Jillyan buries her face in his pillow, inhaling the last faint traces of his scent that still linger on his rarely used bed. She'd feel closer to him in her own bed, where they'd actually slept together, where they'd made love, but Fergus said it would take too much of his power to maintain wards on her house as well as this old warehouse, and that if she wasn't going to go back to Drake's Hollow with him and Tasha, she needed to stay at his place.
She doesn't give a crap about her own safety, not while Julian is out there, somewhere, needing her to rescue him, but she promised Fergus, so she waits here, hoping that maybe Julian just had a memory lapse and will wander back home on his own. Or that he'll find some way to contact her, or...Jilly doesn't even know what she's hoping for, but, whatever happens, she just knows she has to be here, ready to move, and not off in Drake's Hollow when whatever is going to happen happens.
She rolls over on her back, pulling her buzzing phone out of her pocket. Her heart leaps in anticipation as she prepares herself to hear Julian's voice, calling for help, telling her what she needs to do rescue him.
"Jilly," Fergus says, dashing her improbable hopes to the ground.
"Have you learned anything?" she asks, not ready to give up hope yet. This might be the call she was waiting for. The call to action so she can stop lying here, helpless, with nothing to do but worry.
"No, not yet," Fergus says, Jilly makes an irritated growl. Why the fuck is he calling her if he has nothing to tell her? "I talked to Moth and Tansy, and they're going to put me in contact with another fairy who might be able to help," he adds.
"Well, that's vague enough," Jilly sighs.
"I'm sorry I don't have more," Fergus says, "I'm doing what I can, but MorcuCorp is huge and near impenetrable. It took my grandfather years before he could find where they were holding my grandmother."
Jilly groans audibly, "I can't wait fucking years, Fergus. I need to find Julian now."
Fergus says nothing to let, and a long pause follows before he speaks again, "Listen, Jilly, Tasha and I are getting married. There's nothing you can do for Julian there; why don't you come home? I'd like for you to be here for my wedding."
"I can't leave, Fergus. What if Julian were to come back? I need to be here," Jilly insists, "I'm sorry."
Jilly ends the call without congratulating her cousin. It was all she could do to refrain from telling him to go fuck himself. He's supposed to be finding out where Julian is so they can rescue him, not planning a wedding.
Her phone buzzes again; if it's Fergus, she will tell him off, she won't able to hold back...but it's not Fergus, it's a text from an unknown number. The random string of letters looks like a child had been playing with a phone, but Jilly can't dismiss this message as garbage so easily. The text ends with a JL, Julian's initials, and that gives her hope. The random letters might be a code, she reasons, and this could be the message she was waiting for.
She had noticed a couple of books on cryptography in Julian's collection here in his room, and uses them to decipher the random looking message into what appears to be GPS coordinates. Looking those up online, she finds they point to a horticultural research center on Sunset Island, owned by Landgraab Industries. Bingo.
Jilly considers calling Fergus, but immediately dismisses that idea. He'll worry that it's a trap, or he'll want to wait until after his wedding, or to talk to his fairy contact first. Fergus had never gotten over his suspicions about Julian, and didn't think of him as family the way Jilly does. Fergus would let him rot in a cell while he and Tasha celebrate their wedding, Jilly thinks angrily...well, fuck Fergus. She's going to get her Julian back without him.
The Landgraab Horticultural Research Center on Sunset Island isn't exactly a high security facility. After hours, they have one security guard working the front door, and electronic surveillance in the corridors. Power to the whole building is controlled through a utility room on the top floor; all Jilly has to do is get up on the roof, get into that room to cut power to the alarms, and she's in.
The cement walls are rough, giving her decent hand and foot holds to scale up to the second floor balcony.
From there, it's another climb up to the flat roof above.
Then, a quick spring across the roof to the third floor balcony to the utility room.
The door has a simple, easily broken lock. They were hardly expecting for anyone to try to get in from the roof, obviously.
Jilly has never seen anything so pristine and sterile in her life. And this is just the utility room.
She'd done her research, so she knows exactly which wires to cut to to kill the alarms, without cutting the power to anything else and raising the suspicion of the sole guard posted by the front door.
With that done, Jilly drops back down to the second level balcony and breaks the simple lock on the employee access door to get into the building.
Inside, it's pretty much everything you'd expect in a horticultural research lab; white walls, computers...
...weird plant things in tanks. Nothing suspicious at all, nothing to suggest they had any humans locked up here, or were engaging in any experiments not strictly related to plant life.
For a moment, Jilly lets herself get distracted when she discovers how to make bubbles rise in a tank by stepping on a floor plate.
But she isn't here to play games, she's on a mission, so she leaves that lab behind to explore the rest of the building.
Electricity traps were not mentioned at all in the building specs she downloaded...
Undeterred, Jilly disarms the trap. Obviously, she must be getting to where they do their secret, illegal experiments. Because why else would they put up this kind of security?
She was right; the labs following the electricity trap are clearly meant for human subjects.
The operating table in the cell next to the creepy examination chair just feel sinister. This isn't a hospital, after all, and this facility is supposedly about plant research. Whatever research is going on in here is secret, no doubt illegal and probably highly unethical.
What are these people doing to her Julian?
Though MorcuCorp is obviously up to something far more sinister than plant research here, Jilly has so far not seen a single human being or any sign that any prisoners are being kept here. She's investigated every lab on this floor and found no one, and there are no more doors to open.
All the doors are on the one side of the corridor, Jilly notes, and the exterior dimension of the building would suggest there are more rooms on the other side. Of course, if they are keeping captive subjects, they'd want to hide them. Jilly taps and pushes at the wall, searching for a hidden door.
And finds a hidden corridor that conceals rows of doors leading to yet more pristine labs filled with equipment that suggest unnamed horrors, but still no Julian, nor any other living soul.
Eventually the tight, dingy corridor ends at a staircase leading down to a sub-level not listed on the official building specs.
And leads her to a row of cells, designed like a prison, each with its empty bed. At the end of the row, she finally finds him. She calls out to him, lying on the bed in his cell, but nothing gets past the soundproof walls, and the door is locked electronically.
But that is easily opened with the computer in the observation office.
He rises up from he bed as she open the door, rushing into his arms.
"I knew you'd come for me," Julian says softly, in a tone that suggests he's not at all surprised by her rescue, like he's been waiting for her arrival.
"Of course I came, as soon as I got your message," she answers, breathless with joy at being reunited with him at last, even if his reaction seems a bit off. And then a sudden realization intrudes, casting a shadow over her happiness, "Wait, Julian, how did you get a message out to me, being trapped in here?" she asks.
Julian caresses he cheek, brushing his lips over her neck as he whispers close to her ear, "Trust me."
Something stings her, a sharp, quick poke, like a needle. Everything becomes bright, for a second, until it fades to black.
Tourmaline walks in as Jillyan falls unconscious into his arms. "Never doubt me," he says, barely glancing up at the waiting agent.
Credit to Ditway for the Horticultural Research Center tomb lot used in this chapter.