Wednesday, January 30, 2013

7.17 - Visitors


Time is supposed to heal all wounds, but for Topaz every passing hour just makes the ache all the worse. She blames herself, of course. Casey wouldn’t have died if not for her. She should have paid more attention to the deal, made sure her future family would have been safe as well. And she’d been so careful not to make any friends! 



The only one in the household with a similar level of guilt right now would be Winter.

“I should have given myself up.” She sighs to her husband. “If I died once it was because I was meant to. But I was given another chance, had a family with you and we had a life not many are lucky enough to even imagine. I should have helped her sister have that same kind of chance for happiness. We owed her.”




“I know we owed her.” Nalin answers, pulling her in for a hug so she won’t see his tears. “But when Topaz realized what was happening she told me to grab you and hide. She never told us what she had to give up because she knew we’d want to change her mind. I think we owe it to her to be thankful and not live in regrets. I’m not happy Casey’s gone... but I am very happy that I still have you.”




It’s a terrible thing to say really, seeing as someone had to give up their life so they could have their happiness, but Winter can’t really argue with him.

“To be honest, I’m happy I’m here too.”




Despite the heartbreak of losing her father on her birthday, Zahara has been handling the entire situation very well. Almost too well. Unlike her mother, she hadn’t even shed a tear over the incident. 




She did however spend almost all of her free time in her new room.




She rarely goes out, and hasn’t even started school yet because Topaz wanted to give her time to grieve. But her introversion was  beginning to worry the adults, so one evening Topaz enters her daughter’s room to talk to with her. 




“Hey Z...” As soon as Zahara turns around to face her mother, Topaz’s rehearsed speech is forgotten. “How... have you been doing? I mean, are you okay? You’ve been so quiet and I’m really worried about you. Do you want to... uh... talk about what happened?”




“We don’t need to talk if you don’t want to.” Zahara assures her mother. “Mister Neptune told me what happened and why daddy had to go away. I miss him, but I’m not going to cry. Mister Neptune said he sacrificed himself for me and you and that makes him a hero. I’m really happy he saved me! So please don’t worry about me, mommy. I’m okay. Really.” 




Topaz doesn’t believe her daughter for a second, but if Neptune got involved and talked to her daughter then she’ll have to have a serious talk with him. Which means leaving her daughter to her silence once again. 

“Okay Z... but if you ever want to talk about things just say so. I’m here for you... I’m your mom.”




Its harder to find the right place this time when Topaz goes looking for her ancestor. Obviously, he doesn’t want to see her, but eventually he gives in and leads her to his island and the shack it contains.




He turns around away from the fire and gives her a friendly smile, as if he’d been hoping she would drop by. “Hello, my dear! How have you been?”

“Cut the crap, Neptune. I don’t want you near my daughter. One of you creatures already tried taking her, and I’m not going to let your influence ever hurt her.”




Naptune sighs and finally straightens up. “I’m really not supposed to tell you this but Epsilon was never going to take your daughter’s soul. She changed both your fate and Casey’s, and gave you a daughter that she never meant to steal. It was already planned for Casey to give himself up.”




“She... why would she have changed our fate then? How did she know Casey’d give himself up for Zahara?”

“Because that was his payment for falling in love with you.”

Topaz’s face falls. “Why would she do something so cruel? Casey and I were happy.”




“Casey and you were never supposed to meet.” He explains. “His fate was to remain with Eve and die a week from today in a car accident in Bridgeport. You were to have a fleeting relationship with a man named Kanoa Parrot that would pull you from your family and leave you alone and sad. But when you chose to give your life for your brother’s happiness Epsilon couldn’t let you be hurt like that. So she... changed fate. She shortened Casey’s life span but gave you both a few days of happiness with a true love.”




“Did you have anything to do with that?” She asks.

He shakes his head. “No. But... I did convince her to let you have a child. And when she was sad after Casey’s death I visited her in a dream with Casey’s soul so he could say goodbye to her like he did to you.”

Topaz smiles, finally understanding that her daughter was telling the truth before. “Thank you, grandpa.”




Neptune laughs as he pulls away from her hug. “I haven’t had someone call me that in ages. Now get back home, you have a busy day ahead of you.”




When Topaz opens her eyes, the morning sun is just beginning to peak out of the horizon. It’s early morning, and she began her meditation quite early in the night, after tucking Zahara into bed.




She’s sore, and wouldn’t mind a lot more sleep. But Neptune was right about today being a busy day. 




The day after Casey’s death, Topaz received a letter in the mail from his parents asking if they could come visit and meet their daughter. Casey had told them so much about the love of his life and their daughter, even sending photos but hadn’t ever invited them to visit. So with him gone, they took the initiative themselves and Topaz couldn’t dream of denying them.




Anne Cassidy was a young, single mother working two jobs to raise her little boy. She was lucky enough to meet the love of her life when Casey was still young and her husband’s money gave them an easy life. She promises to help Topaz in anyway she needs.




Zahara inherited her grandma’s dark hair, but otherwise they don’t even share the same nose. Casey got that from his dad probably.




“Hiiiiiya.” 

Being social = Not Zahara’s favourite thing in the world. But she’ll be friendly.




Anne herself is pretty introverted, so she doesn’t push her granddaughter too hard. It’s a miracle just being able to meet her. She was beginning to think she’d never be able to meet any grandchildren she had thanks to all of her son’s nameless one-night stands.

Her son. Who is dead. Her dead son. Yeah, that hasn’t sunk in yet.




Julian has been a vampire for a while, a few generations at the least when he met Anne and married her. Casey was like a son to him, but he’s seen death many many times. Casey’s death hasn’t affected him nearly as much as it has Anne or Topaz. 

Speaking of Topaz... “How have you been handling Casey’s death, my dear? Casey spoke of you often to us, and would send photos but even now I don’t know how much he told you of us. I can’t quite read your mind.”

“I’m handling things better than I was earlier this week.” She assures him. “And he spoke very kindly of you and his mother. And I’m sorry for the mental block, my grandfather taught me to protect myself when I was a teenager and I grew comfortable with just keeping myself blocked off all the time.”

“That’s a smart idea.”




For a moment, he seems conflicted about something, but at last he decides to just say it anyway. “You say your grandfather taught you to protect your mind... how?”

“He was a vampire.” She informs him. “Nicolas Sari-Dracule.”

The name brings a smile to Julian’s face. “Oh good. I knew your hair looked familiar, but I was beginning to worry I had the wrong girl.”

Topaz has no idea what he’s talking about now. 




With Topaz and Zahara entertaining the Cassidys, Nalin focuses on handling the daily chores and paying the bills. It’s more than a small shock for him when he turns around the familiar face staring back at him stops him dead in his tracks. 




“... Grandpa?”

“Hello Nalin.” Nico responds with a nod. “Shall we go inside?”



---

My guess is Nico's been looking for the kids since the day they disappeared. : ) 

Monday, January 21, 2013

7.16 - Sacrifice


Zahara’s birthday has arrived. She’ll miss playing with her cousins.



Casey arrives early in the morning once again, but this time Topaz is already up and waiting for him. 

Being greeted with a kiss is more than Casey was hoping for, even after their fantastic date the night prior. But he’s just going to take this as good news.




“There’s a nice way to say hello.” He smiles. “How’s the birthday girl doing?” 

“Good! She’s just downstairs playing with my brother’s triplets. Give me a minute to get her washed up and we’ll get the cake set up.”




He finds Winter sitting in the dining room and joins her. “So when’re the triplets having their birthday?”




“Soon.” She responds, not sure if she really wants to talk to him. There’s some kind of aura around him lately that’s had her feeling uncomfortable and distracted. A bad omen, perhaps. 

“How have you been settling into the Plains?” She continues, fishing for information. “Have the locals been friendly?” 




“Everyone’s been great!” He assures her. “My agent was pissed at me for coming out here again but - and I’m swearing you to secrecy here - I’ve been offered a position at the theatre. It’ll give me a real job and opportunity to live here in the Plains, and I can have all my recording equipment sent over here to my new place. I don’t mind giving up the rockstar life for Topaz. I want to be here for our family.”




Before Winter can speak further, Topaz comes through the archway with Zahara on her hip. Time for her little girl to become a slightly older little girl.




Even if Topaz knew any locals well enough to invite them over, they’d have no room for any guests. So a family party it is.




Topaz helps her daughter blow out the candles.



Zahara becomes a child.

And Casey finds he really really likes cake. Zahara asks him if she can go swimming but he tells her to eat first. No way is he going to get in trouble for letting her out without breakfast again. 



Topaz points out that cake is technically more like candy than breakfast anyway once she has him alone. 

“Damn- uh, dangit.” Casey sighs, smiling slightly. “I was so hoping you wouldn’t notice that.”




Zahara was going to ask her parents to join her in the pool but they’re busy so she decides not to bother them. Her uncle and aunts are all downstairs with the triplets so they probably won’t want to swim with her either. The babies aren’t allowed near the pool incase they fall in.




With their daughter out of the room, Casey gets right to the news he’d promised Topaz the night before. “I’m moving to Appaloosa Plains permanently. Everything’s just been finalized through my agent. I’ve already bought the house across the street, my recording equipment will be sent over within a few days and I’ve got a job lined up with the local theatre to bring in extra cash in between royalty cheques. I’m not going anywhere this time.”




Topaz’s smile is genuine. “Seriously? You’ve really moved here for good? But what about tours and concerts?”




“I can live without tours for a few years.” He promises. “It’s not necessary for my career right now, and I’d much rather stay here with you and Z.”

That means the world to her.




Zahara has wanted to go swimming ever since she first saw the pool from inside the house. Just the idea of being able to “float” inside of a pool and imagine you’re flying must be amazing!




Yeah... its pretty cool. But a little bit scary too. She didn’t realize it would be so hard to stay afloat. Maybe kids shouldn’t go swimming by them selves.




Back inside the house, Casey and Topaz are busy enjoying each other’s company. Right now, life is good. 

Topaz breaks away slightly to ask Casey if he’ll spend the night this time but then they hear the frantic splashing.




Casey gets outside first. For a moment, he can’t see what was causing the splashing, but then he spots his daughter struggling to swim back up from the bottom of the pool. 




He has her in his arms within seconds, but she’s already gone still. He won’t think about what this means, at least not until they’re both safely on dry land again.




Topaz feels her heart breaking when Casey pulls their daughter out of the water. Zahara isn’t moving, she isn’t breathing. 

Casey’s talking, something about an ambulance but Topaz knows its already too late. her daughter’s soul is still in her body, but not because she’s alive. It’s because the Reaper isn’t coming for it himself.




Hearing the commotion, Nalin rushes outside. Stopping dead in his tracks when he sees Casey cradling Zahara.

“Sh-should I call an ambulance?”




Topaz shakes her head, pointing back at the house. “I need you to grab Winter and the triplets and stay in the house as hidden as you can. Epsilon will be here soon and I don’t want her anywhere near Winter just in case.”

“Epsilon?” Nalin asks, not recognizing the name. “And just in case what?”

She gives him an exasperated look. “Please, Nalin! Just go!”




He goes, and Casey comes up to her. “What’s going on, Topaz?”

She can’t meet his eyes as he hugs her. Telling him what she’s done would only break his heart, but she has a plan.




“I need you to grab Zahara and get out of here.” She orders. 

“What? Why?”

She shakes her head, fighting back her tears. “I need to do something that I should have done a long time ago, and I don’t know if I’m going to get out of it okay. You need to take Zahara and promise me you’ll take care of her no matter what.”

“I promise.” He assures her. “But please tell me what you’re going to do.”




It’s too late for an explanation, and its too late for a plan.




Topaz tries anyway. “You can’t do this, Epsilon. Zahara is my daughter, she’s just a child! I’ve watched over her her entire life!”




Epsilon sighs. “That was a figure of speech, and you know that. I promised to leave the family you had at the time of our arrangement untouched, but Zahara is free game. Don’t tell me you’re going back on your agreement of a soul for a soul, my dear.”




With Topaz at a loss for words, Casey puts together just how Topaz could have brought someone back from death. He makes up his mind before the strange woman can push past them and take Zahara.




“I want you to take me instead of her.” The announcement leaves both women silent. “I’ve lived a good life, I’ll be missed by my fans if you want the emotional attachment. And Topaz hasn’t watched over me in any way if you want to get past that loophole too.”




“Interesting.” Epsilon says with a smug smile. “Dear Winter sacrificed her soul for the one she loves, so it would make the most sense to take a soul who is willing to make the same sacrifice. I accept your plea, and will give you a moment to say your goodbyes.”




Topaz does not take the news well.




“Please don’t do this.” She begs, holding Casey close. “There’s another way, there has to be. I won’t let her take you from me. I don’t want to lose you again.”




“The only other way would be for us to lose our daughter.” He points out, not wanting to let her go. “I love you both so much, Topaz. I have to do this, to keep you both safe and happy. I’m sorry that this means I’ll be leaving you alone again, but I hope one day you’ll be able to forgive me.”




With his goodbyes said, he lets Epsilon take him away.




Prim arrives outside just as Epsilon has faded away, seeing her sister holding Casey’s still body in her arms.




But soon enough, his body fades as well. 




And Topaz is left alone again.




At least, until Zahara’s eyes open. 

“Mommy?”




Topaz has her daughter in her arms instantly, trying to hold back her tears. 

It takes Zahara a few moments to remember what happened before she fell unconscious. “Where’s dad? He saved me, didn’t he?”

“He did save you.” Topaz says. “But he had to go away again.”

“Will he come back?”

This time, Topaz can’t hold back the tears at all.



---

Dammit Colleen. Stop guessing my stories.

Anyway, next chapter won't be for a while. I'm going to remove all my CC, update, start a fresh folder, and then play my legacy with minimal CC in an attempt to figure out what's causing my crashing and errors.