Timeline: January 29, 2009
Ann-Marie believed that she had come to an understanding with Chaska. They agreed to disagree and seemed to respect each other’s decisions. Ann-Marie even unstood the reason Michael did what he did. She didn’t like it, but she understood the reasons behind it. But her brother, to act so coldly, was a surpise to her and they hadn’t had the chance to talk about it. Soon after the return to Eldon Well, Ann-Marie caught up with her brother (comme great uncle) as he was returning from work. She needed to understand him, and more importantly with his help come to understand what she had become and was becoming.
She asked, “Johnny, can we go for a walk?”
“Sure Ann,” John said because they were in a public place, “Is something wrong or do you need my help with something?”
“Just unsettled a bit. Can we walk somewhere a bit more private, perhaps near the east woods?” she answered.
“I don’t have anything to do right now that’s more important than you. Let me get my coat,” John said amiably. John was enjoying the crisp winter air after being inside the hospital all day. Once they reached the woods John turned to her and said, “What’s upsetting you Grace? Is someone bothering you or giving you a hard time?”
“No one is bothering me. I won’t let it anymore. I’m done trying when it comes to making friends with certain people. I tried, I gave, and they are still jerks, so to be honest I have ceased to care. As long as they don’t mess with me and mine I won’t mess with them and theirs. But, Johnny I’m scared that you might be walking a thin line; a line Michael has embraced and Ramiel until recently seemed to be teetering on the edge of. The Beast is within us all my brother and it can consume us if we are not careful.”
“Grace, I have no idea what you are talking about but I am guessing it has to do with what happened in Boston,” John said sincerely. “I think part of it might have to do with the picture of me you carry around in your head. You remember me as I was when you left home for college. Grace, I have been to war and seen the beast. I have done things that I regret to this day and I still have nightmares every now and then. I have done things that I can’t forgive myself for some of which I know I would do again, knowing what I know now and how much they would haunt me. Sometimes bad things need to be done by good people. A part of me is glad that you saved that priest and I am really proud of you for doing it and other part is is telling me that he is out there hunting those I care about because he feels God is calling him to do it and he is not going to stop unless hes stopped. They tried to kill you Grace. They tried to kill me and all my friends. No warning, no talking, from ambush. Its not something we could call the police about because that just opens up a new can of worms, so that just leaves us. Maybe you have heard the quote that ‘Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.’ Now, I am sure that those mages felt that they were doing something to fight evil. But to me they were the evil and I just couldn’t do nothing. I gave them every chance to surender or leave and they chose to fight to the bitter end. So for the record I regret what I had to do but I am not going to lose any sleep over it. I love you Grace and I will do what I have to do to protect those I love.
She replied calmly with a sisterly air, “Johnny, we’ve both done things we regret. I sometimes regret letting him survive, but I was trying to make a point with him, that some of us are not quite the monsters they expect. It didn’t work out that way I suppose, but I had to try, for it was a greater challenge to try than to simply kill him. And better for my newfound soul. To be honest, as I explained to Chaska, my instinct was to go to ground or leave. Hunters beget more hunters. Like the hydra, kill one head and another two grow to replace them. Better to be a legend or a rumor than to confront them.” She paused, continuing, “but sometimes you have no choice. Yet, in this case we could have chosen differently. But, all is done and no sense over-dramatizing it. Now tell me what is this about you owing a favor?”
“Not much to tell really. He was going to die and there wasn’t anything I could do to save him. Then up pops someone that could save him but wouldn’t do so for free. I can’t really say I blame them, anyway I have to work for them for three months. To my way of thinking, three months is pretty cheap. The only thing it really impacts are possible wedding dates. I havn’t spoken to Alice yet. I was planning on telling her this evening.”
“Hmm…” Ann-Marie responded, “To be honest, I would normally be the first to jump up and help you with anything. You are my brother after all. But, if this is a kind of service to an unknown being for three months, I don’t know if I’d be more of a hinderence than a help. Perhaps I would do better for you here planning your wedding and taking care of things. I’m simply not sure what I can do in this case.”
“I appreciate the offer Grace, but I’m not even sure that they would let you go and it’s not like I am going to some foreign country or into a war zone. I would appreciate it if you watered my plants and picked up the mail. Most of my bills, are taken out of my account directly and I have transfered enough out of savings that barring anything spectacular, there should be more than enough there. I am going to talk to Daniel about power of attorney in my absence so if you need anything you can contact him and he should be able to set things up for you.” John gave Ann a tight hug. “I will be fine Grace,” John said with a smile.
“I worry about you Johnny, you know I always will. If you asked, I would go. You know that. But, in any event I’ll do as you ask and make sure everything goes smoothly here. Perhaps I’ll take the time to get to know Alice better. A good idea, yes?”
“Thanks for worrying Grace. It shows you care,” John said with a smile, “and to me that shows your humaity more than anything else. And I know you would go but you don’t need to hold my hand as I go potty. I am a big boy now.” John laughed at the old family joke then continued, “and I really, really appreciate you keeping the home fires burning. You are my favorite big sister, I hope you know that,” John said looking into Grace’s eyes, “and I love you.”
A blackened tear went down her face, “My companions may have found my body and a mage may have given me back my soul, but you my brother give me a reason to keep it. You keep me human brother and I love you for it.”
“I have to go talk to Alice now and let her know the sort of man she is thinking about marrying. Wish me luck cause I don’t think its going to go all that well.,” John said after a long moment of since as he held his sister.
“You aren’t an evil or callous man brother. Don’t let your adventures drive you to become so, as I see some of the others becoming. I know in your heart of hearts you always do what is right and I pray that she sees that as well. Good luck. I must go to and say goodbye to some of the others, Lyla in particular. Write me, will you?”
“As I can, if I can, if nothing else I will try and call.”
“Please do. It seems sometimes that I have allies, but few friends or family. Don’t do anything to get yourself too hurt, okay?”
John laughed and then said, “Again as I can, if I can and if nothing else I will try and duck real fast. Have a good night Grace.”