Camping Is Always An Option

Monkey Kitty
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Camping Is Always An Option

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Hamza Karim

Hamza couldn't remember how long he'd been living in the woods. Months, surely. It was a pitiful existence - a tent, a sterno stove, and only the trees for company - but he didn't know what else to do.

It seemed like a lifetime ago that he'd worked at the coffee shop. That had been short-lived, but he'd had hopes. Not of a lifetime mixing beverages, but of a stable life. He could earn a little money, keep his little apartment, finish school.

But then he'd smelled the other Lycan.

Hamza had gone literally to the ends of the earth to get away from other Lycans. To find territory not claimed by someone where he could live in peace.

He would have had no shot against an older, stronger werewolf.

And yet there was nowhere else to go. He'd fled to the woods, and there he'd been - often cold and generally miserable - ever since. It was a life. Was it worth living? Some days, Hamza wasn't sure.
Monkey Kitty
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Re: Camping Is Always An Option

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Adoption Day

The courthouse in Hollywell was usually pretty quiet. Not much crime took place in their sleepy little town. The odd vehicular offense, petty theft, drunk and disorderly, or bar brawl - that was typically about it.

Today, though, the courthouse was packed, and not for the usual reasons. Today, the mood was ebullient and joyful. It was Adoption Day - the day when a family court judge from St. Mary would spend the whole session signing adoption decrees for the children in town who would be joining families, including the formerly-displaced children who had been saved from the boarding school fire.

One by one, the families stepped forward. Parents and children spoke to the judge, papers were signed, and a smiling picture was taken.

Gilda's pregnancy was very much showing as she and Isaac stepped up to adopt Katie and Alice - though the latter was a formality, since Alice was legally an adult, it was important to all of them. Their family of four, now, was soon to double in size again, because it had become apparent that Gilda was carrying twins.

Declan and Clare had tied the knot a short time before, in a celebration that had included all their family and friends. Both spouses had kept separate last names for professional reasons, but Natalie and Scarlet officially gained the surname of McDermott-Murphy, and their cousin Elijah, who was technically still a ward of the state but very much a permanent part of the family, got pulled in for the pictures too.

The last family to approach the judge's bench had not been involved with the Switzerland school. The quarantine of Longhome Island had been lifted, as no further signs of disease had become evident, and the residents, including the Greenways, were now free to mingle with the Fog Islanders. All of the Greenways had turned up for the event, including the adult children who were residing elsewhere. They all had to cram into the picture as both Kiki and Brooke became legally permanent members of the family.

From the gallery, friends watched and cheered and clapped. Asif beamed at his own girls - Taara and little Nafisa, who were growing so fast, and his nieces, who were just as dear to him. Charu was in her last year of high school now, and Shazia and Samira were studying at the university. Asif had been hired by the university too, as a research assistant in the geology department. He intended to finish his degree too, as well as to complete another task that had been delayed - teaching his nieces how to drive. When they were living on the run, they had never had a vehicle to practice with. Registering and ensuring a car was a major risk of exposure, and being on the road without doing so was even more so. Asif had felt guilty about that, because it was a skill he knew they needed. Now he was finally able to keep his unspoken promise to them. He was so proud of them all.

Father Marek, too, was in the audience. Although he had always retained his priestly title - even when the church had disowned him for being a Vampire - he now had a claim to it again. Perhaps not officially. It was unlikely a Vampire priest would ever be recognized by the powers that be of the religious establishment. But the elderly priest in town had invited Marek to serve at the church anyway, with the expectation that when the day of his inevitable retirement came, Marek would be the one who took his place as Hollywell's primary Catholic cleric. At first, Marek had been nervous about the reaction from the locals, but to his surprise it had been overwhelmingly positive. People had been worried about Father Michael's age and failing health for some time, and seemed relieved the old priest had some help. If they knew that Marek was a Vampire, they didn't seem to care.

It was indeed a joyous day. A day of celebration. The light, cheery mood might not last forever... but for today, it would.
Monkey Kitty
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Re: Camping Is Always An Option

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Flashback: The Night of the Rescue

As Riff and Isaac searched for Declan, Father Marek fought to keep his patient alive. Nick was clinging to life - barely - but it was touch and go as the old pickup truck bounced down the rutted road back from the high school, then through town, headed toward the motel. Keisha, the Pack's doctor, was on her way to meet them. If he could just keep Nick alive till then...

Marek felt the pulse in Nick's wrist flutter, then slow to halt.

"Stop!" he called. "Stop the truck!"

He pulled Nick to the ground and started CPR, alternating breaths and chest compressions as Ellen held her husband's hand and the three girls looked on with wide, scared eyes.

Ellen was... doing something, he realized. She was trying to hide it. She didn't want him to see. But a faint amber glow was moving from her hand to Nick's, and as it did, his heart began beating again...

"Whatever you're doing, keep doing it," Marek said. "Is that that... 'anima'... thing they were talking about? Keep doing it. It's helping."

Ellen looked surprised. James had accused Nick of stealing her anima. She had been afraid letting that transaction be visible - even as consensual as it clearly was - would cause further problems if the priest saw. Apparently not? She abandoned caution and poured as much of her anima into Nick as she could. He drew a few shaky breaths, then his heart and breathing started to settle into a steady rhythm.

Belatedly, Marek realized they were on the tiny front lawn of a small church. An extremely elderly priest was staring at him, taking in Marek's clerical collar and his blood-stained hands, the Mage pouring anima into her wounded husband, Nick's torn shirt still open, revealing scales on his chest.

There was no time to explain the tableau to the old priest. Nick was stable enough to move. They hastily loaded him into the truck.

***

Brooke wasn't sure where she was going to go. Once they arrived at the motel, attention was focused elsewhere, so she just stuck with Kiki and Seraphina, hoping no one would notice her. Just one more dead girl, right? She wondered how they had gotten so lucky, but that was a moot point. Brooke knew how to survive on her own. She had been homeless before. Before. That was a loaded word. Before her abduction. Before her... murder.

No one seemed to be expecting her to go, though. So she hung around.

Later, Isaac had returned. He was talking to Ellen Greenway. "What are we going to do about Brooke?" the Lycan leader asked quietly - but not quite quietly enough.

"We've got her," Ellen said. Nick hadn't regained consciousness yet, but she knew what he would say. What he had surely already promised this poor kid.

At first, Brooke tensed, unsure exactly what 'We've got her' meant. But apparently it meant she was going back with the Greenways when Nick was well enough to move.

She was scared. But she might as well give this new life a try. She was still nervous about the Greenway parents, but she had a strange feeling that somehow, she belonged with Seraphina and Kiki, and their trio was now complete.

***

Father Marek knew he needed to go say something to the old priest. To his surprise, though, the elderly man turned up at the motel before he had a chance. Had the old priest... hitchhiked up here? This island truly was a different world.

"Father...?" Marek said cautiously as he opened the door of his room.

His heart was beating fast, and he didn't know why. Why was he so afraid of this old man? The elderly priest was undeniably human, and surely at least in his eighties, with thin limbs and snowy white hair. What did a Vampire have to fear?

Would he always feel a rush of fear when another priest approached him...?

"Father Michael," the old priest supplied. "From the church in the village. I saw you..."

"Yes, I know," Marek said, reddening a little.

"And I came to offer you a job."

"A... a job?" Marek was puzzled by the direction this conversation had gone.

"Yes. A job. As a priest at my church. I'm not as young as I used to be, as you can see. It's getting hard for me to keep up. I could use an extra set of hands. You can work beside me for awhile, get to know everyone. Then when I retire, I'll know my parish is in good hands."

"Father, I... I don't know what to say. Your offer is very generous. But I can't accept. You see I... well, I..."

"You're a Vampire. Yes. I know."

"You... you know...?"

Father Michael nodded. If this information was a shock to him at all, it didn't show on his face. "Yes. I may be old, but I can use the internet. My parish means everything to me. I wouldn't just hand it over to some stranger without checking their background. Thoroughly. I saw what you did the other day - how you saved that man. Some wouldn't have helped him. Many who wear our vestments and celebrate our masses wouldn't have. You did. So I was curious, and I read all about you. I found out you're a Vampire. That the Church defrocked and excommunicated you for that. But you know, the big-C Church doesn't come out here to Fog Island much. This will be our little secret. The parishioners won't care, as long as they have a priest they like, and I think they'll like you. I have a good feeling about you, Father Marek. I think I can leave my church in your hands when I pass on to my reward. What do you say?"

"Yes, Father. Thank you!"
Monkey Kitty
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Re: Camping Is Always An Option

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Candy Jordan

Candy was also camping.

Well, Candy was also what she would call "camping."

Her room at the bed and breakfast was tiny. The quilt looked homemade, not even bought at a store like regular people did. The TV only got two channels - CBC and some local station with endless reruns of old TV shows and mind-numbing stories about what everyone around the island was up to. As if Candy cared. The landlady's mean daughter grumbled when Candy discarded her used towels on the floor instead of hanging them up. There was nowhere to get a decent manicure, and she had resorted to doing her own nails.

Roughing it.

Those losers from Hollywell hadn't even left her Brooke for company. That would have been the least they could do. Brooke was hers, after all. All three girls were. She had made them. But somehow, Candy couldn't reach out to them with her mind anymore. They were shielded, somehow. She could still reach the Lycan, but she couldn't think of any use for him now, so she hadn't bothered.

And she was running out of money. The Cold Iron Brotherhood had paid well for her services, but she hadn't gotten her last installment when they all got killed by that singer, and her account was running low. Sometimes Candy had to skip out on her room bill to save money. When that happened, the landlady would grumble under her breath that Candy should get a job.

As if!

The landlady and her daughter just didn't understand.

Candy was on a healing journey. This was her spiritual retreat to cleanse her mind and soul from all she had suffered.

She hated that stupid Vampire priest. He had attacked her. He had bitten her with his fangs. It was unsanitary and gross, and it was for no real reason. Why did he care about that juvenile delinquent girl anyway?

It didn't matter. Candy was focused on her healing now. The landlady could grumble all she wanted about a job; Candy was too busy with online therapy sessions and support groups. She meditated, she lit candles, she took bubble baths. She watched DVDs on the ancient portable player in her room and read books. She took time for self-care. For the first time in her life, Candy truly felt in tune with nature. She thought about dating again.

She googled "hire vampire hunter" and "how to kill a vampire" over and over.

Candy was healing. It was a process.
Quaxo9
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Re: Camping Is Always An Option

Post by Quaxo9 »

Riff

Life as a lighthouse keeper had taken some adjustment. Moving in hadn't really been a problem - he, Maria and Sofie really didn't have much in the way of personal belongings - and the old man had left behind everything he'd owned as well. The stove was wood-fed, the single frying pan a well seasoned cast iron. There was electricity, of course. The lighthouse had been updated to run on more modern lights than the old 'float yer candle on a pool of mercury' thing, but that had been years ago already. In short - it wasn't much, and it needed work, but it was theirs.

Every day held a multitude of blessings - and a mountain of chores. Painting. Replacing tile. Fixing the plumbing. Painting. Framing the one picture they had of their little family and hanging it on the wall next to the spiral stairs. Opening up windows that had been stuck for 50 years. Chopping wood. Painting.

It struck Riff that they were getting quite settled in now. Maria had her job at the library. They'd used Riff's new meagre allowance to install satellite internet so Maria could do coursework at home. Sofie was an absolute terror on the stairs. He could swear she was learning to fly by starting at the top of the tower and racing all the way down.

Of course, with all the work to do and social things to keep up on, some other things had kind of fallen by the wayside. One of those things came to mind as he was moving some old wire out of the junk pile and into a recycling pile. He was stripping the plastic off and took a moment to admire how the sun glinted off the freshly-freed copper. "That'd make a pretty ring." he'd thought to himself. Then realized with a start that he was right.

It wasn't quite perfect. He'd wanted to buy something, of course, and he wanted it to show just how much he loved her. But diamonds the size of his love would not only be impossible for him to afford, but also something Maria would never wear. The little money they made went into raising Sofie, feeding their family and ensuring the lighthouse didn't fall over while they were in charge. So...this would have to do. He hoped. He hoped she would see it that way too.

The little braided copper ring, pounded smooth and finished with small beaded ends sat in his pocket for the rest of the day. Maria came home with Sofie. He'd made dinner - a mushroom soup made with mushrooms he'd foraged with puffy garlic-topped buns baked in the cast iron pan. They'd put Sofie to bed and gone back downstairs to tidy the kitchen and tackle yet another thing on the never ending to-do list. Well, hopefully there wouldn't be any chores tonight.

Of course, now that he had the thing he'd been wanting to present her with for so long, Riff felt unreasonably nervous. His mouth was dry. He was bobbing about from foot to foot while he had his hands in the dishwater. He'd planned for this moment for so long, and now it seemed like all his planning, all his words, were completely gone.
Monkey Kitty
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Re: Camping Is Always An Option

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Maria Yeats

Maria loved living in the lighthouse. Yes, their life there was simple and rustic, but it was theirs. For the first time in a great while, she truly felt at home. Riff was handier than she was, but she helped where she could, making this their home - making it feel permanent.

She was grateful for Riff's hard work. Not just for the painting and repairing, but because it told her he intended to stay. He wouldn't make this much effort unless he wanted to be here with them for the long-term future... would he? Every hour he spent told her he wasn't planning to leave.

He was so good with Sofie. Let her call him Daddy. Showed her all the love a parent should. He wouldn't do that if he was going to leave.

Maria was afraid of pushing too hard. Of making Riff feel trapped. Of asking him to make promises that would feel like burdens. So she didn't ask. She did imagine their life together, though. She'd felt a brief pang of wistfulness at Clare and Declan's wedding - but she herself wouldn't expect marriage. She wasn't a woman like Clare, one worth being legally tied down to, and she didn't want to scare Riff away. But there was something else, something he might want too, something that might not seem so overwhelming, not when they were raising Sofie already...

One night, after they finished the dishes, she said as casually as she could, "You know, I've been thinking. Would you... want to have another child? A little brother or sister for Sofie? I just... it might be nice. Maybe. You could think about it."

As soon as the words were out of her mouth, she worried it was too much too soon. He'd been kind to Sofie, but maybe making a biological child together would seem like too much of a tie between them. She didn't take it back, though. She waited to see what he would say.
Quaxo9
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Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2020 2:33 pm

Re: Camping Is Always An Option

Post by Quaxo9 »

Riff

He thought his heart would stop right there and then. Turning toward her, soap dripping off his hands all over the floor, mouth agape, he took what seemed like days to have a real thought.

"Yeah. I mean, yeah! I do want to! With you! I ... wow. It's ah, just..."

Riff fumbled with his pocket and awkwardly took a knee. He eventually managed to work the ring out, his wet hands tangling in the pocket fabric, and held it up to Maria.

"I was kinda hoping that maybe you'd want to marry me. As well as have another kid?"
Monkey Kitty
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Re: Camping Is Always An Option

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Maria Yeats

Maria's breath caught in her throat. Of course she wanted that. It had seemed so impossible. She had felt so unworthy of it. But perhaps in her wildest daydreams, every now and then she had allowed herself to imagine--'

But had she obligated him? Pressured him, with talk of children? Made him impulsively promise something he would regret?

No. It couldn't be. He had a ring. Not just one he'd bought on a whim, either - he'd made it. That meant he'd taken his time. Thought it through.

She smiled.

"Yes!" she said. "Yes, of course I will."

She took his hand, pulled him to his feet, and then offered her other hand for him to slip the ring on.

"It's so beautiful," she said admiringly. "It's perfect."

Maria grinned, and hugged him. She giggled a little, giddy with happiness.

"Sofie will be so thrilled!" she said.
Quaxo9
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Re: Camping Is Always An Option

Post by Quaxo9 »

Riff

She said yes.

He almost picked her up when she hugged him. He felt weightless and their feet on the floor helped him realize that this was real. She said yes. Riff held her close, nuzzling his face against her hair. His gangly frame felt like it was just right when she was pressed against it. It felt so good. He should have done this a long time ago.

But she also said that the ring was beautiful.

Even though the ring probably wasn't necessary in the grand scheme of things, Riff felt as though it had been the right move. Like the floor under his feet, it lent a stable base to the action of asking - to the emotion of loving. He breathed a deep sigh of relief and happiness.

"Yeah, she will be. I love our family so much - I love you so much, Maria. I am so glad we found each other."
Monkey Kitty
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Re: Camping Is Always An Option

Post by Monkey Kitty »

Maria Yeats

"I love you too, Riff," Maria said, her voice thick with emotion - happy emotion. After all their time apart, the prospect of building a life together seemed all the sweeter for the effort it took to earn it. "I always felt somewhere, deep inside, that we'd be together again. Even when I couldn't let myself believe it. And here we are."

It felt like a dream.

When she woke the next morning, she was afraid the dream would have passed too... but she looked at the ring on her finger, and smiled. It was real. It was going to remain real.

Sofie was indeed delighted. With Clare and Declan's wedding still fresh in her mind, the prospect of her own family's celebration was cause for extra excitement. She skipped and danced around the living room. "Mommy and Daddy are getting married! Mommy and Daddy are getting married!"

Maria was confident all the children at school were going to hear about Sofie's parents' impending nuptials - including Taara Zaidi, who was one of Sofie's classmates, as well as her best friend.

"Riff, if you run into Asif today, you may want to tell him the news," she said with a smile. "Before he hears it through the family rumor mill."

It would be interesting to see if they could beat the Sofie-Taara news distribution pipeline by getting word out first, Maria thought with amusement.

Asif, meanwhile, was occupied with a puzzlement. He had stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few essentials, and had caught the scent of an unknown Lycan. Currently, he was out by the dumpsters - where the Lycan's activity seemed to be centered - trying to get a clear scent trail. Another Lycan wasn't necessarily cause for alarm, but it certainly called for some investigation.
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