You can definitely see where the story is building to this, if this is indeed where Sean begin to learn control over his werewolf form. The reader gets a definite sense of the story eating away and creating pressure on that character.
I enjoy so much hearing from you RW. You're very consistent and reliable. This is indeed where he begins to learn control over his werewolf form. It's rather funny in a strange way for me as I work through this section because just as I think I have the essentials outlined I discover other material to add to it or my characters behave in a different manner than I predicted so I wind up having to figure out how to adapt to the story.
The writing is progressing. I'm still in rough drafts, but once I have things ironed out I will post more. In the mean time I'll probably continue writing some of my thoughts and ideas down here, especially if I need any help.
Still a work in process.
Here you go... the end of chapter 18.
Read. Enjoy. Comment.
The drive was only a short five minutes. It wasn't even long enough for the car to completely warm up. Once there they dropped Dawn off near the entrance and then found a parking spot half a block away. They all made sure the doors were locked and started walking.
"It's going to snow soon," Tara said looking up at the cloudy night sky while rubbing her temple.
Chris gave her a stare of disbelief. "What… are you feeling it?"
"Yea. The pressure change in the air is giving me a headache, and you can feel the increase in humidity."
"It's going to be a bad one," Sean added just before they got to the main entrance of the church.
“Is that what your keen wolf senses are telling you?” Chris challenged him in a teasing manner.
Tara looked at him curiously. "How can you tell?"
"I saw it on the weather channel," he said matter-of-fact while opening and holding the door like a gentleman.
Chris laughed. "Gotta love the irony."
The three of them entered the church, first stepping through the vestibule then into the cathedral. It was a large room with a balcony lining the second level in a “U” shape, but as far as most churches went it still felt a bit on the small side giving the place a comfortable, inviting feel. The floor was carpeted with an old red color and the wooden pews were arranged into three rows creating two isle. The front of the room was on a raised platform two steps high and at the center edge was an ornate podium from which sermons were given.
They found enough room to sit together on one of the pews a couple rows from the back. Sean sat there taking in the sight of it all while Tara and Chris spoke to each other in the same hushed tones as everyone else.
The room was bustling with people of various ages as they moved about finding places to sit and conversed with family and friends. Children, parents, and grandparents, perhaps even great grandparents, crowded the cathedral and filled the room with the soft collective murmuring of their voices. Pillars along the edges of the isles supporting the upper balcony had pine garland spiraling up them and mounted candles that gave off the scents of pine and frankincense.
Sean had never been in a church before nor had he been surrounded by so many people of one faith. The combination of everything seem to give the place an energy all its own.
“Ever been to church before?” Tara asked him.
Sean shook his head while still taking it all in.
“What religion are you?” Chris asked from across Tara.
“Religion? You mean what do I believe in?” He paused considering the question until eventually he shrugged. “I don’t know. Never really gave it much thought before.”
"I'm an atheist so don't sweat it," Chris told him. "It's not like they're going to kick you out or anything."
"Yea. Just don't advertise that or they might make us feel less welcomed," Tara cautioned.
"They wouldn't ask us to leave, would they?" He asked.
“No,” Chris shook her head, “but then would come all the awkward questions and attempts at converting. It just gets uncomfortable for everybody. Besides we’re not here for that. We’re here to watch the pageant.”
As Chris finished talking the crowd hushed and the pastor walked out on stage to introduce the play. Immediately after that choir members came out from a side door located at the back of the stage and among them was Dawn. They were all dressed in flowing white robes carrying candle holders with lit candles. Once they were in position the lights dimmed and a pair of older children entered from the back of the church pretending to be Mary and Joseph. Immediately the choir broke out into song and it was easy to hear the definitive angelic voice of one in particular.
The story continued to unfold with more and more children coming out onto the stage pretending to be wise men, animals, and various other characters, and with each group a new song would accompany their arrival. Dawn had a part toward the end where she got to pretend to be an angel, complete with fake wings and a halo that wouldn't stay on her head so she removed it before she left the choir and began her solo. Honestly she didn't need the props to show she was supposed to be an angel; her presence alone was enough to convince anyone watching. Her candle seemed to glow brighter, her voice sounded heavenly, and everyone in the congregation had smiles on their faces.
When it was over the audience was invited to enjoy refreshments in the hall which was a very large room with tables set up holding an assortment of sweets and drinks. Since they were sitting near the back it took them a while to follow the rest of the crowd through the door opening into the hall. When they finally got through they found Dawn surrounded by several other people complimenting and thanking her. Rather than fight their way through the mob Sean and the others unanimously headed to the tables with the refreshments and enjoyed cookies, cupcakes, juice, and coffee. Once Dawn was able to get free she joined them.
"I think it’s safe to say you were the star of the show," Chris told her as she handed her one of the last cupcakes she had saved from a greedy little boy who already ate three.
"Did you like it?" she asked, smiling at her friends.
"When you sing," Tara lifted up her styrofoam cup of coffee like she was making a toast, "you make anything sound beautiful."
"Yea," Chris agreed. "You could probably sing a Weird Al Yankovich song and everyone would still be just as enraptured."
"What about you?” she inquired of Sean. “What did you think?"
"That was my first time seeing a pageant. I liked how everyone came together to put it on. It was warming, and you...were definitely the main attraction."
"Stop," Dawn mildly protested
They're conversation was interrupted when their attention was drawn to some of the children staring out the window with excitement. Snow had begun blanketing everything outside and it was coming down fast. Like the children, they too grouped around one of the windows to get a better look and saw it was easily an inch or two thick already.
Many of the adults began talking about varying weather reports and advisories they had heard forecasting over a foot of snow by tomorrow morning. Pretty soon the parents were gathering up their kids wishing to leave quickly before the roads got worse.
Dawn took her cue from them before Tara asked and hurriedly left to return her robe to the choir's wardrobe. In a matter of minutes they too were back on the road returning to Chris' home. They listened to the radio during the short drive which confirmed the weather predictions they overheard at the church.
As they were getting out of the car Dawn immediately expressed her concern about being able to make it home in time for Christmas. Originally the plan was to leave in the morning, Christmas Eve, but in light of the current conditions that was an unlikely possibility. Before they made it completely inside the house Tara was trying to console a very upset Dawn by saying they'd just have to hunker down here and spend Christmas at Chris' home.
She didn't say word after Tara's suggestion and her disappointment clearly radiated throughout the silence. No one said anything until a minute latter when Tara gave her ultimatum.
"I'm only going to say this once. If you all decide you really want to go then we have to leave right now, and I mean we're out the door and on the road within the next ten minutes..." Both Dawn and Chris were up and running to collect things before she was done talking. "...or we're not going," she finished, trailing off.
She turned toward Sean and asked, "What do you think? Too risky?" referring to outside.
"I think we're not stopping them."
In less time than Tara had requested they were all in the Lincoln and ready to leave, including Serenity who was claiming a spot on Dawn's lap. As she got behind the wheel Tara muttered to no one in particular how unsafe this was and how much of a fool she was to go along with it.
After they had crossed the bridge leading out of Louisville Dawn used her cell phone to call her parents to let them know they were on the road and heading home. He could hear her mother protesting on the other end, insisting that it wasn’t worth it, but Dawn was having none of it. She was determined to make sure they were going to be home for the holiday.
Sean rode in back sharing the seat with Chris. Talk of what the holidays were like at the Cormick's residence was the main conversation and mainly contained Chris and Dawn telling him about past experiences and what kind of home cooked food to expect from Mrs. Cormick. Sean listened while paying attention to the road and how Tara was handling the increased hazardous conditions.
A normal trip was about six hours, but Tara was driving twenty to twenty-five under the speed limit. Doing the math he figured they weren't going to get there until four or five in the morning. Assuming they didn't get stuck. The increased accumulation of the snow was beginning to concern him and he could see it reflected in Tara's eyes. By midnight it was getting increasingly more difficult to see and the realization that the level of snow was close to a foot deep was an eye-opener to the more optimistic of their group.
Nobody said it, but the thought they had made a very big mistake was crossing everyone's mind. They passed more than a few cars on the side of the road, a couple of them with emergency vehicles already at the scene, and all of them striking home the reality it could easily become them.
"Hey," Tara said, getting everyone’s attention and glancing over at Dawn. "Switch seats with Chris,"
"You mean climb over the back?" she asked, realizing they weren't likely to stop.
"What are you thinking?" Chris inquired, her curiosity peaked.
"Just do it," Tara reiterated trying to keep the anxiety out of her voice, but Sean could sense it.
After a bit of awkward maneuvering, and Sean trying to shove himself as far into the corner as he could go, they managed to swap places.
"Okay. Now what?" Chris asked.
"I want you to plow the snow."
It took Chris a second to comprehend what she meant, but once she did she got a big grin on her face, one that was equally matched by Dawn.
"Take a moment and think about what you're going to do first," she cautioned her. “First realize we still have a few hours to go before we get there so this is going to be more about energy conservation. You’ll have to find the least minimal amount of power you need so you can maintain a constant over a long duration.”
Tara paused, glancing over at Chris, making sure she understood what she was saying before she continued. She stared back, calmly and attentive, showing she was in the right mindset for what was going to be asked of her.
“I need to make it clear that if you need to take a break don't stop all of a sudden because that will have us crashing into whatever wall of snow your telekinesis has left behind. If we get to that point don't wait until the last second to tell me either. Give yourself ample time so I can talk you through it. Okay?”
Chris nodded her head and Sean realized he and Dawn were listening as closely as Chris was. Her ability fascinated both of them, and they were both going to see her in action trying something unprecedented.
“This will be different than what you've done before since we'll be moving. The trick will be using the vehicle as your reference point and not getting distracted from that. You'll want to project it about five feet in front of us. If you can lock that down than the rest should be a piece of cake.
“When you make your wall keep it simple. You don't need to make it curved or anything fancy. Simple is easier to maintain. Another key factor is to be efficient with the size. Less area will increase your duration. Got it so far?”
Again Chris nodded her head.
“Okay. Next is shape. Keep it vertical to us and angle it so the driver's side is at least two to four feet further away than the passenger side. Also keep the wall extended past the width of the car to either side by at least two feet or more and a height of four feet or so. You may have to modify the height, but let’s try that and see how it goes. The main point is to not let the snow overflow the top of your wall.
“Finally start the creation of your wall above the level of the snow and gradually lower it. This will help you gauge the amount of force you’ll need to apply. Naturally the lower you go the more resistance you'll feel. Estimate where the ground is and try to keep it a few inches above that. It'll be easier for you if you're not scraping. If you do it'll be a spike in resistance. Don't let it surprise you to the point of letting your wall dissipate, because like I said earlier, it suddenly disappears then I'm likely losing control of the car.
“Like we trained, anticipate what you’re going to see and feel. The fewer surprises the easier it will be to maintain your concentration. Think you got all that.”
“Repeat back to me what you remember.”
“Endurance is key so I got to keep it simple. If I need a break give you an early heads up. The angle and shape of the wall is easy enough I just have to use the car as my reference point, and I'm going to start it above the snow at a point beyond the front of the car then gradually lower it.”
“Sounds like you got it. Take your time. Visualize it, and let me know when you're ready to begin.”
After about a half minute she told Tara she was ready and they all watched in eager anticipation. An invisible barrier appeared ahead of the car, made evident by the lack of snow falling in front of them. Suddenly a line in the snow formed approximately five feet forward of the car and the amount the vehicle was forcing through decreased while forming a rapidly growing pile on the other side of Chris' wall. The angle Tara had instructed her to make helped in dissipating the buildup, but it wasn't quite enough.
Before Tara could give her further instructions she decided on her own to elongate and curve the top of her wall which solved the problem nicely.
“Totally cool,” Dawn exclaimed as they all stared in amazement.
“Shhh. Try not to talk. Give her a chance to lock it down."
Dawn was smiling and beaming with barely contained excitement. The silence stretched on for a long minute or two until finally Chris spoke up.
"Yea this is pretty cool, isn't it?"
At that point Dawn couldn't contain her laughter that came bubbling out which effortlessly put a smile on everyone’s face and did wonders at dispelling the stress that had built up in the car the last few hours.
"How're you holding up?" Tara asked, still smiling and feeling more than a little proud of Chris.
"It's actually not as hard as I thought it would be. I can still talk and what not. I just have to keep my eyes focused out there."
"It'll likely get more difficult the longer you do this, and you'll need to concentrate more. If it gets to the point where you feel a dull headache forming near the front of your forehead let me know. That’s when we should take a break. The longer you push the sharper the headache will feel."
“Say… how do you know all this?” she asked without taking her gaze away from the direction they were heading. “I mean as far as I know you don’t have any psychic powers. Do you?”
“No. I do a lot of research and I educate myself on the principals and practical application of… well, a lot of different things; your telekinesis being one of them.”
“Where do you find all this stuff?” Dawn asked.
“Books and people mostly. A lot of it has to do with my connection to the Arcanus. They’ve been around for a long time and have accumulated a wealth of information about magic and the supernatural.”
“And I imagine membership to your little club is exclusive to people like you,” Chris said with a hint of jealousy. “So there’s no way we could look this up on our own.”
“No. Not really. They’re selective with who they allow access to the archives.”
“It still boggles my mind how you can keep all this stuff secret from the rest of the world,” Chris added skeptically.
“It’s really not that hard. Most people don’t want to know about it. They’d rather believe the supernatural can be neatly explained and all wrapped up in a package of logic and reason, tied with bow of twentieth century science. Reality, for most people, is all about perspective, and when you think like that there is no reasoning. They’ll believe whatever they choose and that’s that.”
Chris shook her head, still in disbelief.
Sean remained quiet and alert, paying close attention to how Chris appeared to be holding up under the seemingly mild psychic strain she was putting herself under and how well Tara was keeping them on the road. Tara was noticeably less stressed and her confidence showed by the car’s acceleration to just under the speed limit. His cat had found a comfortable spot on the seat next to him and he absently stroked the back of her neck which had her in that half dozing state animals often rested in.
Dawn was obviously itching to ask a million questions. She was doing her best to restrain herself, and keyed onto the fact that Sean had barely said anything the entire trip.
“Are you okay?” she questioned.
“You haven’t said much in the last few hours.”
“It’s been a little tense. I was just keeping an eye on things.”
“Guess this wasn’t the smartest thing to do.”
“You think?” Tara said softly and in a light hearted manner, adding a grin so as not to be abrasive.
“I know. I’m sorry. This was really stupid of me to want this.”
“Look I get it. You wanted to be with family on Christmas. It’s important to me too, but the reality of it is this is very dangerous. I should’ve been more firm about not going.” She paused a moment to laugh at herself. “Hanging out with you guys has made me more reckless.”
“How’re you holding up?” Sean directed his question to Tara.
“I’m okay for right now, but maybe when Chris decides she needs a break it’d be a good idea for me to switch out. You offering?”
“Yea. I can take over.”
Chris continued for almost an hour before she said she was beginning to feel the strain. The car slowed to a gradual stop, and the hazard lights came on before Tara told her she could release the force she was projecting. Tara directed her to get out and stretch her legs a bit to get the blood flowing through the rest of her body. If they had something to eat and drink that would’ve helped too, but since they left in such a rush they hadn’t planned on it being a requirement.
They all got out of the car since Sean and Tara were going to switch seats anyway and Dawn didn’t want to be left by herself. The doors had to be pressed into the miniature walls of white powder in order to open them, and it came as a shock to see the depth had reached well over a foot with the snow still falling heavily. Sean saw Serenity consider darting out, but after a brief moment of consideration she decided staying inside the car was more appealing.
They all marveled at the trail Chris had blazed for them and more than a few words of appreciation were given to her. She soaked up the praise and teased them a bit to hide any embarrassment she might’ve had.
Tara and Chris took a lazy stroll through the miniature valley of snow left in the wake of their travel and the downfall dampened anything Sean could’ve heard passing between the two of them. Presumably Tara was assessing how she was doing and possibly giving her some additional instruction since she wasn’t going to be driving when they got back in.
Dawn hung back with him. Both of them leaned against the trunk of the car watching the vague outline of their friends against the backdrop of the storm.
“You sure you’re all right?” she asked him again.
He looked over at her studying the subtle hint of concern shadowing her features. Little white flakes were rapidly covering her hair and peppering her face, but she seemed unbothered by it as she stared back at him.
“Yea. I’m fine,” he responded rather blandly, not even sounding convincing to himself. After a couple of seconds he added, “What do you think is wrong with me?”
“I… I don’t know. That’s why I’m asking.”
“Well, you got a hunch. Something is telling you I’m not okay. So what do you think it is?”
“Out of all of us I think I’m the least qualified to make that assessment.”
“You know… we’ve been friends for only a short time. Sure, it was a little rough in the beginning, but we managed to iron out most of those spots and now look at us. Sometimes it’s not about how much you know. It’s how well you know the people you’re with. Your perspective is… unique compared to the others.”
“You mean because I’m not like you guys. I don’t have anything special about me so I’m kind of… on the outside looking in.”
“No,” he said, shaking his head. “The way you see things is simpler. I think it’s easier for you to see the truth of matters because you have less clouding your perspective. So, being honest with yourself, and not worrying what I might say, what are you seeing when you look at me?”
Dawn stared at him, remaining still and unblinking. She looked directly into his eyes and he was caught off guard staring right back at her, unable to pull away. For a second there was no sound and nothing existed in his peripheral. All he saw was that sweet modest face. He was trapped in that moment and for some unexplained reason he felt any mask he might’ve worn was stripped away and she caught a glimpse of what was inside.
He saw it too. Something he was trying so hard to keep buried, even from himself, and the emotion that surged forward was unexpected.
Panic hit him and he was blinded for an instant with a strong urge to run. To run as fast and as far away as he could despite how suicidal it would be leaving himself exposed and unprepared in weather like this. He tore away from her penetrating gaze and reasserted his mask while mentally chastising himself for momentarily letting his guard down.
“You’re not just afraid. You’re panicking. Why?”
He felt like such an idiot. He never should’ve tempted her to try and figure it out.
“Are you… are you afraid of losing yourself?”
“Humph,” he huffed sagging his shoulders and looking down. She had part of it right. The fear was definitely there. Fear of his werewolf self swallowing up his identity, but there was more she wasn’t seeing, and Sean didn’t want to share it.
He lied to himself saying that it was the feeling of vulnerability that made him try to hide it, but it was more than that. The truth was he had more to lose now than he did before and that’s what had him terrified. He couldn’t share that with her; not any of them… because he knew what he had to do and he didn’t want them to follow him when he left. The longer he stayed the more danger they were in.
They had rescued his human identity, giving him a temporary reprieve, no matter how brief. The least he could do was not endanger them any longer. Leaving would be as much for them as it was for him. It would spare their lives, and him the guilt of any tragedy that would’ve befallen them if he remained close.
It would be all right as long as he left right after the holiday. He had told himself he’d do it sooner, but excuse after excuse was made and he stayed a little bit longer. This time would be different. He’d wait until just after Christmas so he didn’t ruin the festive spirit.
He got control of himself and put his rampant emotions in check. It looked as though she could sense him closing back up and her eyes searched his face for any more clues as to what was going on inside.
“Hey,” she said reassuringly, leaning into him, “We’ll help you get through this.”
Her sweet, kind words threatened to open him up again, but he gritted his jaw and clamped down on the sensation.
“Thanks, Dawn. That means a lot to me.”
“It’ll be okay.”
Oh God how he hated this; the rollercoaster ride his emotions were taking against his will. It was happening again, but last time he was by himself when he got it back under control. Being around the others made it feel more uncomfortable and difficult.
He needed something to completely take his mind off the subject. Something that would shock and override what he was feeling.
Without saying a word he turned to the side, scooped up snow in both hands and rubbed it into his face. He hadn't realized how warm he had gotten until he felt the extreme contrast in temperature. The freezing cold blinded all sensation making him unable to think about anything else.
Before there was a chance for him to have another thought he repeated the process. Chunks of snow fell under his collar and he could feel the refreshing cold over his chest. Distantly he heard Dawn's voice saying something, perhaps in surprise, wondering why he was doing what he was doing, but it wasn't important.
He did it a third time just to be sure he buried his inner turmoil under ice. The effectiveness was lessening, but it had done its job.
He felt a small pair of hands touching his arms through his jacket. When he took his hands away from his face Tara was standing in front of him looking up at him with concern. It was likely her voice that he heard before too.
"Hey," she spoke softly, seeing that he was finally registering her. He was certain she had spoken more words than that while trying to get his attention, but he was too absorbed with shutting out everything.
"What's going on?" Her voice was calm as she searched his eyes for answers.
"I... I was..."
"Easy. Take a deep breath."
He did and it helped him collect his thoughts.
"I was losing it. My emotions were going to extremes."
"I guess you could call it that."
"What do you mean?" Dawn's voice came from off to the side. She evidently took a few steps back when Tara had come up.
"The wolf side to his personality was taking a peek,” Tara took a stab at explaining as she watched his face for confirmation. “Whenever it gets close to the surface his instincts get stronger which is fed by his emotions. Since he's an empath those emotions can become greatly amplified if he doesn't have his talent in check."
"But my guard isn't down," Sean looked confused. "I still have my mind shielded."
"He's right," Chris confirmed. "I can feel it."
"That doesn't matter. It's all internal. He's not picking up on outside emotions."
"What can I do to keep this from happening again?"
"Just..." she took a deep breath before continuing, "keep doing what you're doing. Stay calm, and your emotions in check. I'm working on something. You won't have to worry about this much longer."
"Something." It didn't escape his notice the quick glance she gave Dawn and Chris. He had a feeling that whatever it was they were in on it too. "Give me a little more time to lay things out and figure out what I need to do to make it all work then I'll have a better answer for you."
"What are you planning on trying?"
"Relax. I'll share with you as soon as I'm sure it’s a viable and safe option."
"Soon. Like in the next twenty-four hours to be sure."
He sighed. "Fine." Then turned back toward the car heading for the driver's seat. She was right. It was better not to think about it. All he wanted to do right now was focus on getting safely out of this snowstorm and then someplace where he could be alone. Meditating sounded good to him right now.
He was feeling the downside to the rollercoaster. The lack of feeling. The emptiness. He didn't like it, but it was better to be in that state while the others were around. If he cared enough to think about it he probably looked lifeless to them.
"One problem at a time," he thought to himself. "Get done what needs to be done first. Worry about the rest later."
Last edited by SilentStrider (2014-10-22 15:32:43)
I have another post ready, but first I was wondering if perhaps I should go back and redo the first two chapters, or possibly more. A while back my wife was of the opinion I should, but I essentially told her I wasn't going to do any rewrite until I got the first book written all the way through at least once. It's been quite some time since I've given that idea any consideration, but every now and then it does pop back into my mind, especially when I re-read my material. Today I had a thought of hearing what my readers had to say and I'm going to put it up to a vote. I'm setting a quota of at least eleven votes, and the first one has already been made by my wife. Vote yay or nay.
Although I've only had a couple of people (mrRW and OldWolf) respond since my long hiatus, I know there's more of you guys out there so I don't think ten more votes is an unreasonable amount. I've seen the amount of views increase quite a bit and I can't believe it's only been from those two and myself.
Well what ever the case for the increase in views I'm at least grateful there are people out there who still occasionally like to see what else is new that I have written.
I'd appreciate the feedback and your input on whether or not you think I should do a rewrite of the first few chapters or continue with new material. There is a good possibility this post may get buried and forgotten about as a result of few reader responses and my pressing on with the story, but never the less I've thrown it out there to see what comes of it.
Hope to hear from more of you soon before I make my next addition to the story (of which did I mention is ready?)
Last edited by SilentStrider (2014-10-24 00:27:30)
Never really been a fan of re-writes myself as I find they can change some of key elements of a story that drew readers to it in the first place.... So I guess I'm voting for new material!
Speaking of which, I thought the latest segment brings a great slice of drama at the end but also has a feel good quality in the pageant scene. Hope to see more soon!
Thanks mrRW! As always your feedback is awesome!
The next chapter will have more to do with laying the ground work for the bonding ritual.
One of my primary obstacles in planning this part of the story has been Tara's motivation for wanting to create it. My character's motivation has always been a very important concern to me through out the entire story. It's a key element to making them feel believable and relatable. Let me know what you think of how they all present themselves in this chapter and if you feel there are any parts I should change, add, or just doesn't sit well with you. By the same token I appreciate knowing what works too
I know this part has a lot of dialogue to read through and that may or may not be something that detracts from reading it, but never the less I'd like to know how you guys feel concerning it. I'm not sure how the final rendition of the story will be and there's a strong possibility if it ever comes to print much of this dialogue will get trimmed down. So once again enjoy the chance of reading it here before we get to that much later stage of the creation process.
Here's the beginning of Chapter 19!
Read. Enjoy. Comment.
It took them another two hours to finish the road trip. After their first break Chris wasn’t able to go more than fifteen minutes before she warned them her head was starting to ache. Sean pulled over and just the two of them got out to give her a chance to relax her ability. He expressed his concern if she’d be able to continue like this, but she told him not to worry about it. If need be they’d keep doing little hops until they finally made it to the Cormicks.
They took one more break after another fifteen minute run and luckily, while Chris was resting up, a snow plow went by with several cars following in its wake. They hurriedly got back in the car and followed suit making the last hour of the trip a lot easier.
Dawn got on the cellphone at about two in the morning and risked a call to her parents, hoping she didn’t wake them up. As it turned out her mother wasn’t able to sleep and was worried about them making it safely. She also told them that her father was on the road plowing streets and helping out a few people that had gotten stuck in the storm. He had told her he was taking care of the east side of town and going as far out as he could in hopes of making the last leg of their trip safer.
Soon afterward Sean was pulling the Lincoln into the recently plowed driveway of the Cormicks. There were a bunch of multi-colored lights decorating the bushes along the driveway, going up the railing of the deck and along the edge of the house. In addition there were also some lawn decorations that were half buried in the deep snow drifts, but the decoration Sean liked the most was the pine tree seen in the bay window that had lights and ornaments hanging from its branches. He thought about how he had helped with setting it up right after Thanksgiving and how in the end of his time spent here he was made welcomed as though he was family. The thought of family put a warm smile on his face that he kept to himself.
After he parked the four of them quickly unloaded the car, taking everything inside in one trip. Since Serenity was comfortable in Dawn’s lap Sean insisted she kept two hands on the cat when she brought her in and he would carry all of her things.
Lily greeted them all at the door, holding it open for them. When she went to hug Dawn she was only slightly surprised she was holding a cat nestled in her arms. Serenity was released and Sean reassured Dawn’s mother that he took full responsibility for the feline and was going to get her set up in the room he had slept in last time he was here. Lily told him not to worry about it. She was more than used to animals and she had faith Sean was mature enough to handle his pet.
When he returned Lily and the girls were in the kitchen enjoying warm cups of hot chocolate and there was an extra one waiting for him. Evidently, Sean suspected, this was something of a tradition since it was what she had done when they were last here. Tara returned the same time he entered. Evidently she was thoughtful enough to get Chris some headache medicine before she started complaining about how her head felt now that she could rest properly.
The room was pleasantly warm and the smell of a spiced ham was slowly being cooked in a large crock pot along with another scent, likely pumpkin pie in one of the double stacked oven. His mouth involuntarily salivated at the delicious smells and he only then realized how hungry he actually was. An embarrassing gurgle sound came from his stomach, loud enough to make the others pause in mid conversation and laugh in surprise.
“Oh dear,” Lily exclaimed as she stood up from the kitchen table. “It didn’t occur to me how hungry you all must be. It’s just at this late of an hour I’m not thinking about meals. I’ll have something whipped up for you in a city minute.”
He was about to tell her he was fine and how he didn’t want to impose, but by now he had a better sense of how Dawn’s family was and to say to Lily not to bother would be an insult. So when she heated up a large tray of spaghetti and meatballs for everyone he extended his thanks and showed appreciation by digging in.
“Joe and I helped out with a church convention the other night and there were plenty of left overs to bring home. He insisted on grabbing Mrs. Balementi’s spaghetti and meatballs, and don’t you worry none about eating your fill. There’s still plenty for him in another container for when he gets home later.”
They continued with idle chat, winding down from the tension they were all feeling from the past few hours. Chris only ate half of what was on her plate and then politely excused herself to go lay down. Sean couldn’t blame her. In fact he was surprised she hadn’t fallen over yet from exerting her talent so hard.
While they relaxed Lily called her husband who was still on the road to let him know his daughter and friends had made it home safely. She relayed to the rest of them he was glad to hear the news and would be home in a couple of hours.
When their dishes were finished Lily gathered them up, quickly rinsing them in the sink then said they should all go ahead to bed; it was already very late. She grabbed her jacket saying she was going to check on the animals before she laid down, and Dawn was quick to her feet offering to go with her. Her eagerness made Sean think she wanted to talk to her mom privately.
He considered offering his help anyway thinking the place was large enough for him to keep his distance if they had something to talk about, but as he rose from his seat at the kitchen table Tara, who was sitting next to him on the inside of the bench, placed a hand on his arm, suggesting he stayed a moment. He eyed her, suspecting Dawn was leaving for his benefit and not the other way around.
“So… you want to talk to me about something?” he asked after the other two had left the house.
“Yea. It’s about what I’d like to do to help you.”
“Hmmph,” he smirked with a disbelieving shake of his head. “You know… every time I hear that from you something unpleasant winds up happening to me.”
“No. No. This is nothing like that this time.”
He looked back at her skeptically.
She met his gaze and said, “Trust me.”
“Oh,” he spoke with an edge of sarcasm, “I trust you alright.”
“Fine. Just… listen.”
He relaxed his gaze and she looked away, preparing what she wanted to say. He waited patiently, studying her body language, looking for any hints of how she truly felt and ready to pick up what she didn’t want to elaborate on.
Finally she looked back.
“What I have planned requires the participation of all four of us, and it’s… well… sort of my gift to you, which quickly turned into a gift from all of us, but it also needs to be something you’re okay with. This is why I’m talking to you now and not leaving it as a surprise. The others have already given their consent to try this and now… I just need yours.”
“They’ve consented? What do you mean? What’re you planning?”
“It’s…,” she exhaled deeply, “it’s a bonding ritual.”
“Simply put… it’s a spiritual ritual that will connect us.”
“Hang on a second!” he reacted in surprise. “Connect us!? If that’s entailing what I think you mean then there’s nothing simple about that.”
“I know you’re probably thinking this isn’t a good idea, but give me a chance to explain.” She gave him a moment to reign in his reaction before continuing.
“You’re reaching a critical age physically and psychologically as a were. What I mean is that you’re in a state of imbalance and quickly approaching a point in which one way or another that imbalance will be corrected. What we did for you, forcing you to change back, was a temp fix. You understand that… yes?”
“Yea I know.”
“If we have to try that again we might not be so lucky.”
Sean spent a few seconds recalling what he could of that experience. He was the one at fault for it. If he had gone to his friends sooner, and been more open with what was going on, together they might have been able to stave off his unwilling transformation and come up with an alternative way for him to cope with what was happening to him.
After mulling the past over he finally asked,“How much time do you think I have?”
Tara frowned disconcertingly. “Not enough to take care of you the right way.”
“What’s the right way?”
“Your entire problem is psychological and the best way to merge your separate identities is by helping you come to terms with the reasons you have them.”
His eyes flickered and twitched with obvious discomfort despite his effort to remain emotionless. The whole idea of another individual sharing the same space inside his head and one that was threatening to usurp possibly even destroy his identity unnerved him.
“The personality that encompasses the werewolf side of you exists to fight and protect,” she continued. “It represents survival. In your mind you rely and need that power to overcome the obstacles in your life, to continue existing, but that same power is also linked to a lot of pain and fear. So to insulate your identity you’ve allowed it to become it’s own individual. That animal side can’t function in everyday life. It needs, ‘Sean’ to cope with nuances and complications of civilization, which in some ways I imagine are frightful and intimidating to it. You may not be able to feel the amount of pressure building, but your psych can’t handle the strain of two separate identities. The only recourse is for one of them to become dominate or they merge into one whole identity.”
“Merging? That sounds more appealing. How do I do that?”
“In a manner of speaking you’ve been working on that, just not very well. Let me rephrase that… both of your identities have been working on merging, but with the idea of two different end results. The animal side of you has been exerting its dominance. Its more aggressive and will bury your human identity. Your human idea of merging is the two of you balancing out into a single personality, but that approach is more gentle and requires time and finesse.”
“What if I'm more aggressive with learning how to merge my personalities. I mean what if I devote all my time to this?”
“You don’t understand. It doesn’t work like that. It takes time for the lessons and concepts to set in. We’re talking weeks to lay the groundwork and give you the mental tools to attempt this, and then several more weeks of controlled sessions. You don’t exactly have an abundant of options. I thought you might have had a month at best, but seeing how you were on our way here… I’m not so sure now. It could be a week. Maybe less. We could possibly add more time if we repeat the process of forcing you back into being human, but the more we do that the more primitive your mental state will become. We need to do something that will have a more immediate effect, and I honestly feel this is the safest and best course of action.”
Sean was quiet, allowing what she had told him to sink in. Even though he understood what she was telling him it was still very difficult accepting it. He wished he could just deny the whole problem. It was ridiculous that at some point in his life he had somehow decided he needed to be two separate people, or rather a person and an animal. Why couldn’t he simply make a conscientious decision to stop being like that and move on.
“I’m sorry Sean. You just don’t have that kind of time left.”
Anger suddenly flashed across his eyes, and for a brief instant Tara looked like a startled creature ready to take flight, but she exerted her will and maintained composure.
Fortunately the anger wasn’t directed at her; it was Gregor.
“What I don’t get,” he began, turning his head to look forward and removing Tara from his cross-hairs, “is why my uncle didn’t do something about this? Why didn’t he warn me?”
“I think he did what he could to help you. Granted there are aspects to your situation I don’t completely know about, not like I suspect your uncle does, but I’m pretty sure he’s done everything he could. If you have some way of getting in touch with him perhaps he can give you options I can’t.”
“I thought you didn’t trust vampires.”
“I don’t, and I’d rather you not allow him to meddle around with your mind any more than he already has, but ultimately it’s your call to make.”
“There’s nothing Chris can do, is there?” he asked, looking back at her, trying to sound hopeful, but coming across with an edge of anger still to his voice.
Tara shook her head. “She’s a gifted telepath, but she’d need a surgeons hand so to speak to even come close to what your uncle did for you. Maybe one day she might have that kind of skill, but she’s a ways off from that.”
“I guess it’s stupid of me to even ask,” Sean added, sagging his shoulders and turning his gaze down to the table. It looked as though he was giving up, but really that was only a part of it. He was mostly trying to disconnect with the emotional flare of hatred.
"The last thing I'd want," he continued, "is for her to get hurt by any other mind traps my uncle may have left behind."
His last comment gave him pause. He originally presumed the mind trap they had triggered was placed as a protective measure against any unwilling mental probes. Perhaps Gregor had the Veil in mind when he placed them, but now Sean had to wonder if there was an alternative reason. What if there were things in his head Gregor didn't want him to know about? Secrets about his uncle that, if he knew, would make him seem less than the caring benefactor he had grown up knowing and more like the monster Tara feared all vampires were.
That avenue of thought led to more disturbing questions. It was a distraction he couldn't afford right now so he decided it best to leave for later. Only after he returned his thoughts to the current issue did he realize Tara was patiently watching him, looking for hints as to what he was brooding about as well as how stable he was. Underneath the cool calm mask she portrayed there was the slightest hint of fear.
Fear of him.
That single realization struck home more than anything else. Guilt and shame shadowed over the burning in his heart and the plague of suspicion. He was a danger to the people he cared about. A monster. How many steps further were there before he resembled the creature that originally bit him?
“So..." he forced himself to speak, breaking up the current line of thought and returning to the matter at hand. "Explain this bonding ritual. How is it supposed to work?”
“It’s actually very simple," Tara picked up the conversation like it had never stopped. "It’s based off the primal elements that connect us all together. Essentially each of us takes a small portion from ourselves representing each element and during the ritual it gets mixed together. The physical properties are consumed leaving behind the blended essence which returns to us.”
She made it sound very plain and straight forward, but her quick explanation wasn't enough for him.
“How does it affect us afterward? Exactly how are we connected?”
“It’s a very basic connection. Nothing on the level of being able to read each others minds.” She waved a hand dismissing the idea. “It’s more like we’ll be able to sense the presence of one another. Sort of like a sixth sense that says, ‘you are here’. We might be able to get a sense of how we’re feeling, but only at a very close range. Other than that… well… there’s nothing else.”
“And this is going to help me… how?”
“The next time you transform we’ll all be close by. Our presence, our combined concentration will help you retain your human self during and after the transformation. You’ll be you in the body of your werewolf-self.”
“And there’s the catch.”
“What do you mean?”
“You said ‘our combined will’. That implies there’s more to this Bond than what you described.”
“Yea. Well that part is a little harder to explain,” she surrendered with a sigh. "The easiest way to say it is this Bond connects our souls, life energy, whatever you want to call it. Through it we can exert our influence in a combined effort toward a singular goal.”
“And this ‘influence’ is it directed by a single person within the bond?" he asked, not liking the implications. "The others don’t have control?”
“No. Each of us retains our own individuality. We have to be unanimous in whatever we’re focusing on. If we aren’t then any effort we put in will amount to nothing. As long as you want… need to retain your human consciousness then the three of us can boost your attempt and get you there.”
Sean digested the information, absorbing it all and imagining what it would be like as it happened. He was quick to realize another issue.
“The other thing I don’t like is how close you’ll be while I change. And before you even imply it… no! I’m not making a point about decency. It’s the fact that there’s no guarantee any of this will work. I could still lose it and wind up hurting you.”
“If it makes you feel any better we could confine you or do something to shield ourselves, but I honestly don’t believe it’ll be necessary.”
“How can you say that?”
“I’ve done my homework," she responded defensively. "I found examples of this being done in other situations.”
“You mean... other were creatures?”
“Well…," she hesitated, "not exactly."
He narrowed his eyes at her not liking how she seemed to keep dodging the full explanation of this bonding ritual they had planned for him.
"But the same principals apply," Tara hurriedly continued before Sean could interject his concern. "Circles are often created to pool magical powers in order to pull off larger spells that normally a single individual could never do by themselves. Circles can also be created to fine tune one’s ability and allow them to do more precise work. Spell casters do this quite often.”
“Tara…,” he began, but she quickly interrupted.
“I know what you’re going to say that this has nothing to do with casting a spell, but you’re wrong. I remembered how you said this werewolf that bit you seemed to have been summoned, and do you remember how I said you don’t do that sort of thing unless you’re dealing with spirits or extraplanars?”
He said nothing and she took his silence as an affirmation.
“You weren’t bitten by a normal werewolf. You were bitten by a spiritual aspect of one. When you transform it isn’t just physical. It’s metaphysical too.”
Sean still said nothing, but he looked thoughtful in consideration of what she was saying.
“Almost all were-creatures that exist are purely biological. There are a few exceptions, but the few that have metaphysical traits are rare and they often have very little of it. As an example occasionally there’ll be a were-creature born that can spread their trait by biting, or have supernatural strength even greater than what the norm is. I hear there are even a few cases able to transform into a full wolf in addition to their werewolf form.”
“So are you saying I might be able to infect someone if I bit them?”
“I wouldn’t use the term, ‘infect’, but that’s beside the point,” she said waving her hands about emphatically. “The point is every time you change there’s an element of magic to it, and if that’s true I can use that to help guide you. We can help guide you.”
“Why not just you? You’re the one who can wield magic. Why do Chris and Dawn need to risk themselves in this too?”
“You only need one person with magical talent to initiate the circle the rest has to do with numbers and connections. The more in a circle the greater the collective will and the more likely we are to get our desired results. Also if there’s a common connection existing before the circle is formed then there’s a foundation for a bond to be made that can continue to last long after the circle is broken.”
“And the Bond is so we don’t have to keep on creating the circle every time I change. That means you think this is going to take me a lot more than just one try.”
“Yea. And the bond will slowly fade over time which will give you a chance to wean off of it.”
“This Bond doesn't just connect me to the three of you, does it? It connects all of us to each other too.”
Tara nodded her head.
“And you’re all okay with this?”
“I think I want to talk to them first before I agree to it.”
“I completely understand.”
"I need to ask you something about all this and it's very important to me you're straight forward and honest about it."
She stared straight back at him with stiff apprehension on her face. "Of course," she managed to say.
"Is there anything about this bonding ritual you aren't telling me for any reason?"
Her face remained blank and very neutral. After a second or two she responded with a shake of her head.
"Gahh!" she lifted her open hands up to either side expressing her frustration and wishing she didn't have to give any further explanation.
"I don't want to lie to you, “she gave in. “I have unanswered questions and doubts about some of the long term aspects to this, but overall the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. We're talking about saving your life."
"No. Not my life. My human Identity. Let's be clear on that."
"Fine," she consented. "Granted, but essentially still the same point. We're talking about you. Sean. If we don't try this then the person you are... disappears. It's the same thing as dying."
"If there are risks you're not telling me then I have to know what they are if you want me to go along with this plan of yours."
Tara covered her face, hiding an expression he thought to be of helplessness. She didn't want to give him an answer in fear he'd decline the option she was offering. Likely it was her opinion the best, most surest way of helping him, which was along the lines of, “the less he knew, the better off he was”. She didn't want him to disappear into the identity of his animal self.
"Hey," he said as he reached for her hands and gently pulled them away from her face. "I know you want to help, and that this is really important to you, but don't make it worse by asking me to go into it blindly. That's not fair."
Her face cracked. She frowned and her eyes squinted as if confessing what she knew was too painful. She pulled feebly at her hands wanting to hide her face behind them again, but he held onto them. Not too hard. He held her hands firmly, but gently. She could wrench them free if she wanted and he'd let her, but it wasn't his physical strength that held her.
"I...,"she started and shook her head slightly to the left and right in denial. "I'll tell you and then you'll say no. That it's not worth the risk and then..." She stopped shaking her head and looked him straight in the eyes. There, as plain as day he could see her on the precipice of grief and despair. "There's nothing else I can do. You don't have time. I don't have anyone else I can get help from. I'm limited with how much magic I can use. I don't know where else to look for answers. If I don't try this then... that's it."
Sean kept holding her hands, not letting go. He remained quiet for a moment absorbing what she told him.
"It'll be okay Tara. If," he stressed that single word and let it hang in the air, "there are consequences, a burden to bear, then we do it together. That's the way it's got to be. The only way I can agree to."
"Okay,” she responded delicately like a flower petal falling to the floor.
She steadied herself and prepared to tell him what she wanted to avoid.
"I was trying to only tell you what I was certain about. The rest is theoretically and guess work. Basically... my fear is... if we are connected, during the brief time the bond exists, that might make all four of us targets to that werewolf spirit."
The sliver of hope Sean had shriveled. She was right. He couldn't agree to it if it meant that thing could potentially come after them too.
"But it's just a chance,” she insisted in a hurry before his doubt firmly set in. “It may not be that way at all, and in case it is I can fashion a charm to camouflage our auras much like I did for Dawn. And this bond is also temporary like I said. It'll fade away in a couple of months at the latest."
He sat there frozen, not sure how to feel. He knew he should say no, but that would.... Would what? Bring her to tears? Was she about to cry over him? With that thought he couldn't decide which was worse, losing his identity or making the little wizard in front of him cry.
"I know how afraid you are of that monster,” she added in the midst of his hesitation. “I feared if you knew what I figured to be only a possibility you wouldn't go through with this."
"You're right,” he responded, trying to be callous, but failing.
He could see the hope in her eyes ready to burn out as she was about to turn her head away and give up. She truly believed there were no other viable options for him, and she was looking at, for all intents and purposes, a dead man.
Damn! He couldn't say no. His resolve for the original plan to leave was falling apart, yet again. He knew it was now only a matter of time before he agreed to this, but saying yes so soon felt wrong. He had to allow himself some time to get a little perspective before settling on a final answer of which he probably already knew.
"Let me think about it. Okay?"
It wasn't a yes, but it was enough to rekindle that little spark of hope he saw in her eye and the hint of a smile.
Last edited by SilentStrider (2014-10-25 15:38:42)
I didn't find any issues w/the dialogue. It actually seems very necessary given that what's being discussed is somewhat complex and slightly deep when you consider the idea of a metaphysical transformation.
All that being said i think it lays great ground work for when the bond is formed and Sean's transformation. Definitely imparts a bit of mysticism into what Sean's character is and will become so that, in my opinion, only serves to build up the anticipation and leave the reader wanting more.
Thanks mrRW! That's reassuring for me to hear you say that. His transformation is both metaphysical and physical. I guess since this bond is such an integral part of the story and these characters it should be appropriate to allow the time to set it up.
When I'm writing I usually like to just plow ahead without concern to how much material I'm putting down. The fewer constraints I place on myself the better I feel about what comes out of me. It isn't until after I have it written on paper, or more in case on the computer, do I start to reconsider what I've chosen to write and wonder if it's too much. I've stopped myself from doing that mostly, but I still try and review everything before I put it up here at the werewolf cafe, and more often than not I wind up adding tidbits here and there to try and address things that are going on in the story that I feel would be important to my characters.
A good example is that scene where Chris had scratched herself all bloody thinking she had bugs crawling all over her after she caught the brunt of a telepathic trap Gregor left behind in Sean's mind. In the aftermath of that scene I had forgotten to have my characters react to the bloody mess I'm sure Chris was in so I considered it very important to go back and add to the story in that regard. There have been many other instances, but I often catch them before I post.
The next two sections are going to have Sean getting Dawn's and Chris take on the bond and how they feel about it. He's having a hard time reconciling with going through with it, and wants to get their input. Then after that there might be one more post before the bonding ritual is performed and the connection between them all is established and we get to see how it affects them
Last edited by SilentStrider (2014-10-28 15:44:15)
Yeah, go for it! Editors exist for a reason!
The end of this last post does leave him slightly resigned to the fact that he has no other option but one would expect him to discuss, consider etc.
Alright! Here's the next update. I think I got most of the kinks knocked out of it, at least enough where it should flow smoothly to enjoy reading. There may be a few little things I'll go back and change around, like the way a particular sentence was said or the way in which I constructed a paragraph or two, but I got the essence of it down. So here you go.
Read. Enjoy. Comment.
Oh yea! That's right! I thought about the instant after I clicked the okay to post. I have to work out some of the time issues in which everything takes place. The order of which people are coming and going, the time length in which the Macy's parade is, and the time of day in which they all sit down to eat. You may not get what I'm saying right now but it'll become apparent as you read, unless I fix it first before you get to that point.
Dawn and her mother came back in through the front door and both he and Tara got up from the table when they heard them enter. They stomped the snow off their boots just outside and hung their jackets up on some wooden pegs on the wall near the front door. Lily smiled at them as she entered the kitchen letting them know the animals were staying warm and she went over to the double oven to check on the top one. It had the pie in it that Sean had been smelling, and she took it out setting it on the counter and covering it with a glass top made for the dish.
Lily said she was going to lay down for a few hours and recommended they do the same. Tara yawned in agreement, and happily told them all merry Christmas Eve before heading off to her room, but Dawn said she wasn’t sleepy yet and wanted to watch the Macy’s parade. During the car ride he remembered her telling them it was like a family tradition to watch it all together, but the snowstorm had disrupted the timing on everything. Lily apologized for being too exhausted to stay up and watch it with her this time, but Sean told her not to worry he’d fill in. Lily thanked him, saying he was sweet, and gave her daughter some instructions on what to prep next for the Christmas Eve dinner, what to keep an eye on, and when to wake her up before she finally walked down the hallway to bed.
Dawn went through the kitchen cabinets getting a few pots out and doing some of the prep work for what had to be done later. There wasn’t much Sean could do to help, but he offered anyway and got a basic idea of what to expect.
As they were finishing up in the kitchen the darkness outside was turning into a light white-grey and they could see through the windows the snow was still coming down heavily. Outside in the front they heard a large truck engine pull up in the driveway and Dawn’s face lit up as she excitedly ran to the front bay window in the family room. Her father had gotten home and when Sean looked out the window with her he saw a large truck with a snow plow attached clearing the snow out of the driveway.
When Mr. Cormick at last came to a stop and turned off the truck engine Dawn could no longer wait for him and she headed out the front door to meet her father before he came inside. She collided into him on the deck ramp in a big hug with enough force to knock most men backwards, but Joe was much larger than most men and didn’t budge an inch, even on the icy ramp.
Joe laughed out loud as he wrapped his two large arms around her. “Pumpkin! I’m glad you made it home safe.” With the smile in his eyes and what could barely be seen through his beard, Sean imagined he’d make a great look alike for a Santa Clause. A very tall and broad Santa Clause.
Sean waited for them both just outside by the door and held it open for them. Joe greeted Sean and shook his hand after they were all back in the warm home. Noticing the lack of people he quietly asked where everyone else was, in particular his wife. Dawn told him they were all sleeping. She also gave him a brief rundown of what time they had gotten home, the animals had been checked on, and she was minding the kitchen while her mom slept.
Joe told her once again how grateful he was she was home safe and gave her a kiss on the forehead. Since it looked she had the food under control he was going to go get some shut eye, and before he left he gave Sean a pointed look without Dawn seeing. Sean nodded his head in understanding of the fatherly warning.
A few minutes later the two of them were in the living room where Dawn grabbed a snuggy blanket from the back of the couch and stuck her arms into it before settling down. She tucked her legs up under herself and took the remote out from under the flip up cushion of the arm to turn the TV on and flip it to channel five where the parade had already begun. Sean sat down in the swivel recliner next to her and did his best to relax, or at least appear to be relaxed. What he and Tara had just talked about was still very fresh on his mind, and he wanted a chance to mull it over before using this time to talk it over with Dawn.
New York was late in getting hit by the snowstorm and it didn’t look like they were going to have as severe of a snowfall. As they watch the different parade floats, bands, and giant balloons they reminisced about the past parades they saw, Dawn with Tara and her family, Sean with the Rosenblatts. After a while he realized there was an uncomfortable edge he felt while in Dawn’s presence.
She was one of those girls who didn’t realize how beautiful she was and her innocence added to the. She was sweet, kind hearted and impossible not to like. Of course he was attracted to her, but he didn’t feel like the timing was right for him. He suspected she was attracted to him too, although that wasn’t something he’d ask her. He was more comfortable just letting it be the it was.
During a lull their casual conversation he asked, “What do your parents like to do?”
“You mean like hobbies or for fun?” she verified, looking comfortably warm all curled up in the blanket and ready to doze off.
“Well… my dad likes woodworking when he has the time. My mom used to like horseback riding a lot,” her voice sounded a little sad, “but as she’s gotten older her back has gotten worse so she can’t do it as much as she used to.”
“Hmmm,” he hummed thoughtfully. He was searching for an idea of what he might be able to do, make or get for her parents as a holiday gift even though it was really late to even be trying, but still if he could think of something then he’d try.
“Are you trying to figure out a gift for them?”
Dawn smiled warmly. “Don't worry about it. As long as you’re a good guest they'll be happy.”
Her demeanor made him feel even more comfortable and relaxed. It was a gift she had. One that made him not worry about having to keep his emotions wrapped and compartmentalized.
“I know, but I'd still like to try and come up with something. I wasn't prepared to be here although I probably should've known better. Do you have any ideas?”
“You should just relax and enjoy the time off, but if I come up with any ideas I'll let you know.”
They were quiet for a short while, listening to the commentary about one of the giant balloons and Sean could see her eye lids getting heavier. If he was going to talk to her about what the three of them had planned now was better than later. He steadied himself and opened up the conversation.
“So... Tara told me about the bonding ritual you guys are planning.”
“She told you?!,” she said in disbelief, twisting her body to see him better with her eyes opening wider. “That was supposed to be surprise I thought.”
“She thought it wiser to give me a heads up.”
“Yea,” she resettled. “I guess that’s probably better.”
“How do you feel about it?”
“I...good I guess,” she stammered as though she wasn't prepared to discuss the topic fully. "I mean this is something that could really help you out so I think it's important we do this.”
“But do you understand exactly how this bonding is going to work?”
“Yea. T told us all about it.”
“And you're still okay with it?”
“Yea. Why wouldn't I be?”
"Did she discuss with both of you the risks involved?"
"Umm… what risks?," she responded, deliberately avoiding looking at him, while staring too intently at the television, and fidgeting with her hands underneath the sleeves of the blanket. She was the worst liar he'd ever seen and doubted she could do so to save her life. It almost made him laugh with how endearing it made her look.
"Dawn... really?" he stared at her doing his best to not show amusement and maintain an appearance of disappointment. He sighed heavily bringing his fingertips up to his forehead to cover up his wavering expression and wondering how far he'd have to go to ferret out everything they were scheming about without his knowledge.
"Look, I can't lie to you, but T told us that it was better if we didn't talk to you about any of this. Otherwise you'd probably not let us help."
"While you and your mother were outside Tara and I talked." He did his best to look stern, but it was difficult putting her under the false pressure. She was too kind of a person to do that to. "She didn't want to tell me everything about the bonding ritual, but I wasn't going to go along with it if she didn't, and if there's anything else you know that she neglected to say it's best if you tell me now because...." He had to look away. His insides were starting to feel twisted with the thought of the mild manipulation he was doing to her. "...I will not be happy otherwise."
"Sean," she pleaded, staring at him with large kitten-like eyes, "you have to understand how serious this is for you. If we don't..."
"I know," he interrupted her. "If I don't say yes then I'm basically out of time. I'm out of options."
He leaned forward in the chair hanging his head low, and he could feel the weight of her saddened eyes staring at him from the side. He remained that way for a while and she helplessly looked on, not knowing what to say, the only sound being the low volume of the TV.
Finally he said, "Tara gave me a run down on how the ritual would allow the rest of you to help me keep my awareness when I change. She told me this bonding would connect our lives, our souls. We would basically get a sense of location from each other and if we are very close could possibly have a sense of what we're each feeling. The biggest Issue I had was when she told me there was a possibility the beast that hunts me might target the three of you as well."
He leveled his gaze at her as he spoke that last sentence, stressing it was a big problem to him, and with it Dawn looked relieved she didn’t have to continue lying. Deception disagreed with her nature.
“That’s it,” she said with a sigh. “That’s the thing she told us would make you say no if you found out.” She looked back in the direction of the TV, but not at it. “So…”she continued after an awkward pause, “does that mean we’re not doing this thing now.”
It was obvious what his answer meant to her. She wore her heart dangling from her sleeve and the tension was visible by how stiffly she sat holding her breath. He knew saying no would crush her and his heart dropped into the pit of his stomach with the thought of him being responsible for making her cry.
“Look… I’m not saying no, but you got to admit… this isn’t a small decision. We all have to give this serious consideration and how it will affect us overall, not just the case of inheriting my dangers.”
“I know. We have been. Tara first mentioned this to us a couple of weeks ago and we’ve been kicking it around since.”
His eyes nearly popped out of his head when she mentioned how long ago they had started this plan. He had no idea they were planning this. It had been in the works for a while and they didn’t even mention it to him.
“Don’t take it the wrong way,” she reacted to his look of surprise. “In the beginning it was just an option; one that seemed very unlikely, but now… things are different. T is really concerned for you and so am I and Chris.”
“Well, maybe since you’ve had so long to consider this answering my questions will be easier.”
She stared at him, waiting to hear what he’d ask.
“Outside of how it will help me I want to know how it will affect each of us. What do you think it’ll be like to be connected to me as well as Tara and Chris.”
“Oh. I haven’t thought about them as much as you, but… you know…. I really have no idea what this is going to be like,” she said, shaking her head and looking thoughtful. “Don’t get me wrong. I tried to imagine it ever since T gave it to us as a possibility, and, I admit, I thought it would be an awesome idea, but the more we talked about it the more I wasn’t so happy about the plan. Especially when we figured that giant monster might target us if we went through with this. I mean… that’s scary, but after I got over the initial shock of it, and the more it became apparent how much trouble you were in… I mean… are in, it wasn’t even a choice then.”
“If I don’t try to do something now, when it matters, and you pay the price for it the end, then I have to live with myself and the choice I made. Knowing I can do something to help you right now and not taking that chance… I can’t not try.”
“Even if that means you could get killed as a result?”
“I don’t want to die if I can help it, but I’d rather stand with my friends than live alone as a coward.”
“And that’s the only thing about the bond that has you concerned?”
She looked away from him, biting her lower lip nervously. Sean waited patiently to see if she’d speak what was on her mind or ignore the question altogether.
“I’m nervous for other reasons too, but it’s petty when compared to your life.”
She was quiet again for nearly half a minute before saying another word.
“I thought about it a lot, what it would be like being connected to you, and I thought… I don’t know… I might find it disturbing.” She winced when the words left her mouth. “Terrible things have happened to you, and... it can't be easy to have stuff like that on your soul. It leaves a mark and shapes you, and I guess that's why Tara and Chris act like there's a darkness around you. But there’s good in you too. You have a good heart and I believe in you. I'm sure if it was any of us in a similar situation you wouldn't hesitate to help so how could I do any less.”
“Yea. You got me there. Doesn’t mean I like you risking your life for mine, but I can’t argue it.”
“Don’t forget it’s all just a possibility. That’s what T said. That monster might not even be attracted to us. So we could be worried about this for nothing, and anything else by comparison is small. The bottom line is I have a friend who’s in trouble and I can do something to help if he lets me. I know what I’m doing is right. I just have to have faith it’ll all work out.”
They both sat there for a while, neither one of them saying another word and staring at the television without watching it. He didn’t know what thoughts Dawn was lost in, but his were of what she had told him. She was straight forward and honest, her answers were simple. He wasn't entirely certain she had her mind fully wrapped around what this bonding was going to feel like, but he knew she had the conviction to see it through despite the potential danger.
He pondered the source of her conviction and realized it wasn't bravery. She was scared. She admitted that. Scared for him. Scared for herself. Scared for her friends. What gave her strength to move past that fear was her love for them all. That single realization lifted his heart and left it somewhere in his throat. It took him a while before he could speak again.
“Dawn... you are the kindest, most generous person I have ever met.” He turned his head to look at her face just as she did. “Thank you.”
Her cheeks brightened and a hopeful smile lit up her face.
“Does that mean you're willing to go through with the bonding?”
Her positive spirit touched his and he couldn't deny a momentary smile of his own.
“Most likely. Yes. I just want a little more time to... make sure I'm ready for this.”
“I understand.” She reached over to him where his hand was resting on the arm of the chair and put her hand on his. “I'm here for you. We all are.”
He could feel that lump reform in his throat and he prayed he wasn't about to face another uncontrollable emotional outburst. He concentrated on his breathing making sure it stayed even. The feeling was intense for a few seconds, but ebbed to something calmer and warm.
He never in a million years imagined he'd be so lucky as to have friends like these. They stayed like that, peacefully watching the Macy's parade with the sound coming from the flat screen acting like white noise.
It didn't take long for Dawn's eyes to fully shut and sleep to take over. Once her breathing steadied he dared to gaze upon her, and the hand she had offered to console him with. It was so soft and light, yet he felt every square inch as if it were heavier than it actually was. He traced the length of her arm with his eyes until he fell upon her face. Her hair laid about her head in golden waves with a single lock that had fallen out of place resting close to her mouth. He stared at her, admiring how peaceful she looked. In his eyes she looked every bit the angel.
She understood how weak and vulnerable he truly was. She had also come to know of his grief and pain and how it left him broken. She had seen the darkness that was a part of him, the violence, how he had killed, and the destructive force he could become, and yet despite all that still believed he was good. When he had lost control and was stuck in his werewolf form she wasn't afraid. She confronted the beast he was with kindness and laughter and he was helpless against it.
She saw not a monster, but a noble soul, one with a good heart willing to put others before himself. Most importantly she believed in him. Trusted, that no matter what, he'd do what was right. She inspired him and gave him strength he didn't know he had to rise above the pain and despair that had poisoned his life and to become a better man. He didn't know if he could live up to her expectations, but he'd rather suffer than have her look at him with disappointment.
Her faith and willingness to help made him think that maybe he could have tomorrow.
Maybe... somehow... with the four of them... anything was possible.
Last edited by SilentStrider (2014-10-29 16:21:26)
This played out pretty much how I had envisioned.
I did find it interesting how he got the fatherly warning and then sort of reviewed his feelings for Dawn.... Interesting to have that on the back burner during all of this...