3rd January, 2014. 4:05 pm. You're the inspiration (Episode 117)
It was January 31st, 1304. The small, newly formed family was setting out for the rounds of the castles. Isabeth hadn't done this in over a hundred years. All the other Watchers were a little surprised, a little confused, and a little suspicious as to why she was starting up again.
Oliver had his own motives, besides the obvious. Of course he was going along so that he and Aimee could be with Isabeth. The basics; but all of Grigori knew how she and Alan T bonded on her first round. Even thought she hadn't mentioned Alan since their fight for years ago and he's been digging into his job as Steward. Oliver already knew more about Isabeth than anyone else in Grigori, but he doubted if he was as close to her as Alan was. He was hoping that making this trip would fix that.
Isabeth was hoping that by repeating her past, she could renew the woman she once was. She would retrace her foot steps, leaving out a few lovers for the sake of what she had now, and try to tune into what she lost.
Catherine didn't bother hiding her motives. She made it painfully clear by interviewing every male ward at Castle Huntington. As if finding the perfect husband wold be as easy as her first stop. It was painfully awkward for everyone, and they were all glad when she left.
James only knew that he needed to be with them, he knew not why. It was almost as if his future depended on it.
The first leg of the journey was to take the ferry from Huntington Port up to Rosenbaum. The thought propelled ship called “The Watcher” was still run and operated by Captain O’Frighil. The good Captain either didn't realize or didn't care that his life had been extended by hundreds of years. He welcomed everyone aboard as he had done since the beginning.
The ferry was one oddity that Catherine was familiar with. Whenever Alan R needed to travel with his daughter, he did so in this manor. She barely rode the trails as Isabeth discovered when bringing her daughter home. And without a pendant, instant travel was out of Catherine's reach.
Thinking about their children and the powers they have, although limited, they did begin to worry about what would happen if the locals discovered what they really were. Over time a few have been let in on the secret, such as Rhian and her group of gypsies, Captain O’Frighil, and the random local spouses that have been taken and lost over the years. Concern brought the three Grigorians on board to an impromptu meeting on the deck of the ship.
“I'm for it,” James expressed after all the pros and cons were listed. “I think it's only fair that our children get to experience what they see their parents enjoying.”
“I agree that it's fair for them to use the magic they are born with,” Oliver voiced. “But as far as you giving them more, or teaching them to use natural magic like you did in the real world, I don't think it's a good idea.”
“Well, I wasn't going to give them more,” Isabeth insisted. “I had always dreamed of having eight children and teaching them as I was taught by my High Priestess. I don't know if you remember in the beginning when I'd talk about this stuff, I always said that everyone has the potential for magic and magical learning. That was one of my goals for this place and myself.”
“Yes, but didn't you intend it only for the Watchers and the wards. Not for the locals?” Oliver questioned.
“I don't know anymore,” Isabeth sighed. “There are still things about this place that are mysteries, even to myself. Some things I haven't or couldn't tell any of you. I honestly didn't believe that we could have children here, I thought we were frozen in time, like living dead. Then the married people started having children, and I thought well maybe it's only possible between Grigorians. Then people married locals and had children. I thought, or I should say hoped, that our offspring would be like mules; half horse and half donkey and completely sterile. But then they started having children, and they had children. You know that local who lives in Castle Huntington that kind of resembles our first Becky a little bit.”
The boys nodded.
“She is from Rhian. Rhian married John Noble, they had two daughters. The younger one married Keifer had a daughter and a son, their daughter married a local in the village of Szmanda. I don't know how many kids they had but one of them is betrothed to William. That's why she walks around the place like she owns it. She's got Becky's personality and attitude as well as her looks.”
“Brianna, that is Rhian Aludra's great-granddaughter?” James seemed dumbfounded. “So does she have powers?”
“I asked,” Isabeth answered. “No one in her family, had any powers. Rhian we know was a local, her daughter was a halfbreed...”
“Rude, there,” Oliver said trying to correct her manners.
Isabeth gave him a playful glare and went on. “The granddaughter was a quarter us. I think if she had married another ward that child would have had powers but since she married a local it kind of wiped out anything that was growing. Any children that the great-granddaughter and William have will only be about halfbreed level.”
“One of the things you have to do while we are running around Grigori is to interview all the children, and further decedents to see what is going on,” Oliver offered.
“I never thought of that, my love,” Isabeth mocked sarcastically.
“Mother,” Catherine called out coming from her cabin. “I just thought of something. You've never told me the story of your first time through the world. How will we know how to act if you don't tell the story.”
“First of all it won't be the same because we are not the same group she traveled with her first time,” Oliver corrected. “And I'm not sure it needs to be.”
“I think your mother and Emma have made up and almost tolerated each other now. Isabeth hasn't cut her in half in many years now,” James laughed as he recalled.
“No, I've found more entertaining ways of killing her,” Isabeth joked along.
Several days later Isabeth learned all too quickly that Catherine is just as literal, if not more so, than Isabeth is herself. Catherine entered Castle Rosenbaum, and without saying a word, pulled her sword and cut Emma in half the short way.
Everyone froze, staring as the two halves of the body slowly fading away to return next year. People looked nervously from mother to daughter and back. Isabeth looked very taken back as if she she didn't know what to do or say. Her lips would go from pinched shut to mouthing silent words to just hanging open, then the process would repeat.
“There, Mother,” Catherine said as normal as smiling. “Now you can retrace your footsteps exactly as you did the first year.”
“I didn't actually kill her the first year, just threatened to.” Isabeth picked up her pendant and held it to her mouth. “Al...”
“Call my father here and I'll cut him in half too,” Catherine threatened.
“Alan Cummings, how is the weather in Scotland?”
“This time of year, we're frozen solid,” he answered.
“Good to hear it,” Isabeth closed the connection and swallowed hard as she cautiously watched her daughter. The wards of Castle Rosenbaum quickly began to scatter, but Isabeth was quick to catch some of them. “Lillard, Kira, Jada, Cameron, and Ami, I need to speak with you. The rest of you be around so that Catherine can interview you. Don't worry, I'm disarming her before I let her loose in the castle.”
As Isabeth said it, the sword Catherine held turned to rust and fell to red dust on the floor.
“My father gave me that,” she pouted.
“Really. Write him and tell him what you did and I'll fix it,” Isabeth challenged with a half grin.
Isabeth took Jada by the arm and lead her away, the other four followed. “I need to know if you've ever noticed any of your children possessing powers like our, even if it was very small?”
“Yes,” Jada began seeming to think about it. “Will's power, we call it The Uncountable Chants of Eagle Calling, really he can call any bird to him; was passed down to our first son in a modified form. He was born five years into this world and he learned to call the local bird species before he could speak Galeck.”
“I know you've had about ten children since we've been here. Anything else happen?”
“Yes. My power, The Ten Marvelous Spells of Venom...”
“What is with these weird names?” Isabeth interrupted. “Do you all have them?”
“I have the The One Thousand Exorcisms of Fish Slaying,” Kira said proudly.
“The Greater Spell of the Unholy Fish,” Ami answered. “Yumi's is Glamor of Kill Fish. We were having a contest. I won.”
“Let me guess,” Isabeth said smiling. “It had to do with catching the most fish.”
“Yes,” the girls said together.
“Do I even want to know yours,” Isabeth said to Lillard.
“Probably not,” he answered. “But I would like my hug. I was closing in for it when that girl went crazy.”
“It's okay battle brother, I got her under control,” Isabeth promised giving him his request. “Jada you were saying.”
“I can become a Naga. The venom I produce becomes a potion that casts one of ten spells. I never know which one I will get when I milk it, but the color tells me what it does. Both of our sons had some form of bird calling, all eight of our daughters would produce one of my venom's when they would kiss a lover.”
“I wonder if it's always passed from mother to daughter and from father to son? Has anyone else here had children?”
“No,” Cameron spoke. “Mostly we just take lovers from the village. None of them have become pregnant or made any of us pregnant. The only other married woman here is Kathy. She married a local and moved into the village with him. But he died more than twenty years ago.”
“Thanks, Jada. You can go. The rest of you, I have a request. I want to thank you guys first. I would like to thank all the people who have helped get me to this point, but one castle at a time. You and a handful of others around Grigori keep me, well, me. I very much appreciate and love all of you. You have never changed from day one and whenever I'm around you I feel like the old me. I would like to start up my real teaching, a magical school of sorts and I'd like you guys to help me.”
“How?” Cameron asked. “We are not exactly the best spell casters in any sense.”
“For starters I could practice my teaching on you. Make you the best of the best, then let you loose in your own countries to spread the teachings,” Isabeth tried.
“I have always been up for anything you came up with, Little One,” Lillard said stealing another hug from his friend. “I've got your back.”
“Everyone think about it and let me know at the end of August by meeting me in Spain as I leave Castle Tudyk.”
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Isabeth wandered through the castle trying to remember what it was like the first time. All the wonderful details that Rukito had put into her masterpiece. The liquid gold and silver that ran through the walls and floors still swirled unused creating a beauty that was unmatched. Even though she clearly knew the way with her eyes closed, Isabeth asked for directions to the library. Slowly the swirling liquid metals moved showing her the way. She smiled and followed them trying hard not to lead herself. Inside the library, as if he'd planned it, because he had, was Michael R.
“Shall we?” he asked with a sly smile on his face.
“Fuck off,” Isabeth tried to come across as aloof and carefree. What Michael heard was rude and snide.
“Then why linger here? If you are unwilling to be the real Little One, the one we all met two hundred years ago, why bother trying to recapture any of her. You are a fake, you will never be as good as her, you are just a second rate copy.”
Michael's mouth was curled in a tighter scowl than he had ever possessed. His face was sore.
"Go on then," Isabeth faintly whispered, hissed even, barely audible but he had been listening, daring her to speak. He surely would take her this time. It would be easy. Just a flick of tongue on that special spot of her neck, a glow of green and satisfaction as his staff penetrated her being. Yes, it would be easy.
Eyes redder than the fires of hell stared back at him. Empty, hollow, unfeeling. As if the blood of all those she'd killed touched these great orbs, her eyes reflecting her soul. Michael raised his hand to wave her off. This had gone far enough, but suddenly that face, that small face which possessed an odd black beauty as severe as a winter's night, changed. The dramatic pout that had arrested her lips moments ago was replaced with a enticing smile that sent goosebumps along Michael's skin. His pulse quickened, thudding against his chest and temples. He knew that he was about to strike out again, but suddenly it seemed like he had to at least try.
What piece of the woman that once was Little One was still alive in the woman who stood before him, he knew not. Nor did he know what exactly he was expecting Little One to do, but he knew that of all the people in this whole extraordinary world, she was his favorite. If he took her, he would be essentially destroying everything she had worked so hard to create. Weather he liked the new Little One or not, he couldn't do that to her. He shuddered, but not noticeably. Giving her the satisfaction was enough to make him ill. He lowered his hand, which ignited further his frustration.
His look would have killed her, if looks possessed that power. It was all he could do to scowl at her. He was frustrated with himself, for he knew he was letting her manipulate him. Why or how she was so smart was a mystery to him, but she must be toying with him. She loved it. Every moment of his anger, every grunt, sigh, scowl and stomp got into her and tickled that maniacal part of her soul that enjoyed other people's misery.
But what about her own misery? Michael could not take the smile any longer. He could not take the low giggles and the swaying movements as she dug up his anger and forced it to fight her. It was not so much the rage that troubled him, but the fact that this rage was something he craved, looked for even, and he secretly enjoyed the torture. His blood boiled with this rage that tingled and burned through his body, but was oddly concentrated in his lower region. He looked at her face, twisted in that devious smile. She was inviting him.
He stepped forward, grabbed hold of her shoulders firmly. She would not rule over him. He closed in for the kiss and Isabeth flew from his fingers, slamming into the draped windows behind her. Her face changed slightly, but she did not look intimidated. She stood straighter, the corners of her mouth still curled in a smile. Michael would surely wipe the smile from her face. He didn't want her to be smiling. He wanted to see her submit for once, feel himself manipulating her. He walked towards her slowly, knowing she couldn't back away.
"Taking care of the job with your bare hands, Michael?" Isabeth cooed, flashing him a challenging glance.
Michael did not reply, but kept advancing towards her until he had her craning her neck to look up at him. He was inches from her, her almond eyes staring up at him threateningly. He briefly saw her expression falter, her lips pouting and her eyebrows turning upwards. Then she was looking at his chest, the level at which her eyes were to him. He saw lust in those eyes. He saw not only her desire for pleasure and satisfaction, but her desire to find herself once again. She was deranged, he knew, and it only turned him on more. Was he deranged too?
He wouldn't make it so easy though. She always put on this guise. If she wanted to play the game, he would too. Only tonight, he would make it worth it. Isabeth wasn't out of control yet. He decided to take it upon himself to kill the tame her and set the wild woman free on Grigori once more. She would lead him no longer. To assert his point, he raised his hand to her throat and closed his fingers around it. If there were any last traces of a smile on her face, they completely washed away as the tip of Michael's tongue touched the soft, pale skin of her neck. She stood stiffly against the window, her chest rising and falling as she breathed. He wondered if she really was scared. He assumed not, or that if she was, she was turned on by the sensation.
Seeing her under his power gave him a strange sensation. It was purely sexual, but more concentrated than he'd ever felt before. Something visceral, animalistic bloomed inside him, and before he knew it, his hands were gripping Isabeth's wrists and pinning them to the window above her head. She grunted lightly in surprise, but her gaze was hungry.
"Yes Little One," Michael hissed. "I'll take care of it."
He pressed his lips to hers before she could reply. Her mouth trembled under his. He couldn't tell if she was surprised, repulsed, or excited, but had a feeling it was a bit of all three. He moved a hand to her chin, holding her jaw strongly as he kissed her. She tried to mumble something, but he was holding her mouth too tightly. Finally he released her.
"Who do you think you are!?" Isabeth screamed loudly, her eyes burning.
He had anticipated her reaction. "Silence," He said firmly, again pressing her against the window with his body.
She looked annoyed, but he didn't care. Using his other hand, he lifted her dress. She looked furious, but did not move. He knew her game. He let his eyes fall to her chest, his first hand sliding slowly over her breasts.
"You're a devil of a man, Michael," Isabeth whispered. She might as well have told him he was the greatest man in all of Grigori, since her tone of voice was far from negative. He could feel her shudder under his hands, her small body so soft against his palms. She slouched against the window as he touched her. He felt his desire growing beneath his pants. Soon she would feel it too.
He moved his face to her soft neck again, tilting her head forcefully to the side as his nose stroked her skin. A faint tinge of sweat mixed with the sweet smell of her feminine skin tingled in Michael's nose. The tip of his tongue gently touched her jaw line. Her breathing was soft and shallow, and he heard her whimper lightly as his kisses moved back to her mouth. He saw her hands twitch at her sides, and knew she wanted to hold his head, wrap her arms around him, embrace him. But he would not indulge the desire for affection. This was not about affection.
Then suddenly, her hands moved quickly to his chest, and he was shoved back from her. Before he realized what had happened, he was on the ground, rolling to the side to recover his breathing. She was quicker, and ran at him. What was she doing? Before he could think, she swung her foot and kicked him hard in the gut.
He was instantly stilled, as if a warm, impenetrable blanket were wrapped around him. His eyes, wide open, stared straight at the ceiling, until her fist came down in his face obstructing his vision. He opened his eyes to see her dark curls hung down over him as she lowered herself to his level. She moved a finger to his lower lip, her fingernail running over his mouth. Through the pain he could still take in the changes, the dead, white, stick straight hair that appeared after Alan T jumped off the top of Castle Huntington the first year had healed. Isabeth's raven black curly hair was back.
"Dear Michael," she whispered in a mocking tone, tsking. "Did you honestly think it would be that easy?"
She then leaned forward and kissed him simply, like a child might kiss a parent, and cackled as she stood. He could hear her heels clicking on the stone floor as she walked away from him. She giggled one last time as she opened the creaking door, and then there was silence.
Michael realized then, and only then, that he should have kept his mouth shut in the first place, and that Isabeth had won, again. She always knew the perfect torture. And he knew she was back.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
“Little One,” Pauly called out to her while running down the hall. “Why am I being interview to be Catherine's husband?”
Isabeth and Rukito laughed.
“Doesn't that mean she has good taste?” Rukito asked.
Pauly was taken back for a second, then recovered. “Well, yes. But I'm not interested. If I was I would have taken a bride long before now.”
“Then tell her that,” Isabeth suggested.
“I did, but...” Pauly paused as a few other men joined the conversation.
The wards of Castle Rosenbaum seem unsure of themselves and nervous. Robin, Michael G, and Tony shifted around waiting for the rest to be said.
“She didn't really give a comforting feeling with her first impression,” Michael G helped.
“I never had a teenager before,” Isabeth half wined. “My daughter from the real world only made it to four before we came here. I keep saying I have it under control but I'm starting to worry. Did any of you have teenage daughters?”
“It's only going to get worse,” Robin comforted.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
They weren't sure what was going on, but they were drawn to the circle of locals in the barley field. As Maggie and Thora neared they saw what looked like Isabeth sparing with air in the field. To the locals this would look just like someone practicing their sword work if it wasn't for a few oddities. Such as, she was a woman and most women of the time did not play with swords. But the biggest attention grabber was the sound of metal on metal when her sword made contact with the unseen one. Not to mention the disembodied voice that was responding to her raving rant.
“Well I did rip almost two hundred people from there homes and families to help me make a perfect world,” reminded herself viciously.
“There is no such thing as a perfect world,” Matthew Lillard's voice said back.
“Well there could be, there should be,” she shouted at the sky while ducking an attack only she could see. “Love is the greatest thing in creation, love could make the world perfect. Love should be shared, and given out freely when ever and where ever it is felt.”
“You talk of love while you practice for war. How strange.”
Isabeth stopped so suddenly that it startled Matthew into dropping his spell and he became visible again as he stumbled to stop from running into her. Maggie acted quickly and threw her power on the locals transporting everyone who'd witnessed Matthew's magical appearance to Norway. When she looked back at the two friends, Matthew was hugging Isabeth close.
“It’s strange, Battle Brother,” came Isabeth's muffled voice from Matthew's shoulder. “I can go to war and splatter human bodies all across the landscape, but I cannot, in anyway, ask another for love.”
“You never have to ask for mine, Little One,” Matthew Vowed. “You are my best chick friend in this or any world.”
Maggie was so moved by Matthew's genuinely loving disposition that she almost changed her mind about scolding them. But since he was always this loving to everyone in Grigori, she was used to it and took them both by the scruff.
“What is wrong with you?” Maggie yelled. “Those were some of our best farmers and now they are gone because of your carelessness.”
“What are you talking about?” Matthew demanded.
“You had an audience,” Thora helped. “Lady Maggie had to send them to Norway with all the others who've seen you do things we're not supposed to be able to do.”
“Why do you insist on preforming magic in front of the locals. I thought that once you claimed Forbidden Exorcism of Magic and Seeing that it would stop. But it isn't working. They still see you come in and out of invisibility.”
“Forbidden Exorcism of Magic and Seeing? What is it with you Rosenbaums and your insistance on naming your personal spell,” Isabeth grumbled pulling herself free from Maggie. “What is yours, Hippity Hoppity To Norway?”
“The Deathly Exorcism of the Cunning Queen,” Maggie answered.
“You don't kill them do you?” Isabeth asked.
“I don't think so. No one's ever come back from Norway so I don't know.”
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Isabeth knew that if she could influence the belief in the most important people in America and Europe to know this as truth than it would filter down into the masses and peace through out the world was not an impossibility. If it could be done with fashion why not with morals.
Like children are the most important thing we can do for ourselves and for the world. If they were taught form birth that race didn’t exist, and religion was a personal issues that should be discussed only for the sake of knowing what not to say around your friends so as not to offend them. That religion should never be advertised or pushed down the throats of others who already have a religion, or chose not to have one at all.
Isabeth believed that gender only means more variety in partners, and regardless of what a person has between there legs they are exactly as important, intelligent, strong, and has the same right to existence as you.
She believes that money doesn’t make a person better, in fact rich people are usually less of a person that the poor are. If you have a lot of money you should give it out to those you don’t have it. Isabeth believed that you don’t stop playing because you grow old; you grow old because you stop playing. And no one is too old or too young for a hug. Children should be treated as gifts and the elderly should be treated as great scholars who have something to teach us. She believed that a person should never stop learning and seeking knowledge. And that being a little crazy is essential to a long and happy life.
Isabeth hoped to instill these beliefs and ideas into the minds and hearts of every person in her world. But if she convinced only one person, she would be satisfied. But who would be her first.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Cameron Diaz, the radiant talent, as Isabeth saw Cameron was a perfect choice. She had a hero's courage and a sense of purpose, driven on by strong convictions and the need to persuade others, an ability to inspire others to action. If Isabeth could convince Cameron what was right and wrong in the world, then her chore of helping the rest to see would be cut in half. Cameron would be an exceptional extension of herself. They got along better than almost any other at Castle Rosenbaum.
Cameron could see the necessity for profound changes. However, she didn't like to be bothered by trivial or meaningless events. She defiantly excelled when unsupervised and could follow her own intuition. But damn did she need to learn patience. Isabeth's mind when up and down as she not so deceptively followed Cameron around the castle.
“It may be sometime before others recognize the truth that you are expressing,” Isabeth said out of the blue. Cameron had found a quiet place to sit and just be at one of the tables in the dining hall. Isabeth had sat across from her and was laying the upper half of her body on the table staring at Cameron.
“I'm sorry?” Cameron asked unsure. A small smile sat on the corner of her mouth. “Does this have something to do with why you've been tailing me all day?”
“But your strongly held beliefs in yourself and your cause may give others the impression you are too full of yourself,” Isabeth went on as if no question had been posed. “I don't think that feeling will last long though. See, your gift is your natural radiance that brings cheer and warmth to otherwise dreary lives. I think everyone will see it quickly enough.”
“Thank you,” Cameron chuckled. “I think.”
“I want you to be one of my students,” Isabeth suggested. “I want you to be one of my firsts.”
“But you have many other, those you've been teaching for years? How could I even come close to being a first?”
“I have taught other, yes. But they were just students. I want you to be a teacher. Say you'll meet me in August. Please.”
Cameron leaned forward across the table and took Isabeth's hands. “I had already planned on doing just that.”
* * * * * * * * * * * *
It was past midnight, but just barely. Isabeth couldn't sleep and was out walking the fields behind Castle Rosenbaum. The last person she ever expected to see, after all was said and done, after all these years, was Alan T.
But as the clouds moved, there he stood. It was as if he was waiting for her to show up at a planned meeting. He was dressed like a local farmer and even wore a straw hat that he took off as Isabeth approached.
For a brief moment they simply stood and stared at one another. Then he spoke. “What are you doing?”
“You will have to be more specific that that,” Isabeth said softly.
“No one, except Vince, knows better than I what you went through that first year.” Alan was showing the utmost care with the choosing of his words. His concern for her was showing against both their wills. “The fear, the doubt, the passion, the pain. Remember it all in your dreams at night, but don't relive it. As much as it pains me to admit it, you have a real man, a good man. Please remember how that first year ended. Remember and then chose to forget her.”
“Alan, do you want to know what I remember about my first year here,” Isabeth voice shook a little. “I remember you. I remember finding a love that was meant to be, the kind of love that lasts forever. I brought you here for me, I needed you here with me from the very first night until the end of time. We did everything I had ever dreamed of; had worldly adventures both good and bad, we won wars with monsters and each other; it was just you and me everywhere I went. And then something shifted. You changed. I changed.”
Alan tried to say something but Isabeth put her hand on his mouth. “You're always on my mind, in my heart, In my soul, and you always will be. I gave myself some very good advice that first morning before you all appeared here frightened and confused. Somehow I let myself forget it. But I am choosing to live that advice once again, and I give it to you to my eternal love. Stop looking for the meaning of life and just live it. Please take those words to heart, stop looking for the meaning of life and just live.”
Isabeth started to walk away when Alan called out. “He's not me.”
“What does that mean?” Isabeth asked not turning to look back at him.
“There are some things we have in common; you for example, you're the meaning in my life, his life too even if he doesn't know it yet. I can't feel anything when you're not around, but then when you are I feel everything so intensely that I don't know how to handle it. I want to have you near me all the time when we're together, then when we're apart I just want to have you hear me say that no one needs you, no one wants you. And then I get up and move on and get better each time and hate you less each time. But I've had two hundred years of practice, not to mention the thirty extra years of the real world I experience I had before coming here.”
Alan paused for a moment as Isabeth bowed her head. He hoped she would look at him so he could make sure it wasn't out of defeat. “The more that I watch you and him, the more it's plain to see that the two of you are so in love when you're together. Are you still as much in love when you're apart? Can he handle what comes next, will he be strong enough to fight you for the sake of you. Can he see you for what you really are and say 'Damn it SH, I love you and no matter how many times you fuck up I will always love you.' Can he do it? Is he strong enough to handle your demons. Because I had to die to be that strong.”
Alan walked up behind Isabeth and wrapped his arms around her. “You can give me all the advice about life that you want to. All I need to know about the meaning of life is that life doesn't mean shit without you.”
* * * * * * * * * * * *
“I wish you didn’t have to go so soon,” Rukito said giving her friends a hug good by.
The two girls hugged again tighter as Oliver approached them giving a little laugh. “I feel like I should be jealous but when you’re in female form I just can’t bring myself to it.”
“Did you tell him to say that?” Rukito joked changing back into a man.
“No, not one word.” Isabeth still hesitated.
“What did I say?” Oliver joked.
The Watchers laughed together.
“Word for word the exact same thing Alan Tudyk did the first time we met,” Rukito answered.
“Every path has a puddle,” Isabeth said nonchalantly.
“And is this one of those times?” he asked with a smile.
“No actually that is what Little One said at that time,” Rukito explained and Isabeth gave Oliver a big grin.
“See,” she said with smugness. “I am retracing my foot steps.”
“Okay, lets go.” Oliver grunted not sure if what she was doing was a good thing or not.
Isabeth reached out with one hand and caressed Oliver's cheek lovingly. “Someday you’ll understand.”
“I understand more than you think,” he said as he tuned from her and walked up the gangway onto the boat.
“Do you think we should warn him before we get to Castle Simpson,” James whispered coming up behind her.
“Why,” Isabeth glared at her forced duplicate. “It didn't do no good when I warned the first fool I traveled with what was coming. Will it really do any good this time?”
30th June, 2013. 2:21 pm. You'll Be In My Heart: Episode 116
All things considered, Isabeth was having a blissful day. She had, for the time being, allowed herself to forget what had conspired in the last few months. James had to be forcefully locked inside the Mother House. His rage had become dangerous and unpredictable. Oliver had been too confused by his brother's ranting's to understand what was going on and Isabeth was exceedingly grateful for that. She had sent another attempt to find James a living diary, this time it was Matt.
The next time she saw Matt, it was at a formal meeting with Ryan. Matt sat in a chair in a corner badly beaten.
“I would like to ask that you not send any more of my people into this trouble,” Ryan started professionally. “Whatever this trouble is.”
For a moment the two Watchers simply pondered each other. Then, without warning, Ryan slammed his hand down on his desk.
“Damn it, Huggles. Why won't you tell me what is going on at the Mother House? Does it have to do with the boy?”
“The boy?” Isabeth questioned, then realized. “Oh, no. He's not there anymore. I moved him. I have a different problem locked up there now. Geese Ryan, I actually thought you were starting to worry about your wards.”
“Are you kidding,” Ryan laughed. “I love these guys, but I don't care what you do to them.”
Matt cleared his throat.
“Oh, Matt,” Isabeth said remembering he was there. “Could you go get Mark for me. There is no way he'll do this to him. Trust me, I know what he's becoming.”
“What who's becoming?” Ryan asked taking Isabeth around the waist from behind. “and what is he becoming?”
“Didn't your mother teach you not to flirt with pregnant women?” Isabeth let out.
“You're going to have another baby?” Ryan looked sad. “You're averaging one every five years. Where are you going to send this one?”
Isabeth looked hurt. “That's not fair.”
“Yes, I'm mean, but honest.”
“I need to go talk to my mom.”
She pulled away from Ryan, grabbed Mark's hand as he finally entered Ryan's office, and dragged the man with her. They got outside without a word, saddled up and headed for Italy.
“Stupid,” Isabeth repeated as her escort rode silently beside her. “Stupid, stupid, stupid.”
“Can I ask who and why you're berating,” Mark interrupted.
“Myself,” Isabeth bleated. “I was so happy at my first shot at successes and everyone seems hell bent on reminding me of my last mistakes in this area. Given enough time, who knows what blunders I might manage to make.”
“Couldn't you just learn from those mistakes.” Mark offered. “Or repair them.”
They rode in silence for a while as Isabeth pondered over Mark's wise words. Could she repair them.
“Which way?” Mark asked.
Isabeth was confused for a moment then she saw the fork in the road.
“You go east to the Mother House. Find James, he'll fill you in. You are forbidden from speaking of what you learn there. I'm off to Castle Isaacs.”
“Have a pleasant trip, Huggles,” Mark said with a smile. “I know you'll do the right thing, being who you are and all.”
“Yes, thank you very much.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
The road grew narrower and Isabeth had to release her horse to the wild, he'd find his way back to Castle Huntington on his own. It began to slope upwards, the angle increasing steadily. Isabeth was breathing hard now, even panting a little, and her legs ached. Whatever magic they had been given on day one was slowly fading as time went by and they were becoming more and more human everyday. It wasn't really noticeable yet, women felt it most when they were in the same delicate condition that she was in right now. Isabeth had to know that she was pushing herself to the limit and beyond, but she didn't slow down or give any quarter. She was determined to always be the same immortal she started out as.
It is okay, she thought darkly. She could keep it up as long as she needed to, and if she needed anything to keep her going all she had to do was remember she had powers and that she could use them at will. And if that didn't do the trick, remembering she could always appear at her destination in a second certainly would.
But she wouldn't do that. She had not once in over two hundred years taken the easy way out and she sure as hell wouldn't start now. Then Ryan's words came back to her - “Where are you going to send this one?” She still felt the imprint of that verbal slap. It had been bruising, even degrading. It was a slice that had nothing to do with playful ribbing and everything to do with trying to wake Isabeth up to herself. It had been a graphic, almost brutal reminder of her past mistakes.
Then another man's words came to her - “Couldn't you just learn from those mistakes.” Mark said. “Or repair them. I know you'll do the right thing, being who you are and all.”
Isabeth wanted to start crying, but she wasn't sure if it was because her best male friend in the universe had hurt her or if this ward she barely knew loved and trusted her so much that he's say something so beautiful about her. Finally giving into the pain of the hike and her need to cry, Isabeth sat hard on the stones and let it all go.
She wasn't given much time to feel sorry for herself before the rustling in the bushes began. “I am like a wolf, who ever you are. Left to my own devices, I bother no one. But force my back against the wall and you risk the danger of my fangs.”
Mark came out of the shrubs with a curious smile on his face. “What was that, some quaint unknown proverb?”
“What are you doing here,” Isabeth sighed. “I told you to go to the Mother House.”
“I don't know how to say this without sounding unkind,” Mark sat next her and put his arm around her. “Simply a reminder of your vulnerability. And I refuse to leave anyone to face that alone.”
While she was still struggling for a response, he rose to his feet and pulled her along with him. “Come on,” Mark urged. “We've got miles to cover before nightfall.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Isabeth and Mark worked their way up the Gargano mountains. Trying not to show that she was vulnerable, it became important not just to follow behind, but to match Mark stride for stride. Her footsteps quickened until she was at his side. Mark gave her a quick glance and if she hadn't been breathing so hard she would have laughed aloud at the look on his face.
“You'd be better off not with me,” Isabeth tried. “I get into some dangerous situations.”
“I'm better off right where I am,” he corrected.
Isabeth gritted her teeth and let Mark's presence give her strength to continue. And it worked, even after her legs turned to lead and her lungs to flame. She was completely exhausted and disorientated. Her eyes focused singularly on the path at her feet while she tried not to think about her aching muscles, thirst, and upcoming conversation she knew she had to face at Castle Isaacs.
They had not exchanged another word in the hours since, not even after they'd finally reached the mountain top and stopped to admire it. The mountains in this part of the world are like none anyone had ever seen. They are incredibly high and treacherous. Although the pass had been a steady climb, the going had been uneventful. Isabeth scrambled over them behind Mark, clutching at rocks and boulders, sometimes falling back a step for each two she took.
Suddenly Mark sat, then laid down on a small patch of grass that grew up this high. Isabeth sat next to him without hesitation and sighed. Mark opened his eyes and looked up at her. Isabeth kept her face emotionless as he watched her from under his lashes. She sat with her legs crossed, looking out over the valley but not really seeing any of it.
“Huggles,” Mark hesitated. “What is going on?”
Isabeth shrugged. “It's difficult to explain. Sometimes I feel...” she sighed again. “I told you it's hard to explain.”
“You might be surprised to know what I can understand.”
She laughed. “No, you can't. How could you, when I don't understand it myself? I'm still trying to figure that out.”
“Why don't we begin with how you feel.”
“How do you think I feel? I must not be too strong or assertive, nor too powerful or independent. If I want the people to accept me and not rebel I am kept unimportant, decorative, weak, and passive.” Isabeth's eyes darkened as she ranted. “I walk into a room and I'm the Head Watcher, and whatever I say is going to be taken apart.”
“Is that an explanation,” Mark eyed her. “I love what I do, the same as you. And I want to carve a niche for myself, the same as you. And I will, someday. All I need is a chance.”
“You'd better hurry,” Isabeth laughed. “Grigori will be over in just under three hundred years.”
“Yea, I can see my time running out,” Mark laughed with her. “I guess I'll have many chances. With such a long life to live. Did I ever thank you for that, because I should have at least every fifty years or so.”
Isabeth leaned over and gave Mark a big hug. “You don't need to thank me, just really live it, that's all I ask. But as far as chances go, whatever chance I had is long gone.”
“Why, Huggles, why,” Mark started sounding agitated. “You put these obstacles in your own way. Don't you see that. Any darkness you see in yourself, it is only you who sees it. Any mistakes you've made, you are the only one who can't imagine away to make amends.”
“Maybe I'm the only one who sees the truth,” Isabeth fought back.
“Maybe you're the only one with your head up your ass.”
Mark's swearing shocked Isabeth speechless for a second, speechless and frozen. She soon recovered.
“In any event, truth seeing or head up my ass - there is only one road a person can take, only one way anyone can ever be. How much choice he ever had is a matter for the philosophers and psychologist who debate about free will versus various sorts of determinism. If we are all being pushed around by an omnipotent omniscient God or by psychologically predetermined behavior patterns or by mechanistic socioeconomic forces.”
“If so, here we are not affected by it,” Mark said standing and stretching to continue the journey. “You made sure of that, because I've been at least six different versions of myself since coming here.”
Isabeth opened her mouth to say more, but Mark cut her off.
“Everyone has responsibilities,” Mark said his eyes blazing into hers. “I know it's not a popular word in Grigori, but it's the truth.”
Mark clamped his lips together and turned away, but it didn't matter. She didn't have to see his face to know that he was the one in the right this time. It had been right in front of her all along, and she'd felt it before every time she'd bumped into Catherine at seemingly random times. And yet she'd ignored it. The realization was dizzying. In one instant, everything in her life had changed. It was as if a fairy godmother had suddenly stepped down from the top of the mountain and waved her magic wand. Isabeth could hardly breathe. She knew what she had to do.
Her gaze went to Mark, standing rigidly ahead of her. At the same time she was desperate for freedom and privacy so she could think about her next move, and thankful that he had disobeyed her order to go to the Mother House. Her eyes swept over that proud, straight back. She could see the terrible tension in him, that stiffness of muscle and spine that told her he was in pain too. Suddenly she realized, he had disobeyed a direct order from a Watcher to be here and support her. He was suffering Rukito's obedience spell.
She thought of how he'd soothed away her fear that morning. She remembered how he'd protected her from her own failings. And she didn't even have the wit to give him the most basic kind of comfort.
“Mark,” she whispered his name as she reached out and laid her hand lightly on his shoulder. His muscles were bunched, taut as steel, and suddenly nothing in the world mattered but easing away his pain. “You don't have to go to the Mother House yet. You can stay with me or go on when ever you chose.”
His breath rasped as he spun around and grabbed hold of her in a hug.
“I wasn't even thinking of...” Isabeth began.
“It is okay,” Mark whispered. “We are all here for you in your time of need.
“No, it is my job to take care of you guys. And I'm going to do just that from now on.”
Her heart seemed to swell within her chest. The anguish and concern she felt minutes ago melted into a friendly love. She remembered why she came to Grigori in the first place, she remembered telling Rukito that she'd show her one day, promising beauty and peace to all the wards of this world. So many things she was supposed to do, to teach, to make come true, and she'd barely begun.
“Grigori is a place of love, but I haven't put much of my heart into it lately.” Isabeth confessed.
“But it's been in our hearts,” Mark soothed. “And so have you.'
That was too much for Isabeth, she was in tears again in seconds. He stared into her eyes while the seconds ticked away, and then he let go of her.
“Let's get started, then.”
Isabeth didn't know if he meant the journey to Castle Isaacs or changing the world with love, but she was up for anything now.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Sunrise was different when you saw it from the top of Castle Isaacs. Isabeth had seen the rising sun paint the towers of Castle Huntington in pale gold; she's watched it blaze across the wheaten plains of Castle Monaghan. But noting could prepare one for the transfiguring glory of morning viewed from this lofty height.
The sun was a fierce golden ball, burning away the last remnants of the night. Below, mountain peaks burst into flames that spilled down into the valleys and banished darkness.
Isabeth sighed. It was a breathtaking way to greet the day. It was just too bad that she couldn't share it with Oliver. However, she did have her most recent friend with her, Mark.
Carefully she looked over at him. “Dammit, Mark, how do we do it?”
“Do you remember how you were the first two hundred years? Insane and wild, you made it obvious that you were happy as hell about everything that happened.”
“How do you remember that,” Isabeth was perplexed. “How do I be like that again anyhow. Do I laugh all the time? Do I go out there skipping? I don't understand what you expect...”
Nikki came bursting out onto the roof. “I heard you were here. You needed to talk to me?”
Isabeth clapped Mark on the back. “I think you are ready to head off to the Mother House.”
Mark nodded, knowing that Isabeth was right. Even if she still had her doubts, she too was ready for him to leave. She had a lot of work to do.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Nikki took Isabeth to her office and they sat across the desk from one another as if they were business adversaries and not mother and daughter. Isabeth was the first to break the silence.
“What do you think of marriage?”
Nikki had never been the kind of woman who'd spent much time thinking about marriage. She'd assumed, if pressed, that she'd fall in love some day and marry, but it had all been hazy, the kind of misty stuff that would come with the future and wasn't quite as important as the present.
Her daughter on the other hand fell in love almost every couple of years. She knew it was only a matter of time before Isabeth came to her asking these questions. She actually thought she'd have given Isabeth away long before this; to any, or all, of her men. Anything Isabeth could come up with to describe as marriage, was beyond Nikki's wildest dreams.
“Are you considering marriage? Is that why you ask?” Nikki began carefully.
“I am not,” Isabeth said flat out. “I am only getting your perspective on it.”
“Oh, I don't know,” Nikki chuckled in relief. She stood and went to the window to peer out, licking her lips nervously. “I'm too tired to think about it right now. If you're not getting married right now than it can wait, right.”
To Isabeth's horror, her eyes filled with tears. What was going to happen in the next few minutes wasn't going to be easy. “I'm going to have another baby.”
Nikki's heart began to pound. She couldn't let her daughter go though with this again. “Paullette.”
Nikki was smiling, and it was a different smile from any Isabeth had ever seen on her face before. It was tender and welcoming, and when she put out her hand Isabeth hesitated only an instant before she took it. Nikki's fingers laced through Isabeth's and she led her daughter over to the couch for a real talk.
Isabeth moved slowly, her bare feet whispering against the soft carpet, her eyes on Nikki's face. No, Isabeth thought, this was not going to be easy. Isabeth's heart thudded as she thought of the man she'd fallen in love with. He didn't even know that he was going to be a father yet.
“No,” Nikki said softly as she hugged Isabeth. “It is out of the question.”
“Mom?” Isabeth was completely thrown off balance. This was the last thing she'd expected her mother to say. She was expecting a shouting match about responsibilities and past failures. She expected to have to defend her choice, but never to have it outright staunched.
“Paullette, you are an adventurer, a dreamer, you cannot stay in one place long enough to bring a child all the way to adulthood. It was on the shaky side of okay when you gave custody of Catherine to her father since you did not willingly make her. And thankfully no one even knows about that boy before her. It was bad enough to go through with that nasty spell giving Dominick his son, making a baby with a man who meant nothing to you. But, when you love the man as you do Oliver, how could you participate in such a thing and ever face yourself, or him, again?”
Isabeth's heart came to a stumbling halt. “I can't do this.”
“You can't, Paullette,” Nikki soothed. “You mustn't.”
“No, mom, no. Please...”
Isabeth's glance flew to her mother, Nikki's voice was as loving as possible but everything else about her was the same as she remembered, especially the stern, unyielding cast of her copper skinned face. Isabeth sprang to her feet.
“Are you crazy? If I don't go through with this, if I kill Oliver's baby, it would kill Oliver too. He would hate me, leave me, maybe even leave Grigori. And a world without Oliver is not a world worth living in.”
“Paullette?” Nikki looked worried. “I didn't know it already happened. I thought you were planning it. I'm sorry.”
“I'm not just going to take this baby to adulthood, I'm going to make amends with Catherine, and tell Little Nikki, Dominic Jr, DJ, whatever the hell they're calling him now...”
“I'm going to tell DJ that I love him with all my heart, and mean it. I'm going to tell Oliver about this baby and tell him I am eager to be his wife.”
“You're forgetting...” Nikki started to remind Isabeth.
“No, I didn't. I see him every year. Leave him out of this, he's always been cared for.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Isabeth came raging into Castle Monaghan like a storm. She used her pendant like an intercom and yelled into it.
“Alan, Dominic, Catherine, and DJ come to the front hall right now.”
Three of the four showed up in no time at all. DJ came running to Isabeth yelling “mommy” and jumped into her arms. Catherine didn't come, and after a half hour they went looking for her. The others trailed behind her not sure what was going on. Isabeth entered the guest hall where Catherine's room was and banged on the girls door.
“Hey you,” Isabeth demanded.
“Leave me alone,” Catherine shouted through the door.
“I just wanted to talk to you.”
“Well I don’t want to talk to you. Leave me alone.”
“Oh lord, pour out thy spirit upon thy servant, that she may do this work with holiness of heart,” Isabeth said praying for patients with her child.
Alan R groaned. “Don't you remember being a teenager.”
“That was like five hundred years ago,” Isabeth scoffed.
“Not quite,” Dominic corrected.
Isabeth began banging on the door again. “Why the hell do we have privacy locks on magic?”
“Don't use magic,” DJ offered.
Isabeth looked down at her five-year-old son and smiled. DJ and Isabeth had a much better relationship than she and Catherine ever did. Isabeth had nothing to do with his raising, as was her agreement with Dominic, however; she was not afraid of him as she had been with Catherine. Whenever they were in the same castle together she spent time with him as he wished and he called her mommy even when Isabeth asked him not to. He had his father's rebellious streak. Just like her real life child, Leona, who was now Castle Simpson and the Guardian of the Gates of Youth; all the children she'd made in Grigori looked like copies of their fathers.
So taking DJ's advice, she conjured a set of lock picks and began to unlock the door. When the knowing click sounded, DJ cheered.
“You did it.”
“Yea, I will go down in history as the one who opened a door.” Isabeth said offhandedly and went inside.
“I should have known you would not understand? You never do.” Catherine yelled.
“We'll wait out here,” Alan suggested.
“As it happens, Catherine, I understand more than you realize,” Isabeth began. “I'm going to lay it all out on the table for you now and then you can decide to hate me once you know the truth. But until you have all the facts, shut up.”
Catherine just glared at Isabeth but remained silent.
“The truth is that I did not want you, to be made at all, I was utterly wretched when it first happened. I was afraid that you would have magic, that you'd be different than the others who were made and raised here. We, your father and I, are not from this world.”
“I know all that. He already told me everything.”
“Do you remember the first time we met, when you were five?”
“Yes, you dropped me on the floor when you found out who I was. I thought it was my fault, that I did something wrong.” Catherine's image of Isabeth was still circumscribed by childhood boundaries, and she found it impossible to identify with her mother. She was still just a fearful fourteen-year-old.
“I was surprised to see that you were in fact five. I thought you'd not be. I thought you'd be still an infant.”
“After five years, how could I still be only an infant?” Catherine demanded.
“It has happened before,” Isabeth assured her. “I wanted to get to know you then, when I knew that you were not like us. That you were normal and would have a normal life. But it had been a long time since I raised a child. My first child and I were only together until she was your age then, and I didn't want to accidentally replace her with you. I needed to be sure I could separate my feelings for you and her.”
“I have an older sister,” Catherine was now interested.
“You turned her into a castle. Maybe I should be thankful that all you did was drop me.”
“Then there is DJ.”
“Yes, I see how wonderful you are with him. I guess you decided to just start over instead of sorting me out.”
Isabeth laughed so that she wouldn't slap the crap out of this pompous child.
Catherine flushed. “Do not laugh at me.”
“Believe me child,” Isabeth said wearily. “I find nothing remotely amusing about this.”
“I'm not a child. In three weeks I'll be...”
“Fifteen. I know, I was present at your birth, remember?”
“That was the only time you were present in my life.”
Isabeth could hear her own sarcasm reflected in her daughter's voice and finally saw how much she actually passed down to her. Her anger was rising. “I agreed to Dominic's request for many reasons, and many to do with you.”
Catherine flipped her black hair out of her face that looked exactly like her father's but softer. She scoffed as she plopped down on her bed.
“I am telling you the whole truth remember, girl,” Isabeth said forcefully. “I agreed with Dominic because it is my duty to make sure all of my Wards are happy and given everything they could ever want. But I also thought of this as a chance to practice being a mother again, so that one day when I was confident I could come to you as I have today. And the fact that Dominic lives here, in your castle, means that whenever I come to see DJ, I can see you too.”
Catherine had not said a word to Isabeth since she sat down, but then , she didn't have to. The set of her jaw, the stiffness of her spine spoke volumes. She resented her mother's presence, and she had no intention of pretending otherwise. The truth was, Isabeth had no way of knowing what this child would do. She was not only a stranger, she was an absolute enigma, the more so as time passed. Each time she thought she had Catherine figured out, she changed almost before her very eyes into someone else.
Isabeth sat next to her daughter and put her arm around her shoulder. “The memory lies in us of how it could be in a loving relationship with one another, how it could be happy, filled with gentleness, kissed by peace. And that love could be extended to everyone. There is somewhere within each of us a place where we remember and we know. It may have become but a faint whisper today, but when we are quiet, we hear it still. Through all the madness that has been perpetrated in the name of love, through the dysfunctional patterns and tears and fears, beneath it all lies this ancient knowing. We are not here to do battle and create a hell of the Gods holy ground; we are here to love one another, to experience heaven here together.”
Catherine looked at her mother as if she was beginning to understand her. “And what do you want from me? You want me to love you? I already do, you're my mother.”
“I want you to help me bring back the kind of Grigori that was once here, when all we knew was peace, love, and adventure. Travel with me.”
Catherine went to the still open door and smiled politely. “I decline. You are dangerous.”
Isabeth stood up and walked out the door. She turned back and caressed her daughter's cheek and gave the old Isabeth smile, the sickeningly sweet smile that used to put fear into people. “You’re coming with me if I have to drag you by your pointy little ears.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Sitting down to dinner was almost the same as anytime that Isabeth had visited Castle Monaghan in the past. The only difference was that in stead of just Dominic bringing bugs to the table DJ had sat right next to his mother with a spider on his shoulder.
Isabeth squeaked out, “Is that a spider?”
This was no tiny little thing, the beast was almost too big for it's perch on the boy shoulder. Isabeth was frantically flicking at it while Catherine rolled her eyes and calmly picked it up and set in on a plant.
“Better, Mother,” Catherine chided.
“What is with the Mother all of a sudden,” Alan R questioned. “That is the first time since you were six that you've called her that.”
“I have decided, partly because she gave me no choice, to travel with her as she requests.”
A round of “What” came from about every person at the table.
“Is that safe?” Masako asked.
Hadaka laughed and Isabeth rolled her eyes. “I'm the Head Watcher, what could possibly happen?”
“Dragons.” “Goblins.” “War.” And many other mumbled responses came from all corners of the dining hall till a glass was thrown at the wall over their heads. For a second everyone thought Isabeth had done it till they saw Catherine standing.
“I have a personal reason for wanting to go with her as well,” she began. “Suppose you have no money. Suppose you have no friends who have power. Suppose you have no place to live except where this power person tells you to live. Suppose you cannot eat until you are told, cannot sleep except when you are told. Suppose you must ask for the clothes you wear and obtain permission to go wherever you go. Suppose that if you anger the power person, he has the right to swear at you, to humiliate you, to degrade you, even to beat you. Suppose you are not even permitted to worship as you please, but instead, the power person tells you who you will worship and how you will worship. Suppose you have no way to escape this place of horror? Entrapped there, you can only take what is given to you. That is the life of your children. I want to be free. I will be fifteen in three weeks and I want to marry and be treated as an adult and be free just like the rest of the women of Grigori.”
“There are many locals here to marry,” Sam J offered. “Why do you need to leave to get married?”
“I don't want a local,” Catherine insisted. “Nor do I want another ward's child. It has to be a ward. Like my father.”
“I'm guessing you've discounted all of us,” Ron posed.
“You are all like family to me, it would be awkward. And you've all seen me as a child, I fear that if I were to marry a Monaghan that it would be all you'd ever see of me.”
“Why does it have to be a ward?” LeVar asked.
“I want my child to have powers, more than I do.”
“You have powers?” Isabeth said confused and worried at the same time.
“Yes, Mother. As does DJ, he can talk to bugs.”
“But that is Dominic's personal power. A personal power means no other ward can have it,” Isabeth reminded.
“I'm not a ward,” DJ said.
“My power is not from my father, I'm not sure where I get it from. I can make new living things from dead things of the same kind.”
Isabeth's mind flashed back to the day in the woods with her favorite magical student, Adam B. The day they found Edward N had destroyed the forest and she brought it all back to life. “Yea, that would be my personal power. Damn. If the first stage is copying us, then the next stage may be becoming us. And I don’t want her becoming me.”
“Oh, and you’re so special?” Catherine yelled.
“As it happens, yes, I am,” Isabeth yelled back. She gave Vince a look that said she needed to talk to him and the two left the room together.
Even though they were alone in the hall, and Isabeth cast a protective bubble around them, she still whispered. “Do you remember the first...”
“Yes, I remember everything,” Vince growled. “That is my personal power.”
“Fine,” Isabeth hissed. “Did I lock an innocent up just for having a personal power?”
“Slow aging is not a personal power, it is something we all share.”
“I'm so unsure of myself right now.”
“Isabeth, you have never been sure of yourself. Not on day one, not after these past two hundred years, and I doubt you will be at the five hundred year mark.”
“Thanks, Vince. I love the way you make me feel better.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
The two women were mounted on horse back and off on the trail by sunrise. Isabeth had given up trying to ride side saddle after her first failed attempt year one when she visited Castle Simpson for the first time. As she looked over at Catherine doing it so perfectly, she felt a little pride. The girl looked as if she could gallop at full speed like that.
“So what is the plan?” Catherine asked.
“We'll ride down to the doc at Hamburg and catch the ferry “The Watcher” down to Oviedo, Spain,” Isabeth explained. “I need to talk to someone there, privately. And we need to pick up Oliver Phelps. He is my, um... Boyfriend. I'm not sure how to explain that. It's a saying from our world.”
“I know all about your world,” Catherine reminded. “Father told me everything. It is a very different world than this one.”
“That it is. But you have an advantage over us, you grew up in this world and so you know how to behave when not at the castles. A failing the rest of us never solved. It has landed us in heaps of trouble far too many times to count.”
“Where are we going after we leave Spain?”
“We'll go to my castle, Castle Huntington, in Faro, Portugal. It will be our home for awhile till the baby is born. Then we'll begin my rounds. It's been so long since I've done my rounds, the other Watcher's will be surprised that I'm doing it again, but I'm determined to be the old me again.”
Catherine began to cry. Isabeth reined her horse and watched her daughter confused.
“Come on now, stop your crying. It will be all right, I promise I will protect you
from anything and everything around. I will not let you get hurt. I will be here, right beside you at all times. Please don't cry.”
“I'm not crying for me, Mother.” Catherine sobbed. “You are having another baby, and you are leaving it, for me. I can handle being left behind, I am strong like you, but it breaks my heart that I'd be responsible for another to have to go through what I went through.”
Isabeth could feel her heart break, “No, I'm not leaving her behind. Oliver and Aimee will be traveling with us on my rounds. She will grow up with us, together as a family.”
“And what about DJ?”
“I have no say in that. I have a signed, sealed, spell locked, unbreakable contract with Dominic in regards to DJ. I can't lay claim to him ever, even if he chooses me. I will have to wait till he is a man to take him traveling with me. But I am aloud to visit and spend time with him whenever I see fit.”
“And your yearly rounds have us going to Castle Monaghan every March?”
“Yes, every year. Unless some big event happens, like an evil wizard.”
“Tell me that story,” Catherine begged.
“You mean Alan never did,” Isabeth smiled. She was sure that no one ever mentioned that war. “Well when we began this world, we had a blond Watcher at Castle Tudyk, and her grouchy husband. She was my cousin and could be the best friend or the worst enemy depending on her mood that day.”
She continued the tale as they rode off into the day.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Isabeth came awake slowly, rising from a deep, peaceful sleep. “Mmm,” she'd murmured while she stretched languorously. She ached, her back felt stiff, and so did her legs. Her long journey from Castle Huntington to Castle Tudyk, to Castle Szmanda, to Castle Isaacs, to Castle Monaghan, back to Castle Tudyk was more than she thought it would be. It had been early morning when exhausted, hungry and tired from spending nights sleeping on the rocky ground had brought the mother daughter unit into the keeping walls of Tudyk Village. Catherine was disorientated and had changed her mind a thousand times about going with Isabeth on her rounds.
But now they were comfortable, Catherine in a guest room and Isabeth curled up with Oliver in his room. Her head was cradled on his hard yet yielding chest. “Mmm,” she sighed as she snuggled more deeply into the warmth of his body.
“Good morning, Isabeth,” Oliver whispered. His voice was soft as silk, sweet as honey. He kissed her temple, a butterfly's wings, gentle and cool kiss. “Did you sleep well?”
Isabeth's sleep fogged brain came awake immediately, eyes opening wide and fastening onto the dark, intense ones looking down into hers. Oliver was holding her closely in his arms.
“I sometimes miss waking up to those fake blue eyes you used to wear.”
Oliver smiled and changed them for her. The both laughed softly as he changed them back to normal. They were as intimately entwined as lovers could be, sharing the same space, even the same breath. Oliver smiled again. It was a slow, sexy smile, and it sent heat pulsing through her veins. He kissed her, his kisses heating her flesh even more, his touch turning her body into flame. His smile grew softer, hinting at secrets yet to be shared. His finger traced lightly along the contours of her mouth, and she had the sudden, almost overwhelming desire to touch her tongue to his skin.
“You have the most expressive face, Isabeth,” Oliver said. “I can almost read your mind.”
He bent and brushed his lips over hers ever so lightly, Isabeth closed her eyes as his mouth covered hers again and she could feel his desire for her.
“I want you,” he whispered. “You've been gone for many months.”
And she wanted him. It was pointless to pretend she didn't. She'd want to be with him, to go with him from that very first night after the Bicentennial.
His hand slipped under her blouse, she gasped as he cupped her breast and set her trembling. Her lips parted as his mouth closed on hers again. They breath intermingled and Oliver groaned and gathered her closer. He kissed her deeply, passionately, while his fingers stroked her nipple. Her head fell back in supplication as he kissed the long column of her throat and the soft rise of her breast. Her body felt molten, as if it had been waiting for the moment when Oliver's touch would shape it and claim it as his own.
“Do you want this?” Oliver whispered. “Because your body is saying yes while your face looks frightened.”
Isabeth brought her hands up to tunnel her fingers through his thick full hair, he wore it long just the way she liked it. “I do, but... I'm going to have a baby.”
“And you're not sure if it's safe to do?”
“You didn't react the way I was expecting,” Isabeth was suspicious. “Did you already know?”
Oliver laughed. “No. I figured it would happen eventually. We make love a lot, and it has been three years since we began.”
“How much time do we have to prepare a room,” Oliver asked getting up and starting to dress.
“That depends on where it's to be had. If the baby is born at the Mother House, we'll have to use magic to get there in time. Oh and I told your brother that you already knew, so pretend I told you first.”
“I wasn't the first to know,” Oliver tried to sound offended.
“I also told Ryan, Mark, Mom, Catherine, and Vince. Just act like you already knew.”
“Tell me that you belong to me,” Oliver said giving her a kiss on the forehead. “Tell me that you are my woman and love me no matter what.”
“I knew before you left,” he said in a husky whisper. “It wasn't hard to read your behavior.”
“You're a bad boy,” Isabeth played. “We could have it here, where DJ was born, or we can head to Castle Huntington, which is my first choice.”
“Then let's do that. When do we leave?”
“I just have to stop by the Gates of Beauty before we go.”
“Why do you call the Gates of Time that. It's confusing.”
“What's more beautiful than time.”
“I can think of something,” Oliver said pulling Isabeth into another deep kiss.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Three months later, as predicted, a little baby girl entered the world into her father's eager arms. Also as predicted, she looked exactly like her father down to the last birthmark. Those present, besides the obvious, were Nikki, Catherine, and James after much begging and pleading. Isabeth was amused by how the two brothers huddled so close to each other, unable to take their eyes off of the baby. If she hadn't just been the one to give birth, she would have thought they were both mother and father.
And then she remembered. Because of the spell, they were. James must have thought the same thing as he turned and caught her eyes.
“Are you okay,” James asked Isabeth, not removing his hands from his portion of Aimee.
“I'm fine,” Isabeth answered smiling. “How are you?”
“Much better now,” he smiled back at her. “I know I can't go home yet, but can I go with you and Oliver?”
“I think that will be alright. As long as it's okay with everyone going.”
“I don't mind, Mother,” Catherine said still holding out her arms for her turn to hold her little sister.
“I've been against him being locked up from the day you took him,” Oliver voiced. “If he has to be a prisoner than at least let him breath the air.”
Getting impatient for her turn, Catherine just took the baby from James and Oliver. “You are so small, but you are so strong already. You will be a great warrior, we will learn together how to be just like our mother. This family will be forever, you will always be safe and warm.”
“Come here,” Isabeth beckoned. “I'll show you some magic.”
“Not a good idea,” Nikki interjected.
“Please, Grandmother,” Catherine pleaded.
“Mom, every time you said something was a bad idea it turned out fine.”
Catherine sat next to Isabeth and handed her the baby. “Hold her hand like you are making an oath. Now, close your eyes and think of the bond that you want between Aimee and yourself.”
The girl did as she was told and everyone saw the pulse go like a bulge up both sister's arms. The baby started crying, this time it was Nikki's turn to hold her.
“This bond can't be broken,” Isabeth explained. “Not by you and not by her. You will always feel this way.”
“Okay, Princess needs rest,” Vivica urged everyone out the door.
“Can I stay a bit, I need to talk to her,” James asked
Vivica nodded but pushed everyone else out, even Amiee.
“I know what you want to talk about,” Isabeth started before he could.
“Not the way you think,” James corrected. “I don't want you to remove the spell anymore. No one can understand the way we feel. We also have a bond between us.”
“It's more like a possession, I took you over forcefully.”
“I know, and I know why you did. You were meant for Oliver. I don't know why I know this now and didn't then. And they just won't trust what they can't explain.”
“You will always be kind of an ass, cause I'm always going to be kind of a bitch,” Isabeth added.
“And ruthless, and cruel, and I could go on. I know we're different but...”
“Actually we're not,” Isabeth interrupted. “Deep inside us we're not that different at all. That is why it was so easy to convert you, because there wasn't that much to change. You were already so much like me to begin with. I think that is why I was drawn to you in the beginning.”
“That's why I needed to go with you, I don't care so much about being locked up at the Mother House, there is air condition and TV. We need each other, I at least need you.”
“In time, you'll want to be let free of the curse. I know, you must be strong when I'm not with you. Others will also try to convince you that it is wrong. When that time comes, I'll do what ever you want. You can hold on, or be free.
21st June, 2013. 9:00 pm. You And Me (Episode 115)
James slammed his fist into the nearest wall and felt his knuckles crunch with the blow, his free hand yanking desperately at chunks of his brown hair as he struggled to rein in his emotions. He stood just outside of the room that kept both Isabeth's and Oliver's body, his eyes burning as he jerked his forehead towards the wall in order to try and chase the anguish gathering in his chest.
It's not fair, his thoughts supplied him mutely, as if he couldn't have realized it without thinking it. He felt the tell tale burn at the corners of his eyes as his throat constricted as he scrabbled at the plaster walls, his knees weakening on their own accord.
Why? Why, why? The single worded question ran through his mind over and over again, flooding his mind hopelessly as his knees finally gave out beneath him and he thumped to the ground with silent tears finally breaching his lids and pouring down his cheeks as he stared blearily at the wall that he had just been abusing with his hands.
“Just close your eyes,” Isabeth's weak voice whispered in his memory, her beautiful copper hued face twisted into a smile as she looked up at him from the bed in which the healers had placed her in, her black hair sticking to her sweaty forehead as tired eyes skimmed over his face. On a bed beside her, Oliver laid weakly, a strained smile curling on his lips as well. They both sported the signs of the curse they had been hit with, their bodies skinny and nearly boneless. He was surprised when a too cold hand wraps around his wrist, causing him to jerk his thoughts and attention back to Isabeth, his anguished muddied cocoa eyes staring into her own green eyes.
He had grappled with his words but had nothing to offer her, the battle between him and his grief closing in on him faster than he would have liked.
Oliver's voice cracked into existence but James merely looked down at his feet, his hand clenching tightly onto Isabeth's wrist as his world started crumbling around him one word at a time.
You're safe now, mate. The words came with such relief and sincerity that James had nearly lost it then and there as he watched Isabeth reach across the space between their beds and Oliver met her halfway, their hands closing and entwining fingers with each other as they shared a sad, poetic smile between them. It was so full of love for each other that it made James choke up and look away, fists clenching.
The brilliant Watcher was the first one to go when her eyes had turned glassy and her hand tried but failed to keep a grip on Oliver's hand, her body fighting the inevitable death that was boring down upon her, heedless of her struggles.
She gasped once, then twice, and her clouded eyes turned from Oliver's horrified and desperate face to look at James, her lips twitching into a barely there smile against the pain as she reached out towards him slowly. He went to reach back, to hold her hand in the obvious agony that she was feeling, but just as his fingertips brushed hers, her arm fell limply back at her side and the light faded from her eyes as her lips parted in a last, silent 'Oh' of enlightenment.
“No,” Oliver had whispered out, brokenly, as Isabeth's grip went slack in his hand, and the young man struggled fruitlessly not to allow himself to dissolve into tears. The attempt failed in the end the older brother clutched tighter to the rapidly cooling hand, his face scrunching up as he let out a broken sob as his eyes turned on James, as if he had the answer on how to bring her back, to make it a lie that she had died in the first place. Oliver had followed his lover into the next life with ease, slipping from his body as if he had been drug by Isabeth herself without the intent of fighting against her as her spirit coaxed him into her own realm.
Now, standing outside of the room, he felt as if his ribs were attempting to pierce his lungs with every inhale that he took, his throat constricting and convulsing as he dry heaved towards the floor, the hot tears tracking down his face and staining the front of his robes.
It was too much, too much, and he found himself slowly but surely delving into the darkness that had been trying to consume him for years.
James woke up screaming from the horrible dream and instantly went in search of Becky. Stranger than the nightmare itself, the fact that he sought out his Watcher instead of his brother when he was distraught, confused him to no end. Of course he had great respect for Becky, and he trusted her so much more than her predecessor or any of the other Watchers. Except Nikki, it was almost impossible not to trust and respect Nikki. But that he would seek Becky out rather than his own brother, did have him moving slowly as he did just that.
Her room, unlike others of her kind, was not hidden; and James was able to get in without trouble. He stood over the Cuban beauty, watching her sleeping. James felt strange looking at her there, it was as if he was looking at the best friend he'd ever known. He wanted to curl up in bed and cuddle into her and let her pet his head so that all his troubles would melt away. But then he thought about it and realized he'd never cuddled up with a woman he wasn't trying to have sex with, he hated having his head petted, and he's never needed someone else to help him solve his issues. It sounded like he was turning into... He couldn't even think it.
“Can I help you?” Becky had woken up to see James standing over her.
“I think I'm turning into a girl,” James carefully said his concerns.
“You are,” Becky answered. “Do you know which one? Or have you only figured out the first part?”
* * * * * * * * * * *
James didn't eat breakfast that morning, nor any of the meals following it that day. He chose instead to burrow himself into Oliver's old room, punishing himself by being so close to Oliver's painfully empty bed, and he nearly missed Anna and Mike's wedding.
Almost. He kind of wished that he had.
It seemed like the whole Grigorian populace was there in attendance at castle Szmanda; with the exceptions of a select few who either hadn't been invited or didn't care to come. There had been no locals in the crowd at all.
Not that it had mattered.
When the wedding had ended with a hysterical Cameron sobbing as if she was on her knees beside a fresh grave. The only one who wasn't openly excited for the new couple was James who sat silently mulling over his new dilemma. He was so lost in his thoughts he never noticed his brother had joined the other guest, albeit late. Miranda had rounded on Oliver with a look of pure fury written over her pretty face.
"YOU!" she had shrieked out, making the people who had been departing pause and look their way with expressions ranging from surprise to curiosity as she stomped closer, her finger pressing into his chest as her eyes blazed up at him in accusation. "Where were you when James needed you? Why are you the only one still to notice the state he's in without you?"
Oliver hadn't been able to answer. James quickly moved in between them. He stared down at Miranda blankly as he tried to muster up something, anything, to make her understand… to make himself feel anything. But he had broken that night; had broken so far that he wasn't even sure if he could feel anything at all anymore. Even to defend his brother when it was badly needed.
At least emotionally; he surely felt it when Miranda reared back her right hand and slapped Oliver with as much force as her petite little body could muster, which was actually a good amount. Oliver's head snapped to the side but James still stood there with no reaction at Oliver's face turned red with the stinging burn in his cheek. A bit of blood leaked from his mouth showing that Oliver had bitten the inside of his cheek on impact.
He didn't deserved that, James knew. His problems had nothing to do with Oliver, but for some reason he was unable to bring himself to interfere. Miranda was saying something again but he didn't wait any longer to hear. He blinked and straightened to move around her and left his brother to get in trouble for nothing. Ignoring the stares of the family, he simple left the castle for his own.
* * * * * * * * * * *
His glasses slid down on his nose but he did nothing to correct them. This personal item had been somewhat of a secret in the real world, he didn't honestly need them here, but wearing them made him feel just a little bit more normal. He had no care about the fact that his bangs were hanging in front of his face, or that his white shirt beneath his robes was not buttoned up all the way. His tie hung tied limply around his neck, dangling without a care, and there were dark circles beneath his eyes that told the story of his sleepless nights.
He couldn't remember what day it was, or what month. He knew he had sequestered himself away for quite a long period of time in Castle Tudyk after the wedding and he had lost count as to how many times the other wards had come in and out of the castle as they started and ended their days. No one bothered him and no one asked any questions. Becky had come a few times to make sure he was still alive and had force fed him numerous potions but she had never tried to coax him out of his silence. Isabeth had stopped by once, right after the wedding, but had not said anything more than, “Take your time, James. It's going to get a lot worse.”
He sat in the dinning hall for meal times since then, staring blankly at the table in front of him, not eating. Most of the others gave him a wide berth and for that he was thankful. He could no longer relate to them. James kind of wished they would all just shut up.
He was debating on whether he should just get up and leave, food untouched, when the large doors to the Great Hall were flung open with a sort of gusto that made the chatter die down into silence almost immediately. The Head Watcher strolled up to the table with grim, serious expressions on her face.
Normally now days Isabeth was just another Watcher, she was so lax in her ways, but there were times she took hold of her title to get something done. She made sure people knew it too, she wore her green sash with all eight of her stars pined below her badge. The look on her face said 'Get the hell out of my way before I throw you out of it', and she walked right up to James.
Before Becky could stand up fully and ask her what her business was, Isabeth pointed her finger towards James and spoke in short, clipped tones. “James Eric Andrew Phelps, you are hereby being sent to the care of the Mother House, willingly or not, until you can get a handle on this curse.”
The dinning hall was as silent as death. Becky was silent with a look of astonished disbelief written across her face. Isabeth looked as if she were about to transform into a snarling version of her normal self. And James…
He looked scared.
“You haven't been sentenced to life imprisonment, this isn't a punishment,” Isabeth tried to clarify. “But you must hand over your token immediately for your protection and should you resist apprehension everyone in this room is under orders to use any and all means necessary to subdue you or kill you."
James' dark eyes darted to Becky's but found no comfort in the expression on her face. He blinked and looked back to Isabeth's as he shook his head in a back and forth motion but it could not be told if the man was refusing or if he was denying the fact that they were actually telling him he was going to be imprisoned.
"Surely there must be some sort of mistake, SH. He had nothing to do with the curse being put on him. I am sure that if you..." Becky tried to help.
"Even I cannot fix this, Becky. He will just have to be separated from the rest till he learns how to control it. Now, I will not ask again. Hand over your token or I will use force in order to get it."
Isabeth's voice was hard and cold and James found something within himself stirring. The raven haired Watcher at the table stood slowly shaking, and the back of Becky's throat started to burn. The two friends realized, quite suddenly, that James was too pale and too thin. His hair was greasy and a bit disheveled, and when James stood to meet his own eyes to Isabeth's, Becky began to cry across the room.
That feeling inside of Becky swelled up instantaneously and she nearly fell over the chair she was seated upon in order to scramble to her feet. For the first time since she took over at Castle Tudyk, her awe at this place and confidence in Isabeth waned. Her chest constricted as she opened her mouth in order to say something, anything, but her words never came because Isabeth and James were gone with a small sound to announce their departure.
Her chest tightened more and she felt like her throat was closing up on her as she stared at the place that they had disappeared from and she realized that she couldn't breathe!
Isabeth had taken James. She was so determined to have this place her way that she didn't care about destroying an innocent man. Isabeth wouldn't admit that she had put the curse on James so that she could be with Oliver and never doubt their love. Becky realized something only a few others had ever even thought possible. Ryan knew it when Isabeth took the evil out of Eric that she couldn't filter it, she absorbed the evil. Vince knew it too. And now Becky saw it herself, Isabeth wasn't just a dead body, she was a demon.
And by taking James away from Becky, Castle Tudyk, and his friends; she had stolen James' remaining thread that bound him to sanity.
* * * * * * * * * * *
When they arrived at the Mother House, James was sullen. Isabeth couldn't just leave him without some kind of explanation. She couldn't tell him everything, he would just demand the curse be lifted and then both twins would hate her.
“Until we figure this out, I don't need to tell you your under quarantine.”
“You don't and yet you still do,” James snapped.
So her first try was a failure. When James sat hard in an over stuffed chair, Isabeth sat at his feet and laid her head on his knees.
“This isn't going to be easy,” she began again. “Do you remember puberty? The emotional changes, you felt true hatred for the first time. Real love for the first time. Anger, loss, fear, joy, all these things enhanced and became something so powerful you didn't now how to handle yourself. You never knew from one moment to the next what you were going to say, do, or feel.”
“I didn't have it that bad,” James answered, softly laying his hand on Isabeth's head. “I guess I was a more balanced youth.”
“Well you're going to feel it new,” Isabeth warned. “That is why you are here. Once you have gotten to the point where you can have all those thoughts and feelings, and still go on day to day like everyone else, you can go home. But you need to make sure your not going to have a break down and go on a killing spree. I'm speaking from experience here.”
“Yea, I've seen your interactions with poor Emma. I've been to war with you.”
“Ah, blessed war,” Isabeth sighed. “The only thing that keeps me from going nuclear and destroying everyone here.”
James chuckled till he saw Isabeth's expression. “You're not kidding?”
“Why do you think I chose old Europe.”
“So what do I do?” James asked seriously.
“First you need someone to talk to. Someone you can trust, someone who is unrelated to you, to your problems, to any issue that may come up in the future. And someone you won't get attached to.”
“So that leaves you out,” James played. “Can't trust you, practically my sister in law, the cause of most of my problems, and certainly going to be an issue in my future. And I'm already attached to you.”
Isabeth stood up and began pacing and wringing her hands. “I'll send someone down, I have a couple people in mind to try. Give it an honest go and if it doesn't work then I'll send down another.”
“Who are we starting with?” James sounded worried.
* * * * * * * * * * *
“So, how did it go with Sean?” Isabeth asked coming into the Mother House and seeing James waiting for her.
“I'm not sure,” James said with a smile. “For some reason when ever he was talking, all I could think about was eating chocolate covered strawberries. When it was my turn to speak, all of the things that I want to say just sounded so foolish that I couldn't get them to come out right. So I didn't say anything at all.”
“So you just sat there?” Isabeth asked bewildered. “And then I sent down Matthew Lewis.”
“Yea, I caught onto your little trick of sending down those I've worked with before. I'm not sure they're going to work. All they could say was 'there's something about you now', as if I've changed somehow.”
“I don't know where to go from here.” Isabeth sat thinking over the situation for awhile. She had managed to get herself to almost believe that she was really helping him, even though she knew deep down in that all she had to do to fix it was remove the curse. She didn't want to for many reason: because it hadn't run it's course, because she was still invested in Oliver and didn't want to mess it up by having James be James, and very importantly, the only way it could be removed was a very undesirable action she wasn't willing to consider at this point.
“Wait,” Isabeth yelled suddenly. “I sent Mike down too. Did he help at all.”
“No. I can't quite figure out what happened with him,” James admitted. “There was a lot of distraction between us and what we were both expecting. And, of course, he had just gotten married a few months ago and was missing Anna.”
“Why didn't he just bring her along,” Isabeth mused. “I never said he couldn't. She may have been your one, the person you're able to talk to.”
“He just ended up sounding like Oliver, and I got sick of it real quick.”
Isabeth just looked at him confused.
“When ever Oliver is around, the way he talks about you is the same way Mike was talking about Anna. Everything she does is beautiful, everything she does is right. It's sickening.”
“Did he tell you about Aimee?”
“I do not know of anyone named Aimee. Is she a local you've picked out for me to enjoy.”
“I should slap you for that,” Isabeth joked. “No, Aimee Elizabeth Leigh Marie Vivian Simpson Phelps is what we're going to name our daughter when she is born.”
James' light mood went south real quick. “You're pregnant? He's planted his seed in you? And I'm sure he did it on purpose just to lay solid claim to you. Why the hell would he do this to me?”
“You're sounding very paranoid,” Isabeth was becoming alarmed. “You're progressing into the transformation way too fast.”
“I'm sorry. I think I like you more than I wanted to. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” James watched his hands for some time then looked up into Isabeth’s worried expression. “What is wrong with me? I was never like this in the real world. This isn't me.”
“I altered you,” Isabeth suddenly reviled.
“What do you mean, you altered me?” James' anger was back as quickly as it had gone.
“I needed a dividing line, a way to separate you two. In order for me to see him in the saintly way that I do, I had to make you retched. I had to make sure that what I was feeling for him didn't over flow onto you. I had farm too much emotional drama in this world to last more than five lifetimes.”
“Why did you do this? When did you do this?”
They were both in such an agitated state that their pendents began to glow unknown to them. Vince and Oliver were somehow alerted to the need of the fighting pair. Vince because of who he was to Isabeth and Oliver because of who he was to James.
“I did it after the Bicentennial ball. I wanted to be in love with Oliver and not James.”
“Why? What is so bad about me?”
“It wasn't you at all, James. It's my sister.”
“Castle Tudyk? What does my castle have to do with anything?”
“No, my twin sister. She was still born, her name was supposed to be Olivia. I had to miss an entire lifetime with her. All the things that could have been, all we could have done. I thought I could have that with Oliver, that I could reclaim a little of what should have been. Well, that and a little more, he being a man and I being a woman, and all. There are things he cold do for me that Olivia never would have been able to do.”
“Well there are other things you should be sorry for. Like turning me into this.”
“Don't you see, don't you get it yet? I made you rude and mean, vicious and conniving, so painfully honest and unwaveringly cold hearted. If he is Olivia, then you are me. I made you into a male version of myself.”
“You are mad!”
“Well at least I'm not in love with myself.”
“I'm not in love with you.”
“Bull shit you're not.”
“What is going on with you two?” Oliver was the first of the two alerted to arrive in the middle of the screaming match. Vince arrived a second later and as always found a comfortable place to sit and took out his notebook.
“She is insane,” James yelled gesturing to Isabeth.
“He's the one who's insane,” Isabeth turned it back on James. “He thinks it better to be in love with himself. And I don't mean like having a healthy self esteem. I mean the one true love, soul mates kind of love.”
“Well it's a hell of a lot better than being in love with your dead twin sister.”
Oliver looked completely lost and confused. Vince was looking up at them pinching away a smile so they wouldn't see his amusement.
“What are you two fighting about?” Oliver asked trying to understand.
“You,” James and Isabeth shout at the same time.
“How is what you just said have anything to do with me?” Oliver asked getting even more lost.
“Because of who we are,” James started. “See if I were you, who is in fact Olivia, who is her twin sister, and dead; then she'd be over here on my lap where I want her to be, possibly trading tongues right now. But I'm not you, I am me, who is in fact, bloody her.”
“Wow!” Vince interjected. “That sounds like something Isabeth would say.”
3rd September, 2012. 9:26 pm. The Progressive Benefactor
Michael Clarke Duncan
Born: December 10, 1957 in Chicago, Illinois, USA
Died: September 3, 2012 (age 54) in Los Angeles, California, USA
Michael Clarke Duncan was born on December 10, 1957 in Chicago, Illinois. Raised by his single mother on Chicago's South Side, Duncan grew up resisting drugs and alcohol, instead concentrating on school. He wanted to play football in high school, but his mother wouldn't let him, afraid that he would get hurt. He then turned to acting, dreaming of becoming a famous actor.
After graduating from high school and attending community college, he worked digging ditches at People's Gas Company in Chicago. When he quit his job and headed to Hollywood, he landed small roles while working as a bodyguard. Duncan's role in the movie Armageddon (1998) led to his breakthrough performance in The Green Mile (1999), when his Armageddon co-star Bruce Willis called director Frank Darabont, suggesting Duncan for the part of convict John Coffey. He landed the role, getting critical acclaim as well as many other Awards and Nominations, including an Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
After suffering a heart attack on July 13, 2012, he was taken to a Los Angeles hospital in which his girlfriend Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth tried to save his life with CPR. Unfortunately, on September 3, 2012, Michael Clarke Duncan finally died at age 54 from the previous heart attack.
Deep commanding voice
Towering height and muscular frame
Supposedly gave five dollars to anyone who recognized him on the street and knew what his full name was.
Considered becoming a police officer with the LAPD, which was revealed during an interview on "Live with Kelly and Michael" (1988).
Attended Alcorn State University in Mississippi, but dropped out to support his family when his mother became ill. Has an older sister, Judith. Worked as a security guard for a theatre troupe.
Played basketball at Kankakee Community College. After college, spent several years digging ditches for the gas company in Chicago.
Did bodyguard work for Will Smith, Martin Lawrence, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, and The Notorious B.I.G.; he let a friend take over for him the night Notorious B.I.G. got shot, which prompted him to quit that line of work.
For his role as the criminal mastermind behemoth Kingpin in Daredevil (2003), Clarke put on 40 lbs. to his already largely built physique.
While filming The Scorpion King (2002), was accidentally hit by Dwayne Johnson during a fight sequence. He leaned in too far for a hit, and his chin connected with The Rock's elbow.
He tried out for the Chicago Bears in the mid 1980s. He wanted to try out at for one of the linebacker positions but the coaches chose to see how he would perform at tight end.
Had appeared in 4 films with Bruce Willis: Armageddon (1998), Breakfast of Champions (1999), The Whole Nine Yards (2000) and Sin City (2005).
Narrated the 2005 Major League Baseball World Series Film, featuring the 2005 World Champion Chicago White Sox.
Ran onto the field and slid into third base during the Disco Demolition Night fiasco at Comiskey Park on July 12, 1979.
His Daredevil character, Wilson Fisk/Kingpin, first appeared as an enemy of Spiderman until Frank Miller made him a major enemy of Daredevil. Duncan has played him opposite both characters, in the animated series "Spider-Man" (2003) and in Daredevil (2003).
Had five cats and one chinchilla, "Chucky".
Was a blue belt in Brazilian JuJutsu.
Moonlighting as a bouncer and guard at various clubs on Chicago's South Side, he met one of the producers of the touring stage show, "Beauty Shop, Part 2" and was hired as the producer's personal security. Although he often asked for the opportunity to act in the play, the producer never gave him the chance.
Was hospitalized on July 13, 2012 in Los Angeles after suffering cardiac arrest. His fiancée, Omarosa Manigault, applied CPR and resuscitated him. Almost two months later, Michael died on September 3, 2012 from complications following the cardiac arrest.
Engaged to Omarosa Manigault from February 2012 until his death in September 2012.
He is survived by his mother, Jean; his sister, Judith; and by his fiancée, actress Omarosa Manigault.
Shares two roles with Dennis Haysbert; The Green Lantern, Kilowog and Manute in the "Sin City" films.
My sister [Judith] used to say I had a frail chest and she'd beat me up all the time.
[on The Green Mile (1999)] I think the toughest scene for me to film was the two dead girls, simply because I had a lot of crying to do, a lot of howling to do, and it really drained me.
21st September, 2011. 9:23 pm. A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words (Episode 114) ~Written By Hadaka~
Hadaka was visiting Castle Rosenbaum to see Rukito when she saw a good looking man in the courtyard. She had never seen him before and wondered if he was a local visiting on business or just visiting. The man noticed her and waved. Hadaka hesitated and then waved back. What a friendly guy. The man walked toward her and Hadaka studied him.
“Hey Hadaka,” he said with a smile.
Hadaka's eyebrows shot up. That voice! No way! “Jason?”
“You look... different.”
Hadaka couldn't get her eyes off Jason M as he ran a hand through his short, brown wavy hair and told her he thought he'd try something different. Hadaka told him he looked good with short hair and she gave him a smile when he looked her way. Jason M asked what brought her to these parts and she told him she was just visiting Rukito. Jason M said he had nothing else to do and if he could walk with her as she looked for Rukito. Hadaka smiled and told him he could join her, but just as they were starting for the castle, Isabeth appeared; it was her time to visit the castle on her route. She looked from Hadaka to Jason M and raised an eyebrow. Hadaka waved at her and Isabeth motioned her over. Hadaka looked at Jason M and excused herself and Jason M gave her a smile knowing that Isabeth would steal her away the moment she arrived. He left with a wave and headed toward the castle while Hadaka walked toward Isabeth.
“Who was that?” Isabeth asked. “He's ugly.”
Hadaka raised her eyebrows a little. “I don't think he is.”
“So who is he?”
Hadaka smiled at Isabeth and told her to guess.
“I hope that's not really Dominic.”
Hadaka lowered her eyebrows in confusion. “No. What made you think it was?”
“Sorry, I was seeing things... He looks exactly like my first husband.”
Hadaka raised her eyebrows in surprise, and blinked a few times. “Well I think this ward looks good with short hair. Should I tell him you think he's ugly?”
Now it was Isabeth's turn to be surprised. He wasn't a local? “Who is he?”
Hadaka gave her a big smile. “Three guesses.”
“I'd have to see him again.” Hadaka held up her right hand with her index finger and thumb together, pretended like she was pulling down an imaginary shade, and a picture formed. She handed it to Isabeth who studied it. “Short hair??? That means I've seen him with long hair??? Hummmmmm. Let me look at him for a bit.”
Hadaka giggled as Isabeth studied the picture up close, far away, and at all angles. “Well he does look familiar, but I keep seeing Pat... First guess is Kristian Ayre?”
Hadaka shook her head.
Isabeth studied the picture more. “Oh my gosh! Is it Ben Foster??? Is that my baby brother???”
Hadaka burst into laughter. “No.”
“There is something about his mouth. I keep looking at it... Like I know that mouth, or like I should know that mouth.”
Hadaka snorted as she tried to hold in her laughter. “You have never kissed this man.”
“Doesn't mean I don't know the mouth... It's familiar.” Isabeth moved the picture around. “Cool. If I move the picture up so I can't see his angry eyes and just look at his mouth and nose, I think Orlando Bloom?” She looked at Hadaka. “Is it???”
“Well that was three...”
“It's Jason Mewes.”
Isabeth quickly looked at the picture again. “Really... Oh my fucking gosh.”
Hadaka burst into laughter.
“It doesn't look like him.” Isabeth studied the picture. “Well, now that you said it... it kind of does.” She looked back at Hadaka. “Does he have a girlfriend?”
“Dunno. Didn't ask.”
“Is he trying to impress a girl?”
Hadaka shrugged. “Dunno. Didn't ask.”
“Are you going to hook up with him?”
“Dunno. Didn't ask.” Hadaka gave Isabeth a sly smile.
Isabeth gave Hadaka a look that said if she said that line again she was going to hurt her. She asked Hadaka if she knew why Jason M had cut his hair, and to her relief Hadaka told her he had said he felt like trying something different.
21st September, 2011. 9:21 pm. My Valentine (Episode 113)
Someone said the countries of Europe were at war again. But no big campaign was put together, no Armies were sent out by the Watchers. It was up to the wards themselves if they went to war, some did, some didn't. Since the battle itself was taking place in Spain, most of Castle Tudyk had emptied for the cause.
Isabeth had heard that her Alan had gone to battle and was killed. Oliver could feel it when his twin brother James got killed. But the two of them just held onto each other tighter. Isabeth and Oliver, in love, praying it would be forever.
One warm spring morning, Oliver picked Isabeth up out of bed while she was still sleeping. He wrapped her up in a blanket and carried her down to the park behind Castle Huntington. There he held her like a baby, in the predawn purple light, Oliver waited for Isabeth to wake up. Which she did just as the sun burst over the horizon.
Isabeth opened her eyes to see the glory of life beginning before her. She watched the sun rise up into the sky and wake the world. When she looked up into Oliver's eyes she cried for the love she found there. She cried and fell in love with Oliver all over again.
“Make love to me,” Isabeth asked innocently.
“I will,” Oliver promised. “But not here, not now.”
He carried her back inside the castle and together they bathed each other for the day. The two did everything for each other, they toweled off one another, dressed one another. At breakfast, it was as if no one else existed. They sat together, spoke only to each other, even feed each other off their own forks.
And the day progressed as such till the last rays of sunlight had faded behind the trees. Oliver and Isabeth stood on the steps of Castle Huntington and watched it fade away.
Oliver picked Isabeth up again and carried her up to her hidden room. This time Oliver did everything. He undressed both himself and Isabeth, carefully tucked her into bed.
“I thought you said you would make love to me,” Isabeth reminded with a whisper.
“I'll show you,” Oliver said, and he pulled her into his arms and kissed her.
His kisses were deep, he used his lips and tongue to show what he had in mind. When he finished, her lips were red and swollen, her cheeks flushed. Isabeth looked like a woman eager for the promised carnal pleasure.
“I wan to use your name, your real name,” Oliver said softly.
“My name is Isabeth,” she said a little unsteadily. “Isabeth Simpson.”
he gathered her closer and kissed her again. “Isabeth,” he whispered. His mouth moved along her cheek, to her ear, and a tremor went through her. Her eyes closed as his tongue brushed the sensitive skin behind her lobe.
“I'm not... um. I'm not...” She whimpered shortly as his had swept over her thigh, across the curve of her hip, up over her midriff, and cupped her breast. She groaned as his mouth covered her's again. His fingers were firm yet gentle against her flesh, she felt her nipples harden and perk at his touch, felt the answering leap of flame deep within her femininity.
Isabeth's heart began drumming faster as her hands crept up Oliver's chest, she moved blindly against him, her mouth opened to his kisses. Suddenly she stopped him.
“Oliver, I have to tell you...”
But her whispers didn't have any strength against his kisses and his caresses. She moaned softly as his hands began investigating her body again.
“I can feel your desire, Isabeth,” he said softly.
She trembled while his fingers brushed lightly down her stomach and touched the dampness of her womanhood.
“You belong to me,” he professed.
Isabeth's thoughts began racing of all the things she needed to tell him about who, what, she really was. If only she did belong to him. If only she could. If only all this was real. If only...
“Isabeth,” he whispered. “You're so beautiful.”
Was she? Suddenly, she was humbled. She wanted to be beautiful, she wanted to be everything Oliver could ever desire in a woman. He was beautiful too. She wanted to tell him that. But how could she talk when his hands and mouth were searching out all her secrets? And not the secrets her brain was screaming at her to tell him.
Oliver made Isabeth feel as if she was shimmering in her desire. His kisses where flames burning her skin everywhere, promises of pleasures yet to come. Moaning, she moved against him, her body on fire, her hands learning his silken skin stretched over muscle.
When he entered her she called out, a long, low moan that broke from her throat. “Oliver,” she called out his name and pulled him closer to her.
Oliver slowed his movements in and out of Isabeth's mound. He too was shaking as he fought to control his body. “We have all night,” he whispered to her.
“A night,” Isabeth whispered back. “I want forever.”
Oliver's moments changed to match Isabeth's pace and cues. He pushed himself up on straight arms to reach the angle he knew she liked the best. Isabeth brought her knees up on either side of his hips and tilted her hips. Her nails raked down his back as she began to loose herself in the ecstasy.
“I love you,” she vowed, and then she was beyond thought. She was adrift in the night, guided only by the sweet seduction of this man who had captured all of her.
* * * * * * * * * *
They had finished making love and now lay entangled with one another.
“I’m so glad your really here,” Isabeth sighed.
“Did you think I wasn’t?” Oliver joked.
“No I’m just glad you’re here. No longer am I masturbating with the image of someone’s face in my head, or running my hand over my matrices pretending I am holding onto someone.”
“You talk like you have trouble getting people into your bed.”
“I have trouble getting those into my bed that I want there,” she wrongly explained. “What I mean is, despite all the running around I do, what I really want is a long term loving relationship. I want those three words.”
“Do you want Marriage?”
“No. But I’m not opposed to it. I’ve done it twice already.”
“You’ve been married and divorced twice!” Oliver was shocked.
“Been there, done that, bought the tee-shirt.”
“Will you marry me?”
“How much time do I have to think about it?”
“Until I count to ten.”
“Okay, one year.”
“Then, I’ll let you know in exactly one year from this moment,” with that Isabeth's pendant glowed briefly and went out.
“You were trying to tell me something before,” Oliver reminded. “What was it?”
“I'm not alive any more,” Isabeth said and paused for his reaction.
“That makes no sense,” Oliver said with a smile.
He was hoping for her to say that she was just joking. Instead she proceeded to tell him her entire life, and death, story. But she didn't stop there, she told him how Grigori wasn't old Europe at all, but a small off shoot of what most people called heaven. When their five hundred years here were over, everyone would go back where they came from and she would be alone in her little world. Everyone had the choice to return to Grigori when their own death came, but they wouldn't be required to. She explained how she really felt about Alan T and what he truly meant to her, but that to protect him from what was to come in just three hundred more short years, she had to push him away. And she told Oliver that she honestly loved him, and he knew it to be true. There wasn't much Isabeth kept from him that night. She kept a few secrets for herself, but knew that if he'd asked the right questions, she would have told those secrets too.
“Is there anything you want to know about me?” Oliver asked her when she was done.
“Everything you want me to know, but only what you're willing to tell,” was her answer.
Oliver smiled, pulled Isabeth into is arms and began to tell her everything.
* * * * * * * * * *
There were no words left to speak between the two lovers, all that could or would ever be said had been on that wonderful night. But they could still hear each other speak in the way they looked at one another. Every time Oliver would look at Isabeth she would smile, laugh, or even come to tears of joy. It was as if they had their own unspoken language that said how they felt inside.
Every so often a term of endearment would be spoken out loud. “All of my life I have been waiting for you.” Oliver whispered to her one day as they were sitting under a tree enjoying a summer breeze.
“I've never loved someone just for them before,” Isabeth gave back to him. “You've opened my eyes.”
“I've dreamed of this a thousand times before In my dreams I couldn't love you more.”
“I wish I could meet the woman who is meant to love you in the real world as I was meant to love you here,” Isabeth said absentmindedly.
“Why is that?” Oliver pandered.
“So I could tell her what wonders she has in store for her. So I can tell her to run to you and never look back. To not wait, to not hesitate, to always believe in you and your love. To tell her how much I wished I was her.”
“It's a shame it can't be you,” Oliver said hiding a tear. This one not of joy, this one was the only show of how much he hurt for Isabeth's loss. He accepted it, there was nothing anyone could do now to change it, but he still hated knowing that when he left this place he would never see her again.
Oliver leaned down to kiss Isabeth but stopped short. “Becky is calling me on my pendant.
“Oh, shit,” Isabeth sounded. “It's August. Yearly check in.
“I'll be back tomorrow,” Oliver promised with a kiss and vanished into thin air.
Almost as soon as he did, Becky herself arrived on the hill. The two friends embraced joyously.
“You just missed him,” Isabeth advised. “He's off to Castle Tudyk to check in.”
“I know, I'll get to him later,” Becky said seriously. “I needed to talk to you too. What did you do to James?”
“I eliminated a complication,” Isabeth said in her Head Watcher tone. “I couldn't let things go on as they were and still have what I have now.”
“You changed him,” Becky accused. “You made him into something horrible.”
“Becky,” Becky yelled. “At least follow you're own rules if you won't even consider anyone else's.
“Becky, I'm not sure you know everything that was happening.”
“You're right I don't. I really don't want to. But you should really sit down and think about what was going on, figure out how you really got to where you are now. And at what cost. You keep running from problems instead of facing them, you just make more problems.”
The sensual red head turned to leave but looked back at her best friend one more time. “Isabeth. You can’t love one twin without liking the other,” said Becky. “But which one do you love, and which one do you like by default?”
Current mood: busy.
21st September, 2011. 9:18 pm. Just An Ordinary Day (Episode 112)
It was just an ordinary day as Isabeth walked across the front lawn of Castle Tudyk. She paused only a second when she saw Alan. He could have been just a local by the way he looked, wearing common every day clothes his blond hair shimmering in the sun. Alan’s horse Pep was trying to push him but Alan paid Pep no attention; he just continued looking up to the sky.
Isabeth smiled involuntarily and moved to stand next to him. “What are you looking at?” she asked.
“The sky,” Alan answered.
Isabeth laughed. “I can see that. I was hoping for something more specific.”
“I can’t get more specific,” Alan shrugged not changing his glance. “I’m just looking at the sky. Nothing more, nothing less. It just is what it is.”
“I guess I always expect some deeper meaning in things like this.”
Alan slowly lowered his gaze to look directly at Isabeth, “You should know better. You’re a Wiccan High Priestess. A Wiccan Educator.
Alan took Isabeth’s hand, stood her in front of him and wrapped his arms around her. She tipped her head back against his chest and looked up at the sky. For a moment she allowed the beauty of it to possess her, then she realized that Alan was looking down at her rather than up.
“I think I found just what I was looking for,” he whispered.
As Isabeth looked up into those eyes of his, those eyes were like mirrors that reflected her passion for him. She was looking into the eyes of the man she was destined to love for all time. She knew without knowing that her soul belonged to him.
“Alan,” his name escaped her lips as a sigh. Before his kiss could reach her Isabeth suddenly pulled back. “Alan Tudyk!” she exclaimed.
He burst into laughter. “You said that like you just realized who I am.”
“I did just realize who you are!” Isabeth pulled back further and lowered her head submissively. “You’re like my tattoo. I wanted one my whole mature life and finally got one on my 25th birthday. But it is on my back so I’ve never seen it, I keep forgetting it’s there, so when someone asks if I have one I say no. Then I remember and get excited all over again, I touch it, trace it and show it to everyone who’ll look.”
“How am I like your tattoo?” Alan questioned still amused.
“I keep forgetting that you’re Alan Tudyk, the Alan Tudyk. But then it hits me, I lose my breath, I get shy. You are so much more than ordinary.”
Alan reached out, brushed one of her curls back as he caressed her cheek. Slowly Alan closed in on Isabeth for a kiss but stopped just a breath away from touching lips. “You’re dreaming, SH.”
“What?” she was confused, but didn’t dare move.
“You’re dreaming,” he repeated.
Isabeth woke up in Oliver’s bed, in Oliver’s room. He was not there, probably gone off to help the army train. She looked toward the door and saw Alan watching her with a little smile. He was leaning against the doorframe with his arms crossed. Slowly he stood, took a single step towards her and extended his hand.
“Please come with me,” Alan spoke softly.
Cautiously Isabeth slipped out of the covers, met her dress half way to Alan, and took his hand. “Where are we going?”
“Your man sent me to bring you to him.”
Alan saw Isabeth’s face fall, as they walked out of the castle towards the main gate to the village he watched her. She kept her head down, her stoic composure never wavering. At the gate Alan stopped. “He’ll meet you at the diner, this is as far as I go.”
“Alan,” Isabeth began. “I feel like I need to tell you something. But I don’t know what to say.”
Alan stopped her by gently touching her lips with his fingertips. “You are so much more than ordinary.”
With that he walked off looking to the sky.
10th September, 2011. 11:36 am. Books Without Covers (Episode 111)
“I’ve never been as open with someone as I am with you,” Isabeth said.
“Why is that, do you suppose?” Oliver asked.
“I trust you first of all. But I think it might be that you changed your eye color for me.”
“You are never going to get off that, are you?”
“Think about it from my point of view. Most women can’t get their men to change enough to even remember to put the toilet seat down. But you changed everything. You are nothing at all like that seventeen-year-old boy I met that first year in Grigori. To become a whole new person, now that’s what I call love.”
“What’s wrong with having brown eyes?”
“Nothing. I’ve never disliked a person because of that, but I’ve never been romantically attracted to someone with brown eyes. They were blue that day out in the snow, weren’t they?”
“They were blue that first night in Becky’s office when you told me and James what you wanted from us.”
“How did you know?”
“It was a joke at first, some way to mess with your head. I saw the way your eyes flickered back and forth between my brother and I, you knew something was off but couldn’t put your finger on it. Then our eyes met, a lump formed in my throat. Until you called me on it last week, they’ve been blue the entire time.”
“I love you.”
“And I love you.”
“It feels so good to say it out loud. I have been refusing to for so long. Sometimes I wish I still hadn’t. It makes me feel guilty. Knowing what I am and all.”
“So you’re dead. Big deal. We have loads of time together.”
“What is your idea of a perfect relationship?”
What’s yours?” he returned the question.
“Have you seen those commercials where the woman says or does something sexy and seductive? They’re always in their underwear and he grabs her, kisses her, and they fall onto the bed laughing. That’s my idea of a perfect relationship. To be able to walk around in panties and an undershirt and not feel ashamed. Or feel like our love for each other was holding him back from having a gorgeous girlfriend. I’d be that gorgeous girlfriend.”
“You’re not trying to say you’re fat or ugly are you. Because you’re the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen.”
“Sure now! Here! With magic making me into Venus. In the real world you wouldn’t even notice I existed, except to make fun of me.”
“It can’t be that bad,” Oliver insisted.
“Do you think you love me enough to see me for who I really am?”
“Who you really are is what I see when I close my eyes. You are not just what is on the surface. I think it’s odd that you can find beauty in everything you see except yourself.”
“Do you want to see me or not, Oliver?”
Isabeth got out of bed, still naked from their love making and stood in full light. Slowly she allowed the illusion to fade so Oliver could get the full impact of what she really was. From the knees down there was no change, just above the knees was a big fat roll that if any bigger it would have hung down. Her thighs increased so much that her feet were forced six inches further apart. Isabeth’s hips and butt widened on each side doubling their girth. Hips, butt and thighs dimpled all over with cellulite pockets. Her stomach bubbled out falling down to cover her privates, stretch marks from carrying her first child ran down the entire bulbous thing, some more than an inch wide. Her tits deflated and sagged against her stomach like half filled water balloons, her arms and shoulders plumped up to look like a male wrestler. Isabeth’s face was pretty much the same; the few changes were the addition of a double chin, puffy upper eyelids and dark, sunken semi circles under her eyes. Her eyes were now brown.
“You have brown eyes!” Oliver was shocked at this more than anything else.
“Most the time. They do become green when my mood is extreme, but nothing like they are here.”
“My feelings for you have not changed,” Oliver promised. “Let me make love to you as you are and prove it.”
“Not a chance in hell!” Isabeth almost yelled. “Just the thought of you touching me looking like this makes me want to purge. Just the thought of me looking like this is enough to make me want to invent a gun to shoot myself.”
Oliver climbed out of bed but before he reached her the illusion was back in place. “If you were so unhappy why didn’t you do something about it?
“I tried every diet that I found, even starvation. I bought every exercise video, joined a fitness club, took dance lessons. Nothing worked. Liposuction was my only option left. I was saving up for it when my end came. I guess I’ll get thin now as I slowly rot away.”
Oliver picked Isabeth up and carried her back to bed. He curled himself around her protectively. “Enough of that dead joke. It's getting creepy. But you were right.”
“I still loved you after seeing what you hide but only because I loved you first. If I had seen you in the real world, I would have dismissed you in seconds. But I promise you this, when I do go back, I will never disregard a woman on appearance. For she may be my soul mate, destined to love me there as you were destined to love me here.”
10th September, 2011. 11:32 am. Brown (Episode 110)
Oliver was visiting his brother after the required yearly checking with Becky. “You never come to see me at Huntington.”
“And witness how blissfully happy you are with your almost wife,” James harassed his brother. “You two are sickeningly sweet.”
“It bothers you when I talk of her long black hair shinning as it runs through my fingers.” Oliver knew James hated open expressions of love but enjoyed the twisted expression on his face. “The way her green eyes get misty with passion when I kiss her. Don’t you want to hear about the moans and whispers she emits when we make love?”
It was then that they heard a sword being drawn behind them. The twins turned to see Alan T, weapon in hand, anger furrowing his brow.
Alan stepped forward, pointed at Oliver’s scabbard with his sword, and said, “No one is permitted to be armed in Castle Tudyk except its inhabitants. Guest must give all weapons at the front door upon arrival.”
“I’m no guest you fool,” Oliver said gruffly to Alan. “I live here.”
“I say you don’t, and as Steward of this castle, my word counts more than yours.”
“Oliver, just give him your sword,” James insisted. “He’s been waiting all year for you to check in with Becky to confront you.”
“Then I shouldn’t disappoint him,” Oliver drew his sword. “But you should know, Alan, I’ve been training with Huntington’s army. And everyone knows they’re the best in all Grigori.”
“How dare you speak against your own people,” Alan raged.
“I thought you said I was a guest here,” Oliver provoked.
“Guest or ward, you’ve dishonored Castle Tudyk and I must defend it.”
“See he just wants a fight,” James warned. “He doesn’t care what for.”
“I know what he is fighting for,” Oliver smiled. “And he won’t win.”
Silence reigned over Castle Tudyk, a silence broken only by the faint thumping of the two men's hearts as they drew nearer to one another.
"Fools," muttered with a bitter laugh before continuing toward the tower. "Never stopping to listen to the wind in a place like this."
They never even saw her coming. Isabeth whipped out her Imp sword and divided it into it's two parts. “If you idiots are going to fight over me, then you are going to fight me for whatever privilege you think you're going to get.”
After a long silence Alan T said, "I want you out of my house, just leave now Oliver!"
Isabeth just stared. What else could she do? At first she thought this was going to be some sick joke, but it wasn't! This became clear to her when Alan let out a blast, where Isabeth had been standing! Luckily she moved at just the right movement.
“If that is the way you want it,” Alan agreed.
When Isabeth moved her feet, Oliver shot at Alan, Isabeth scrambled! Fell and scrambled!
Oliver began yelling. “I had no idea that this was a magic fight, I thought we were using swords, In that case I will let you take my sword, can I can beat you without it.”
"You people? What's wrong with you?” Isabeth yelled.
“You're yelling at the only person who has shown immediate kindness to you. Get your stuff right, you should be hiding behind me right now, staying away from him."
Oliver gripped Alan's throat and squeezed tighter, his gloves against Alan's throat making red marks. "Go."
Isabeth knew what he meant. He dropped Alan to the floor, and Isabeth scurried over to them. Now she could see him clearly, he was the scariest she'd ever seen him. He glared at Isabeth before leaving the room.
“Oliver! You better not sleep tonight, or get someone to watch your back! I'll be looking for you! You are not going to wake up tomorrow!"
Isabeth turned and punched Alan so hard he fell on his ass. "He's scared enough already, don't say stuff like that, he probably believes you!"
When Alan got back to his feet, she slapped him, hard, there was a loud skin smack followed by him flying into the wall. Okay, it was really hard, what's up with people around here! It's crazy!
* * * * * * * * * * *
“My head is still spinning and throbbing,” Oliver started when Isabeth joined him in his room. “He basically set us up. That whole stunt he pulled with the kiss at the ball.”
“Yea but he was with Christina then,” Isabeth defended. “They must have ended.”
“Why? Why do you have to defend him? When he shot at you.”
“I get smacked in the face, again,” Isabeth sighed and sat next to him. “It hurts so much more when it happens with words instead of hands.”
"Oh! SH, I'm so sorry, are you okay?"
“Nope, not doing so good." Isabeth had her eyes tightly closed and her legs drawing closely to her chest, hands also covering her face.
Oliver placed Isabeth's head in his lap and stroked her head ever so slightly, it felt good, him stroking her hair. “SH, I'm so sorry. I was just... I swear I didn't mean..."
He was the only person who hasn't caused Isabeth pain since she got close to them. So Isabeth just sat there, eyelids getting heavier by the second until he pulled back the covers on the bed and laid her down. Isabeth just laid there for a little while while he stood next to the bed still stroking her hair until she fell asleep, letting unconsciousness take her over.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Oliver jerked awake. A gut wrenching feeling of trepidation jolted through his veins. His eyes open, his chest heaved as he gulped for air. The silken sheets covering his naked muscled body slid as he propped himself up. Lean muscles in his arms tightened, fingers flexing in an urge to reach for his sword. Beside him lay his mistress, the beautiful woman, her curves were barely hidden beneath the covers. She slept peacefully even as Oliver's mind panicked. With thoughts darting here and there, his searched for the cause of his sudden unrest.
His sharp black eyes scanned the room before him. The darkness of the night crept from every corner of the chamber. A single lit candle by the bedside flickered dimly, its light not enough to let him see past the gloom. For a moment he let his gaze past the windows, observing as dark ominous clouds rolled chaotically in the horizon. The once clear star studded sky was now overcast with the tell tale signs of a tempest. Harsh winds howled, pounding mercilessly against the stone walls of his home. Then thunder began to rumble. Lightning struck soon after. The bolt illuminated the room for a mere few seconds but it was enough. Oliver had seen what he wanted to see. His initial fears had been finally confirmed. They were not alone.
“Who's there?" Oliver demanded, adding a tone of authority in his voice. Though giving what happened that morning it wasn't entirely impossible that James would post himself there for safety. Pausing, he waited for the intruder to answer in return. At the same time his mind ran a mile a minute. He glanced at the sword propped at the end of his bed, mentally looking for a way to grab it without looking a bit conspicuous. Was it a friend or a foe? He did not know. There was nothing wrong with taking precautions.
Silence hung in the air as the silhouette of a man stood still against the farthest wall. It did not move nor speak. An ominous shadow camouflaged it in the darkness. Like a ghost or a creature of the night it haunted its prey. Then the trespasser suddenly moved. With light foot steps, he advanced towards the four poster bed where the target lay. Lightning flashed, once then twice. Suddenly an unshakable fear took hold paralyzing Oliver's nerves and rendering him petrified. He knew who it was. From the moment he saw the man's face there was no doubt. The eyes were of cold hard ice blue. The distinctive sound of a sword leaving its sheath magnified the impending danger.
Oliver lunged. He stretched his arms, hands reaching out for the half-concealed weapon by the foot of his bed. But even before his fingers gripped the hilt of his sword he felt the searing pain. Cold sharp steel sliced through soft flesh then through hard bone cutting it cleanly in one swift stroke. The wrist disconnected from the rest of the limb, falling on to the hard stone floor. Blood burst through the wound and he screamed. The woman by his side stirred yet did not wake. Then the sword arched again. This time he felt its edge against his neck. Oliver felt his jaw slacken as the steel cut through his throat, his eyes widening as it rolled up in its sockets.
It was early morn by the time the Oliver awoke, his loud unending screams startling Isabeth who was sitting beside him. He sat up quickly and recoiled in horror as he took in the scene. Alan lay dead, ambushed and executed as his blood seeped into the carpet of his bedroom floor. The decapitated head was gone, nowhere to be found. Isabeth huddling herself in a corner like a madwoman. Her eyes were blank as she mumbled crazed, angry unintelligible words.
“I thought he killed me,” Oliver said finally releaved.
“He did,” Isabeth revealed. “I reversed his actions onto him when I heard you scream.”
* * * * * * * * * * *
August was check in month at Castle Tudyk, so that meant that Oliver and Isabeth had four months without interference before Alan repoped at New Years. Taking advantage of this vacation, Isabeth was and the twins were laying out on a blanket enjoying the last of the summer sun.
Isabeth rolled over in an attempt to get up and came nose to nose with James. She jumped to her feet quickly dragging James to his feet by his collar. “Your eyes are brown!” Isabeth exclaimed. “How do you have brown eyes?” She was almost yelling at James, he was looking scared.
“I’ve always had brown eyes.”
Isabeth turned on Oliver who blushed as his blue eyes turned back to there natural color. “You only seemed to be interested in men with blue eyes,” Oliver explained.
“There’s a reason for that,” Isabeth snapped out. “I’m only attracted to blue and green eyes.”
“That’s kind of shallow,” James tried to help his brother.
“I just wanted you to like the way I looked as well as me,” Oliver said calmly.
“You lied to me,” Isabeth was irritated. “I hate you right now.”
“But deep down you still like me,” Oliver joked hopefully.
“I love you, I have to like you.”
“You love me?”
“Oliver,” Isabeth sighed exasperatedly. “My love for you is not based on your looks. Believe me! I love you because of how you make me feel, the way you look at me, touch me, talk to me, listen to me.” Isabeth put her arms around Oliver’s neck and kissed him softly.
“Do you want me to change them back?” Oliver offered.
“No, I want to see you.” They began to kiss again.
James began to make gagging sounds as he walked away from the affectionate couple. He found Paige and looked her in the eyes. “I don’t like your eyes. I think I’m going to drop you.”
“Are you serious?” Paige asked on the edge of anger.
“Yes. Sorry sweet, it’s over.”
* * * * * * * * * * *
"NO!" Alan bellowed, enraged. He had just reappeared to a very subdued and boring New Years. He gnashed his teeth together. The wards around him warily took a few steps back. A sound of a sword leaving its sheath sent them running for their lives. Alan T handled his fury the only way he knew how. Lucy was slow enough in her fleeing and encountered the sharp edge of Alan's weapon against the juncture of her shoulder. Blood spilt and pooled on the floor as the girl collapsed unto the floor. Then Alan turned to James, the only person who unfortunately wore the face of the person Alan really wanted to cut open.
Alan T gritted his teeth, unappeased. Stepping forward, he placed the sharp side of his sword near the skin of the man's neck. A drop of blood trickled down as the edge slid against human skin, slicing it.
"Tell me why I should spare your life?" Alan drawled, impatience setting in. "Or do you wish to join Lucy rotting on the floor?"
Without batting an eye, Becky placed her hand on top of Alan's own. Holding his ground, he spoke with conviction.
"Out of all the men who have surrounded you, Becky. I have been the one who upheld my loyalty without wavering"
The spoken words cleanly echoed within the castle. The people who had run away eyed Alan warily. Silence then followed. A few minutes had passed before they let out a breathy sigh of relief. The Alan had slipped his sword back into its scabbard. A smirk graced Alan T's chapped lips. He patted the James's shoulder, one hand wiping away the trickle of blood on his neck.
Becky had always been a quick witted Watcher. Alan's smart brain earned him the position he held. And yes, he had always been faithful. Alan T upheld loyalty above all else. This was a trait rarely found in the wards of Spain and in her private army.
Alan turned. Taking a few steps, he walked to Becky's side. His plan had ended up in disaster. And that fact sent a surge of fury into Alan T's heart. What else should he do? Frustration mounted, holding him by the neck. He had done all that could be done. During his first year in power, really taking his job as Steward seriously, but no matter how much he tried, that last vestige of power eluded him.
“I think I am done here,” Alan said calmly to Becky.
“I think you are,” Becky assured him. “We'll schedule a formal ceremony. Do you want the option of choosing your successor?”
“No, ma'am. I don't want that or any other responsibility.”
31st August, 2011. 3:29 pm. Nothing Happened (Episode 109)
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Isabeth and Oliver decided to stay at Castle Huntington due to their rank. She being the castle Watcher and he being lower court. Some changes had been made, and even though everyone else noticed they doubted Isabeth did. First was her clothing, which was still dominantly green, but the collar and sleeves extended all the way to the throat and wrist. Second was her manor. She still walked around the castle like she owned the place, because, well she did own the place. But she didn’t look down her nose at anyone, and just seemed calmer somehow.
One change Isabeth saw for herself, on her first night back. She was on her way to her room as she passed Sam’s door. His room had stood empty for two hundred years. Now there was a light coming through the cracks around the edge.
Slowly she opened the door and went in. “Um… Sam?”
“Yes, Princess,” he answered coming out of one of his many closets.
His clothing, his wall hangings, everything he owned was placed all around the room. Sam had moved out of Isabeth’s room and she didn’t know how to take it.
“What’s going on?”
Sam gave her a half smile, “I figured three was too many for your room.”
“Sam,” Isabeth groaned. “It has always been our room. I would never bring another person there, you didn’t have to leave.”
“No I had to leave,” Sam said shooting her a look that said stop talking.
She didn’t get it, “Why?”
“The night after Bicentennial was…” He paused. “I can’t.”
Isabeth sat on the bed not willing to let her friend brush her off. “I want to know what’s bothering you. I might be able to help.”
Sam began to laugh menacingly. “It was a dark and stormy night. Fuck the cliché ness of it all, but it really was. The large room we shared was cold and empty, kind of like how I felt when you left me, deserted except for the likes of me. Just me, all alone in the dark bedroom we shared, the glowing moon the only light in the room. Which was good, because the room was filled with your stuff, and seeing them made the pain worse.”
He stopped when he looked at her face. She looked to be thinking very quickly, searching her mind for something. “Princess,” Sam began more gently. “What is wrong with me? Why haven’t we ever been together?”
“I understand,” Isabeth whispered. She stood and headed for the door.
Sam stopped her by slamming the door with his power. “I told you mine, now you tell me yours.”
Isabeth knew what the problem was, why she couldn’t touch him. But how to explain it to Sam, to keep him from seeing her restraint as rejection? “It was jus a stupid game, so childish, so hurtful. We were only beginners ourselves. We felt so proud of ourselves and wanted to help others out of their same trap. So the contest began, I got three and stopped. I felt so horrible, so low, and I vowed I would never do it again as long as I lived. And I haven’t.”
“What was the game?’ Sam asked.
“Collecting virgins.” Isabeth tried to open the door but it just glowed and stayed shut.
“You’re refusing to sleep with me because I am a virgin?”
“Innocence is something a person only has once. You can never get it back. I won’t do that to you. I’ve been responsible for the corruption of three guys. I won’t do that to you.”
The door flew open almost shatter in the process. “Get the hell out of my room, Princess. Don’t come back.”