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When you have to make like a leaf and scram



 
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Josie Collins

The twin sized bed took up a large part of the small bedroom in her apartment, a myriad of homemade blankets and quilts piled on top of a resting body. Two cream colored lamps with pale pink fringed shades sat on either side, atop matching but old nightstands. There was a window just above the dark stained bed frame that was letting the small amount of moonlight there was shine down on the sleeping form buried beneath the fabric.

It was the dreams again. They’d been getting worse, more frequent. They just seemed to pull her down into them and trap her there, but tonight was different. Instead of that deep, paralyzing, sleep she was tossing and turning and unable to get comfortable.

There was a very good chance it had everything to do with the man that was currently sleeping on her couch. Just one night, he’d said. There was nothing improper going on. She was tucked in her bed under a mountain of blankets and he had made himself a little spot on the couch.

This was different than when he’d been passed out on her floor. She hadn’t known him then other than the fact that he’d needed her help. But now? Now she could feel those nerves bundling in her stomach. At least it had pulled her from her sleep and she didn’t have to see those things anymore. Despite the fact that the awkward touches made her feel uncomfortable, she wanted to feel more of them. Even if it was strange, because it somehow also just felt...right. His arms around her in that momentary hug had left a lasting impression on her that she just couldn’t get out of her head.

The reason it was hard for her to sleep. So, there she lay, staring up at the ceiling and twiddling her fingers on her stomach. Judging by how dark it was outside, it was well after midnight but not early enough for the sun to start peaking up yet.

She was never going to sleep like this. With a big sigh, she pulled back the blankets and searched her nightstand for her glasses, pushing them on her face so she wouldn’t run into any walls. The dark, though, didn’t help.

She was covered in the pale blue and yellow duckies of her footed pajamas, her hair pulled up in a haphazard ponytail to keep it out of her face. Footsteps were soft as she scooted her way out of her bedroom door and through the living area, trying her best not wake Joseph up in her late night wanderings.

Down the stairs she padded, grabbing keys off the counter as she went by, to her strange little dungeon.

It was when she passed the door that led into the shop that she heard...something. Nobody should be in the store. There was no way Ms. Hazel was going to be up and moving around the shop at this hour. Maybe the old witch had been unable to sleep as well?

The door unlocked and Josie pulled it open, bright eyes searching in the dark. Eyebrows knit together and she was just about to call out when she heard someone talking. Someone...who was not Ms. Hazel. Or Joe.

“She doesn’t have it, man. I’m looking in her head, and it’s just not there. Maybe he gave us bad info.”

Another voice. Both male. One a deep scratchy bass, and the other a mid tenor with an accent that she was having a hard time placing.

“It’s there...it has to be there. He said it was for sure here, in this shop, and she’s been the owner for as long as anyone knows. We just have to help her talk.”

After that, the sound was no longer of talking. It was the sound of flesh hitting flesh and a muffled gasp of pain that seemed to echo through the entire place. “Where is the Tome, you old b*tch.” Then a thump loud enough that it could only be the old woman’s body landing on the floor. “Sh*t. I think she’s out for the count.”

The other, higher, voice spoke up again. “There’s got to be something here. I’m sure of it. Come on.” Now that her eyes were getting used to the dim light, she was able to see two slender figures rummaging around the shop. Books were pulled out, thumbed through and then tossed on the floor. Josie, snapping back to herself, quietly shut the door and re-locked it.

Her heart was racing a million miles a minute and she had to take a few breaths, trying to calm the anxiety rising in her. “It’s okay, Josie. You are a capable, intelligent, woman. You can figure this out.”

If she had never believed in fate, she would believe in it now. It just so happened that on the night she might need him the most, there just happened to be a werewolf right upstairs. Her werewolf, as it were, though she would never call him that to his face.

Again, as quiet as a mouse, she padded back up the stairs and went to the couch where he was laying. “Joe,” she whispered. “Wake up. Please.” To hurry along the process she even reached out and gently nudged his arm with her fingertips. “Please wake up, Joseph.” Even in the whisper, real panic had leaked into the tone of her words.

There was a small whimpering sound that she realized was her as the sound of a handle being rattled filled the quiet space.
August 29, 2019 05:15 pm

Joseph French

'Wake up!' Mumma demanded, kicking at him with her boot. It was light out - Joseph could tell as much by the way his eyelids were backlit over his eyes as he began to pull himself from sleep. 'Get!' she continued, and within a few more beats of his startled heart, Joe was moving, rolling onto his side with a groan of awkward pain from his weary limbs.

Mumma was stood over him, a long, wooden handle in one hand. At some point, it had been the handle to a broom or a rake, but now she just carried it for support, wrapping it across the ankles of whoever was in her way or not listening to her demands.

Joseph was naked, laying on the sand, and, as he stood, he brushed himself down, squinting against the morning ray. His skin was caked in dark, drying blood, and the few wounds he had were bandaged crudely, gauze and torn rags knotted about his biceps and across his waist. They stung to the touch, and, as shifted, the movement of the material, stuck to his skin, screamed back at him, bringing tears to his dark eyes.

'We're movin',' she proclaimed, stepping aside so he could see the groups of people packing up crates and taking down tents. 'Go help Lincoln...'

Lincoln was taking down one of the few sleeping tents and, when Joseph approached, he stopped, his hand above his eyes to block out the sun. 'You're gonna want to put some pants on, or summin',' the boy chuckled, making room for Joseph to pass him into the half-supported tent. His bag was still in the corner where he'd left it, and he rummaged for clothing, producing denim jeans.

'Mumma says,' Lincoln began, but Joseph stopped him with a wave of his hand as he secured his belt. "Mumma says a lot," he replied, unscrewing the cap of a water bottle to splash the contents over his face. Lincoln screwed up his face as he searched for words, coming up only somewhat successful. 'Last night, Joe, you know better than to leave like you did. Mumma, she don't like...'

"Yeah, Mumma says and Mumma don't like. What's new, Linc? Nothing!"

Josie may have been bundled in a department stores-worth of blankets in her own bed, but, on the sofa, Joseph was warm enough without. And, unlike Josie, he was sleeping soundly, laying on his back across the cushions, his feet up on the far armrest. His dreams were mostly peaceful - a collection of semi-remembered moments from the previous night. Joe wasn't a woodland wolf by nature. Most of his time spent in that form had been dedicated to pit fights. And, when he'd been too wounded to fight, he'd spent his wolf form chained up, lest he tries to run away.

Still, when Josie began in her attempt to wake him, his dreams became disrupted by darkness, disjointed. And, when he opened his eyes, the unfamiliar room gave him a start, and he pushed himself up to sit without thought, turning to stare at the girl with the panicked look on her face.

It took him a minute, but he got there in the end, frowning when the darkness of the room didn't quite add up with her presence before him.

"Josie?" he queried, bringing his legs about to plant feet on the floor between them. He didn't take in her odd sense of sleepwear, and, as he began to register the concerned look on her face, his ears pricked to the sound of other bodies in the building.

Instinct caused him to reach out, wrapping his palms about her waist, drawing her down onto the sofa beside him as he himself moved from the cushions into a crouched position on the floor. "Who is it?" he whispered. "Do you know?"
August 29, 2019 05:17 pm

Josie Collins

In all the confusion and the fear, it didn't even register to her that his hands where around her waist. Or that he'd easily shifted her to the couch so she was sitting in front of him. There was a waiver to her voice and she was trying with all of her might not to burst into tears. It was something she rarely did.

Crying wouldn't solve any problems, but it sure was a natural reaction to fear. And...grief? Would she call it that? She didn't think that Ms. Hazel was dead, but the thought of the old woman hurt down there.

"No, I don't know. It's two men, I think. And..they hurt her. They hurt Ms. Hazel. I think they're looking for..."

Her words were cut off though by a pound. A loud one. The kind that happen when someone throws their body against a door. A muffled voice. "I think it's warded. Come on."

She could feel it. FEEL it. The pull of magic, the energy that it created. That was something that had never happened to her before. In all the newness of, well, everything right now it was something she would have to put a pin in and figure out another time.

"There are spells on the door, but they're trying to undo them." Her light eyes stared into his darker ones, even in the dim light of the room, locked on there. "What do we do? Do we need a weapon? I have a baseball bat under my bed. We can't just leave her out there, Joe. What if they kill her. They just hurt her." She rambled, and felt those tears sting her eyes again. "I'm scared."

With that she reached out and wrapped her hands around his upper arms and held on to him. Despite the fact that human contact made her uncomfortable most of the time, she wasn't acting on thought. It was just pure reaction. And her natural one, it seemed, was to hold on to him.
August 29, 2019 05:18 pm

Joseph French

Joe's attention went from the door to Josie and back again, his body sturdy, ready to react. She was scared, but he was simply confused. One minute, he'd been asleep, and now there they were, under attack, and from, what, men, yes, but she'd said they were trying to undo the magic that protected the door. And, to do that, they had to be magic too.

'Do we need a weapon?' she asked, and though she continued to talk, Joe raised a hand to quiet her, tilting his head to try and get a better reading of the conversation outside.

No, they didn't need a weapon. They already had one.

Him.

Josie had mentioned Ms Hazel over food the previous day, explaining a little of the situation, and the shop. He'd yet to meet the woman, though he understood that Josie cared for her deeply, and if he ever planned to meet her, he needed to ensure she was alive.

And the best way to do that was to get Josie to her as quickly as possible by distracting the men at the door.

Topless, Joe had slept in his jeans. Worn, soft denim that allowed him to comfortable remained crouched. Looking down at her hands as they grasped his arms, Joe moved his attention back to her face and forced upon it a smile.

"You're okay, Josie. You're safe. And Ms Hazel, she will be safe too," he assured her, mirroring her touch by placing his own hands upon her shoulders.

The previous day had been an odd rollercoaster of awkward touches and equally awkward conversation, but it had all helped to bring them both to a point where they could at least do this. Touch. Reassure without wanting to throw up from the uncomfortable tension.

"I'm gonna make a way for you to get to her, alright? You get all you need to help mend her and you wait there on the stairs 'til you see the way is clear. Don't focus on me, alright? You focus on her."

Joe squeezed her shoulders as he stood, and gave her one final look before turning away to walk toward the staircase, his fingers working deftly at the metal buckle of his belt.

The books and movies have it all wrong. When the protagonist bursts forth, taking the form of a wolf, their clothing doesn't simply tear into shreds. Leather belts are strong, and elasticated waistbands only stretch so far before they begin to cut into the skin. Joseph didn't have a lot of clothing. Nor did he have money to buy more. And, when he began to move down the stairs, taking light, cautious steps, he managed to remove his jeans and hang them from a wall sconce, continuing until he stood, stark naked, the other side of the door.

This close, he could hear every word and watch as the door handle turned and shook. They were getting closer to breaking the spells that kept Josie safe from any outside threat, and any minute now, they'd come face to face with the second layer of protection - Joe.

He took a step back, and then another, crouching, preparing himself to strike. And in the few seconds that ticked by between them breaking through the door and noticing his presence in the dark on the other side, he lunged, his body breaking and reforming as he landed upon them both, sending all three bodies, two men and a dusty-grey dire wolf, flying back into the book shop.
August 29, 2019 05:19 pm

Josie Collins

She nodded as she listened to him, the tone and surety of his voice giving her comfort. "Okay. Okay. Okay." She said it a few times just to be sure. The way he said that last part, though, about not focusing on him...well, it worried her. "Please be careful Joe. I don't know how I'd manage if you got hurt." Or worse, but that was something that didn't need to be voiced.

She leaned towards him as he squeezed her shoulders, nodding to him. She’d be okay. She’d be brave. He made her brave. And that was going to be a mantra that she was going to repeat over and over in her head.

After he got up, she stood up at the top of the stairs like he’d ask. Only once had she glanced down, but seeing him in the state of undress, realized it wasn’t quite time yet.

The sound of the door and growls, followed by loud thuds, told her that it was her cue. She padded quickly down the stairs, the grips on the bottom of the footed legs keeping her from sliding all over the wooden surface.

She stopped. And looked. There he was and he had to be the biggest, most intimidating, creature she’d ever seen in her life. Her breath caught in her throat, but not because she was scared. Because, despite what he may think about his condition, he was beautiful and strong. He was her protector.

Josie hurried past the forms wrestling on the floor and found the bloody and bruised Ms. Hazel and gently pat her cheek. “Wake up, Ms. Hazel. Come on.” It wasn’t much, but the witch did groan and try to sit up.

Despite being so small, Josie managed to slide her arm under the other woman’s own arm and help her to her feet. She was light compared to Joseph, whom she’d done so with the day before. Lighter, in fact, than she should be considering the rounded and aged form.

“Let’s get you out of here.”

“Josephine, just leave me. You need to get out of here, now. I’m an old lady and you, and your wolf, have a lifetime. You need to take it.” She’d managed to say quite a bit for someone who’s face was swollen and bruised.

“I can’t leave you, Hazel. You’ll die!”

“Dear...I should have died a long time ago.”

Josie, as anyone that knew her would agree, could be quite stubborn. She didn’t let go of the witch as she maneuvered her towards the door.

Unfortunately she also glanced over towards the Werewolf and the male witches. Warlocks? She wasn’t sure what they were, but she didn’t like the fact that one had managed to get out from under the large wolf. The other one was out of sight, and she hoped...beyond all hope...that Joe had taken care of him.

“I got her, Joe.” Meaning, let’s go. Together. Let’s get out of here before anything else bad happened.


August 29, 2019 05:44 pm

Joseph French

When the full moon had hold of him, he was lost to its embrace. The actions he'd take in those moments were half-forgotten memories come morning. Those were the changes he liked the best. The ones where he didn't have to remember.

For, when Joe forced the change, he remembered everything. His body may be that of the wolf, but his mind was his own. It made him far more approachable, far more able to understand, and to reason, but it also meant that everything he did while in that form, it followed him. He relived it over and over. He experienced it all.

The change completed as he and the men his the ground. With a paw on the chest of each, he growled down at them, saliva dripping from bared fangs.

But these weren't the opponents of the fighting pits. These weren't well-armoured fighters or wild animals. Nor were they other wolves. The men that lay beneath him were magical. And, though winded by the experience, they didn't surrender.

His ears pricked to the sound of Josie talking, and of the woman replying to her in broken tones. Her guardian was alive, but, until he did something about the men, none of them was safe.

From beneath him, Joe could feel a pain growing, creeping up one of his forelegs. One of the men had their hands about his leg, and whatever was happening, the pain was intensifying.

So, he went for the throat.

Whatever Josie saw, or believed she saw, as the second man began to pull himself free from under the wolf, wasn't the whole story. True, the man was getting away, but only because Joe was busy pulling the life from his companion. He wasn't out of sight, he was just crushed beneath the weight of the wolf.

Within his clenched jaw, the man's neck began to crack under the force. Blood began to pool about Joseph's fangs as any protest was lost in a gurgle of drowning. The pain that had been shooting up his leg ceased as the man's attempts to free himself from beneath the wolf began to lessen. Weakened, lost of breath, his wide, desperate eyes glazed over and Josie called out to the wolf.

Joe looked up, his muzzle dripping with blood, his dark eyes darker still as he stared at the two women making their way to the door. He growled, a low, thundering rumble from within his throat and chest, and, as they moved closer toward him, the wolf pounced, clearing both their heads and he landed with a crack against the second man, who had found cover behind a bookcase and was prepared to attack with glowing hands.
August 29, 2019 06:01 pm

Josie Collins

There was a moment. A heart stopping moment. It wasn’t being lept at by a giant wolf, though maybe it should have been. Even in that form, though, her mind could connect that it wasn’t just an animal. It was her Joe.

No, the heart stopping moment had come when she’d seen the man with glowing hands, and the idea that he might hurt this person that had so quickly come to mean so much to her was enough to make her skip a beat.

Even as he made contact with the wizard, Josie sucked in a breath and stopped in her tracks. Fear drove her. Not fear for her own safety.

Fear for Joe’s.

It was in that moment, that second of absolute terror, that she felt...something. It was this sensation building inside of her. An energy that filled every fiber and molecule of her being until her head felt like it was going to explode from the pressure it was causing there. Beside her she heard the old witch start to laugh to herself, but it was just background noise to the static filling her brain.

And then she felt it. The expulsion of that energy like an atomic bomb, spreading through her like a mushroom cloud of power.

The two large windows of the shop that faced the street exploded in a shower of noise and glass, shattering and covering the ground where she had found his broken body yesterday. The front door did the same like a blast of dynamite had been set off.

A blast of dynamite that was coming from the small, bespectacled, woman in pale blue and duck pajamas that was currently holding up the beaten body of an old woman.

She didn’t have time to think about it, to process what was happening. She just knew that she had to get them out of here. And them included Joseph.

There he was, fighting with the man that had just been out to hurt him. That was all she could see. Not that Joe was winning the fight. Not that they were so close to being clear. But that man had been out to hurt him, had hurt Ms. Hazel, and the thought filled her with the sort of rage that she had never known before.

The wizard started to scream, the sound intensifying with both the Lycanthrope on him and the pressure that was building between his eyes. A trickle of something slid down towards Josie’s lips but her eyes bore down into that man, unwavering.

Until there was the sound of something popping. And the screaming stopped.
August 29, 2019 06:18 pm

Joseph French

Joe snapped at the face of the man. This time, the connection hadn't been as successful, and he hadn't managed to gain full purchase upon him. As he struggled to gain a better hold while not touching the glowing hands, it was the crash, the scattering of glass that caught his attention.

The whole time he'd been fighting, Joe's number one priority, however stupid it may sound, was to do as little damage to their surroundings as possible. This was Josie's space. Josie's safe space. And, from the second he'd prepared himself on the staircase, to this moment, his concern had been to keep blood from books and bodies from damaging anything.

So, when the glass shattered, he couldn't help but be distracted, his head turning, staring in the direction of the noise.

And there they stood, Josie and the old woman, stood in the line of fire.

But they weren't. They weren't in danger.

They were the danger.

Joseph couldn't get his head around it, and, as a glowing hand took advantage of his distracted state and grabbed at his fur and skin, the wolf let out a pained yelp. The touch was like ice. Instantly burning cold. It cut through, and it was all he could do to keep on the man instead of winding back to escape the pain.

And then he started to scream. For a second, Joseph thought it was himself that was screaming. It fit the situation and the ice-cold pain tearing through his shoulder. But it wasn't him. It was this man. The man was screaming, his own pain intensifying as the grip on the wolf began to lessen.

Joseph padded backwards, his head ****ed to one side, the confusion apparent in the way he looked between the screaming man and the pyjama-clad Josie, whose face was twisted in pain and anger.

Was the man doing this to her? Or was she doing it to him? Joseph couldn't tell, but he knew where his priorities lay and lept from his position to close the space between himself and the women. And, as he landed, the screaming stopped. And, which he wouldn't notice until later, his hind legs and lower back were covered in what had once been the man and was now bloodied parts.

Joseph aided for the small gap between the two women's bodies, pushing himself through so they could both take hold of him for support as he crouched low, moving for the broken space where a door had once hung.
August 29, 2019 06:34 pm

Josie Collins

The moments afterwards were a blur for her. Literally and figuratively. The whole room swayed and swam and her vision darkened around the edges as she felt it harder and harder to keep ahold of the woman they had just saved. Her slim form slumped but still managed to stay upright.

For now.

Especially once she felt the furred body of move between them and offer some support. She didn't notice the gore everywhere. She didn't notice the blood that was covering her beloved books. All she noticed, at that moment, was that he was okay. It was also in that moment that she maybe thought that he was now her safe space.

She couldn't tell him that, though.

Instead she leaned against his frame, and helping the old woman do so as well, they started to walk carefully through the glass. The glass...that she had broken. She still didn't know how, and didn't understand, how she'd done it. It was just that intense emotion, that fear, that pushed her over the edge into oblivion.

Later, she might have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that she'd killed someone. But he was alive. She was alive. That was all that mattered.

Digging around in the pocket of her pj's, she unlocked the door to her small red car. Somehow, with the support of the wolf body, she managed to get Hazel into the passenger seat. And she managed to open the back door so he could get in. It wasn't until they were safe that she slid into the driver's seat and proceeded to pass out.

This time, when she slept, it was quiet.

No dreams. Not nightmares. No monsters coming for her.

It was as if that relief of pressure from her mind had caused relief in her subconscious as well. There wasn't that all encompassing power pulling her under and making it hard for her to ever come back.

But her body felt tired. So tired. She just needed that moment to try to gain the strength it would take to drive them someplace safe. Someplace that she could get help for Hazel, and where her and Joe would have to figure out what the next step was.

Because she didn't know if she could go back to the shop now. Not knowing that it wasn't safe for her, or the people she cared about.
August 29, 2019 06:50 pm

Joseph French

It's hard, though not impossible, to fit a dire wolf into the back of a car. It is, however, very unlikely that the wolf will find any sort of comfort in the cramped confides, as Joe was struggling to do.

In the passenger seat, Hazel looked to be drifting in and out of consciousness. And, beside her, Josie was lost to the world.

When she awoke, it would be Josie that lay across the back seat of the car. Hazel, still in the passenger seat, was awake but silent, watching the man behind the wheel.

Joe hadn't dared look in a mirror after he'd turned back. Naked, he'd dared to reenter the shop long enough to grab his jeans from the wall sconce, and a shirt from the apartment above. He hadn't wanted to leave them long for fear of reinforcements, but it's surprising how quickly you can dress and scavenge for supplies when time is possibly not on your side.

Hazel was wrapped in one of the blankets Josie had left out for him on the sofa, which Josie herself was beneath another, with Joe's duffle on the floor beside her, the copy of The Call of the Wild stuffed into a side pocket.

He wasn't sure where he was driving, he just knew that north had been his initial destination so north he would head. And, after a twenty-minute drive in the dead of night, he finally assumed it safe enough to pull over, bringing the car to a halt at a roadside rest stop.

Only then did he look in the mirror, tilting the rearview to get a better look at himself. The lower half of his jaw, his chin and neck, was covered in dark, dried blood that cracked when he pushed and pulled at the skin. His hair lay in matted, bloodied waves atop his head, and, when he reached to readjust the mirror, he felt an ache in his shoulder, and pushed up a sleeve to find bruising and scorch marks across the skin.

And then he looked back at Josie.

Josie, who only had words and not powers. Josie, this tiny frame of perfect against the darkness of the world around them. Had she lied to him? He doubted it. He wasn't sure why, but he didn't think she'd ever lie to him. So what had happened?

'I reckon you could do anything if you put your mind to it.' he'd told her in the basement the evening before. And maybe she had.

He looked at Hazel, who watched him silently, and then shifted to sit back in the driver's seat, and softly groaned.
August 29, 2019 07:05 pm

Josie Collins

While he had been upstairs grabbing the bag and the book, Hazel had been making her way back to the conscious world. She looked back at the sleeping girl in the backseat with a knowing grin before he came back to take her place in the passenger seat.

The old witch indeed watched him. Intently so. There was good humor, though, and brilliance to the deep set blue eyes. Even though her round face was full of wrinkles, and her portly body was bent over at the back, there was something even older in that gaze. A hint of a smile showed against her bruised lips.

"We're going to let the dear sleep. Then you and I can have a chat, Joseph French."

There was a grunt as she crossed her arms over her stomach and leaned back slightly. They had done a number on her, but now she was coming out of it and coming around. No, he had never met her. But one didn't have to meet someone to -know- someone, and the witch knew quite a bit.

"My Josie, she's a special girl. You're going to take care of her. But, my dear boy, remember that she is going to take care of you too. Remember that, even if things get hard or scary. Sometimes things happen for a reason. I believe you're hers."

A pause to regard him. Those denim blues seeing much more than just what was showing in the outside.

"She didn't lie to you, by the way. I know you worry about that, but even she didn't know what she was capable of. My Josie has a hard time showing emotions, so it took a large emotion to break her out of herself. She was worried for you, boy."

She didn't say anything more than that. She wanted to let him figure out her words, how they made him feel. Most importantly, she wanted to see what he would say.

In the backseat, Josie would move slightly, but just to get comfortable and to pull the blanket up over the top of her shoulders and snuggle into it. In her sleep, she inhaled deeply, and her resting mind filled with the scent that had clung to the blanket. The scent of him.
August 29, 2019 07:29 pm

Joseph French

Joseph turned his head to look at the old woman as she spoke, his cheek pressed against the headrest, his eyes tired though his body remained wired, not quite able to calm down.

Hazel was speaking to him as if she'd been there the whole time he'd spent with Josie. And, as she continued, his attention moved from her to the sleeping bundle on the back seat.

When he spoke, his voice was low and cracked a little. The first words he'd spoken since he'd left the apartment to see to the attackers. In that time, he'd growled and barked and use his jaw as a tool for destruction, and it would take a little while for his throat to calm. While his human injuries always healed when he turned into the wolf, the same could not be said of the reverse.

"I think," he began, a smile spreading across his face. "I think there's a lot to her she ain't quite figured out yet." Joseph looked to Hazel, his smile creeping to his eyes. "Maybe there's a lot more to me too. But I don't much mind for that either way so long as she's happy. But you, you matter too, Ms Hazel. So you tell me if you're faking being alright, okay? I don't want you sitting there acting all tough when I should be rushing you to the emergency room."
August 29, 2019 07:40 pm

Josie Collins

She nodded along with his words, a smile firmly planted on her friendly and warm face. The depictions of witches sometimes got it so wrong. Sure, there were bad seeds out there just like there were with anything. But for the most part they were just women. Women that had powers. It was all in how they decided to use them, and Hazel had always used hers for the betterment of others.

Especially those she cared about, as she did Josie. Even though the younger woman didn't realize it, she cared for her as much as someone could for not having had raised them. More so than the woman that -had- raised Josie.

"I knew you two were good for each other. Fate has a way of making some incredible things happen, don't you think? You're going to make her happy, Joseph. Don't you worry about that. Things aren't always going to be easy. Just remember that you're supposed to be here. And that everything is going to work out in the end, despite any obstacles." Vague, obviously. You can't go around giving people spoilers about their life. Just...hints.

A hand was waved at him and his question. "Oh, I'll be fine. I just need some rest and Josie knows where to take us. I'm quite old, and I've been through worse. The inquisition was a horrible time for witches, you know." She gave a shudder but immediately started coughing after.

"In fact...you should take a left here. She'll be awake any minute, so we don't want to have to backtrack too much."
August 29, 2019 07:50 pm

Joseph French

Joseph said no more, starting the engine of the car to follow Hazel's directions. He didn't understand her mention of the inquisition, he didn't understand many historical references. History, as with most classes at school, hadn't interested him. By the age of fourteen, when he'd left home, he'd attended three different schools, losing his place at two for truancy. His time could be better spent, the young boy had decided, hiding in the woods, building things out of fallen trees and scraps of old furniture and electronics. While he didn't see it as a talent, Joseph was very good with his hands and could find the fault in most things, and the fix to bring them back to life.

At the camp, he's helped to build structures and had often been the one to call when things needed repairing. But his ability to do these things had never been celebrated. As a boy, it had been a negative, something that was stopping him from attending school. And, within The Family, it was just a thing that was expected of him and never rewarded when completed.

No, Joseph didn't know history unless he'd heard about it in a song or a tale told by older visitors to the camp. For Joseph, time may as well have started the year he was born, save for the fossil in his pocket.

However old Hazel was, he didn't care. Age brought wisdom, and despite the rule of the camp that age was a hindrance and that older members, aside from Mumma, should be shunned, Joe found those older in years to be far more fascinating.

And, if Hazel said she was okay, that was good enough for him.

'And a right up ahead,' Hazel continued from the passenger seat. 'and then a left.
August 29, 2019 08:00 pm

Josie Collins

Josie didn't know if it was the rumbling of the car as it drove down the street that woke her up or of it was the chatter that she was no longer privy too, but something roused her from her dreamless state.

For a moment she was confused and started to look around the car. Where was she? What was going on? Confusion made way to remembering. Not everything, she didn't really want to remember everything right now. What she did not remember, though, was being in the back of the car.

"How did I get back here?"

She got her answer fairly quickly once she sat up and wiped the drool from her mouth. Her head still throbbed and she groaned at the motion. Her small hands cupped her forehead before leaning forward on to the back of Joe's seat.

One of those hands snaked up over the back of the seat, and her fingers rested lightly on top of his shoulder. There was something that was getting easier and easier for her when she was around him. Even if it was just little touches, it brought...comfort. Safety. And, after a night like tonight, she needed to just make sure he was still there.

"I already have us headed to the safe house, dear," came Hazel's voice.

The safe house. Which is exactly where she'd wanted to take them. It was a bad idea, but it was the only one that made sense. Where else did they have to go? She wasn't surprised that Hazel had known that. The woman just -knew- so much.

Sort of like Josie.

Josie, who peaked over the top of the seat. And spoke softly. And worried. "Two more lefts. There’s an abandoned subway station. But...it’s not so abandoned. We’re going to have to be careful in there if we can. There’s some people that might not welcome you….” This wasn’t the perfect solution, but it was the only one that Josie could think of.
August 29, 2019 08:14 pm
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