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Part 5 "Mysteries unknown/New time's equation brought forth/Paradoxical." - The Riddle of Life Haiku

Ian hit the floor of Kenneth Iron's study sliding across the smooth surface into a pedestal. When he didn't move, Kenneth tracked the bloody trail back the way he had come to the arched doorway. His bored expression converted into bored but annoyed. "Why have you done this, he has not harmed you?"

"I found this hovering around in corners he shouldn't."

Turning the page of his book, Irons scowled in as if he tasted something awful. "He wasn't after you."

"I didn't say he was."

"Then why..." Irons leaned forward, closing the book with one hand. "Ah yes, he was in your way and the detective."

"Make sure it doesn't happen again."

He set the book down on the table next to his chair, picking up a glass of amber liquid in its stead. "I warn you now, don't cross the dear detective. Ms. Pezzini is quite the lioness when provoked, as I'm sure Isaac Sullivan would agree, all three of him."

"What the hell is going on here?"

Irons suddenly looked towards his right at a doorway as Sara came storming in, her right hand covered in the WitchBlade. "Detective, what can I help you with?"

Unnoticed by Sara and unacknowledged by Irons, the figure sulked back into the shadowed doorway it had entered. Eyes blinked slowly, feline.

"I wanna know why you funded Dr. D'Angelo's work. Just what exactly was he doing and why you were interested." Her stormy gaze never left Irons', their battle of wills seeming to ignite the air between them. "I'm waiting."

"Then you will be here a very long time. Certainly you know that I have no intention of revealing that kind of..." he was cut off by a large blade touching his throat. The gauntlet's red eye glared back at him.

"Answer the questions." Sara raised the blade, slowly trailing it over Irons' neck. "It's not exactly a lasso of truth, but I seem to be able to get through all the bull faster."

Eyeing his guest, Kenneth sighed. "I can't tell you what I don't know. Former Dr. D'Angelo was brought to justice for his crimes, I personally had a hand in that. This you would know if you had bothered to do a little more research. Now is there anything else you would like to have answered or is this interrogation over with?"

Sara noted the glance from Irons' eye towards the darkened door and frowned. Lowering the WitchBlade, she stepped towards it. The door slammed shut, the bolt locking in place. "Who was that?"

"Someone interested in you, detective. He is partially responsible for bringing down D'Angelo, though I never used any of his evidence. His methods of gathering left a lot to be desired, legally speaking of course." Standing, he gestured towards the still unmoving Ian. "If you will excuse me, Detective, I have other matters of which to attend. Any other questions you might have about what I know, the answers can be found in the official court documents. I am sure you can obtain a copy from the court house. Good day, Ms. Pezzini."

Pez hesitated a moment more before moving. She knew he had lied, but there was no evidence to back it up. Her steps quickly brought her to the shadowed door. Drawing back, she slammed the WitchBlade into the bolt with a battle cry. The iron door shook violently before cracking open and falling back flat. She examined the room beyond but found only the hall of past blade wielder artifacts.

Looking back at the now glowering Irons, she shrugged and walked out. As she went, the blade reformed into the bracelet; eye flashing once at Irons before going dark.

Irons caressed the double circle mark of the WitchBlade on his hand, a shiver of pleasure running through his body. The moment of bliss was cut out when a throat cleared back at the entrance to the Hall. Kenneth sighed. Looking down at his glass, he wanted to pick it back up, but decided against it.

"That wasn't very nice, Kenny."

"What do you want, you despicable cur?"

"Ouch, I'm hurt. You make it sound like we aren't friends anymore. After all, it was I who made it known to you what Daddy D'Angelo was doing. If it wasn't for me, there would be a hundred of those damn clones running around."

Looking up sharply, smirked at the slender man. "Can't have any of those evil clones, now can we?"

"No." Nodding once to Irons, the man turned to go back out the way he entered. He paused midstep. "Oh and by the way, Sara's cute, kinda spunky, she's got your number, but in the end, not my type. You might wanna watch that kid of yours though, he seemed awfully interested in her. Him interested in her," he shuddered, "now that's just gross. I'll be in touch, Grand Sire." With a quick swish of his coat, he disappeared in the shadowed Hall.

Kenneth watched the shadows with a mildly interested look on his face. "I'll remember that." A groan off to his right made him sigh again. This was fast becoming another disgusting habit. "Pick yourself up, Ian, you are not hurt."

Ian only groaned again.

Looking down at the man, Kenneth raised an eye brow. "Perhaps you are." Turning behind him, he reached over and turned out the lamp. "Good night, Ian, pleasant dreams." His footsteps echoed in the now dark study until he reached the doorway where Sara had entered. Closing the door behind him, any light coming through disappeared.

Part 6 "Chains of steel enfold/Night of moments we have shared/Memory no more." - Repercussions Haiku

"Hello?" Sara Pezzini held the small cellphone to her ear, surprised at the lack of number on the face. "Who is this?"

"Come now, Detective, don't tell me you don't remember me?"

"How? I thought you were dead!" Her eyes search the hospital around her. Ignoring the people moving about, she looks for a certain profile. "Where are you?"

"You won't find me, so don't bother looking."

"Then what do you want?"

"Can't we chat like old friends?" His teasing laugh caused the phone to wheeze with static.

"I'm hanging up now." She started to pull the phone away from her ear.

He sighed. "Fine, be a bitch, Sara. I was just calling to say thank you. Instead, fuck you. Next time we meet, you're dead, I don't care what Irons says."

The phone beeped signaling the call had ended.

A cold chill ran down her spine from the threat. Of its validity, she had no doubt. Just as certain of that, she was certain she would not win the show down. Something about this one worried her. Finally realizing she was still standing there with the dead phone to her ear, she held it out and dialed another number.

"Dante! This had better be good."

"This is Pezzini. I need to know the status on those triplets brought in last night."

Bruno's growl carried over the phone loud and clear. "I'm not your secretary..."

"I don't give a damn, I just got threatened and I need to make sure it wasn't one of them ass holes! Now what is their status, sir?"

"Since you put it that way." The sound of ruffling papers filled the small speaker. "Got it right here. Coroner's report. He says they look Human enough on the outside, dick's a little fucked up, but other wise Human. He hasn't sliced them open yet, but they are most certainly dead... Wait a minute." A loud muffled sound followed. "Give me a fucking break!"

Moving off to the side to avoid a gurney, Pez focused her intense glare at a young man who had grabbed her ass. "What was that, Dante?" With her right hand, she brought the WitchBlade up to smack the punk across the face breaking his nose. "Oh I'm so sorry, you should really watch where you are going, kid."


"Nothing, what is going on there."

"You had better not be getting into anymore trouble, you are still not clear on those bodies. Speaking of those damn bodies, they were apparently mislabeled and have been cremated, autopsy pending."

"God damn it! Who was the idiot..."

"I've already set the wheels in motion. Probably end up with one of them asshole interns instead of the real perp. I just got word the case is closed, investigation stands as is, no final reports needed." His voice dripped with sarcasm. "Who's pond have you been pissing in Pezzini?"

"Three guess, Dante, first two don't count. You can figure the rest out on your own, you're a big boy, sir. I'm off for the next four days, paid leave, see you on Monday." She clicked the button to end the call then turned the phone off.

Looking up and around, she tried to clear her mind. Okay, so now she knew for sure the Irons was involved. She also knew that he wasn't about to give her information, even under penalty of a slow, painful death. What did she know about all this?

Kenneth Irons was informed of the WitchBlade's past because he was cursed by it. She wasn't sure how it had punished him, but he was still around, in good health and fortune. So had Dominique until she pissed off the WitchBlade, now she was rotting in a morgue having died this morning. He had the gauntlet when the last known wielder had disappeared under suspicious circumstances. As another moment of truth struck her, she felt the eye of the blade come to life.

It became very important she find a mirror. Moving forward, she stalked down the halls towards the nearest marked bathroom. Inside she locked the door and tentively turned on the light. She looked up at the reflection staring back at her.

Tilting her head downwards to her right, she smiled genially and pulled her hair back over her shoulders. "Son of a bitch." The eye glowed on her wrist distracting her from the reflection.

Suddenly she was in another time, her arms around a steel eyed man, his white hair striking and outlandish at the same time. The WitchBlade was on her wrist waving at her. She looked into Irons' eyes and saw too late his intent. The blade fell from her wrist the moment before a blade found its way through her back. His face held a tragic resolve as he drove the blade in further. She gasped and started to cough, blood filling her mouth.

Sara gasped, sputtering and coughing up blood over the wash basin. Her chest hurt from the phantom dagger. She knew this was important, but couldn't figure out why. Irons had killed her, at the moment that was more important than anything else.

Looking down at the blade, she smirked as it went dark. "I know his crime, now what did you do to him for it?" The blade was silent. "Figures, me talking to jewelry."

"It is far more than that, and you know it."

She jerked back against the sink's edge, hands up to defend herself. Seeing it was only the ghost of her former partner, Sara lowered her arms. "Are you that desperate for the company? Keep it up and I'll be joining you shortly."

Danny Woo smiled at her, his Asian features colored in pale white. "You are getting closer to the truth of the matter, Pez."

"What truth is that, Danny? It seems all I get is more questions around here these days."

"Wasn't there a reason you came to this place?"

"Yeah, Jake, I was just coming to check on him when I got a weird phone call."

He pointed at the door. "It's all a web, Sara, spun by the WitchBlade. Everything is now connected in your life, there are no coincidences."

"That's exactly what Dominique said." Sara glared at her dead partner when he raised an eye brow. "Why are you here, Danny?"

He held up a white paper sign that had a black arrow pointing towards the door. His white sweat shirt also had an arrow pointing towards the door saying 'I'm with stupid.'

"Okay, I get the picture. I'm going." She tried not to smirk at him when she passed through him. Grabbing the door, she pulled it open and walked out. The hall was unnaturally quiet, people milling about in door ways glancing about nervous.

She moved quickly down the hall to the over night stay ward. Inside people were avoiding a certain curtained off bed. A pair of orderlies were standing guard preventing anyone from entering the area. Sara walked up to them, flashed her badge and gestured for them to move aside. They glanced at each other then did as she motioned.

Drawing the curtain aside, Sara took in the sight of Jake. He was sitting on the bed in a regulation hospital gown, his knees drawn up and a box in his lap. "Hey, Jake, what ya got in the box?"

"A pair of hands." His voice was dazed.

"Who's hands?"

"They're a gift."

She slowly eased closer to the bed. "From who?"

"Isaac." He gestured to a jar of white roses on his tray table. "The card says they are the color of death in some cultures. One red symbolizes purity."

"You are scaring me, Jake. What is in the box?"

Looking at her, he smiled. He turned the box around, opening the lid so she could see. Inside were two wax covered hands, each holding a white note card. One said 'You're', the other said 'Welcome'. Jake cracked up at Pez's look of disgust, and closed the box. Setting it down next to the roses, he raised his own hand to his neck.

"What's that around your neck?"

"What? Oh this?" He pulled out the silver chain with a silver pendant with a red circle on it. "This was in one of the hands. It is a gift from Isaac too."

Before Sara could ask anymore questions, the curtain was jerked aside. A detective and doctor entered with two uniformed cops. The detective gestured for the uniforms to take the box and flowers away. The doctor moved into to touch Jake, but he caught his hand mid air.

"Detective McCartey, I can't remove the evidence if you don't release my hand."

Jake's hand tensed around the Doctor's arm. "You aren't touching it or me, you shit!" He used the man's arm to toss him backwards through the curtains to land across the ward.

The uniforms moved in to grab Jake but Pez lifted her badge. "Back off, boys. He says he doesn't want to be touched, you aren't going to lay a finger on him."

"Ma'am, we need the necklace. It is evidence..."

Jake stood up from the bed and grabbed the IV poll to keep from falling over. Pez moved to intercept him and he jumped back. Jake yanked the IV from his hand and picked up the poll to wield like a staff. "The next idiot who thinks they can touch me won't see tomorrow!"

"Get his clothes," Sara told an intern. "You are coming with me, Jake, I will take you home."

He nodded but didn't let go of the IV poll. The uniforms moved back into position when the intern brought in the pile of clothes; weapons and holsters on top. Jake intercepted the man, motioning with the wheel end of the poll for the man to put the clothes on the bed. After he had slowly complied then backed away, Jake moved forward and picked them up.

Pez held out her hand to Jake. "Come on, you can change in the car." She waited patiently, her expression brokering no other options.

Jake eyed her suspiciously before turning only his head to look at the Uniforms. "Get out of my way." With the one hand holding the poll, he twirled it once then brought it up to swing in a side to side arc. "Now."

Wisely they backed away. Their hands were spread wide in a non threatening gesture.

"Move your ass, Jake." Pez stalked off out of the ward confident the soft pattern of hospital slippers on tile floor was her partner following. They quickly made their way out the front entrance into the parking garage. At the elevator, Pez glanced at her partner.

Jake still held the IV poll, ready for action.

"That is Hospital property, Jake, I don't think they want you to keep it."

Glancing at the poll, Jake tossed it aside before climbing into the elevator. The ride down to the first level had him shifting from side to side. Finally growing impatient, he pulled out the stop button. He quickly slid out of the hospital gown and slippers oblivious to Sara's careful observation.

Jake was bent over slipping on his jeans when she reached out to touch the back of his neck. Sara gently probed the bite mark, carefully tracing the four large canine indentations. He had stilled under her inspection, despite the obvious pain, the sensation caused an unbearable lust in him. She went to draw back her hand but he caught it quickly, bring it around to suck on her fingers.

Gently, he licked the tips. From there he idly lathed up each from the nail to the knuckle, paying special attention to each in turn. When he started to nip at the webbing between the thumb and index finger, Pez jerked it back.

"Okay, that is weird. What is going on with you?"

Jake knelt down, slowly spinning to face her. His half lidded eyes and flushed complexion in tandem with his erection clearly stating his intentions. He sucked air gently through his teeth, cocked his head to the right, and edged closer to her on hands and knees. His stance screamed predator at her.

She felt the WitchBlade awaken, the energy tickling the back of her skin. Double vision of Jake had him over lapped with a tiger crouched in front of her. "Whoa, down kitty." His next step forward had him a hair's breath of touching her leg. "Jake..." Her warning had no effect.

Sara dodged right when he reached out to grab her from the same angle. His arms over shot and he flew into the corner as she swung around and hit the elevator control panel. The lift started moving again with a groan. She jumped away from the console when he tried to grab her again. Her back burned in the places the knobs had impacted.

"Calm down, Jake. You don't want to do this."

"Fuck," Jake half growled, half snarled.

"You can say that again." Pez jumped over Jake as he lunged into her corner again, this time she landed on his back. He fell out from under her causing her to roll with him in order to avoid braking her neck against the lift wall. She came up on her feet, blade ready to strike the exact same time he stood up ready to pounce. They stared each other in the eyes, their hunched over postures allowing them greater swing when they would attack.

Before they could move, the bell pinged and the doors slid open. Jake did snarl this time, swinging around to hit the person behind him. Too late, he ended up being smacked into the side of the lift and rebounding back into the arms that had hit him in the first place. Their vice like grip tightened about his upper body, forcing his arms to remain at his side. Jake growled out his anger, attempting to kick backwards and bite the arms holding him.

The first blow to the bite mark on his neck had him dazed. The second sent an electric surge through him, making all but his erection go limp. Groaning, he weakly tried to struggle, but to no avail as he was held fast.

Sara stared at her partner with shock before switching to Ian. His bruised face was nearly twice the normal size and she suspected his jaw was either broken or close to it. It was clear that his disjointed nose still needed resetting, and the head butts to her partner had done nothing to help. "Thank you."

"You are most welcome, fair Sara."

"That leaves out broken, but still must hurt like a bitch when you speak."

"My jaw is indeed cracked, but I am able to tolerate the pain." He adjusted his jaw with an audible click. "Come, my employer wishes to have a word with you, Sara."

"Not until you tell me what exactly is going on here. How did you know he was attacking me, and that hitting him there would disable him?" She shifted forward, hand held up with the WitchBlade blazing when he tried to move back. "Oh, no you don't, I want my answers now, or we're not going anywhere."

"He can awaken at any moment..."

"Then I guess you had better start spilling. Starting with what exactly Irons was doing funding D'Angelo's research."

Ian sighed and dropped Jake against the wall. "I do not know all of my employer's secrets, Sara. He told me only what I needed to know in order to help disable your partner. Beyond that and his wish to see you, I am not certain what is going on."

"You said certain, which means you have a guess." She smiled at his stiff posture. "Does this have anything to do with that bus that obviously hit you?"

"Fine." Adjusting his coat, Ian swiped the lint from the front with one hand and pulled out a folded news paper article with the other. "He thought you might feel this way." Tossing the paper down on the prone form of her partner, he saluted her then walked away. "I should warn you, Sara, your partner will remain this way for another day and half. I suggest you either find someone to accommodate his sexual needs or have him restrained the remaining time. Good day to you."

Sara watched him vanish into the shadows of the parking garage, his words echoing in the darkness. The moment he was out of sight, she moved to Jake's side. She ignored Jake's growl when she took the paper from his chest. Opening it, she scanned the head line. "Damn!"

Jake growled again, but didn't stir.

Looking down from the picture her partner's face, Sara shook her head. "Looks like you will be staying with me tonight, Jake."

Jake's eyes flickered open then closed again. Smiling blissfully, he slid closer to her, trailing a hand up her jean clad thigh. He whimpered at her grip on his hand preventing it from moving higher.

"What the hell did they do you?" She pulled his hands up around her neck and used her weight to pull him up. Groaning, she stood with his near dead weight hanging from her. "Time to go on a diet, Jake."

Jake giggled at her, still dreamily smiling. "You're funny, Pez." He sighed then laid his head on her shoulder. "I'm horny."

"I can see that, just keep it in your pants until we get back to my place. You can whack yourself off to your heart's content in the shower." Looking back and forth, she led a dazed Jake to his car.

Part 7 "Stars of past embrace/Vehicles of love and grace/Gone without a trace." - Parents Lament Haiku

"Hold on, Jake." Sara foisted the still giggling Jake on to the wall next to her loft door. Said door was standing slightly ajar. Pulling out her gun, she slid it open enough to slip through and quickly walked up the stairs. The moment she cleared the landing, she took aim through the hand rail at the hunched over figure in a leather jacket and jeans. "Freeze!"

"Oh, easy chief." Gabriel let go of the drum set and put up his hands, slowly turning around to face Sara. "I'm, uh, with the band." He smiled cheekily at Sara, dark eyebrows raised in mirth.

Walking the rest of the way up the steps, she frowned. "How the hell did you get in here."

Gabriel looked chagrinned as he glanced down at the drums. "I told your super I was delivering a gift." He cleared his throat.

"Well thanks," she said, moving closer and reholstering her gun on her hip.

"Oh, well they're not a gift." Quickly speaking, he switched back and forth between her and the drums. "Just me, securing my investment." He cockily handed over the sticks with a smile.

Sara snorted taking them from him. Shaking her head over his gumption she looked at the drums. "Well what's one more curse, right?"

Gabriel shrugged.

She tapped out a small solo on the main drum ending with Gabriel hitting the symbol. "Anymore information yet?"

"Not yet, but I put some feelers out. Should return something soon." He was about to say more when something clattered to the floor behind them. Gabriel jerked around to come face to face with lust crazed blue eyes. "Uh, hi," was all he got out before his face was being mauled. He tried backing up, but Jake kept up, holding him close as they moved.

"Jake!" Sara stood frozen in shock as her partner plundered her informant's mouth. She found herself oddly turned on by the sight of Gabriel weakly struggling to catch hold of something while he stumbled backwards into the wall, Jake pushing him into it forcefully. When she thought she might have to intervene, Jake let go of Gabriel's mouth and started in on his neck.

Gabriel's chest heaved with each gasp. His eyes wildly searching the room, he moaned from the expert touches of the larger man pinning him in place. Distantly, he was aware of a hot hand tracing his lower back and ass, but his main focus was the hand down his pants quickly making him hard. "Um..." He felt teeth graze his ear, then the wet lips returned to sucking at his neck.

Jake squeezed the shorter man's erection and sighed contentedly. With a quick motion he yanked Gabriel's pants down to his knees. He pushed his own jeans down and stepped out of them. Stepping closer to the other man, he pushed his lower body against Gabriel's until he felt the other man's erection between his legs, probing at his ass.

Gabriel moaned when he felt a tight warmth around his hardon. Shoving his hips forward, he drove deeper into the tight, hot space. Absentminded of what the hell was going on, he only sought the release offered. He pulled out slowly then shoved back in deeper and harder.

Jake howled from the pain, but eagerly thrust back onto Gabriel. Standing over the man, he smiled into the dazed eyes of his companion. Unexpectedly, Gabriel grabbed his hips, pulled out and slammed back in. Jake threw back his head, spine arching in a silent cry.

Sara watched in morbid fascination as her partner and informant grunted and groaned against her living room wall. Standing stalk still, she continued to watch them. She glanced at her watch, then looked at it again. Ten minutes had passed since she had set Jake against the wall, eight since he had put Gabriel there.

Their cries started to get louder. Gabriel's hoarse voice released a high pitched cry before a loud, low groan. Jake wheezed silently gripping the wall and Gabriel for support. Gabriel's yelps and groans happened a few more times, each in time with a thrust, before he gasped out and collapsed against the wall. Sliding down with Gabriel in his arms, Jake rolled over taking the smaller man with him.

Sara checked the time again. Clapping, she moved towards them. "Congratulations, Jake, it took you exactly seventeen minutes, twenty three seconds to maul a complete stranger and then fuck him into a coma."

"I'm...." Gabriel's voice cracked as he weakly held up a hand, index finger up in note. He cleared his throat. "I'm not..." Gasping for air. "I'm not in a coma!" He let his hand fall back to the floor.

"Really? Well, you are kinda quick."

"Hey!" Gabriel blinked behind damp bangs. Answering her with his eyes closed against the stinging, he growled out. "I was taken by surprise!"

"From here, it looked like you were the one doing the taking." Sara couldn't help it, he blushed so readily.

"Uh, there is a good explanation for that." Gabriel shifted against Jake's now sleeping body. Sitting up, he winced when his dick didn't budge. "Ow, I think I'm stuck."

Sara tried, she really did. Her restraint held out for five seconds of Gabriel lifting his hips and trying to shake his dick free of Jake.

Gabriel hit Jake in the chest. "Spread your legs, you tight ass!"

Closing her eyes, Sara tried not to look anymore. She ran a hand over her forehead. "Are you saying my partner is uptight?"

"A little assistance would be appreciated." Trying unsuccessfully to spread Jake's legs with his own, Gabriel growled. "Come on, Detective!"

Sara took time out from her silent peels of laughter to bend over and grab Gabriel's hips. She ignored his protests and warnings of watch her hands to hold each side of his ass. "You know, Gabriel, you do have a cute toosh."

Lowering his head, Gabriel sighed. "There goes a perfectly good fantasy. Only my aunt ever said I have a cute toosh."

"Oh, cheer up, you could always do Jake. I'm sure he wouldn't mind. After all, you two are so close, you can practically tell what he is thinking."

"Just get me out of here!"

Sara laughed then heaved backwards. That same moment, Jake opened his legs. Sara flew backwards taking Gabriel with her, pulling him out with a wet, sucking sound. She landed next to the drum set, Gabriel on top of her. With a grunt of disgust, she shoved him away.

Gabriel sat up, quickly pulling his pants up to his hips. Tucking his now limp cock in side his jeans, he pulled them over his ass and up to his waist. He hissed when the tight zipper sealed over his sensitive flesh. "Damn that's cold!"

Watching him stand, Sara made note of how his legs now stood apart like a gun fighter. "So, do you suppose this is part of that famous curse?"

The young man sent her a death glare before running a hand through his sweat thickened hair. "Damn it!" He sent one towards the drum set. "Piece of shit. Keep the damn things!" Moving with a wider gait, Gabriel started for the stairs.

"Hey, Gabriel."


"Don't feel bad, Jake is outta his head."

"I kinda figured that part out for myself." He glanced over his shoulder at her. "You might want to check into that pendant around his neck, I seem to remember it had something to do with the an ancient cult tied to the WitchBlade. Something weird always happens with that damn thing. Just make sure the price is worth it, Sara. I gotta go, see ya when I got something."

"Bye, Gabriel." She watched him leave before getting up to stand over Jake. He seemed perfectly content to curl up on her living room floor and sleep. Snorting, she grabbed a throw off the couch and tossed it over his sleeping form. "What am I going to do with you?"

After a while, she gave up waiting for mysterious answers and went to bed. She took a quick shower before changing into shorts and white halter top. Checking on Jake to make sure he was comfortable, she placed a pillow under his head. Movement at his feet caught her eyes. A gold furred, bronzed striped, and black eared, tabby blinked at her with yellow-green eyes. "How'd you get in here?"

"He is a gift."

Sara froze at the eerily familiar voice. "What do you want?"

"They are believed to be the guardians of the house, used to ward off minions of Seker and his master, Apep the snake." His warm hand slid up Sara's neck to grasp her hair in its pony tail. "I am charging you with keeping mine safe. Protect them, Tefnut the Beauty and Merciful." Isaac grabbed her wrist, showing her the WitchBlade. "Your eyes are always open, but you don't see."

"Did you murder Jake's double?"

Smiling, Isaac breathed out through his nose. "I see you have already been visited by Seker. He bares the marks of my wrath, evidently my lesson wasn't fully understood."

"Why did you do it?"

"I am going away, the only reason I am really here right now is to check up on mine." He hmmmed and pursed his lips. Kneeling behind Sara, his profile came into her periphery vision. "Quite beautiful, isn't he. I shouldn't be here, my gifts and my charge could have been delivered by currier." Isaac reached out a hand to brush down Jake's face. His finger tips stayed on Jake's lips. "So beautiful."

"What kinda nut are you?" She instantly regretted her remark as he shook her by the back of her neck with incredible strength. "Wow, quite a grip you got there."

"Do not push me, Tefnut." He snarled at her, large canines bared in warning. "I am not like those duplicates, your little magical glove knows that. You should pay more attention to it."

"If you aren't a clone, does that make you the original?" Sara raised an eyebrow when he let her go.

"There are nine other original gods, Tefnut. You have seen five." He grabbed her chin, forcing her to look into his mismatched eyes. "Now you have seen six. Do not forget your charge." Isaac glanced over her shoulder to something on the floor next to Jake. "Listen to Tahuti, he does not hide his wisdom or twist it as Apep."

Sara froze, transfixed from the intensity of the Isaac's gaze. Shivering from the cold, Sara blinked. When she opened her eyes, there was no one there. Twisting her head around, she looked about, but the room was empty. The only sign Isaac had been there was the tabby still curled up at Jake's feet. White tufts on the tips its ears twitched.

She looked closer at the cat. Some of the stripes were actually spots, and the tell tale M signifying a Tabby was missing from its forehead. "What the hell kinda cat are you?" The cat shook its head and light from the over head windows caught on a tag around its neck. Moving closer, Sara scooped the cat up. She scratched at one ear with one hand while examining the tag with the other. "Cute, very cute." Putting the cat back down at Jake's feet, she glared at the spot Isaac had stood in. "Good night, Jake," she added, "Tefnut," as the cat watched her go. Still fuming at being called the same name as the cat, she went to bed.

Part 8 "Stays in spring forever/Smiles light and mingle flames/Consensus abound." - Tryst Haiku

Jake awoke to the sound of purring and something raspy running over his forehead. Making a sound of appreciation, Jake moved his face closer to the source. Something tickled his face. Smiling, he opened his eyes. A dark yellow and bronze striped neck filled his vision, purring as it moved over his face.

He stared at the cat dazedly from the pleasure of being groomed. Bringing a hand up, he stroked the back of the cat's head in time with its movements. The cat's purring increased in volume.

"Should I come back in fifteen minutes, Jake, give you two a little time to finish?"

The cat stopped cleaning his skin in favor of staring at Sara, ears twisted back in disinterest.

Jake stretched out on the floor, his muscles spasming from disuse. "Good morning to you too, Sara."

"I am assuming you know who this is?" Moving into the living room from her doorway, she gestured at the cat.

"Let me guess." He picked the cat up and looked it over, turning it from side to side. "Another present from my not so secret admirer?"

"Correct. He was here last night. Left you the cat and told me to watch over both of you." Sara ran a hand over the back of her neck up under her hair. "He has a hell of a grip." Her stance went from wary to inquisitive. Crossing her arms, she stared at him. "Any idea why he keeps referring to the cat and me by the same name?"

Sitting up, Jake held the cat close. After crossing his legs, he checked the tag. "I can't make it out, just a bunch of symbols. What does it say?"

"What's the matter, too much sex causing you to forget basic reading skills." Her half smile changed at his serious expression. "Let me see that." She took the cats from his outstretched hands. Checking the gold, oblong medallion, she smiled. "See, Tefnut." Sara's face contorted when she ran a thumb down the carved symbols. "This isn't in English, is it?"

"Nope." Upon standing, he took the cat back from her hands. "Now the question is how do did you know what that said?"

"I don't know." At his disbelieving look, she shook her head. "I honestly don't know, Jake. He never said this would be one of the side effects."

"He who? What are you talking about? Does this have to do with how you knew there was more than one of those clones and how you killed them?"

"Whoa, whoa, hold on there Jake, one at a time." Her partner was standing close, almost looming over her. She knew he was about to lose his hold on his anger. "A couple months ago before my last partner, Danny Woo, was murdered by Tommy Gallows' goons, I was in a museum shoot out. A display case was destroyed and this jumped on my wrist." Holding up the WitchBlade, she displayed the arm band.

Jake pursed his lips, eyes narrowed in anger. "Very funny, Pez. Jewelry doesn't just jump from a display case."

"No, it doesn't. This isn't a bracelet, it's a weapon." When she put emphasis on the last word, the WitchBlade's eye flashed blood red.

Jake stepped back, the cat in his arms hissing. One hand went up to the pendant around his neck while the other dropped the cat.

Both Jake and Sara stared at each other, the world seeming to disappear in shadows around them. He saw her covered in silver body armor and chainmail. The gauntlet on her wrist producing a long, double edged sword. She saw Jake covered in a bronze breast plate and beaded Egyptian collar. A bronze sword held on one hip while a quiver of arrows and bow hung over his right shoulder. Half his upper arm was covered by a coiled, bronze cobra. Both wore leather breach clothes over shin guards and leather boots; hers tempered iron, his polished bronze.

Stepping back from each other, the illusion disappeared. Their eyes warily darted about them and the room.

Pez was the first to start breathing again. "Okay, what the hell was that?"

"You tell me! It's your bracelet." Jake still gripped his pendant, his hand turning white.

"As I was saying, this thing jumped on my wrist! It has a mind of its own, Jake. Nothing about it is random." She shook her wrist again, the eye still glowing. "Ever since this damn thing attached itself to me, even when I take it off, my life is like something outta the twilight zone. Ghosts, immortals, clones, they all seem to be attracted to this like moths to a flame. And they aren't just drawn to its power, they are drawn by the blade itself. It wants them here."


"I don't know! That's what I have been trying to find out. I get these visions sometimes, and I think that is what just happened. He said this would happen." Something occurred to her, causing her to look up at Jake's confused face. "In answer to your question, who he is, remember last night? That guy you just happened to ride against my wall like a prized stallion? Him."

Looking away, Jake dropped his hand to his side. "Uh, yeah, I think I remember what he looks like." His eyes sought out her face. "He looks kinda like you. Only his skin is paler, darker hair." Squinting at her, his eyes suddenly went wide. "Oh, gross! I did someone that looks like you."

"Gee, thanks, you are a real prize yourself."

"Pez! It isn't that and you know it." He started past her towards her bedroom. "I just... You are my partner, and a girl at that."

"So what! It's not like I have cooties or anything, Jake. I am a grown woman, I happen to be found extremely desirable to many men and women." She followed Jake into the bedroom stopping when he did. "What?"

"You said both men and women. So, do you? Both." He didn't turn around.

"You know what, we are not having this conversation. I thought we settled this the other night in Badlands, but I guess you are still too immature." Shoving him towards the bathroom, she walked to her chest of drawers. "There is a towel on the basin. Use the soap on the ledge, not the bath gel."

"Yes, mother," he muttered walking into the bathroom still completely naked.

It didn't register with her until the door had closed that Jake hadn't been wearing any clothes the entire time. Something odd about that but it didn't occur to her what exactly. He was entirely too strange to her at the moment. Besides, she had other things to consider at the moment.

She dressed slowly. The sounds of Jake trying to sing in the shower made her cringe. Her mind reeled around what Isaac had said to her the night before. He had said there were nine others, he and Jake were two, Irons and Ian made four.

Sitting back from strapping her boot, thought back on all she had encountered since the WitchBlade had come into her life. "Tahuti is number five and D'Angelo makes six." Sara stood and walked back into the livingroom. Her mind replayed the events of the last night over. "He was kneeling there, and I was over here next to Jake." Glancing over her shoulder, she spotted something small on the floor. "Bingo." Next to Jake's pillow was a small business card. "Talismanic, Gabriel."

"What about Talismanic and who is Gabriel?"

Sara looked up at Jake's voice, a smirk on her lips. "Him, Jake."

"Him?" Enlightenment dawned on him. "Oh," he swallowed, "Him, him. So this Talismanic is what, his club?"

"No, its a rare artifacts dealers. He owns it."

"Right, the shrunken head guy." Jake released the towel from around his waist and walked towards the stairs. His clothes were on the top step where he had dropped them. Bending over, he grabbed the pants.

"Nice to know you feel comfortable enough to make yourself at home."

"Thanks, I just need to get my clothes on and I will be outta your hair." He slipped on the jeans, quickly fastening them over his hips. The moment he tightened the belt into place, his abdomen spasmed. "Fuck!" Loosening the belt a notch, he tightened it down. "What the hell?"

"Putting on a little weight, Jake?" Pez's amused voice seemed to echo in the living room. Her body wavered a little, as if seen through heat vapors.

Blinking, Jake tried to clear his distorted vision. Next thing he noticed Pez was kneeling over him, alarm clearly contorting her face. She was saying something to him. "I can't...."

Her attention was split between him and something out of sight. Sara would look up at something then back to him. She tried to speak again. When her words didn't seem to have any effect, she forced something into his mouth and massaged his throat.

Jake took the hint and started to swallow. Something cool and sweet washed down his throat spilling over into his trachea making him cough. It stopped until the coughs had passed then Pez was making him drink more. His mind couldn't focus long enough to identify the flavor.

She took the cup from his lips and placed it on the floor next to them. Looking up at Danny, Sara raised her eyebrows. "Well?"

"He should be fine now." Danny shrugged his shoulders. "There isn't much I can tell you, I don't know all the answers myself."

"Then tell me what you do know."

"His body is adjusting to changes, preparing itself for the next phase in its cycle." Danny knelt down a few feet away from them. His hair hung over his face obscuring parts of it as he looked at Jake.

Sara stroked Jake's face, unconsciously seeking to comfort him. "There must be something we can do. Is there anyway to stop it?"

"Nothing. This was genetically programmed long before his birth. Certain chemicals when introduced into his body would set this in motion." He sighed then gestured for Pez to feed Jake more of the semi-frozen paste. "The catalyst was something he smelled, a pheromone."

"That sounds familiar," she said absently, her mind already trying to recall the information.

"All lifeforms release them at one time or another."

"Right, that's how guard dogs can smell fear." Putting more paste in Jake's mouth, she rubbed at his throat.

"Or when an animal is in heat." Danny ignored Sara's shocked look. "Keep feeding him. He'll need a lot more before he can recover enough to regain his senses. You need to protect him, Sara, you're all he has left now."

After putting another lump in Jakes mouth, letting it defrost on his tongue so he could swallow, she looked back to where Danny had been kneeling. He wasn't there. "What do you mean by that," she called. There was no answer.

Jake groaned from his place on the floor. His senses slowly coming back to him. The first thing he registered was that he was extremely tired. Fluttering his eyes, trying to keep them open, he looked at Pez. "Sleepy."

"That's good, Jake. Sleep, I'll tell Dante you're still sick."

"Okay." Then his mind drifted off into unconsciousness.

On impulse, she copied down the symbols from Jake's pendant on a legal pad. She placed the pillow back under his head and covered him up where he lay on the floor. There was nothing more she could do for him. When Danny had told her of the paste in her freezer left there by Isaac the night before, she wasted no time getting it. If he knew what was going on with Jake, she would find out the next time he appeared.

Right now, though, she had a more tangible lead to follow. She ripped off the paper from the pad and stuffed it in her jacket. Perhaps he knew more by now. At least he might be able to get an estimate on Jake's pendant. With that, she grabbed her helmet off the back of the couch and walked out.

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