Hide and Seek

"Miss, what did you say the name was?" An older man went to sit up more straight from his seat, tilting his head with one eyebrow raised, as he waited for the woman in front of him to reply. Despite his uniform and badge indicating he was a police officer, he didn't seem very much like one, groaning softly in annoyance. Police officers were supposed to help their citizens, right? This one clearly hadn't stepped a foot out of the station much, his movements were sluggish and his eyes were dull. There was no willingness from his part, no sign he was actually enjoying his job. Probably he had been passionate about it in his earlier years, but now, it had faded for whatever reason. Maybe he was struggling with a situation at home.

The woman in front of him narrowed her eyes a little, analyzing his behaviour, like she always did, with everyone. It didn't take long for her to figure out her replies had to be short and to the point, or she would lose his interest. "Eric James. He went missing approximately... ten years ago." She purposely kept the exact time of his disappearance vague, of course she knew the exact timing, but she didn't want to seem too attached to this person, and his name should already be enough to get a hit.

The man let himself sink back into the seat and mumbled something under his breath, probably about it being a long time for someone to be missing. She knew what he was thinking - or at least, she thought she knew. Yes, everyone always assumed Eric had to be dead. You can't be missing for that long, and not be found, if you were still living and breathing, right? She heard the voice of her mom in her mind, telling her to let go, that he was dead. Feeling a sudden rush of frustration and anger surging through her body, she blinked a few times to fight back tears. She couldn't start crying in the police station. Sometimes she wished she still could switch off her feelings, go numb completely. It made living easier, not having to feel the pain. She couldn't do that any more, not while she was with Klaus. He wouldn't want her to do that to herself. He was her strength, her light. With Klaus, she felt strong enough to uncover what had happened that day, when Eric went missing. Which pubs did he go to, when he went out with his brother? Which girls did he meet? What trouble did he get into? Why had he never returned home? Why did he never write them a message? Was he protecting them? Was he ashamed of something? Was pride keeping him from telling her the truth? Did he have magic too? So many things were possible! There was never any proof that he was dead, so even if the chance was only slim, he could still be alive, somewhere, anywhere! She was going to find out, once and for all. She couldn't ever do it on her own, the emotional weight would be too much for her. But she wasn't alone.

Clearly, Ana was still in denial. Klaus knew the logical outcome would be that he was dead, not leaving a trace anywhere, it was almost impossible he was still alive. And there was no record of any family member besides Ana with a magical ability - or even remotely related to the magical world. But he wasn't going to deny there wasn't a slim chance he might not be dead, and it was something she had to figure out for herself, anyway. Police officers make mistakes, she could be right, she didn't need to believe something just because everyone else was telling her to believe it, and he wasn't going to judge her for trying and having hope. He even admired her for it. He was going to be there, supporting her, guiding her, comforting her whenever necessary. But he wasn't going to stop her, it was something she needed to do, even if it was going to hurt her. It was difficult to see her so passionate about wanting to find her brother alive, knowing the happy ending she wished for, probably wasn't going to happen, but deep down he too hoped that she would be right. Aside from that, even if he was found to be dead, there were many unanswered questions. What situation did he get into? How did he end up there? He was curious to find out as well, for both of them. And if Eric really was still alive, perhaps he had a good reason to disappear. Like they had disappeared, too. Maybe Eric's situation had been very similar to Ana's, she was only 7-8 years old when her brother of 16 years went missing, it would have been impossible for her to notice the details in his behaviour, if his disappearance had been planned out.

The police officer slowly shook his head as he typed Eric's full name into the computer in front of him. "I'm sorry, I can't give out information unless you are related. What is your name, miss?" Ana smiled lightly, even though it meant he wasn't going to be able to tell her anything. At least it meant the investigation was still ongoing, and it hadn't become a cold case. It also meant they probably discovered something new very recently, and needed to keep the information away from regular citizens to increase their chances of finding the 'culprit', as they all assumed there was one. Raising her hand, she waved dismissively. "I'm just a family friend, I'm sorry for taking your time. The name's Alice." She saw his mouth open again, but he was too sluggish, she'd already quickly turned to walk away, not wishing to say a last name. Just in case, she left him a name her parents would be familiar with, if they ever heard it. She had talked about Alice during her Christmas holiday and she had written to her, one year ago, so they knew of her friend's existence. They might think Ana was with Alice, or somewhere else in the magical world. They might get a bit confused if they heard it was a woman standing across from the counter though, but maybe they could guess it was some kind of magical disguise. Ana had already quickly figured out no one was going to take her questions serious if she didn't look like an adult. A part of her hoped her parents would figure out she had been here, but seeing how the police officer had already gone back to reading his newspaper, he probably had already forgotten about their whole conversation.

As Ana left the station, she went into a small corridor and walked further down a few streets to the East, until she arrived at a small apartment with the door standing half open. The neighborhood seemed poor, not a place people were proud to be in, but that also meant people were more focused on themselves than observing others. And for Ana, it was only a passageway. She closed the apartment's front door behind her and walked straight down to the basement, she paused for a brief moment to let her eyes adjust to the darkness and let her hand glide against the wall, walking carefully, until she felt a bump, and she knew she had to turn left there. Walking a few more meters forward, she lowered herself to the ground and started feeling around, until she found the small crack in the wall. In the crack, a small teddybear lied hidden, covered with dust, and as soon as she touched it, she got teleported elsewhere.

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