Progress on the NaNo has been slow going, but a scene snuck in before last night’s nap might offer a little insight into why. My character, apparently, is still in a pretty nasty state of shock, and that’s enough to make anyone a little sluggish as a narrator. Hopefully, she’s about to get an ally to help make that all better, but til then I’ll have to drag her every little painful step of the way.
Rain’s mom finally woke up at the smell of food, and the pair of them curled up on the couch and watched Tivo’d episodes of Idol while they ate. The screen was bigger, the couch was leather, but otherwise, just like old times. She’d even forgotten Jon was there until he and Rook moved quickly up the stairs, arguing in hushed tones. Rain caught something about “You need to sleep” from Jon, but otherwise they left just as a quickly as they came.
In the morning, Rain was surprised to find it was her mother waking her.
“Alright, you, I know I let you stay up late watching TV with me, but you still have to go to school.”
Rain stared at her dumbfounded. As she continued to speak, it didn’t get any better.
“Jon’s here to drive you to school, so you don’t have to worry about anyone asking after your fa-“ The word stuck, but with a small sigh she managed to continue. “Myles. I know it’s been hard, but you really need to get back to your classes, honey. College applications will be due at the end of this year.”
Jon appeared in the archway between the kitchen and living room, catching Rain’s eye as she followed her mother to breakfast. He gave her a slow and encouraging nod, hoping she would catch on. The spells had taken hold, her mother was operating under the new memories. And the new memories included Rain going back to school now, apparently.
“I’ll be there, keeping an eye on your,” he said softly, taking Rain by the shoulder so he could speak in her ear. “Rook will be here with your mother. I’m sorry, but it’s the best we can do.”
We can change any more memories, he meant. Rain took a deep breath, stealing herself. Her mom might have a convenient story for the past few days, but Rain didn’t. The last time she’d been at school, Rook had whisked her away from the girl’s bathroom after that-
After the man tried to kidnap her.
Rain stomach dropped to her feet and suddenly she found she couldn’t move. Panic seized every ounce of her, and her limbs locked up, rigid with fear. She could feel his sweaty hands on her mouth and she tried to scream, but no sound came out. She screamed and screamed in her head but all her throat could manage was this sick croak.
“Brooke, honey, are you alright?”
Her mother rushed to her, wrist going immediately to Rain’s forehead. Rain squeaked, flinching from the hand approaching her face, finally able to break free. She ran, ran down the hallway and into the laundry room/bathroom, locking the door behind her.
She could hear her mother’s muffled voice on the other side of the door, but everything was quickly being lost to the race of her heartbeat. The room was blissfully dark, no sensory input to overload her short circuiting brain. She slumped down the door, coming to rest on the floor, hugging her knees.
Rook’s arm wrapped around her, pulling her into his side as he whispered soothing nothings into the darkness. Her quiet place spread, chasing away the fear and blanketing her with the comfortable knowledge that Rook had her, and wouldn’t let anything happen to her.
He fished around in her surface thoughts, finding the memory of the goon and twirling it around his fingers. He wouldn’t take it from her- he’d promised her many lifetimes ago that he’d never take any of her memories from her- but he did take away the bitter edge of fear, the sick smells and tastes that made the bile rise in her throat, the pure rush of adrenaline that sent her panic spiking with the memory. He made it just a memory, nothing more, made it so it couldn’t hurt her anymore. She was safe, she was with him, and he would keep her safe.
He ‘spoke’ to Jon through the closed door, who was doing something similar for the girl’s mother. Jon hated to have to rely on magical manipulation like this, but the woman wouldn’t be able to take much more shock. Like Rook, he didn’t take the memory, simply insulated it, took the edge off, made it less frightening. Her daughter was merely upset, she was crying, but she was fine, she would be fine, but maybe it was too soon for school yet.
Rook’s thoughts pierced Jon’s, almost penetrating all the way to the mother’s. It was only quick action on Jon’s part that kept them separate.
I want to take her back to the bar, Jon. I don’t like how out in the open we are, up on this hill.
Jon let agreement color his surface thoughts- it was too much for him to hold the mother’s thoughts and ‘speak’.
Can you hold her long enough for me to move us?
On this, Jon was less certain, but he’d rather risk that than causing the girl any more trauma. It was a juggling act, balancing the two woman, and Jon knew they needed Rain more than they needed her mother. It was a shitty way to think, but the world wasn’t always a nice place to be.
Jon gave the go ahead, and Rook instantly moved them back to the bar.
As far as the women could tell, nothing had changed. But Jon saw the tell-tell shimmer of magic at the windows and doors, showing that it was simply an illusion of the house on the hill. And besides that, Jon knew the feel of his bar anywhere.
He took the mother back to the “living room”, suggesting the pair of them maybe have another mother/daughter day. Rook brought Rain out, her quiet place helping smooth over the transition. She knew she was in one of Rook’s spells, but as far as she was concerned, that was the safest place in the world to be. For now, she wouldn’t poke at it. When she did, Rook would be right by her side, ready to explain it.
She settled onto the couch with her mother and the pair of them immediately fell right to sleep.
“Damn it, Rook, you didn’t need to go that far.”
Jon was on his case the moment they left the room.
Rook sighed. “I didn’t.” Jon looked at him, really looked at him, and saw the bags under his eyes. They were faint, under the heavy shadows, but they were there.
“You were sleeping. She woke you.”
Rook nodded, and gave a mighty yawn. Jon resisted the urge to scoop him up and carry him off to his bed.
If Rook were showing such mortal signs as bags under the eyes, it meant his magic was receding. He was getting it back under control. With some rest and food, he’d be back to mostly mortal self in no time, and that would significantly reduce whatever signal he may or may not be giving off to Moira.
He draped an arm around Rook’s shoulder and led him down the loft walk-way to his own room.
“Get some rest, carid. I’ll keep watch over everyone, ok?”
And make some phone calls, and see what all he couldn’t get sorted out about the dead witch’s estate. That little house he’d cleaned out yesterday had been perfect, now he just had to make sure it was legally theirs.
Jon worked late into the evening, getting up periodically to check in on all the sleeping beauties upstairs. Honestly, they all needed the rest, himself included, but 3 out of 4 wasn’t too bad. He’d sleep after Rook woke up .