked, somewhat confused as she looked across the street with him. Both looking straight at the store's darken windows. Dawn was just touching the sky, more light spilled onto the street.

Something...I don't really know the name of it, but it lives in there.

Huh?

Micki looked over at the boy who seemed no older then seventeen.

The boy pointed.

People say things, but the people who live in there better watch out.

Micki then felt alarm as she stared at the boy.

What do you mean?

Something...plans on waiting, doing anything it has to...something that won't be stopped until it's finished, something awful.

Micki stood there, shocked and having no idea what to say. That's when the boy stepped forward, so close they could almost kiss. His wide eyes stared down at her before he leaned in and whispered into her ear...

It's all ready here...

Just then the wind began to pick up, so hard Micki's hair blew to the side. Nearly crying out she almost stumbled as leafs and branches whirled around her. The boy stood close, his face against hers.

That's when she heard, faintly over the wind...

Paul! Your still alive!

Then another voice weakly say...

I'm dying Johnny...

Micki then snapped awake like a bullet. Now fully awake she sat straight up in bed and gasped for air. She had suffered nightmares, but nothing ever this bad.

Looking around the dark bedroom and saw it was nearly four in the morning. Slowly laying back down, her hand rested between her breasts where her heart pounded in her chest.

Her thoughts kept going back to the beautiful looking teenage boy and what he had said. Why did she think she had seen him before? Why was she so scared?

It's all ready here...

Micki rolled over and faced the glass windows of the bedroom. Laying there, she silently stared out and thought of Ryan sleeping out there. How badly she now wanted to just wake him up and kiss him. Tell him her dream and make all her worries go away.

What did it all mean?

Micki slowly closed her eyes and drifted back to sleep.

10: Freefall

Micki we're going to be late!

Jack yelled from downstairs. Smiling, and somewhat in a hurry, Micki checked her hair one last time in the mirror before throwing her coat on. Ryan meanwhile sat at the kitchen table sketching. Walking out, boots clicking Micki looked down at Ryan and smiled. He had sort of acted funny earlier this morning. Now a cold wind blew outside, making the sound shutter around the store. Micki began zipping her coat before grabbing her purse which sat beside him.

You sure you don't wanna come?

Ryan glanced up, almost as though Micki had woken him out of a day dream.

Huh?

Micki smiled.

With me and Jack?

Ryan shook his head before returning to his drawing.

No thanks, I'm just gonna chill out here for awhile.

All right...

Before heading down the stairs Micki glanced down at what he was sketching and saw an old fashion clock.
______________________________________________________________________________

That night they returned a little after twelve, the night was cold and windy. Turning the last of the lights off once they arrived back, Jack wished Micki a good night, telling her the ladder was now safe in the vault.

Hearing the TV upstairs, Micki knew Ryan must of still been up. Starting on the stairs she looked down at Jack.

Do you think Garrett was right? About me having power?

Jack looked up at her, almost deep in thought.

I think he was onto something, you have something very powerful in you...or will.

Micki found this comment as odd before Jack smiled up at her.

I'll run over a few things with you in the morning, see if there something I can in tune you towards.

Micki smiled before wishing Jack a good night and returning upstairs. Just as she expected, Ryan was still up and watching late night TV. Laying on the bed, he was drinking what looked to be his second or third beer. A pizza box sitting on the kitchen table. Micki smiled before putting down her bag.

Hey...

Hey, get that ladder back.

Micki brought a seat up to Ryan's bed before starting to take her boots off.

Yep...in fact Garrett said...

Just then the sound of a chainsaw filled the room. Glancing over at the TV, Micki saw a young cheerleader run away from a masked killer. Making a face Micki pointed to the TV.

What in God's name are you watching?

Ryan looked amused as he drank his beer.

Slasher movie, really good.

Micki rolled her eyes before reaching for Ryan's beer.

I'll pass...

Ryan watched Micki as she laughed and took a sip of Ryan's beer before leaning in to give it back. Both locked eyes and right away that funny feeling enter their stomachs.

Micki leaned in close enough as she past the bottle back to Ryan's hand. Completely forgetting what she was saying. Their hands touched for a second, before color filled Ryan's face. Before she could say anything else he mumbled about checking the downstairs doors and quickly slid off the bed.

Ryan?

He didn't answer, he quickly hurried down the stairs. Sitting there, now alone Micki softly laughed before placing the beer on his nightstand. Sighing she glanced at the TV before getting up and heading to her room.
____________________________________________________________________________

Ryan stood downstairs in complete darkness. He leaned against the front door that over looked the street. He breathed in deeply, slightly fogging up the frost covered glass. His head pounded as he tried to make his erection go away. Looking out at the street he sighed and thought about what an idiot he was acting like. Here she was, upstairs...waiting for him. Still, he couldn't. That cold dark image of holding her lifeless body kept repeating over and over again before his eyes.

A half an hour later he finally silently walked upstairs. Micki had all ready gone to bed. Shutting off the TV, he cleaned up before getting back into bed. Laying there, he put his arms behind his head and laid there thinking about her.
_____________________________________________________________________________

The next morning, Ryan had gotten up early. Changing and quickly heading down the stairs he opened up early and began cleaning up around the place. Right now he thought yet again things were getting strange with Micki. He saw that look in her eyes last night, and almost gave in. Still...he was terrified of what could happen. Just last night he had another nightmare of Micki's death with the coin. It had been months since he last had one.

Micki had gotten up an hour later, looking bright eyed and lovely, she hurried down the stairs and said good morning to him while he stood behind the counter. Ryan smiled, saying hey before she seemed to disappear downstairs. He faintly heard Jack and her talking. Grabbing the step-stool, he shook his head. Somehow little things like last night didn't seem to bother her. Maybe she understood how hard it was for him.

Having so many worries on his mind...he thought back to the end of the nightmare last night. It was always the same one...seeing Micki dead in the parking-lot. But this time it ended. This time as he held her lifeless body in the darkness, he saw a young teenage boy. The entire time he stared at him.

Almost too scared to even think about it any further, he polished the counters, swept around the floors, and began dusting before Danny came in with keys to the car.

Moments later a woman came in asking about the ladder.
_______________________________________________________________________________

Later that night, Ryan collapsed in the vault shaking with a fever.

Shhhh...Ryan it's all right, I won't let anything happen to you.

Micki sat on the floor, holding Ryan and gently rubbing his arms. Jack meanwhile stood in the background in his bathrobe watching. Ryan's eyes fluttered open. He didn't remember a thing.
____________________________________________________________________________

What was it?

Somebody interfered, somebody who cares deeply about Ryan...somebody with power.


11: Waiting

Here I place a circle of protection around the spirit of Ryan Dallion within this circle is a circle of strength. May he be protected from evil.

Here is found the strength to overcome all evil. As burn these candles so burns the truth in the heart of Ryan Dallion.

Everything flashed before Micki‚€™s eyes as the world suddenly began to spin out of control like some spinning carnival ride. Passing out, the soft flicker of the candles before her she fell into a deep sleep. The last two days had been awful. That woman Liza had been the reason all of this had happened. She had tricked Ryan into getting the ladder and now he was underneath her spell. In a terrible feverish state he wandered calling out Micki's name faintly in the darkness.

Then...

She woke up, her eyes snapping open. It was morning now and Jack stood before her. Taking a second to let her eyes adjust to the light, she looked around the store that seemed to bring her so much comfort now. Coughing, and covered in sweat her eyes rolled back in her head for a moment before looking at him. The candles were now almost burnt out, wax spilled all over the table.

There, feeling better?

Micki took deep breaths, her entire body felt as though it was made out of water, numb and heavy.

What the hell happened?

Jack looked at her with warm eyes.

Let's just say you were lucky...

Meaning?

Then his voice filled the room, and Micki's heart nearly stopped. Walking over in his leather jacket and a wide grin he handed her a glass of water. Micki couldn't believe it. Last night when she saw Ryan, it wasn't the person she had found herself falling in love with.

In fact she feared that she might loose him.

A terrible pain had entered her from the worry of what had happened.

You might need to take a while before casting any spells.

His hand griped her shoulder tightly, his wide brown eyes looking down at her. Jack mumbled on about using energy when Micki asked if her powers were gone, Jack simply told her she might have to wait awhile before using them again.

Did she really use all that energy and power to reach through to Ryan? Had it been true...had her love really been that strong? Chills went down through her body.

Thanks Micki...

Micki looked up at Ryan softly whispering, his eyes serious. Leaning down, he looked directly into her eyes. Something inside Micki felt almost underwater. She knew she was exhausted, but it was something different.

That look...she saw it before in her own eyes.

Leaning down, he gently held her and kissed her on the forehead. Micki stared off into space thinking about how she reached through to him breaking the spell.

He leaned in close, their faces just a few inches away. She saw he was breathing heavy, his eyes lost in hers.

I don't know what I would of happened if you haven't broken through to me...

Micki stared at him and then knew.

He loved her.

She smiled weakly.

You got the ladder back...

He grinned at her, close enough to kiss.

Jack then told them that he would be returning the objects back downstairs in the vault. He commented on how they should go upstairs and get some rest. Right before heading downstairs, Micki caught a smile on Jack's face as he watched the two of them.

Now alone in the early morning, Ryan stood before looking down at her.

You need some help?

Micki shook her head before he softly smiled and started up the stairs. Micki took a few minutes before getting enough strength to stand. Looking around the shop she breathed deeply. This was what she had wanted, this was faith.

Looking up the stairs she knew once she went up them...things would change forever. Standing there she remembered back when they first met.

How scared and uncertain she was, how even though she felt as though she was trapped and faced some of the most terrible things only nightmares were made out of...he was there for her. His childish kind way about him, somehow making her feel more relaxed and less scared as time went on.

How he had been there for her after Lloyd left, how supportive he had been and somehow made the place more of a home for her after everything had changed. How he tried all the time to cheer her up and make her feel safe. How they faced things together, him always somehow protecting her.

They slowly became a team.

The small kisses they had, the flirting, the arguments. The bricking and laughing. The memories that seemed to slowly pile up over the last two years.

How he had come back after Laura, how he decided to stay and help her and Jack.

The way they found comfort in each other whenever something awful happened. When he cried in her arms for the first time after his father died. How terrible she had felt after Tim died and the passionate kiss they shared that night.

How he had saved her life after the coin, and showed her how deeply he cared about her.

Remembering the boxing gloves and how she cried to the maniac that he wasn't her girlfriend. The hurt and jealous look he gave whenever she was with anyone else. The caring, and the help he had given her.

Thinking of all the time and objects, it finally hit her. That entire time they had been together.

Why were they fighting this...

She now knew for sure she loved him, and she was certain he loved her. Taking a deep breath she felt her body begin to have a strange longing feeling inside it. She knew Ryan was up there...waiting for her.

Taking a deep breath, she began to climb the stairs.


12: Shatter

Micki walked upstairs as early morning light began to pour through the curtains. Seeing tiny pieces of golden sparking dust float around in the air, she felt completely at peace. Hearing the shower run, she knew Ryan was in there. Pausing by the kitchen table she didn‚€™t know if she should go in there and join him. Right away a terrible twisting knot went through her stomach as she shifted from one foot to the other. She felt exhausted and drained. Never before in her entire life had she felt so tried. Looking at the bathroom door, she bit down on her bottom lip before walking over and taking a seat on his bed.

Sitting there, she looked around at his boxes of comic books, his sport posters, and guitar. Smiling as her eyes scanned his small area, she then saw on his nightstand a framed photograph.

It was of the three of them.

Taken at the Halloween party last year. The three of them posed together smiling, still this whole strange world so very new to them. Remembering that night she smiled, Jack had told them about Lewis‚€™ wife and the relationship she had with him. Remembering how she sighed and said out loud how one day she hoped somebody would talk the same way about her. Somebody who truly loved her‚€¶somebody who was meant to be with her. She remembered the kind smile Ryan, who still then was a strange flashed a smile at her.

Thinking of the time they shared together, there were so many ups and downs. So many deaths and sorrow that went along with their dangerous life‚€™s. How all this time she had been trying to figure out why she had stayed. Why she hadn‚€™t gone crazy yet, or scared off.

It was him.

Thinking back when the coin happened, she knew it changed things. Now she knew all signs were in their favor. It was meant to be‚€¶her love had proved it.

Sitting there, she had no idea what to say. Her thoughts kept going back to him.

How he had tried to save her the first week they had arrived at the store. In that small backyard playground as the little girl clutched onto the cursed doll. How he had struggled against the wind to help her.

The way he comforted her whenever something awful happened. She remembered back when Jack was hurt in the hospital and how they sat together in the dark waiting room. Laying across him, her head in his lap as he gently brushed back her hair. How he had told her that his family hadn‚€™t been the most supportive while he was growing up, and how slowly he began to share his pain about his past.

The way he beat up Lloyd that time when he broke into her bedroom. How supportive he had been after Lloyd left her, and how even during the worst of time he was somehow able to cheer her up.

The way he attacked Jack with the boxing gloves just to save her.

The way he opened up about his brother Jimmy to her. How comfortable they became with each other, almost like family or the best of friends. Living together under the same roof had changed them somehow. He was interested in what she liked, and she was interested in what he liked. They kept opened minds and enjoyed the time they shared together.

How he had almost left with Laura, and how jealous she had felt. How badly she cried when she thought he wasn‚€™t coming back, and then now grateful she was when he returned.

How they cried on each other‚€™s shoulders. Seeking comfort in each other. The flirting, the joking, and then the kissing.

She remembered how Jack had told her shortly after the coin how badly Ryan had taken it. In fact Jack explained it as more of a full blown mental breakdown. How scared he was to have her close to him, and how he distanced himself from her just for safety. The way he came to her parent‚€™s. His friendly grin and somehow fun spirit he always seemed to hold. The way he looked at other men who were interested in her. The hand holding and smiles. The time that had past since they first met‚€¶

Now here they were.

Thinking of Johnny, she sighed before brushing some of her hair back. Her heart pounded.

Just then the water stopped and moments later Ryan walked out, his hair slicked back and his smooth skin still sleek with water. Only a wrapped towel around his waist. Micki stared at him for a second, her eyes tracking down his tanned muscular body. Ryan stood there for a second before slowly walking over, his eyes looked just as scared.

Micki then stood, only inches away from him. She reached out and held his arm.

Ryan?

Ryan seemed to have color in his face, he cleared his throat before looking her directly in the eye.

Micki walked a step closer, right away Ryan stiffened and held in his breath. Micki knew he was nervous, but this time she wouldn‚€™t let him push away. The faint scent of soap filled the air, a pleasant and clean smell. Micki looked at him, not really knowing what to say.

Ryan...

Don't

Ryan whispered, but Micki held onto his arm, bringing herself as close as she could.

Ryan I love you...

She softly said before gently kissing him on the lips. The kiss was short and sweet, yet Ryan closed his eyes. When Micki drew back, she waited for any reaction before he stared at her. Raising one hand, he gently placed it on her face and slowly rubbed her skin with his thumb. Staring into her eyes he then leaned over and kissed her back. This time their mouths opened and slowly closed. Pulling back for a second, almost out of breath, Ryan's wet hair hung in front of his large brown eyes.

Are...are you sure?

Micki slowly nodded, the next thing she knew Ryan's hands came up strongly and held her by the face. Kissing her passionately, he leaned in close as both began to moan through the muffled kisses. Micki's hands went for Ryan's towel before he shook his head.

Your room...

Micki nodded, never feeling such a strong desire fill her body. Her heart pounding she felt as though she had broken out in a cold sweat. Holding onto him, the two nearly fell back on her bed as Ryan kicked the glass doors closed. Laying her on the bed, Ryan moved on top of her and began franticly kissing her neck and down towards her breasts. Micki laid there, breathing deeply as her head went from side to side. She felt as though the room was spinning.

She had to be dreaming...

Ryan's hands slowly began to lift up Micki's dress around her waist. Micki's back arched as Ryan began to undo his towel. She could tell he was nervous, his hands were shakily badly and his breathing seemed uneven. Micki felt his weight press on top of her and a dull throbbing up against her inner thigh. Ryan, who never looked so handsome before in the early morning light used his hands to brush back his hair which was still dripping wet.

He stared down at her.

Micki held onto him, her fingernails almost digging into the sides of his arms.

I love you Micki...

Micki leaned up slightly as he kissed her, laying back down she felt him move between her legs, trying to find a position. The two laid half way off the bed before Ryan moved them up. The pillows and comforter seemed to surround them as she felt him enter her. Right away Micki gasped, her entire body froze for a second as the most shattering feeling filled her. That lonely empty feeling that ached her at night whenever she thought of Ryan was now filled. Somehow between the pain and pleasure it was everything she had dreamed it would be. That empty feeling was now filled. Laying there as he moved for a second, she moaned again loudly as his hands went to her hips.

Ryan looked down at Micki, his eyes wide.

You okay?

Micki then for no reason at all suddenly began laughing, she couldn't control it. Ryan watched her for a second, not moving at all before starting to laugh himself. Micki's fingertips swept across his face.

I never thought this would happen.

Ryan smiled down at her.

I know what you mean.

Micki then looked up at him, her hand still touching the side of his face.

Never leave me okay?

As long as you made the same promise.

Smiling, Micki nodded before Ryan covered her mouth with his. Kissing her deeply, he began to slowly thrust in and out of her. Micki opened her mouth in a breathless gasp as her entire body began moving. She had never been made love to like this before. Somehow every touch and movement of Ryan inside her body was perfect. Holding onto him, she laid there as he worked between her legs, laying against her body and moving himself in and out of her quickly. His shoulder blades arched as he moved and his face had a very serious look across it. Feeling the bed move along with them, Micki's legs curved as she felt herself getting pressed deeper into the bed.

Crying out, she began moving even quicker as Ryan held onto her. Nails going into him, Ryan gritted against his teeth as he loved her as best as he could. Both were borderline exhausted and he didn't know how much longer he could pick up this pace. Thinking of this fantasy he had dreamed about for so long, it was finally happening.

He couldn't believe it.

He wasn't scared of loosing her now because he truly knew how much she loved him. Not wanting to ruin their moment, he held back on that terrible throbbing that had entered him. He couldn't stay hard much longer. Moving inside her he kept fighting to stop trying to finish. Kissing her more, he then quickly rolled over on his back. Micki laughed holding onto him and quickly switched positions. Laying on top of him, Micki's dress pooled around her waist, covering his lower half. Looking down at him she smiled and began moving slowly up and down. Tilting her head back, she shut her eyes and began to moan very loudly. Ryan meanwhile laid back watching her move, his hands going up and feeling her plump breasts. She began crying out as he held her, moving quicker and quicker her entire body arching back.

Then...

Ryan couldn't stand it any longer, he climaxed strong enough to hurt himself. Moaning loudly he laid his head back and shut his eyes. Micki seemed to finish at the exact time and cried out one last time before gasping for breath.

She stayed there still on him, finally she laid against him, her head on his bare chest. She listened to his racing heartbeat as he tried to control his breathing. Micki was covered in sweat and quickly licked her lips. Moving up she kissed him again as his arms went around her.

Sorry...

Before he could finish Micki kissed him and pulled herself off him. Pulling her dress off her head she sat completely naked beside him. Ryan looked at her, before his hands went around her thin waist. Kissing each other deeply, Micki could see he was tried.

Hold me for awhile Ryan.

Ryan kissed her forehead gently before her naked body went against his. Pulling the covers up, they snuggled together now beyond exhausted from their love making. Laying there, Micki placed her head against his chest as his fingers played with her hair.

Within the hour they fell asleep in each other's arms.

Unknown to them

They had just made a child.

13: A lifetime

Ryan woke a little after twelve in the afternoon. The entire room was lit up with the early autumn sunlight. Laying there, wrapped underneath the covers, he squinted until his eyes adjusted to the light. Right away a sudden overwhelming feeling filled him, he blinked and then looked over.

Micki slept peacefully in his arms.

Feeling all his muscles relax at once, he stared at her for a very long time.

He couldn't believe it.

Thinking back at when he held her lifeless body after the coin, Ryan felt a love that seemed almost dangerous for her. Gently brushing some of her red hair away from her face, he leaned down and kissed her cheek. Slowly he sat up, laying her down slowly and with love without her waking. Standing up, he pulled the covers up for her and crept out of the room. Quickly grabbing a pair of jeans he began dressing. Within a few minutes he had his coat on and was in the middle of trying to find the car keys. Bending over, he reached underneath his bed and took out two full boxes of his comic collection. Sitting on the edge of his bed his fingers scrolled quickly through the plastic covered comics before pulling out three. Shoving the boxes back under his bed he stared at the comics and sighed.

Smiling he took them and wrote a quick little note on a memo pad and crept back into Micki's bedroom where she still slept.

Placing the note beside her, he stared at her for another moment and couldn't help but smile. Turning he went down the stairs, trying not to make much noise as Jack slept down below. Getting into the car he started for downtown.
_____________________________________________________________________________

I never thought I would see the day!

Larry from the comic store said as he scanned over the three comics carefully in the back room with Ryan. Ryan stood back, hands stuffed in his pockets.

I had a dealer a couple years back tell me those three can get me fifteen grand.

Larry turned slightly smiling.

He was right.

Right away Ryan's eyes lit up. These comics had been his life, bought for him at the old five and dime store down the street from his house. Back when things were okay in his family...back when Jimmy was alive.

These comics had been some sort of an escape for him, and even though he was told over and over again what a waste they were, he still cared for them as his collection grew. A few past girlfriends of his back in college teased him for it, but he never let it bother him.

In fact right before dropping out, he knew if worst came to worst and he couldn't find a good job he would have to give in and sell them for support. He had a few others tucked away that he thought might even be worth more. But those he always kept safe...in case of the future, in case he really needed it.

But it was hard to part with them...they had been his brother's.

A half an hour later Larry handed Ryan an envelope with all the unmarked bills and a slip for the bank. Ryan had never held this much money on him before and seemed amazed as he kept counting it before leaving. Larry told him to get that money in the bank right away before he got mugged.

But Ryan had other plans.
___________________________________________________________________________

Standing in the small jewelry store that Micki often looked in whenever they were shopping in the city, Ryan felt his heart pound as he looked over the glassed in cases. He had no idea what he was doing, he knew it was crazy.

One time together and this? Would it scare her away? Would she laugh and say no? Would this ruin everything?

But after this morning he knew for sure Micki was the one. He loved her and knew he couldn't take it if he lost her again. He was going to prove to her that they could make a life work. That he could be a better husband then that jerk Lloyd and give her a happy and stable life.

He knew he didn't have Lloyd's money, nor could give her the things her old life style was used to...but still, he would work until he could. He would sell all his comics if it came to that. He had grown to love this place, even though all the pain.

Even if they did collect all the objects, he planned on staying. It made good enough money, and seemed more like home then any other place. Ryan didn't care about being a famous artist, or escaping his past.

He had found happiness here and he had found Micki.

He would ask her if she wanted to stay with him.

He could very well see them spending the rest of their life's together. Feeling as though the room was spinning, Ryan finally saw it. The diamond glittering underneath the tiny spotlight. It was the ring Micki had once looked at and fussed over how beautiful it was. Ryan remembered...

A sales woman with a friendly smile walked over.

May I help you?

Ryan smiled back, feeling excited and nervous at the same time.

Yes, in fact I think you can.
____________________________________________________________________________

An hour later Ryan had finally came home. Pulling into the garage he took his bags inside and felt the heater going. Walking in he saw Jack sitting at his desk enjoying a cup of tea.

Ryan!

Ryan smiled walking over and setting down his bags, right away he looked up at the stairs and lowered his voice.

Is Micki still asleep?

Jack nodded folding down his newspaper.

Last time I checked, I was just upstairs about ten minutes ago fixing the tea.

Ryan smiled before taking a seat next to Jack, his eyes lit up and excited. Right away Jack noticed.

What is it Ryan?

Ryan kept smiling.

Your not gonna believe it....

Jack then glanced up at the stairs before smiling back at Ryan.

I think I might.
____________________________________________________________________________

You don't think I'm rushing things...do you Jack?

Ryan asked after he finished telling Jack what he planned to do. Jack listened before smiling and resting his hand on Ryan's shoulder.

Ryan...I think of Micki and you as my own children now, I think this was something that should of happened a very long time ago.

Ryan grinned before Jack began to laugh.
_____________________________________________________________________________

Micki woke a half an hour later. It was the afternoon now and she had overslept. Feeling still a little groggy from the heavy sleep, she never felt so refreshed before in her entire life as she laid there.

Ryan...

She thought before looking at the empty side of the bed. She then saw the note.

Micki,

Went out for a little while. Be back later
Love - Ryan

Micki smiled at the note and then looked down at how he signed it.

Love

Sitting up, she reached for her dress and pulled it over her head. She had no idea what was going to happen next. Would they talk about it? Would this change anything? What were they now? A million questions rushed through her head as she stood up and opened her bedroom doors.

She froze.

The kitchen table was covered in a lace tablecloth and covered with roses and lit candles. Ryan stepped forward smiling. Micki stood against the doorway, she could almost cry. Looking at Ryan her heart pounded.

She loved this man.

That's when he got down on one knee as he came forward to Micki. Right away she stood back stunned. This couldn't be happening. Feeling tears fill her eyes she gasped as Ryan kept smiling before taking a tiny box from his pocket.

I know this is fast...but I knew I loved you the moment I laid eyes on you Micki. I can't give you the life your parents gave you...but I promise I'll make you happy, and you won't ever have to face anything alone. I'll never let anything happen to you Micki...

Micki thought she was going to faint as he opened the box. Right away she cried out looking at the ring.

Ryan it's gorgeous!

Ryan grinned.

Is that a yes?

Micki stood there for a second, everything was happening so fast. She wanted to ask Ryan how he afforded this and when did it get it? She wanted to ask him if he was thinking right, if they were taking too big of a chance. She wanted to ask so many things but looking deep into his wide brown eyes she knew her answer. She didn't know how they were going to do this, but she was positive she wanted to do it with him.

Crying with joy she began to laugh.

Yes!

Ryan started laughing himself as he slowly slipped the ring on her finger. It seemed perfect. Standing, he brought her in close and looked at her.

Micki will you marry me?

Micki kept crying as she looked up at him.

Yes Ryan, I will.

That's when they kissed and held each other. Jack downstairs sat back listening and smiling. He knew Micki and Ryan were meant for each other. It just took awhile for them to figure it out. Faith had made them meet, and faith made them drawn together. Now they faced a lifetime of having the luckiest gift of all.

Love.
____________________________________________________________________________

After rushing downstairs, nearly falling down the stairs together they told Jack the good news. Breaking open a bottle of wine they toasted and Jack hugged them. They stood together drinking as Ryan and Micki had their arms around each other. Jack told them that this opened a new chapter in the life they faced here.

Maybe things were now turning for the good.

Micki stared deeply into Ryan's eyes and knew Jack was right.

That's when Johnny swung by. The bell rang as he came in, dressed in his leather bike jacket.

Hey gang, decided to stop by and see what was going...

He stopped and saw Jack, Ryan, and Micki standing together with glasses of wine. Ryan's arm around Micki's. Looking at them he let out a little nervous laugh.

So, what's going on? Did I miss something?

Micki smiled too overjoyed to keep it in. She held up her hand showing the ring.

Ryan and I are engaged!

Johnny looked stunned.

Engaged?

Ryan right away knew how Johnny felt, Micki was an amazing woman. Still though, he held onto Micki tightly. Johnny made a small somewhat shocked smile.

Wow....I didn't even know you guys were, well you know...

His words trailed off before Jack cleared his throat.

Care for a glass of wine Johnny?

Johnny stared at Ryan and Micki for a long time before nodding.

Yeah sure, what the hell.

The four of them stood together after that drinking. Johnny stared at Ryan before shaking his hand.

Your a lucky guy...

Ryan thanked him before Micki kissed his cheek.

And I'm a lucky girl.

Shortly after that Johnny made some excuse that he had to leave. Micki hugged him and thanked him for stopping by. Jack and Ryan cleaned up before Jack decided to settle downstairs and have his dinner.

Ryan and Micki went upstairs.

As Ryan cleaned, he kept glancing over at Micki smiling. She laid on his bunk holding her hand up and looking at the ring.

Are you going to call your parents?

Micki looked up, almost in a dazed yet joyful state.

Their in Los Angeles for the week...I plan on telling them the second they come home.

Your father won't kill me, will he?

Ryan stood up and walked over to Ryan as he washed the last of the dishes. Her arms went around his waist as she pressed her body up against him.

I don't care what my father does, as long as I'm with you...

Ryan laughed his hands still in the sink. Micki's meanwhile began going down into Ryan's jeans. Letting out a nervous laugh he stood there as Micki kissed his shoulder.

Anyways, this is our life...not there's.

So you really wanna be married to me? The poor wanna be artist store keeper?

As long as you don't mind being married to a poor store keeper who almost married some rich jerk before?

Ryan laughed and then remembered when they first met. They were trying to get the cursed pen when Micki cried out...

All I ever wanted was to get married and start a family!

Ryan stiffened as Micki's hands began working down. Turning, he grabbed her and began roughly kissing her. The two began to franticly begin to undress each other. Knocking into kitchen chairs, they finally fell back on Ryan's bunk.

Laughing as they kissed, Micki held onto Ryan as tightly as she could.

Micki Dallion

Micki thought in the back of her mind as she began undoing Ryan's belt.

At that exact moment Jack began reading a letter about a small village in France.

14: The darkness

Micki dreamed she was standing in front of the store again. The sun was setting and leafs blew around with a crisp autumn breeze. Micki stood there starring at the store before a hand tapped her on the shoulder. Turning she saw the boy from her last dream, standing there with his hands stuffed in his pockets. Beside him another teenage boy stood. His hair so dark it almost looked black. His eyes were small and dark and his features were striking. He wore jeans and a football jacket. The two boys stared at Micki before she opened her mouth to ask what they wanted...

Then....

She woke up.

Sitting up in bed, she saw it was still dark out. Glancing at the alarm she saw it was nearly three. Taking a second to let her eyes adjust to the dark, she saw Ryan sleeping beside her. Smiling, right away all her emotions rushed through her at once.

Ryan was really there.

Glancing down at her finger, she saw the beautiful ring.

They were really engaged.

The words struck hard inside Micki as she stared down at it. Within just a day she had finally let her emotions run wild and sleep with Ryan after all this time. Then just hours later he proposed to her.

Were they not thinking? Things seemed to be going so fast Micki felt sick. She knew by the end of the week her family would know about the engagement. She had no idea what her father would say...would he disown her?

Most likely.

Feeling chills rush down her body she looked at Ryan.

Was this really what she wanted? Was this really what she wanted out of a future.

Looking down at him in the darkness of the room she faintly smiled. Ryan slept beside her shirtless. The rest of his clothes thrown on his bunk just outside along with hers. Shortly before they fell asleep they moved in here since it was warmer. Micki laid naked underneath the covers and moved up beside Ryan. She watched his chest slowly rise and fall as she slept.

Laying her head on his chest and listening to his heartbeat she stared at her ring which seemed to sparkle in the dark. She knew she hadn't ever felt so happy before in her entire life.

This was what she was choosing, she knew for a fact it would always just me her and Ryan, no matter what.

Shutting her eyes she drifted off to sleep again.
___________________________________________________________________________

Ryan at that exact moment was dreaming himself.

He was downstairs in the darkness of the vault. A terrible draft was blowing through the basement. Looking around at all the haunted objects that surrounded him, he thought he heard what sounded like a coin drop.

Ryan froze.

The coin...the coin...

His eyes widened.

They hadn't recovered the coin, it wasn't down here. It was downtown underneath the rubble of the parking-lot and store.

It was still down there...

Panic filled his heart thinking of Micki, he had to get to her.

He tried running for the doors but they slammed shut. Ryan pounded his fists against the metal doors.

Ryan!

He heard Micki's helpless voice cry from the other side.

Ryan please help me!

Ryan pounded on the doors, he had to get to her.

MICKI! MICKI WAIT!

Ryan then snapped awake. His eyes were huge as they looked around, his heart skipped a beat. Laying there as cold sweat rolled down his body, he felt Micki laying on him. Glancing down he saw her beautiful fire red hair, and then her smooth perfect body. Right away a weight replaced his heart. Thinking of the nightmare he tried to shake it off.

He hadn't had one of those nightmares in months.

Looking down at Micki he felt himself start to go hard. Looking at her in the darkness, he couldn't believe it.

She had said yes.

Looking down at her, so much love filled his heart he thought it would burst. He knew he would never let anything ever happen to her, ever again.

He reached down and put his arms around her body, he squeezed her. Micki faintly opened her eyes, half asleep. Raising her head she looked at him and smiled.

Hey...

Hi.

Can't sleep?

Naw, bad dreams...

About what?

Just stupid stuff.

I hope nothing about marriage?

Ryan smiled looking at her, his voice low.

No, of course not...

He took her hand and gentle kissed it. She rested her chin on his chest, looking up at him.

I've been having a share of strange dreams myself...

That so?

Yeah, maybe it's because things are really changing?

Ryan smiled back at her.

I hope...

Do you...do you really think we might get them all back one day Ryan?

Ryan thought for a second his hands laced with hers.

Maybe...

Micki smiled at him before she felt him against her legs. Right away she looked down, a sexy sly smile raising on her lips.

My Ryan...what's that?

Ryan started to softly laugh.

Something that woke up...maybe you can help me put it back to sleep?

Micki laughed before rolling over with him, right away her hands grabbed for his shoulders as she passionately began kissing him. He laid on top of her, holding her by the sides as he entered her. Micki began to moan as she held onto him. He pumped into her while their mouths opened and closed on each other. Micki snapped her eyes shut as she moved with him, trying to hold back from crying.
___________________________________________________________________________

The next morning, Micki and Ryan woke up early. Both went to the upstairs bathroom and locked the door. It was still early and birds sang outside.

Starting the shower, warm steamed water rushed down. Kissing each other, they both stepped inside. Right away Micki's hair was soaked and slicked back behind her. Ryan held onto her, kissing her shoulders as he worked down. Micki giggled, nuzzling his face as they stood underneath the water.

After that they quickly dressed and met Jack for coffee shortly afterwards. They sat together downstairs. Jack sat in his favorite chair by his desk while Micki and Ryan shared the couch.

Jack had just finished telling them about the letter.

How long will you be gone?

Jack shurgged.

A week, maybe ten days.

Ryan nodded as Micki's arms went around him. The heat was working and inside it seemed cozy and safe.

We'll mind things while your gone.

Jack nodded before pointing at his desk.

I made a list of some mailers that replied, ones just outside of town. I say take it easy and don't get into anything too serious until I get back, you know deserve a break together.

Ryan looked over at Micki smiling before kissing her cheek.

You know...I think he may be right.
____________________________________________________________________________

The next morning Ryan drove Jack to the airport.

Micki decided to go shopping since Thanksgiving was only a week away. She planned on Jack returning from France and the three of them spending the holiday together. She knew by then her family wouldn't be talking to her.

Rolling her eyes she decided to focus on the good. She was happy and wanted to enjoy the fact she was engaged to the man she loved. The future seemed scary, but knowing that Ryan would be by her side she didn't seem scared.

Slipping on her coat, she saw Ryan zipping up his jacket as well.

Coming with?

Ryan today looked tried, almost exhausted. Micki planned on buying a few bottles of wine and spending their week alone making love and catching up on everything she had wanted to say and do to him since earlier last year. Blushing Micki smiled.

Ryan shook his head before tossing her the keys.

I'm heading up to the cemetery for about an hour...I'll be back by the time you come home.

Cemetery?

Ryan nodded before looking down.

Yeah...today is Jimmy's day.

Micki fight away felt a pang of guilt, she hated to see Ryan in so much pain.

Do...do you want me to come with?

Ryan looked up, his eyes big and kind.

No thanks...I rather be alone if you don't mind. I wanna tell him all about you...

Ryan leaned over and softly kissed Micki, their foreheads touched as he smiled at her, breathing deeply.

You want the car?

Ryan shook his head.

I rather walk, need to get some thinking done.

Ryan?

Yeah?

Your happy right?

Ryan took Micki's face in his hands and deeply kissed her.

I've never been so happy before in my life...

A few minutes later they went their own ways.

Micki drove to the shopping center and seemed in a much better mood. It was a beautiful autumn and the holiday was coming up. Ryan was with her now, and for the first time in awhile...she felt safe.

Little did she know a darkness was coming...

Coming for Ryan.


15: Love

A few hours later Micki sat in the steaming hot water of the bathtub upstairs and couldn't seem to shake the oddness that hung in the air. Two hours ago Micki was in the middle of talking with Johnny when they received the letter from Jack in France. He wanted Micki and him to join him dealing with a certain book that he had read about. In the letter Jack's words seemed worried and fearful. She knew it had to be important if he needed them with him.

As Jack had wrote and asked them, Micki followed his directions and called ahead to the airlines to see if there were any flights in the next forty eight hours to France. Johnny meanwhile stood back, loading Micki's bags in the kitchen while listening. Within a half an hour she had booked Ryan and her in the morning to go at 7 AM. After she got off the phone Johnny seemed uneasy.

Do you think something might be wrong?

Micki shrugged before sitting down at the table. She had been feeling so happy lately with Ryan she didn't think anything could really upset her.

I'm sure it's nothing...just a lead Jack needs help with.

Micki smiled up at Johnny showing that she wasn't worried at all. With Ryan now at her side she really didn't feel that fearful about anything anymore. He now promised her that he would never leave her. They now faced things together now.

Thinking back that time with the quilt, her arms seemed to break up into goosebumps. Taking her cup of half finished coffee she just laughed before asking Johnny if he wouldn't mind watching the place while they were gone.

How long you think?

Five days tops, I'm sure we'll be back before the holiday.

Okay, whatever. My need a place to crash anyways...my apartment's heat got shut off.

Micki gently shook her head still laughing. She wasn't making fun of Johnny, but somehow just the casual way he spoke of his troubles never seemed to amuse her, he sure wasn't Ryan for sure.

Johnny just smiled back at her before throwing out the last of the brown paper bags.

Yeah real funny...

Oh please...anyways I wanted to invite you over for Thanksgiving...I'm cooking dinner.

Johnny smiled.

Oh yeah?

Micki nodded before she heard the front door open. Ears picking up she knew it was Ryan. Johnny looked in the same direction before tugging on his leather jacket.

I need to hit the road, listen leave the keys under the map and I'll be here tomorrow around noon okay?

Sure, we're leaving early so just close the shop until the weekend...won't matter really.

Okay sure.

And if you get any calls or mailers wait until we...

Okay Micki I got ya.

Johnny smiled before heading for the stairs, just then he nearly bumped into Ryan who seemed to have a worried and sad look in his eyes.

Whoa, sorry Ryan.

Ryan looked a little suspired to see Johnny but moved past him, almost in a hurry.

Yeah sure Johnny...bye.

Bye guys, good luck!

Johnny was then down the stairs. Ryan looked over at Micki before she stood up. She was glad to see him but knew something was wrong.

Ryan...what's wrong?

Ryan ignored her question before motioning with his hand in Johnny's direction down the stairs. Seconds later they heard the door downstairs close.

What's up with Johnny?

Micki reached across the table and showed Ryan the letter.

Read this...it's from Jack.

Ryan took the letter and began to read. A minute later his lowered it and looked at Micki with concern eyes.

You think something might be wrong?

I don't know...I think he just wants some extra help. I called ahead and we're leaving in the morning...

What?!

Micki gave a half uneasy smile towards Ryan. She knew something was bothering him. Turning she headed to the room. Ryan followed. Going in Micki grabbed her suitcase and decided to start packing.

That's when Ryan stopped in the doorway. The letter hung from his hand limp at his side. Leaning against the doorway he stared at Micki and couldn't felt but feel his entire world to start settling before him. Just an hour or so ago everything had changed for him.

He had run into his mother.

It had been years, in fact...since Jimmy.

The entire ride home Ryan couldn't believe it. They spent most of the afternoon talking, she wanted to know so much about Ryan and catch up on his life. Ryan meanwhile felt confused and almost scared about the entire thing. For years he had lived with the guilt of what happened. Right after Jimmy she left, still blaming him for the accident.

And so didn't his father. All those years of abuse and moving around.

So many painful memories.

His life was going perfectly fine until this happened. He was with Micki now and they were going to get married. He never felt so happy before in his entire life.

He had finally met his soulmate.

Then this...

I...I ran into my mom today.

Micki froze and turned, her mouth opened yet no words came out.

What?

Ryan nodded, really not showing any emotion.

At the cemetery while I was visiting my brother...all this time and bang she's there.

Ryan...

Ryan shook his head, he almost felt embarrassed by this. He didn't want to really show the emotion he was feeling in front of Micki. All these years he grew up thinking his own mother hated him.

Now?

He explained to Micki then about their afternoon and how weird it felt. He told her about them getting coffee and talking. He told her that he had been working at the store after Lewis died with Micki and was the happiest he had been in a long time. He told her about Micki and him getting engaged and very little details on their life at the store.

She knew nothing about the store and shrugged on the fact that Lewis had died. She wasn't very close to him when she was married to his father. She did know of Micki though, having seen her a few times when she was a baby. She found it lovely that Ryan and her had met and now were planning on getting married. She spoke highly of Micki's parents and told Ryan she was thrilled to hear he was settling down with such a lady.

Ryan asked about her life and it was very boring. After she had left them she moved a few states over and became a teacher in a small town. She still lived there and loved working with the children.

She then explained about how she heard about Ryan after his father's death. She wanted once and for all to say she was sorry and try to be the mother he never had.

She wanted to meet Micki right away.

When Ryan finished his story he sighed.

I don't know...just seems funny after all this time. She doesn't even feel like my mother.

Micki's heart broke for Ryan but walking up to him in the middle of putting things in her suitcase, she placed her hands on his face and leaned in to kiss him.

They kissed gently before she kissed his forehead.

Call her...tell her we need a lift to the airport.

Micki...

No, it's a good start. If you still feel funny after we come back from the trip...maybe you can give her a chance and have dinner with her or something.

I don't know...

Don't you regret the lost time with your father?

Ryan met with her eyes before nodding. Kissing her back he sighed.

Tomorrow huh?

Micki smiled before kissing him again.

Call her.
___________________________________________________________________________

An hour later Micki had finished packing for the two of them. Ryan had also gotten off the phone with his mother who was more then happy to drive them in the morning. She told Ryan that she couldn't wait to meet Micki and would be at the store at six.

Micki then decided to take a bath while Ryan fixed up dinner.

Now she sat finishing up her bath. Laying back she rested her head and shut her eyes.

She hadn't been to France in years, the last time was to Paris with her mother.

She remembered what Jack had said about the small village and the strange things happening there.

Just then the door opened, Ryan stood there in his T-shirt and jeans. A beer bottle in his hands. Looking at Micki he smiled.

Micki looked up and smiled back.

Hey...

Hi.

Ryan slowly walked over before sitting on the edge of the tub. Looking down at her, Ryan kept smiling before Micki reached up and touched his arm.

You okay?

Yeah...

Micki smiled before she decided to get up and dry off. Wrapping the towel around her, Ryan and her walked out together. Turning in the kitchen Micki couldn't help but kiss him again.

She didn't know why she was feeling like this, but she couldn't help but wanting to hold onto him with all her might. Something seemed odd and strange in the air. She didn't know if it was him being worried and unsettled by meeting up with his mother, or the letter from France.

Kissing her back, Micki knew they had an early morning ahead for them. Leading him into the bedroom they slept side by side, his arms wrapped around her.

That entire night the moon cut through the curtains of the bedroom. Washing over the two of them as they slept.

In the faint distance a crow began to cry.
___________________________________________________________________________

The next morning they woke early and dressed for the crisp weather outside. Looking out the window at the street below, Micki saw the sun would be coming up soon. Leafs blowing around on the sidewalks, the outside seemed to have a strange chilling look to it.

Turning she watched Ryan carry their suitcases down the stairs. Following behind, Micki flicked off the lights as they left.

Pausing for a second at the stairs Micki looked around and then at Ryan.

Something didn't seem right.

As if it would never be like this again ever again.

Walking down the stairs as she pulled her gloves on, Micki felt another horrible chill.

Outside Ryan's mother's car was waiting.

Micki was impressed with how kind and sweet she was. She saw Ryan took after her a lot, yet could see many years of pain behind her faint eyes.

They hugged and she introduced herself. She remarked on how pretty Micki's ring was and they talked the entire ride there. Ryan meanwhile stayed silent in the back seat.

Once they got to the airport Ryan brought the luggage in before Micki saw they needed a moment alone. Going to check in the tickets she left them alone.

When she returned Ryan's mother left.

You okay?

Yeah...

Ryan smiled to her as they went to wait in line.
___________________________________________________________________________

I'm sure she was just a sick little girl Ryan, don't let it bother you.

Ryan found their seat down the ail of the plane as passengers began to get seated before takeoff.

Yeah sure...

Micki laughed as they sat down.

Don't go...come on you can't be serious!

Ryan settled down in his seat before taking his coat off. Micki began to work off hers.

Yeah I guess...but if the plane crashes we'll know.

Micki laughed again as Ryan took their coats and stored them above.
___________________________________________________________________________

An hour into the flight Micki's head rested on Ryan's shoulder. Sleeping, she hadn't gotten much sleep the night before hand. It seemed as though every second she would snap awake and reach over and feel Ryan's chest slowly raising and falling.

For some strange reason she kept checking if he was still breathing.

Now dead asleep the words of the little girl in the line kept repeating in her mind.

Don't Go...

Ryan meanwhile sat back reading a magazine. Glancing down at Micki he couldn't help but smile.

The little girl had kind of freaked him out, but looking down at her...everything else didn't really seem to matter.

Not even this mother.

Smiling he belt his head down a little and kissed the top of her head.

A few rows away an older married couple sat together. The wife sighed watching this young man a few seats away kiss his wife or girlfriend so lovely on her head as she slept.

Looking over at her husband who seemed head deep in the morning paper she sighed again.

If only love was really like that.


16: Pray for me

After everything had happened almost three days later as Micki was now back in America with Jack and Johnny. The three of them walking across the long parking-lot towards the car. They had just said their last goodbyes to Mrs. Dallion.

The three of them silently walked back together as the overcast dark November skies loomed over them. It was a breezy cold day and Micki had her coat buttoned all the way up along with her scarf. Her head was now, watching her boots click against the pavement. She knew her knees would buckle if she thought of anything else. Instead she watched the rhythm of her feet walk herself forward. Johnny happened to notice the blank expression of Micki's face. Slightly he put his arm around her and guided her to the car.

Minutes later they were inside the car. Jack put the heat on as Micki sat in the back with Johnny. Their luggage would be mailed to the store.

Micki sat there for a second, trying her best to gain control before her eyes glanced down at her sparking diamond ring. That's when she couldn't be strong anymore...that's when she couldn't pretend that it was a gift from God, or a sign for a second chance for Ryan. The shock had stunned her through the last 24 hours but now reality finally sunk in. A terrible awful empty feeling filled her heart before she let out a helpless cry.

Breaking down completely Micki's face crumpled before she began crying. Tears rolled down her face as she leaned forward, hands tightly laced together as she rocked back and forth and shuttered all over. Her cries filled the car before Johnny's arms wrapped around her. Bringing her in, he held her as tight as he could and tried his best to sooth her. Jack sat in the front seat, turning slightly and watching. His eyes were full of pity and lost. Johnny looked up worried as Micki's muffled cries buried against his leather jacket.

Jack?

Jack simply shook his head.

Let's get her home.

Jack turned back before starting the engine and driving away. Johnny the entire time held Micki as she cried against him.

They now could stop pretending. They tried to look at it as a second chance, a fresh start with now terrible memories of his past taken away. A new life with his mother and to feel the love a child could only feel. The guilt of his brother, and the things he was helpless to prevent in the village gone.

But it wasn't him...

It was Asteroth.

That name would forever haunt Micki.

It was pure evil that had done this. Pure evil that Micki and him had been fighting all this time.

It wanted revenge...and it took Ryan.

Micki would forever blame herself for the events that followed once they landed four days ago. She would blame herself for not taking Chris' words more serious.

Don't go...

Why didn't they listen? She knew it had bothered him...why had she brought him along?

She knew things weren't right the second they landed and learned of Jack being in the hospital. She knew they should of listened to Sister Adele...she knew things were wrong.

Micki remembered walking down the small cobbled stoned streets with Ryan, scared and confused. She was worried about Jack and wanted him moved to an American hospital. Ryan explained they had to wait until Jack came out of shock. Both knew Sister Adele was scared...

But why not them?

Micki would often ask herself this, most of all in the following months. Everything happened to quickly...

On their way to the inn, to look over Jack's files horrible screams filled the air. Everyone began running in one direction towards the streams...Micki and Ryan went as well.

She remembered that horrible man pointing at Ryan in the crowd, both looking at the book that was underneath his arm. The water boiled, and the wind picked up with force. Moments later the crowd began to scream and run in different directions in panic. The man ran off and Micki and Ryan chased after him.

Micki didn't know why, she knew they shouldn't have after seeing that horrible blank look in that monster's eyes as he pointed to Ryan. She knew it was a mistake to even try and catch him.

Both were running through the village as fast as they could. Ryan had picked up speed and disappeared out of sights. Micki tried to catch up but her boots were slowing her down.

Yelling after him she couldn't see him. Looking around the side streets she had no idea where he went.

Ryan!

She stopped, feeling a very uneasy and awful feeling inside of her. She looked around but very street was deserted. Running forward she hoped he had chased him on the other side of town and she could catch him.

Her eyes searched for him, scared out of her mind.
___________________________________________________________________________

Nearly an hour later Micki's feet ached and she had looked everywhere. She had no idea where Ryan went and began making her way back to the inn. She prayed he was there and all right. She cursed herself for splitting up with him.

That's when she saw him, simply walking towards the town center...his eyes blank and dark.

He didn't look right, almost as if he was sleeping with his eyes open. Micki ran over, relief rushing through her.

Running over she grabbed onto him, their eyes locked.

Right away Micki knew something was wrong.

Are you all right?

Yeah...I tried to get the book but he got away...

Ryan simply pushed past her and began walking forward. Micki caught up with him and saw blood in Ryan's hair.

She gently touched it with her fingertips.

I think we should let the doctor take a look...

Ryan turned towards her.

No...

His voice lowered as his arm went around the small of her back and lead her through the center.

I'm fine...he knocked me out for a moment but I'm okay.

A moment? Ryan you have been gone for almost an hour...

Ryan looked, uneasy and blank.

Micki...I'm all right, he hit me harder then I thought okay?

Micki's hand went around Ryan's arm, she couldn't seem to put her finger on what was wrong. Something seemed strange about this...and the way Ryan was acting.

Okay...well should we check on Jack?

That would be fine...

That's when he stopped.

Ryan?

He stared at the church. Micki went to him and saw nothing but blank hate in his eyes as he looked forward.

I have to see Sister Adele first.

Micki held onto Ryan, looking at him with concerned eyes. Her hands touched the back of his head as he stared forward.

Yeah but after we see Jack...

Ryan wouldn't stop looking at it. Micki started to walk him away before kissing his cheek. Ryan didn't seem to notice at all. As they walked away he eyed the church.
___________________________________________________________________________

After visiting Jack again and seeing no change they went back to the inn. They spent most of the afternoon looking through Jack's papers about the cursed book.

The sun went down quickly over the village and a chill filled the air. Street lamps were lit below.

Ryan simply stood at the window and stared out. He had been for most of the day. Micki now had her boots kicked off and laid across the bed finishing reading out loud the articles about the book.

Reading them she felt uneasy. Looking up she saw he hadn't even listened to what she had said.

Ryan?

He didn't turn.

Are we working together on this or what?

For the first time ever Micki felt alone on this. For couple of years they had been together they faced everything side by side. She knew something was wrong.

You're wasting your time with that junk...I need to see Sister Adele.

Micki didn't like the flat sound of his voice, she pretended not to have heard him.

Hey...listen we know what Asteroth looks like, maybe something in here might tell us where he's hiding?

I need to find that nun

He stared out at the church.

Micki sat up on the bed.

Ryan their not letting anybody near the sister right now.

Ryan then turned, his eyes almost black in the dim light of the room.

I'm not anybody.

That's when he walked over her beside the bed. He stared down at her like he had never done before. Micki sat up, among the scattered pieces of paper and suddenly felt scared. That's when his hands forcefully tore open her blouse. Micki jumped a little before Ryan's breathing grew heavy. Moments later he laid herself back as he laid on top of her. He forcefully began kissing her and making her snap her eyes shut. Usually Ryan's lovemaking as slow and passionate, full of love and tenderness. This time there was a scary exciting force inside of him. He tore at her clothes and made her begin to moan. They never moved this quick before...

Ryan stop...

But he began working up her skirt.

And for a brief moment...Micki thought she saw Ryan's eyes flicker.
___________________________________________________________________________

Almost ten minuites later Micki laid exposed and covered in sweat from their frenzy fit of love making. Never before had it been like that with him. Since the two of them had begun sleeping together Micki got such a wonderful feeling of love so strong it seemed dangerous whenever he touched or kissed her. He was gentle and soft...

Just now it had been different, so different Micki had no idea if they had just had sex or if she had indeed been raped by the love of her life. Somewhere far in the back of Micki's mind she remembered a nightmare she had one night back when she was slowly falling in love with him.

Back when she would toss and turn at night thinking of what it would be like to be with him.

This time both came at the same time...but Micki instead of crying out they screamed. A blood soaked and terrible scream...a scream that floated across the night and Asteroth grinned in the darkness of his tomb.

Ryan now buckled his belt before throwing his coat on.

He eyed Micki for a second before leaving and slamming the door.

Ryan!

Ryan shot up, but knew by the time she got something on she wouldn't be able to catch up with him. Sitting there on the verge of tears she had no idea what was going on.

She needed to talk to someone.

Johnny...

Ryan all this time had protected her...now it didn't seem as though he was there anyone. The thing she had just let have her...wasn't Ryan...or a man.

She felt chills go up her body.

From that point onward...Ryan was lost.

Hours later as he slowly began coming back to himself, he knew of the terrible things he had done.

He had done something awful to Micki...and had killed the sister. He was so scared and confused. One second ago he was down an ally and found the book. He was in the middle of yelling for Micki when something jumped out and knocked him out.

Now he woke up scared and alone.

He begged for Jack to wake up.

But he didn't.
___________________________________________________________________________

The next time she would see Ryan would be the next night.

In the tomb with Jack and Johnny. Lighting flashing as the wind screamed around them. The little girl laying there helpless and Asteroth raising the dagger.

Micki remembered feeling frozen and screaming as Ryan threw himself on top of the little girl as the dagger plunged down into his back. The once evil thing that had taken over Ryan died as his eyes flashed as his face crumpled in pain.

Then...for a brief moment...

She saw the real Ryan.

As he died he looked down at the scared little girl.

Pray for me...

That's when he collapsed.

The next time Micki would see him, he was just a little boy.
___________________________________________________________________________

I have a cousin named Micki...she has read hair like you.

Micki cried as she looked down at the small boy...

It was Ryan.
___________________________________________________________________________

Now as reality hit, Ryan was back home with his mother. Jack had taken her aside after the shock had set in and nearly a half an hour returned as Mrs. Dallion cried tears of joy.

Johnny and Micki had waited in one of the lobbies as Ryan made paper airplanes and ran around. He seemed so full of life...so happy.

Johnny and Micki simply watched him.

Micki's hands began to shake before Johnny's went over hers.

It's okay...

I can't...I can't believe that's him...

She watched the little boy, not being able to take in the fact this once...just hours ago had been the man she had loved.

Once everything was said and done Mrs. Dallion took him away. Micki waved once more before feeling everything inside her die.

It wasn't fair.

Micki now cried, she wouldn't accept what had happened...she couldn't. She kept trying to tell herself as she watched him that it was meant to be. That this was what he would of wanted...a second chance with his mother.

No...

He wouldn't...he would of wanted to be his normal self and go back to Micki. They loved each other, they faced things together...they took care of eachother.

Now...

He was just a little boy.

It seemed like a cruel trick God had played on her. Just when she was her happiest...when Ryan and her had finally found each other and looked forward to their future...he was taken away.

Why didn't she do anything? Why couldn't it have been her? She just couldn't understand why she was left behind...and alone.

Once they got back, the store seemed empty and dark. As Johnny helped her in Micki knew that horrible feeling she had gotten when Ryan and her were about to leave.

Something inside her knew Ryan would never step foot inside her again.

Jack said something about making Micki some tea. Johnny and her walked together behind him and up the stairs. Micki almost in a trance drifted to Ryan's cot that he mostly now used to throw junk on. She sat down, around his comics and clothes.

That's when she lowered her head and began to weep.

Johnny dragged a chair over and sat beside her. Minutes later Jack came with the tea and told Micki it would help her sleep. As tears rolled down Micki's face she cried.

This had to be some horrible nightmare...it just had to be.

Ryan couldn't be gone.

She wanted to see him and have him tell her everything was going to be okay.

Johnny rubbed her back as she slowly nodded off. Johnny then carried her to her bed and laid her down. Pulling the covers up he sighed before shutting the doors behind him.

Jack sat at the table.

You think she's going to be okay?

Jack looked up.

She's in shock...it isn't easy loosing the person you love the most...anyway shape or form.

Yeah...tell me about it.

Johnny met Jack's eyes before he sat down across from him.

I just can't believe it...

Jack sighed.

Ryan gave up a lot to save that girl...I think God did what was best.

But Micki...

In time Micki will see, she's just hurting...Ryan and her...well they were special...time heals everything Johnny.

I'm not so sure about that.

I loved Ryan like a son...I'm hurting as well, but it's better then him being killed, at least he's someplace peaceful and happy now...if we really did love him...we could see that.

Johnny suddenly felt very depressed. Sighing he sat back and decided he would spend the night. He wanted to be there for Micki when she woke up.

All the while Micki slept in her big empty bed, dreaming of the first night she met Ryan. The way he grinned at her from behind the counter and how he had laughed knowing his cousin was a girl.

And unaware to her...

She was pregrant.


17: Taken away

One month later
_____________________________________________________________________________

Micki?

Micki sat Indian style on the hardwood floor of the upstairs kitchen with Johnny. The two were beyond exhausted after recovering the cursed dagger and had decided on relaxing for the rest of the night. Coming back to the store which now seemed so empty and different, Micki decided her mind was racing too fast to really get a good night's sleep. Putting on a pot of tea she mumbled something about picking up.

Jack meanwhile had eyed Johnny with uneasiness. Ever since everything had happened in France all Micki seemed to wanna do was keep busy. It first started with cleaning up around the store, days she spent going around from place to place in a hazy daze. Just a week ago she suspired the two men with a brand new sign for the front of the store arrived. Having Johnny put it up she told Jack she felt the store needed a brand new makeover and a clean fresh start.

Jack meanwhile was worried.

He knew the real reason Micki was doing all of this was to deal with her own grief. The first few nights after it happened had been terrible. Micki hardly slept and often sat around staring off into space. Jack had given her something to put her mind to rest but nothing seemed to work. Micki was completely heartbroken over what happened and seemed totally lost without Ryan.

Jack had sat down with Micki and tried to tell her that this was the right thing for Ryan. That now he was able to have a second chance at life with no painful memories or worries. He was able to be a happy go-lucky child, living safely with his mother.

Instead Micki's eyes filled with tears as she buried her face against Jack's shoulder.

It wasn't fair that Mrs. Dallion got him. It wasn't fair that any of this happened to them.

Ryan was living somewhere with his mother unaware of the love Micki and him had shared.

In a fit of rage, Micki had taken off her sparking ring Ryan had bought after trading him some of his most precious and valuable comics for. Her face crumpling she screamed and threw the ring across the room.

It wasn't fair.

She wished Ryan was dead instead of this...it seemed as if fate was just teasing her. By the time Ryan got to the age he was when he was taken...Micki knew she would be an older woman that Ryan wouldn't even remember nor bother with. Looking at this awful store she thought back at the few years trapped inside it.

Ryan was the only reason she had been able to stay strong.

Now what?

Jack asked her straight out if she wanted to leave. He understood if she wanted to and even offered to drive her back to her parents. Thinking of her mother and father Micki's heart ached. They didn't even know Ryan and her were engaged. She knew most likely her father would disown her, but thinking of Ryan's smiling face she knew how much she would of given up just to be with him.

She wished so badly this awful nightmare would just end.

The future at the store seemed so dark now.

But Johnny stayed, in fact he tried his hardest to give support to Micki. He slept downstairs and was there every morning. Micki hated to cry in front of him, yet couldn't help it. Jack meanwhile stayed by her side telling her over and over again that Ryan would of wanted her to move on.

Thinking back at the events that lead to this, Micki hated herself for being so stupid. Why did they split up? Why didn't she know something was wrong? Why did she let that monster get to him.

Night after night the same dreams would come of the knife going into his back and those awful screams that escaped him.

"Pray for me..."

So Micki, still not really knowing if she could indeed stay here decided to just take it one day at a time. At first she tried asking about Ryan's whereabouts, but Jack wouldn't let her. He told her it would be better if there wasn't any contact. He received letters from Mrs. Dallion and all he wanted Micki to know was that he was safe and happy.

So Micki still didn't know what to do. So she began getting up early, cleaning and sorting things out. One afternoon Johnny and her went into the vault and put every in the right order. Looking at all these awful objects of death, there were still plenty of memories with Ryan in them.

She had no idea how she could keep doing this without him.

Jack tried to talk to her again, knowing how badly she was hurting. He tried to explain as she cleaned around the store that getting rid of anything that reminded her of Ryan wouldn't help with the grief.

Yes, Ryan was still alive...but he was taken in horrible way. Jack now knew no matter how many times he tried to explain to Micki that Ryan got a second chance, that it wouldn't change the pain she was feeling inside. So instead he told her to just give it time, if she thought she wouldn't be able to handle staying at the store that he would fully understand.

Johnny was now staying a few nights out of the week with them and helping out.

Micki meanwhile did a lot of thinking, often crying by herself or sitting alone in her bedroom replaying the same events over and over again in her mind.

She never felt so lonely before in her life.

So one morning, right before they heard of the cursed dagger she found her engagement ring under her bed. Putting it on her finger tears filled her eyes as she began to daydream of what it would of been like living a future with Ryan.

She could see the two of them one day finally being finished with the store, growing old together and sitting on a porch one day covered in grandchildren. With these images slowly fading away, Micki took a deep breath and tried her hardest to be strong.

That's when she began sorting through his things.
___________________________________________________________________________

Now the night after they had recovered the dagger, Micki had made her decision.

She would stay.

The pain was still awful, and she really had no idea how she would cope without him...but somehow she knew this was all she had left. Maybe taking dangerous risks was all that she had in her empty lonely little life. Maybe...this was what Ryan would of wanted her to do.

When she told Jack he hugged her tight telling her she was stronger then she thought. Back when the coin happened Ryan had told Jack he was through with the store...he knew Ryan would of wanted her to stay.

Wearing her ring, Micki decided there was no place else to go.

Anyways, as empty as the store seemed...this was where Ryan and her lived.

This was where they fell in love.

So Johnny and her decided to start going through his things. Micki had turned Ryan's old bunk a few months ago into a "sitting area" where you could relax or talk on the phone. A few times Ryan flopped down on it and sketched while Micki buzzed around the kitchen.

Looking at that small area made Micki's heart hurt.

The two of them now sat up late that night talking and drinking tea. Trash bags and boxes were around them. Jack didn't think doing this was healthy, but Johnny decided to help after he went to bed.

So the two of them sat up sorting through this things.

Micki didn't want to part with anything, most of all this clothes. She knew it was silly to keep them...yet it felt as though they were waiting for him to come back and wear. Most of his clothes were moved to her dresser in the bedroom, going through them broke her heart.

She found his art supplies, his guitar, comics, and sketches.

She kept most of it, yet stored most of it away.

Out of sight...out of mind.

Finding his Illinois T-shirt made tears blur her vision. She couldn't get rid of any of this.

Sitting there she held the shirt up against and smelt the faint smell of his cologne. Sighing, she folded it away. Johnny meanwhile watched her sighing.

Your really gonna stay?

Micki looked up at him, wiping her tears away.

Where else will I go?

Johnny only simply nodded before reaching across and touching her hand.

I'm here Micki...just remember that.

Fainting smiling, Micki nodded.
___________________________________________________________________________

That night Micki slept curled up in her bed alone. The Illinois T-shirt in her hands. Laying there she watched as silver moonlight began to drift in through her window.

Ryan...

She softly said.

Oh Ryan...why did you have to leave me?

Yet life still went on at Curious Goods.
___________________________________________________________________________

Merry Christmas Micki!

Johnny said kicking the snow off his boots as he walked into the kitchen. Jack and Micki sat at the kitchen table over coffee. Smiling, Micki watched as Johnny held up a bottle of wine with a bow on it.

Thought this might warm us up on such a cold day.

Both began to laugh when Micki felt light headed. The last couple of weeks at the store had been hard. So far object wise they had recovered the dagger, the wheelchair, and the earpiece. Micki never felt so drained of engender before in her entire life. Each day was the same, she kept waking up and keeping busy to ignore the aching feeling that kept creeping up on her almost every moment.

She felt proud of Johnny and Jack and felt better each time another object was recovered.

As for the future, it still seemed very dark.

Hey Micki you okay?

Micki blinked a few times, she really hadn't been feeling that good lately. Jack blamed the stress and how much of a strain her body had gone through. Shrugging it off as a cold, Micki felt slowly worse and worse every day. Thinking back at the days when she used to not feel good when Ryan was around, she could remember him always bringing her tea and sitting with her.

At first she blamed it being the first real holiday without him. Usually Ryan made such a big deal over Christmas and always made her feel at home there. This year it seemed empty and not the same.

Micki?

That's when Micki slapped her hand over her mouth and ran to the bathroom, knocking her chair over behind her. Johnny quickly followed.

Throwing up, Micki's entire body arched itself as she gagged. Taking a deep breath, Micki felt sweat roll down her face before she flushed.

Jack and Johnny both stood in the doorway with worried looks on their faces. Embarrassed, Micki stood up and felt how clammy her face felt.

Whoa, looks like I might be getting the flu...maybe I better lay down for awhile...

Yes, I think that might be good...I'll get you some tea.

Micki nodded as Jack turned towards the kitchen. Johnny simply stood in the doorway staring at her.

Close the door.

Johnny did, locking it behind him. The two stood there for a moment in complete silence.

Johnny...

Micki's voice lowered before she glanced at herself in the mirror.

Oh Johnny I'm in trouble...

Johnny slowly walked over, placing his hands gently on her shoulders.

What is it Micki?

Micki felt tears starting to build before she stared at him, helpless.

Johnny...I think I might be pregrant.

18: Through the Looking Glass

Johnny stood in complete silence as Micki nervously laced her hands together. After a few moments Johnny blinked in disbelief before slowly going over to the bathtub and sitting on the edge.

You're...pregrant?

Micki suddenly just wanted to break down, this wasn't supposed to happen like this. Thinking back at this terrible awful last month she had gone through, she felt completely alone. Not only was she deeply depressed and heartbroken, she was also trying to cope with everything that had happened. Dealing with life and the future ahead of her without Ryan seemed hard enough.

Now this?

She thought back at when Ryan and her had first made love, the utter release of it all, the passion and energy that went on between them. Micki remembered every moment, every touch. Having had this terrible aching pit in her stomach lately hadn't helped. Looking at her sparking ring she thought that Johnny shouldn't have been the one to have to hear this...nor Jack.

It should of been Ryan.

If none of this would of happened...if she was indeed pregrant what would of happened? Within seconds she could see Ryan's face grinning at the news before picking her up and spinning her around. Ryan had mentioned even before they became involved how much he looked forward to being a father. Micki often joked that Ryan was just a big kid himself, yet falling in love with him she knew how amazing of a parent he would of been. She knew no other man would love a baby like he would have. Thinking of him, she struggled with her tears and tried to gain control.

Clearing her throat she used all her strength to stand.

I'm...not sure.

How can you be not sure?

Well...with everything going on I thought it was just the stress, then...well I just couldn't keep this to myself any longer!

Micki lowered her head before Johnny stood up, gently he touched her shoulder.

Have you taken a test yet? Or gone to the doctor?

Micki shook her head.

There's just been so much going on, loosing Ryan and everything I thought I was just being stupid...maybe some fantasy to have part of him still with me you know? Finding out for sure...well...

Her words trailed off, she couldn't explain herself. Johnny then looked her straight in the eye.

You're scared what the answer might be?

Micki nodded, tears starting to fill in her eyes.

If I'm not...then that's that. Ryan is really gone and that's it. I know how much you and Jack are there for me...but I'm alone you know?

And if you are?

I'm in my twenties...the man I fell in love with is a little boy who doesn't even remember me? My family hates me and I live in a store collecting objects cursed by the devil...

Johnny just stared at her before Micki began to weep.

Will it ever stop Johnny? Will this nightmare ever stop? Why me?

She clung onto Johnny as he held her tightly, he knew he wasn't Ryan nor ever could be. Trying his hardest to comfort her, they stood together for a few minuites before Micki finally looked up at him, wiping her running makeup away.

I miss him so much!

I know Micki...I know.

What am I gonna do?

Listen...I'll go out and get some tests, you'll take them right away...whatever the outcome is I'm here for you...understand?

But...

No...when my father died you guys were still strangers to me, yet took me in like a family. I liked Ryan and I like you...like me be your friend...let me help you.

But it's Christmas...no store will be open...

I'll find someplace, until then I want you to relax okay? Everything is going to be okay.

But Jack...

We'll let him in on this when you decide...until then it's just between us.

Johnny? What if I really am? I can't be a mother?

We'll get to that when we do...until then relax okay?

Micki sniffled before faintly smiling.

You're a good friend Johnny.

Johnny tried to smile back before kissing her on the cheek.

Micki stepped away, wiping her eyes before Johnny nodded.

I'll be back.
___________________________________________________________________________

An hour later Johnny returned shaking snow off his leather jacket. Upstairs Jack was enjoying a glass of wine and a good book in his easy chair. Christmas music was faintly playing in the background.

Hey...where did you run off to?

Forgot the corkscrew...looks like you found one all ready?

Jack smiled before lowering his glasses.

When it comes to wine, I always find a way.

How's Micki?

She's resting, gave her some tea.

Johnny took his jacket and scarf off before hanging them up. A small brown paper bag in his hands. Jack meanwhile returned to his book.

Dinner will be done soon, I don't think Micki is up to it...I'll make her some soup.

Yeah...she didn't look that good.

Well it is the holidays and all...she's been having a tough time without Ryan.

Yeah...I know.

Jack went back to reading as Johnny lightly knocked on the glass doors leading to Micki's bedroom.

Come in...

Johnny walked in, closing the door behind him.

Micki meanwhile sat on her bed, circled under her eyes. Johnny noticed the curtains to her window were drawn back. Outside crystals of snow was slowly falling.
___________________________________________________________________________

Later that night Jack toasted with some eggnog before retiring to bed. Looking in on Micki, who had spent most of the evening resting, he leaned in close and kissed her forehead.

Merry Christmas Micki.

Micki's face seemed drained and tried, faintly she smiled up at him.

Merry Christmas Jack.

Here...I wanted to give you this.

He handed her a letter, Micki raised an eyebrow as she turned it over in her hands.

What's this?

The final letter from Mrs. Dallion...we spoke that it would be better to stop contact, might be for the best...I wanted you to read this.

Micki looked down at the letter before biting her bottom lip, struggling to control the tears.

Thank you Jack.

He's happy Micki...and he would of been proud of you.

Micki tried to smile, yet couldn't.

Thanks Jack...

Kissing her forehead again, Jack wished her a good night before heading downstairs. Johnny meanwhile was finishing his dinner at the kitchen and watching the end of "It's A Wonderful Life" Jack wished him a merry Christmas before heading down the stairs.

Night Jack.

Sitting there, he waited for Micki to come out.
___________________________________________________________________________

Micki sat up on her bed as snow kept falling outside, sighing she opened the letter and with a heavy heart began to read.

Dear Jack,

This will be my final letter to Curious Goods, I agree that it's for the best and that I shall forever me thankful to Micki and you for giving me a second chance with my son. I blame myself for so many mistakes...after my youngest son passed I couldn't seem to handle life anymore and left Ryan to fend for himself. That guilt will stay with me for the rest of my life, knowing how much pain I caused him. As the years past I saw my mistake and wanted to say how sorry I was to him. When I came to the store, I saw that Ryan had formed a few life and was the happiest I had ever seen him. After the death of my ex-husband I was worried he wouldn't even see him, instead he welcomed me with open arms and I saw what an amazing gentle and kind young man he had grown into. I had nothing to do with that...yet I feel Micki and you did. Please tell Micki that when Ryan spoke of her, I ever saw his eyes light up as they did. He told me shortly before he left for France that Micki was his soul mate and that he was forever grateful that God had given him the chance to be with her. Micki is a beautiful young woman and I hope she lives a happy life and goes ahead with a bright future. I understand the pain you two must have with not having him around...but I need to express how thankful I am. I didn't believe in much after Jimmy died...but now I know whatever you two do at the store is God's work. I can't understand it, nor ever will...but I know I have a second chance and I'll do everything to make it right. Ryan is in the 6th grade now, he's fitting in fine and has made a ton of friends. He enjoys his art classes (as always) and is trying out for the basketball team. He still reads his comics and likes junk food. For the first couple of weeks I heard him tossing and turning in his sleep, calling out for Micki. He doesn't remember anything...yet I know he dreams of her. I can only hope I can give him a happy future. My boy is back with me again...I feel unreal and so lucky I can't even stand it. I feel as though I'm looking through a glass globe at Heaven. I shall love and always protect Ryan, and someday I hope he will see you two again. Enclosed in a photograph I took just last week of him.
Again, thank you...thank you forever.

Micki folded the letter before the photograph fell out. It was of Ryan, as a boy, dressed in jeans and a sweater. Smiling at the camera with a baseball hat on.

Staring at the photograph Micki's heart ached. Slowly she lowered her head and cried.
___________________________________________________________________________

A half an hour later Micki came out of the bedroom with tears still in her eyes. The brown paper bag Johnny had bought was clutched in her hands.

Johnny watched her as she silently went into the bathroom.
___________________________________________________________________________

Please God...please...

Micki silently prayed before waiting for both tests to be ready. Sitting on the edge of the tub she rubbed her arms and waited.

Was she? Or wasn't she?

Looking down at her flat stomach she sighed and thought if she was...then it must of happened last month, maybe the first time in fact?

Thinking of the unknown future...she knew as scary as everything was...she wanted it to be positive more then anything. Slowly she daydreamed of Ryan covering her face with kisses.

Finally she stood up and checked both of the tests.
___________________________________________________________________________

Johnny stood by the window looking out at the snow. Beautiful Christmas music was playing from the TV. Standing there he waited for Micki...finally the bathroom door opened.

Micki stood in the doorway, tears falling from her face.

Johnny stood there, not saying a word.

Micki then held up the two tests in her hands.

I'm pregrant.

Micki said through the tears, suddenly Johnny say that they were tears of relief and of joy. Micki then ran into Johnny's arms, hugging him tight and laughing.

I'm pregrant!

Johnny held her smiling.

Oh Micki...that's wonderful!

Both stood there laughing as snow kept falling down outside.
___________________________________________________________________________

And somewhere...in another town a young boy sat by his twinkling Christmas tree in the darkness of his mother's apartment. Sitting on the carpet surrounded by boxes and boxes of toys he hiked himself up and stared out the window at the snow.

For some odd reason he suddenly felt very sad and lonely.

Pressing his hand against the glass, he remembered that pretty lady that had taken him on the plane to go meet his mother again. The pretty lady with the red hair.

Micki...

He softly said, looking at the snow.


19: Help me...

It's all ready here...
_____________________________________________________________________________

Micki snapped awake one early morning from a dream she couldn't seem to remember just moments after waking. All she knew was that she was standing on the street facing the store. The wind was blowing and she saw two boys pointing. Now sitting up in bed she stared as the sunlight slowly drifted in through her windows and thought of Ryan. Her heart aching, she hated this never ending slap in the face feeling whenever she woke up. It seemed as though there was always that one minute while she fully woke up in bed that for a brief moment she thought she would find Ryan laying beside her.

Ryan would still be with her and everything would be okay.

Instead she always found herself alone.

Sighing, she wished she would just escape this nightmare.

Then...

The babies kicked.

Looking down at her nine month pregrant stomach a small smile spread across her face. Somehow each time she got like this all she had to do was look down at herself and remember how truly lucky she was. Often she would lay awake at night and think what if she wasn't pregrant? What if she honestly had to face this alone with no hope in sight? Micki knew promise or not if it hadn't been for the pregnancy she would of lost her mind through the grief months ago and just leave Jack and Johnny.

Smiling she rubbed her stomach and thought back on these long nine lonely months.

They were still recovering objects, in fact the last one Micki helped in getting was almost five months ago with the painting. After she escaped that she sat Jack and Johnny down and told them she feared for her baby. If she ever miscarried she knew that would be the last ray of hope she could have in going on without Ryan. Yes she had a promise with the store...but she was also going to be a mother. There was no way she would risk Ryan and her baby's life for that. Jack and Johnny as always understood. Micki really didn't know what she would of done without their support. She hadn't heard from her parents since she broke the news at the beginning of spring. Her father had hung up disgusted and refused to talk. Her mother had written her wishing her to best but told her she honestly thought Micki was making a huge mistake in having the baby.

But Micki didn't care and now looked at Jack and Johnny as her new family. They at least understood what she was going through.

Months past and more objects came. It seemed so funny that life really was going on without Ryan. Almost even waking moment she thought about him and felt cheated that he wasn't here with her through this.

Instead it was Johnny.

Johnny was the one who held her hair back whenever she was sick in the morning. Johnny was the one who sat on the couch downstairs and rubbed her feet whenever they were sore. Johnny was the one who calmed her down and made sure she stayed off her feet. Johnny was the one who worried and was there to talk to whenever she thought her hormones were going crazy.

He was the one who seemed excited about the baby and kept her spirits high. He took her to the doctor visits and was often mistaken for her husband. Micki always corrected the nurses and doctors saying that the baby's father had past away and that Johnny was just a good friend.

They read up on the pregnancy and Johnny seemed unphased about it all. Whenever Micki worried he was there to calm her down. Often the future scared her and as time went on and her stomach grew she knew this was reality. She was going to have a baby.

Some nights she cried herself to sleep, praying that Ryan would just come back and take her away.

But Johnny was there and somehow made her look at things always in a different way whenever things got bad.

Micki's hardest part had to be during one of the doctor's visits that they found two heartbeats. During the sonogram they found that Micki was carrying twins.

Micki was speechless as Johnny laughed in amazement. Then for no reason at all Micki burst into tears.

What's wrong?

Twins? Jesus Johnny I didn't even think I could handle one!

The doctor gave a very uncomfortable glance before excusing himself.

Micki kept crying looking at the screen as if it was some cruel joke. What were the chances? All these months she didn't think she could take care of one baby...now two? Micki right away began to think of how she wouldn't be able to do this. That it would be far too much for her to handle and she would fail.

Instead Johnny took her hand and pointed at the screen.

Micki look...those are yours and Ryan's babies...see?

Micki looked as tears ran down her face and stared at the screen. Still crying she held onto Johnny and told him she didn't know what to do.

When the doctor returned he explained that he had seen this happen plenty of times. The news of twins is very overwhelming. When he asked if Micki wanted to know the sex of the babies Johnny nodded as Micki kept crying.

Boys...your having twin boys.

Micki stopped out of nowhere and blinked.

What?

Your having twins boys.

Micki looked at the screen and thought of what Ryan would of done if he was here instead of Johnny. She could just see that grin appear on his face before he began laughing and clapping his hands. She knew how proud and excited he would of been before covering her with kisses.

Boys...twin boys...

Micki then began to laugh.
___________________________________________________________________________

Now months later it seemed as though everything was in order. Johnny and Jack and been her main support and helped her through everything. They had bought what they thought was needed and now was Micki sat on her bed she stared across at two empty cribs.

Her due date had been almost five days ago.

Where were her babies?

Thinking of how Ryan was missing this Micki silently began to cry.

It wasn't fair.

Slipping out of bed, she knew Jack and Johnny were downtown trying to look into a cursed lamp. Grabbing some clothes she quickly went out and called a cab.
____________________________________________________________________________

Now Micki sat on a park bench nearly an hour later. It was a beautiful summer day and birds chirped in the background. A faint cool breeze went by rocking the lush green trees back and forth.

Mothers pushed strollers and children played in the playground. Teenagers laid sunning on blankets and boys played in the distance with a soccer ball.

Micki sat there, feeling her babies kick in a very uncomfortable way as she fought back the tears. Often she slipped out of the store to come here. Jack nor Johnny knew about it.

She watched him.

He was all ready getting taller even though it had just been a few months. The summer sun was tanning his skin as he laughed with his friends and kicked the ball around.

Ryan...she whispered.

The babies kicked.

Just then the ball went flying in her direction. Hearing him yell that he would get it she held her breath as he ran over.

The ball rolled over near her feet.

He ran over, his bangs in his eyes.

That's when he stopped dead in his tracks and looked at her sitting there. For some strange reason the foggy vague memory began to slowly come back. He knew her...was it when he was sick and those friendly people brought him back from the airport to his mother? He couldn't really remember?

Looking at her fire red hair, he then remembered...

This was the woman he had dreamed about almost every night.

Pray for me...

Those words echoed through his head as they locked eyes.

Then...

The woman clutched her pregrant stomach and cried out. He snapped out of his trance and ran over.

Lady are you all right?!

The woman held herself, her face filled with pain.

My water just broke!

He blinked, having no idea what to do. Why did he feel so strange?

She then looked at him, her eyes helpless.

Help me Ryan!

That's when...

He remembered.

20: Everything happens for a reason

People started running once the woman with the red hair had fallen down. Clutching her pregrant stomach her eyes snapped shut in pain as she cried out for him. Ryan backed off slightly, his eyes wide and his entire body freezing up.

She had just called him by his name.

Pray for me...

The words echoed in his mind again. Flashes kept appearing before him when he remembered this was in fact the same woman who had brought him back to his mother.

But...

There was something else.

His wide brown eyes locked with hers, which were so terrified and helpless. That's when faintly in the background Ryan thought he heard the sound of coin dropping to the ground. That's when warmth began to gush down his face and it wasn't until George, his friend who he had been playing with ran over as people began to gather around.

Ryan! Your nose is bleeding!

Ryan's fingertips gently touched his face before looking at the blood. Something didn't feel right.

Just then someone in the crowd told another person to call an ambulance. Adults were gathered around the woman who now seemed to have a puddle of water around her feet where she laid. The woman with the beautiful red hair kept shaking her head, her face pale and weak. She gripped onto the people were surrounded her before looking straight ahead at Ryan.

Her eyes filled with tears.

Help me Ryan...

Her voice slightly cried. That's when the most horrible pain went through Ryan's back. It nearly made him seize up like a block of ice. All the muscles in his back stood still before his eyes widened and he felt a stabbing pain go through his spine.

Moments later there was darkness.
_____________________________________________________________________________

All Micki could remember was being wheeled down some corridor with Johnny's face above her, running beside and holding her hand. Lights kept flashing as she past below them from the ceiling. She saw orderlies and nurses pushing her on what seemed to be a stretcher.

Micki?

Johnny's voice sounded worried.

Micki's eyelids weakly stared up at him.

Just then in just a matter of seconds she saw herself kissing Johnny. The two standing together in the store with their arms wrapped around each other. Micki saw herself holding one of her babies in her arms while Johnny had the other.

She saw herself with him at the store, laughing and looking at him with such acted love it made her sick.

She saw her dull future with Johnny trapped at the store just before her eyes. She knew he liked her, and had stood by her during the pregnancy. She knew he would act as father to her children...but then what? Surely she could never love anyone after Ryan?

Just then the pain came again, making everything slowly begin to black out.
___________________________________________________________________________

At that exact moment Jack hurried into the hospital lobby. Johnny had taken his bike after getting the call that Micki had collapsed and gone into labor. While they were riding her in the ambulance she was able to mutter the store's number for paramedics.

Johnny went ahead of Jack who took the car. He never seemed to move so fast before in his life, slamming the door behind him. Jack simply shook his head as he got into the car.

He knew where that park had been, and knew most likely what Micki had been doing there. Starting the car up he shook his head. He knew Johnny loved these babies as though they were his own.

But would he ever know Micki would never love him...at least not that way?

Once he arrived the first person who stopped him was Ms. Dallion. Her eyes wild and her hands on her hips.

He's dying!

Jack didn't expect to see her there.

Ms. Dallion what are you...

He's dying! He's having seizures and they can't stop it! He keeps calling out for her! What's happening Jack? Is my boy really going to die?!

Jack simply stood there in shock.
___________________________________________________________________________

The babies are in distress, we need an emergence C-section.

Micki heard the doctor tell Johnny as he changed into his scrubs. Micki was being given a syringe as the pain began to twist her body up. Her vision began to get blurred as she felt the babies move one last time.

No...not my babies...no...

Then darkness again.
___________________________________________________________________________

Just when Jack was about to speak, a loud alarm sounded off. Out of nowhere tons of doctors and orderlies began running towards the main ambulance bay.

Jack heard someone say there had been an awful car accident. At least twenty people were hurt. For no reason at all Jack grabbed Ms. Dallion and asked where Ryan was.
___________________________________________________________________________

Micki's eyes opened and she heard beeping. Right away she saw Johnny looking down at her, his worried face covered by his mask. He gently touched her face as Micki faintly heard the doctors working.

It's going to be okay Micki...I promise...

Micki laid there feeling completely numb from the waist down. What where they doing? She felt too weak to even try to lift her head and see. She suddenly felt very cold. Looking at Johnny, she felt scared to death.

Not my babies...not Ryan's babies Johnny...please no...

Shhhh...it's going to be okay...

Just then the beeping in the background became louder.
___________________________________________________________________________

A nurse was trying to hold Ryan down as he began another seizure. The oxygen mask over his face had been thrown off and he was shaking as his back began to bend up.

The nurse was alone.

Jack looked in through the window at the door.

Do what I say.

He told Ms. Dallion. Before she could ask another question. Moments later he grabbed an IV pole and rushed inside. Ms. Dallion stood in shock before Jack quickly hit the nurse on the back of the head. Her body fell to the ground seconds later. Ms. Dallion quickly walked in, hands drawn to her face.

Oh my God...

Jack bent down slightly and felt the woman's pulse.

She'll be fine, I hated to do it but it's the only way...help me grab him.

In just the matter of a few moments Ms. Dallion and Jack struggled to pick up Ryan who's body was completely shaking. Rushing towards the back exit, Jack prayed nobody would stop them before they reached the car.
__________________________________________________________________________

Micki shut her eyes as she heard the doctor's voice begin to sound worried. The coldness made her shiver as Johnny gently touched her face and tried to whisper to her that everything was going fine.

Micki thought of the last nine lonely months.

If she had the choice, she wanted her babies to live...not her.

She couldn't stand this any longer.

That's when her heart rate began to drop. Johnny's nervous eyes quickly looked up at the monitor.
___________________________________________________________________________

Ms. Dallion tried her hardest to control Ryan who twisted and struggled in her arms as Jack flew across town. The sky was beginning to darken and thunder sounded off in the distance.

What are we doing?

We're going back to the store.

For what?

The dagger...

What dagger?

The one that went into Ryan that night...the same thing that made him change and in all other ways of speaking killed him.

Ms. Dallion gulped.

Why do you have it?

I didn't really think much after taking it, Micki and Johnny never knew I had it...I guess something deep inside of me knew one day I might need it.

Is he dying Jack?

Jack eyed over at the young boy who shook all over in his mother's arms. Looking ahead, he saw the sky darken even more as the sound of thunder became louder.
____________________________________________________________________________

I need a three inch nylon stat!

The doctor ordered. Right away the nurses around them began moving very quickly. Johnny couldn't completely see what was happening since they blocked off Micki's lower half. All he could hear was the beeping and then the sight of the doctor up to his arms in blood made him sick.

Looking at Micki, her eyes kept fluttering close. Helpless, he gripped her limp hand and prayed that she would be okay.

I see the head...I'm starting on the first baby...

The doctor said as he leaned down.
___________________________________________________________________________

Just then Jack and Ms. Dallion flew through the front door of the store. The wind was screaming, making them struggle to get inside. Quickly Jack yelled for Ms. Dallion to clear off the counter and hold Ryan down. Before she could say anything he rushed downstairs.

Ms. Dallion fought to hold onto her son before knocking a few things over on the floor, including the manifest. Laying her son down she saw his eyes closed as his head fought back and forth side to side.

Holding him as best as she could she felt her heart ache.

She hadn't had enough time with him. She hadn't made it up to him for all those horrible things she had said to him after Jimmy had died.

She couldn't loose him...this had been her second chance.

Just then Jack came, dagger and all.

Help me turn him over!

Jack yelled, quickly she did so as his legs kicked back and forth on the counter's glass surface. Jack stood before him before making the sign of the cross.

God forgive me...

Raising the dagger, he then plunged it right into Ryan's back.

Lighting flashed in the store as a deafening thunder boom filled their heads. The sound of glass shattering was somewhere distant as Ryan's young eyes snapped open wide.

NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just then the light became blinding, Jack and Ms. Dallion nearly fell backwards blocking their eyes.
___________________________________________________________________________

At that exact moment the doctor raised the first baby up in the air as it cried out.

It's a boy!

Johnny's head snapped up and his tear filled eyes widened. The baby squirmed and cried in the doctor's gloved hands before Micki's weak eyes opened themselves.

Micki stared up at the baby as things began to get more blurry. The doctor quickly handed the baby off to a nurse, it's cries still being heard as he worked on the second.

That's my baby...

Micki thought.

Her memories of when it was conceived went back so long ago. Back when she still had Ryan...right before he slipped away.

An odd sucking feeling overwhelmed her body before the doctor raised the second baby who seemed just as big, screaming it's head off.

Another boy!

Johnny squeezed Micki's hand crying with joy. A huge grin appeared on his face.

Oh Micki...their beauitful...

Micki laid there for a moment.

She had really done this. Looking up at Johnny, her voice sounded weak.

Are they...okay?

Just then the doctor and a nurse brought over both of the babies that were wrapped up in tiny blue blankets. Letting Johnny hold one of them, he looked down amazed. For the first time since his father had died...he seemed happy.

The two babies, one Johnny was holding, the other from the nurse were brought up close to Micki who stared at them with wonder. Her eyes stared at them before silent tears fell from her face.

Those are Ryan's babies...

Her mind said. Smiling, she reached out and touched their tiny little hands with her finger.

Hi there...

She softly said before laughing into tears.

Johnny smiled down at her as Micki looked up.

Good job Micki.

Micki smiled.

These were her sons.
___________________________________________________________________________

A few moments later it began to pour outside. Hard rain hit the store's windows as finally the light faded and everything seemed to go back to normal in just a matter of seconds. Ms. Dallion and Jack blinked before Ms. Dallion gasped.

Oh Jesus...

Jack's eyes widened as he stared down at the floor beneath the counter.

Ryan laid there completely naked and out cold.

But he was no longer a boy...he was himself again, his true age.

Jack and Ms. Dallion stepped closer amazed.

21: Found each other

Ms. Dallion slowly began to step back, her eyes wide and her hand slowly covering her mouth.

No...it can't be...

Jack took a second before blinking, for a split second he thought his eyes played tricks on him. Kneeling down, he touched Ryan's bare shoulder which was lightly glazed with sweat. Ryan was slowly shaking and his skin felt feverish. Jack's hand went down to Ryan's neck and felt a faint pulse.

He's breathing.

What did you do?

Jack turned and looked over his shoulder at Ms. Dallion who began shaking her head.

What did you do to my boy?

Before Jack could answer horrible laughter filled the air. This sound made his entire body freeze before he slowly stood up. Ms. Dallion screamed behind him before Jack slowly turned.

Hello Lewis...
_____________________________________________________________________________

So what are you going to name them?

Johnny asked, still in his scrubs as he held both of the tiny babies that were now wrapped up in blue blankets. Both of them seemed completely perfect, they wiggled and faintly cried as Micki stared at them amazed.

Well...I know one name I want to use.

Yeah?

Paul.

Johnny thought about this for a moment before smiling.

Paul, I like Paul. Where did you come up with that?

Micki laid there, remembering those words...

Paul! You're still alive!

I'm dying Johnny...

It sounded like a whisperer faintly in the background. Micki stared at the babies before looking up at Johnny's gentle brown eyes.

How does Dean sound for the other?

Johnny smiled.

It sounds perfect.
___________________________________________________________________________

Lewis stood before Jack, dressed exactly the same way he last saw him. A horrible grin spread across his ugly face before he stepped forwards, hands behind his back.

Ms. Dallion pressed herself against the wall, his face white as a sheet.

Lewis kept grinning before looking down at Ryan who laid fully grown and naked on the ground. He slightly began to shake, starting to convulse.

Seems you figured out how to get back a damned soul.

Ryan isn't damned.

In God's eyes he is.

Jack stood strong, not letting his old friend scare him.

God forgave him, it is you that is damned.

Lewis laughed to himself before pointing at Ryan's shaking body.

Well, whatever the fact might me...your friend is dying.

No!

Ms. Dallion cried, still not moving from her spot. Jack's eyes narrowed.

You lie.

Lewis held his hands up in defense.

I swear, give him until an hour or so and his body will simply go still. No doctor or magic can save him...his soul will be mine and he'll just be a dead empty shell of his old self.

Jack eyed Ryan, he saw his body was covered in sweat and he was shaking even worse now. He also noticed the faded 666s on his chest.

Why?

Because he's caught in-between two worlds, he's not strong enough...his sacrifice did indeed give his soul a second chance...until I got a hold of it. His love of that red headed bitch was so strong he couldn't stay away. Now without me he'll die.

What do you want Lewis, haven't you caused enough harm.

Lewis laughed again.

Oh Jack, not nearly enough...now listen and listen good, time is short.
___________________________________________________________________________

While Micki was getting taken care of and being placed in her room to rest, Johnny walked down to the nursery feeling proud and amazed. He knew he would call the store as soon as he made sure Micki was resting. Still in his scrubs he walked over to the glassed in window and smiled.

There the two babies laid in their plastic cribs, crying and wiggling. Johnny laughed, hands on his hips.

They were a family now.

Excuse me? Which one is yours?

Johnny looked and saw another man, mostly likely a new father. Johnny smiled and pointed.

Those two twins over there, boys.

Wow, their beautiful...your really lucky. My wife just went into labor, we're having a girl.

Johnny thanked him before looking at the babies.

His babies.

Yes, he would make this work with Micki...and love those as if they were his own.
___________________________________________________________________________

NO!

Jack paced back and forth while Ms. Dallion now laid on the ground holding Ryan. She cradled his head as he body thumped up and down on the ground.

Lewis waited.

Just turn back time. Of course you and the hag will still remember but none of them. Think of it as a gift...a fresh start. You'll have your two love birds together, and everything will be as right as rain.

I will not let you take Micki's babies!

Lewis waved his hands.

I don't want them, I just want to go back nine months. In just a flash you'll find yourself on a plane on your way back to America.

What about my friends? Ryan?

He will never have been changed, everything will be a blur...you'll make up a story and you and your little family will return home thinking nothing ever happened. Things will go back to normal and in time you'll forget.

There has to be a catch, some catch.

Well, I can always try to stop you from getting my items back, but I fear I'm not strong enough. Instead I have my own ways of getting back...these objects were in fact the reason I was sent to my grave in the first place...wasn't it Jack?

What do you want?

Nothing, just that your darling Micki and Ryan will never conceive another child again, as long as they live.

What?

That's all. They will be together and you can all go back to your merry little life together.

No...I can't!

Then he'll die. Micki will find out and never be the loving mother her children deserve. She'll break down, regent your choice and leave you alone.

I can't do this...

You can. She won't remember the children she carries now, or anything since Paris. Either will he.

But I'll know...

Make your choice Lewis...or he'll die.

Just then the phone rang, making Ms. Dallion scream.
___________________________________________________________________________

Hello Jack?

Johnny grinned, leaning against one of the counters in the hospital.

Johnny?

Johnny raised an eyebrow.

Jack, what's wrong? You sound weird?

Nothing, Micki? Is she all right?

Yeah I was wondering why you weren't here yet, Micki had the babies!

She did?

Yep! Two healthy boys! Oh God Jack you need to see them!

Johnny...listen to me.

Jack cut off, right away Johnny froze, his smile fading.

What is it Jack?

You need to come back to the store right away.

What?

Don't ask questions just come.

But Micki...

She'll be resting, you need to come.

Jack?

Before he could say anything else Jack hung up.
____________________________________________________________________________

Jack! He's getting worse!

Jack looked over at Ms. Dallion who was still holding her son, thin blood was now slowly trickling out of the sides of Ryan's mouth as he shook. The ghost of Lewis simply stood back, amused.

Jack had no idea what to do.

That's when the door flew open, thunder began to sound outside as rain poured down. Johnny stood there in his leather jacket.

Jack?

Running over, and up the steps Johnny stopped dead in his tracks. First he looked at Lewis, confused and then at Ryan laying on the floor. Right away his mouth opened, yet no words came out.
___________________________________________________________________________

No!

Johnny please!

Johnny then picked up an old baseball bat that sat beside Jack's desk and swung with all his might at Lewis. The bat went through him like thin air and hit the chair he was sitting on with a thud. Johnny began to breath heavy before he turned and looked at Jack, his eyes wild.

You can't do this!

He'll die!

Ms. Dallion cried out, holding her son.

Johnny shook his head stepping over.

You saw what happened in France! That wasn't Ryan! That was something else! Something horrible, like him!

Johnny pointed to Lewis before Jack stepped forward.

But he'll never remember what happened. Everything will go back to how it used to be!

What about the last nine months? The objects Jack!

Lewis waved his hand.

That's yet another side you won...I can't change the events of the objects in the vault. The ones you collected in this time will stay as they were in the vault. Ryan and Micki of course will never remember recovering these but I'm sure you can all make up some story.

He's full of shit Jack! Don't tell me you believe he'll change back the time and have Ryan be perfectly all right and Micki and him will have no memory of what happened! That things will go back to normal! Why!

Lewis stood up, arms crossed.

Because no matter how many loop holes I've tried to find in getting you from stopping, it hasn't worked. Being damned to Hell isn't easy...but I have my ways and believe it or not time will tell.

Johnny looked at Jack.

You see! He's saying it himself that somehow he'll get back at you guys! You can't trust him or make a decision like this!

Well you better, the hour is almost done.

Lewis pointed to the clock and panic jumped in Jack's heart.

He'll die Johnny! Don't you understand! He remembered and he came back! How will Micki even live with herself knowing this happened!

She'll have to! She just can't let her two babies go! He'll get their souls or something!

Lewis laughed shaking his head.

You watch too many movies son, I just want to turn back the hands of time and see if fate will let me go about things my own way.

No...

Johnny hissed.

Damnit Johnny! There's no time! You saw Micki! She's never gotten over this and he wasn't even dead!

You can't take her children away! I won't let you!

Jack stared at Johnny before shaking his head, just then the clock began to sound, filling the store. He stood face to face with Lewis and took a deep breath, not fully knowing this was the right choice.

All right...I agree.

Jack no!

Johnny screamed.

Lewis smiled as the clock kept sounding.

Very good Jack, very good...and remember...I'll see you soon.

Johnny looked with wide eyes before everything began to fill with a blinding light. The clock seemed to echo against the walls.

NOOOOOOO!
___________________________________________________________________________

At that exact moment a very tried Micki laid in her hospital bed smiling as the nurse wheeled over her two babies. Before she could even touch them everything became surrounded in light.

Then...

Darkness.
___________________________________________________________________________

This is your captain speaking, we will be landing in Chicago in less then an hour, snow storms are on the forecast but there has been no further delays. Thank you.

Micki's eyes fluttered open.

She was on a plane.

Sitting there, she found herself dressed nicely in a brown sweater and slacks. It was nighttime and when she glanced out the window she saw nothing but darkness. Right away a horrible headache filled her. It felt as though a million things at once had hit her.

Then...

She felt him.

Looking over she saw Ryan, dressed still in his black overcoat his head was slightly lowered and his hand was up against his face. She saw he was gently rubbing his temples.

For some strange reason, Micki almost cried. Just seeing him made butterflies dance in her stomach.

Ryan?

Ryan looked up, his eyes exausted and slightly dazed.

Micki?

Micki smiled before feeling the sudden urge to kiss him. Leaning over she wrapped her arms around him tight and squeezed. Kissing him full on the lips, Micki's mouth opened and closed as Ryan laughed through the kiss.

At that exact moment, one seat up Johnny and Jack opened their eyes.

Both blinked before looking around.

They were on the plane back home. Johnny sat there for a moment before looking at Jack.

The two of them looked terrified and slightly stunned before Johnny and Jack looked back and saw Micki and Ryan kissing.

Yes...they had gone to the village. Jack had been hurt and Micki and Ryan called Johnny since they were worried. He had flown out a day later and that's when Ryan got that book Jack had been talking about back. He had chased that man and had gotten hit over the head, Micki found him in the alley but he had the book. They went to the hospital and Jack had woken up. Slowly things returned back to normal at the village and they left the day before. Faintly the memory of a girl named Kris?

After that everything was blank, for both Jack and Johnny who knew the truth.

Looking back at them Jack felt his heart sightly shake.

It had worked.

23: Revenge

Micki pressed her lips roughly against Ryan's, opening her mouth and allowing her tongue and lightly dance across his. She could barley remember anything, only that everything was okay. Ryan was here, and clutching onto him, she felt like the safest she ever felt in her entire life.

Ryan laughed before pulling back, his eyes sparking before he grinned.

Whoa, give me a second to breath Mick.

Ryan teased, right away Micki pressed her hand against the side of his smooth face and laughed, almost on the verge of tears.

Micki? Are you okay?

Micki kissed him again, so sudden he yanked him towards her and squeezed with all her might. When the kiss broke and both were gasping, Ryan nervously laughed before Micki studied his eyes.

You were lost...and I found you.

Ryan gave a puzzled look before smiling before Micki held onto him and placed her head on his chest. Listening to his heartbeat she had the strangest thought...

She was pregnant, they had made not one child...but two. Looking down at her perfectly flat stomach she smiled. She didn't know why she felt so weird, but she did know she would never let Ryan out of her sight again.

At that exact moment Johnny looked back once more and smiled. It was a sad smile, but still a smile. Micki and Ryan were okay...that was all that mattered.

Jack who sat beside him was thinking the same thing. Lewis was right...they had changed time and everything was all right...

But still...why didn't it fell right?

That's when the plane slightly shook and the seat-belt sign went on. Sitting there, Jack looked out the window and saw nothing but darkness. The lights inside the plane flickered and that's when he heard that horrible laughing.

Freezing, he turned.

Instead of Johnny sitting there it was Lewis, his arms crossed and an awful grin spread across his face.

You...

Still just an old fool...you'll never have your soul mates together, never.

Jack turned and instead of seeing Micki and Ryan embraced, he saw Micki sitting alone, aged and drawn with grief. Blood was on her lap and she had what appeared to be a large knife in her hand...a machete?

Her eyes just stared ahead, dead and blank.

Turning back to Lewis who was chuckling, fangs appeared in his mouth and his eyes flickered.

Oh dear God in heaven...

Uncle Lewis snapped his fingers and...

4 years later.
___________________________________________________________________________

Jack, Johnny, and Micki all woke with a start.

Jack found himself in his bedroom in Curious Goods. Johnny found himself there as well, laying in the bunk that once belonged to Ryan but had now become his bed for the last four or five years now.

And Micki...

She woke up in the hospital...the same hospital she had been staying at since her babies were born and she had her 'accident'. The hospital in which she stayed in the mental ward, crazy and still dreaming about her long lost love...

And Ryan?

Ryan was somewhere else, he had never aged nor came back to Curious Goods. Instead his worried mother decided to move him away the moment she heard of Micki giving birth to the twins and her troubles. She couldn't believe Micki had tried to get so close again...too close.

She needed to protect her son.

So she moved him to upstate New York, a place called Crystal Lake. She changed their names, telling him that they weren't running from anything, but needed a fresh start. Ryan besides was having trouble fitting in and the nightmares had gotten worse.

She changed his name to Steven...

Steven Freeman.
___________________________________________________________________________

Jack sat up straight in bed and remembered the horrible dream he had nearly every night since Micki was taken to the hospital. The dream of Ryan's mother coming to the store, Ryan turning back into the young man he was...

No, instead Micki had gone into labor and had her twins. That same day Mrs. Dallion called very angry, telling Jack what Micki had tried to come and see Ryan. Before hanging up, she yelled that they were never going to see Ryan again and she didn't care about Micki's children. She claimed to Jack that Micki had to understand what happened, and that if she kept this up she would have a restraining order placed. Jack tried to talk to her but she wouldn't hear of it.

That was the last time he heard from her.

Micki gave birth to two twin boys. Dean, and Paul. He was awoken but the first nightmare he had of Lewis visiting the store, of Ryan and his mother coming back, and of waking up on the plane and seeing everything was all right until...

Until Lewis came.

When Jack woke from this dream he was shaking. It seemed so real. That's when he received the call from Johnny.

There had been an accident, Micki who was just a day or so before getting released from the hospital after having the babies did something horrible.

The nurses found her in the nursery downstairs holding a knife and standing beside the two sleeping babies.

She had slit both of her wrists and looked as if she was in a strange dream state. She stared down at the sleeping babies and muttered something about having to stop the evil before it happened...

There was a investigation, Micki's parents were contacted but Micki's father said he didn't want anything to do with his daughter or her children. He explained these children were bastards and that she had fallen from grace much like her sister.

Jack tried to contact Micki's mother but her father refused. The courts tested Micki and the doctors informed Jack that Micki believed that the devil was in her children, and were the reason their father died. She believed if she killed them then he would be brought back to his true self.

Jack explained that the babies' father had died in France very suddenly and that Micki had never truly gotten over the shock.

She went sent to St. Andrew's...a mental hospital.

Johnny and Jack tried to see her, even brought photographs of the newborns but all Micki would do was just stare blankly ahead. Jack knew she was lost...

Johnny decided to try to adopt the twins.

At first it didn't look good. There were certain channels he had to go through and being a single man in his late twenties wasn't helping him much either. Jack helped as much as he could but understood how hard these things could be.

At one point, one dark evening while Johnny was filling out paperwork he looked at the two empty cribs and felt tears begin to blur his vision. Jack sat across from him drinking coffee.

Jack?

Jack looked up.

Why did Micki do it? She seemed so much better, she was looking forward to having these babies. She didn't say anything, she seemed fine...

You heard she was at a park where Ryan was when she went into labor.

Yeah...

I think she honestly couldn't see her life going on without him. I think she was far much worse than we thought. Micki was strong, but this is an evil place...it got the best of her.

Do you really think she would have killed the babies?

Jack sighed.

I don't know...I really don't.

Jack then asked if Johnny had been having any weird dreams. By the end of the night Jack figured Lewis had in fact had something to do with making Micki's mind snap. Looking at Johnny straight in the eye, he told him they would do whatever they could to protect Ryan and Micki's children.
___________________________________________________________________________

Five months later Johnny adopted the babies.

Paul and Dean came to the same exact shop where their parents had met, fallen in love, and was torn apart in.

At first Johnny was unsure of the babies, they were so young and he had never even held one before. Jack was plenty of help and it seemed every night they would be standing together, pacing back and forth holding the crying babies and rubbing their backs.

They were exhausted.

How are we ever going to recover the objects now?

Jack held Dean in his hands and looked over the baby before kissing him on top of the head.

We'll find a way Johnny...we always do.

Sighing, Johnny held Paul and then a voice filled his mind.

Paul! Your still alive!

I'm dying Johnny...

Johnny blinked and the thought was gone. Holding Paul he sighed, unsure of the future ahead of them.
___________________________________________________________________________

Micki meanwhile rocked back and forth in her small cell. Moonlight spilling in.

Lewis had come to her the night after she gave birth to her babies. He had a knife and promised her something...

He held a hockey mask in his other hand.

You can have him back Micki, I know how badly you want him.

He then told her she needed to kill the babies, that they wouldn't really die. That if she slit her wrists and plunged the knife into their tiny little hearts then everything would turn back...

She would wake up on the plane coming back from Paris, and she would have Ryan.

Everything would be okay...

After that darkness.

She didn't know how she got here, or where her babies were. Instead, she was lost in her own madness. She was no longer the beautiful woman she used to be. Now she sat there rocking back and forth, her eyes lost and dark and staring at the wall.

In her mind a name kept whispering over and over...

Steven Freeman...

Steven Freeman.

Lewis had gotten his revenge.




25: Go to hell

Several years later

Everyone always said Steven had an old soul.

His memory was very vague about his childhood, all he remembered was his mother driving them to Crystal Lake, a small town in upstate New York. She had explained that they were originally from Chicago and that his father had left them years ago.

The reason why he could barley remember anything was the fact that years ago his mother explained to him he had fallen into a coma. She told him he had been a very sick child and finally one night a fever had caused him to slip into a deep coma for nearly three months. When he woke he could barley remember anything from before. His childhood, school, his father, and even how he had gotten there.

The only memory he did have was playing in the park and some woman with red hair had fallen. She was pregnant and had called out the name Ryan. Still this memory was hazy and he couldn't remember any details. When he asked his mother about it she usually got into a terrible mood and said she had no idea.

Months passed and finally they moved. Still so many details from before were gone. Instead all he remembered was arriving in his mother's station wagon, looking out the window at all the passing trees and finally the stunning lake.

They had moved into a small cabin right outside of town. His mother had him very late in life and had collected enough money to live off retirement even though she got a small part time job working at the local library. Times were tough at first but slowly they made it work. Steven never went without a meal and he always had new clothes to start school.

Steven wished he could remember more about his life, as far as he knew there were no other family members, only him and his mother.

It didnt take long for Steven to learn why his mother had gotten such a big break on. It seemed that for the past fifteen years that area had been plagued with a series of brutal murders. A man by the name of Jason Voorhees, who had supposed to have drowned years ago back in 1957 had been responsible for nearly eighty or so murders in the area. The history was grim and horrible. Jason had been born mentally retarded and was physically dis-formed. It seemed his single mother Pamela had been disowned by her family and went to a small summer camp off the lake to work as the cook. One day supposedly some kids ganged up on Jason and pushed him into the water. Thinking he had drowned, Pamela snapped and the following year killed the two teenagers that were supposed to be watching her son. Several years later she was responsible for setting a few fires and even trying to damage the water. Years later when the camp reopened she went on a rampage killing ten or so young adults who were trying to open the camp up before the summer season. In the end Pamela was killed and five years later Jason came out of hiding. It seemed as though he really hadn't of drowned. Instead he washed up on shore across the lake, frightened and alone and lived as a hermit alone in the woods and watched his own mother died that night.

For nearly a week he went on a brutal massacre before being killed by a small boy.

Legend had it he came back years later and was responsible for two other blood baths, one taking place closer to the city. For the time being there hadn't been any other murders and Jason was supposed to have been dead, Rumor had it that the other murders were all copycats like one that look place upstate a few years after Jason had supposedly been killed.

Since Crystal Lake had become somewhat of a tourist attraction. For a brief period of time they even changed to name to Forest Green before deciding to cash in on the murders. Every June 13th tons of people came to the town to visit Camp Blood.

Steven noticed all of this and even though he really didnt believe in all this Jason talk, he did find it very amusing.

Starting high school Steven began to get out of his shell. He joined the football team and started to hang out with a tight knit of teenagers his own age.

Thats when he met Jessica, a sweet pretty blond who was a year older than him. Her mother was a single woman named Diana who worked at the local diner. She was a cool lady who always snuck some of the kids beers from out back.

Steven seemed to really start to enjoy life. He was living a cool small town, had lots of friends, and felt that for the first time he was truly falling in love.

His mother was getting older which he was worried about but she seemed truly happy that he was enjoying life. Over and over again she remarked how happy she was that he was okay.

Steven graduated high school as one of the star players on the football and basketball team despite how thin he was. He had a job lined up for himself on a construction crew outside of town and was planning on getting his own place soon.

That's when Jessica came to him, nervous and on the verge of tears.

She was pregnant.

Steven wasnt prepared for this. The news hit him like a ton of bricks. He loved Jessica but still...a baby?

He felt as though they were still too young. He was still enjoying his glory days from school. He liked hanging out with the guys, drinking beers, cursing around, and not having a worry in the world.

Now a baby?

His reaction was pretty bad for Jessica who broke down and stormed out before he could say anything. For days he tried to call her but she wouldn't answer the floor. Finally a few fays later she came to him, her eye raw from crying on his doorstep. When he tried to explain he was sorry and just shocked at the news she told him she had lost the baby and that he didnt have to worry anymore. Before he could say anything she turned and left with him watching her car drive away.

Three months later his mother silently passed away in the night.

The funeral was small and Diana was by his side. She said that Jessica was living on the West Coast and she heard from him from time to time but seemed funny whenever they talked about her.

Living in his mother's house, Steven went to work and began making pretty good money. Still, he clung onto the past. Those few worry free years when he was in school and had Jessica. He still wore his basketball jacket, and still felt as though he was just eighteen years old.

Time was slowly passing in Crystal Lake and finally news of Jason being found and killed spread quickly.

For Steven he had no idea how insane the next few days would be.

___________________________________________________________________________

Johnny! Jack! Im home!

Paul yelled as he walked through the front door of Curious Goods.

Paul had his bookbag swung over one shoulder and hurried through the door as the bell rang him jingled. Behind the counter Johnny stood going over some of the records as Jack sat back drinking a cup of tea and doing a little light reading. As always as every afternoon when school let out seeing the boys come home was always a pleasure.

Dean was at hockey practice that ran until four, Paul always came home earlier than his brother, a huge smile on his face talking a mile a minute.

Hey guys!

He yelled as he ran up the stairs, right away he started going off about a fight that had taken place in the schoolyard. As always Johnny and Jack listened, casting each other amused glances as Paul spoke.

Paul and Dean were nearly twelve years old and it honestly seemed as though time had flown by.

It had taken a lot of time and effort for Jack and Johnny to tackle the task of raising two babies and tracking down cursed objects.

Jack remembered his own son when he held the babies and knew they could do it.

As hard as it was they somehow made it work. It was tough not having Ryan or Micki around anymore, but they made it. Even though they were recovering less objects each year, it was still dangerous work and more than once they had to remind themselves that if anything ever happened to them the boys would be left alone.

As babies they were adorable and a handful at the same time. It was hard having a vault full of dangerous cursed objects and two little boys running around. Nevertheless they did what they were told and never caused trouble.

As far as they still knew the vault was off limits and was always locked. They knew that Johnny and Jack went on business trips buying objects but didn't know why. Jack hated lying to them, but knew that they were still far too young to understand everything. For the time being all they knew was that they lived in an antique shop and that their parents were gone.

Johnny didn't dare take the boys to visit Micki. He had tried a few times when they were much too young to remember and all Micki did was blankly stare at them as if she wasn't there.

So when they began asking about their parents he simply said they died. He knew one day they would have to learn the truth as they would about the store, but it was far too much for them to understand. Jack and Johnny wanted them to enjoy their childhood, they didn't want to spoil anything.

The boys so far had a good childhood. Johnny took them to baseball games and fishing. Jack came to every game and school play and the two of them were always there for them. The boys loved them like an uncle and grandfather and reminded them so much of Micki and Ryan.

It seemed as though they were almost still alive.
__________________________________________________________________________

"GO...TO...HELL!"

Jessica kicked the dagger into Jason as Steven and her flew backwards. In just a few moments they watched as the ground opened up and demons dragged this monster down where he belonged.

Laying there watching the stars, Steven took deep breaths.

It was over.

Glancing up he looked at Jessica and they kissed, softly parting their lips.

For no reason at all Steven thought of a name...

Micki.
__________________________________________________________________________

Micki had been planning this night for a very long time.

She had waited until the nurse did her nightly checks before silently standing up. Grabbing her the bobby pin she had stolen from one of the nurses the week before she knelt down and carefuly picked her door open.

Lucky for her the nurses were on the other side of the hallway. Sneaking into the break room she opened the first locker she saw and took out one of the spare nurse uniforms. Changing quickly she hoped it wouldnt show how big it was on her as she took one of the keys from one of the purses on the bench and snuck out.

Twice she thought she was caught but the guards didnt even give her a second look. Once she was outside she aimed the keys at all the cars before one of them beeped. Getting in, she couldnt believe how long it had been since she last drove a car and started the engine. Backing out she began to drive all the meanwhile thinking of the same name that had haunted her for years...

Steven Freeman....

26: Turn back the clock

Come back here!

Paul yelled as Dean laughed running down the stairs. Johnny was working behind the counter trying to sort out the invoices as he glanced up at the two boys chasing each other. Jack glanced up from his desk, doing a little light reading.

Jumping over the railing and landing hard, Dean grinned before leaping behind one of the display cases.

Boys settle down!

Jack remarked as Paul came running down, circling his brother around the cases.

Dean held up what appeared to be a baseball cap Paul was fond of wearing. Waving it around he laughed at his brother before Johnny grinned and looked back down at his paperwork. Jack couldn't help but smile as well. No matter what the boys always brought life and noise into the shop.

As the boys playfully fought back and forth, nobody noticed that a certian mirror hanging in the background cracked. Behind the glass a set of old and watchful eyes stared waiting.

Laughing Dean darted past him and down the other set of stairs towards the front door. Swearing under his breath Paul followed chased after him.

The sound of the front door slamming along with the bell over head ringing filled the shop for a second before Johnny grinned and looked over at Jack.

Seconds later they heard the sound of screeching tired and breaking glass.
___________________________________________________________________________

Micki had escaped and was puzzled as she sat in a small library at the computer screen.

She had left the hospital the night before and used one of the cars in the parking lot. She had taken one of the nurses bags and had used the keys and money to make as much distance between herself and there. Ditching the car, she had used some of the money to buy new clothes and was keeping a low profile. She knew going back to the city wasn't an option. She needed to find this man she had been dreaming about.

Excuse me? Do you need any help?

Looking up Micki stared at a slightly older woman who smiled. Clearing her throat nervously she nodded.

Yes, I'm afraid I'm not very good at computers.

Oh not to worry, what can I help you with?"

Well, um...I've been looking for an old family friend of mine. I'm not exactly sure where he lives so I'm trying to find him. I tried a phone book but I don't think he lives in the area.

Oh yeah? Well finding an address is a little tricky but maybe we can look him up. The amount of information you can find on the internet is crazy.

Micki had no idea what she was talking about but simply nodded. Sitting beside her, the woman stared at the screen.

So what's the name?

Um...Steven...Steven Freeman.
___________________________________________________________________________

Johnny and Jack went running.

Both ran out to see the car smashed against a telephone pole across the street. Other people had started running and the first thing Johnny saw was blood.

No...oh God no...

Taking off, he jumped off the sidewalk and right away he saw Dean laying on his side sprawled out like a rag doll tossed to the side. A pool of blood was forming underneath him on the pavement and his leg was laying at a very odd angle.

NO!

Falling to his knees, Johnny knelt beside him as Jack hurried over. Gently touching his shoulder, he turned him to the side and saw right away that he was dead.

Right away Johnny felt as if this wasn't real. He had loved Dean like a son and had been protecting him long before he was even born. He remembered how lost Micki had been after Ryan was gone, and how he had promised her everything would be all right.

He remembered being with her when she delivered, and how shortly after she had her breakdown and was taken away. He remembered how scared and overwhelmed he was when he brought the babies home with Jack. How he questioned how he was ever going to do this?

Then he remembered what a great father he had and how he always wanted to be half the man he was.

He had been there when the boys took their first steps, said their first words. He was the one who fed them, bathed them, looked after them when they were fast asleep in their cribs. He was the one who walked them to their first day of school, cheered at their sports games, laughed as he took them trick r treating. He had watched them turn from little boys to young teenagers. He watched as they rough housed, watched movies with him, talked about girls, and ran around filling the house with youth and laughter.

Now Dean, who reminded him so much of Micki was laying in his own blood dead.

No, it couldn't be. He was just a kid.

Oh God!

He heard Jack cry. Faintly he heard sirens in the distance. Slowly getting up on unsteady feet he walked towards the wreck of the car and towards where Paul was.

He knew what had happened. A car was speeding down the street, the boys had run out without looking and it had lost control.

Other people were running towards Jack and where Dean was laying. Slowly he walked towards where Paul was and knelt down.

He saw the blood and his heart slowly pounded in his chest.

Slowly he leaned down and remembered how badly he had been in love with Micki. How it had broke his heart when they had to put her in the hospital. How all his hopes for the future had been shattered and how they even had to stop visiting her since she had gotten worse and worse.

Now he had failed at protecting her children.

Turning Paul over, he saw more blood and knew how bad it was.

Slowly Paul's eyelids fluttered open and he stared up at the sky. Johnny stared down, his eyes hopeful and scared. Paul blinked, not exactly seeing him and looking off past his shoulder.

Paul! Your still alive!

Paul's eyes shifted over and looked at Johnny before his lips parted, blood starting to bubble up.

I'm dying Johnny...

Before Johnny could say another word Paul's eyes shifted to the side and went still. Kneeling there looking down at him, Johnny shut his eyes and cried.
___________________________________________________________________________

The phone at the store had begun to ring. It was the hospital reporting that Micki had escaped. But nobody heard it. Instead it just rang, and rang, and rang...
__________________________________________________________________________

Micki had used the last of her money to take a bus to upstate New York. By the time she arrived it was late. Walking out she didn't know exactly where she was going, but she had a town's name and she knew he was close.

Walking, she looked for signs that said Crystal Lake.
__________________________________________________________________________

Ryan and Micki's boys were dead.

Johnny sat staring off into space while Jack sat across from him. The phone hadn't stopped ringing so they simply took it off the hook. Together the two men sat in silence.

The driver hadn't been drunk, he had tried to stop the car when the boys ran out but there wasn't enough time. He had hit the two of them and then crashed. He had been rushed to the hospital and the boys were loaded up and taken away.

Both not even old enough to drive and dead.

Lowering his head, Johnny began to cry.

He would do anything...anything to get them back.
_________________________________________________________________________

Micki slowly walked to the small cabin, the lights were still on. Walking by, she crept up and looked in.

There was a man and a woman sitting on the couch, holding a little baby. Both looked exhausted but happy.

Micki looked in and stared at the man.

Ryan...

She softly said.

Closing her eyes a single tear rolled down her face.
__________________________________________________________________________

At that exact moment Jack looked up, he felt something. Looking over, he stared at the cracked mirror and stop listening to Johnny as he cried across from him. Knowing that he couldn't allow this to happen he simply sighed and nodded.

Fine you bastard...I agree.

With that the mirror shattered...
__________________________________________________________________________

Micki opened her eyes.

It was November of 1989.

She was flying back from France.

She was sitting beside Ryan who was sleeping. Jack and Johnny were safe behind her.

Blinking, she had no memory of what happened. They had recovered the book.

Looking around she felt as though she had been thrown forward. Sitting there she looked around before glancing over at Ryan and smiled.

She was in love...

Leaning over, she smelled the faint scent of his cologne and kissed his cheek. Right away his eyes fluttered open and he glanced at her smiling.

Hey...

Smiling she rested her head on his shoulder.

Behind them Jack watched them. He knew what he had done but it was the only way. Better make a deal with the devil, then let what happened happen.

27: Never leave me

When they arrived back in Chicago, they drove back to the shop tired and physically and mentally drained. Jack closely watched Micki and Ryan and the two seemed unaware anything that had happened. Praying he had finally made the right choice his only comfort was seeing that they were together again and seemed at peace.

When they reached Curious Goods Johnny told them he was going back to his place to sleep for the next five days. Laughing lightly, Micki and Ryan tugged inside, dropping their luggage before slowly climbing the stairs.

Johnny stayed on the sidewalk, his hands shoved in his pockets watching the two of them through the front windows before turning towards Jack. It was a chilly overcast November day and leafs blew across the road. Sighing Johnny ran his hand through his hair before locking eyes with Jack.

I remember...what did you do?

Jack sighed.

I finally took an offer that was given to me the day Micki gave birth to her boys. I finally in the end said no, fearing too much had all ready happened and it would be better to leave things as they were...instead I learned all those years the damage I had done.

It's all hazy...but I remember staying here with you...and there were boys...Micki's?

Jack nodded.

We raised them as if they were our own. You were an amazing father to them?

What about Micki?

Lewis got to her causing her mind to snap...it didn't take until the accident for me to see that the boys were better off not even existing.

What happened...there's this voice that just keeps repeating over and over again in my mind...sounds like a boy.

What is it?

I'm dying Johnny...clear as day I keep hearing it.

Jack looked at the store.

I erased nearly fifteen or so years from the future...in the end Ryan and Micki's sons would have died and all of this would have been for nothing. Just the two of us could never recover all those objects...in the end we would have failed. We need Micki and Ryan to stay together, they are the real one who can finally stop this.

And the boys?

Jack sighed.

That was the price I had to pay...I swore that Micki and Ryan would never have children. It's a curse I'm going to have to live with. I just pray their love will over come their loss...and together they can finally finish their mission.

Looking at the store Johnny sighed.

I love her...

Jack nodded sadly.

I know.

But if it means her and Ryan being together and being happy...than I'll try to look at this as a second chance.

Nodding Jack touched Johnny's shoulder before turning and going inside. He prayed he had made the right choice, he loved Ryan and Micki like his own children. He hated he had to turn the clock back, but glancing up those stairs he only wished that he had been right about their love being able to overcome it all.
___________________________________________________________________________

After washing up and changing both Ryan and Micki collapsed onto Micki's bed, laying in each others arms. Both were beyond exhausted and barley even able to function.

All they remembered was that they couldn't find the book. Jack hadn't been getting any better so they called Johnny for an extra hand. Everything else was a blur. All the two of them remembered was Jack waking and them recovering the book.

Micki remarked on how odd she felt. As if her memories were in a strange haze. That she remembered that little girl Kris, and a horrible wind storm. Besides that everything else was a blur. She remarked on this and Ryan said he felt the same. Finally unable to wrap their minds around it, the two laid back and Ryan blamed the fact that both were exhausted from the trip. All that mattered was that the book was recovered, Jack was all right, and they were together.

Micki laid in the nook of Ryan's arm, resting her head back and closing her eyes. She was so tried her eyelids could barley stay open.

Listening to Ryan's breathing she smiled.

I love you Ryan Dallion...

She thought to herself before closing her eyes and holding him close.