A week passed, during which time nothing strange occurred. Ocelot, for one, was glad of that, as being in a constant state of heightened stress was not something he liked to sustain for long periods.
No one had turned up anything regarding the strange occurrences. Harry had called back and told Ocelot that his leads had all come up empty; he had once again suggested the possibility that the team had simply had too much to drink and that, added to their general nervousness, had produced the hallucinations. Ocelot was not inclined to believe that, but since he had nothing else to go on, he had just let it drop. As long as it didn't happen again, he was willing to put it behind him.
He and Kestrel had seen each other several times that week. The next time they had gotten together, she had told him that she'd asked Gabriel if he had anything to do with the occurrences, and he had assured her that he had not. She told Ocelot that Gabriel had even volunteered to do a bit of detective work of his own to try to find the cause, but that he wasn't confident that he would have any better luck than Harry had. By the end of the week, he had likewise come up with no leads.
The rest of the team was preparing to leave town as they usually did following completed runs. Ocelot knew that Joe had a piece of wild land somewhere outside Seattle where he spent time communing with the wilderness, and that `Wraith almost always went somewhere and didn't tell anybody where he went. Winterhawk, as usual, was getting ready to return to his home in England for a couple of months of relaxation and spell research. Ocelot had come by the mage's apartment to see him off; as the only team member who spent most of his between-run time in Seattle, Ocelot wanted a last chance to talk to everybody before they scattered to the four winds.
Right now, Ocelot sat on the couch drinking a Guinness (`Hawk didn't keep cheap beer around) and watching the mage finish up his packing. "Won't be coming to visit me this time, will you?" Winterhawk asked cheerfully, zipping up a small leather bag. Since he had almost everything he needed at his home outside London, packing didn't consist of much. "I'd imagine you've better things to do with your time this break."
Ocelot nodded. "Yeah, sorry, but Kestrel wins out over you and Aubrey."
"I'd be worried to hear you say anything else." Winterhawk grinned, tossing the bag on the couch. "Well, that's that. My plane leaves tonight, and I must say I'll be glad to get away from here for a bit."
"Why?" Ocelot asked, returning his grin. "Gray, rainy, depressing—what's the difference whether you're in Seattle or London?"
"Spoken like a true barbarian," `Hawk said. "So—have you got any other plans, besides spending every spare moment with your new love?"
"You can stop that any time now," Ocelot growled, but there wasn't much force behind it. "And the answer is, I'm not sure yet. I'll probably get in some training. Maybe I'll even go down to CalFree for awhile."
Winterhawk went out to the kitchen and grabbed another Guinness, then came back and took a seat opposite his friend. "Don't listen to me," he said, leaning back in his chair. "I'm just glad to see you've finally found a woman who can stand being around you when you don't have to pay her. Didn't I tell you that was the better way to go?"
Ocelot just shook his head in mock exasperation. Nothing he said right now would save him from `Hawk's attempts at humor, so he just changed the subject. "Are you still worried about that weird stuff?"
The mage shook his head. "No, not really. I think it was just an isolated incident. Magic can do strange and unexplained things sometimes. P'raps it was just a glitch in the astral plane or something. It hasn't happened again, has it?"
"No. I've pretty much got it out of my mind now, but what with everyone takin' off—"
"I wouldn't worry about it. I'd think that if it was deliberate, it would have happened again by now, at least to one of us." He shrugged. "Have `Wraith and Joe left yet?"
"Joe did. I think `Wraith's headin' out tomorrow."
"Well, good. After that last run, it will be good to get away and relax for awhile. I believe I'll—"
Ocelot's wristphone beeped. Winterhawk stopped in mid-sentence as Ocelot hit the button. "Yeah?"
Kestrel's face showed on the tiny screen. She looked odd: concerned, or frightened. "Ocelot?"
"Yeah, I'm here. Are you okay?"
"I...don't know. I need to talk to you right away, if you can."
Ocelot's eyes narrowed. He'd just seen her last night, and she had seemed fine. "Did something happen?"
She nodded. "Yes. Something...happened. Remember you were telling me awhile ago about those strange hallucinations you were having?"
He stiffened. Winterhawk, who had been trying not to listen, leaned forward. "Yeah..."
"Well, I—I had one. At least I think I did. And it scared me. I wanted to talk to you about it and make sure I'm not going insane."
Ocelot took a deep breath and glanced over at Winterhawk. "Okay. Okay. Listen, do you mind if I bring Winterhawk along? He's better at this kind of thing than I am, and maybe he can turn up something."
"Yes, fine." Her voice sounded strained; he'd never seen her look so scared. "Where?"
"Where did it happen?" Winterhawk whispered.
"Where did it happen?" Ocelot repeated to Kestrel.
"At a bar. Downtown. The—the Purple Haze. I'm calling from there."
Ocelot glanced at Winterhawk again, who nodded. "Let's meet there, then. `Hawk wants to get a look at the astral in the area where it occurred." His voice got a bit more gentle. "Sit tight, Kestrel. We'll be there in a few minutes."
As Ocelot broke the connection, Winterhawk rose. "Looks like this isn't over yet after all," he said grimly. "Best if I cancel my flight, I think."