The teens head to Neil and Cynthia’s house. Jackie is there, waiting, and helps comfort Jordan. Neil takes Brian, Chase and Marissa to the backyard, setting Chase and Marissa the task of making necklaces, while he and Brian talk. He tells Brian that he has the skill to keep people on task, and was able to do it, even when he wasn’t in the Circle.
“How? That would be handy.”
Neil grinned, showing Brian what to do. After a few false starts, he managed to cast the easy, basic spell. Nodding approval, Neil led him to a table near the picnic area.
“We need to scatter this in and around the fire, as well as around the circle where we sit. I have no clue what any of it is, so don’t ask. I’m doing what my wife told me. I’ve found it’s easier just to say yes, ma’am, and do the job without arguing. Not that I would…. I don’t ask questions, either.”
“I recognize this stuff. Salt with cumin,” he pointed to one bag. “This is ground, dried rowan berries that looks like it’s been mixed with something else.” He sniffed delicately, closing his eyes. “Oak, Ash and Thorn.”
“How can you tell by smelling it? Or looking at it?”
Brian shrugged, shaking his head. “I can smell things and identify them. I can see the resonance of each one, all blended together. I’ve never used it like this before, but I see the advantages of powder. That is ivy and holly leaves and berries.” He pointed to another soft cloth bag. “And this….” He sniffed delicately. “Ew! Not sure what that is, but it stinks. Bitter.”
“That one I know,” Neil said. “That’s alum, also known as potash. Like I said, I have no clue what this stuff is for, I’m just putting it down.”
They each picked up a cloth bag and started scattering the contents as Cynthia had instructed Neil to do.
“The oak, ash and thorn is a blend of sacred woods, often used for protection. It’s a trinity, of sorts. The rowan is also for protection. The ivy and holly serve a similar purpose. All of them combined make for extra layers of protection. I don’t know what the alum is for and I’ve never heard of the fairy dust. I wish that my parents had taught me more when I was a kid.”
“I learned all kinds of stuff, but I don’t remember it. I put that behind me.” Shaking his head, Neil stopped working. “You have no idea what it was like, not being chosen.”
Brian clapped a big hand on the other man’s shoulder. “No, I don’t. And you have no idea what it was like to have all these weird things happening with no clue what it was all about. I don’t know why my folks kept me in the dark—or Jordan’s.”
“I think I know why. They had to know that there was something different, unique about you. The Dreams, nightmares, that wasn’t normal. Maybe something that Claude told them made them think that keeping your powers secret was safer for you? I know with Jordan, Heath and Jackie didn’t want to accept that she was the one, but they also recognized that she had special gifts that set her apart. If they raised her as a regular kid, she wouldn’t view herself as anything else. She wouldn’t stand out and become a target.”
Brian nodded, realizing that was true. As much attention as they attracted when their powers woke, it had probably been a good idea. “One thing that our folks did teach us, was how to fight. I’m grateful for that. Even if I didn’t have special powers, I know how to kick someone’s ass.”
Neil chuckled. “I’ll bet you do. You look like a man who knows what he’s doing. Can you shoot a gun?”
Brian snorted. “You grew up with my dad, what do you think?”
“I think you’re a crack shot who won’t fold under pressure.”
“I do okay,” Brian smiled modestly.
“I’ll set up a range one of these days. Then you can show me what you’ve got.”
They finished their job and put the bags away, leaving Chase and Marissa on their task. They sat on the deck and popped open a couple of root beers.
“That should take another hour or so,” Neil said with a smirk, tipping his head at the shed. “You still intent on throwing them out?”
“I don’t want to. Next to Jordan and me, they’re the strongest and most skilled couple we have. The others are good, but there’s something special about those two. I don’t want to throw them out, and I don’t want to lose either of one them, but if they can’t fix their relationship, they’re no good to me. They make us vulnerable.”
“Agreed. I’ve tried talking to Chase, but he’s unreachable. I don’t know where it went wrong. Losing his dad hurt him, but that’s not the only issue. Sure, he’d like to get laid, but what man doesn’t? You’ve been around him more than anyone. What do you think?”
Brian shook his head. “I’ve asked myself a million times. I don’t know—except…. Shit, could it really be that simple?”
“We were talking once, when we were kids. He tried to tell me how he was special, things he could do, that sort of thing. I laughed at him and told him he was making it all up. I didn’t believe him. You know how kids are. I teased him unmercifully for a full summer over that conversation. I think we were seven? I made all kinds of fun, putting him down and giving him shit. The entire time, I really did believe him, but I didn’t want to, because I wanted to be special, too.” He put his face in his hands, groaning softly. “I was horrible. When my dad found out, he tore my ass up and gave me a big lecture about how it wasn’t right to make fun of others. That lesson stuck and I backed off. But I wonder now. Did I do that?”
© 2018 Dellani Oakes
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