Timeline: Later November 2008
Michael had gone off to bed, and the hour was late. Looking at the clock Ramiel realized that Lyla should have been home over an hour ago. Normally he would not care if she was gone all night but they still had business. He had hoped she was going to jump him in the back room but it turned in to a teacher student fantasy without the kink factor. What good is being disciplined when you don’t get the benefit of being spanked over the extremely sexy teachers lap?
Ramiel had asked Michael to turn some flowers to crystal for him, and it took some persuading, nothing was ever easy with that man, but he did it for him in the end. Ramiel removed the necklace he was wearing and held the small vial in his hand and focused on finding Lyla. He knew exactly where she was, and it bugged him. She had gone to Rey’s and that meant Michael’s little dog house out front was more than accurate.
He picked up the half dozen crystal roses and headed over to Rey’s, it was late when he knocked on the door but odds were good that Lyla would be awake.
Rey, looking tired and wearing an emerald green satin robe, opened the door. “Hello, Ramiel,” she said with a yawn.
“Good morning Rey. I need to see Lyla, is she up?” he asked.
When Rey passed through on her way to the door, she’d seen Lyla curled up in wolf form right in front of the fire place, soaking up the warmth in furry comfort. Wolves couldn’t cry themselves to sleep, so the tears Rey had seen after she’d brought Lyla home with her had disappeared.
“No, she’s not,” Rey replied.
“Then wake her please.” He was smiling but Rey could tell that he was very serious.
“No.” Rey had no intention of disturbing Lyla, and ignored the little voice in her head saying it probably wasn’t the best idea to be standing up to Ramiel like she was.
“Little one,” Ramiel had always called her that, though he knew she was nothing of a child. He just couldn’t help himself. “you and I both know I wouldn’t harm you to get to her. But I am not above being a total pain in the ass. I need to speak with her, and I intend to speak with her now.” The smile had faded from his lips.
“Go home, Ramiel.” Her stance and body language changed, though her mildly pleasant expression was still on her face. She was standing her ground and was not going to back down.
He sighed. “And I even said please.” He shook his head slightly, inhaled and yelled as loud as he could. “Lyla!” Doing his best Street Car Named Desire impersonation. “Lyyyyyyyyyyylaaaaaaaaaaa”
The sound of clothing rustling against clothing from somewhere behind Rey stirred the momentary silence after Ramiel’s loud wail.
Rey simply stepped back, closed the door in his face, locking it and putting the bar down.
Ramiel thought about what to do. He fought to control the anger. This I didn’t miss, he thought. He knew he saw Lyla briefly before Rey so rudely slammed the door in his face. So he chose to wait and see if she came out, before he did something rash that would compound things in the worse way.
Rey turned her head to look behind her, hoping she wasn’t going to see Lyla getting dressed to go outside.
When Rey turned around, Lyla was standing there in human form. “I borrowed your bathrobe,” she said quietly. “I hope that’s okay. I plan on getting some more clothes from the house tomorrow.”
“No problem at all,” Rey said with a smile. “If you do want to get dressed, I’ve got clothes in the storeroom cupboard for the pack to use.”
Lyla stood there, staring at the floor. She said, “Thank you for that. But I don’t think he’s going to go away. He’s the most stubborn man I know.” Her gaze lifted toward the door in a mixture of hurt and resignation.
“Then he can sit out there all night for all I care.” She walked away from the door. “And if he tries anything other than yelling your name, he’ll regret it.” Rey put her arm around Lyla’s shoulders. “Come on. Let’s have something hot to drink, and maybe a snack. Unless someone snuck in when I wasn’t home and wolfed them down, there should be a big pan of brownies in the fridge. Stick it in the oven for a couple of minutes to warm them up and we’re all set.”
Lyla seemed uncertain. “But… do you think I should talk to him?”
“Hell, no,” Rey said with surprising vehemence. “He’s treated you like shit, worse than shit. And worst of all, you let him do it!”
Lyla was a little taken aback by Rey’s passion. She seemed uncharacteristically flustered. “Uh… well it’s not like I could stop him from leaving me behind…” she said.
“So you’re going to open that door, let him crook his finger and you’ll go crawling on your belly to him because he’s a good fuck?” Rey knew she was probably starting to push the boundaries of how far she might be able to go. “It happens /every/ time you guys have a fight.
“I’m sorry. I know you don’t want to hear this, but I can’t bear to see you go through this yet again. Ramiel goes off to do whatever it is he wants to do, without any regard for anyone else, and leaving you to deal with your curse by yourself, with nobody here to help you. You get all angry, and the curse makes it worse. I get so afraid for you, but there’s nothing I can do. Then Ramiel waltzes back into town. You’re angry as hell with him. He hands you a pretty trinket, whispers a few meaningless platitudes and then you have sex and all’s forgiven?
“Lyla, look at yourself.” Rey’s voice was even and moderated. “You’re the alpha female of my pack. You’re strong, a leader. You’ve been telling me how a female deserves to be treated, kept drilling into me that a lasting relationship has to be more than just about sex? How can you not take your own advice.”
Lyla stared at Rey for a long time with a shocked expression on her face, long enough to make wonder if she was getting through to Lyla at all. Finally she nodded, but didn’t say a word. She stepped past Rey to the door and opened it, seeing Ramiel standing there.
Ramiel had listened to everything. Magic, he could hear whatever he wanted, sometimes what he didn’t want to hear. He was angry, and it showed. He knew what she was about to do, he knew that Little One’s words had hit their mark, and he was not pleased.
He cared for Lyla more than anything, he had brought anything she could help with to her, he had even stayed in touch. But the last thing he was going to do was have her make a deal with them, or know about his.
Rey had no business butting in, no one did.
Lyla looked back at him in silence for a long time before she spoke. Finally she said, “You blew it Ramiel. You had the the best tracker in New England dying to help you, who would do anything for you. Has done anything for you. We’ve been to hell and back, you and I. And with me, your chances of finding her in the spirit world would have been a hundred times better. Maybe we still wouldn’t have found her in time, but your chances would have been far better. Your daughter deserved that. She deserved your very best effort.
“Instead you shut me out on the pretense of ‘protecting’ me. That’s not your choice to make. I didn’t ask you to protect me from anybody. You chose to take someone else. Someone for whom you burned to take to your bed — and you did as far as he would let you. You have no idea what it feels like to be so thoroughly left behind and replaced. I’ll tell you what it feels like. It feels like I want to die and I want to rip someone apart, I want to cry and I want to scream all at once. What you did hurt me worse than anything that has ever happened to me.
“Worse than anything,” she repeated so that he would know what she meant. “You can’t fix this with kind words and few flowers you had your friend murder and transform to his will. It’s ugly. It’s awful. And I hate them! It’s a perfect example of the pride and arrogance the two of you constantly put on display.”
She’d missed him so badly the past six months and that sorry showed in her voice. “I love you Ramiel. I truly love you Ramiel. But you’ve got to do better than this.”
Ramiel heard all he wanted to. He had seen it coming, after hearing all that Rey had said. You don’t get to talk about Serena, you don’t get to accuse me, you don’t get to say that I didn’t do everything for my daughter.
There was a great deal he wanted to say, many things he felt like shouting. She seemed to know about his trip, and events that happened. Though she understood nothing.
“I’ve replaced nothing.” He stepped away from the porch swinging the crystal ross hard enough to shatter them against the support post. “Have it your way.”
He walked away.
Lyla closed the door, turned around and faced Rey for a moment. Then she covered her face with her hands and cried.
Without hesitation, Rey closed the distance between them and wrapped her arms around her friend.
Chaska waited outside. He had followed Ramiel over to Rey’s house knowing that there was a possibility that he would be needed. He wasn’t sure how though and it even seemed a bit foolish to follow Ramiel serruptitiously but he was pretty sure that Lyla was not going to just take Ramiel back as if nothing had happened. He figured that she would eventually but she had obviously been hurting deep inside for the last 6 months. Lyla had turned her energies into other things and even though Chaska did not quite agree with what she was doing he was not at all completely sure what exactly it was she was doing and so he held his judgement and continued to be supportive. But he didn’t think Ramiel understood how much he hurt her. He had swept into the bar after all this time almost as if nothing had happened.
Ramiel had gone up to the cabin but Chaska did not follow and simply waited down the path. He sat in a clearing near the path and started to work on his wood totem with a knife. It was dark but there was enough moonlight to keep him from cutting himself. He sat and waited but it wasn’t too long before he heard the faint sound of glass breaking and Ramiel coming down the path. From the unusual disregard for quiet it was obvious that he wasn’t happy. Well Chaska wasn’t hiding anymore and Ramiel would have to pass by him. It would be up to him if he said anything…
“Chaska.” Ramiel said in a flat tone. His anger was internal, and though it was evident by his tone it was not directed at Chaska.
With a flick of his hand the broken remains of the crystal stems were tossed aside into the woods.
Chaska looked up from his totem. “Hi Ramiel” he said in a calm voice. “I see the moon has not looked favorably on you this night.”
“No doubt.” He stopped and stood near Chaska. “What kind of favor have you been shown to be here at this moment and time?” he asked.
“Favor? Oh, I’m not so sure that me being here is a result of any favor. You could call it ‘concern’ I suppose. Concern for the two of you.” Chaska stood putting the totoem and knife into his side pouch. “But who can say. Maybe it is favor that brings me to you at this hour. It could be that you need a friend right about now.”
Ramiel thought it through and could see some type of lecture lurking under the surface. Though Chaska was far too cunning to deliver it outright. He would be more subtle about it,
“If you care for a drink by all means, come along.” He said
In a move meant to disarm his friend a little Chaska put his arm around Ramiel’s shoulders and in an almost jovial mood blurted “then lead the way my friend. I have a feeling you are in need of a few.”
Ramiel smiled and slid his arm around Chaska’s waist. “Then let’s get pissed mate.”
Chaska let Ramiel steer them to his house. He thought of Rose, she had been the best thing in his life besides his daughter and even after all of these months every time he saw her he smiled. “Ramiel, why don’t you get the drinks and I’ll make myself comfortable.” Chaska knew that this might be a long conversation so he picked one of the big leather chairs.
He grabbed a couple of beers for Chaska and a bottle of Captain for himself. “Here ya go.”
Chaska twisted the top off of one of his beers and held it up. “Here’s to a happy life.” He then threw his head back and took a long draw putting the beer back on the table with a satisfied sigh. “So Ray, do you think Lyla will forgive you?” Chaska looked at Ramiel knowing he had caught him off guard once again and this time right in the middle of a draught of alcohol.
Ramiel choked down the cough and alcohol at the same time. Sitting his glass down he turned watering eyes to Chaska. He coughed again. “Fuck that burns.” He rubbed his nose with one hand and just grabbed the bottle with the other.
He sat on the couch and leaned back. “Ask me if I care.”
Chaska laughed briefly at Ramiel’s discomfort. “Come now. I know you care. You wouldn’t be so pissed off if you didn’t. And I could say the exact same thing to Lyla.”
“To be perfectly honest, and it is a rarity here so take it for what it is. I am pissed, though not thoroughly yet and believe me I am working on it. I am pissed because even though there was no reason to, I apologized to her, in public even with the lovely P word and all, and she has the balls to bitch me out and say it is not good enough. That damn little one needs to piss on someone else’s leg.” He took another drink.
Chaska sipped on his beer thoughtfully pausing before answering. “Ray,” Chaska said slipping into a more familiar tone, “I don’t pretend to know the female mind any more than you do. It will remain one of those ageless mysteries to mankind. Yet when it comes to their needs they are fairly simplistic. They need to be wanted and needed as do we all but it is even more so with women in my experience. I imagine from your perspective you don’t understand what her problem is and are probably pissed specifically because you felt you made yourself vulnerable to her and she rejected it. But… “ Chaska paused to take a drink. “But she sees your apology as a rejection of her.”
Chaska paused knowing Ray would object at this but he put up his hands in a gesture of patience. “Now before you start putting curses on me or whatever you do,” Chaska grinned at Ray, “try to think like Lyla for just a moment. She feels abandoned by you as if you didn’t care about her. Now I know that isn’t the case. You probably felt like you were protecting her from harm and you probably even beat yourself up over the decision but she doesn’t see it that way because she wasn’t in your head and doesn’t know why you made, what was to her, an irrational choice. And so you coming back and apologizing may send her the message that you aren’t in tune with her pain. It tells her, ‘I’m going to do what I want and I’ll just ask for forgiveness later’. So ironically an apology can be a bad idea in this case. It may not be fair and it may not be rational but she needs you to identify with her pain and emotional suffering. If you can’t do that then you may lose her.” Chaska paused again finishing off the last of his first beer. “Personally, I don’t think you or Lyla wants that. You are good for each other and you compliment each other. It would be a shame to see that fall apart.”
Chaska paused again but this time long enough to let Ray respond which he knew Ray was dying to do.
Ramiel set the bottle between his legs. “I didn’t want her to go, and I don’t need to explain it. I wasn’t trying to keep her from harm, it was other things.” He looked Chaska in the eyes. “No, I won’t identify with her pain because it is all in her head.”
Chaska knew that Ramiel was getting mad but he hadn’t expected anything different. He tried to have a calming influence on Ray as he talked. “Ray, our perception of pain is always in our head and I don’t mean that to be funny. Does your judgment that it is all in her head make it less real for her? And it doesn’t matter what reasons you had for leaving her behind or out of your business and I don’t need to know what those reasons are but whatever they were you left her to deal with something that she felt only safe doing with you. She was devastated that you left her with her craving. But beyond that she thinks differently than you and not just because she is a woman. She is part of a pack and with that comes a certain mindset. Whether you want it or not you are part of that pack to her and being shut out is against not only her wishes but her very being. She isn’t understanding why you would violate something so basic to her instinct.”
Chaska stopped for a moment obviously in mid stride to open the second beer. He took another drink. “So, Ray, you are right. She is being irrational. The pain is of her conjuring. But does love and pain have to be rational and real for it to matter? To her that pain she feels and the love she feels for you is real and is rational. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t change things for her.” Chaska paused abruptly and asked, “Ramiel, let me ask you something in all seriousness and I want you to think about your answer. Would you die for Lyla if that was the only way to save her from death?”
There was a long pause as Ramiel thought about it. His expression blank his eyes never leaving Chaska. “Why do you ask?”
Chaska realized that Ramiel thought he was asking the question for a specific reason that wasn’t intended. “It is simply a way to assess your devotion to her. It is simply a ‘what if’ question.”
“And why do I need to prove that? Or is this some way to try and get me to realize my own feelings?” He asked.
“I’m not Lyla, Ramiel. You don’t have to prove anything to me. Nor, for that matter, do you have to prove anything to Lyla. I only meant to point out that if you were willing to give your life for Lyla then why would it be so hard to sacrifice something so much less for her love. But you avoid the question because you are avoiding your feelings… except for anger. And I can see that I’m not helping with that. There is nothing I can say that will change your mind or your path and I understand that. Just don’t let your pride take you from what you love. It either will or it won’t… that is not up to me.”
“I avoid the question because it is not an answer for your ears. My anger will fade with time and drink. Lyla needs time to work out her problems, I have none. Truthfully the one I am most angry with is Little One, she butts in and it is none of her business. Lyla listened to her and now is probably crying.
She has a fixation with me replacing her, it is not true and she knows it, in her heart she knows that no one will replace her, no one could. I made a sacrifice tonight, I apologized to her at the bar, and I went out of my way to go speak with her further on this matter. You and no one knows what I was willing to would do, as there was interference and it got Lyla all hyped up.
“You Uratha and your super emotions, as if an upset woman is not bad enough. Add being Uratha on top of it and it is miserable for everyone.
“So yes I avoid that answer, it is not yours to hear.” He took another drink. ” You need more beer?”
“Definitely.” Chaska knew the conversation needed to close and switch to something else. “So what did you think of Blakely’s offer?”
“I think it is not without strings. Though I will do whatever Lyla wishes on the matter. I am suspicious as to whether or not his foundation is part of this Brotherhood. It wouldn’t be the first time they tricked us.” He got up and retreived more beers for his friend.