“How in the holy hell were you able to doodle that?” Gabriel asked half an hour later, carefully rubbing olive oil into Desmond’s shoulder.
“I don’t know...” Desmond hissed through his clenched teeth. “I don’t know... I have an idea, but I don’t know if... Oh, son of a bitch...! I don’t know if I am right or not...”
“What idea?” Gabriel carefully applied some cream and then started to cover the burnt, oozing blood spot with bandages.
Desmond inhaled sharply when the bandages rubbed against his screaming with pain skin. Finally, he let out a shaky breath.
“Do you remember the nightmare I had back in September?” he asked in a low voice.
“The one about paint? The one that made you scream like you were being skinned alive?”
“Yeah,” Desmond winced. “That one...”
“I remember,” Gabriel nodded. “Go on.”
“Well,” Desmond carefully moved his right arm. “I started having nightmares quite often after that... It would happen once every ten days or so in September; it got worse by the end of October... I would have them at least twice a week... And by the end of November, it would happen every other night...”
“Why didn’t you say anything?” Gabriel frowned.
“I blamed it on stress,” Desmond shrugged with his burns-free shoulder. “Plus, I wouldn’t remember anything after I woke up... What would you want me to say? ‘Rayhe, I am waking up sweating like a pig five times a week, but I have no idea why’? Yeah,” he nodded. “That would fly... Anyway, the damn nightmare stopped by the end of December; I had the last one on Solstice Eve...” He glanced at silent Blair. “Right before we went to see you... Naturally,” he shrugged again. “I mostly blamed it on you...”
Blair didn’t even bother with the eye roll here.
“Then,” Desmond continued. “Everything just stopped... I have no idea why... I figured that I just managed to deal with the whole stress thing, so I didn’t worry about it too much. Plus, Tess would’ve sensed something, and she was fine around me.”
“Tess?” Blair frowned. “DeCrusse?”
“Yeah,” Desmond nodded. “Her.”
“She is bloody brilliant,” Blair muttered.
“I know,” Desmond nodded again. “So I figured that if something was off, she would be the first one to sense it, right? She never did,” he shrugged once again. “And then...” he frowned thoughtfully. “Crap, I don’t know... I kept thinking that it was beyond idiotic to even suspect Eve... And at the same time, everything felt wrong... That’s why I wanted you to look at the file,” he looked at Gabriel. “I felt right and wrong at the same time... I have never felt like this before... If something is wrong, I sense it. I have never felt right and wrong at the same time... So I figured that if there was indeed some spell on me, it would mess with my perception, right? But not my intuition...” He sighed and reached for cigarettes. “That’s why I went with the ‘wrong’ rather than ‘right’...” he finished and lit a cigarette.
“Okay,” Gabriel said slowly. “But what does this have to do with the fact that Sam is missing...?”
Desmond took a desperate drag on his smoke.
“Shit...” he muttered. “Okay, I do have a theory, but, Rayhe...” He looked at Gabriel. “If you start hating me after I say it...”
“Stop being an idiot,” Gabriel said tiredly. “I know for a fact that you would rather slit your own throat than to hurt Sam... That and it would have to be something beyond major for me to start hating you,” he added after a second. “In fact, I don’t think such thing even exists...”
“Uh huh,” Desmond muttered gloomily. “You say that now...”
“Des,” Gabriel sighed. “Spill!”
Desmond took another deep drag.
“Okay,” he said finally. “Remember, this is just a theory...”
“Uh huh,” Gabriel and Blair said at the same time, and Desmond just sighed.
“Okay,” he said again. “Gabriel, you said that you found my phone in my car, didn’t you?”
“I did,” Rayhe nodded. “I don’t know how it got there, but it was there...”
“Right,” Desmond muttered. “When I started the car, I noticed that the odometer showed extra ninety miles on it...” He smiled crookedly. “It wasn’t there before, so I figured that there was something wrong with the bloody thing...” he paused and lit another cigarette. “Well,” he continued a minute later. “Now I think that the odometer is just fine,” he avoided looking at Gabriel when he said that.
“Hold on...” Rayhe said slowly. “Are you saying that you did something to Sam...?”
“No,” Desmond said sharply. “I am saying that IthinkI did something to Sam... That is different, you know...” He took another desperate drag. “See, I started thinking, what if someone could manipulate me in my sleep...? It’s possible, right?” He looked at Gabriel, and Rayhe slowly nodded. Desmond let out a sigh. “By the way,” he added. “I didn’t start thinking it until you...” He pointedly looked at Blair. “...brought it up,” he finished.
“I did?” Blair frowned.
“You said, ‘Maybe you dreamt it...?’ ” Desmond nodded. “That was like a bloody revelation. It made perfect sense, you see...?”
“Not really,” Blair said honestly, and Desmond let out an exasperated sigh.
“Oh, for the love of God...” he muttered. “If someone is manipulating me in my sleep, they can make me do whatever the hell they want to,” he said impatiently. “Because after I wake up...” He gestured somewhat widely. “I am not going to remember a single thing...! Come on...” He sighed and remembered what Tess told him once. “Do I really have to burst into a lecture right now?”
“No,” Blair shook his head immediately. “Not really...”
Desmond just sighed, remembering that it was his reply as well.
“Thought so,” he quoted Tess once again.
“So you are saying that you did...” Gabriel coughed. “Youthinkyou did something to Sam... Something like what though? I mean, did you knock him out, shoved him into your car, and then...”
“He wouldn’t have to do that...” Blair muttered suddenly, his eyes fixed on Desmond’s face. “Sam has the same symbol on his left shoulder... That means he would go willingly, because the bloody thing was binding them...”
“Aren’t you full of insightful surprises...” Desmond said miserably.
Gabriel thought for a second, biting his fingernails.
“What the hell did you do with the dog?” he asked finally.
“You know what I mean,” Rayhe grimaced impatiently. “There is no time for semantics, Des! Don’t tell me that you tattooed the dog as well!”
“No, I didn’t tattoo the dog...” Desmond said sharply.
“Then what did you do? Killed him and buried him somewhere in the back yard?”
Desmond stared at him without blinking for several seconds, then jumped up, and raced towards the sliding glass door.
“Oh, you gotta be kidding me...” Gabriel muttered and followed him.
Blair followed both of them without saying anything. Desmond jerked the door open and rushed outside. He looked around for several minutes, not even noticing the cold wind on his bare skin. He looked all over the back yard, and then his shoulders visibly relaxed.
“There is nothing buried in here,” he said, and went back inside the house. “No fresh holes, no signs of digging. I mean, I am good, yes, but I am notthatgood... There is nothing there.”
“Did you kill him elsewhere then?”
“Rayhe, stop being so bloodthirsty! I don’t think I killed the damn mutt... The window in Sam’s room was open...”
“So,” Desmond sighed and dragged on his rapidly diminishing cigarette. “I am sure that the dog sensed something was majorly off when whatever the hell it was happened. So, if Sam locked him in the bedroom, and he knew that his master was under some nasty shit spell, he got out of the window and followed us...”
“Find the dog and we will find Sam?” Gabriel said quietly.
“Yeah,” Desmond nodded. "That explains my headache yesterday..." he murmured quietly. "If something was trying to control me when I was awake, and it wouldn't work, then force would be increasing until..." he gritted his teeth without finishing the sentence, and stabbed his cigarette in the ashtray. “Son of a bitch...” he muttered and dropped his face into his palms. “I remember telling Tess that I would kill anyone who would get anywhere near Sam... Anyone, no matter who it was... And it’s me...! Son of a bitch...”
“You can always kill yourself later,” Blair said darkly. “Don’t do it now though, not until we find him.”
Desmond didn’t even bother with a retort this time. Gabriel sighed and put his hand on Desmond’s knee.
“Des,” he said quietly and tightened his grip on Desmond’s knee. “Des, snap out of it... There is still time, so please, snap out of it!”
Desmond took a deep breath and ran his fingers through his hair.
“It’s somewhere in the range of forty-five miles,” he said. “No idea which way though.”
“That’s right,” Gabriel muttered. “Your odometer...”
“Yeah,” Desmond got up and reached for his shirt. “We are going to split up in three ways...”
“You are offering driving around blindly, looking for something we have no idea what it even looks like?” Blair frowned.
“Do you have a better idea?” Desmond snapped. “No? Then shut up and drive! Go for forty-five miles, see what’s there...”
“Which way?” Gabriel was already grabbing his jacket and keys.
“I’ll go north,” Desmond said. “Gabriel, go west... Blair...”
“I’ll go east,” Blair said. “There is nothing on the south... There is that deli I took Sam to... Then there is a bowling alley, and a shopping center. Too crowded for something like a ritual. It has to be something abandoned...”
“Give Rayhe your phone number,” Desmond pulled on his jacket, wincing from throbbing sharp pain in his shoulder blade. “If anyone finds something even remotely suspicious, call the others.”
“What about you?” Blair frowned. “Do you want my number?”
“I already have it,” Desmond tapped his temple with his finger. “I called you from Sam’s phone.”
“I need yours...” Blair started saying but Desmond interrupted him.
“Gabriel will give it to you. If you see a humongous white dog, follow that bastard immediately and call the others!”
“Des...” Gabriel called quietly when Desmond was almost out of the door. “It’s not your fault...”
“Yeah, it is,” Desmond said shortly and left the house.