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In a World Like This



 
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Quinn Abernathy

March 11, 2018

He had left a note, but Quinn barely waited for him to close the door behind him before jumping out of bed and setting about getting dressed and ready to run. She showered, rushing through the motions and barely rinsing her body clean of the suds before she jumps out. Once dry, she hurries to the dresser, pulling out a pair of old jeans and a t-shirt. There is no time today for making herself pretty, or caring much at all about what she might be wearing. This is important.

Her things are gathered together haphazardly as she rushes out of the tiny structure. Her things thrown into the passenger side of the truck, she works quickly to ensure everything in the bed is secured under the tarp before taking off on what feels like the longest ride home ever.

Normally, the radio would keep her company, allowing her to catch up on current events and hear new music, or least music she hasn't been listening to on repeat. This morning, it would be an entirely different story as she speeds along the dusky back roads. It takes a great deal of restraint to keep from calling Gideon, but she reminds herself once again that it could be a terrible idea.

Just as much as she watches the road again, she finds herself looking in the rearview.

By the time she reaches the commune, the sun as risen and officially lit up the world below. People will have left their homes to go about their days, whatever they may be, and outside, it is quiet. Her only solace is the lack of scaffolding in the open space at the center of the commune. Still, that doesn't promise much.

Quinn parks carelessly, rushed as she gets out of the truck and makes her way quickly into the Abernathy house. Not a single room is left unchecked, and with each one, her worry builds further. Gideon isn't home.

Stepping out of the house, she walks quickly through the commune, stopping by the gardens and the makeshift church. She stands outside the building in which he had been held once, when they'd first been brought here, and listens intently. But with no one outside the doors, she realizes it unlikely that he would be here.

But there he is, as she moves briskly, stepping out of Evelyn's house. A deep breath is exhaled, the relief upon her features real, and she tries her best not to hurry too much as she moves to him. Instantly, her arms are thrown around his neck and she holds tightly to him.

"Are you okay? Is everything okay?"

Her questions, desperate and anxious, would be nothing more than a whisper in his ear.
April 03, 2018 07:55 pm

Gideon Abernathy

Gideon stares up at the ceiling above their bed, having gotten no sleep the night before. The sun shines brightly through the crack in the curtains, and he curses lowly before getting up to yank them shut. The day has started, the commune is abuzz with activity, and he just wants to ignore it all.

The truth is his mind won’t relax. Quinn had left the day before on a run for supplies - really, more of a cop out to get her away from the Flock for a bit - and he hadn’t heard from her all night. Normally, this wouldn’t bother him; Gideon isn’t the clingy sort. But, with as hectic and dangerous as their life had been lately, it isn’t like her to not call him before she goes to bed. In fact, he’d given her express instructions to do just that before she’d left, if only to let him know that she was safe.

Needless to say, she hadn’t.

He’d fought his urges all night; he didn’t call, he didn’t text, and he sure as hell didn’t jump into a car and go chasing after her, though it was a close call. All the same, it’s now morning, and still - nothing.

Continuing to dwell on it is only darkening his mood, and he has to remind himself that Quinn is perfectly capable of handling her own. She’s different now, changed. And while he’d never wanted that for her, he can’t say it isn’t for the better.

He pushes himself from the bed with a groan, and the springs even creak in protest. It’s all he can do to push himself to get dressed and go about his duties. No sense borrowing trouble, he reminded himself. In the back of his mind, however, he swore that if he hadn’t heard from her by the afternoon, he’d go find her.

Once outside, the sun assaults his consciousness, and he has to squint to adjust his eyes. People cast him well-meaning greetings, but he knows it’s all just a front. Even so, he’ll offer waves and good mornings in turn, though he doesn’t offer himself up for conversation. Gideon isn’t in the mindset to handle that sort of interaction right now.

It’s when he passes Evelyn’s house that he’s forced into such an interaction, regardless.

“Gideon, come here.”
“I’ve got things to attend to, I really shou--”
“They can wait. Come inside. Coffee?”
“I really don’t want coffee, Evelyn…”
“Tea then.”

Begrudgingly, he heads inside, if only to get it over with. And honestly, a cup of tea doesn’t sound all that bad. Evelyn, by far, is his favorite member of the Flock, if only because she saw through all the bullsh-t, even with him.

“You’re wearing your worry on your face, dear, what’s going on?” Evelyn cuts right to the chase as she goes about preparing his tea. The water is already warming on the stove, and he can’t help but wonder if she had this planned all along.

“Everything’s fine, I’m just a bit tired is all.” Her piercing blue eyes give him a pointed glare, and he sighs heavily. “I haven’t heard from Quinn since she left.”

“Could she be in danger?”

“I don’t think so, at least… I hope not,” he cedes, sinking into a chair at her kitchen table. There is no sense in hiding from Evelyn; it’s as if she has a preternatural sense for these sorts of things.

“She can handle herself, remember. She learned from the best.” A crooked smile appears on her wrinkled face, and she glances at the dark expression he casts her. The dark expression, she sees, that isn’t met in his eyes. “You’re proud of her.”

“I never wanted this life for her.”

“And yet, she’s adapting, and you two are making it work.”

“Hardly. Death lurks around every fvcking corner.”

“That just means you’re really living.”

She sets the mug in front of him, and while his worries are still his, they seem a little less heavy.

An hour later, he finally takes his leave, but not before thanking Evelyn for her listening ear. “Don’t mention it, dear. Sometimes, you just need something to take your mind off your worries, so you can realize that you had nothing to worry about at all.” Gideon’s eyebrow quirks, and the old woman nods her head just past his shoulder. Turning just as she closes the door, he’s ambushed by a mess of blonde hair and small arms tightly wrapped around him.

The breath in his lungs is released in a soft sigh as he easily returns the hug, squeezing perhaps a little more tightly than normal. Her questions, however, give him pause, and he pulls away slightly to meet her gaze with a curious look in his own. “I’m fine. Everything’s fine. Why shouldn’t it be?”
April 04, 2018 10:21 am

Quinn Abernathy

The girl could easily cry, but Quinn keeps herself together. The instant his arms wrap around her, she feels safe. Her tensions, while not completely gone, melt considerably within Gideon’s grasp, and a breath is let loose only after she breathes his presence in. Her pure happiness at seeing him in one piece is expressed through several kisses pressed to his cheek before he pulls back to answer her questions. Gaze locking easily with his, she shakes her head minutely. It’s not okay. Nothing is okay.

It is immediately obvious that she is troubled and left without rest, dark circles under her eyes telling tale of a long night. She is not put together at all, not like she normally is. There is no attempt at making herself ‘pretty’. This is the Quinn that had been abducted from a motel room and dragged to the compound, where Gideon waited in pain. Not the Quinn that is the dutiful, adoring is wife of a cult figurehead.

Once more, she moves in, one arm secured around his neck while the other cradles the back of his head. Quinn presses her cheek to his, turning her head just enough to be able to talk quietly without gathering attention from others. She wants to go home, but she simply can’t. Not until she gets it out, at least.

“I think someone followed me. I heard them outside, Gideon. They were walking around my cabin.”

But it hadn’t been her own well-being that concerned her. It was his. Gideon is all that matters, and a threat to her is just as much to him. Quinn has so much to tell him, and she isn’t sure where the time is. So, she takes advantage of their proximity. Selfishly, this is probably due to her constant desire to be near and dear to the man.

“I’m sorry I didn’t call. I just thought if you were in trouble...” Finally, with a sigh, she leans back enough to press her forehead to his. This man... she is so stupid in love with him. Quinn isn’t sure how she would ever get through the days without him, and honestly doesn’t want to know. But the next part, the part that is important for their future, is what has her worried now.

“Can we please go back to the house, Giddy? Or somewhere?”
April 04, 2018 03:34 pm

Gideon Abernathy

There’s no mistaking it; Quinn is beside herself. Stress is etched into every feature, and even the way she holds herself leaves no room for doubt. She’s shaken. Even before she voices the reason, he’s already tense and wary.

Her whispered words procure a dark shadow in his head and his eyes immediately take note of everyone in the vicinity. They go about their daily lives, casting smiles to their leaders and talking quietly amongst themselves. They are always watching, waiting for their slip-ups. And then, his eyes fall on John, who stands watching them with that sh-t-eating grin. Gideon’s dark eyes narrow.

“Come with me to the garden,” he instructs before encasing her hand in his own. Unfortunately, Gideon had only just woken up and started his day, and it had already been set back even further by Evelyn. Should they immediately return home, the commune would suspect something, and it would only give his father more reason to continue his espionage.

The garden is his only reprieve from the commune. The Flock won’t come near it when they know their Shepherd is working, and it’s an added bonus that he never perpetuated, but certainly won’t work to change. And it’s only when they’re deep within the foliage and plants that he’ll let go of her hand, taking up a shovel in its wake.

It’s a moment of digging - the tomato plants are late getting into the ground - before he’ll speak. “Tell me everything.”
April 10, 2018 06:05 pm

Quinn Abernathy

The moment they begin to move, Quinn’s gaze is moving. With Gideon safe, she is free to observe. Everyone is normal, distressingly so. But when she sees John, the smile on his face calls upon the hair on the back of her neck to stand at attention. Quinn is too stressed to fake her own smile, and she knows it is a detriment. Somehow, she swallows back her emotions and manages an expression close to neutral.

The entire time they walk, her grip on Gideon’s hand is desperately tight.

In the garden, he grabs a shovel. Quinn glances around, making a judgment on what would be his project for the day. But she also knows she is useless, and instead crosses her arms as he instructs her to tell all. “It was bad, Gideon. All of it. I did the best I could think to. But it’s not good.”

She swallows, finding her throat dry under the sudden pressure of all that she would be sharing with him. Quinn moves, shuffling until her back is to the majority of the commune. She can feel the tears building up, and though she is working hard to keep them from descending down their natural path, it is best no one sees her struggle.

“I was in the kitchen, and a detective showed up. Weston Norse. He was asking about a girl that went missing, and said her car had been found parked not far from the plantation. I didn’t recognize her, I told him that, and he started telling me about how he is investigating a string of missing people.”

Clearing her throat, she forces herself to power through. Even still, she does her best to be quiet in her story telling. It is important that he know everything. Complete honesty is their rule, and she would follow it.

“He was gone fast enough. But then later that night I was in my cabin, and I heard someone outside. I panicked, Gideon. I heard them, and I thought the worst, and I was scared. The house was dark, I didn’t know if you were safe, I didn’t want to call the police and make a scene. So I called the detective. And he came alone, and checked. He said he didn’t see anyone, but he stayed until morning.”

Ducking her head down, she takes a deep, shuddering breath. Just thinking on the events causes her heart to take flight, the previous nights fretfully deep fear fueling its errant fluttering. “All I could see was you in that shed again. I just wanted to make it through to morning, so that I could get home to you.”
April 11, 2018 08:26 am

Gideon Abernathy

Each time the shovel finds the dirt is a little more intense than the last. She hadn’t been lying; her recounting of the events only proved to get worse and worse. More than once, Gideon wants to interject, but he won’t… He wants to hear the worst of it.

At this point, the fact that she might have been followed isn’t even on his radar. They are always being watched, always being followed; it only stands to reason that it continue. Perhaps they should be more concerned, should that behavior stop.

No, his main concern is this detective.

How could you be so stupid? he wants to spit, but he bites his tongue. In fact, he can’t find words for a time, each response that comes to mind more venomous than the last. With the hole dug, he chooses to focus on the garden, if only to let his mind relax. He loosens the dirt from around the roots of the plants, admiring their eagerness to grow and thrive. Unconsciously, he compares it to their shortcomings, and wonders if they’ll ever get a chance to take root anywhere but here.

Moments later, he’s tamping the dirt down around the base of the plant, and it’s only after he’s secured it that Gideon will finally speak.

“You’re not leaving here alone anymore.” She can look at it as punishment if she likes, but in Gideon’s eyes, she’s a danger to both of them. A fvcking detective… he can’t wrap his mind around it, and dwelling only makes his blood boil and his mind race. “The best you could do… was a detective?” Even as he says it, the venom slips through, and he shakes his head incredulously. “For fvck’s sake, I thought you were smarter than that. Do you know what a detective could mean for us?”

For me.

There’s no getting past it; he’s spiraling, and it shows in the way he rubs at his face, ignorant to the dirt that is smeared across it. It’s very likely that the string of missing persons will lead directly to Gideon, and Quinn had potentially given Detective Norse the trail of breadcrumbs he needs. His mind races as he goes back on all the details of every kill he’d made since returning to New Orleans. Had he left anything behind? Did he make any mistakes?

“You… knew.” His voice is strained, an odd lilt to his tone. “You knew he was investigating these missing people… and you still called him. To bail yourself out. Even if I was stuck in that fvcking shed…” He stopped, calming himself, his temper almost getting the best of him. “I’ve gotten myself out of worse. If they find me… that’s it. There’s no getting out of it. And you…”

He can’t bring himself to look at her, but his eyes find John, off in the distance. In the back of his head, he can’t help but wonder if this had been his plan. Had he truly gotten into Quinn’s mind? Would that be better? Undoubtedly, it would be easier to stomach than his wife having made such a rookie mistake.

Either way, something needs to be done about this Detective Norse.

“Well, it looks like it comes down to me… or this detective.” His dark eyes finally fall to her, and he shakes his head infinitesimally, disappointment clear in every feature. “You should get back to the school.” With that, he turns back to his shovel and the plants that need to take root.
April 12, 2018 10:01 am

Quinn Abernathy

You're not leaving here alone anymore.

"Fine."

Her response is easy. Quinn hardly has plans to leave again in the near future as it is, wanting to avoid another run-in with Detective Norse. She knows that the less she sees of him, the better.

The best you could do... was a detecive?

The tone turns, and Quinn is quickly reminded of the side of Gideon she cannot possibly hope to reason with. This side of him that once picked her up and carried her to the truck despite her protests, and then called her stupid when she refused to get in. And now, he is doing much the same.. without actually using the word.

"He doesn't know anything about you."

Quinn watches as he moves, taking note in the way he dirties his face without care when he would normally ensure he stay as clean as possible. Presentable, for the Flock. He looks anywhere but at her, and Quinn finds herself wanting to follow his gaze but stopping for fear of someone seeing the tears that line her eyes heavily. She knows what he needs to do, and what it will take to get him back on track. The problem is admitting it, and feeding his needs.

"I did the best I could."

You should get back to the school.

Just like that, he dismisses her. Quinn stands, bowing her head for a moment as she mulls things over. She blinks several times, forcing herself to get her head in the game despite there being no way to accomplish such a thing.

"It would be best for us to leave. Like you promised." Lifting her gaze, she observes him once more. Quinn isn't foolish. She wants to believe he will keep that promise, to get out of this place and away from this life. Want, being the key word.

She takes a step back, mind reeling further as she comes to realize the reality of their situation. They will never leave. They will never have a peaceful life of their own. The longer they remain with the cult, the further Gideon slips from her. Ultimately, they would die here, and nothing could save them - short of divine intervention.

"You should stay away from him."

They would die, unless she succumbs to the life they have, and embraces it.

She finally turns, looking around to find the others watching. Watching as their Shepherd and Messenger fret and bicker. The morale is low, just like the trust. And then there is John, off in the distance, living with them without issue. She chews at her lip before turning her head to look at Gideon's working form once more.

You got this, she tells herself. Accept it and change.

"I think it's time for a sacrifice."
April 12, 2018 07:14 pm

Gideon Abernathy

It would be best for us to leave. Like you promised.

A smirk pulls at the corners of his mouth. As if she wasn’t the one that made them return to this cult in the first place. To keep safe from a threat that they shouldn’t have even considered. They could’ve stayed away, free, had it not been for fear of a puppy disguised as a wolf.

As it is, here they remain, more involved than ever. More ensnared.

You should stay away from him.

He noticeably scoffs at this, his gaze falling her to before he shakes his head with a tsk. “I’m not going to bank on the hope of a piss-poor detective, not when our lives are on the line. You do realize you’ll be stuck here, alone, if I get caught, right?”

There’s much more to say on the matter, much more that he wants to get out, but she sidesteps. She mentions a sacrifice, and his head is spinning. This is so unlike her, he almost has to take a step back. Had he been so concerned with himself that he hadn’t noticed how far she’d really succumbed?

Of course he had.

He opens his mouth to speak, but before any sound comes forth, a different voice permeates the quiet of the garden. “I agree.”

Turning, Gideon finds Evelyn just behind him. There’s no time to marvel at her quiet step, however, as he’s already pinching the bridge of his nose. Because the wise thing to do with a detective potentially on their doorstep is to perform a sacrifice…

“I think it should be me. And I think...you should perform it, Quinn.” There is a smile on her wrinkled face, and Gideon knows better than to argue. His wife would simply have to take her pill.

Letting out a dramatic sigh, he rubs at the back of his neck while his free hand waves defeatedly in the air. “She’s not wrong, Quinn…” What was he saying?
April 15, 2018 12:59 pm

Quinn Abernathy

“Giddy, he has no leads, nothing. There is no reason to bother with him.”

Quinn is having a difficult time. She is moody, and strangely outspoken. It is not like her to be so forward, and despite the sugar in her voice, she knows there is discontent laced into each and every word. She knows he doesn’t trust her. He doesn’t trust that she had been exceptionally careful during these interactions, or that she had paid close attention.

He only seems to trust that she had practically given him away, and it hurts.

They could leave at any time, but he won’t. And she won’t. Not without him. Tiber had once been a valid concern, yet she knows now there is no reason to fear him. Quinn hadn’t gotten the details she wanted, but she knew that he’d nullified the threat. She knows Tiberius is no longer hunting her, and that Tiber is to thank for her safety in that arena.

It is when she speaks her mind, truly, that she takes him by surprise. Quinn has never been a fan of the bloodier customs here, but she is where Gideon is concerned. His needs are her own. But surprise does come when, beyond him, she finds the old woman she has grown ridiculously fond of. Agreeing, no less.

Should be her.
Quinn should do it.
She’s not wrong...

At first, she is staring at Evelyn as if waiting for the woman to let loose a punchline. A laugh escapes her, quiet and full of disbelief. And then she looks at Gideon, and it becomes clear that there was no joke. This is serious, and when he speaks, Quinn can only shake her head. Any remnants of a smile is gone, all light leaving her dulled gaze.

“Yes, she is. Giddy. I can’t. She can’t.”

This is not what she had planned. Quinn expected for this to end in Gideon making the plans for a legal murder in their community.

Not this.

Breath catching within her chest, she steps forward, closer to Gideon. It is a habit, and her own tell. Whenever Quinn is distressed, she leans on Gideon. It isn’t perfect, but she is so deeply rooted in the man that sometimes, she is sure that without him there might be no air to breathe. Instinctively, her fingers twitch, desiring nothing more than to find comfort in the man.

“Gideon, please.”

His immediate agreement had set the tone, and she knows there is little she can do to change his mind. Struggling, her locks onto Evelyn, fearful and tearful.

Quinn is guilty of many things, but this thing they are suggesting would bring her to cross the line from the outside, in.

“I don’t want to be that person.”
April 15, 2018 01:55 pm

Gideon Abernathy

“I’ve been sick for a long time, Quinn…” Her voice is lilting, an obvious attempt to coax the scared woman into a death that Evelyn desires. “And it will go a long way to convince these people of your place here.” She doesn’t want to come right out and say it; Gideon belongs here, there is no argument. But Quinn couldn’t be more unsuited to the job. In her own right, it’s not a bad thing, but if they were to survive…

Gideon, please…

A pained expression takes its place on his visage, and he merely shakes his head. He never wanted this for her, had said as much many, many times. Yet, their choices are running out very quickly.

But what can he say? It’s not so bad… It goes quickly… If you’ve done it once, it becomes easier… That may have been true for him, someone born into such a nature by default. For someone like Quinn, however… He has no advice.

Before he can open his mouth to speak, Evelyn takes the reins, seeing the obvious distress on both of their faces. “Unfortunately, if you want to survive in a place like this, you must become what you’re not. Adaptation is the key to survival. Or,” she continues, her tone flattening out considerably, “you can leave. Subject yourselves to a lifetime of running.”

Turning, she begins hobbling away, only stopping to cast one last bit of wisdom over her shoulder. “It’s too late to walk away unscathed. But I think you already knew that.”
April 16, 2018 02:06 pm
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