Phoenix, Arizona-December 24, 1994
The handsome blonde man walked arrogantly through the creaky and warped door of the empty warehouse, his eyes scanned the dim shadows searchingly.
"Where are you Maggie? I know you're here." He called loudly as irritation seemed to drip from every syllable he uttered. "I don't have time for this. I'm doing you a favor by meeting you here, now show yourself or I'm leaving." More seconds passed without an answer so with a shrug of his shoulders and a growl of frustration he made his way back toward the door.
"Wait!" A feminine voice called from the shadows just as he reached for the doorknob. "Don't go!"
Turning away from the door he once again peered into the gloomy darkness of the warehouse scanning for the location of the speaker. With a much put upon look on his face, he walked back to the center of the floor to the rough hewn table in the center and sat down upon a rickety chair that looked as though it should disintegrate under his large bulk. He quickly turned to the right as a sudden movement caught his attention.
"I say again, show yourself! I grow weary of these games, Maggie!" A small calico kitten scampered toward his feet and began to play with his shoelaces. He picked the kitten up by the scruff of its neck and stared at it curiously as he placed it atop the table.
"I'm not playing games, Michael." The feminine voice answered back as a lovely blonde walked out of the shadows and sat down in the chair opposite him. "I just want an explanation, that's all."
"I don't owe you anything, Maggie. You're lucky I even agreed to meet with you. I'm very busy as you know."
"Not too busy to be spending an awful lot of your time spying on one of my charges. Did you think I didn't know? Your ways are not exactly the most subtle you know. Why are you so interested in Casey, hmm? Nothing has changed in that particular situation, so why the sudden interest?"
"That's not your concern."
"The hell it's not! I am her guardian, it's my responsibility to watch over her."
"Fat lot of good you've done so far!" He answered sarcastically. " Where were you when she was born? She almost died that day and all of her gifts would have been wasted. Or what about when some dime store sleazeball killed her parents and she fried him? Where was her great guardian then?"
"I have a great many charges, Michael as you well know. She wasn't supposed to even be born for another two weeks. I've always felt there was something odd about the day of her birth. It was almost as though someone didn't want me there for her, but I'm sure you wouldn't know anything about that. Would you Michael?" She asked as she looked speculatively at him as he avoided looking her in the eye.
"I don't know anything about that and you haven't answered about her parents. Where exactly were you Maggie? No one seems to know." Maggie looked sad and shook her head.
"I had important business that couldn't be postponed, that is all you need to know. If I could change anything about that day, believe me I would, but I can't"
"Fine, keep your secrets. Just know this, stay out of my business. It doesn't concern you."
"At least tell me why you are interested in her all of a sudden. Give me that much."
"Not that it's any of your business, but what the hell. My spies have told me that she's caught the interest of certain individuals on the other side and I can't let anything come of it. So I'm monitoring the situation."
"And I'm sure that you have no agenda of your own, right?"
"I'm not sure what you're trying to imply, but I only want what is best for the greater good."
"I think we have vastly different opinions on that, Michael, as I'm sure you are aware."
"Why can't you see, she's too dangerous to be left on her own? I've said it before and I'll say it again. We must remove the threat and take control of her, shape her to our own needs. Use her, as she is meant to be used. To simply ignore her existence is suicidal, she's too powerful. Even if she doesn't know it."
"She's a human being, Michael, she is not meant to be controlled. She has free will."
"That's what scares me the most. What if she chooses to use her gifts against us? What then, hmm?"
"Never happen. I've been watching her, she may be a bit closed off and misguided, but she's inherently good. I can feel it."
"What good will your feeling be when she rises to stand with our enemies against us and all that we are fighting for?"
"The argument is moot and you know it. It's my responsibility to watch over her. I was charged with her well-being and the reverse is true as well, I am the one to assess the danger and handle the situation if necessary, not you."
"Just like you've handled the situation in the past? You know I'm right, Maggie. You're just too stubborn or blind to admit it. I just hope you open your eyes before it's too late." Exasperation was clearly evident in his tone as he swatted at the kitten that had been stalking his hand as he punctuated his sentences by banging on the table. It hissed and jumped from the table.
"I'll monitor her closely, protect her as needed as I've always tried to do."
"You can't be there all the time, Maggie. As you made abundantly clear before-you have many charges."
"I'll find a way, don't you worry."
"And how exactly do you propose to do that?" He laughed condescendingly. "Stupid cat! Get lost before I turn you into a mini fur coat." He jumped to his feet as he swatted once again at the little calico kitten that was industriously climbing up his pant leg. Yet again, it hissed and scampered away. He waited impatiently for an answer as he sat once again watching the playful little kitten with suspicion as it sat in the center of a pool of sunshine alternating between licking its fur and playfully chasing dust motes that danced in the light.
"That's none of your business. I don't answer to you Michael, I called you here to remind you of that fact and tell you to leave Casey alone. Keep your archaic plots and ideas to yourself and stay away from her." Maggie responded warningly as she reached down and waggled her fingers to get the kitten's attention. It playfully scampered over to her side and began rubbing its body against her leg. She smiled and picked it up and began to affectionately stroke its fur and a loud purring began to fill the air and once again directed her attention back to Michael. "Remind me again, what was it you wanted to do? Oh I remember now, make her sacrifice herself in the name of good and die. How does that serve the greater good again?"
"Simple really, she uses the gifts she's been given to do something good, brings the message of God to the people and then dies in His name. That's how it's been done for centuries and it always worked before. I figure why mess with a winning strategy, right? Everyone benefits this way."
"Tell that to all of those that have been martyred in His name and see what they say. Somehow, I doubt they'd agree so wholeheartedly with your simple ideas. Thankfully, not everyone thinks like you do and I'm the one who has the final say about this."
"You may be her guardian, Maggie, but I'll be monitoring closely. If I think for one second that you've lost your influence with her or she even looks like she may turn, I will be all over the situation. Do we understand each other?"
"Of course, but it won't come to that."
"We'll see." He muttered as he stood up to leave. "I meant what I said Maggie, I'll be watching too. I still think it's a grave mistake to leave a possible threat like her walking about free, I only hope I'm wrong." With that having been said, he disappeared.
"Always have to have the last word, don't you Michael? Pompous ass!" Maggie called out. "Time to go, little one." She smiled at the little cat still nestled contentedly in her arms and with a flash of light she was gone as well.
Casey watched the hands of the clock move torturously slow toward five o'clock as she sat working at her computer. The barren walls of her cubicle a sharp contrast to the bright decorations and photographs covering the walls of the surrounding cubicles.
"Casey? You still here?" Debra called out as she poked her head around the corner. "Give it up, kid. It's Christmas Eve, get out of here."
"I will, I just want to finish entering these and then I'll take off." Casey answered as she grinned at her boss.
"You have any big plans for tonight? Why don't you come to the Christmas party? Everyone's going to wonder where you are. Come on, it'll be fun."
"No, thanks. I'm not in much of a party mood. Think I'll just head on home. I know you've got people waiting for you. Go on, I'll be fine."
"You, sure? I really wish you'd come, it won't be the same without you."
"No really, I'll be fine. I'm just going to go home and relax. I'll see you after Christmas."
"Well, if you're sure. You can always change your mind you know. We'll probably be there pretty late if you want to stop by."
"I don't really do holidays you know, but I'll think about it, okay? I make no promises though." Casey smiled winningly hoping that this would appease her boss and allow her to get back to work. She knew Debra meant well but the holidays were always a difficult time for Casey as she had no family nor any close friends to spend it with and in some ways she preferred it that way. Casey knew if she never let anyone get close to her then they couldn't leave her or hurt her. People only added complications that she felt she didn't need, but sometimes, like around the holidays she did get a little lonely.
Realizing that this is probably the best she's going to get from Casey, Debra's shoulders slumped in defeat and she sighed dramatically. "Okay, kid. Have a merry Christmas."
"Bye, Deb. See you later." Casey called out to Debra as she watched the woman zip her jacket and disappear through the office door and then turned back to her computer. "Merry Christmas? Bah Humbug!" She muttered disgustedly as she frowned and once again began to work. Finally, she called it quits at 5:30 and put away her work and prepared to leave.
Casey walked out into the crisp December air and started to walk to her car. On impulse she decided to take a walk over to a nearby park and read a little bit. Casey made herself comfortable on the park bench and opened her book and quickly lost herself in another world. She was so engrossed in the story that she didn't even notice the kitten that was now sitting on the ground at her feet. Her attention was finally diverted by the quiet mewling sound coming from below. She folded down the corner of the page she was on, closed her book with a snap and looked down.
"Well hello, little one. How are you today?" She said to the kitten, her words appearing as little puffs of fog in the cold December air as she gently scooped the shivering kitten from the ground and set it in her lap. A faint rumbling could be heard as she began to stroke its tiny head. "Boy, your motor sure is going, my little friend. Where's your family?" she asked as glanced around the deserted park. "Guess your all alone, just like me. Can't leave you here to freeze. Do you want to come home with me? What do you say?" The kitten curled up in her lap and went to sleep. "Okay I guess that answers that question. Let's go home." She laughed and placed the kitten inside her coat to keep it warm, gathered her things and headed back to her car to start the not so long journey home stopping briefly at the grocery store to pick up supplies for her new little friend.