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Quinn Abernathy

'Gideon, I can't. I can't do it. I can't do this.'

Quinn's tearful insecurities had been whispered out the morning of the sacrifice between quiet sobs. She'd spent this emotional time tucked safely in Gideon's grasp, lamenting and mourning, in a thick cloud of denial. It had been a terrible morning, and only Gideon had been able to console her. He had gifted her with strength, reminding her kindly of what is at stake.

The walk to the platform had been long. Gideon played his part, smiling that charming grin that had won her over almost a year ago. Quinn, at the ten week mark of her pregnancy, gripped his hand tightly. Her cheeks were flushed pink, gaze almost glassy from constant exhaustion and eyes puffy from crying for hours that morning. She tried her best.

Truly, she did.

Evelyn had asked her to wear her wedding dress, a simply white dress that the younger girls had made for her. And she did, for the last time.

It would now hang out of sight, stained with blood.

The sight of the old woman, arms tied to two posts, would never escape her. Even now, it haunts her, giving her nightmares every night that cause her to wake up in a mess of whimpers and tears.

Once upon the stage, Gideon handed her the blade, closing her hand around the hilt with a soft touch. Despite his concern, she could also see the excitement in his gaze. While he was electrified, she was crushed.

He did the talking as she stood beside Evelyn. Gideon addressed the crowd, and she remained silent. She tried to find her happy place. Quinn searched for ways to bring her out of reality and somewhere else, where she would not be truly subjected to this torture. But there was nowhere in her mind to provide such a thing, and she had been forced to focus.

Gideon had instructed her on what to do, walking her through the steps again and again until she was able to recite his direction word for word. If quizzed, Quinn would now be able to give the steps to the entire sacrifice, along with their significance.

At the other side of the stage, John would watch with a twisted smirk, waiting for her to fail.

Quinn took no pleasure in what had come next.

Back to the followers, she met Evelyn's wizened gaze.

Several moments of silence passed, and she could feel the crowd behind her start to get restless. They wanted blood. They wanted to see their Messenger do her job.

'It's not too late..'

Quinn had whispered those words to Evelyn, who merely smiled at her before giving the slightest nod. Tears had threatened to fall once more, and she glanced at Gideon. She would think of him, and their child. She wants to reach out for him, and hide once more within him, but she cannot.

They started whispering. Quinn had heard them all, questions and suspicions floating through the air.

'Quinn.' It was Evelyn who quietly called her to attention.

She raised the knife, hand shaking and knuckles white, and stepped forward. In her head, she envisioned their house in Wyoming. The garden, the fields of sunflowers, the books that would line whole walls. The porch they would sit on as they watched their child play in the open country. She thought of the fireplace that would gently crackle as they read together.

And, as her mind had been elsewhere, she exhaled.

She reached forward, pushing the blade into the left side of Evelyn's stomach and pulled it across to the right using both hands. The woman seemed fine, even as Quinn pulled the knife away and dropped it to the ground, her hands suddenly just as weak as they were bloodied. The bowl was placed to catch her blood, and as she watched it pool, she began to sway where she stood. Blinking hard, she had tried to fight back the dizzy spell,

Quinn had taken a step back from Evelyn, heart racing.

’Giddy…’

His name escaped her in a whisper, weak and fearful. She could feel her mind cracking, and as her vision blurred, he was there to steady her. Quinn still isn’t sure what had followed, but Mary was fast there upon the stage, a chair procured, and she was led to it gently by the woman and told to sit. She was given water, and Mary had stayed with her as she watched on.

Later, she would tell the Flock that she had been having dizzy spells for about a week. It would help them, too, as the Flock would then see her sister’s presence as a necessity.

She tried, and Gideon had finished the job.

Everything went according to the first ritual, and she watched on as Gideon sipped Evelyn’s lifesource from the far too familiar chalice. He stepped up to her, and Quinn stared up at him, knowing full well that all could see her. The cup had been placed into her hands, water taken, and Gideon did not need to tell her what to do. She already knew.

Despite the furious churning within her stomach, Quinn sipped. His life depended on her to do so, as did the life she harbored then and now. Despite her failings, she could only hope at that time that her efforts made him proud.

What came next, had been unexpected.

Gideon’s expert hand picked up the knife. He carried out the rest of the sacrifice, and as Evelyn’s breathing became shallow, he reached into the Elder. Quinn had seen him do such a thing before, but not here. Not with Claire.

But soon he held something in his hand, and she watched as the blood dripped from it, down his arm.

Evelyn’s heart.

Whatever Gideon had said from thereon, was lost to her. The world was suddenly bright. Brighter than it had been. And a shrill, piercing ringing that was constant in pitch filled her mind. Quinn had watched as he held the heart out for all to see, and they rejoiced as Quinn felt herself feel sicker. When it couldn’t possibly get worse, it did, for Gideon did what she would never be able to forget.

The muscle was lifted to the very lips she had kissed countless times. The ones that, once upon a time, formed his pet name for her. Mi alma.

’No.’

The word would leave her quietly several times over, muted by the crowd of cheers as her husband bit into the still-warm heart and swallowed that morsel whole. A line had been crossed, and Quinn could only stand and force her feet to carry her away. Off the stage, away from the crowd. She had barely made it home before the sobs overcame her. She didn’t leave again that day. She ignored the knocks and concerned words of Mary at the front door. She moved herself upstairs, finding her way to Malachi’s old bedroom, and sat against the wall she had spent the night beside before their wedding.

Quinn did not leave that night. She did not leave the next day. Barely a word was spoken to anyone outside the classroom, and even then, it has been limited.

And now, at twelve weeks pregnant, she is more withdrawn than she ever has been.
May 06, 2018 05:01 pm

Gideon Abernathy

Sunday.

Despite his drunken escapade from the night before, he rises with the sun. The constant pounding in his head serves as an unnecessary reminder, as does the heavy sadness that has taken hold. Quietly as he can, he removes himself from the bed, careful not to disturb his sleeping wife.

He slips into the bathroom, stopping only when he’s face to face with his reflection. Dark hues immediately find the gash on his face, neatly stitched up, and he reaches up to trace a light finger over the threads. That familiar voice echoes in his aching head, threatening to pitch him forward into the sink. I’ll have to kill you… With a jerk, he turns the cold water on and splashes his face. While it proves effective in shocking him more awake, it does nothing to push the unwanted thoughts from his head. Nor does a hot shower.

Resigning himself, he forces his feet to carry him down the stairs and into the kitchen. The coffee maker is the first thing to catch his eye, and he can think of nothing that sounds better in that moment. As the coffee brews, he sets about making breakfast, feeling undeniably guilty for what he put his pregnant wife through the night before. There is no doubt in his mind that Quinn didn’t drag him up to bed by herself, and mentally, he kicks himself. Undoubtedly, she would have recruited Noli for the job.

It isn’t that Gideon dislikes Quinn’s newest recruit; he merely doesn’t trust her. The past couple of day - weeks? - that she’d been with them, he’d barely found the time to speak two words to her. Not for lack of wanting; he was, and still is, incredibly curious as to her motives. The Flock had just been keeping him consistently preoccupied, as it is wont to do. All the same, he knows next to nothing about her, and he’s not ignorant enough to believe that she was sold on the lies of the cult. Quinn wouldn’t have been able to do that, he knows her too well.

The smells wafting through the kitchen are undoubtedly enough to rouse the sleeping women, but when they come to the kitchen, they’ll find him long gone, a note left in his wake.

Thank you for helping me last night. I apologize for my state. See you at the Gathering.

There is still time before he addresses the commune, even after he packs the car for his immediate departure, and the morning offers an untouched peace that he can’t find inwardly. Coffee in hand, he finds himself in the garden, his feet carrying him to the scene of his crimes automatically. The empty bottle of whiskey is lying exactly where he’d left it, and a sudden surge of anger pulses through him. Scooping it up, he hurls it as hard as he is able into the side of the toolshed where it shatters gloriously. Coffee spills over the edges of his mug at the sudden lunge, though he hardly notices the scalding liquid running down his hand. His head spins unnaturally, the mug falling from his hand as he drops to his knees. With a gusto, his stomach empties itself, and he’s unable to tell if it’s from the night of drinking, or something else entirely.

Someone, somewhere-- No, Ota in Sendai had been documenting his every move, painstakingly putting together a map of his work. Unable to glean how extensive this dossier is, he can only act on impulse to survive. He has been compromised; he must disappear into nothing once more. But he also doesn’t want to leave the cult. That would mean admitting defeat, and he will never be ready to surrender to John Abernathy.

A few deep breaths are enough to steady him and he makes his way to the makeshift church. He has no idea how long he’d spent in the garden, but he finds everyone already assembled and sharing their morning greetings. Out of sight, he straightens himself out, running a hand through his unkempt hair and working out the knot in his neck. It is only when he’s presentable that he would appear.

An instant hush falls over the crowd, and Gideon takes the opportunity to do a sweep. His eyes easily find John, even as someone whispers something in the man’s ear. He doesn’t have to see those green orbs narrow to know exactly what was said.

Smoothly, as if he’d never stopped on John at all, Gideon wills his gaze around the rest of the assembled, taking in their smiling faces. There is, no doubt, a warmer inclination toward him since Evelyn’s sacrifice, and he supposes he should count his blessings. The news would go over at least a little easier, then.

“There is… A danger coming here.” His voice is low, soft, distant, but sure. They hang on to his every word, and he can feel their collective shift into a panicky state. “It threatens our home and everything we’ve built. There is. no. fighting it.” Again, he pauses, murmurs and whispers permeating the silence between his words. “So, as your Shepherd… I must go find us greener pastures. Our own land of milk and honey. It will be hard, and it will prove dangerous. But I can assure you… I would never lead you astray. We will shine out all the brighter through this darkness.

“Now, please,” he continues, waving a hand in the air as voices of contradiction rose in volume, “do not even stop to think that I would force you into this against your will. I am no fool. I know some of you still see my father as your leader. And why shouldn’t you? He’s done great things for and with you. So… I present to you an option. You have until I return to decide.”

Amidst the uproar, he descends the podium and ushers Quinn and Noli out of the church. The Flock hurls questions and declarations and hate at him, but something stops them from following him out. In their minds, they know better…

He waits until they are at his getaway vehicle to address them. First, naturally, he turns to Quinn, apology and regret in his black eyes. “I’m sorry, you know I wouldn’t do this if I didn’t have to. I promised you last night, I’d find us a home. As soon as I am able, you will be the first to know. Everything.” His arms encase her and his lips press tightly against her forehead. “Stay safe. I’ll be in touch, when I can.”

Gideon then turns to the stranger in his home. At first, words don’t come, but his eyes are imploring. Against everything he’s ever known, against his better judgment, he must now place trust in someone who has the power to destroy everything. If he thinks on it too much, he’ll talk himself out of the whole thing. “Keep her safe. At any and all costs.”

With that, he sets off to the first place that comes to mind: Northern California, and the Redwoods.
May 13, 2018 07:23 pm

Noli Joudain

For a solitary person like Noli, easier to attempt avoiding emotional baggage if you avoided people, this decision to follow Quinn to the "cult", was likely the most insane thing she had done.

There was no most likely. It really was absolutely insane.

Years before, Magnolia had found a way to block the emotions that bombarded her daily, yet, since she had met Quinn [no that wasn't quite fair] it was mostly since her baby sister had gone missing that she had opened herself up to the whirlwind of sensations radiating from the masses. There was no better way to stalk a potential kidnapper/killer than to finally accept a gift that could help with that.

Except when she couldn't control it.

That was seemingly problematic. Probably.

From the day she left Quinn at the park, all she had done was practice or some attempt at it, at the very least. It wasn't like the brunette had a how to book or book for dummies on how to be a better psychic; she certainly would have bought that if it were the case. Instead, she had hightailed it back to Cocodrie where she could dig through Ma Belle's things in search of some kind of guidance; not to mention, in order to hide her guns, there were certain chest that she could use for packing with questionable hidden spaces.

She wasn't paranoid.

Just prepared.

The same couldn't be said about her grandfather, it was cedar chests she would be using.

Needless to say, the same containers would hide what she had hoped would help her to help the blonde.

If she could open the journal without it slamming shut, but that was another problem for another time; when she could find someone to ask about ghost without being wrapped up in a hugging jacket and sent up to the crazy house.

Her life had been quite simple. Work, eat, sleep, avoid family; repeat. She had been practicing for moving here without even knowing it, however, it was the avoiding part she was having a bit of a problem with. Not because she hadn't been working to do so, but instead, she needed to know information that wasn't being spoken in but whispers. Gideon, the sacrifice, Quinn's reaction; all important things, probably the most important because she really had been avoiding one of those, but for now, Quinn's husband wasn't the issue and despite the feelings of... dread around him, he loved Quinn.

That was good enough for Noli.

But, for now, she had to worry about John Abernathy. Noli had seen bad, borderline evil. But the blackness that oozed from the man himself; that was wholly different. If she had to choose something to liken it to, it would be like drowning in tar; thick, black, and vile.

It almost seemed deliberate, everywhere she turned he would be there or at the very least one of his lackeys; the worst being Sarah and Noli's instant dislike of her at the dog park didn't make it any easier.

Still, she did have her moments of peace; teaching, even with the restrictions on what they could be taught, Noli loved watching a child's wonder at learning something new.

She would, of course, worry; Quinn's obvious withdraw from everyone was enough to have her hackles raised, but receiving a text in the middle of the night to help her and witnessing their esteemed leader so... out of sorts... Noli would keep her gun close, something was coming and she knew it, but seeing Gideon, who always seemed more of stoic albeit stalwart to those he cared for character, drunk... That screamed something bad.

She wasn't taking chances.

And now they stood, early morning, listening to the same fears Noli held in her head and heart come pouring from her brother-in-law mouth and the uproar of the Flock at his declaration; the words between the lines didn't need to be said, it was quite clear, some would leave, some would stay.

And the girls would be left to deal with the aftermath of this announcement.

And John Abernathy.

And even worse, as they left the crowd, Noli had the sinking feeling that she was about to become undesirable number one to John and his faithful; because even if Gideon hadn't said to keep her safe, Quinn was going to have a shadow, Noli hadn't been there but a few weeks and even she knew that they would rid of the blonde if they ever had the chance if only to get to Gideon.

Now they had to get through her sister.

She rarely spoke anyway, so it was not uncommon for her to just give a curt nod once he addressed her; she knew he didn't trust her, didn’t know her. The feeling was mostly mutual but for Quinn, she'd do anything; not even question why she would do it.

Hazel eyes would watch the vehicle momentarily, chewing on the inside of her cheek before those multi-colored orbs tilted toward her sisterfriend. There were very few things that Noli didn't understand; the biggest of all was love and so she knew she couldn't help with the heartache that her best friend felt. Heart and duty, it really couldn't go hand in hand; but here Quinn was, staying behind.

"We might be due for a long chat, sugar."

That was an understatement.

They were having a lot of those lately.
May 14, 2018 12:29 pm

Quinn Abernathy

It had not taken much to rouse Quinn from her slumber after Gideon left their bed. Anxious as she was over the impending Gathering, knowing that something would have to be said, and that Gideon would be leaving... it had made for fretfully light sleep. So, the smell of coffee she could not have roused her. The girl rose up, starting her day with a shower and a hard stare at the belly that is slowly beginning to show. It is becoming real. It always had been, since they found out the truth, but this is something else entirely.

Once showered, she would dress. Quinn makes the most of the dresses she would not be able to wear for much longer, opting for white sundress she had brought with her from their cabins at Valar Morghulis. She would give Noli a tired smile in passing on her way down the stairs, and wait for her before starting in on the breakfast Gideon had prepared for them.

And read his note, about fifty times, before tucking it into the pocket of her skirt.

The girls would eat together, Quinn not daring to bring up the previous night. Her anxiety rolls off of her in waves, shoulders tense and chocolate hues telling of her thoughts. And then, the sisters would walk through the tiny little commune of quaint homes and buildings, and into the church.

As always, they take their seats at the front, with nothing but smiles and sweetly chirped good mornings for all those around them.

Gideon's presence changes everything, the mood shifting and the chatter ceasing to exist entirely. His words capture them wholly, and without realizing, she had been holding her breath until he waved his hand.

It is quick, and barely painless, as anger and upset are voiced far too loudly around them as the three leave the building. Quinn is still unsure of what to do, or how to react, and opts to keep her gaze down until they reach the cars.

He speaks to her, and Quinn can only frown. It is not disappointment, or upset at him, but a deep concern for him going out on his own. This would be the first willful separation for them, and under highly stressful circumstances. That would not stop her arms from wrapping around him tightly, nor the kiss stolen before he can release her. "I know, Giddy. Please be careful."

His words to Noli, she knows are difficult. He is slow to trust, and in such a sudden and extreme circumstance... she cannot imagine how difficult this is for him.

And then, he is gone. Quinn can barely keep herself from becoming a puddle as she watches the vehicle disappear, fighting the urge to chase after him and demand to go, too. Regret pools within, and she cannot help but feel shame at the way she has acted since Evelyn.

He did that for them.

'We might be due for a long chat, sugar.'

Quinn blinks, looking at Noli and taking a moment to consider everything before giving her a small nod. She hadn't told her sister what had happened the night before, what had brought her to the garden to aid in bringing Gideon home. Truthfully, Quinn barely had any details herself. But she trusts Gideon completely, and while she did not know everything, she knew that if they did not act - she would lose her husband, and their child, their father.

She links her arm with Noli's easily, leading the woman to walk through the compound. Not into the house, but past it. Going home would only raise questions, and more distrust, from the cult. They would figure out that something is wrong, and it would be nothing short of a disaster.

"You know that there are some things I can't tell you, Noli, but I'll do my best. I promise."

Unable to help herself, she glances over her shoulder, half hoping to see him returning.

"The... that thing you told me in the park. Is that still...?"
May 14, 2018 05:01 pm
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