Disclaimer: They are not mine. Not mine. Not mine.
Notes: AU, set in different present. Number five in Haven Series. Thanks to my fabulous betas, and especially to the N.A.G.!
Elijah Maxwell Joe arrived in the coastal town and headed straight for the park where "the occurrence" had happened. Less than twenty- four hours had passed, so he was hopeful that he would find a trail. Scanning park patrons, he tapped into one eyewitness who had been there during the incident. Going deeper into her mind, he caught an image of the man he was seeking. Mentally watching the scene through her memories, Eli saw that the group had run past the woman, split into two separate vehicles, and taken off to the south. He chuckled to himself at the picture of the collapsed Tanner being carried like an infant. Thank God he'd never been partnered with that wimp like Baines planned.
He remembered when Baines had shown Eli his newest protégé through a one-way mirror as Vin was being tested. Seeing the strength of the new one's power didn't make Eli jealous; he knew there was enough work to go around. Powerful telepaths were few in number and they would both be valuable to the Guild. Then Tanner escaped, and Eli took it personally. When Baines asked Eli to get Vin back, Eli came up with a strategy to tie Tanner to them. The telepath would have to accept Baines' protection but the little bastard had taken off, a full-blown fugitive. And now he continued to spread salt in the wound by stealing away potentials from the Guild.
Shaking his head to bring himself back to the present, Eli started walking along the southern route that they had used for escape. He covertly and methodically scanned enough witnesses between shopkeepers, the homeless, and such to learn they had gone to the docks. Questioning the dock master proved useless, so Eli scanned him at the same time and found out he was paid by that Southerner to keep quiet. The hunter discovered that the seven had leased a boat to take them back and forth to their cabin on the private island. After learning this, Eli rented a boat and followed the men's trail to their rented cabin.
Eli slammed the door to the empty cabin shut and screamed his anger. Not a goddamn thing. He'd missed them again -- Baines would not be pleased.
+ + + + + + +
Ezra Standish, part-time clairvoyant and full-time conman, walked over to where the cars were parked and listened to the "music" being played with a shudder. Tanner was at it again. Since they'd had to leave their coastal cabin Vin'd been driving everyone crazy playing his harmonica. Sounding like noise to anyone but the telepath, Vin maintained it was the sound of freedom, and kept right on playing. Seeing no one else around, Ezra moved carefully past the van to the car. Realizing the music had abruptly stopped, he quickened his step.
"Where ya goin'?"
The Southerner jumped back from the vehicle and whipped around. "What are you doing sneaking around, Mr. Tanner?"
"I'm ain't the one sneakin' off, Ez. Where ya goin'?" Vin asked again.
"I have an errand to run." Standish tried to act nonchalant as he opened the car door and got in.
Vin looked around, but no one was near them. He walked to the open window and stuck his head inside. "Can I come?"
"You don't even know what I'm doing."
"I jest need to git out for a bit," Vin reasoned. "Reckon I'm feelin' a mite closed in."
Ezra almost laughed at the 'puppy dog eyes' being sent his way. He realized that Tanner probably was feeling "hemmed in" as he so often put it. After the episode in the park, Chris was watching Vin closely. Even those without Josiah's empathic ability could feel the guilt rolling off the telekinetic. "All right, get in."
Vin ran around the sedan and got in on the other side. "So, where we goin'?" he asked as they pulled out of the campground.
"I have to pick up my mother at the airport."
"Mother? Josiah said somethin' about you being raised by wolves."
"Just one wolf," Ezra corrected. "She'll be in on the ten o'clock flight."
"She comin' to stay with ya?"
"Heavens, no. I'm afraid a trailer full of grubby men would not do for Maude Standish. She'll be staying in the most fabulous hotel in town."
"Swanky, huh?" Vin smirked.
"The swankiest." Ezra returned the smile and then directed his attention back to the drive.
"So is your ma sentient?"
"Alas, no, much to her chagrin. Although I've often thought she had a psionic power of 'conning'." He looked askance at his passenger. "I do think there is one thing she can do."
"I believe she may have a psychic umbilical." At Tanner's puzzled look he added, "That woman can track me down wherever I am. There's no place safe from her."
Vin chuckled at Ezra's chagrin. "It's nice that she's still around."
"I suppose." Standish heard about the telepath losing his mother at a young age, and didn't want to disillusion him about Maude.
"You got real good shields, Ez," Tanner said, conversationally.
"Thank you." This was said as more of a question than a statement, since Ezra had no idea where this was leading.
"I was jest curious."
"Whether you could hear me." Vin paused. "I mean in yer head."
"In my head."
"Yeah, like I can do with Chris. I thought it'd be useful in an 'mergency or somethin'."
"And you need to get through my shields."
"Well, the way I reckon, maybe you can recognize my partic'lar psychic impression and let me in."
+ + + + + + +
Eli eyed his quarry and smiled slowly. He walked after her and boarded the plane, finding his seat ten rows behind. Once the plane was in flight, he scanned her, struggling since it was such a small space packed tight with people. It was hard to block everyone else out while he extended his scan, but he managed to get enough from her to know that she would be meeting her son. And her son should lead him right to his target.
+ + + + + + +
Chris glanced up from his book and looked around the trailer. It was too quiet -- and that was never good. Josiah and Nathan were each reading at the other end, lost in their own books. Larabee got up and went outside. He spotted JD in the shade of a nearby tree fiddling on his laptop, and heard Buck hitting on some women in the next lot over, but there was no sign of Tanner or Standish for that matter.
The blond walked over to where his youngest team member sat. JD looked up to see his leader towering over him. "Something I can help you with, Chris?"
"You seen Vin?"
JD nodded, returning his attention back to the computer. "He took off with Ez."
"And Ezra went where?"
"Maude's in town," JD said, and laughed when he heard the older man groan. "I think he went to pick her up."
"And he had to take Vin along?"
Dunne shrugged. "Guess so." He smiled at the expression that landed on Chris' face before he stalked away. JD would never call it a pout, but that's exactly what it was. The young man was not jealous of the reception due to greet the men when they returned. The whole team knew Chris didn't want Vin out of his sight, and that it was driving the telepath nuts.
Remembering back to that night after the park incident, JD smiled. When he'd woken up from Chris' "attack," Vin declared he was fine, but Nathan still made him take it easy. The team knew they had to leave the cabin and the island quickly before word reached the Guild. Packing everything hastily, they bundled up the telepath and drove the boats back to the dock. They'd stuck Vin -- lying down -- in the back of the Suburban, overriding Tanner's objections.
Buck and Josiah drove up the coast and picked up the trailer, and then they all met further inland. Stopping in a city along the way, Ezra finagled a full-size van and a Buick for their vehicles, using one of his "dummy" corporations as cover for the title. After the trade, they drove even further, stopping at this trailer park outside another town.
The group had been there for a while, letting Vin recuperate -- which he swore was unnecessary.
+ + + + + + +
"Are you ready to try, Vin?"
"Did ya wanna do this as you're drivin'?"
"I don't see why not. It's a good a time as any I would imagine," the clairvoyant replied. He glanced at his skeptical passenger. "Don't worry, my friend, I can do more than one thing at a time."
Vin snorted. "This is more than playin' cards and pissin' off Larabee." He grinned at Ezra's chuckle. "Okay, here we go." Vin closed his eyes, and pushed against his friend's shields. //Never rub another man's rhubarb,// he sent. The telepath waited a moment and opened his eyes. "Well?"
"I felt something, but didn't receive the message," Ezra conceded.
"I'll try again, and this time, see if you can open your shields, just enough to let me through." Closing his eyes, Vin concentrated on sending a pinpoint message through. //In time, all things are possible.//
"Let's hope they are, my friend."
"Ya heard me!" Vin grinned.
"Loud and clear. I believe that I may be able to differentiate between yours and others' psionic signature." Ezra made the turnoff for the airport. "We should test it more in depth; I agree that it would be most useful."
+ + + + + + +
Aware that Ezra P. Standish was most certainly a member of the infamous Magnificent Seven, the Guild had decided to keep track of the whereabouts and movements of Mrs. Maude Standish Erickson Wayne O'Malley VanVelson. Their interest had finally paid off. Two weeks after Joe's disastrous failure on the coast, Mrs. Standish reserved a seat on a flight to Borden, just a day's drive from the Seven's last known location. Alerted to her plans, Eli booked on the same flight, hoping that the conwoman would lead the telepathic hunter to his prey. He chose to go alone, without any Guild backup for fear of alerting either Standish to his surveillance. Eli was confident he could succeed without assistance.
+ + + + + + +
Walking through the airport terminal, the two sentients made their way over to the gate where Ezra's mother would be arriving.
"Ya see her?" asked Vin, craning his neck around, looking for someone he thought would belong to his clairvoyant friend. He kept his shields up, blocking the inundation of so many people in one place.
"No, I do not," Ezra answered, before his ears caught the familiar strains of conflict. "I was mistaken; over there." He nodded at an older blonde woman, dressed to kill in a designer suit, arguing with a luggage handler.
"You there," a Southern drawl demanded, "be careful with my luggage. It's genuine French leather."
"Mother." Ezra called out softly to get her attention.
The blonde head whipped around, her mouth spreading in a wide smile. "Ezra, darling." She leaned forward and kissed her son on the cheek. "Help this man with my luggage, won't you?"
"Why do you need so many bags for such a short trip?" Ezra motioned to the mound of bags on the floor in front of them.
"Everything I carry is absolutely necessary," she assured him. Then she leaned closer and whispered, "Appearances are everything." The blonde noticed the slender, rumpled man next to her son. "As you seem to have forgotten."
"Ah, yes, this is Vin Tanner. Vin, this is my mother, Maude Standish."
"Nice to meet you, ma'am." He stuck his hand out to the woman. She ignored it.
Trying to draw attention from his friend, and possibly reduce Vin's exposure to Maude, Ezra asked her, "Mother, what are you doing here? Did something happen in St. Louis?"
"Well, things got a bit complicated there and I wanted to see my dear son."
"Oh, really?" Ezra's tone clearly spoke his disbelief.
Sensing his reluctance, Maude tsked. "Now, really, why don't you and your friend take care of my bags; this is no place for a civilized conversation." She waved at the airport's interior. Both men agreed that a less public forum would serve them better, and they each grabbed as many heavy bags as they could carry, letting Maude carry her purse and a small carryon.
+ + + + + + +
Eli Joe could not believe his great fortune. Not only was Standish here, he'd brought along Tanner! He reined in his eagerness, opting to follow them instead. If he could deliver the entire Seven, Baines would definitely be pleased. The assassin watched the targets load up like donkeys and make their way slowly to the parking area. He pushed into the mind of a taxi driver, and sent the man into the lounge for a drink. Once the driver vacated his vehicle, Eli sat himself in the driver's seat, effectively stealing the taxi, and quickly slid the car into traffic behind his quarry.
+ + + + + + +
Ezra pulled the car into the lot of the World Famous Ritz Hotel, and after directing the porter to have Maude's luggage taken in, all three went inside. Mrs. Standish strode straight up to the front desk and informed them of her reservation. The concierge regretfully informed her that her room would not be ready for at least another hour.
She waved away his apologies and turned back to her son. "It seems we have some time to go and eat lunch in the dining room."
Looking at the fancy interior and feeling very much out of place, Vin squirmed. "We really got to be going," he hedged.
Ezra could see his friend's reluctance, but couldn't resist teasing him about going back to the camp under Larabee's watchful eye. "I'm sure our fearless leader will be overjoyed to see you back."
Realizing the truth of that, Vin relented. "All right, let's eat."
Thirty minutes later, Ezra regretted making them stay. The entrees had just been served and his mother was delighting Tanner with supposed tales from his childhood.
Maude cackled as she spoke. "He takes his little skirt, and he puts it on the poor dog and makes her dance the cancan. And I said, 'Ezra, honey, you better be careful; Elsie's going to bite you,' but he keeps dancing around and around until she goes and she nips him on the kisser. So he pulls off her skirt, and he says, 'Well, fine, then, you'll just have to dance nekid'."
It took all of the clairvoyant's willpower not to hide his head under a napkin. Would this day ever end?
Vin saw his friend's embarrassment and knew the time had come to shut the woman down. "That's okay, Ez. I know that didn't happen to you." He looked at the woman pointedly.
She turned bright red in outrage, but then smiled widely in dawning recognition. "You're a telepath."
Seeing the light come into her eyes, Ezra said, "No, Mother," before she could even describe what she wanted.
"Oh, you'd be perfect for a wonderful opportunity I have planned."
"Did you hear me, I said no." The clairvoyant was decidedly stern.
"We can do that con we used in Chicago."
"I said the answer is no."
Vin just watched the conversation fly back and forth like a tennis match, before hearing Maude say, "Now, Ezra, you really should not speak for other people, it isn't proper."
"Yeah, Ez," Vin agreed. "Ma'am, I appreciate the offer, but I ain't int'rested in swindlin' people. Ain't proper," he added, throwing her words back at her.
His words didn't seem to anger the woman; instead she smiled. "Mr. Tanner, I do believe I will have to keep a sharp eye on you."
The telepath tipped an imaginary hat.
Maude glanced around the dining room, and spotted just what she was looking for. "If you'll excuse me, I see someone who has need of my acquaintance." The graceful blonde stood and sashayed over to the bar, cozying up to an older gentleman.
"Who's he?" Vin raised his beer bottle and motioned with it.
"Must be someone with money," Ezra murmured. "She can always smell them."
Tanner nodded and returned to his lunch, finishing the sandwich. He was polishing off his drink when he felt someone enter his mind. His shields rose, blocking the intrusion. He threw his gaze around the room, but could not sense from where the scan was originating. "Ez." His friend didn't look up from his own meal. "Hey, Ez."
"Yes, Mr. Tanner?"
"I need yer help."
The frustrated tone captured Ezra's attention. "What do you require?"
"I'm being scanned. Track 'em down, can ya?"
Startled by the information, Ezra reeled himself in and opened up his ability, searching the immediate surroundings for another sentient. Tuning out both himself and his friend, he focused and narrowed down his search to a dark, longhaired man in the corner of the bar. He seemed somewhat familiar, but Ezra couldn't pinpoint where he'd seen him before. "He's over there, at the end of the bar." Surreptitiously pointing out the man, he was shocked to see Vin's face drain of all color. "Who is he, Vin?"
"Gimme the car keys, Ez." Tanner reached his hand across the table.
"I'll be yer best friend if you fork 'em over."
"Firstly, Mr. Tanner, I don't believe that I could --or would like to -- replace Mr. Larabee in your esteem, and second, I would not be a friend if I let you go off alone." He leaned close and spoke softly. "Tell me what is wrong."
"It's Eli Joe," the telepath admitted with a sigh.
"That's him?" Ezra dared another look at the man, now remembering him from the day they first met Tanner. "He's even uglier up close."
Vin gave a small smile, but it faded quickly. "I have to leave b'fore anyone else gets hurt."
"No one's hurt, Vin, and no one will get hurt. We just need to return to our compatriots and develop a strategy."
"Eli killed m'friend, Jess." The telepath's face filled with anger. "I'm not lettin' him near anyone else I care about, you included. And there's no way in hell I'm leadin' him straight back to the team."
Ezra sat in shock. That had to be the longest and most emotionally- charged speech he'd ever heard from his laconic friend. After staring at Vin for a few seconds, he said, "I have an idea."
"What?" Vin was just about to take off, with or without the car keys, but he waited to hear what his companion had to say first.
"You and I can travel around, leading our dear Mr. Joe on a wild goose chase before losing him and reuniting with our friends."
"And you going off by yourself is not? I thought we were a team."
Vin was smart enough to realize the truth of Ezra's argument, and if he were honest with himself, he didn't relish being alone once again. "Okay for now."
Maude came back to the table, complaining about her lost conquest. "He's happily married, can you believe that? Men." Gathering up her bag, she said, "My room should be done, and I need the rest." The two men followed her back to the reservation desk, both doing their best to avoid looking at their shadow in the corner.
+ + + + + + +
Eli sighed in frustration. The scan was getting him nowhere; the other telepath's shields were just too strong. Tanner must've gotten some training since they'd last met. Dammit! No way to see where the others were. The hunter would have to rely on following them back there. He saw the trio head back to the front desk. Eli decided to wait in the bar for a few minutes, to let the men check the woman in to the hotel, and then he'd head out to the parking lot to await their departure. If that didn't pan out, he'd take the woman hostage to force the Seven out of hiding.
+ + + + + + +
"We gotta go now, Maude," Vin told the older woman.
"For heaven's sake, why?"
"Mother, believe me, this could not be prevented."
"I've had so little time with you, Ezra. When are you going to be back?"
"Not for a while yet, I'm afraid. We've got an inconvenience that's best to evade."
Vin sighed. He'd been hoping to get out of there with no explanation, but it looked like it was not to be. He spoke in a low tone, "There's a sentient-hunter named Eli Joe in the lounge who's after us; we need ta get outta here."
"Surely you cannot lead him back to the others."
Her eyes lit in anticipation. "I'll go with you."
Vin's eyes widened in shock, and he shook his head in denial. "No."
"But I can help. You'll need some cash for the trip, will you not?"
"I've got it covered, Mother," Ezra assured her. The chestnut-haired man kept quite a bit of money in numerous Swiss bank accounts under a few aliases. Getting the money was merely a matter of having it transferred to a local bank for pick up.
"Ez gets us whatever we need," the telepath added. Too late he saw Ezra's motioning with his hand cutting across his throat. Vin mouthed an apology to his friend, as the blonde turned around to look at her son.
"Is that so?" she asked with an arched eyebrow. "How charitable of you."
"One must do one's duty, as it were." Ezra was clearly flustered, and not wanting to discuss this topic.
"And providing for these men is your duty?"
"Apparently so," Ezra said. "Now we must be going and I should think you'd prefer to stay here."
"Ezra Percival Standish, I am your flesh and blood and I insist that you take me along. Someone's got to look out for you."
The elegant woman was starting to get loud and the last thing they needed was her drawing attention to them during their attempt to get away. Ezra traded a glance with Vin. "All right, you may come with us. But you'll have to leave your bags here," Ezra added, hoping that would deter her.
"All of them?" Her expression showed her indignation.
"Yep." Vin smirked. He knew what his friend was trying to do. "We need ta travel light."
Maude thought about that for a moment before nodding. "Let me ensure my bags get checked in and I'll meet you outside."
Vin and Ezra walked to the car and got inside. Leaning against the steering wheel, the telepath asked, "Should we leave?"
His companion shook his head. "It would do us no good; she'd just follow us."
+ + + + + + +
"Let's try again," Josiah suggested.
"It's no use," Larabee growled. "I can't do it."
"You did it before; your body should remember." The empath was helping his leader in his attempt to access the newly discovered power: his telekinetic shield. When the group had been trying to prevent Chris from hurting the man at the park, the blond had thrown up a shield that stopped anyone from touching him. No one, including the telekinetic himself, had known he could do it before that day. The rest of the men agreed that this would be a useful defense to expand upon, if Larabee could control it. For the past couple weeks they'd tried alternate methods of reinstating the power, but nothing seemed to help. Chris simply couldn't bring it up again.
Now Sanchez was tossing tennis balls at Chris, hoping his shields would go up automatically to defend himself. After a dozen pitches, they were still simply hitting the blond before bouncing off. Josiah kept his sense of humor reined in, knowing his friend wouldn't appreciate any jokes about the bruises that were sure to appear the next day.
"It could be a survival mechanism, and since you know the balls won't harm you, they're allowed to pass through," the large man ventured to guess.
"So it's useless to test it with any of you, since I know you wouldn't hurt me." He was happy for any excuse to stop the barrage being thrown at him. He noticed JD, Buck, and Nathan coming over, and he checked his watch. "Shouldn't they have been back by now?" Chris asked.
Buck laughed at the worried tone of the leader. "Just 'cause Junior's outta your sight for two hours don't mean something's wrong."
"They probably stopped to eat, or Maude talked them into doing something else," Josiah offered.
"Yeah, that's what worries me," Chris admitted. He dialed Ezra's cell phone, but was frustrated when it didn't go through. "No answer. Must've turned it off."
"Why don't you just call Maude?" JD questioned.
"How are we supposed to find her?"
"Look for the highest priced hotel in town. That's where she'll be," Nathan advised.
Josiah laughed. "You know sometimes the simplest thing is the easiest solution to the most difficult problem."
Larabee nodded. "JD?"
"I'm on it." The young psychometrist typed on the laptop, searching for the most expensive accommodations in the city. Soon after, he ventured, "I'd lay odds on her being at the Ritz." He pointed at the screen.
Buck chuckled. "Now you're starting to sound like Ezra."
Chris looked at the number displayed and quickly dialed. After a brief conversation, he hung up and looked at his fellow sentients. "There's a note for us from Maude, but we have to pick it up in person."
"That can't be good," Nathan commented, his brow wrinkling.
"The clerk said she checked her bags in, but then left immediately."
"Well," Buck said, slapping JD's back, "looks like we're going for a ride."
+ + + + + + +
Eli Joe decided he'd waited long enough. He didn't want to risk his prey leaving without him. Quickly paying his bar tab, he walked out of the hotel and straight to the taxi. Once inside, he allowed himself to glance at where the sentient's car was parked, but it was gone. Eli cursed and struck the steering wheel. They'd already left, which meant he was back to square one. An idea struck him, almost blinding him with its simplicity. Stretching out, he connected, and after starting the vehicle, pulled back into traffic to follow the trail.
+ + + + + + +
Tanner's thoughts were occupied as he drove from the city, maintaining the speed limit to avoid attention by the authorities. He was vaguely aware of Maude trying to convince him of the wonderful things he could do with his ability -- mostly for her benefit. He grunted in response a few times, before tuning her out as he entered his own memories.
Seeing Eli Joe again had brought the fear and uncertainty crashing back with a vengeance. It was the third day after his capture in the Dungeon when the other telepath introduced himself. Normally reserved, Vin was uncommonly delighted to meet someone else who carried his curse, and their short friendship had begun. Eli helped him through many of the exercises the doctors insisted he perform. As he became stronger in his power he started to wonder if Eli was testing him as well. For what, he never knew. A couple months after Vin's escape, Eli committed the unforgivable act of killing Jess, ensuring that Vin would fight anything that Eli Joe or his master, Paul Baines, wanted.
Brought back to the present by the thoughts invading his head, Vin tried to keep from swerving the car. He was being inundated with images Maude was unconsciously sending of how she'd like to "use" him. "Miz Maude, you have ta stop that."
"Stop what?" she innocently asked. "I've been sitting here quietly for the past twenty minutes." Even Ezra looked at him in confusion.
"I ain't gonna try yer schemes so get over it."
"You're reading my mind?" She was outraged.
"I can't help it when yer throwing the thoughts at me."
"I am most certainly not!" Maude proclaimed. "Ezra, could you please control your friend?"
Ezra sighed. He could see where this was going and it promised to be a very bad trip -- especially for him. Looking ahead, he spotted a rest area at the side of the road and pointed to it. "Why don't we take a break? Clear our heads," he said to Maude, "and calm down," he said to Vin.
Vin heard the weary tone in his friend's voice and understood that they all needed a break, so he pulled over at the rest stop. It was a standard spot, with a half dozen picnic tables, a few free-standing grills, one pavilion, and a port-a-john.
Maude took one look at the grimy area and balked. "I refuse to leave this car. Look at this place; it's not fit for civilized people." Both men shared a look and shrugged before walking away from her and the vehicle.
They strode over about ten yards and sat on top of a picnic table, their feet on the seat. The only other people there were an older couple, seemingly on a retirement journey, complete with full-size trailer. Tanner pulled two chocolate bars out of his pocket, offering one to Ezra and keeping the other. They munched on those in silence.
Once the candy was gone, Ezra saw his friend lean back, resting on his hands behind him. The longhaired man appeared to be fairly relaxed, especially considering their current predicament. "Now that we have some time alone," he nodded his head to his mother, still ensconced in the vehicle, "may I ask you a question?"
"Why do you harbor such hate against that telepathic miscreant?"
"Damn, Standish, you don't ask 'em easy, do ya?" The blue eyes filled with emotion, before looking away. Ezra thought he'd overstepped his bounds and was about to suggest they return to the car and continue their journey when Vin spoke.
"After I got away from Baines, I stayed with this farmer, Jess Kincaid. I helped him out and we became friends. Now, Eli is one of Baines' golden boys," Tanner reported ruefully. "A telepathic assassin -- can kill someone jest by thinkin' it. Baines got Eli to kill Jess and since I was the only one near 'im at the time, I got blamed."
Ezra nodded his understanding. "Thus instigating the reward for you in Texas."
"Yep. Now Baines made me a deal: I play with him and the charges would disappear. Prob'ly thought I'd have no choice but to accept his 'protection'." Vin gave a sideways smile. "O' course I told 'im where he could stick it."
The telepath threw his candy wrapper at the trash can, hitting it dead center. Standish followed suit, but his wrapper fell a little short. As he jumped down to go retrieve it, the wrapper floated off the ground and landed itself in the receptacle. He turned back to Vin wondering if his friend had seen it. Instead he saw the telepath holding his head in his hands, obviously in pain. Looking around, Standish saw that no one else had noticed anything amiss.
As soon as Tanner was able to lift his head, Ezra asked, "What just happened here?"
Vin smiled uneasily. "I think I got somethin' else from Chris."
"Something else?" Ezra came back to stand next to the table where Vin still sat.
Tanner kept his face down and hidden behind his long hair. "I can move things."
Barely able to hear the whisper, Ezra was confused. "What do you mean?" he asked softly.
"Small things, like keys and pens. I can move 'em with my mind now."
The light-haired sentient looked over to make sure his mother was still out of hearing distance. Although still in the car, she appeared to be getting tired of the wait. Bending near his friend, Ezra asked, "You're telekinetic?"
"I don't think so."
"Then what in heaven's name are you talking about?" Standish demanded in a harsh whisper. He was still trying to avoid attention both of his mother - she'd love to add this power to her list -- and the older couple at the other end of the rest stop.
Vin finally looked up at his friend. "Spent some time on JD's laptop. Think it's called psychokinesis."
Standish remained struck into silence.
"It ain't easy and it hurts a lot but I can do it."
Breaking out of his stupor, Ezra asked, "What did Mr. Larabee say when you told him?"
"Ain't told anyone but you."
"You have ta promise not ta tell anyone, Ez."
Moved by the telepath's pleading tone, and knowing the trust that Vin was giving to him, Ezra agreed. "You have my word."
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