Monday, March 4, 2013

Chapter 48: Preparing with Vigilance

After his disturbing spirit journey into his grandfather's past, Shadow spent what was left of the night lying beside Iola waiting for her to awaken. When she opens her eyes and turns to him, she takes his hand and asks, "Where did you go this time?"

"I saw my grandfather. Reinier," he repeats the name he heard the woman call him, saying it aloud himself for the first time.

Iola winces. "What--what did you see?" she asks, her voice quiet, hesitant, like she doesn't really want to know.

"It wasn't pleasant," Shadow ays, "But whatever it is you're afraid I saw, I don't think this was it. I need you tell me everything you know, Iola."

"There are some things no one should have to know about their family," Iola whispers.

"But you know," Shadow says," And if our sons inherit the Hawksquill gift, they'll know it, too. And I need to know, for Fergus' sake."

Iola nods, "Reinier Landgraab loved Sterren Avendale. And he murdered her."

Shadow closes his eyes, rests his forehead against his wife's. What she says fits in well with what he saw himself, a man broken by rage and grief, and most of all guilt. "My mother can't know this. It would devastate her," he sighs, understanding why Ariel Hawksquill had kept this secret from the Brannons, and why he'd made Iola swear to stay silent about it. "And his descendants hunt us still. Do you think they know we share blood?"

Iola shrugs, "I can't say if Reinier himself ever knew he fathered a child with your grandmother, let alone what MorcuCorp knows. They could just be after your abilities, or your unique ancestry. There are other witches in the world, but none whose gift comes directly from Auberon himself.

Jewel Prynne comes into the shop to as Shadow if he can recommend a good book on pregnancy.

"Totally Preggers is easier to read, but Baby Incoming: Preparing with Vigilance is more informative, if a little drier," Shadow tells her. And he should know, he's read both of them at least five times each over the course of Iola's three pregnancies.

"You dragon," Fergus tells Delaney as they play dollhouse together.

"Sure, I'll be the dragon," she plays along, making a 'rawring' sound as she gestures with her doll. It's just pretend, after all. There's no way Fergus could possibly know the truth.

Shadow tries to treat Fergus like a normal toddler. For the most part Fergus actually seems like a pretty normal toddler, not much different than his brother.

What was his grandmother trying to warn him about? Shadow wonders, doubt creeping in as the days pass without incident. Could it have really just been a dream, and not a true visitation?

Shadow and Iola's third son is born on a snowy night just a few days before the winter solstice. They name him Weylin, which means 'son of the wolf', after one of Shadow's ancestors.

Delaney goes into labor on the same night, just a few hours after Iola Farrell drives her out to the hospital.

Jack had received a text that morning from his brother about Delaney's pregnancy, and had managed to get leave to be there for the birth, arriving just in time to see his daughter, Jillyan,  born.

"I wasn't expecting to see you," Delaney comments as they sit together in the backseat of Farrell's car.

"I guess not, considering you didn't tell me you were pregnant," Jack says, keeping his voice soft and level, though there's no way he could keep Farrell from hearing what he said.

Jack keeps quiet as he follows them into the house. No one technically invited him in, but he's always been welcome here, even when he and Delaney were split up.

After Jillyan is tucked into her crib, Jack and Delaney are finally left alone to talk.

"How could you not tell me?" Jack demands.

"You'd just started your training, Jack. I didn't want you to feel like you had to rush back here just to be with me," Delaney says.

"And you didn't think that I'd want to be here, above everything else?" Jack asks.

Delaney frowns. "I didn't think about that," she admits, "I just sounded so happy on the phone, telling me about this new job you'd got, and the training you'd be going through. I just didn't want to add this burden on you...I'm sorry, Jack. I fucked up again, didn't I?"

Jack takes her hand in his. "Sometimes I wonder where you get these ideas," he says. "You aren't a burden, and our baby isn't a burden. Not when we were seventeen, and not now, either. Everything I do is about you, and about them. And I wouldn't change it, Laney. I wish I had been here while you were pregnant. And I'm here now. For tonight, anyway, I have to be back to the base tomorrow."

"How is the training going?" she asks, holding his hand as they lay together on her bed.

"It's grueling, and I've never had to be up so early in the morning in my life. But they say they're grooming me for command. I have no idea why."

"Don't sell yourself so short, Jack," she chides him gently.

"I just had a baby," she reminds him as he wraps an arm around her, pulling her close for a long kiss.

"I know," he whispers, "I just want to hold you."

Before Jack leaves the next morning, he spends some time with Jilly. His new daughter is the happiest surprise he's ever received, and he'll be eternally grateful toJ esse for getting that text to him in tim to be here for her birth.

Delaney gets up early herself just to see him off.

"We get Snowflake Day off," he tells her, "I'll be back for a few days to be with you."

Peridot comes in from the office with news, but she stands quietly for a moment watching Geoffrey doing his chin ups.

"Do you have something for me?" Geoffrey asks as her silence goes on for too long.

"Horner has returned from leave, and we've uploaded the video we got from his implants," Peridot says.

Geoffrey drops from the bar to face her. "You have it here?"

"I can set it up on your computer if you want to see," she says.

He nods, "I'll take a quick shower while you do that."

"The GPS is working," Geoffrey notes, "They're in a town called Drake's Hollow." The video footage Jack's implanted chip caught doesn't show anythiing else of interest, just the birth of Delaney's child and some non-essential conversation. But the confirmation that it's working as planned is enough to celebrate over.

"We know where the Brannons are; do you want me to go in?"

"No," Geoffrey says, "Even if you disguised yourself, Farrell knows your face too well. And you couldn't get near the Hawksquill woman, they can read your whole history with just a touch. We had the twins in our hands once, and Farrell got them back. They'd stop at nothing if we tried taking any of Shadow's children. But with the information we can get from Jack's implant as they grow up, we'll find a way to get one of them to come to us."

"You're sure you want to drag it out that long?" Peridot asks.

"Mmmhmm," Geoffrey barely answers, watching the video again, of Farrell and Delaney as they bring the new baby home. "He's gotten so old," Geoffrey muses to himself, "It seems like just yesterday that he was infiltrating our lab to steal Aouregan away from us." Geoffrey had watched the video of that rescue here in his bedroom office as well. Aouregan had been under some kind of enchanted sleep, he remembers. They couldn't do anything with her, not even take blood samples while they held her. Then, Farrell came in and woke her with a kiss, like some fairy tale. True love's kiss, Geoffrey thinks, smiling wryly. Fairies have an odd obsession with true love, weaving it into their curses as the condition that makes or breaks it. But how do they know when love is true love? Do they have some understanding of the emotion that mortals cannot grasp?

Geoffrey wheels his chair back away from the desk. "Do you love me?" he asks Peridot.

"Of course I do," she says with a smile.

"I'm serious," he presses, "I don't want you to flatter me or try to placate me, I want the truth."

"That is the truth," she says, not smiling now, matching the gravity of his tone.

"What is love?" he asks her.

"That's a question for the philosophers," she says, trying to laugh the question away.

"I'm not asking about philosophy," Geoffrey presses on, "I want to know what you mean when you say you love me?"

"Well, I guess it started with a crush," Peridot says, reflecting back on her life, "You were an image they held up to me during training, an ideal I was expected to achieve. When I finally got to meet you, work for you, it was like being in the presence of a god. And you are everything they told me you were, brilliant mind, physically perfect. You are my ideal of what man a should be."

"But I could be all that without love entering into it at all," he reasons.

"I do love you, Geoff," she insists, "I'm not poetic enough to describe the way I feel when I'm with you. Or the loneliness I feel when I'm not with you. How do you feel?" she turns the question back at him, "What does love mean to you?"

"That's what I'm trying to understand," he answers. Ever since he took her into his bed, his house, and opened his heart to her, he's started looking for some sign that the curse was broken. Checking the mirror every day for wrinkles that have not appeared, having himself examined closely by his medical staff for any sign of aging. But so far, nothing. True love, he wonders, how will he recognize it if it happens? How would this curse he's under understand it and react to it as the fairy warned him?


  1. Oh no, it's going to kill Jack when he discovers he's unknowingly led MorcuCorp to his family :(

    1. Yes, Jack will be just destroyed if he ever learns what he's being used for.

  2. Jack looks so different with a different hair. It's good that someone told him about Delaney's pregnancy and that he was able to be there for the birth :)

    1. He does look different.
      His brother was also the one that texted him when his son was being born. Jack and Jesse have had their differences, but Jesse has always come through for Jack in the end.

    2. I'm glad he did, that's an important moment and it would've been sad if he'd missed it.

  3. Uhmmm... Spoiler alert!?

    That aside, another boy for Shadow and Iola? Thank the Lady Delaney had a girl or the place would be oozing with testosterone in a few years!
    I love that they chose the name 'Weylin' because of a wolf ancestor :p but it reminds me a lot of 'Waylon's Haunt' from late night. Maybe he should run a nightclub when he grows up?

    Jack grew hair! Noooo! I loved his old bad boy look, now he looks normal :( I'm glad he wasn't too angry about Delaney not saying anything about the pregnancy, but I had hoped she'd tell him before she gave birth! When was she going to tell him? "Oh, welcome back, Jack! How's training? Oh, by the way, you have a daughter."
    And Fergus knew she was a dragon, so maybe he has inherited the Hawksquill gift?

    So, Geoffrey and Peridot isn't true love? Either that, or Geoff needs to give himself a little more time to age.
    Though, I don't think manufactured-in-a-lab Peridot has real emotions, so to her it could be true love.
    I'm glad they're not going to just barge in and steal babies. I was getting a little depressed by the idea of poor Farrell going through all that again. Hopefully (I never thought I'd say this) he'll be dead before they make an appearance.

    1. I know! And I really wanted to not come out with that until I got to that part in Summerdream, but that won't be for awhile. But, I also hinted at it a couple of times, in Shadow's second spirit journey where he sees that battle scene, and in Summerdream, the vision Kvornan has on his spirit walk (before he meets the girl).

      I'm glad I finally got a girl, too. I wanted Shadow and Iola to have one, but there quota is up and they got three boys.

      I miss Jack's hair, too. But with his job, I figured he'd be made to trim that down. I was going to give him a full buzz cut, but I just couldn't, I needed some hair, lol. I don't think Delaney thought that far ahead, as to when she meant to tell Jack, really. She's trying, but she's still kind of child about stuff.
      Fergus probably has the Hawksquill gift, yeah.

      Geoff probably needs to give himself more time to age to know if the curse is really broken. Poor Peridot, she really never had a real life outside MorcuCorp. I don't doubt that Geoff is her whole world, such as it is.
      I know, poor Farrell, his early days were such a nightmare, I don't think I could put him through that again.

  4. Finally a girl! That is such a household full of boys. I almost didn't recognize Jack at first but I'm glad that he could make it back for Jilly's birth. Jack and Jill. :)

    Now you need to go back to writing Summerdream because I NEED to know what happens. I mean, seriously, that's a huge thing to drop on us and give no details!

    Also, where did you get that adorable crib? I love the simple shape of it.

    1. Damn it. I have now sat here staring at "Jill" and saying it in my head. It's a funny word. And a funny name. Jill, jill, jill. Just...strange.

    2. I'm so happy to have a girl for once in this house!
      Yeah, I totally did the Jack and Jll thing there, lol.

      I am working on sets for Summerdream now, but it will be awhile before I get to the thing Iola just dropped. But, there will be a lot of activity in Sterren and Reinier's relationship in the next chapter.

      The crib is from Around the Sims:
      I love how simple it is too. Like a crib should be.

  5. Yay for a little girl! And I'm happy Jack got to be there for her birth and that he wasn't too upset with Delaney. I admit that I miss Jack's old look, but he looks good in anything so I'm sure it will just take some getting used to. It fits his new career anyway. Although I wonder how long it will take Jack to realize what's really going on with his new job, if ever. I hope he does figure it out, although I also don't want him blaming himself.

    At least the family has some time to just focusing on raising the kids now before MorcuCorp makes their move. But the tension is definitely starting to build. I'm looking forward to reading the next chapter!

    1. I think Jack has accepted that Delaney doesn't mean any harm, she's just kind of unable to think things through, so he forgave her. He's matured a lot more than she has, but he loves her still.
      I miss his old look so much! But, I had to change it for his job. Jack might not ever figure out he's being used to spy on the Brannons. If he does, he will be devastated.
      But in the meantime, the family will be left mostly alone while MorcuCop waits and watches.

  6. In my mind, true love is reciprocated love. I don't believe you can love someone "truly" without the feeling being returned. And I don't think Geoffrey can actually feel love, so no matter how much Peridot cares for him, his curse can't be broken if he doesn't love her the same.

    My opinion, of course. : )

    Delaney and Jack are true love. *Nods knowingly* Cause they love each other just the same and have both gone through hell for the other (ONE MORE THAN THE OTHER, DELANEY). Sorry. Still bitter.

    I like Jack's hair. I approve.

    Fergus looks a lot like his daddy. It'll be neat watching him grow up.

    1. Aw, now you've gone and hurt Geoff's feelings! Hurt them with your stabby words!
      I think true love would have to be reciprocated too. And I think Jack and Delaney have it too. Though obviously yeah Jack gets to prove how devoted he is more often than she does, lol.

      I'm glad you like Jack's new hair. =D I miss the other hair, but I like this one too. At least I can get good shots of his face from both sides now, lol. There were also weird lighting issues with the shaved part of his old hair. I did my best to work around them because I loved that hair so much. But, the story demanded a hair change.

      Fergus also has a lot of Iola. I'm hoping to have a lot of fun with his generation.

  7. Oh Jack! I just bleed for that boy. No matter how hard he tries, there's a giant brick wall he's just bouncing back off of. But at least his hair is almost "Iceman" from Top Gun, just a little longer and less cropped. Yummmmmmyyyyyyy.
    Whoop! Though between your two stories I'm trying to think how you're going to tie that little bit Iola just let slip all together. Like my brain is all mushy trying to piece it together. To be fair I've been looking at all kinds of Sixkillers pics and I'm probably a little cross eyed to begin with.
    And yay for babies! Now you've got to raise them all. Poor you!

    1. I know, Jack, poor Jack. On top of everything else, he's been implanted with MorcuCorp spy tech. Yay, I'm glad you like the hair. I wanted something that would at least be kind of military enough, since I shied away from the full buzz cut. And Bluewater isn't true military anyway, just 'global security', so close enough. I like the way it looks on him.

      I've actually got a pretty good idea about how the Summerdream thing is going to go. But the part that Iola talked about won't happen for some time (the general time is kind of revealed by Aouregan in an earlier chapter when she tells Farrell about how her mother died. There are pieces of this puzzle scattered everywhere in this story and Summerdream). The hard part for me is I have to stay on that script because I've given these hints and spoilers, I can't just run with something else I think of if it doesn't fit.

      Ugh, yeah, I have to raise all these babies, lol. Fergus is fully trained and Ryan just aged up to child (in game. The birthday will be in next chapter) so it's not as horrible as all that, I just will have Jilly and Weylin to go through the toddler training at the same time. Fergus will also be aging up soon, thank goodness.

    2. I figured you were going for an almost -almost- butch cut. It's got to be clean and out of the way, but volume is wonderful on a guys cut.
      And that's where I got a little confused in my own head. The timing. Obviously Aouregan has to be born first. That's kind of important. lol
      Oh, all the babies. All the babies! I don't envy you right now, that's for sure. I kind of ignored my babies and toddlers in story and I'm not looking forward to their appearance again later on. Ha! Though Fergus is quite absorbing and I'm enjoying keeping a close eye on him along with Shadow.

  8. Jack looks dashing. :>

    I didn't know how you were going to handle Delaney not telling Jack about the baby at first, lol. At least that mistake was rectified sooner rather than later.

    Also: THE PLOT REVEALED. The plot where Fergus is lured away to university.

    I love Peridot's outfit this chapter.

    Dammit Melissa, get the part where you show us which fairy cursed Geo and how he ran across it. The curiosity is crawliiing iiiin my skiiin. Theseeee wouuunds they willll not heeeeaaal.

    1. Thanks, Becky! I like Jack's new look too.

      Yeah, Delaney didn't really think that through at all. Luckily for Jack, Jesse stepped in to send him that text so he could be there for the birth.

      LOL, Geoffrey will tempt Fergus with a juicy scholarship. He won't be able to resist! Mwa-ha-ha! But yes, that is where Uni will play into the MorcuCorp schemes.

      That's my favorite outfit for Peridot too.

      Okay, okay, I will reveal the Geoff origin story soon, I promise. =D

  9. NOOOOOOO!!!!!!! Sterren. :'(

    So the Brannons Do have Landgraab blood in them. /sigh. Well that... sucks actually. Even if Reinier is still a bit of a favorite of mine, all bad things aside.
    I just have to know how old Geoffrey is. Other than that, I'll just have to wait I guess. Fairy's curse, huh? Hm.

    They effing chipped Jack. Pissed am I. Still, I shouldn't have expected anything less.

    LOL at Peridot trying to explain true love.
    Oh no... movie quote... "wuv.... twue wuv..." I'll just stop there.

    That was a little scary when Fergus said 'you dragon' to Delaney. Looks like he's got the Hawksquill thingy.

    1. I know, I haven't even gotten close to that part of Summerdream yet and I'm already sad about it. But I've been showing visions of it happening here and in Summerdream, so it's something I have to do. But in the meantime, I have grown fond of Reinier, despite his faults, so it's going to be very hard for me.

      The Brannons do have Landgraab blood. So, Dragon slayer + dragon, an interesting combination.

      Geoffrey isn't ancient or anything. Time gets a little weird in legacies, because you'll go 10 generations with no significant change in culture, fashion or technology. So you can have a guy that's been around for 4 or so generations but still be from the modern era. I'm not really sure how old Geoffrey is, because the Landgraab that made him was from one of my previous legacies, and I don't have a time line that connects the two. But, anyway, my point is, Geoff isn't medieval or Victorian or anything. And he's probably not older than 5 generations. His longevity is entirely due to a fairy's curse.

      Yes, they chipped Jack. Without his consent or knowledge. Because that's MorcuCorp.

      Peridot got put on the spot there, didn't she? Twue Wuv indeed.

      Fergus does have the Hawksquill gift.

  10. Ahhhh! They know where he lives. This is bad news. I hope the family is able to keep safe. Poor Jack. No matter what he does, he just makes more trouble.

    1. Yeah, MorcuCorp has an unwitting spy in Jack. It's sad how hard Jack has tried to do right, and he's just become a pawn of the family's biggest enemy.

  11. Grr. It annoys me that Iola knows that this bluecorp is bad news, but since her sister-in-law sucks at communicating, she hasn't been tipped off yet.

    people need to learn how to talk!
    seriously though, in real life they don't, and it's cool how your stories remain realistic like that.

    1. Yes, if everyone had just gotten together and talked, they'd all be better warned.

  12. I am glad that Iola has talked with Shadow. I don't think little Fergus was saying anything to Delaney other than the truth. I don't think he would have the capacity to ask that she play the dragon, he's too young for that. (I think) I do think it was a statement though and not a request. Maybe Farrell will see something or feel something and everyone may know what's happening. I wish. Oh well. Jack will be beside himself when he finds out what he invited, unwittingly, to his family's lives.

    1. Iola did want to protect Shadow from the dark truth, but he really did need to know.
      And Fergus was just speaking the truth to Delaney, though Delaney of course didn't see it that way.
      Jack really would be devasteted to find out what he's being used for. He's just trying to get his life together, poor guy.