"Farrell, why don't you leave it down?" Aouregan asks.
"Leave what down?"
"Your hair," she says, giggling just a little at her husband's confusion, "I like the way it looks."
Farrell has worn his hair in a braid for as long as he can remember. "I suppose I could do that," he agrees, somewhat reluctant but unable to deny his wife this small request.
When Farrell comes downstairs, Jack has already arrived. School is out for leisure day and Jack wants to take his son to the festival. Jace, however, is insisting that Farrell come along.
"I'm with you all day," Farrell says gently, "You should spend today with your father."
"But I want you to come, too," Jace protests.
"Hey, it's cool," Jack says, "Don't stay home on my account. It's a family thing."
"I was going to bring Aouregan," Farrell admits.
"Then we'll go together," Jack decides.
Jack and Jace team up against Farrell and Aouregan in a waterballoon fight.
Any ideas Jace had about spending the day basking in Farrell's attention are quickly dispelled. As fond as he is for his nephew, Farrell's attention belongs to his wife today.
Playing horseshoes with his dad is so much fun that he doesn't notice when Farrell and Aouregan slip off to pay a visit to Elliot and Claire at their house.
By the end of the afternoon, Jace has made a new best friend.
Shadow and Iola spent their Leisure Day picnicking at the Stone Troll Fishing hole.
"I think I might be pregnant," she tells him, "I made an appointment with my father tomorrow to confirm it." As soon as they married, the couple decided to stop using birth control and start a family right away, so the news is hardly unexpected. And though still unconfirmed, they spend the afternoon suggesting names for their baby, and making plans together.
While Delaney is out of town, Jack spends the night in her room, so he can be with their son as much as possible. And what's a sleep over without a good pillow fight?
The first deja vu happens while she's clearing her breakfast dish. Outside, the schoolbus' horn blares, and she hears Jace running down the stairs to catch it. Next to her, Jack is telling Shadow that he'll be heading out now to the warehouse, and that he has work tonight, but he'll be back here after school is out to have dinner with the family. None of this is important, just a typical moment of a normal morning, yet it bears the stamp of significance. Time is a chain forged of moments, and each link that is added determines the next. This moment, this link, is important only because of its place in this chain, a precursor to the links already beginning to take form, ready to become real. Something is going to happen today, something Iola has seen in one of her visions. But which vision will it be?
The next deja vu happens while she's in the shop. There haven't been any customers today, so she's working on her writing, but also distracted by thoughts of her upcoming appointment at her father's office.
The third comes along with a wave of nausea, and when this one hits, she knows. She's sees it clearly now, she'll be in her father's office, Aurora will be there, too, to tell her the good news. They will be happy, celebrating. And then the scream of sirens as an ambulance pulls into the hospital, a sound rare for their sleepy town. Her father's practice deals mostly with sniffles and minor injuries. But today, someone is going to die. Jack is going to die.
Iola joins Shadow out in the shop's garden, where he's sitting and reading. In telling fortunes here, Iola has made a point of keeping to the lighter side of prophecy, knowing full well that telling people that something bad will happen will cause them to try to avoid it. And more often than not, their actions will be what causes the very fate they are trying to avoid. But so far, Iola has had the luxury of not seeing anything more tragic than small accidents and mishaps. This is the first time she's burdened with a presage of death about to come true.
"You don't have to be worried," Shadow says, seeing his wife's distress and mistaking its cause, "You're not sick. You are very definitely pregnant. I can feel him now, our son's spirit inside you."
For just that moment, Iola is too joyful to sustain her fears. "I knew I was pregnant," she whispers, snuggling close to him. "You're sure it's a boy?"
"Mmm," Shadow murmurs, his lips too close to her neck to form real words as he nuzzles her.
Her husband has a great gift, Iola thinks, one he's nurturing and growing. And she has her own gift, which she has to find the strength to use.
"Shadow, my love, you have to find Jack, and help him. You mustn't let him drive this afternoon."
"What have you seen?" Shadow asks, alert to the concern in her voice.
"I think the less I tell you, the better," she sighs, "Just, be with him today. And don't let him ride his motorcycle."
"Where is he now?"
Iola presses her lips together as she thinks. In her vision, she hears the EMT tell her father Jack was leaving a bar when the accident happened. "A bar," she says, "I don't know which one."
"I'll find him," Shadow promises, leaning in to kiss her before he leaves.
"Are you still going to see your father?"
Iola hesitates. Logically, her presence at her father's office when Jack is brought in is a mere coincidence, and staying away won't help him. "I should. Even though we know what he'll tell me, I think he'd still like to be the one who gives me the news. He was very excited when I told him why I needed to see him."
"It will be good for you to be with him," Shadow agrees, "Try not to worry about whatever you've seen...I will take care of Jack, I promise."
"So, you're really okay with Delaney being alone with the boss?' Ian asks.
"Sure, why not?" Jack replies.
"Dude, he's alone with her in his house. Doesn't that make you the least bit concerned about what he's doing with her?"
"I'm not concerned, because Laney would never cheat on me," Jack says confidently.
Ian snorts. "If the boss came onto her, she'd be all over that," he says, "Hell, she slept with me and I'm just an underling."
"Tell me right now that you're full of shit. Tell me what you just said did not happen, or I swear, I'm going to hurt you," Jack shouts, rising in anger, his fist balled and ready to strike.
"Uh," Ian hesitates, his self-preservation instinct vying with his ready candor for dominance.
"Say it!" Jack insists.
"I screwed her," Ian blurts, "While you were in jail."
"You piece of shit," Jack growls, and lets his fists fly.
Ian tries to defend himself, but Jack overpowers him easily. "Hey, Pie Man, I told you the truth. It's for your own good. If she'll sleep with me, she'll sleep with anyone. You can kill me, but it won't change the fact that she came after me, and she's probably screwing Cole right now, and she'll fuck any other guy she fancies. Or who she thinks she can get something from. I was nothing to her but a way to get into this organization."
"This isn't over," Jack says, turning away from Ian, walking away from this fight before he really does kill his partner.
Shadow tried the Toadstool first, and not finding Jack there, he went to the only other bar in town that was open, the sports club.
"Leave me alone," Jack grumbles when Shadow takes a seat beside him.
"I can't leave you alone," Shadow says, "You're my friend, and you're in pain. What happened?"
"While I was in jail, Delaney was screwing my partner," Jack tells him, getting it out there. It doesn't make him feel any better.
Jack shakes his head, then nods. Ian's a lying sack of shit when he wants to be, but he'd never take a beating to defend a lie if he could use the truth to get out of it. "I'm sure," Jack sighs, "I should have seen it."
"Laney is impulsive," Shadow says, his heart breaking for his friend, "She does things without thinking. But she does love you, Jack."
"I thought so," Jack sighs, "But now, I just don't know. Is she even capable of love? For all I know, she's with another man right now."
"Come back to the house, have dinner with your son," Shadow offers, "Sitting here drinking isn't going to help."
"No, but it dulls the pain."
"Actually, it doesn't. Alcohol dredges up pain and amplifies it," Shadow says, "I'd like to do some dream work with you. I think it will help you."
"Shadow, you're not my therapist."
"You have a therapist?"
"No," Jack says with a harsh laugh.
"Then, let me help you."
Jack reluctantly gave up his plans to drown his sorrows in beer and goes back to the house with Shadow. He keeps himself in check during family dinner, not showing his pain to his son, and joining their celebration when Iola announces her pregnancy. After night falls and Jace has been put to bed, Jack and Shadow retreat up to Delaney's room.
"So, what is 'dream work', anyway?" Jack asks, wondering what Shadow is getting him into.
"You're going to go to sleep, thinking about Delaney and focusing on your relationship with her. I'm going to help guide your spirit towards hers as you dream, so you can meet her and begin to workout your issues."
"That sounds a little....sketchy," Jack says, one eyebrow raised quizzically.
"I've never done this before, with another person," Shadow admits, "But, I've guided my own dreams. This will work, Jack. Delaney's spirit is heavily invested in this room, her presence is strong here even though she's physically out of town. And you're part of that. Look around, she's made this room into a shrine for her feelings for you. Making a connection with her should be easy here."
Jack looks at the walls, covered in pictures he and Delaney took together as teens. She loved getting pictures with him. And, even with the turmoil in their lives, his getting expelled and kicked out of his father's house, her pregnancy and her father getting him thrown in jail, they had been happy, in love. Or so Jack had thought. Now he wonders if any of it was real, or if it was just what he wanted to believe.
"All right, let's do this," he says, not really believing in any of Shadow's touchy feely new age crap, but, mentally and physically exhausted from the day's events, he is ready to close his eyes and sleep. If shadow wants to chant or whatever while he does that, that's fine with Jack.
"Just think about Delaney and your relationship," Shadow advises as Jack closes his eyes. As if he could possibly have anything else on his mind right now than the girl he loves, the girl he gave everything to, the girl who betrayed him and broke his heart.
Shadow said he'd guide him to Delaney, but this isn't exactly what he was expecting.
"Hey, Jack!" she calls out to him, "Do you want to play with me?"
"Sure," he says, sitting on the swing beside her. So much for working out their issues, he thinks. How do you have a relationship talk with a child?
"I can go really high, watch me!" she cries, oblivious to his dilemma.
"You know, Jack, you aren't as much fun now that you're grown up," she observes, slowing down just a little, "But you're still my best friend."
"I'm going to tell you a secret, Jack," she says, pushing herself as high and as fast as the swing can go, "I'm friends with a dragon. For real."
You cheated on me with Ian, Jack thinks. Are you screwing Cole, now, too? But he can't ask these questions of a child. It's just like her, he thinks, even in dreams she finds ways to avoid serious discussion.
"Ice Cream!" she shrieks, and runs out to the truck parked by the playground.
"You'll buy me an ice cream, won't you, Jack?" she asks.
"Sure, Laney, whatever you want."
"I had fun today, Jack," she says, licking her freezer bunny popsicle, "Maybe you can come back tomorrow and we'll play again."
"Sure thing, Laney," Jack promises.
He walks off, leaving her to her childish pleasures. She hasn't changed, but he has, and Jack isn't sure anymore that he can wait on her.
Shadow doesn't leave Jack's side until he's moved out of the R.E.M. stage into dreamless sleep. When he goes back to his own room, Iola is half asleep, waiting for him.
"How's Jack?" she asks, "He'll be okay?"
It's the first moment they've had alone since she sent him off to find Jack. "He found out Laney was cheating on him," Shadow tells her. He has no secrets from his wife. "He was going to drink himself to death, wasn't he?"
Iola nods, "He was going to crash his motorcycle into tree," she sighs with contented relief. "I'm so glad I sent you to stop him."
Iola rises to meet him as leans forward to kiss her. Shadow felt the pain Jack was in as soon as he walked into that bar, his work has opened him up, exposed him to the feelings of everyone around him.
"I need you, Iola," he whispers, "I need your love."
"Yes," she answers, caressing him, understanding what he can't say, that his heart bleeds for Jack, that he's tasted Delaney's betrayal as his own, and he needs the comfort only his wife can give him, the reminder that their bond remains true and unbroken, that she's given herself to him completely and forever.
I mentioned on the thread at MTS that patching to 1.47 caused me to lose Farrell's CC hair. This has happened to one other person I know who was using this hair. So, I have no idea what happened, but nothing I tried got the hair to reappear in game, so, Farrell's got a new hairstyle.
Next chapter will focus on what Delaney is up to in the city with Cole.