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Authors Note - The following series involves refers to characters and
incidents from earlier stories of mine. To understand much of what occurs
from here on in, you should definitely read.

Harbinger Parts 1 - 14
Holmstead (featuring Katie Holmes)
Stolen Child (featuring Rachael Leigh Cook)

If you haven't read them, and you want to get the most out of this then read
them now. Also, if you're after a heap of plotless sex, you won't find it
here.



Crossfire Part 2: Heart's Desire
by Arcane ([email protected])

For once Rachael Leigh Cook was somewhere safe from the prying eyes of the
media. In fact the Warner studios cafeteria was so used to stars that both
she and her companion were almost over looked save for a few odd glances. If
anyone had been watching her then they might have noticed her attention was
focussed well away from her own table and in the direction of another young
actor across the room.

While neither he, nor anyone else seemed to notice her frequent glances, her
lunch partner was decidedly more perceptive on the matter.

"You should go and talk to him."

"Yeah right Katie," Rachael turned back to her fellow actress, "like I can
just go over and say hello without attracting so many stares.. it would
totally freak me out. Anyway, he's just a no name actor."

"Oh don't go and pull a class system paranoia thing on me Rachael, you're
smarter than that. Besides it's a speaking part."

"For one show."

"You were only on for one show. Until now anyway."

"Well, I wasn't going to turn it down. I like Dawsons Creek."

"You're changing the subject."

"What subject?"

"Rachael, if you keep this casual glance thing up your going to get RSI."

"Huh?"

"Repetitive strain injury. You're sneaking a peek ten times a minute."

"Well he is cute."

"My point exactly. So go talk to him."

"Look, Katie, I like admiring from a distance but I just don't think I'm
looking for anyone right now."

"You're looking for someone ten times a minute."

"I mean a boyfriend."

"All I said was talk to him. Anyway, why aren't you?"

"I have a kind of busy life right now."

"All the more important to enjoy your spare time then."

"Look, I am not going over to talk to him here and now. Okay?"

"Sure. Whatever. So what do you do in your spare time anyway?"

"I don't know, Read, listen to music. Shop sometimes. That sort of thing."

"There's lots more you can do with a guy. Go on admit it. You want him to
storm over that floor and take you right her on the table."

"Katie! I'm trying to eat here."

"So I see. Looks kind of icky."

"It's vegetarian."

"Oh yeah. Well If you're looking for more meat."

"Stop."

"But.."

"No. No way. You're acting like a school girl."

"And you're acting like you don't have red blooded lusts."

"My blood is not that red."

She cast another glance and this time she wondered if he'd actually seen her.
If he had he simply returned to his lunch. Not that it meant anything. She
was doing much the same.

"I'll talk to him later." She shrugged to Katie. "Promise."

Through no real fault of her own she ended up breaking the promise. Her
scenes ended up taking longer than necessary and by the time she had finished
the young man (called Edwin, she had learned) had gone. In a way it was a
slight relief but at the same time she found that she couldn't stop thinking
about him. She tried to distract herself with other thought,, given that
there was plenty for her to think about, but somehow he always sprung back
into mind. She was grateful that she was eventually able to get to sleep,
forgoing much of the study that she had meant to do that evening.

* * *

Rachael walked down the mist street, looking for something she couldn't
place. She had a talent for knowing when she was dreaming. She was certain
of it now.

The streets had no substance, little more than shifting clouds into the form
of buildings and shapes. She alone held any solid form, her own, dressed in a
tee-shirt and jeans. It struck her as odd that she should be walking on this
street, most of dreams being set in natural settings. There was something
eerie about this thick, unnatural dream fog.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw movement, colour darting through the
mist. She turned just in time to see a form fading into the mist.

Edwin, she knew, though there was know way of identifying him through vision
alone. Dream logic dictated that knowledge could come separate of perception.

Rushing through the mist Rachael followed. She couldn't see for more than a
few metres in front of her, the mist to thick to see through. But now and
then she saw a fleeting glance of her prey and each time she tried to speed
her pace, each time finding it harder to move. The dream was working against
her, something holding her back. As she watched he slipped further and
further away and though she tried to reach for him, tried to call, there was
nothing she could do. Rachael suddenly felt a loneliness, an isolation, lost
in this fog. She wanted to find him so badly that it hurt.

But there was nothing she could do. He was gone now. Lost in the dream mists.

Rachael awoke to the dim light of dawn. As she rolled out from her sheets she
noticed her cheeks were covered in tears.

"I don't know what's happening to me." Rachael mopped having come off a scene
which she'd botched four times. In the end she got it right but it still felt
off to her. It was impossible to keep her mind on her work when that dream
kept jarring in her memory.

"Forgive me for being so obvious," Katie suggested, a impish grin on her
face, "but I think the word you're looking for is l.o.v.e."

"No." Rachael sighed as she sat down. "Love is supposed to be nice. Warm and
fuzzy. This feels wrong. Artificial."

"Oh Rachael. How can emotions be artificial?"

"I don't know. I haven't been able to think straight lately. Maybe I'm not
getting enough."

"That's my theory."

"Enough sleep." Rachael finished with an irritated tone. "I had dreams last
night."

"Good dreams?"

"No. Weird dreams. Not like my usual dreams."

"What are your usual dreams?"

"Well. look my point is that I can't stop thinking about him."

"So go talk to him. He's over there now."

Rachael looked over her shoulder and was hit by a sudden weakness. Just
looking at him had her off balance. She knew something had to be off, she
just didn't act like this ever.

"Right." Rachael took a deep breath and stood, walking over to Edwin, one
step at a time.

"Hi." She almost choked at being this close to him. On an intellectual level
she couldn't figure it. He was cute but he wasn't that cute. And she liked to
think of herself as seeing beauty as only skin deep. "So how's the shoot
going."

"Pretty good." He cast her a friendly smile that forced her to sit down. "You
never know, it could be the first step to something big."

"Maybe. My first guest shot was kind of cool.

"Yeah, I saw that. I never thought I'd be on this myself."

"Me.. neither.." Rachael alternated between staring at him and trying hard to
look away.

"I liked you in She's All That."

"Really?" she giggled then caught herself. "It was fun."

"I agree. But I think you looked better with glasses."

"You do?"

"Nothing personal. I just think glasses make women look more attractive."

"Oh.. okay.." Rachael shivered, wondering if her discomfort was visible.

"Not that you're not attractive without them."

"I.. I.. I have to go." Rachael bolted from her seat and ran.

It was either that or succumb to the almost irresistible desire to kiss him
there and then. As much as she wanted to, as much as she could imagine it in
her mind, she knew it wouldn't be right to do it.

So she ran.

Away from Edwin, past Katie and all the way back to her dressing room where
she locked the door and stared at herself in the mirror.

"What is wrong with you!" she scolded her reflection. "Get a grip."

"Okay. Think it through. Maybe it's some nature thing. It doesn't feel
natural."

She turned from the mirror and slumped back into her chair.

She thought of him, sitting there in the studio, so close to her. Did he have
any idea of the way she felt? The feeling that she wanted to kiss him, to
hold him, to feel is warmth against her.

"It's like a stupid Harlequin romance!" she pounded her fists in frustration
but it did little to vent either her anger or her passion.

Passion. That was what it was: pure lust.

And no matter how she tried to rationalise it the thoughts kept coming back.

What if she could get him alone and talk to him?

What he felt the same?

He would take her in his arms, run his hands over her body, holding her.

She could imagine the touch of his lips on her mouth, her neck her shoulders.
The touch of his fingers on her bare skin, caressing, teasing.

Rachael sighed at the thought, running her own hand across her body, sliding
over the fabric of her shirt and down to her waist. The pressure of her
fingers made her moan softly, still imagining that it was his hands that were
touching her.

With a slow probing reach, Rachael gave in to the urges she felt, imagining
the hands of another in place of her own, stroking, rubbing beneath the
fabric of her jeans.

The desire was undeniable.

* * *

"Where did you go?" Katie asked, leaning back in her chair as Rachael
returned to the set.

"I had some thinking to do." She replied.

"If that's what you want to call it."

"Hey! Look think whatever you want."

Rachael continued to walk until she reached Edwin who was reading over some
dialogue.

"Hi again. I'm sorry I had to run. I remembered I had some business to do."

"That's fine. Busy Hollywood stuff huh?"

"Yeah. Um.. Are you doing anything tonight?"

"Not really. Why?"

"I just thought you might like dinner or something."

"Really. I mean. I'm flattered really but I have a girlfriend and I probably
shouldn't."

"Oh." Rachael responded. "Okay. I just thought I'd ask."

"Thanks. Really. Maybe some other time."

"Yeah." Rachael stood. "See you round."

She waved to him and headed back to her dressing room, perfectly casual.
She passed Katie without a word, not stopping until her door was closed
yet again. The actress watched Rachael go, sensing that there was trouble
brewing. She followed behind, not sure exactly what to say but trying to
think of something. She was still thinking, waiting outside Rachael's door
when what sounded like an explosion came from within.

Katie lurched in, closing the door behind her.

Rachael stood in the middle of the room, tears running down her cheeks and
her hands balled up into shaking fists.

That alone was enough to make Katie nervous. But what was worse, much worse,
was the cupboard door in front of her. Not only had it been broken in but it
looked like it had been blown apart by nothing short of a hand grenade.

"Go Away." Rachael growled.

"I can't. Rachael I'm sorry."

"What was a thinking? How did I let myself get so out of hand?"

Katie looked at the floor and whispered something Rachael could barely hear.
She rubbed her tear filled eyes and looked at her fellow actress, whose
liveliness had suddenly faded.

"What did you say?" Rachael asked confused.

"It was me." Katie repeated, only slightly louder. "I pushed you to ask him
out."

"You were just giving me advise. I should have thought it through."

"You.." Katie gulped. "Don't understand. When I say I pushed you.. I mean.. I
made you.. attracted to him."

"What?"

"I wanted you to be happy. I saw you looking at him and.. nudged you a
little."

"How do you mean nudge?" Rachael asked, her voice betrayed and confused.

"I can.. I have.. powers.. I.. well it's hard to explain.. I can project.
lust.."

"Project Lust?"

"It's a long story. But I wanted to make you happy. I thought it would be
fine so I pushed you. But you resisted so I pushed a little more until. well
maybe I went too far."

"Too far?" Rachael looked at her supposed friend. "Too Far! You messed with
my head. Do you know how dangerous that is?" Rachael temper flared suddenly.

"Yes. I know."

"You don't know! You Have No Idea!" Rachael voice boomed in Katie's ears,
louder than could be imagined. She stared at Rachael, the small girl looming
towards her, her neat hair crackling with black light, eyes glowing with
green light.

Katie was overwhelmed by her desire to escape but try as she might she
couldn't move.

Yet somehow she had to get away.

So she fainted.

* * *

She came to lying on the floor. She didn't know how long had passed since her
loss of consciousness. Groaning slightly she stood up, looking about the
room. Rachael sat on her chair calmly, watching Katie as she rose. Behind her
the cupboard door was totally unmarked. Katie stared at the smooth wood with
disbelief.

"I know what you're thinking." Rachael remarked. "You're wondering if any of
this happened. I could tell you it didn't but I'd rather trust you and tell
you it did."

"How?" was all Katie could manage to say.

"I image we'll both be answering that question soon enough. Simple answer. I
am the Guardian of Balance, something that you need to learn more of."

"Guardian of Balance?"

"One that makes sure the balance of magic and nature is kept in check. Given
what you claim for a power it shouldn't be too hard to accept."

"I suppose not. How long have you."

"About two months. You?"

"Closer to three." Katie replied. "Are.. you okay?"

"Actually yes. Once I became aware of your manipulation I was able to focus
on counteracting it."

"Rachael I'm sorry."

"I know you are. And I'm sorry I scared the living daylights out of you. The
wrath of a nature spirit is not pleasant."

"I guess not." Katie nodded in acceptance.

"You lied to me. And you manipulated me, even if you did it with good
intentions. But that's a dangerous talent Katie. If it can affect me it can
affect almost anyone."

"I know. I've never really used it like that."

"We'll I think we're both lucky Edwin was already taken, otherwise this could
have become really icky."

They were silent for a few seconds.

"You know what the worst thing is?" Rachael almost laughed.

"What?"

"You put me totally out of balance. I haven't checked the balance of nature
for two days."

"Oh. How bad is that?"

"Not too bad." Rachael shrugged. "Nature has a way of looking after itself."

She stood up and crossed the floor.

"Anyway, checking the balance is as easy as.."

She closed her eyes and pressed her fingers together in front of her.

"Nnng!" Rachael suddenly keeled over, Katie catching her before she hit the
ground.

"Rach? Are you okay?"

"No." Rachael shook her head, bringing her senses back "Something's wrong.
Very wrong. There's a massive disturbance."

"Where?"

"Close. Real close. I have to go." She moved towards the door.

"I'm coming with you."

"Katie, this is magic I'm talking about. Real magic. It's dangerous."

"Look I'm tougher than I look. And I have powers too."

"I. I don't have time to argue. But be careful. I don't want you to be used
against me."

"I won't I promise."

Swiftly they exited the room, Rachael rushing towards a disturbance of nature
that couldn't be overlooked.

* * *

Over the past few months Katie's view of the world, especially of the unseen
world, had grown considerably. One was bound to when inhabited by the spirit
of an ancestor. Catherina Hume was a soft voice in the back of her mind,
usually little more than an echo of herself. Katie had no idea what the
nature of that spirit was or just how it infused her own. The science of the
event, if something so ethereal could be called science, was lost to her. All
she knew was that she had the power that had been locked an artefact for
centuries. It was more than enough to lend an open mind.

Even so, what she saw when she rounded the corner was something she had never
expected to see.

In the middle of what appeared to be a normal brick wall was a swirling mass
of chaos, like a vortex into nothingness, glowing with energy. It was
reaching out for two young women, one of whom seemed to be holding up a red
barrier of sorts.

In itself this was scarcely believable.

What made it even stranger was the fact that she knew exactly who they were.

"Sarah?" Katie looked down at the blonde actress.

"Oh great. Some back up."

"Quit complaining. Alyson what's going on."

"Well it's kind of hard to explain." Alyson concentrated on the barrier.

"Give to me in the most technical jargon you know."

"Some form of supernatural entity is after Sarah. It's been influencing her
dreams."

"It's not the only one." Sarah cast a look at Alyson.

"No entity look this should be able to do this. The natural balance prevents
any sort of breach spatial, even specific ones."

Rachael caused three sets of eyebrows to rise.

"Magic." She shrugged. "Go with the flow."

"Well the flow is about to get us." Alyson warned, her red barrier beginning
to bend.

"Hold on." Rachael concentrated, a black web lacing over the red as
reinforcement.

"So," Sarah turned to Katie, "What do you do? Boil people blood?"

"In a manner of speaking."

"It's not working!" Alyson strained, the barrier being sucked further into
the vortex.

"It has to work." Rachael protested. "Nothing can create this sort of
transport gateway unless."

"Unless what?" Katie asked, standing as she stared at the gaping maelstrom.

"Unless it's not coming from our world."

The four turned to the portal as the barrier began to collapse.

"Oh no." Alyson sighed. "Not again."

And the mouth engulfed them all.

    

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