Triessa's hand shook a little as she poured herself a shot of amber liquid from the bottle from the little cabinet over the refrigerator. That cabinet had been locked when she was growing up in the house. When she'd inherited the place, that lock had come off in a hurry.
She forced herself to pause for a second, then tipped her head back and swallowed liquid fire in one gulp. Ah god...it was either really good or really bad... The bottle went back into the cabinet though. Triessa didn't have the BMI to handle more than one of those shots at a time.
Then there was a knock on her door that immediately made her regret putting it away so fast. A stern, insistent knock, like the kind you'd expect from a policeman. Which, in a way, this kind of was. In the same way that a hurricane was 'kind of' breezy.
"Jesus shit, you couldn't give me ten minutes?" she muttered as she left the kitchen, across the unlit living room towards the front door. The house was big, and old. She felt like a bean rattling around inside a dried-out pod in it.
Another knock. "Triessa!" someone outside called. "We need to talk. That's all I'm here for."
The fact he seemed to think that was a comfort spoke volumes to her.
She unlocked both locks and opened the door as far as the chain allowed to glare out through the two-inch wide gap.
"I'm busy," she growled.
Jacob, handsome with his square jaw and blonde crew cut, spread his hands. "I get it. Been a hell of a night. Five minutes and I'm gone. Or, I can stay out here all night, singing the song of my people. You like New Kids, right?"
The door slammed shut.
A second later, there was the scraping of the chain being pushed out of its little track, and it opened again with Triessa gesturing inside. "Five minutes."
He strolled in, looking around as he went. "Nice place, what I can see of it."
"Yeah, it's fanfuckingtastic. Four minutes, thirty seconds."
Jacob grimaced. "Fine. We know about the...job you concluded tonight. How it ended. First I want to say...I'm glad you saved that family. But that creature was on a Seekers watch list. When you killed it..."
"...when I killed it," Triessa cut him off angrily, "...I saved that family you just congratulated me on. It was going to kill them!"
"...because you forced its hand, Triessa!" Jacob cut back, turning to look at her. "Its mission was to impersonate, not to kill! But then you started snooping around, it got threatened, and tried to cut and run. If you'd just coordinated with us to start with, you'd have known that going in!"
Triessa pointed a finger at the Seeker, jabbed it at him. "I am docking you a minute for that. You do NOT get to blame me! They came to me! They asked for help! Where were the Seekers then?!"
Jacob sighed. "We could have helped. Quietly. Arranged convincing stories to get them away. Helped them without compromising an information source. We're just asking you for a little more consideration. There aren't a lot of those things running around that we can positively pinpoint. There's too much to learn to just...sacrifice them."
The private investigator, and sometimes wizard...ess? Witch? How did that even work?...turned away and stalked back into the kitchen. "So you guys know all about them, huh? What...what was it?"
He followed, though at a cautious distance, stopping in the open frame that stood between the kitchen and living room.
"They're...ugh, this would be a lot easier if you'd just come back with me. The Seekers have been collecting information for a long time now, but we have to be careful who we talk to about it."
Triessa shook her head as she got a couple of mugs out and set them on the counter. "If you want me to trust you, you may have to make the first move. Just saying."
"It's not a trust issue. You're living a dangerous life. Next job you take maybe you wind up in a Night Prince's hands. Anything I tell you could lead them back to us. We've made it this long by being careful."
She hesitated, looking up at the cabinet above the fridge, then went to the coffee machine instead.
"Yeah," she said quietly. "And while you're being careful, people are dying. Getting turned into..." For a second Triessa broke off, trying to stifle the image that bubbled up in her mind's eye. A memory. One it would take more than a single shot to forget.
"Not turned into," Jacob said with sympathy. "Replaced by. They're called 'Ashmedai.' They're from the other side."
Triessa shook her head. "I don't get it. You KNOW these things, but... How can you know what's going on, and just sit there, watching?" The coffee machine burbled merrily under her words.
"Everything we know is just a reminder for how much we don't," replied Jacob. "Acting hastily doesn't just get us killed, it gets other people killed too." He paused, then asked something he'd been meaning to for awhile. "This is personal for you, isn't it?"
She was silent as coffee drained into a mug. Then, "They took my parents, all right? On Dark Day. To MAKE Dark Day."
Triessa took her glasses off and scrubbed across her eyes with the sleeve of her 'U of Seattle' sweatshirt. "I...didn't figure it out in time. I was too late."
Jacob stepped forward. "Triessa, you'd have been, what? In high school? There's nothing you could have..."
She whirled on him. "I could have! I knew some magic! I could have gotten help! It doesn't matter now though. Just...finish your coffee and get out. Time's up." She jabbed the mug at him, then started filling the other one.
He accepted the mug and sipped at it, then said, "Look. There's...someone I know of. Someone who might fit your style better than the Seekers. A bit more...hands-on. So to speak."
Triessa was silent, her back still turned as she watched the coffee slowly pour into her mug.
"His name's Michael. He's not one of us, but we've worked with him before. He's...we're pretty sure he's not human, but his 'Resistance' operation looks legit. You might look him up, see what you think."
The last of the coffee gurgled into her mug, and Triessa picked up before turning around. "I generally work alone. Besides where would I even..."
Jacob wasn't standing there. Pinned to the frame of the open doorway between kitchen and living room was a business card. It had only an address on it. No sooner had Triessa read the address than the whole thing evaporated in a puff of smoke.
Triessa quickly repeated the address to herself seven times in her head, committing it to memory. Then she groaned.
"I'm gonna want that MUG BACK!" she shouted at the ceiling, and stalked into the living room to brood and drink coffee and probably fall asleep on the couch. Again.