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  1. #91
    Declan McDermott

    Exactly twenty-one minutes after he'd ended the call with his mother, his phone rang again.

    "Sorry, Mum!" Declan apologized preemptively. "I was about to call you back. Something came up."

    He didn't tell her that the 'something' was proposing to his girlfriend. That was news best saved for another time, when they could savor the moment. His mother liked Clare a lot, and would be happy for them - but right now, Declan felt it best to avoid the sidetrack.

    "That's alright," Sue replied, seemingly mollified by his contrition. "I've been on the phone with Child Welfare. I've gotten them to agree to take all of the children. They'll be working out the legalities now, I expect."

    Declan knew his mother well enough to expect her to accomplish things, but this was a coup even for her. "All of the children?" Declan repeated, incredulous.

    "Yes, all of them. Why settle for half measures? Of course it will take a few days to assign them all to foster homes, and they'll have to go to a shelter in the meantime, but they'll be safe and I've been assured that they'll find all the children a place."

    "Mum... thank you... I don't even know what to say..."

    "Don't mention it," Sue replied, sounding pleased - and glad he'd mentioned it. "Least I can do, poor kids."

    Declan wondered idly what else his mother might be able to accomplish tonight. Was it worth a try? "Mum, there's something else..." he dropped his voice, even though no one was paying any attention to him anymore. The action - and therefore the cameras - had focused elsewhere. "It's a long shot, but maybe it's something you can help with too. I've made some friends here. They're in trouble..."

    "Pregnant?" Sue asked bluntly.

    Declan had to laugh. "No, Mum. Not that kind of trouble. It's..." He took another glance around. Still safe. "It's a Lycan. And a Fae. Someone leaked her secret online. They're in a lot of danger. Is there anything...?"

    "Well," Sue said, her tone surprisingly businesslike. Declan had expected more of a reaction to the news that her son had immortal friends. "I don't know about how things work with the Fae, but I can get your friend in with the local Lycan community."

    "You can?" Declan was dumbfounded. His librarian mother had just casually announced that she had connections with with the neighborhood werewolves?

    "Sure," Sue said. Like it was nothing. "Just have him talk to Isaac."

    Declan wondered if he was dreaming. This was surreal. Was he about to wake up and laugh at what his sleeping brain had concocted? "Isaac at the library?"

    "Yes," Sue said. "The library line is secure. Have your friend call."

    "...Isaac Fishblatt? At the library? Is a... werewolf?" Declan had not expected that. Riff more fit Declan's mental picture of a Lycan. Not that Declan knew him well, but Isaac seemed so... well, normal. Just a regular guy.

    "Yes, I just told you. Are you listening, Declan? Is this a bad connection...?"

    "No, Mum, I heard you. But why - why didn't you tell me before?"

    "Was it your business, Declan?"

    "Well, no. But I mean... I knew a werewolf all this time? We played at that benefit concert for his synagogue, when there was that storm damage to the roof..."

    "And? You did it because it was a good cause. Would you have done anything differently if you knew?"

    "Well... no," Declan had to admit. "I guess. No. I wouldn't have done anything differently."

    "See?" Sue said, with a hint of mother-knows-best. "I didn't tell you because it didn't matter. I'm going to put the call through. Give your friend your phone..."
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 10-16-2019 at 02:46 PM.
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea

  2. #92

    To Maria, everything seemed to be falling apart. Just a few hours ago, the pieces had finally been falling into place again - and suddenly, again everything was in shambles. The children Maria had taken responsibility for had nowhere to go. Swithin School hadn't been much of a home for any of them, but it had been something, and now it was gone. Her boyfriend was bleeding - thank goodness it hadn't been a silver bullet, the Fae hunters hadn't been expecting a Lycan, but the fact remained that Riff had been shot and Maria was scared for him. And then this last straw. She had been exposed publicly for what she was. Essentially a death sentence.

    She wanted to be brave. She wanted to be as optimistic as Riff that everything would be alright. But the situation just seemed so hopeless. And so unfair. To have him come back into her life, only to face separation again in an even more painful way. Her presence would put all of them in danger.

    "Riff... maybe you should take Sofie," Maria said quietly, looking at the ground. "Will you keep her safe for me? She'll be in danger if... if I'm anywhere near her..."

    Maybe that was why they had found each other again. Because Maria was not long for this world - and at least Sofie would be with her surrogate father. At least she would be with someone else who loved her.

    "Hey um..." Clare stepped into the shadow of the van with them. "Sorry to interrupt. But um. This is relevant. I have a suggestion. Things for immortals are better where we live. No one is looking for us. I'm not saying it's perfect, but no one is hunting us down. The humans back home would rather just... well, they'd rather just not know. They'd rather just not deal with it. The rest of the world may just be waking up to the reality of immortals, but they've been part of Fog Island folklore for a long time. The humans already sort of... half believed. So it's easier to co-exist. You three could come with us. It would be a lot safer."

    Then Declan was with them too, phone in his hand. "So. You guys are not going to believe this. But apparently my mum is friends with a big deal Lycan back home and is going to help you get an in with the Pack? She's going to put you on the phone with him. Ask for Isaac."

    Declan awkwardly shoved the phone at Riff as a voice on the other end picked up.

    "Hollywell Public Library..."

  3. #93
    James O'Brien
    Fog Island

    The day he realized that the Nazi woman was pregnant, James found another body in the woods.

    This was the third corpse he had discovered since he had figured out Kraus was hiding somewhere on Fog Island. This one was Fae, a young man, discarded in a shallow grave like the others. This body too showed signs of sadistic scientific experimentation. Well, maybe more like "scientific" in quotation marks. James couldn't figure out the purpose of the desecration, and post-mortem partial burning of the corpse had destroyed most of the evidence. But if there had been any doubt, a numbered plastic band around the ankle like a wildlife tag proved beyond a doubt that the deaths were connected.


    Who else could it be? The man had gotten away with his crimes, had escaped Europe despite being a war criminal, but apparently Kraus just couldn't stop cruelly tinkering with people.

    James blamed himself. He had gotten distracted by the pregnancy. But that was a far less urgent matter. There wouldn't be a baby appearing on the scene for months, and the Nazi spawn wouldn't be a potential danger for years. Finding out had been a shock - but it couldn't be his priority.

    His priority had to be stopping Kraus. By any means necessary. The time for confrontation - violent confrontation, if necessary - was overdue.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 10-25-2019 at 07:35 PM.

  4. #94
    Gilda and Isaac Fishblatt
    Fog Island

    The first thing Gilda did after telling Isaac about the pregnancy was to make an appointment with the Pack's doctor. Obviously Gilda couldn't go to an ordinary obstetrician, but they were lucky enough to have Keisha, a Lycan MD who - while not a specialist in maternity - had sufficient expertise to attend to a birth and most normal complications that could arise.

    Gilda was terrified about the appointment. She knew there was a chance - maybe more than a chance - that the doctor would say that the pregnancy wasn't viable. That was the news Gilda dreaded. But if so, better to get it over with quickly. Better to know.

    "Isaac, if you aren't too busy at the library, do you think maybe you could... come to the appointment with me?" Gilda felt silly asking - if things went badly, what exactly was he supposed to about it? - but she needed the support.

    "Of course I'll be there," he said, wrapping her in his arms and kissing her temple.

    "Only if you can get away from work..."

    "I'll get away. I'm sure Sue will cover for me. I want to be there. This is important."

    "Thank you," she replied, and leaned into him. At least if it was bad news, they could face it together. At least she wouldn't have to figure out how to tell him that he wasn't going to be a father after all.


    Gilda waited worriedly for the results, clinging tightly to Isaac's hand. When Keisha turned back to them, though, she had a smile on her face.

    "Everything is looking good so far!" the doctor said.

    "It's... it's viable?" Gilda asked hesitantly. That was clearly implied, but she wantled to hear it stated outright, no room for doubt.

    "Yes, it's viable. My only concern is the width of a Fae pelvis and the larger size of a Lycan fetus, so I will probably recommend a planned caesarean when the time comes. Other than that - all I have to offer is my congratulations!"

    Gilda nodded stoically, said a calm "Thank you"... and then burst into relieved tears. Isaac put his arm around her, misty eyed and grinning at the same time.

    "This is really happening!" he marveled. "I can't quite believe it."

    "Nor can I," Gilda agreed.

    "Believe it," Keisha said with a smile. "Before long, you two will be picking out nursery furniture. I don't need to tell you that this is probably a once in a lifetime chance - odds are there won't be a second baby - so enjoy this."

    "We will!" Gilda said. There wasn't a doubt in her mind about that.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 10-26-2019 at 09:17 PM.

  5. #95
    Count / Countess Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Jun 2004
    The Great White North

    He could hear, see and smell the fear seemingly pouring from Maria's whole body. He dismissed her suggestion - not that he thought she wasn't serious - but because he knew that knee-jerk reactions weren't always the best ground for decisions. Holding her and Sofie close, he rested his cheek on her head.

    "I know you're scared. I'm scared too. But I have made a life out of making people invisible and I know that I can do it for us. I just have to get the right in. I know it will be okay."

    The 'right in' presented itself much more quickly than he'd thought. Clare's news that an entire island was pretty much safe quarters came as news to him. But Declan joining in was a bit of a surprise - as was his statement. His MOM was friends with a Lycan and Declan had only just learned of their existence? Riff didn't get much of a chance to think on it as the voice crackled over the phone and he jugged it for a second as he took it from Declan.

    "Library? Nice cover. I mean, hello. I'm Riff - apparently Declan's mom set up this call? It's about something rather sensitive, I'm afraid."

    Riff had no idea who it was on the other end of the line - whether or not the other person was free to speak at will - or whether or not there was even a library. Speaking to someone described as a 'big deal Lycan' conjured up a vision of Boris in his mind and he chose to believe that this Lycan leader was the same sort of guy. The kind of guy who made friends with musician's moms. Riff kept his tone even and continued speaking with the pointed vagueness he'd learned while working in the Underground.

    "To be clearer, I'd like to visit your facility along with my girlfriend and daughter. If that would be something that could be arranged?"
    Winner of the dubious Vaarsuvius Award for Verbousness!

    I support altruism.

  6. #96
    Isaac Fishblatt
    Fog Island

    Isaac was amused that Riff thought the library was a 'cover'; Isaac was in fact sitting at his desk as they spoke. But of course, Riff had no way of knowing that.

    "Hello, Riff," he replied. "My name is Isaac Fishblatt." His tone was calm, friendly. Based on what he'd just heard, Riff probably needed some calm and friendship right about now. Isaac could only imagine how terrified he would be if their positions were reversed and Gilda were the one in danger.

    "Yes, Sue McDermott mentioned you would be speaking to me. She's a good friend of mine, and entirely trustworthy. She explained your predicament to me. I'm willing to help if I can."

    Isaac settled back in his chair and made some notes as he spoke. "It is my understanding that a group of children will be arriving on our island shortly from Switzerland. These children have no papers due to a fire, and the consulate will be working to expedite their travel despite this documentation setback. Make sure that you and your girlfriend and daughter are traveling with the children when they depart, and on our end we'll ensure that your names will be on the list. Once you arrive here, we can talk more freely and determine the next steps."

    As he had promised - he would help if he could, as far as he could. Pack membership was not something he could promise over the phone, though, and not just because of potential listening ears. He had to ensure Riff was not a danger to them, first.

    "My wife and I plan to meet the plane to help the children get settled in their temporary shelter, so we'll see you upon your arrival."

    That was a slight hint about their living circumstances: the Pack stability was such that the Lycan leader had a wife. Some Lycans would welcome that environment, while others preferred a more hedonistic lifestyle. Isaac suspected Riff was the former given he was traveling with a girlfriend and child, but it remained to be seen.

    "In the meantime, try not to worry. I'm confident we'll find a suitable solution to your difficulty. See you soon, Riff. Safe travels!"

    True to his word, Isaac and Gilda were waiting at the airport when the plane arrived. The children would be taken in buses to the local school, where they would sleep on cots set up in the gym until they were placed with foster families.

    The Standing Stone tour was on a brief hiatus, so Declan and Clare came along to help get the children settled. Familiar faces would surely help, after all that had happened.

    Declan introduced Isaac to Riff, Maria, and Sofie - Isaac noted that the two were indeed Fae, which was interesting.

    "Nice to meet you," Isaac said, and shook hands all around. "Welcome to Fog Island. You must be tired from your trip, but perhaps we should talk briefly first anyway, so you can get the weight off your mind?"
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 10-30-2019 at 06:17 AM.

  7. #97
    Gilda Fishblatt
    Fog Island

    As soon as she heard they would be getting an influx of children, Gilda flew into action. These kids had lost everything in the fire. The child welfare authority would make sure they were housed and sheltered, but to be comfortable they would need more than just a roof over their head - they would need clothing and pajamas, extra blankets, toiletries, some of the younger ones would still want toys... the list went on. With help from Isaac and Sue, Gilda started collecting donations. The local communities seemed ready and willing to help, and Gilda only had to fill in a few gaps with trips to the store. By the time the children arrived, the school gym where the children would be staying was well stocked for their arrival.

    There was also the matter of their new Pack guests. It made sense to put them up at the Pack's own motel. Gilda prepared one of the empty efficiency apartments for them, making sure the beds had clean sheets, there were at least basic groceries in the kitchen, and there were a few pieces of clothing in the closet. Gilda didn't know anyone's sizes, so she was just guessing based on very basic descriptions, but it would at least hold them over until there was time for a proper shopping trip. She left a bouquet of flowers in a vase on the kitchen table.

    Overall, Gilda was satisfied with her efforts. Isaac thanked her for her help with the Pack guests - and potential new members - but as far as Gilda was concerned, she was just doing her job. The motel had always been her 'baby,' and she took pride in making it a comfortable home, whether it was for a short stay or an indefinite one.

    When Isaac greeted their new guests, Gilda briefly introduced herself and then ducked out to help distribute the supplies to the children. In that quick hello, she realized she had made a miscalculation in her preparations; she hadn't realized there would be a dog, and she hadn't stocked the apartment with pet food. She would have to run to the store when they got back to Hollywell - preferably before the guests noticed her mistake.

    The children looked tired, dejected, and shell-shocked. Gilda couldn't blame them. They had been through so much in a short time - and probably before the fire, too. Gilda had been told that these children had been unwanted by their families, which she couldn't quite imagine. How could anyone reject a child they had birthed or adopted? But things would turn around for them now, Gilda hoped. Once they had time to rest and settle in, things would slowly start to look brighter.

    Gilda was taken up short when one teenage girl reached the head of the line to receive a nightgown and toiletries... and Gilda sensed the presence of another Siren. That had never happened before. Gilda had never seen another of her kind in the flesh. Even her parents had disappeared when she was too young to remember. Being in the presence of another was so shocking that it took her breath away.

    Apparently it took the girl by surprise too, though she didn't register it quite as quickly. "How did you stay alive this long?" the girl blurted. Since the girl couldn't know Gilda's actual age, Gilda assumed 'this long' just meant 'adulthood.' The girl looked embarrassed by her outburst. "Never mind," she said, and hurried away from the table before Gilda managed to formulate a single word.

    "Who is that girl?" Gilda asked a nearby social worker, trying not to look as shaken as she felt.

    "Oh, that's just Katie," the social worker said dismissively. "Don't pay attention to whatever she said. There's always some drama with her."

    "Do you know her?" Gilda wasn't sure how that was possible, since the children had just arrived.

    "Katie came with plenty of documentation. She's trouble. Lying, manipulating, flirtatious and promiscuous. We're not going to have an easy time finding a home for that one." The social worker shrugged and moved on.

    Gilda kept working mechanically, a smile frozen on her face as she continued handing out clothes and toiletries.

    Apparently history does repeat itself, she thought.

  8. #98
    Clare Murphy
    Fog Island

    "I don't want to stay here," Natalie said, wrapping her arms around Clare's waist. "Please, Miss Murphy - can't we stay with you and your boyfriend?"

    "Not tonight," Clare told her. "Declan and I aren't foster parents. They have to do special screening on the homes you'll all be going to, to make sure that you're safe. In the meantime, you'll be safe here. You'll be with the other children. And the staff will take good care of you."

    "Will you at least come visit?" Natalie asked hopefully. "You and Declan?"

    "Of course we will," Clare assured her.

    There was something else in the works, but Clare didn't want to tell Natalie until it was a sure thing. Although as she had said, she and Declan weren't foster parents currently, on the plane they had discussed becoming a foster home so they could take in Natalie and Scarlet. The twins would have to stay with the other children until the certifications were completed. Getting that certification meant Declan would be touring less - something they had always planned on when they became parents. It would be worth it, though. Clare couldn't share that with the girls tonight - it would be too painful for them to know that had been an option if it ultimately fell through - but she looked forward to telling Natalie and Scarlet that they would have a home where they would be welcome and wanted.

  9. #99
    James O'Brien

    At the school that was serving as an impromptu shelter, James had to be very careful to keep a wide distance from Isaac so the other Lycan wouldn't catch his scent. This proved to be fairly easy, because Isaac was in conversation with some new Lycan that James didn't recognize. Interesting, potentially - but a matter for later. For now, James was taking advantage of the fact that Gilda was occupied and distracted.

    The children weren't of any particular interest to James. He had assumed they would all be blond-haired and blue-eyed little Western European specimens based on Gilda's drive to help them, but they turned out to be a variety of ethnicities and physical types. Apparently irrelevant to his investigation, then. He had to remind himself that not everything was going to fit the pattern.

    Ignoring the children, he swiftly strode through the back of the room - with so many workers and volunteers, no one noticed one more stranger - and snatched up Gilda's purse and left with it in a single smooth motion.

    The contents were disappointing. He had assumed that had to be where she was hiding evidence, when the search of the house came up empty. But the contents were mundane. Car keys. A pair of sunglasses. A packet of tissues. A chapstick. A wallet with nothing in it but ID, credit and bank cards, and a few dollars.

    And her phone. He had her phone. This might be the breakthrough. James clenched his fist triumphantly.

    The triumph was a bit premature. There was no one listed in the contacts under "Hermann." Nor was there anything under "Kraus." But of course, she would be more clever than that.

    He scrolled through, looking at all her contacts with local area codes. Most he either recognized as people in her social circle or could deduce were local businesses...

    And then, there it was. A contact labeled "Mama and Papa."

    James knew enough about Gilda's background to remember that she was a foundling who had grown up shuttled between foster homes, orphanages, and boarding school. She didn't have parents. This seemingly innocuous contact couldn't be what she claimed.

    Grinning cynically that he had finally scored a victory, James hit the button to dial.

    "Hello?" A man's voice. Not how James would have expected him to sound. Very different than the oratory he'd heard in the video archives. But time passed, and people changed.

    "I'd like to speak to Doctor Hermann Kraus, please." James said, his voice a mocking calm. After all this time - James finally had him!

    The man hung up on him without a word.

    James beamed. This was it. The lead he'd been looking for. He tossed Gilda's purse in a garbage can beside the gym door, then let the phone clatter to the floor beside it, sending a spider web of cracks across the screen.

    Finally. Finally he was starting to pin down Kraus.

  10. #100
    Katie Bart

    It wasn't really stealing, Katie told herself. The phone was broken, lying by the garbage can - discarded. If you threw something away, it wasn't really stealing if someone else could use it.

    Of course, Katie knew that excuse was flimsy. It was unlikely someone had purposely thrown away a phone, even with a broken screen - especially when it still had service, she realized when she turned it on.

    But she took it anyway, because she needed it. Katie promised herself that she would return it someday, once she figured out something better... or once the owner realized it was lost, and had the service shut off.

    She slipped the phone into her pocket, then scurried into a restroom stall. With nervous fingers, she fumbled to dial.

    "Hey, it's me," she said.

    On the other end, her sister breathed an audible sigh of relief. "Are you alright? I saw on the news that your school burned down, and I was so worried..."

    "I'm okay. They brought us to some island."

    "I'm here too. I'll find you..."

    "Okay, just hurry. I don't know these people or what's going to happen. They're going to send me to a foster home - I gotta go."

    The restroom door opened, and Katie abruptly hung up and shoved the phone back into her pocket. Her sister was used to the hang-ups. It had been years since they'd been allowed to communicate openly. She knew Katie would call back when she could, from where she could.

    Katie headed back to the gym, clutching the phone in her pocket like a lifeline. At least for now, while it had service, she wasn't completely on her own.

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