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Fiction: Unintentional Change [Part 2 of 2] (574 words)

James swallowed hard a few times. “I what? I don’t have the ability to make anyone immortal. Do you? Is that something we develop over a few millennia or something?”

“It is something you can do. I can too, apparently. It’s just the circumstances are so weird that it’s not something most of us run into.” Matthew was less angry now that James wasn’t lying to him. He was in teacher mode instead of integration mode.  “Apparently, Protectors can influence mortals through extended contact and strong emotions. Right now, her DNA and blood samples match those of a protector, although she was clearly not born that way.”

James blinked at Matthew. “What?”

“Here, look,” Matthew shoved the open book at Matthew’s hand, “Start at this paragraph.”

James looked down at the page automatically, but it took him a little while to calm his brain down enough to actually start processing the words on the page.

Protectors live in a contradictory way with the mortals that they help protect. On one side of the argument, they must care for the mortals their lives touch in order to continue with their destiny of protecting and keeping the mortal lives balanced. Without caring for the mortals then the motivation to protect and save would fade away entirely.

However, Protectors also live for thousands of their mortals’ lifetimes, which makes it harder to connect with mortals on any kind of interpersonal level, often their problems are hard to relate to when they will be over in a comparably  very short time. Because of this, most Protectors stick to their core groups of two to five Protectors per case. Romantic relationships between Protectors occur only fleetingly because the population of Protectors very rarely deplete since very few mortals are capable of harming Protectors in any kind of meaningful way.

Even rarer is a genuine relationship between a mortal and a Protector. Physical relationships are not unheard of, but a genuine romantic relationship has only been documented six times in the study of Protector history. This is easy to document because of the strange effect that being in close contact with a Protector who cares for them has on mortal DNA.  The mortal, over time, begins to develop Protector traits, and if the attention of the Protector continues for long enough, the mortal’s DNA will change to almost identical to Protector’s DNA, with only the most researched in DNA studies being able to see the difference between original Protector DNA and converted mortal DNA. 

It is the attraction and attachment of the Protector that creates this effect on the mortal DNA, as there are many cases of mortals sharing homes and close proximity with Protectors without any of the mutations occurring, even a Protector and a mortal living isolated together did not introduce this change. (See The Forty Years Isolation Experiment, pg. 218) This lead many scientific minds to believe it is the romantic attachment of the Protector.

James stopped reading and looked up at Matthew shell shocked.  “I did this to her?”

“You did this to her,” Matthew answered bluntly, taking the book away from him, “Now, if I were you, I would go in there and start groveling because of the way you’ve been treating her the last few days.” Matthew snapped the book shut and headed back up the stairs.

James turned to face the basement door. What in the world was he going to say to her?

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Problems (539 words)

It was a quick fluid motion. The kind that could only be performed by someone who had made the same movement over and over again.  Two twists and a pin and all her hair was back in a tight bun, completely out of her way.  “What happened? What did she do?”

“Something stupid, I’m sure.” The woman huffed, placing her fourteen-year-old daughter down on the table, “I don’t know exactly. She had just stumbled into the house when she passed out entirely.”

Morrigan was laying unconscious on Elena’s tables, not for the first time.  Her mother was right.  Something stupid indeed.  Probably over exerted herself with magic that was too powerful, even for her.  Chosen one or not, there were just some things you couldn’t do until you’d practiced long and hard.

That was the problem with young girls.  You gave them a little wiggle room to stretch their limbs, and they would take off running off the edge of the nearest cliff if you left them for a second unattended. With Morrigan, that was pretty close to a literal complaint.  Right off the edge of the cliff, convinced she could fly.  The frustrating part of Elena was that ninety-nine times out of a hundred, Morrigan would fly, which made it extremely hard to teach her any kind of lesson.

But worrying about Morrigan’s bad habits and bad lessons was not a priority right now.  Figuring out what she had done was.

Morrigan’s mother stepped back, and Elena went forward, hands outstretched. Yep, there it was, over-exertion of her stores. Elena was all ready to just tell her mother that Morrigan would have to sleep it off when she felt something else. Something strange. This wasn’t a girl who had been playing alone by herself…she was defending herself. Elena could read it almost like a bruise. Someone had tried to attack her, pushed against Morrigan’s limits until she couldn’t take it anymore.  And Morrigan could handle twice what Elena could send out—so whoever had attacked her would have to be extremely strong.

“Where was she?” Elena asked quickly. When there was no answer, she whipped around to look at Morrigan’s mother. “Before she came into the house—before she fainted—where was she?”

The woman looked flustered for a second. “I don’t know. I don’t—“ She gave herself a shake and steadied her view on Elena. “She went to practice. She said she wanted to go watch some of the more advanced classes.”

“Oh god,” Elena sighed, running through the list of royal students in her head, “Who did this?”

“What’s wrong?” Morrigan’s mother finally seemed to realize this wasn’t just Morrigan doing something stupid. She rushed forward to Elena’s side, taking her daughter’s limp hand in her own. “What’s wrong with my girl?”

“She was attacked.” Elena didn’t believe in mincing words, not even for worried mothers. “She’s strong, she’ll recover. But if whoever had attacked someone else—they would be in very severe danger.”  Elena put her hand on Morrigan’s collarbone, trying to feel if she could recognize the magic that had attacked Morrigan.  “We will have to go talk to the king,” Elena continued coldly, “We may have a very big problem.”

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: New Skills (523 words)

She cupped her hand just slightly, and the smallest of flames danced across her palm, rolling back and forth from her fingers to the heel of her hand.  She flattened her hand again and the flame disappeared, without even leaving a hint of smoke lingering in the air.  “Stop that, would you,”  Tony complained, his voice muffled by the picnic table he was resting his head against. “I can still feel it when you do that.”

“I’m sorry, it’s just fascinating.”  Sally pulled her hand into a tight fist instead.  Tony raised his head off the table and considered his sister for a second. This wasn’t her fault. He shouldn’t take it out on her.

“No, I’m sorry.  We’re just handling this differently. I don’t think I can reach your level of excitement.”  Tony smiled a weak sort of smile.

“Well, my thing is so much cooler than your thing.”  Sally teased lightly, pulling her hand into position once again, watching the flame flicker to life.  Tony muttered something under his breath that Sally was pretty sure was a swear, and pulled his hand into a similar pose. Instead of a little flicker of flame, there was a bead of water, growing bigger the longer he held his hand.  When Tony laid his hand flat, the water didn’t disappear but rolled off the heel of his hand. They watched the water droplet fall and hit the ground, turning the concrete beneath his hand a darker shade of gray. “Besides, mine has a much easier cleanup,” Sally added staring at the circle with an eyebrow raised.

“Yeah, but mine is more useful in the not dying of thirst kind of way.” Tony countered halfheartedly. Sally made the flame shine a little bit brighter, smirking at him as the flame grew a little higher in her hands.  Tony shook his head before lowering it back down to the plastic fake wood. “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yours is cooler.”

“Kids! Inside! Now!” Sally turned to see their grandmother dipping back inside the sliding glass doors of their house, almost slamming it shut behind her.

“Don’t figure that’s a celebration and explanation of how to use our newly discovered powers, do you?” Tony asked.

“I think it’s more likely to be the ‘your father is scum and here’s why’ rant—but with more detail than we got when we were eight,” Sally countered. She felt Tony’s hand, his non-water creating hand, slip into hers and give her a little squeeze.

“We can make it through anything, right Sal?”

Sally squeezed his hand back. “Of course, Tone. Anything we put our mind to.”

“Even our angry grandmother and hands that create something out of nothing?” Tony teased.

Sally tried not to look too worried. “Even that.”

“Then, let’s go.”

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project–Broken (535 words)

His magic had never failed him before, and now a boy was dead.  He stood there, numbly, his hand still outstretched, fingers spread.  The shield had come down. He hadn’t been strong enough. He hadn’t been able to hold it all together.

Mark hadn’t even turned around yet. He only knew that Chad was dead because of the screaming behind him. Sarah was crying “No, no, no,” and Shaun’s unnervingly calm voice declared, “It was a direct hit. He’s gone.”

Mark stared at the empty spaces between his fingers, seeing straight through them without the crackling of magic running between them. He’d been able to face down any enemy before. Very few people could even manage to make him sweat. No one could beat his defensive magic.

Mark let out a strangled noise, somewhere between a sob and a laugh, and let his arm fall to his side. He couldn’t really say that anymore, could he? Someone had beaten his defensive magic when it mattered the most.

Chad was dead.

He wanted to turn around. He wanted to try to apologize to Sarah though he knew he would never be able to make up for the loss of her brother. He wanted to demand that Shaun explain to him what went wrong—how had the shield failed him. He wanted someone, anyone, to tell him that it wasn’t his fault—even though it was most definitely, unerringly his fault.

He couldn’t move though. Lowering his arm seemed to be the last movement he was capable of. He couldn’t turn. He couldn’t run. He couldn’t do anything. He was petrified by fear and grief and blame and guilt.

But then there was a hand in his. A small, soft hand, so gentle that it was almost like it wasn’t there. Mark turned to see Adam there, standing next to him, his back also turned to the horrors behind them.

“They don’t need us here right now,” Adam whispered, his words almost drowned out by the commotion behind them. “Let’s go get you cleaned up, okay?”

Mark let himself be led away from the battleground. He let Adam guide him into the tent. He let himself be stripped down to his underwear, and the dirt and grime and (oh god) blood be wiped off his face, and the back of his neck and away from his arms and hands.

Eventually, Adam led him over to one of the identical little cots and be tucked away under the little blanket.  Mark felt so empty, frozen, but he had to say something. He caught Adam’s hand as he tried to walk away, and pulled him close to the cot. “I don’t…I didn’t mean…I’m sorry.  They need—Someone should say…I’m sorry.” The sentence fragments came tumbling out of his mouth, and he knew he sounded like a madman, but it was the best he could manage.

“It’s okay. I know. They know. It’s okay.” Adam reached out and brushed a piece of hair away from Mark’s forehead. “Sleep, Mark. Sleep.”

Mark didn’t know if it was his own emptiness or Adam’s gentle magic, but his eyelids grew too heavy to stay up, then he was asleep.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2017 in Legal Theft Project

 

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Fiction: Threads [Part 4 of 4] (752 words)

For a brief second, Rose shut her eyes and leaned her cheek flush against Henry’s hand.  In that instant, she was trying to memorize exactly what this moment felt like.  She didn’t believe that she would be lucky enough to not have this blow up in her face.  It had to end soon. She opened her eyes again as Henry spoke.

“Can you make me a promise, Rose?”

“I can try.”

“Can you promise me you’ll never try to get another man on the line again?”  Rose’s confusion must have shown on her face, because Henry continued, “If I am signing up for forever and for always, I want to know that it is just you and me forever and always.”

“Henry?”  She was confused. Was he actually saying…? Could she trust him to keep that promise? She couldn’t bring herself to ask him, so she just repeated his name, “Henry?”

“Yes, If you want me, yes.”

Rose tried to slow her heart. She couldn’t believe this was happening. Her answer was a small motion, but Rose knew that with his hands on her face, Henry would feel her nod.

“Okay then,” Henry said simply, before lowering his face and kissing Rose, very softly at first, before pressing himself against her.  Behind her eyelids, Rose saw fireworks.  She had counted once, a couple of years ago, just how many men she had kissed, and it was well into the hundreds.  None of them had even come close to the rush of pleasure, of happiness, or of complete and utter joy that this kiss gave her.  Rose suppressed a groan as Henry stepped away from her.

“Oh, wow.”  He said, his hands dropped away from her face before he interlocked his fingers over his own forehead. “That’s trippy.”

Rose knew what he meant.  She was feeling it right now, too.  The first time you got a thread from any given person.  That momentary thrill of power.  The rush of suddenly being very aware of the other person.  But this was more than that.  Mixed in with all of that was the feeling of actually being in love.  Rose looked at Henry for a moment, and he grinned back at her.  She felt herself willing him to kiss her again, but at the same time, she could feel his will pulling her towards him.  With a smile on both of their lips, they met in the middle, kissing even more passionately than the first time, egging each other on, both with pure physical contact and with the power of their wills on each other. Henry’s hands were caressing her face, tangled in her hair, and running down her back and sides.  Rose’s own hands were touching everything that they could, trying to memorize every inch of him so she could recall it at any time in the future.  Henry’s hands settled at Rose’s waist, helping to stabilize her as he walked her backward, around her suitcases, towards her bed, without breaking off the kiss. Her legs hit the bed, and she stumbled a little, laughing.  With a soft growl, Henry’s lips broke away from her own, kissing her cheek and down to her neck.

Rose opened her eyes briefly. “The Door.”  She said softly.  It was open, but she couldn’t make herself understand why that was an issue while Henry was kissing her neck the way that he was.  Henry growled against her neck, which sent shivers down her spine.  He seemed to consider for a moment, but then with a soft bite to her neck, he ripped himself away from her and made his way quickly to the door. It took every ounce of his willpower to not slam the door shut.  Rose sank onto the bed, sitting with her arms wrapped around herself.

Henry turned around and saw her sitting like that.  He asked, “Should we stop?”

“Oh, don’t you dare!”  Rose answered, almost desperately.  With an almost animalistic grin, Henry crossed the room in two quick strides, catching Rose with a fierce kiss and knocking her back onto the bed.  He laughed against her lips as she groaned and squirmed with the anticipation and frustration of having him so close, and yet so far away.  She had never wanted anyone as badly as she wanted Henry right now, and it was killing her to not get what she wanted.

But she knew—he had said forever and always. She had plenty of time to get used to him.

 

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Threads [Part 3 of 4] (582 words)

Rose felt the weight of the bed change and opened her eyes to find Henry on his feet now, pacing the length of the room.  When he spoke, he turned to Rose but paced while he waited for her answers.

“So, you have slept with how many men?”

“A lot.”

“But you haven’t found any of them attractive.”

“Physically, a little, not serious attraction. Nothing Romantic as it were. Some men were absolutely disgusting, but most are just neutral. Whatever. Blah.” Rose shrugged, “It was just a means to an end.”

“Then, how did you…forgive me if I’m being crass but if they were so blah then—“

“Well, at first I made up the kind of man I wished I was with, and recently, forgive me if I’m being crass now, but I pretended I was with you.”

Henry blushed, and Rose couldn’t help but be pleased. “So, you didn’t kiss me because…”

“Because if I kiss you I want to know that means you are in this forever and for always.  There is no way for me to fall out of love with you; it’s as simple as that.  You and I would be a forever deal, and I couldn’t be sure that you were in for that. I couldn’t be sure that you wouldn’t come to abuse that connection.  So, I didn’t kiss you.”

Rose sat quietly, feeling more drained and exposed than she had ever felt in her life before. Finally, Henry stopped pacing.  He turned to look Rose in the eye sternly, and Rose knew what was coming.  The heart-breaking words of ‘I can’t do this forever’, or the even more heartbreaking words of ‘I didn’t really think of you in that way,’ or even, ‘You aren’t a keep around forever kind of girl.’ All those things that her father said or implied to her mother. All those things Rose knew had to be true of a woman of her powers.

But still, this heartbreak would be easier to get over since she hadn’t kissed him.  She would be able to get over him eventually this way.  Rose tried her hardest to concentrate on that bright side.

Henry opened his mouth, then seemed to think it over and shut his mouth again.  He looked Rose over again for a moment, and then finally said, “Stand up.”

“Excuse me?” Rose asked.

“Please stand up.”  Less of a demand, more of a question this time.  Rose got to her feet and stepped around one of her open suitcases into the open part of the room near Henry.  “How many men do you have on the line right now?” Henry asked.

Helen had asked her that earlier. The answer was supposed to be none. She had told Helen none. “A handful,”  Rose answered honestly.

“Can you cut them loose?”

“Yes.”  Rose shut her eyes, and slowly let each handful of threads fade away.  It was a strange feeling for Rose to be all alone in her own head.  It had been years since she had nobody at all on the line.  When she finally opened her eyes again, Henry was much closer than before.  Very slowly, and very carefully, Henry raised his hand to touch Rose’s cheek.

“How many men do you have on the line right now?” Henry repeated.

“None,” Rose answered, her voice barely a whisper. “It’s just me in my head.”

“Good,” Henry smiled, and then raised his other hand, cupping Rose’s face between his hands.

 

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Threads [Part 2 of 4] (635 words)

After a moment of silence, Henry asked, “What does this have to do with you and me?”  Rose held up and hand that she hoped indicated that she was getting to it, and started talking again.

“We can release these threads, and send them back to their owners.  The men will lose any connection they have with us.  Our relationship with those men returns to the level it would be if we had never used our powers to influence them.  That’s what Helen made me do this morning in the meeting.  She’s afraid of me, rightly so, and wanted her team out of my control.”

“I still don’t see how this relates to us.” Henry ran an angry hand through his hair.

Rose let out a desperate little sound. She was never going to get through this if he kept interrupting. “Henry, please.”  Henry nodded and made a little go on gesture.

 “What my mother didn’t realize, when my father came around, was that the same thread passing can occur with us.  When we are attracted to someone, we fray at the edges too, and with a kiss or more, that man gets a hold of us, and they cannot let go, not matter what.  If you don’t understand the threads, if you don’t have that power, then you’re stuck holding on to that thread forever.

“My mother and father were together for exactly a month.  When my mother learned she was pregnant, Dad was gone.  Mom tried to forget all about him, but she never could.  We didn’t hear from him again until I was three years old. At the time, Mom was currently taking over a business, getting us a little spending money.  Dad called, and just like that, we were on the next flight back to his house.  Turns out he was going through a dry spell, and he just wanted to get some.  Mom gave him some.  A week later, when he was sick of us, we were unceremoniously thrown from his house in the middle of the night. We flew back home, and Mom continued her work on the businessmen.  It went on like that until the day Mom died.  Even though she had hundreds of men on the line at any given moment, one call from Dad, and she was off.  He used her and kicked her to the curb again and again and again.  He knew exactly what he was doing to her, and he used that power to his advantage.  Mom was powerless to resist him.  No matter what, she had to love him, and she had to go back, even though he never once actually loved her. He had her thread, and there was nothing she could do.”

While she talked, Rose sank onto the edge of her bed.  She was proud of herself, though. This was the first time she had managed to tell this story without bursting into tears.  Henry was still standing, his arms still crossed across his chest, but his face was softer.   After a long moment, he crossed the room and sank down on the edge of the bed next to her.

“Are you trying to say…” Henry trailed off.

Rose took a deep breath and closed her eyes. In for a penny, in for a pound. “I couldn’t kiss you, because even though you seem like a really great guy, I didn’t know what your intentions were, and I can’t spend the rest of my life running back to you to have my heart broken again and again.  That sent my mother to an early grave, and I will not follow in her footsteps.”

“So, you do like me?”  Henry asked, stupidly.

“More than any man I have ever met.”  Rose almost laughed with the release of the confession.

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2017 in Stories

 

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