“Rachel?” Gar was standing as far away as he could from the small group in front of him without actually leaving the room. The feeling in his stomach that something wasn’t right hadn’t left, if anything it had gotten worse. Rachel was hugging the man who saved him. He needed to know what was going on.
She lifted her head at his call and looked back at him. The man pulled away from her, training his eyes on Gar. “It’s okay, go with him, get your friend caught up darling.” his voice soft and loving.
Despite that, Gar didn’t like the way he was being looked at. This man was looking at him the way Chief had looked at Rachel all those weeks ago when he had her strapped to that bed. As if they were both prizes to be played with and controlled. He could feel a rise of panic inside of him, his tiger usually quiet in his belly was on edge. The urge to run was strong.
He felt Rachel's arm on his and she pulled him into a tight hug. His arms went around her instantly and he found himself locking eyes with the man again from behind her hair, “What's happening,” he whispered into her head, she pulled back, grabbed his hand and walked him out -- not before looking back to smile at Angela and the man.
They sat down on the piano bench. Rachel didn’t let go of his hand, instead, she kept it on his lap. Gar angled his body toward hers, letting her prod at his hand with her finger. He realized she was checking for his pulse. The sweat from her hands tickled his nose. Fear, he could smell it on her. It wasn't just him. He let his eyes dart across the hall and into the next room, Angela and the mystery man to preoccupied with each other to pay them any attention.
“Is that, --” he started to ask, he wasn’t sure.
“It’s my dad,” Rachel answered, her voice a breathy low whisper. “You were dying. There was so much blood Gar,” a noise caught in her throat, she stopped to push it down. “I don’t know what I did, what I was doing. She just kept telling me I had to, that you weren’t going to make it if I didn’t.”
The lump came back, and she couldn't swallow it this time. The sob was inaudible as it left her mouth and the tears finally fell down her face.
Gar lets himself squeeze her hand, ready to reassure her like he always does but instead thinks back to what she had done for him in the Asylum. Instead, he pulls his back straight and takes a breath, now isn’t the time. She’s stronger than this.
“Rachel,” he doesn't mean for it to come off as if he’s scolding her. But it does. She stops shaking and nods her head. Understanding without needing anything more.
She sits up, quickly wiping the tears from her face. They both look back up at the duo across the room, backs turned to them and whispering.
“Can we trust them?” Gar asks.
“I don’t know, he saved you. But mom said he was bad. I don’t know. I think we should wait for Dick to come back. He’ll know what to do.”
“I tried calling Dick earlier, it wouldn’t go through.” he uses his free hand to feel around his pockets the other still in her sweaty one, looking for his cell phone, “I can trying calling again, maybe from the second floor.” Gar gets up to leave, finding his cellphone in his back pocket. Rachel pulls at his arm, sitting him back down with an unnatural force.
“No, we stay together. My dad. I don’t think it’s a good idea to leave you alone with him.” She had noticed too then. The way her dad had been looking at him.
The cold realization that they're alone for once, no Dick and Kori to tell them what to do washes over both of them. Rachel bites her lip, quickly going over what she does know, “The landline, it's in the kitchen. Mom used it to call for help earlier. A police officer was here. He went to get help. He should be back soon.”
Gar took the information in with a slow nod, trying to piece together a plan while looking as inconspicuous as possible, “Okay, we get to the landline then. We need to call the police anyway, tell them not to come anymore. It might be safer for them to stay away. I’m sure Angela and your dad will agree to that. I’ll call Dicks number first. Let it ring a few times and hang up. It should be enough of warning for him to get what’s going on.”
They let go of each other's hands and stand up, Gar wiping away her sweat on his jeans. He feels awful for his disgust in the brief moment he realizes that her scent would linger. She's always smelled, everyone has. For whatever reason, everything seems much sharper now. The lights are brighter. Everything is louder.
Rachel is already moving forward before he can give it much thought.
"Mom, should we call the police?” she’s heading toward the alcove that leads into the kitchen, so Gar gets up to follow. “They don’t need to come anymore now that Gar is okay.”
“Oh, I can do it, honey,” Angela darts across the room and before Rachel can cross over, clutches her arm and jerks her in the other direction. The movement so fast it makes a small gust of wind, Gar keeps his face still as his nose picks up what's in the air.
“It’s probably better if I do it, the sheriff is an old friend and I doubt they’ll believe a kid calling into the station.” She gives Rachel one last adoring look before hurrying into the kitchen, leaving the two of them alone with their new arrival.
The man grabs them both by the shoulders and Gar can’t help but jump, he hadn't noticed him walk over. He’s pushing them back into the sitting room, away from the kitchen and the landline.
“Uh, thanks for saving me,” Gar offers as they make their way across the room. He smiles down at him in response, the look is unnerving.
“What’s your name son,” he asks as he motions for them to sit on the couch. He takes the armchair across from them, lowering himself unnaturally, the movement too swift and precise.
“Garfield Logan” he struggles to let it out, surprising himself when he hears his full name coming out of his mouth.
“That's quite a beast you have inside of you,” The man tells him, his eyes go dark and that same look from before comes back. “How did that come to happen?”
Rachel fidgets next to him, as uneasy as himself about the attention he’s getting. He needs to relax. They both need to. As of now, they aren’t in any danger. The police would be here soon, a distraction. Kori had left hours ago, Dick would be back to check on them by the end of the night. He would do that for Rachel. They needed to stall, and letting on that something was wrong was the opposite of that.
“Freak accident, even freakier treatment,” Gar replies and gives the man his best eager to please smile. He sinks back into the couch and crosses his legs. Rachel stays on the edge, keeping her feet planted firmly on the ground.
They fall into an easy conversation, Gar keeping the topic on his beast. Jaguar, around 170 pounds he lies, he downplays the size, changes the species, leaves out the coloring, offers up that the tail is sometimes Siberian. He'd learned enough from Dick to know the importance of having an ace up your sleeve. Even so, the man looks at him with the awe, reminding Gar of the poachers back home.
Rachel isn't paying them any attention, quickly catching on to what Gar is doing. She instead keeps her eyes on her father and a pleasant smile on her face. All the while straining to listen for her mother's voice on the phone or the footsteps of her coming back into the sitting room. Nothing. The back door opens. She hears the water start to run.
Minutes tick by. Angela still doesn't come back and it makes Rachels blood boil. All these years she had parents, two of them. That knew about whatever was inside of her and could have clearly shown up and helped. She can hear the noises from the kitchen, noises that shouldn’t be coming from making a simple phone call. It hits her, and her stomach drops.
Angela. This house. Gar getting sick. Her dad. No, they aren’t safe. They can't sit and wait for Dick. They need to leave. Now.
“Rachel?” her father's eyes are on her now. When had Gar stopped talking? She puts the smile back on not realizing it had disappeared. "Don't you have a question for dear dad?"
Her breath quickens, and as she looks into her father's eyes she realizes he knows everything she does. “Are you going to stay?” she tries anyway, "Wh-where have you been, dad?"
His brow lifts, disappointment on his face and his eyes move back to Gar.
“Oh Rachel," the shift in his voice, her back goes cold, "haven’t you ever heard, that curiosity killed the cat.”
"What's going on?" Angela comes back into the room at that moment. The smell of blood on her unmistakable now, Gar's nose picks it up, and the growl stuck at the back of his throat finally betrays him and comes out. There's no point in keeping up the farce.
"Rachel!" Gar yells out her name before leaping off the couch. His crossed legs at the perfect angle to propel his now tiger paws into the air. The loud tear of his clothes snaps the quiet room into a frenzy. The scraps of his clothing exploding into the air catching everyone off guard, the change had been so fast, the fastest he had ever experienced.
Rachel's father stunned a second enough for Gar to pound into him, is knocked back into the chair and onto the floor with a heavy THUD! Gar doesn't hesitate to tear into his shoulder.
"Trigon!" Angela yells from across the room, running toward Gars back, a knife suddenly in her hand. Rachel wastes no time in letting out her dark energy, slapping Angela into the wall with a long tendril and knocking her unconscious.
At that moment, Trigon, name now revealed pushes Gar off with such a force, he goes through the wall and into the hall.
Gar doesn't lose momentum and skids down the hall jutting his back paw out to catch onto a dip in the wall. He uses it as a bouncing point and propels himself forward again speeding back into the sitting room through the fresh hole in the wall. He makes it back just in time to push Rachel out of the way of an energy blast coming from Trigons hand.
They land behind a fallen table, "We can't fight him!" Rachels' eyes are dark, and she's managed to enclose them in something resembling a shield.
She turns to the tiger next to her, he seemed much bigger than she remembered. "I don't know how I'm doing this right now but it fucking hurts!" A blast from Trigon hits the shield at that moment, making Rachel cry out in pain.
Gar roars at her, flicking his head at the large window in the room. Rachel seeming to understand lets her shield down and instead releases her darkness toward Trigon, the large waves blinding him enough for Gar to move his body under hers. She hooks her arm around his neck and without a pause the large tiger leaps through the window above them, shattering the glass and wooden frame.
They roll onto the ground, Gar trying as hard as he can to keep their momentum going across the side yard. From inside they could hear Trigon yell out, "Rachel! Come back here!"
When they stop, Rachel crawls onto her feet and begins to sprint for the front yard. She could hear Gar running beside her. Suddenly, a large ROAR from Gar, and another. She stops and turns to find the green tiger, withering on the floor a few feet behind her. He was morphing back, his face more Gar than a tiger, and his body grotesquely contorting into something unworldly.
"Go! Find Dick! Run!" Gar was yelling at her through his pain, the words coming out gargled and chopped.
Rachel found herself frozen in place, the corners of her eyes stinging when she realizes the loud repetitive cracks she hears are his bones breaking, over and over again. His skin was turning into leather and the knuckles of his hand gave away to large talons breaking free under his skin.
"RUN!" the command comes out of him one last time, his face now something completely different from Gar or the tiger she had come to know.
Rachel doesn't hesitate again and turns back around sprinting away in what she realizes is fear. Fear of Gar and what he was turning into.
She does her best to run forward in a straight line, but her vision is blurred and her lungs are on fire. She can feel the cold wind on her tears, now down to her neck and she thinks for a moment she could choke from the pain.
Where was Kori?! Where was Dick?! She looks ahead and tries to focus, looking for the road or even the end of the driveway. They're both gone, miles of grass in their place. Suddenly, she's passing through light and crashing into Kori and Wondergirl.
"Rachel! Rachel, are you okay? Where is Gar!" Kori was clutching her arms. Shaking her out of her crying fit.
"Gar! Something happened to him, where is Dick! We need to save Gar!" she's hysterical and doesn't care, looking between Kori and Wondergirl and then behind them, around them. Where was Dick?
Wondergirl steps up to her and places a hand on her shoulder, "Dick is inside, he went in for you. Rachel, we need you to tell us what you know so we can get into that house."
It's at that moment Rachel finally spins around and realizes the house is gone.