It was supposed to be a regular case. A simple Haunting, maybe a Grey Haze or Lurker at worst, nothing big or complicated, but then, that's what they'd thought with the Chelsea Catwoman case. Simply find and contain the Source. Its apparent simplicity in and of itself should've been an indicator that something was off.
The site of Visitation was a large, derelict mansion, barely standing, but it was owned by a wealthy, if a bit eccentric, old man who kept the building solely because it was his ancestral home. Nasty habit, if Lockwood did say so himself; after all, there tended to be Visitors in older homes, especially those passed down for...well, by the look of the place, at least a hundred odd years.
"So, Mr. Wibigon, what sorts of psychic phenomenon have been reported?" Holly Munroe asked the client, pencil in hand, poised to jot down any relevant information, as per usual. Though she herself did have a decent psych talent, she rarely, if ever, used it, leaving the job to the two more talented agents, A. J. Lockwood, owner of Lockwood & Co., and Lucy Carlyle, the spirited and (in Lockwood's opinion, anyway) beautiful agent with the best Listening abilities this side of the universe. Someday, Lockwood swore to himself, when they both had gotten too old to be agents anymore, he was going to get down on one knee and-
Focus, he reprimanded himself severely. He could think about that later, when they weren't on a case. Right now, though, he needed to focus on the job at hand. The quicker they could get through this case, the quicker that they could be back at 35, Portland Row, sipping their tea and talking about things other than the Visitors, George complaining about the skull and Lucy reading a book on the sofa as Lockwood sat cross-legged, sketching intently, Holly writing up reports and filing.
The picture of domesticity.
Right now though, they needed to locate the Visitors' Source. For some reason, Holly had looked distinctly pale when she heard about that particular case, and Lockwood couldn't help but be slightly suspicious, even though he knew he had no evidence to suggest that Holly was untrustworthy. Anyway.
The man in question, Harold James Wibigon squinted at Holly through his heavily lidded eyes, obviously an unintentionally learnt habit.
Lockwood suppressed a snort. Clearly, the old man needed glasses, though he probably refused to buy a pair because of the ridiculous rumours claiming that Visitors would be attracted to reflective surfaces that had been circling since the Problem had begun. Absolute hogwash and rubbish, as any experienced agent knew. He turned back into the conversation.
"-the night watch kids have been reporting strange noises and a couple of them say they've been seen a ghost-girl. They say she throws things about and that silver, iron and lavender don't do any good." Holly nodded, scribbling it all down into a note-pad. Finally, Lucy appeared, holding an ornate tray on which sat three steaming cups of tea. Lucy wore her black agent's clothes, short hair beaten into submission as she often joked, and around her neck dangled a necklace of bronze links, and a small picture of a lily encased in glass.
"Tea, Lockwood?" Lucy asked, shaking him out of his stupor.
"Oh, erm, yes please," Lockwood said. Lucy threw him an odd look; Lockwood swore under his breath. He never stuttered, not even as a small child. "Well," he clapped his hands together, trying to appear casual, "we'd better get started."
A little while after they'd entered the building, Lockwood heard a thump behind him. He chalked it up to one of the duffle bags and put it out of his mind. When he did turn around though, he was confronted with a scene so unbelievable, he had to blink twice. Lucy was gaged, her wrists bound and Holly was holding a rapier to her neck, her form glowing with Other-Light. It suddenly clicked in the way that one suddenly realizes that that red liquid dripping from the ceiling is blood, which is to say, quickly, and nastily- Holly was the Visitor. "Let her go," Lockwood growled, anger and fear for Lucy rising within him
"Well, I can't let her go just like that. I am willing to exchange her for something, though." Holly laughed cruelly.
"Anything." he agreed quickly. Lucy shook her head frantically, saying something that was muffled by the fabric that was gaging her. He wished that he could tell her that it would be okay.
"Hmm...let me think," Holly examined her manicured nails casually. "How about...you duel me with a rapier?" Holly smirked. "After all, you could beat me in a trifle."
Lockwood knew that it had to be a trap, but anger drove him to agree, uncurling like a dormant dragon woken after a thousand year's hibernation. Hungry. "What are your terms?" he asked.
"If I win I kill her," Holly paused.
"And if I win?" Lockwood prompted.
"If you win, she goes free."
"Alright. When do we start?"
"Now!" Holly lunged at him like an adder, and Lockwood blocked, instinctively calculating her next move and reacting with a downward thrust and jab. Finally, Lockwood ended their duel by hooking his rapier under Holly's and with a flick of the wrist, he disarmed her. He immediately bounded over to Lucy, hastily unbinding her and removing the gag, and pulling her to her feet.
"Bronze." Lucy whispered, shoving her necklace into his hands before her eyes widened and she yelled, "Duck!" Lockwood tumbled to the floor and sat up just in time to see a silvery hand wrap around her throat, and she crumpled, eyes already dull, the flame that usually resided there extinguished. It hit him like a tidal wave. Lucy was dead. Lockwood let out a roar and tossed the only thing he was holding at Holly; the bronze necklace. Her form sputtered and disappeared, but Lockwood couldn't have cared less. Lucy was dead, and he'd never even told her how much he'd cared for her.