God only knows
|Quinn Abernathy||Gideon had promised they would get out of this mess, and Quinn had believed him. She still does, and it is the one thing that keeps them together. While the world stands to strip them of their better judgment, Gideon and Quinn manage to hold fast to each other. It means time spent together, away from the community. It also means time spent alone, allowing them to process all that is happening in their lives. Sometimes, they'd sit beside each other in silence, and count that as 'alone' time. Others, they'd find separate spaces.
The one thing that could never be questioned is Quinn's love for her husband. It has been a little over a month since that promise was made, and she has done everything in her power to please everyone - but mostly him.
In the morning, Quinn works in the school as she always as, teaching things to her pupils that most of the community could not stand to fathom. Things beyond simple math, or the alphabet. She taught them to read, indiscriminately. They would learn about different places in the world, and different places in the United States. Never once did she try to hide the horrors that wait outside the commune, but she certainly made her biggest points on the wonderful, powerful things that people were capable of.
Come afternoon and evening, she would tutor the adults that wished for more before going home to prepare dinner for Gideon. She caters to him, and loves every minute of it. For those few hours a night, she feels as though she might relieve just a few of his stresses. Quinn is so very aware of what this place does to him, and he is aware of her in just the same way. It had turned her into a murderer, and Gideon had been derailed. They desperately need peace, but they would never find it here.
Cheeto has improved over this period as well, having been worked into a state that would allow him the ability to be free to roam the house. He had formed an odd bond with Gideon's cat, Eclair, as the two rarely were seen apart. He would still shy away from Quinn and Gideon, but it had been some time since he had shown true signs of aggression. Even still, they never allowed anyone into the house, just in case.
They liked it better that way, anyway.
And, of course, every Sunday there was still a service. Gideon took over addressing the community, and Quinn could only watch him work in awe. He is so brilliant, and so capable, and as he speaks, she is sure he believes his own words. Thankfully, she tells herself, she knows better.
This evening is different, though. Quinn had begged her way out into the early night with Gideon, and thankfully, it didn't take too much effort. Laying in the grass outside the Abernathy home, her hand folds into his easily as she tucks her free arm behind her head. It is the little things that would bring them back to easier times, especially now. There is a change in Gideon, and she recognizes it.
He isn't the same.
Then again, neither of them are.
“I read this article once,” Quinn is speaking quietly, her words whispered just for him. “It said that there are millions of alternate universes just like ours. And we’re in each one, doing the same thing but slightly different, or something entirely different. Just endless possibilities, and more and more come into existence with each decision you make. Can you imagine? Everything we’ve ever done or not done being done, by different versions of ourselves?”
|November 16, 2017 16:47|
|Gideon Abernathy||Gideon isn’t coping well. There was a reason, so long ago, that he’d left the cult. More than anyone else, it seems to wear on him. The monotony, the fake smiles, the complete blind faith to a god that has done nothing but let them down time and time again; it all sickens him, and it’s growing more and more difficult to hide it. On more than one occasion, he’s caught himself imagining a person’s death as they’re speaking with him, and every time, when he breaks away from those thoughts, it’s only to realize he has no idea what they’re talking about. Most of the time, he can fake his way through it, but that’s only most of the time. The others are met with blank stares and a growing irritation in his own mind.
I don’t fvcking care, he wants to tell them, but that would be counterproductive to the trust they’ve built.
Quinn is flourishing. She’s teaching as well as learning, she’s forming bonds, she’s coping in ways that he can’t. And when she’s not dealing with the cult, she’s practically waiting on him hand and foot. Truly, if she weren’t there with him, the success would be non-existent.
And he fvcking hates it.
Truthfully, he had been hoping this wouldn’t go well. In the back of his mind, he wants the Flock to lose their trust in them, if only so they could end this chapter of their own lives. However, in the same token, the only time he feels truly whole is when he’s influencing their views and manipulating their minds. It’s incredibly empowering for the psychopath to hold this kind of sway over a large group of people. But even he knows that it’s taking a dark turn. Where Quinn is helping them see the good in the outside world, Gideon is building on their trust and fears, solely so he can see how far he can take it.
Like father, like son.
But that small bit of satisfaction isn’t enough to quell the desire to set the whole place ablaze and disappear as if it never existed.
I read this article once…
He practically falls back into his own consciousness, remembering where he is and what he’s doing. While she speaks, he can’t help that familiar feeling of guilt creeping up. Gideon hasn’t been good to his wife in the short time they’ve been married. Distant doesn’t even begin to describe it, yet here she is, doing more than her fair share to make it work. She would always be willing to carry the weight of their relationship, no matter how heavy, and he would always let her because he’s selfish.
It’s a moment before he can respond. His mind is wandering to all the different potential realities in which he could - or could not - exist. What about the realities where Emely hadn’t fallen in love with John and hadn’t joined the cult? He surely wouldn’t exist in those. Then, what about the realities where he wasn’t a serial killer? Could there be circumstances under which he didn’t become a monster, or is it simply so ingrained in his being that every instance of him is a murderous psychopath?
“I wonder if we meet in all those other timelines. I wonder if we would have any reason to…” His psyche brings forth the image of Quinn with a normal man, someone who is sweet and caring and loving. She has her house in a field of wildflowers, with her dogs and all the kids she wants, and she’s so utterly happy.
And he finds he has every desire to kill that man.
Shaking his head, he lets out a soft sigh, his gaze turned upward as he tries to shake the insatiable need to maim something. “Hopefully, in at least one of those realities, this fvcking cult never existed….”
|November 17, 2017 20:07|
|Quinn Abernathy||"I'm sure there's more than one in which everything is possible, in some way..." Quinn muses in answer.
Gideon gives her a sense of true purpose. She needs him to need her, as well as protect her and keep her from making the same mistakes over and over again. Most of all, she finds herself needing his adoration.
This isn't what he wants, and it is obvious every day. That fact alone makes his wish stand out even more, for if the cult never existed, neither do they. She isn't sure if that is alone, or together, but they would never meet without this place having existed. The thought of some part of her never meeting him, let alone several, is enough to make her want to snap.
But she should stop worrying about those other versions of themselves, and focus on what they have right there.
Something is wrong.
Gone is the Gideon that could not keep his eyes or hands off of her. She feels his affections less and less every day, and the more it pains her, the harder she works toward gaining them once more. In her heart, Quinn knows it is this place that drives the wedge between them. How could she miss those passing glances when their paths cross, or the way he avoids her altogether when she is with one of her only friends?
Her insecurity is building, and she keeps it a secret from him just as much as she does her heartbreak when she fails to see anything within those black eyes.
Quinn is horrible to him; She has chosen the cult over the sanity of her husband.
Instead, she finds herself turning onto her side, cozying up to him as she rests her hand over his questionable heart and head just beside it. Quinn used to draw strength from him, and now she feels as though she must be the strong one. The footsteps on the gravel path that passes by the Abernathy house and so many others goes unchecked, something completely normal in the day to day. The only thing she does in response is lower her voice, wishing they had more privacy.
"I hope in one of them," she pauses. It is hard to hide her melancholy when she thinks of her husband, and what would make him happy. She wants to tell him that she hopes in one, she made better decisions. But she can't. "...I don't know. There's so much..."
Instead, she changes the subject.
"I really want s'mores..."
|November 17, 2017 20:42|
|Gideon Abernathy||The conversation falls to the wayside, as they often do for the couple these days, and she makes herself comfortable at his side. Inadvertently, he tenses; he wants to shy away from the contact, but he stops himself. Gideon has never been one for contact in any capacity, but with his darkened mind, it’s not even a comfort when it’s his wife. She’s always been the exception, yet now…
A sigh escapes him, though he hopes it comes off as one of contentment.
She voices her desires, and he’s allowed a small smile as reprieve from his own thought process. It’s a short-lived escape, however, and the smile melts into a frown. “We don’t have the proper ingredients, unfortunately.” He’d offer to drive them to the store, but he’s not sure he wouldn’t simply...keep driving, and she’d made her stance on the matter very clear. No, it’s best that he stay with the commune.
Shifting away from her proximity, he rises from the ground and dusts himself off. He can’t feign this normalcy right now; the weight of their current situation is too heavy for him to bear anything else. It isn’t as if Gideon has lost any love for Quinn, he simply can’t keep up the facade with her and the cult. As it is, he’s falling short with the Flock, and if she insists on leading these people, then she would have to understand that he can’t keep a mask on all the time.
“I’m going to…” Nothing comes to mind, and he offers a shrug instead. “Look, I’m not in a good headspace right now.” Might as well be truthful. “I’m going for a walk.”
With that, he takes his leave, not wanting to hear the disappointment that would surely lace every syllable of her response.
John Abernathy stands just outside the commune, staring at the lights of the looming house. His house. Memories flood his mind, but he forces them back with a fervor. Those memories are tainted by infidelity, and he can’t spiral like that again. He’s already concerned that he’s lost too much credit as it is; looking back on the past year is only detrimental, but he has to remember every false move. It’s the only way to learn from his mistakes, as distasteful as the word is for the man.
Ever since his son’s return, he’s brought nothing but turmoil for John. When he took his leave all those months ago, it was with the intent to prove that he hadn’t fathered Gideon, to show the Flock that he’s an imposter. But putting distance between himself and the mutineer was beneficial for his line of thinking. What would that information really prove? That John was incapable of accepting anyone’s mistakes? That he was willing to place punishment on the head of a baby that had no say in the matter? Truly, it wasn’t Gideon’s fault, he’d just been a child. This wrong-doing was Jack and Emely’s, thus, Gideon would walk away unscathed, as he and his wife were wont to do.
Should he simply accept their infidelity and carry on as if nothing had changed - as if no one had ripped his prodigy right from his hands - then he would come off looking like the dutiful father that loved his family. He merely...overreacted to the news at the wedding. After all, the woman that he’d loved fiercely had betrayed him, and he is battling the Shadow within, is he not?
Manipulation has never been a challenge for him, and there was no sense in it becoming one now. Gideon is a force to be reckoned with, there’s no arguing that, but he’s also young and psychopathic. John just needed to be patient and let him dig his own grave. He’d been foolish to not see this before, but he’s learning from those damnable mistakes.
With assurance in each step, he makes his way to the Abernathy household. Whatever is there to greet him, it’s best to meet it with confidence.
Once over the threshold, he’s met with a low growl. A smirk threatens to grace his features, though he keeps it in check and stops in the doorway. A quick sweep of the vicinity, and he finds the dog in the kitchen, hackles raised, next to Quinn. Though he dons a look of shame, he’s forced to wonder where Gideon is, and makes a mental note to be on his guard.
“Messenger,” he finally greets, coupling it with a small bow of his head. “I’ve come to apologize. For everything.”
|January 02, 2018 15:47|
|Quinn Abernathy||With Gideon out, Quinn is left alone. Again. She gets it, and understands. She also understands the role she plays in his apathy, which makes it that much harder to swallow. He'd left before she could say a word, and Quinn is grateful for that. Every time her disappointment in herself slips through, she can feel the mask of calm confidence lifting. Neither of them can afford for her to be anything other than strong.
Outside, it is colder without his presence. Beyond that, she cannot shake that eerie feeling of being watched. Of course, she knows that is a constant issue. The cult would always watch their every move, and search for those moments of weakness. That is why it is so imperative that they keep those masks on, and their defenses up.
It is that knowledge that drives her back into the house, as uncomfortable as it is to be there. She longs for that tiny little thing they'd claimed upon their arrival. Despite being here, it was their own escape. Being under the Abernathy roof, however, seems to suffocate them both.
Never in a million years did she think the door would open to reveal anyone other than Gideon, and that is why when John walks in, he would find the young woman in guilty tears.
Cheeto had been at her side, trying to comfort her with his mere companionship, when the door opened. It evoked a reaction that stirs her from her thoughts, and worked hands lift along with her gaze to glance in John's direction before she begins to wipe her cheeks dry in a rush.
Messenger, he says with his silky, deceptive voice. She hates being called that, though she would never admit it. Quinn is a false God, alongside Gideon. I've come to apologize. For everything.
The words, the submissive behavior, stirs within her a deeper sorrow with a strong side of distrust. She swallows, and keeps her gaze trained on the surface of the table at which she sits, if only hide the red rims of her eyes. Quinn could be angry with him if she wanted to be, and anyone else might be, but she is the cause of all of this.
It was Quinn that shared with him the affair, and caused the scene at the wedding. Before that, every little thing that happened had been due to her actions. In reality, her willfulness to be here is the cause of it all. So, with a small voice, she answers with the only words she can muster.
"I forgive you."
|January 02, 2018 16:56|
|Gideon Abernathy||Though her response catches him off guard, he keeps his composure and shakes his head. Honestly, he wasn’t expecting her to be so quick to forgive, but this woman was constantly reminding him that she’s more than meets the eye. All the same, he was expecting much more resistance, so this threw him for a loop.
Taking a step into the house, he stops once again. It’s a subtle move, but one that shows he’s not as domineering as he once was, at least to the naked eye. He will do everything in his power to show that he’s a changed man, and this is only the beginning. If he could get Quinn on board, the cult - and even Gideon - would prove much easier in following suit. Yes, the Messenger is the key to taking his cult back.
“I appreciate the sentiment, truly, you have no idea. But I want to prove to you that I’ve changed. I thought… I thought that you and my son were… trying to undermine me.” He speaks as though the words are poison to him, throwing in a grimace here and there to drive the point home. John’s not new to this game, though, and he knows it’s going to take a lot more than one conversation to get her over to his side. Still, he has to make it as believable as possible. “I was so certain that you were lying in an attempt to manipulate my people against me. Now...I’m not so sure. The Shadow has shown itself to me in my dreams in and even in my waking consciousness, and I...I’m in no fit state to lead. You were right in distrusting me, as I’ve earned it in abounds. But, if you’d let me, I’d like to prove to you that I’m willing to rid myself of this darkness. I can’t expel these demons myself, I need my people, and these people need a capable leader once more. You and my son… I think-- no, I know that you’re who you say you are. You are the Shepherd and the Messenger, sent by God…”
A tear rolls down his cheek, and mentally, even he is shocked. It’s almost as if he believes the words himself. But he doesn’t give himself time to dwell, instead opting to push forward.
“I’ve decided to move out of your house.” This move is more for himself than Quinn and Gideon. He has no desire to stay in a house that held so many false memories. As deceptive as he is and always has been, there was a part of him that truly believed his family was just that: his. Now, he can’t stomach the place, and if he’s to put on a believable performance, he must give himself the optimal environment. “I’m going to build a small shack on the outskirts of the commune where I can atone and hopefully reinstate myself as a member of the Flock, under your leadership and guidance. If, of course, you would allow it…”
|January 02, 2018 17:25|
|Quinn Abernathy||Cheeto shuffles defensively beside her, and Quinn reaches a tentative hand to rest upon the thick pelt of hair upon his back, fingers working into the strands in hopes that she might calm him. The outcome, however, does the opposite. He didn't sense her movements, his focus on John, and instead he nearly bites her. She'd been prepared for that reaction, withdrawing her hand quickly. The frown upon her lips speaks volumes of the hurt this brings to her heart. This dog had been the catalyst of her entire relationship with Gideon, and now he too would turn his back on her.
She straightens up where she sits, trying to appear stronger than she is, and finally raises her gaze to the man before her.
Surely he knows that she does not believe in this religion he's made up. Quinn could never believe in a Messenger, a Shepherd, a Shadow, a God that would demand bloodied sacrifices and punishments that are beyond the means of the crime. She doesn't understand it, why he would talk to her like this... and she decides to go out on a ledge.
"Mr. Abernathy, please," she gestures to the open chair across from her, inviting him to sit. At least there, she can see him, and there would be no way for him to attack her without giving her a chance to run from harms way. "I know you don't believe any of that."
She folds her hands upon the surface of the table, mouth dry as she speaks the hard truths only Gideon had had the courage to utter thusfar. "It's no secret that none of the three of us find any of this easy to swallow, but the people here cling to the hope you provided by creating this... this... faction. They're the believers, and we are nothing more than the very people that would feed them lies if only to ease their suffering. I appreciate that, and I love them dearly. I only want what is right for them. They're innocent in all of this."
It is such a small feeling, to speak so openly, knowing full well that it could kill them both. But she cannot even begin to lie anymore. Not here. Not now. "We each have our role to play, and in some way... the titles are, yes, accurate. But please, I'm begging you, enough."
Gideon might even kill her, himself, for this damnable chatter.
"If I may make a suggestion," she offers, "Perhaps a change would be best for all of us. You can build your home, and Gideon and I will build our own."
|January 02, 2018 17:56|
|Gideon Abernathy||An eyebrow quirks at her words as he drops the act, straightening up to watch her face. Clever girl, he can’t help but think, but not nearly so clever as she believes. He listens to her words, seeing the exhaustion written all over her face, and it dawns on him how much this is weighing on her. So it must be affecting Gideon all the more…
He takes the offered chair, suppressing the urge to scoff at her innocent, albeit completely wrong, impression of the people that resided in the commune. They were just as guilty as he, if not more so. It wasn’t him that started the rituals; they were not very receptive to any kind of newcomers, and it was their resounding vote that brought about the first killing. He merely molded it into their beliefs, using it to keep them in line. These people are carnal, and if Quinn hadn’t seen that yet, she soon would.
“Truthfully, I’m glad we can drop the facade, at least amongst the three of us. You have no idea how hard it is to keep the act going to for so many years.” He considers her offer, then nods, a smile splitting his face. “I agree. This house holds too much...bad energy. It’s time we tear it down and build anew. I think it would be good for everyone. As well as…”
He rises from the chair and moves to the door, rubbing at the gray stubble on his chin. “I think the change of leadership will be good. For everyone. I look forward to seeing what you and Gideon can change. For the better.” With that, he turns to go, but not without imparting another bit of advice. “I’d be careful with that dog. Even if you think he trusts you, he can turn on you at any point.” He hopes she’d get the underlying message.
It’s hard to say how long he’s gone for; time seems to crawl in the commune as it is. But when Gideon finally drags himself through their front door, it’s to a darkened house. As his eyes are already adjusted to the night, he doesn’t bother turning on the lights. And he doesn’t bother dragging himself up the stairs. Exhaustion is finally taking its toll, as he hasn’t slept well in weeks. Instead, he opts to collapse on the couch, his eyes drifting shut before he even hits the cushions.
When he awakens in the morning, the sun in shining brightly right on his face, procuring a nasty headache. Grumbling, he shoves his face in the pillow as the dreams from the night before disappear into the back of his mind. They were awful, leaving him feeling unrested and uneasy, to say the least. But the more he tries to recall them, the more they dodge just out of reach. Fine by him.
He can hear Quinn moving about in the kitchen, quiet and graceful as she is. Smells of breakfast waft through the house, causing his stomach to growl, but still, he won’t rise from the couch. It’s only when he hears a knock at the door, followed by someone letting themselves in that he makes any kind of movement.
The voice that fills the house is the last one he’s expecting.
“Good morning, Quinn. I was hoping I could borrow some coffee. I’ve got a long day ahead of me, and- oh, son, you’re up. I wanted to talk--”
Without much thought, Gideon rises from the couch, his fist already swinging by the time he reaches John. It lands square in the middle of his face. Stumbling backward into the doorframe, he clutches at his bloodied nose, though Gideon recognizes the satisfied glint in his eye.
“Get the fvck out of my house.”
|January 10, 2018 12:56|
|Quinn Abernathy||He hadn't expected her to call it out, and that brings her some peace of mind. Quinn had, from the start, acted her part. Dutiful, optimistic, faithful. She barely even let off the act when alone with Gideon, instead attempting to avoid the topic of this religion altogether.
She also understands that stopping this falsehood could lead to future issues, and is prepared to work through that. So, as he takes the seat offered and thus begins to speak freely, she leans back into her own. Chocolate hues are trained upon the man, and though that light within them is still present, it is a little dim.
'You have no idea how hard it is to keep the act going to for so many years.'
"I can imagine," her words are barely audible, more of a breath.
At his consent for all parties to start fresh, she nods, though the weight of the world does not lessen upon her shoulders. He stands, and she can tell this visit will be shorter than anticipated, though it brings her no comfort. Quinn can barely nod her appreciation to his well wishes before he carries on.
'Even if you think he trusts you, he can turn on you at any point.'
At that precise moment in time, she hadn't realized the impact of that statement.
Those words would stick with her through the night, leaving her restless and sleepless as they course through her mind like a parasite. Despite knowing that John is a manipulator, he had been honest in their discussion once all pretenses were dropped.
The next morning, she would pull herself out of bed. Shower, dress, make herself presentable to the world. The sweet, flaxen-haired girl with her pretty dresses and her bright eyes. Quinn would hide the dark circles that have begun to accumulate, and then make her way down the stairs to go about her day as normal, noting Gideon asleep on the couch. Already, she is preparing herself to tell him of John's return.
Sometime later, as she stands over the stove watching the eggs cook, a knock comes at the door and in walks John. Quinn bites back the sigh that nearly escapes her, putting on a pleasant smile instead before looking at the man. She had already been on her way to provide the man coffee when Gideon made his appearance.
Pleasantries turn to something ugly as fist meets flesh and a great weight hits the door frame. And Quinn, unprepared for this, stands and stares between the two men in a daze. Her husband, this man she would die for, and his father. "Giddy, I was going to tell you when you woke up..."
Grabbing at a towel from the counter, she steps up to John and holds them both out in offering. Quinn cannot quite meet the man's gaze, instead staring straight ahead. The tension is high, and she has to do what is best for all of them. Just as quickly as she is about to let John take the items, she retracts them, drawing them back to herself.
"You can't go outside like that." If the compound saw him emerging from the house like this, it would surely reflect badly upon herself and Gideon. John is ailing, and as such, should be treated as such. The sigh she had retained finally escapes her, and she sets the coffee down. "Sit."
Turning an apologetic look to Gideon, she frowns. This isn't fair to him, but she has to protect him. Letting John leave like this would be bad for him, and she can only hope he understands. "Once he's cleaned up, he will leave. And he will not come back into the house after that."
|January 11, 2018 09:16|
|Gideon Abernathy||The adrenaline pulses through his veins, pushing all rational thought from his head. He doesn’t want to stop with just one punch; he wants to obliterate John into a pulp. The images that flit through his mind are gory and gruesome, and oh so intoxicating. It’s just the kind of activity he needs to burn off some steam. Honestly, it’s perfect timing on his father’s part. For once, Gideon can say he isn’t unhappy to see him.
It all comes crashing down with Quinn’s words.
Suddenly, his head is swimming, even as she insists that John stay, as he can’t go out in such a condition. Confusion, anxiety, anger; they run rampant through his psyche, the last causing a fury, white hot, to blind him for a moment. To steady himself, he puts a hand against the wall, the tips of his fingers white with strain. What had he missed?
What about their wedding day? Had she forgotten what transpired? What about Cheeto? He still isn’t truly at home with them and, though he doesn’t have the heart to voice it, Gideon doesn’t know that he ever will be. What about everything else? Malachi? Claire? Hell, even Jack. Everything that plagued them - that turned Quinn against her nature, that brought Gideon closer to his roots - is arguably because of John.
What had he missed?
His grasp on his sanity slips that much more.
“It’s fine, Quinn, really. He has every right to be mad at me. I deserve nothing less.” John’s words permeate his subconscious, and Gideon drags his gaze toward his father, now leaned over the sink in an attempt to make less of a mess. The fury comes back tenfold, though even he’s amazed at his ability to keep his face expressionless. It’s taking all of his strength, and all he can do is turn on his heel and remove himself from the situation.
In the bedroom, he sits on the edge of the bed, his gaze staring blankly at the wall. He does his best to quell his anger, but he can’t process it well enough to not feel its burn. His muscles are tense as he sit motionless, forcing all concentration on not letting his mind get the better of him. Surely, she has an explanation… She wouldn’t betray him.
|January 14, 2018 20:27|
|Quinn Abernathy||Gideon is angry. It doesn't take much for Quinn to see the signs in him, especially now, in this state. He's upset. He's blindsided, even. There is no blaming him, either. The man has no idea what is happening, or what has changed. He didn't even know John had returned. John's words pull her from her thoughts, and her nose wrinkles.
She wants to tell him he deserves so much more pain, that he deserves Gideon's full wrath.. but she can't. She can't, because this is important. Instead, she finds a less savory response that barely touches to her thoughts on the things that John deserves.
God, what is wrong with this? What is wrong with her? What is wrong with everything? She needs to get them out. She has to. Quinn tells herself that later, she would think on how she and Gideon could escape it all.
And then Gideon leaves, the tension left behind palpable in the room. It chokes her, and she watches him disappear before turning to John. "You did that on purpose," she chimes. Still, she can't quite look at the man. Instead, she moves to the stove, set upon throwing away her ruined breakfast. The now empty pan in her hand hits the surface of the stove a little harder than intended, and Quinn bows her head.
"Just... just clean yourself up, and leave, and tell no one what happened."
Without a second thought or glance, she walks away, going upstairs and finding her way into the bedroom. And there he is. Brooding, and delicately unbalanced. The door is shut quietly behind her, and locked, before she approaches. Instead of sitting beside him, she decides to kneel before him where he sits. It's more than just a simple choice, whether she realizes it or not. It's a move of fealty, of submission, and as her hand lifts to touch to his knee, she silently begs his better judgment.
"He showed up last night. He came in, doing the same pious act as always, and apologized. He was playing along with everything. Said he was going to build his own home on the outskirts. And I decided... Giddy... I'm tired. I'm too tired to be angry all the time. It's too much energy. So I accepted the apology."
Biting her lip for a moment, she lowers her gaze. "I told him to drop the act. I told him I know he doesn't believe in any of it, none of us do, and asked him to speak plainly. And I suggested you and I do the same, build our own, away from him. He agreed. He wished us well, and he left. I was just waiting for you to wake up to tell you what happened, baby. I didn't expect him to come again. ...And I think he did something to Cheeto. Before."
|January 14, 2018 20:58|
|Gideon Abernathy||In his state of hyper-awareness, he hears each movement from downstairs. He hears the pan hit the stovetop, their murmured voices, her muffled footsteps coming slowly up the stairs. The click of the lock is deafening, causing him to flinch, yet there is no other notable movement.
She kneels before him and he grimaces. This blatant submission is new for Quinn, and he’s once again reminded how much better off she would be without him. The room spins dangerously, and he plants a hand on the bedspread to keep himself steady just as she places her hand on his knee. His nature would have him jerk away, but he managed to not break the contact, instead closing his eyes as she rattles off in that nervous way she does.
He was playing along with everything…
I accepted the apology…
Drop the act…
Do the same…
He wished us well…
Gideon pushes himself off the bed and toward the door, the lock clicking just as loudly when he turned it. He feels trapped, and he feels betrayed. Words are forming on his tongue, but he hardly knows what he’s saying. Bits and pieces can be picked out in his cracking psyche, but nothing more. “I’m sorry...can’t process...I’ll be back later…” But nothing more.
John is just finishing cleaning himself up when he hears someone all but tumble down the stairs. He moves to say something, but stops; Gideon’s eyes seemed...more dead than usual, and he isn’t entirely sure if anything he says will register anyway. It’s almost as if he doesn’t know John is there.
Once he’s gone, the older man waits, as if expecting to hear movement. When none comes, he frowns. Considering the options, he chooses to ascend the staircase and peek into the bedroom that Gideon had just occupied. Quinn remained in a kneeling position, her face unreadable from this angle. Again, John hesitates; what more could he do here? They were obviously in a very strained place already, there’s no viable reason to interfere further.
Still, he pushes the door open and steps inside.
“Quinn?” His voice is soft, lilting, and very unlike him. “Is there...Well, are you alright?”
|January 14, 2018 21:28|
Gideon left, and Quinn simply stays. She doesn't watch him leave. She can't. If he had been receptive to her story, he would have calmed down. But this reaction only tells her that she's made things worse. That strangled sensation in her heart returns after not having felt such a thing in so long, and she clutches at her stomach with the hand that had rested upon him.
Quinn is not strong. She never has been, and she never will be. She is small, and scared, and broken. A mess, incapable of making the right decisions. She doesn't even know what those are.
The thoughts continue, pushing her deeper and deeper within herself. Her name is called, gentle and quiet, and it reminds her of the way her own father had done just the same when she was hurting. A scream wants to break the surface, but it can't. "I love him," her voice is strained, barely making it out.
John wouldn't see the stained trail upon her cheeks or the redness of her eyes. He wouldn't get to see her heartbreak in her gaze. Instead, he would see the way her frame shakes as she speaks. He would hear her choke on her words, and watch as she folds into herself.
He would watch her break.
"We never should have come back... I never should have made him come back."
We're not going to survive this.
|January 14, 2018 21:52|
|Gideon Abernathy||It’s a very raw moment, and he almost feels inclined to comfort her. But John takes a steadying breath and instead plants an expression of sympathy on his face as he takes a few more steps into the room. He won’t touch her; he knows she’d draw away from any kind of contact. Yet he’s biding his time as he decides what to do.
This is what he’s wanted since Gideon turned his back on him and proven himself - and his wife - to be more formidable foes than he’d expected. It would be so simple to give them their out. Both parties could be satisfied: John could have his cult back and they could hightail it out of there, never to look back.
But even as he thinks on it, he realizes that won’t satisfy him. No, he wants them to suffer, to be utterly destroyed by what they thought they could handle. He wants to watch as they crumble in on themselves and realize they never should have trifled with John Abernathy. It’s already beginning, so why not see it through to the end. The cult would come crawling back to him, and he’d be more powerful than ever. What is there to lose?
“He loves you, too.” John suppresses the urge to scoff; as if Gideon is capable of such an emotion. “But...he’s unstable. He always has been. And I fear that this may be taking its toll on him. Perhaps…” He pauses, for added emphasis, but more to think on his unfolding plan. It will be hard to get them to agree to step away from the commune. Who would be in charge? Certainly not John, he’s not a fool. And what of their aforementioned dangers with...what was it, a werewolf? No harm in suggesting, he finally concedes. “You should take him and leave, just for a couple days. Put Evelyn in charge, she was always good when I needed some time away and Malachi couldn’t be trusted. I think it would be good. For the both of you.”
He waits, hardly breathing, wondering if he’d overstepped his boundaries. Well, of course he did, but he’s wondering if she’ll jump on it regardless. John has a feeling they’d use any excuse to get away, if only for a moment, and he’ll sleep just fine after using that against them.
|January 15, 2018 18:00|
|Quinn Abernathy||He moves further into the room, and Quinn braces herself. She's turned her back on the man, not watching him or his movements. There is no way she could ever conceive of what he is capable of, but she would always heed Gideon's warnings. He could cut her down where she is, and watch her die at his feet, and there is nothing she could do about it. So why bother caring? She isn't strong enough to fight him off, either way.
'...he's unstable. He always has been.'
Quinn only crumbles further at this, knowing full well that John is right. It unsettles her, all this truth he dispels since their conversation became frank rather than coated in deceit. And then, he makes a suggestion that both fuels and quells her fears. And what about...
"But Ti-..." shaking her head, she sucks in a deep, shuddering breath. She has no idea where Tiber is, if he is hunting them, if he isn't. And beside that very point, John is playing her. She knows it. He has to know she knows it. Quinn doesn't want to leave because of it, but what choice does she have? If they don't go, even if only for a short time, Gideon will break and they will be die in one way or another.
Lifting her head, she wipes her cheeks dry before pushing herself to stand. She has to be strong. There is no choice in the matter.
There is a pregnant sigh as she stares down at the floor in thought, and her voice carries a melancholy lilt as she concedes. "You're right... it just... you're right."
She feels dirty, but how is she going to argue that this isn't what Gideon needs? Forget her. She can bounce back. She can blend in, and adapt. But he needs something this place would never give him: peace. "I don't know if you meant what you said last night, Mr. Abernathy... but I want you to know that I really do love your son, and all I want is his happiness. It... it doesn't matter, who did what. You raised him, and he is a great man."
She means it. She really, really means it.
Sniffing, she finally lifts her gaze, and Quinn meets John's eyes. "I'll take him for a couple days... thank you, for being kind..."
|January 15, 2018 18:28|
|Gideon Abernathy||Carefully, he watches as she straightens herself and wipes her face. She is attempting to hide any weakness from him, but they both know he’s already seen too much. His green eyes are that of a hawk as she goes through her thought process, written plainly across her face. Quinn doesn’t hide much; it makes her the most genuine person he’s honestly ever encountered.
She finally cedes to his bidding, and he smiles widely in return. But her last sentiment sends him reeling…
You raised him, and he is a great man.
She’s either very naive, or very stupid, and he can’t pinpoint which it is. Gideon is a serial killer, a narcissist, a psychopath; those characteristics do not a great man make. And while it’s true, he did raise him, he’s not willing to take responsibility for the monster that was created. Not yet.
Instead, he clears his throat and turns to go, just as she offers her thanks. “No need to thank me, Quinn. I’ve got a lot to make up for, and we all deserve happiness and peace of mind…”
Gideon hoped a walk would be just what he needed, but no such luck. The commune is suffocating, even in the bright morning light, and try as he might, he can’t avoid all the members of the Flock. As soon as they approach, though, they almost seem to shrink back, which only makes him all the madder. It’s not him that’s at fault, it’s fvcking them.
His teeth are clenched painfully when he finally returns home. It’s hard to say how long he was gone, but he breathes a little easier when he realizes John is gone. His father is unsettling, to say the least, and the way he seems to manipulate Quinn with such ease is alarming. She’s too innocent for such a poisonous place, and the effects have been cause for much worry.
There is no doubt in his mind: they have to get out of here.
He trudges up the stairs with a heavier gait than usual, pausing outside their bedroom door before pushing it open. What greets him is Quinn packing some things into a bag. His first thought is that she’s finally leaving him, and the conflicting emotions are enough to almost send him back into his downward spiral. But when he sees that she’s also packing some of his things, his confusion only intensifies.
“What are you doing?”
|January 15, 2018 18:49|
|Quinn Abernathy||His last words echo in her mind, and Quinn watches as he leaves. There is no empty feeling this time, not like when Gideon goes. This time, she feels as though she can breathe. She made it. She did it. Another encounter to say she lived through, all by herself. If the stakes were not so high, she might even be proud. But with that absence, and that need to be strong, her weakness returns.
Steps forward are taken, and she sets to work immediately. Her face is splashed with cold water, and she takes care to set things right before taking the short walk to see Evelyn.
The old woman sees right through that smile Quinn wears, and she knows it, but they both ignore the elephant in the room: misery, and lost confidence. Only once they've settled their short conversation does she return to the Abernathy house, going straight upstairs. It takes a lot to keep her emotions in check as she grabs a small bag and begins to neatly pack within enough to get them through a few days away.
She doesn't even hear Gideon enter, or realize he's there, until he speaks.
Her focus doesn't move. She's terrified of looking at him, knowing he will see every thought in her mind as clear as day. Quinn doesn't want him to feel guilt where there is none for him to feel, or worry, or concern. Instead, she stays silent just a moment before answering.
The word escapes her easily, though she knows it is unsatisfactory. Clearing her throat, she smooths out the shirt she's just laid at the top of the pile. "You and I are going away for a few days. Evelyn is going to watch over the Flock for us. I already spoke with her. I took care of everything."
'...we all deserve happiness and peace of mind.'
Quinn has never wanted to believe something so badly in her entire life. She zips the bag closed, the sound near deafening. "Now. We're going now."
|January 15, 2018 19:04|