It's easy enough to get lost in that house, such as it is. There's a den just off the patio, head around to there and there are clearly some teenagers pacing around in it, easily visible through the sliding glass doors. They should still arguably be off partying, celebrating graduation. It is not a celebratory mood, from the look of them.
Mona is still trying to stave off the urge to hyperventilate, yell, or do anything but pace, arms crossed over her chest, eyes drilling holes in the floor as she goes. "I can't believe Thea volunteered to be taken," she says, her head shaking. "And I still can't believe Arthur did, either. I don't buy that. I know how much he seemed to want to when they were called the other night, but that didn't happen tonight. I don't get it, and I don't believe it."
Zane, by contrast, is sitting curled up in a corner of a couch, feet bare and knees pulled up to his chest, arms around them. "She didn't answer when I asked why he was unconscious then. If he wanted to be there. I'm not gonna believe that unless he tells me so and even then, like... after the call wore off he was better, so how would we know it wasn't still her messing with his mind?" A pause. "I don't think Thea wanted to, though. When she volunteered."
Yes, Sky got a call.
When he got off his hours for patrol and detective paper-work (ugh), Sky made his way home and discovered that, yes indeed, Arthur was not home even when he definitely should be. Still in his detective wear (a three-piece suit with a longcoat over it, Fedorah on his head.) Sky exhales some smoke from his cigarette as he raps his knuckles on the den. "Open up!"
Yes, Sky was being serious now. Arthur was missing, along with other people around town. This isn't a coincidence.
"I think Thea wanted to make sure Arthur, Spear, and Ash didn't get hurt, but-" Mona's head shakes, and she slows to a stop mid-pace once she reaches the edge of the couch. Without another word, she steps right out of her heels and onto the cushion one over before sinking down to a crouch, one arm winding around Zane's shoulder. "-that's what struck me, too. If he was there because he wanted to be there, he would have been standing there and telling us so, entirely on his own."
"And I am damned sure he never would have volunteered to be bait to lure in other people, to use as hostages or anything else." Her head tilts, resting her temple to his. The rap to the doorframe has her springing back to her feet -- after nearly jumping out of her skin -- and shuffling toward the sliding glass doors, already crooking a hand in invitation well before she can yank it open. "Hey, Sky. Please, come in. It's... not been a good night." It was supposed to be. They had, supposedly, all 'made it'.
Zane was the one who made the call! Or at least one-- two of the calls, technically, since he'd called home when things started to go wrong. The second one, though, was for Sky specifically, not just anyone at home, and he looks just a tiny bit relieved to see his big brother approaching. It still leaves him a very high level of unhappy, and he's not inclined to not lean into that arm around him.
"Yeah," is all he ends up saying to her remarks on the situation, and once the door's open, "Hey," to Sky. A small pause. Then a longer one, as he tries to figure out what the hell to say, and ends up sniffing once as he continues to try to not cry, which keeps being unusually hard every so often tonight.
Sky enters and he looks between the two of them. "Mona. Punk." He greets the young woman and of course, his little bro. He enters and takes off his Fedorah, setting it on something firm before he takes a seat somewhere.
He pinches the bridge of his nose.
"Sum it up for me." He tells them both, decide amongst themselves who's going to actually recall it.
Once she's sure Sky's safely inside, there's only one wary look past him toward the night outside. She scans the grounds, she scans the skyline. Her eyes flick to the tops of the trees before she slides the door closed, and there's no hesitation to rush back to precisely where she was, arm looping around Zane's ribs and offering a girl-shaped bolster to lean on. It's a bolster that squeezes reassuringly the moment she hears that hitch in Zane's breath. "We're gonna get him back. We are," she says quietly, brow creasing deeply before she drops a gentle kiss at his temple.
She tries to sound encouraging, sure, but there's a lot to tell. "You're probably not going to believe most of this. Everyone... keeps hitting some weird... wall? About that." She swallows hard. "You know The Painkillers, right? They took him. Arthur. And Spear Thistle, Ashley Freeman, too." Deep breath! "There's a lot of things that are, uh. Cult-like? About the stuff they're doing."
Zane nods, leaning into Mona again. Another nod as she starts doing a little bit of explaining, his eyes on his brother, where they stay when she pauses. "I know I steal your smokes sometimes," though really, isn't that mostly a game?, "but I don't... you know I don't lie to you, right?" Try to evade, sometimes; hide things, okay; but it's probably years since outright lie. "'cause she's right, some of it sounds kinda nuts. But it's still true and really messed up and they took him." The last is plaintive; Art's been busy and hiding away a lot lately, enough for his twin to miss him, but he wasn't gone. "...and Spear and Ashley."
Sky runs a hand through his hair as he exhales another bit of smoke. "Zane, I know for a fact that you might be many things, but a liar isn't one of them. The fact taht you have a witness reinforces what you saw." Which means this can be handled by the law and Sky has an actual reason to get involved.
"Yeah, Painkillers. Been keeping an eye on them, we suspected that they were definitely involved in the kidnappings, but we had no solid evidence. Now we do: witnesses. What kind of cult activities are we talkin' about here?"
At the mention that he isn't a liar, Mona's brow creases all the more deeply, as if it hurt to even contemplate the notion of anyone thinking such a thing. She is very clearly in some sort of mother hen meltdown of sorts, and it sits very strangely on a Marchant. Reassuring squeeze intensifies, and she scoots in a trifle closer.
"Not just a witness," Mona adds quietly, though the simple act of stating that much aloud has some of the color draining further from her face. "Several of us saw all of... a lot happened. But there were a lot of us, tonight. We all saw it. Morrison Lester, too. That 'Queen Francine' lady threw him more than ten feet like he was a wet dishrag."
She looks to Zane, silent a moment. Then she gulps in a breath. "So they're really kinda going for a lot of vampire... stuff. Like, a lot. And maybe it's all fake fangs and special effects and some kind of wire work or something, but-" She's an unknown element. She'll leave it to Zane to not lie about the flying part.
Zane gnaws on his bottom lip for a moment before he picks up the sentence: "But they were flying, Sky." Evidence he's serious, unlikely as the claim might sound. "And no, we didn't drink or smoke or-- or anything anything weird. If they're... if they're doing stuff theatrical? They're doing it a lot better than we ever could," and their theatre cohort was remarkably good, "and places it shouldn't be possible, and I mean, neither should flying, but... but they were. We all saw it." He watches, eyes entreating his brother to believe him, bizarre claim or not.
Sky kinda sits there for a minute.
Loooong silence then. God, this is when grown ups really suck. "I'm sure you guys were hallucinating. Fear often produces images that arn't quite what they seem." Sky thinks about this in a logical way. The logic says that vampires arn't real. "....all seven of you. Has to be it. If there was a supernatural entity existing in a biker gang, we would've noticed by now."
"They were flying," Mona echoes, only then looking up to Sky with an utterly ashen face. "You can take, I don't know... hair, blood, whatever you want to test; he's telling the truth, we weren't drinking or smoking anything but... cloves." The room already reeks of them, so there'd be no hiding that one. "Uh. If you want a drink, I could probably find you one." She wouldn't fault anyone in the room at this point for wanting one.
"Sure, mass hysteria-" She took that psychology elective, and remembers at least fragments of it. "-but it doesn't change the fact that they did actually take them. Whether they were vampire or rejects from a kung fu flick, I couldn't actually tell you."
"It was more than seven of us. It was... us, Jade, Thea. Amy Lester and Johnny. Ashley and Cash Freeland." She cheks her memory for the rest of the roster. "James and Star and Silver and Spear Thistle, their half brother Hector." She isn't actually willing to mention Felicity, but she does glance again to Zane. "More, too. I just. It was a blur of people, after a point."
At 'all seven', one of Zane's hands unwraps itself enough that he can start silently trying to tally people up on his fingers; he gets through all five fingers at least three times and then some, if Sky happens to be paying attention to that. "A lot more than seven," he agrees with Mona, adding in, "Felicity and Lucas and Landon and Esme and George... and Morrison... and yeah. Whether they're real vampires or doing really, really good at pretending, they took them and they threatened to kill them if we go after them or try to be... clever."
His eyes lift to Sky again. "I know how it sounds, I do. But. And. Maybe it didn't get noticed 'cause no one wants to believe it? 'cause someone's gotta notice first and then they gotta convince people they're right and... and probably people think we all would've noticed if. And they don't wanna sound crazy." It's a relatively cogent argument, for him.
Sky seems to be taking this all in stride, but in reality his brain is in hyperdrive. He's probably not going to believe them unless he sees it, but Zane doesn't lie. Not to him. And if Mona is also with him, and EVERYBODY ELSE who all saw the same exact thing...
Sky takes a deep breath, then lets it out before be speaks again. "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
Yes, deductive reasoning hard at work while Sky takes another drag out of his cigarette. "I'll take a drink. I'm gonna need one." Because now he's of a mind that vampires are actually real. But he's going to assume most of it is at least some level of bullshit. Is he going to need a religious icon? some garlic? some tainted soil? a stake?
"I mean... that's how cults work, isn't it? They all rally together around believing something crazy?" Mona's eyes are a fraction too large, and she glances again to Zane before looking over at Sky. "So like -- even if they aren't actually vampires? I think they want us to believe that. And they seem to believe it, too. Crazy or not. And, I mean... I do costumes, right? And they want to scare people into doing whatever they want. It's not a bad act and look to put on for that, if that's what they're doing. It's relatively cheap and easy compared to most things and, well, they're doing a really good job of it."
It's then her eyes close, and she drops her head to rest against Zane's. "That's why I really hope this isn't something that counts as 'being clever'." Which it likely is. "They have threatened people for doing less. Cash made a... flyer, I think? That made Francine angry, and start with the threats, a ways back. Thea said they killed Brenda," she says more quietly. "So sounding crazy? Yeah, maybe we do, but. They're willing to do things to make it clear why it's a bad idea to talk, even if talking makes us sound like we're ready for the rubber room. The threats aren't empty."
The look she aims at the bar is a longing one herself, and she eases up off of the couch with another kiss to Zane's temple. "There's coffee, because we're likely going to need a lot of it. Anything you want to spike it with is behind on the bar, feel free to snag the good stuff before Jade does." Then, she glances toward the interior door, further into the house. "He was going to be down soon, I think. Was going to get something." But it's been a little while, and that's got her increasingly on edge.
"A lot of us are staying here, even though... " She starts pouring off a fresh mug of coffee. "...I'm not entirely sure that's smart. I mean, maybe it's just a delusion on their part, too? But that whole thing about not being able to enter a house unless they're invited in by someone who lives there seems to hold true. Or did, at the Reed house, one night. We have the room, but there are a lot of people who live here, including full time staff that we can't exactly... explain this to. People that might let somebody in. And we're used to letting in caterers, cleaning crew... "
With that, she darts off to check for Jade.
Zane may be a good actor, but he isn't acting right now; even allowing the possibility that it could maybe somehow be some kind of weirdly well-done trick, it's clear enough which side of the line he falls on. What he's seen has convinced him, for what it's worth, and when it sounds like Sky might be at the least willing to maintain an open mind on the improbable, there's barely a moment between when Mona stands and Zane's practically throwing himself at his brother to hug him. He looks faintly embarrassed afterward (though to be fair, he also spontaneously hugged the principal during graduation; he wasn't 100 percent convinced he was truly going to graduate until they actually handed over the diploma), and settles back into a seat, though at least this time he doesn't immediately curl back up.
"All of that is true," he says. "And I think. It's better to know they might be really strong and fast and stuff like that? Like, if we were wrong, it isn't like planning for that'd hurt, right?" He glances after Mona, watching her pour that coffee, and chews his bottom lip a little. "Maybe if someone told them all that you guys might be targets for kidnapping too?" he suggests. "Then they might not let people in." Looking back to Sky, he adds, "They might, too. Try to kidnap others of us."
Sky looks between Mona and Zane, though he's mainly looking at the former instead of the latter. Why you might ask? Because he knows full well that she had a plethora of information to add. Though she was right, they didn't pursue because it was the safest option for everyone. But if that just gives these monsters time to do whatever they want to do....
"Looks like I'll have to keep an eye on all of you in the meantime." He exhales some breath. "Its good that you kids didn't decide to go and try to be brave. Because honestly, that would make all of this so much harder.
"We just... don't wanna get anyone killed," Zane says quietly. "There's a lot of stuff we don't know but we know they're serious about hurting people. And hard to fight. I mean. I've seen-- I've seen that Fran lady throw people ten feet or more twice now. I don't want Art or any of our friends getting hurt and I don't want you getting hurt and..." He trails off, head slightly cocked as he studies Sky. "What're we gonna say to Mom and Dad?"
"Well, my brother has not yet managed to pass out anywhere obvious," Mona says as she returns, carrying one rather enormous ball of feline with her into the den. "Brought you something." Once inside, she lets the fluffy monster go to dash over to Zane.
"I'll help any way I can. Telling people. Or not telling people. Whichever's the smarter call. I can't pretend to know." She's slower to head toward the couch, but nothing beats the cat's speed when someone's upset.
Sky looks at Zane for a sharp moment before he shakes his head. "Nothing. Just tell them that I'm lookin' for him and he probably just ran off with some friends. Kids hit a rebellious streak eventually. No reason to send them into a panic too. All we know, letting people know would just give the Painkillers more food if they are actually what you claim them to be."
He then looks over to Mona. "Good." But then she seems to give Zane...a cat? Where is she getting this stuff?!
"Just...play it calm and collected around family right now. Meantime, I'm going hunting. Somebody's gotta go get your idiot twin, Zane." Sky says with a small grin.
It's hard not to be a little cheered up by a massive cat barrelling at you, into your lap, and bonking your chin with his forehead like he misjudged where it was by at least an inch. It makes Zane laugh despite everything, a small sound, and he wraps his arm around the feline, burying his face in all the fur, then lifting it again. "Hi, Prance." The cat wants cuddles. The cat gets cuddles. Mona gets a brief little smile, and a nod.
"Okay," he says to Sky, "Calm and collected. Okay. I can do that." And he's not the one in the idiot seat today, that's kind of nice! Just the reason, not so much. "Just... be careful, okay?" He only has so many brothers.
The cat definitely seems to know Zane. "Thank you, Sky. For... everything." Mona looks sincerely grateful, almost as much as she looks worried. "We're all staying here for the time being, if you need my direct line, hang on-" She heads back toward the bar, and starts rustling around behind it for something in a drawer. There are a whole list of numbers she scrawls down: hers, Jade's, Thea's, the one for her cousins' -- Lucas and Landon -- room, and the three main house line. Frickin' Marchants. That cat probably has a private line.
"Consider the door open," she insists as she carries the note over. It's written on the back of, naturally, a cocktail napkin. "Probably half the people you'd want to talk to are staying here on and off, lately. So you could do worse." Then, she's heading back to the couch, unable to not smile a little crookedly at the cat working his magic -- like medicine -- before she drops onto the couch. She's a comical sight, all shiny party dress and bare feet, eyes streaked and worried look.
Sky nods just a little bit to Zane. "Who do ya think you're talkin' to? Kept all of you out of the fire for the most part, no reason why I gotta fuck it up now." He winks at Zane. Thne he gives a look to Mona as she thanks him. "Don't mention it. Became a detective to figure out the problems and do whats right."
He then takes a deep breath, but then she gives him a direct line to her and a few others. "Appreciated. And I thought the precinct had a loto f phone numbers...." he shakes his head for a moment before he stands up to his feet.
"Now lets pray I find a trail." Sky gives a smirk before he makes his way out of the den. "oh, and uh...stay safe you two. Especially you, Punk." He points at Zane. Then, he walks out.