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The real power of a man is the size of the smile of the woman sitting next to him



 
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Quinn Abernathy

"It's okay, it's okay," she mutters through gritted teeth, unsure if she is convincing herself or him.

Two weeks.

“Mi alma, listen to me, please...”

"Just not them... I-I promise I won't move."

"I need you to trust me, and I promise, I will handle this. Do you trust me?"

"Get him out, Gideon."


It has been two weeks, and Quinn is finally mobile, albeit slow. The past year has been difficult, culminating to the utter destruction of her light in the face of multiple hardships. She had become miserable, so unlike herself, feeling as though she might fall apart. There had been so much shame, and fear, and doubt in herself. And then, Finn happened.

The first time she laid eyes on him, everything changed and Quinn had been awakened to a life she had thought she lost. The sweet babe, a product of herself and her husband, revitalized her and nourished her soul in a way that could never be explained. An adoration she has never before experienced took hold, both for the infant and Gideon.

It never left.

In the days that followed Finn's introduction to the world, Quinn would listen to Gideon as he told her bits and pieces of the events that transpired on the day of their blessing. She would sit beside him, icing her healing belly and watching her husband intently as he spoke while he held their bundle of pure perfection. Other times, she would lean back upon him, nourishing or comforting the babe.

Every single time, and beyond, she would praise Gideon.

She would confess her cruel thoughts to him quietly, telling him of her silent wishes when he had promised Gwen the first time that he would remove her tongue if she were to continue.

But now, two weeks later, she has donned a familiar white dress. The weight has dropped from her frame quickly, and continues to. It wouldn't be long now before things are as close to what they were before as they would ever be. For now, she doesn't mind it's snug fit. Today is a long time coming, but she appreciates Gideon waiting for her to be ready.

And, as Finn sleeps off a fresh meal in a crib Gideon had made for him, she takes the time to appreciate her husband. These opportunities do not come often enough now, the two living almost two different schedules as Quinn spends the day with their child and Gideon tends to their Flock. The evenings, she rests, letting Gideon take charge of the house entirely. They work as a team, a single unit split in two.

Her hands lift, smoothing his shirt over his chest affectionately before her arms would slide around his middle. Quinn must be careful, as she leans into him, not to disrupt her healing. Not too tight, not too much pressure. Each day is an improvement, and would continue to be so, so long as she is mindful. Tilting her head back, she presses a kiss to his chin before nudging it with her nose, coaxing him into meeting her so that she may press her lips to his in an expression of pure devotion.

"You don't think it's too smoky out there, for Finn?" Her brows raise in concern, though her confidence in Gideon's ultimate decision is clear. Another soft kiss, and she decides to make a request. Something that has been lingering, on her mind and failing to ebb away. She feels strongly. So very, very strongly.

"I want to help, baby."

Quinn wants to partake.
November 15, 2018 05:39 pm

Gideon Abernathy

Gideon Abernathy finds a certain kind of satisfaction in being utterly exhausted. Be it after a kill, a hard day of tending to the Grove, or a fruitful season in his garden, it always leaves him blissful and peacefully spent. He’s a firm believer in throwing himself entirely into everything he does, which leaves little room for feelings of inadequacy.

Seeing after his healing wife and newborn child is not a chore, in his eye, and if he could, he’d do it all. He’s still so in awe of Quinn that he hovers, heart stopping when she winces for bending over too far or stretching too much. More times than not, in the two weeks since Finn’s arrival, he finds himself awake most nights simply watching them sleep. The bags under his eyes mean nothing; he just can’t tear his gaze away.

And his son...

Finn is a catalyst that the dark man was never prepared for. A lion’s pride fills Gideon every time he looks at him, and he’s constantly barraged with thoughts of who and what he would become. Would he take after his mother, or go down the darker path of his father.

He finds he doesn’t care which, only that Finn should be given the opportunity to learn and grow into his own.

In the meantime, Gideon will protect him fiercely, starting with eradicating the one that would rather have seen him and his mother die for the sake of what she deemed to be natural.

And the day has finally come.

Feeling her nudge him lightly, he smiles and bends slightly to press his lips to hers. Quinn is radiant, her light shining brightly once more even as the concern touches her warm eyes. Another reassuring kiss is placed on her forehead. “I’ve already instructed them to build a platform in the Gathering Hall, and we’ll put a cloth over his face when we take him out.”

The Grove had grown antsy when the smoke started creeping in from the southern wildfires, and Gideon had elected to abandon the market for the time being. All stock was removed, and the place seemed a ghost town, compared to its usual lively atmosphere. There were whispers around the commune that the Darkness had invaded, and the ritual to celebrate Finn’s birth was welcome news indeed; the whole place is abuzz with excitement.

Quinn voices her desire, and Gideon fixes her with a skeptical, albeit concerned, look. “You’re sure you feel well enough?”

Still, his eyes alight with his own form of excited anticipation.
November 16, 2018 12:30 pm

Quinn Abernathy

Just like that, Gideon has put her concerns at ease, and they are quick to disappear. The man has thought of everything, carrying the weight of their world upon his shoulders while also supporting herself and their son. Their perfect, beautiful son that has brought them back from the brink of breaking and reminded them of who they are.

Quinn can only smile at his questioning, oddly at peace with the idea of it all. She has killed for her husband, killed for them both, in dire situations or times when it felt absolutely prudent. Truthfully, she had only ever had one regret in her actions.

Her fingertips play with the hem of his shirt behind his back, running the over the fabric absently.

"I'm not sure it's a question of that, Giddy," she is calm, thoughtful in her words and impending actions. Quinn has never truly taken part in a ritual, at least not willingly. She skirted the the line, barely making herself known to the cult. There has never been and is still no desire to be part of them.

But this...

"It's important, isn't it? She would have let us both die, and she cannot be left feeling as though she won." Chocolate hues look over his features before meeting his bright, pitch pools. It is no secret that Quinn has held a chip on her shoulder once she became aware of Gwen's wickedness, bringing her to think far more cruel thoughts than she has ever really had time for.

A quiet deliberation is had as she takes his concern into account, her head tilting slightly left and then right, as she truly judges her own well-being in the face of her desires.

Another soft kiss is pressed upon him.

"Just one cut?" Her whispered plea is foreign upon her lips, and yet, it feels natural. "She wanted to let our baby die...."
November 16, 2018 01:50 pm

Gideon Abernathy

For a moment, they merely rest into one another, a quiet peace pulsing between them. These pauses were few and far between lately, what with the birth of their child and the ever-demanding air of their cult. He remembers, suddenly, how close he was to losing her. But that leads to a darker path of thought, one that he’s not sure which way he would go down, should he choose to explore it.

It’s important, isn’t it?

A dark flash crosses his visage, curling the corners of his lips upward in a devious expression. Of course it’s important, he wants to say, but he’s not sure if she realizes the extent. This isn’t just a revenge tactic; they are celebrating Finn’s arrival the only way the Flock knows how, and that’s human sacrifice. It’s a remarkable cycle of give and take, if not a bit gruesome for some.

Quinn assesses herself, and Gideon looks on proudly. Whatever her motives, it’s a promising step she takes in offering herself up for participation. The last time hadn’t gone quite to plan, but he can feel the resolve rolling off her palpably. She practically pleads with him, and the man cracks a uncharacteristically bright smile before bestowing a kiss on her forehead.

“Whatever you want, mi alma.”

The baby is gathered, cooing contentedly in his mother’s arms, and Gideon is struck with a fierce protectiveness over the pair. Yes, Gwen needs to die for her transgressions...

And horrifically.

The walk to the Gathering Hall is quiet and uninterrupted, everyone having already made their way in. The air is heavy with the smoky fog, but the sun shines brightly through all the same, a testament to the Flock’s perseverance. A perfect day for a ritual.

They enter the hall, all three clad in their pure white garb, and the assembled crowd quiets immediately. At the head, perched atop a makeshift stage, are three of Gideon’s most ‘trusted,’ along with the sacrifice, bound to two posts by her wrists. She’s emaciated and gaunt, but when their eyes lock, he finds a deep-seated, burning hatred.

He grins.

After a whispered confession of love to his small family, they make the short, yet seemingly endless trek to their place in this endeavor. Along the way, they are greeted with admiring whispers and excited glances from those that hadn’t the chance to lay eyes on the newest member. Which is most of them, as Gideon had wanted to wait until the ritual to introduce Finn to the Flock in its entirety.

The ascend the stage, and he gathers the child into his arms. Their dark eyes meet, and a small hand reaches up to him. For a moment, he can only stare.

“My son,” he whispers, yet it still carries and echoes off the high ceiling, the only sound in the place, save for Finn’s gurgling and cooing. When he speaks, it’s solely to the baby wrapped up securely in his arms, yet it’s for all to hear. “Your arrival into this world in your mother’s womb brought about the change we all needed. You are the living embodiment of our strength and perseverance. Your place has been assured before you were even a thought, and already, you seek to expel Darkness from our ranks.”

Finally, Gideon tears his eyes away from the small face, his back to Gwen as he surveys the Flock.

“One of our own would’ve let your Messenger and her child die, simply because she thought me incapable and unworthy of helping my family. We are, perhaps, stuck in antiquated ways, unable to comprehend that, as men and women, we are different but that makes neither one more capable than the other. Because we ignored the preconceived notions of who belongs where, my wife and I were able to bring our child into the world together.

“And still, she questioned us.”

Dark mutterings run through the crowd, growing in volume and consistency until the Hall is filled with the angry buzzing. A hand silences them, and he carefully sets a kiss to his son’s cheek before passing him off to Ryan and gesturing around to them all.

“Your Harbinger has arrived, and it’s time to accept the change he brings.”

The ceremonial knife is taken up, but instead of turning to the chosen sacrifice, he holds it out to Quinn. This is yours, his dark gaze conveys, kill her as you see fit.
January 04, 2019 01:33 pm

Quinn Abernathy

There is no weight more comforting than that of their child. Tenderly held in her arms, Quinn carries their child as she walks beside Gideon. Their slice of the world is quiet, their own already waiting within the hall. Still, she holds her breath, the smoke in the air burning her eyes. Still, her greatest care is Finn, his face shielded from the world that threatens to choke them.

Entering the hall is always a spectacle. The people quiet, whispers slowly dying down. Quinn does not even grant Gwen a glance as her chocolate hues sweep about briefly before turning downward to their son. The doors close, and she removes the cloth from his face, revealing him in all his glory.

He is breathtaking.

Gideon's whisper brings a smile to her eyes, and she immediately reciprocates in kind with every ounce of love she possesses. And, once upon the stage, Quinn relinquishes their son to Gideon with a trust that could never be surpassed. She watches the two, a contented hum escaping her as they interact.

Perfect. They are perfect. This family of theirs, and all their love and adoration, is beyond anything she ever dreamed of. Finn is their greatest achievement, and she is sure he would always know it.

Her husband speaks, and her heart swells with pride. It matters not if she believes in the Darkness, in the mind of the hive, or anything else. She believes in him, in them. So eloquently, he commands the room, introducing their child and telling their story. She's already forgotten the pain of that night, and the days and weeks after. It was all worth it, and she would gladly do it all over again.

Your Harbinger has arrived...

This might alarm her, later. The thought of their son as a herald to these people is something she would never want for him. Quinn also understands the importance, though. This is their safety, and she does well to remember that.

With Finn safely in Ryan's arms, she glances over at them before looking up at Gideon. She wants to ask him to not let the babe to see this, to protect him from this all and save him from it. To grant him the choice.

But that is not the way of the Flock, and she would simply have to pray he would be unaware.

Meeting Gideon's eye, there is a clear resolve as she thinks on what she must do. She would take the knife, fingers tenderly brushing his. As she turns, her free hand would touch to his chest only briefly, reassuring him that this time, she would be okay. She would see this through.

Steps are taken to approach Gwen, and Quinn stops just before the haggard woman. A darkness consumes her, procured from the need to protect their family at all costs. She wanted to see them dead. Gwen desired nothing more than to see them fail, and watch as Gideon lost both herself and their son in one fell swoop. The very thought brings sorrowful tears to her eyes, not at the loss of her own life, but at the consideration of Finn and Gideon.

Why, she wants to ask. She doesn't. Quinn would never get an answer, for the hatred is palpable and Gideon had ensured that her wicked tongue would never spread it's loathsome lies again. It clicks in her mind, just how she wants to see this woman meet her end. It is something she had read about in high school, in some book. She'd thought it painful, grotesque, and cruel.

There isn't a second thought as the knife rises to Gwen's chest, the blade slicing through flesh like butter just over her heart to create a thick, long cut. Blood comes quickly, and Gwen refuses to make a sound.

No matter. She would, eventually.

Taking a step back, she returns to Gideon, pressing the stained knife into his hand and holding it there as she meets his gaze.

"...A thousand cuts," she quietly requests.

Today, all of the compound would know what it means to threaten them. They would all get their hands dirty, and that blood would forever stain their hands as a reminder of the lengths she and Gideon would go to protect their family.

Between their hands, the handle of the blade remains, holding them together like glue. She whispers quietly her love to Gideon before doing the one thing she would rarely take to.

Quinn looks out at their baited audience.

"An attack on the Harbinger is an attack on us all," she lets out a low breath as she tastes the name upon her tongue for the first time. "Everyone, all of us, will expel this Darkness. Together." Swallowing, she glances over her shoulder at Gwen. "Until we've all had our chance. Until she is gone, and we all understand."

Returning her sights to Gideon, her message is clear.

They would learn.
January 04, 2019 02:34 pm

Gideon Abernathy

Gideon watches with a hawk’s keen stare as she makes her move, deliberate and unfaltering. The breath that he hadn’t realized he’d been holding escapes in a whoosh, and he nods sagely upon the return of the blade.

One thousand cuts.

A worthy endeavor.

A prideful stare lands on her as she steps up to her place in all of this, perhaps the one and only time she might do so. As much as she’s fought her role in the Flock, she fits it well, even if she only accepts it in the face of potential danger. Her family is paramount, and Gideon has never loved her more.

Until she is gone, and we all understand.

The abyss-filled eyes narrow.

As they all queue up, Gideon steps up to the accused for his turn. The knife pricks her forehead where it lands, and he leans down until their eyes are level. He rests there, meeting her hate-filled gaze and mirroring the emotion tenfold. Then, he leans forward, so only she can hear. In her ear, he whispers, “You should know, this won’t end when you are dead. My wife has demanded one thousand cuts, and I will make you unrecognizable for your crimes against my family. No afterlife awaits you, and I want you to know that you died for nothing. This is all a figment of your imagination that my father created, and I made real. No god will welcome you, nor any demon. I am the Darkness that you’ve always been afraid of.”

When he leans back, satisfaction is evident as fear strikes her expression flat. She opens her to mouth speak, but nothing comes forth but a gurgled utterance. With a flourish, he renders her face split in half, the gash marring her features grotesquely.

The whole process takes a couple hours. Everyone, even the women and children, take their turn, but it leaves Gideon with the bulk of the task, nonetheless. He doesn’t stop, though; meticulously, he counts, ignoring the protest in his arm as he grows closer and closer to the goal. Each cut is a promise to Quinn and their child that, no matter how short his time left may be, he will ensure their safety always.

When he’s finished, the carnage is indescribable. The body had detached from the bound wrists long ago, leaving the hands eerily intact in comparison. Covered with her lifesource, he rises breathlessly, turning to meet the Flock slowly and deliberately. He breathes deeply, clearing his lungs of the stench of Death before speaking.

“Let the festivities begin.”
January 04, 2019 03:34 pm

Quinn Abernathy

Quinn reclaimed Finn the moment Gideon had made his mark, calmly and carefully taking the child into her arms and cradling him against her chest. It is a protective gesture that shields his innocent eyes from all that would come. Each member would step up, and she would remain beside Gideon despite the exhaustion that soon sets in. She simply has not regained her full strength yet, and she can feel that as she stands for hours to watch on.

Finn fusses at first, no doubt upset by the gurgled, broken screams of the tongueless wretch. She would only comfort him, soothing the baby boy as best she can until he finally fall asleep in her arms.

Despite the way she protects their child from this, Quinn would watch on. This is her doing, and she would own it to the best of her ability. In the end, she can barely remember what Gwen's face looks like.

Her body is barely a body at all.

Let the festivities begin.

Looking over her shoulder, she catches Ryan's attention and asks him to retrieve a change of clothes for Gideon quietly. While her husband may enjoy bathing in blood, she has no doubt they would become uncomfortable in a short time.

Finn cradled in a single arm, she takes a cloth previously offered to her and steps up to Gideon. His promise has been heard, and felt, and despite it all, she feels nothing but admiration for her husband. The crowd, their Flock, has already set about clearing the space in the hall and putting out their food and drink. The attention is off of them, and she takes advantage.

Softly, compassionately, she dabs the red stain from his handsome face. "Are you okay?" She whispers to him, concern etched into her attentive gaze. "You must be exhausted. Ryan is getting you fresh clothes."

It wouldn't be long before the women are turning their attention to them, aching to get a close look at the precious bundle tucked into Quinn's arms. But she would not allow for a single one of them to get too close, or take their child. She had decided on that long ago.

"I'm so proud of you, Giddy."
January 04, 2019 04:24 pm

Gideon Abernathy

As a rule, he shows no weakness in front of the Flock, not even to simply express exhaustion. But when Quinn takes a gentle cloth to his face, there is no denying the infinitesimal slump that runs through his shoulders as they slacken ever so slightly. Here, in front of everyone, he has no opportunity to assess the damage, but there’s a dull throbbing in his right arm.

“I’m fine,” he promises, and he is. There’s nothing unusual about worn muscles, and he’s faced much worse in his life. A reassuring smile is his offering to her, and after she’s finished mopping his face, he leans forward to meet her lips in a lingering kiss.

Gideon will only leave her side to change into the fresh clothes Ryan returns with. When he’s only, he takes the opportunity to really check himself out. He can’t lift his arm over his head, the muscles having stiffened in raw protest, but the situation certainly isn’t dire. Canting his head from one side to the other, his neck cracks ominously, though it grants some relief in its wake. Stretching his body as far as it would allow alleviates some of the tension, though it would surely resort back to its rebellion tomorrow.

Having dragged his feet long enough, he returns to his wife, snaking an arm around her waist to pull her to his side. Where she belongs.

“I’m proud of you, too,” he whispers into her ear between peppered kisses. “Finn is lucky to have you.” He grins down at her, nodding reflexively to one whose eyes linger too long in curiosity.

“So am I.”
January 04, 2019 05:23 pm
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