Part I: Reclusion
It took a lot of trial and error to discover the means to harm someone who was invulnerable.
Will didn't keep track of the mindless hours he spent dragging a razor blade down his wrist. He could feel it there, pressing against his skin, disturbing the cells. But, other than the ones that were already dead, the sharp edge didn't damage him. But he could feel it. He could almost taste it. His blood rose up beneath the skin. It screamed at him to be let out, to be freed. And Will cried because he wanted to be free. He sympathized with his own blood. So, he continued to drag the agonizing metal down his flesh until the voices in his head went away, until he surrendered to his nightmares and slept un-restfully.
In the morning, Will easily brought back his goofy grin and stepped aboard the bus to Sky High, his personal illusion. He smiled at the people he considered friends and sat with them. He talked with them at lunch, laughed a little even. He concentrated on the lessons. He ignored love notes shoved into his locker from girls whose faces he couldn't even call up in his mind. Occasionally, he threw up in the bathroom when the sickeningly sweet role playing got the best of him. He avoided the rest of them after that. He ignored the voices telling him what a sick worthless piece of shit he was.
At home, he locked himself in his room, claiming endless homework and a paper for his History of Heroic Battles class. Quickly enough, he found that razor blade and traced a path down his arm. The singing of his blood didn't come. He pressed harder. Harder. Nothing. Will fell forward sobbing as the thin piece of metal shattered from the abuse. The voices just laughed harder. Will curled in on himself. He lay on his floor sobbing. His fingers found themselves idle and decided to pull out the carpet. They found pieces of the shattered blade. The jagged edges, different from the thin sharp blade, still did him no harm.
He stood, this time determined not to stop until he found something that could hurt him. He needed to make the voices cease their endless torment of his mind. He needed the physical to take away the mental. He needed to regain control of everything that fell into hell when he realized...
Mindlessly, he found himself on his roof. Suddenly, his mind told him he was on the ground. He hadn't even realized he had made the decision to jump. The impact of his face and chest hitting the grass took the wind out of him. Yet, he took no damage. There was no pain, no broken bones, and there was no silence in his head. He flew to twice the height of his roof and fought against his own powers to let himself fall. Still, all he felt was just the wind getting knocked out of him and perhaps a slight disorienting effect. Rinse, repeat.
Will flew back into his room and directly in his bed, pushing aside thoughts of grass stains on his clothing and a dirty face on his pillows. He'd shower in the morning and wash his bedding after school tomorrow.
Part II: Realization
Much too quickly, Will found himself sitting through one of Medulla's lectures. He let the monotonous words fill his head and transfer themselves into a notebook. They flowed from his ear to his hand, drowning out anything that could potentially be found in between. High School was his haven of pea-(don't say that!)... serenity, where he didn't have to think anymore. Will realized how ridiculously backwards his life had become.
This time last year, all he wanted was his powers to show up. Now he couldn't want anything less.
He couldn't feel anymore. His skin felt dead to him. It trapped everything he was inside the adamantine casing. Trapped. He couldn't describe his feelings in any other way.
High school was falling apart. At lunch, he hadn't ate anything again, as pointed out by too nosy Layla. Warren just looked at him. He wouldn't stop watching. The voices grew louder and louder as those heated brown eyes burned holes through his impenetrable skin. And despite his super strength, he felt as though he was being beat up from the inside. In a matter of moments, he was in the boy's room dry heaving in one of the stalls.
Will didn't know what the hell that was. But more to the point, Will couldn't remember the last time that he had eaten even a bite of something. His parents hadn't said anything about him being missing from the dinner table. Maybe he just didn't remember. Nonetheless, nothing was emerging from his stomach and it growled at him angrily.
Will splashed water in his face and looked into the mirror. He didn't recognize the boy staring back at him. That boy was pale and had sunken features. His eyes were dead and his mouth dropped at the corners. He had sharp cheek bones, easily visible though his pallid skin. Wiping his hands on his shirt, he gasped. Since when could he feel his own ribs? His fingers slowly ran down his chest, over and up in waves. They dipped cautiously between ribs and then found his sunken stomach. Long gone was the ghost of muscles. All he found was that thrice damned skin stretching over his organs.
He sank to his knees. Involuntarily, he pulled himself to the back corner stall and locked the door. Who was he anymore? Was he actually finding a way to escape from his barrier?
Will couldn't find it in himself to go to any of his afternoon classes. He stayed in that bathroom, vaguely aware of the coming and passing of boys. Once he thought he heard a deep, husky voice calling out his name from underneath the door. Shrugged it off, and Will plugged his ears, trying to get the voice out of his head. Why couldn't it leave him alone? He knew what he was, he didn't need to be reminded.
Part III: Release
Will managed to fly himself home somehow after missing the bus. He flew straight into his bedroom window, completely bypassing any chance of coming face to face with his parents.
Quietly, he made his way to the bathroom, taking a clean towel and a fresh pair of boxers with him. Once there, he slowly stripped, afraid to see himself in the mirror above the sink. Disbelief flashed across his face once he stood bare. He had never been able to see his hip bones before.
His fingers traced his silhouette in the reflective glass. Slowly, he dragged them, still trying to convince himself that it was just a window and that was some other boy.
He slid the mirror over, revealing a medicine cabinet. He frantically searched. Surely he hadn't broken all the razors. His mother had to have some sort of disposable shaver that he could take the blades from. No, nothing. There was nothing at all for him. Angrily, he pushed pill bottles aside. Some fell out. Frantically, he searched the bathroom. Will could feel the sobs begin within his chest again.
Something else then. He either wanted to feel everything or nothing at all. Will's hands paused at the pill bottles left in the sink. His mouth watered thinking of the buffet of feelings these tasty little capsules held for him. His parents wouldn't miss one or two. They didn't count them when they came home after an ass-kicking sore and bruised. Will held two amber bottles. He had his choice now, hydrocodone or carisoprodol? Vicodin or Soma? Pain killer or muscle relaxer?
Will chose the hydrocodone. He didn't want to feel. He took two, for good measure, and drank water cupped in his hands from the faucet.
Frantic now, he waited. He waited for the pain to disappear. He waited for it all to vanish. He stared at the grim visage of himself in the mirror. He looked like a zombie and now he wanted to feel like one. He waited, naked and cold. He only made slight movements. He scratched his arm, then his thigh. He raked his nails down this chest. He couldn't help but wonder, what this it? Was this all he was going to get?
Warily, he turned on the shower and stepped in. He paid no mind that there was no hot water. The cold liquid calmed his crawling skin. Even his skin seemed to want to escape him now. His skin was repulsed by what he had done to himself, what he had been doing to himself since the beginning of summer. Since he broke up with Layla, after he realized that...
He quickly turned the water all the way to hot. The steam began building around him but the fact that the dihydrogen monoxide pounding on his skin was turning him red but not burning him didn't escape him. Will swore. He couldn't feel the hot or cold any more.
His skin felt sentient.
Will tried to wash it away. He scrubbed and scrubbed, not bothering to lather. He tore at his hair with the shampoo. Itchy. He was itchy everywhere. His nails couldn't get to it to scratch, he was impermeable. Even his harsh scrubbing at his flesh with a pumice stone did nothing, not even a drop of blood.
He turned off the water and stood there in near silence. The only sound that met his ears was the slow drip of water onto the shower floor. Was he cold again? The goosebumps on his arms and legs seemed to think so. But he couldn't feel anything except the itching under his skin... and maybe like he weighed nothing. Looking at himself, he decided that he probably did weigh nothing.
So, to feed his wanting stomach, he grabbed two of the muscle relaxers and swallowed them dry.
His parents left him alone as he returned to his room. Were they away fighting evil supervillians? Were they off selling houses? Were they even alive? Perhaps he had told them off and they weren't on speaking terms. Maybe he had asked them to give him some space and politely requested they leave him alone. Was it possible that he didn't even give a fuck?
Will laid his lifeless body down onto his bed. With shaking hands, he brushed the wet hair away from his forehead. He forgot about the blow dryer. He couldn't feel his limbs at all, but he could feel his heart rapidly pounding. It was just under his ribcage, so near to the surface now. If he had wanted, or if he had cared, he could probably slide a slim finger through his ribs and feel the head just beneath the skin. Maybe not, he wasn't up to speed on his Powered Peoples' Biology.
But the voices… they didn't bother him. He couldn't feel and he could barely move his own hand. He didn't care. He could just lie here all night if he didn't have to head that beautiful taunting voice or their sneers.
Will felt alone without the velvet words making him feel disgusting.
He was restless. So very tired and exhausted. Will lay belly up in his bed for what seemed like hours that night. In the darkness, he wasn't sure if he had even closed his eyes and drifted off into sleep. He did know that when his alarm went off for him to go to school, he was awake.
Part IV: Rebound
Slowly he climbed out of bed. His limbs still felt a little weak, even with super strength. His head spun with dizziness and a migraine. Will decided to take another vicodin to make the pain go away.
He stood in front of his closet. Pants? Shirt? When was the last time that he actually cared about what he wore to school? Will couldn't remember. When was the last time he had talked to any of his friends? Will couldn't remember anything. He quickly threw on a red t-shirt over a white long-sleeved shirt and buttoned his pair of jeans. He figured this was good enough.
As he walked down the stairs, no longer hearing the voices, and suddenly able to think again, he remembered yesterday's lunch.
Why was Layla so worried about his eating habits? Had she always been or was it just yesterday? And what was that look that Warren gave him? What did Warren know about anything? He didn't understand that foreign look in his fiery eyes. He didn't understand the emotions lying dormant in them, waiting - no begging - to be released by Will. He just didn't understand.
His parents sat in the kitchen, enjoying a silent breakfast with no conversation. Will walked warily to the fridge, stealing a few glances at his parents as he passed. He took a apple juice box out and stabbed the straw through the hole. He watched parents purposefully not look at him or each other while they ate. Will continued his staring as he peeled and ate half a banana, his stomach feeling over-full with just that. He took an apple off the basket on the counter and stuffed it into the side pocket on his messenger bag for his lunch. He didn't expect to be able to handle much more than that.
Will walked towards the table.
"Bye, mom," and he gave her a kiss.
"Bye, dad," and he patted his father's shoulder.
If he had looked back, he would have seen the utter shock that crossed his parents face as he left through the door and headed off to catch his bus.
"Hi, Layla," he said, standing next to his childhood friend a the bus stop.
"Will?" She asked, genuinely confused.
"I think that's my name. I'm not so sure these days," Will admitted.
He was running high on not feeling. Not hearing the voices. If someone were looking at his actions and words more carefully, they could see that he was doped up. His friends, however, were more focused on the fact that he was talking to them again.
After he greeted Ethan, Maj, and Zach, his four friends didn't even talk for the rest of the bus ride. They simply stared at him as he peered at the clouds out the window.
The bus landed. Warren was already there waiting for the group. Will stared at him. He waited. He stood perfectly still. He waited. He didn't take his eyes off Warren. He waited. The voices didn't come. Will felt, in some way, his shoulders relax.
"Hey, Warren. How've you been? I feel like I haven't seen you in a while," Will asked cautiously.
The look his best friend gave him made Will felt like he had grown a second head, turned blue, and sprouted antlers. This, while actually possibly at Sky High was still rather unlikely. Will patiently awaited an answer, but was not mentally prepared to actually hear that voice with his physical ears outside of his head.
"Who are you, and what have you done with Stronghold?"
Will shrugged, "Maybe I'm an evil clone created by your father sent to confuse you."
Warren gave him a once over and smirked, "Only the real Stronghold would have the balls to talk about my father to me. Welcome back. Where've you been?"
Will simply pointed to his head. He smiled goofily, but that was mostly because of how high he still was.
Part V: Relapse
As the day wore on, the drugs wore off. He was still just fine at lunch, where his friends watched him actually eat something for the first time in what seemed like weeks. They stared at him like hawks as he bit into the apple.
However, that was his downfall. The food sped up his metabolism and kicked the drug out faster than normal. The feeling of wool sweater lifted off his skin. With it came the accusing voices. Will did his best to ignore them. He tried his best to feel normal again. He wanted to smile at his friends. He realized that he didn't know what classes any of them were taking, if they had jobs, or even if they had started dating anyone. His voices reminded him of how they had been neglected.
He managed to make it through his last classes and the bus ride home. But not before Warren made him make a strange promise. If he felt himself slipping away again, he had to go see Warren face-to-face immediately before he was gone. Will didn't quite understand, as his voices just laughed in his head, but he nodded and agreed anyway.
Fumbling, dragging his feet, he nearly fell in through the front door of his house.
He tripped up the stairs and he put his hand through the plaster of the wall as he tried to brace himself. The bathroom was where he was headed. The pills were what he needed.
But, the bottles were empty. Surely he hadn't swallowed them all. He hadn't blacked out. He had been aware. He knew he hadn't taken them. Meaning, his parents knew and they were hiding them now.
Will nearly laughed out loud in anguish. A sardonic grin rose against his sickly skin.
A walk, he decided, was exactly what he needed. So walk he did.
Will barely made it out of his neighborhood before hearing a raging party around the block. It was a party, who would notice that he didn't belong? They'd just assume he was an invited friend of a friend. Anyway, the music beat back the voices so who really cared? Oh yeah, the voices did. They didn't want to leave him.
Will hopped a fence and found himself in the backyard of the party. It seemed that part of it had been forced out the doors. Will entered in through the open French doors and looked around. Heavily the music pulsated around him. He easily fell into the moving mass of people.
The lights were very dim. People held glowsticks and flashing wands. Some twirled them through the air on stings and made them dance. Some twisted their hands, one always following the other in intricate patterns. It was mesmerizing. They sways and bobbed to fast remixes of popular songs.
Will let himself drown into the crowd. He flowed with them.
A girl grabbed him by the arm. She appeared before him with heavy black eyeliner and orange and pink stars painted across her face and neck, leading into her hot pink fishnet shirt that didn't leave much for the imagination. She mouthed words at him, or was she using her voice? Will didn't care, didn't know, and began to pull away from her. She grinned and flashed her tongue at him, an orange circle sat in the middle. Will mistook it for a tongue piercing. She put it away and asked him something again, something about an orange kiss. He didn't want to taste mouth, especially if it tasted of oranges. Quickly he learned differently as she shoved said tongue down his throat and left the small circle near the back of his throat.
Unthinkingly, he swallowed the disk away and mumbled something that made the girl laugh with joy as she walked off.
He walked off to the only lit room in the house, the kitchen. He grabbed the first bottle he came to and took a long swig from its glassy neck. It was some sort of fruity alcohol. Will didn't care for the taste, but drank away the girl's kiss anyway.
He walked back outside after a few more songs with the crowd. He listened to the interesting remix from the back patio as he watched the stars. The song boasted that random events made the singer happy because they didn't remind him of anything. Will couldn't understand how hammering nails or gypsy moths could make anyone happy, but he did know what it felt like to need to be surrounding with thoughtless activities. Perhaps the writer of the lyrics heard voices, too.
The stars danced down towards him.
The music flowed through him. His skin felt cold, but he was sweating. He could smell the salt on his own skin. He could hear it dripping from his pours.
He looked back up towards the sky and felt himself being pulled away. He felt like he was flying, but his fingers told him that they still gripped the lawn chair and his feet were planted firmly on the ground.
He felt himself. He understood himself. But the more he saw and comprehended, the more he drew into himself. Will felt like pulling away from the sky and shrinking into a grain of sand. His voices always told him that he was worth less than that, but he couldn't think of anything smaller than a single grain of sand. He felt so small against the world.
He was slipping.
No, bad voices, Will thought. But these voices didn't tell him horrible things. It was the same voice, but yet not. He could hear the difference in tones and meanings. What was it that Warren had asked of him? Slipping. Go see Warren.
Will stood, immediately closer to the stars that made him feel inadequate, and he flinched. Then he walked, ignoring the sky.
He pushed the button that said "Peace." But peace did not come to him. So he pushed it again. He was aware of an annoyed voice telling him that he could find Warren here. He could find Warren in peace. Maybe he could find peace in Warren.
Will mumbled allowed perhaps. The voices seemed to answer. They seemed to know his name. Was peace calling out for him? He pushed the button once more.
The door opened. Warren stood there. Will had pushed the button for "Peace" and Warren had come. Will smiled. He understood everything now. He could read Warren's mind and could tell what he was going to say next. He was going to ask what the hell was wrong with Stronghold.
Will couldn't answer outright.
Part VI: Revelation
Warren took his wrist in his hand and led him inside. He led him up two flights of stairs and through another door. Will heard a woman's voice with such clarity that it shook him inside. His eyes revealed to him a woman wearing a classy white dress and diamond studded belt. Her black hair reached her slim waist. Her coal eyes met his and he shuddered. She agreed to call someone that Warren had requested.
"Hello, Josie? This is Serena Peace. You're son and mine were studying and he fell asleep. I can't bring myself to wake him, do you mind him staying? ... Oh, of course! They do go to the same school. ... Alright, I will tell him. Have a good evening."
Will heard from his place on the floor of a small white room. It held a bed with a red phoenix bedspread and posters of dragons lining the walls. There was a small TV and some DVDs on a black stand. And Warren sat on the white carpet with him.
"Tell me everything, Stronghold."
Everything? That would take a while. What could Warren need everything for?
"Start with tonight, then."
"I couldn't find any of those nice pills that made the voices go away, so I went for a walk."
"Vicodin, muscle relaxers, I don't think there was anything else."
"Where did you go before you came here?"
Giggling. "I crashed a party."
Warren sighed. He brushed a stray piece of hair away from Will's forehead. Will flinched back slightly.
"Don't do that. The voices say nasty things about me liking you touching me," Will breathed.
"Were you drinking?"
"Just a little. I needed to get that nasty kiss out of my mouth."
"I dunno. A girl. I told her that I don't kiss girls, though. She left me alone. But she gave me an orange kiss."
Warren gasped. "Sweet dragon's fire, Stronghold, you took ecstasy?"
"It wasn't that good of a kiss, honestly. I only really like kissing boys. Well, I don't know that actually. I've only thought about kissing boys. Mostly I think about kissing you. That's why your voice is strongest in telling me how disgusting I am."
"An orange kiss? She gave you an orange pill and you swallowed it, didn't you?"
"Was it a pill? I couldn't tell."
Warren reached a hand out to touch Will's cheek and the younger teen shuddered, hyper-aware of the smallest variations in the pressure and temperature and even his fingerprints as they danced along his flesh. Warren looked Will over as he pressed his face into his palm, relishing the touch. Warren knew that it was ecstasy, as nothing else could do this to his best friend.
Will realized that his flesh could feel. He never wanted it to go away. The button was right, he did find some peace here.
Will looked up at Warren and couldn't hold himself back.
"I want to kiss you so badly."
"Will, you need to sleep this off. You can think about that in the morning and tell me if anything changes."
"No. I've wanted to kiss you forever now. I want to feel your skin on mine. I want to be burned by you. I want your fingers wrapped around mine, your hands in my hair, your mouth pressed against mine. I want everything that you are. I want... I want to feel you inside me. You don't know how long I've thought about all that. And suddenly, I can't feel anything holding me back. I don't understand, but I know what I want."
"I want you to shut up, Will," Warren nearly growled. "I want you to keep your mouth closed and your hands away from me. I want you... Oh God, I want you, Will. But I also want you to think straight."
Warren paused. He planted a single kiss against his best friend's lips. It was as chaste as anything he'd given his mother in the past, yet Will still shivered under his touch.
"Tell me all this in the morning, and I'll do anything and everything you want. I can't do that without knowing who's voice is coming from your lips. Tell me in the morning," Warren promised. "I'll still be here. But sleep now."
Will obliged and closed his eyes, still cheek to palm with Warren. In the back of his mind, he felt Warren taking his shoes off and slipping his body under cotton sheets.
Part VII: Redemption
Will awoke to find his head pounding. He shifted to find a body lying next to his own. His body felt numb, but the brick wall stopped him from moving further.
His skin was toughened again. He was untouchable.
Slowly, he opened his eyes to meet with Warren's sleeping face.
Will nearly had a heart attack. So, maybe not untouchable.
What, what, what? His mind played through last night. Losing himself in though, he became unaware of the world around him. He thought on the girl who slipped him drugs while she also slipped him tongue. There was music playing in the back of his mind. Voices told him to seek out Warren. He remembered find peace by pressing "Peace" and couldn't help but chuckle at his insanity.
He really was insane.
He had told Warren all about his thoughts and the voices that taunted him because of them.
Warren had asked him to tell him in the morning. Was it morning? Refocusing his eyes to gauge the sunlight coming in through Warren's door wall, he decided that it was almost morning and that it was about time to wake up from school.
Will slipped out from the red sheets and out to the balcony that connected his best friend's room with his mother's bedroom. Small pots lined the edge, filled with enough herbs to make Layla proud. He leaned forwards against the wrought iron rail. The air tasted cool and crisp in his mouth, but his skin didn't even shudder against the cold metal.
He couldn't feel. He wanted to feel. He decided that he needed those pills. He had to get them. He couldn't survive.
Will walked back inside to retrieve his shirt so he could fly home before it got too light outside.
Warren stood there, arms crossed over his well-muscled chest. Will shrank in comparison, even more so now that he had began damaging himself.
The hair on the back of his neck bristled as their eyes met.
"You don't need the pills, Stronghold."
"I can't feel," Will responded.
He knew it wasn't much of an explanation, or an excuse. The statement did nothing to press his point. It couldn't express the helplessness or the screaming blood within him. Will didn't know what to do anymore.
Warren reached out a hand and lightly traced a path from Will's shoulder to his elbow with heated fingertips. Will gasped at the sensation. He felt it. He truly felt it and he wasn't in some lucid drug induced state. He moved closer. Warren pulled Will into his arms and Will nearly started crying from the sensation alone. They were bare chest to bare chest. Warren's hands drew circles and shapes along his back. Will wanted to just crawl inside of Warren so that this would never go away.
"Do you still mean those things when you're not high?"
"Yes, yes, God yes!" Will paused, "But only if you want me to mean them."
"Hell, yes. Will, tell me. Tell me everything that you want."
"I want you to never let me go, because my skin can feel your hands. My skin can't even feel hot versus cold in the shower anymore. My skin is too impenetrable. But you, I can feel. I can feel you, even when your fingers are ghosting above my skin. I want to crawl inside you so that I don't have to give up this feeling. I want your hands everywhere on me. I want you... inside me. I want your lips on mine. God, I want to kiss you so bad."
Warren brought his lips to Will's. He buried one hand in the smaller teen's shaggy hair and pressed the other into the small of his back, pressing him closer.
Tears fell from Will's eyes.
"I'll never let you go," Warren whispered against his lips.
He kissed a trail from his mouth, down his chin, over his jaw, and to the crook of Will's neck. Will ceased thinking. Will didn't worry about the voices.
The stupid voices were wrong. They were so, so wrong.
Will sobbed harder as Warren kissed lower across his chest, stopping briefly on his nipples.
The voices of his friends taunting him, calling him names, they meant nothing.
Will cried out as Warren followed the trail of fuzz from Will's belly button to the waistband of his pants. God, how could Warren even want to touch him. Will had seen himself in the mirror.
No, no more voices. Will pushed them away again. He'd never have to heard Warren's rumbling voice calling him disgusting and horrible ever again.
Will's knees went weak and he sank to the floor, where Warren had already been. Will's sweatpants were pulled down, revealing his erection. The erection that just experienced Warren's hot fingers wrapped around it.
Will peered up at Warren through his bangs. Warren leered down at Will with a curtain of thick black hair pushed aside, behind his ears.
"I love you," Warren told him.
He was frank and abrupt, leaving nothing to question. Will knew he should have said it back because only the Lord knew how long Will had wanted to tell Warren that. Instead, Will fell forward against Warren's hard chest and sobbed. He tried to choke out the words to respond, but got tripped up. Warren held him, soothed him, and told him that he knew.
Warren's fingers trailed down Will's stomach towards his previous destination.
"I just want to make you feel again," Warren explained. "I want you to remember my touch for the rest of eternity so that you'll never need pills or try to hurt yourself to remember what it feels like to be made love to. I want you, Will. I will give every part of myself to you to prove it."
Will responded desperately, "I'm not worth it. I'm broken and shattered inside."
Warren hushed him, "Then I'll use my fire and weld you back together. I'll engulf you in flames and keep you from ever feeling alone or lost again. I'll burn myself out just to guide you back to life."
To punctuate his point, Warren lit a small flame on his fingertip and traced it down Will's neck and chest. He circled Will's heart with his flame.
"Superman's jockstrap," Will gasped.
"Piece by piece," Warren promised. "I'll find ever piece of you and put you back together. And if I can't find where you left part of yourself, I'll just use myself as spare parts and patch up your holes."
"Fix me," Will pleaded.
Warren cut off his cries and begging with a passionate kiss that made Will's toes curl even as he sat back on them. Will let himself be dragged into the feelings the fire user inspired within him. He knew that Warren wasn't the type to go back on his word.
Will melted into Warren's crucible-like embrace and trusted Warren to pour him into the proper mold.
Part VIII: Religious Experience