Lineage II: Dreams
Summary: Lately, Jack has been having the strangest daydreams. But that's nothing compared to how strange his sister...and even his mother...have been acting.
As his thumbs repeatedly hit the buttons on the PlayStation controller, Jack shouted, "Fear me, you evil skeleton dudes!" However, the MediEvil skeletons on the living room television screen didn't seem to listen, and they converged on the game's main knight character. He was killed in about two seconds. Disappointed, Jack sighed while he handed over the controller. "Your turn, Clu."
"Yes, finally!" Clu cheered as he took the controller, and after reanimating the character, continued where Jack had left off.
Jack sat on the couch and watched in silence at first, the only sound in the Phillips' living room the repetitive click of the controller button. It was soon broken when Carey came down the stairs with Molly's guitar in hand. "Hey guys, you mind if I hang out and practice? We're recording tomorrow."
"Sure. I was getting sick of this music anyway," Jack said as he grabbed the remote and lowered the volume. "What song?" he asked. Ever since they got back from visiting his grandparents, his mother had resumed recording her album full steam ahead, with recording or rehearsing sessions almost every day. Everyone was a little worried that something was bothering her, including Jack, but since they had no idea what it could be, they pretended to believe her insistence that she was just excited about the project. Of course, that hadn't stopped Jack from asking numerous times, both because he was worried, and because not knowing was driving him nuts.
Well, there was not knowing, and his family's odd behavior around him. They kept asking him if he was "okay" at the end of every conversation. It was more than a little annoying.
"'Another World,'" Carey answered, then proceeded to play the first few notes of said song. "Molly wants to redo it for the album."
Surprised, Jack raised an eyebrow. He knew that was an emotional song for his mother, so she probably had a specific reason for including it. "Did she say why?"
Carey shrugged. "You know your mother, she's not one to volunteer personal info. My mom asked her about it, but all Molly said was that she'd 'reconnected' with it recently and wanted to bring it back."
Reconnected? What the heck is that supposed to mean? Jack wondered, even more frustrated. "I...I just don't get her. Something big obviously happened to her when we went to visit Grandma and Grandpa, and she knows I'm worried. Why can't she just tell me? I mean, I am her son. She must know how worried I am, right?"
"Jack, just chill, will you?" Clu replied, his concentration on the game while he spoke. "She'll tell you when she wants to tell you. And if she doesn't, maybe you don't want to know."
"Why does everyone keep saying that?" Jack said with a groan of aggravation as he flopped down on the couch. He'd been quickly reminded of when his grandfather said the same thing of Grandma's history with witchcraft.
As he played various chords of the song, Carey nonchalantly suggested, "Because you don't exactly listen to information you don't want to hear."
"So you're saying I'm narrow-minded," Jack snapped, slightly more anger in his voice than he intended. That anger only spiked when Carey and Clu gave him incredulous looks, eyebrows raised. Clu had even paused the game to do so. "That's not a bad thing," Jack argued, when he admitted to himself that they he couldn't argue he wasn't. "It means I have my own ideas and stick by them."
The game forgotten for the moment, Clu shook his head and sat on Jack's other side. "Yeah, but dude...you have to be at least a little flexible. Do you just want your family not to tell you stuff because they don't want to upset you? You'll never be let in on anything!"
"Look, it's not like I do it on purpose, I just...it just makes me mad," Jack confessed. He felt odd speaking aloud about his feelings, as it rarely happened. "It's usually something totally ridiculous, and I get mad that they can't see reason. Well, I shouldn't even say 'they,' it's always Fi." He then paused when he realized what he said. "So why would Mom be keeping this to herself..unless...oh no," he said as he put his head in his hands.
Confused, Carey asked, "Wait...what? Did we miss something?"
Jack lifted his head up again, which was filled with racing thoughts. "Yeah. Like everyone's been saying, I'm sure something happened to Mom when we were at Grandma and Grandpa's. But I think that something might have been...'paranormal,'" he said with air quotes around the last word. He then let out a deep, dejected sigh. "I think she believes."
Almost in unison, Carey and Clu's jaws dropped. "No way!" Clu exclaimed, a hint of amusement in his words. "Mrs. P and Fi fight like crazy over that! She wouldn't just give in!"
In shock, Carey nodded. "Yeah, I mean, this is Molly we're talking about. Clu and I will usually go along with Fi, because she's our friend. But Fi's paranormal stuff has always been a big issue for them - Molly's always really upset whenever Fi is off on those weird adventures she has. Clu's right, there's no way Molly just put that all aside and finally caved."
But Jack was shaking his head. He couldn't forget how distressed his mother had looked during an intense conversation about the subject. "No, you guys, you just didn't see her... When we were at Grandma and Grandpa's, Mom was a nervous wreck one day. I asked her what was up, and...she said she was tired of fighting it. She even said that she'd 'seen so many things' and, basically, can't go on pretending they didn't happen."
"Whoa," Clu whispered. He had a faraway look on his face, as if trying to pair the words with the Molly he knew. Jack had to admit he'd have done the same if he hadn't witness the words come out of his mother's mouth.
Carey slowly leaned back on the couch, the guitar still in his lap. "What...what do you think happened? It had to be huge."
"That's the part she's not telling me," Jack answered, then confessed, "Okay, I know I won't believe it. But I'd still like to be told, you know?"
His hands folded under his chin in thought, Clu remarked, "This is really weird, dude. So, like, whenever Fi has a paranormal encounter...Mrs. P will actually believe her."
Jack's eyes widened. He hadn't really thought about the implications of his mother's new-found beliefs...the fact that she had them was enough to keep his mind busy. But Clu had a good point. His family's dynamics had severely changed. "Oh my God," he groaned. "This is going to be nuts."
"You'll be okay, man," Carey said with a reassuring pat on his friend's shoulder. "Just hang in there, and try not to cause too much trouble." When Jack glared at him, Carey grinned back as he returned to the guitar. Clu then remembered his game, picked up the controller, and resumed playing.
Overwhelmed with various emotions like dread and confusion, Jack found himself sinking into the couch cushion, his eyes closing. The melody of "Another World" caused him to drift off...
The old English manor stood in a meadow, no other buildings around for many miles. A base made of dark stone supported brick walls and a thatched roof. It was L-shaped, the door in the corner, but prominent enough that it could easily be seen. While the roof might need some repair, the house was in good condition, and he knew it was already furnished.
This was his new home.
A loud mistake in Carey's guitar playing caused Jack's eyes to fly open as his body jerked in reaction to being so suddenly woken. A guilty look on his face, Carey said, "Sorry, man. You okay?"
"Huh?" Jack replied as he shook his head. When Carey gave him a concerned look, Jack tried to smile in what he hoped was a reassuring manner. "I'm okay. Just had a weird dream."
The guys decided they were getting hungry, so the brothers sent Jack in to check on dinner's progress. He walked in to the kitchen to find his mother and Irene seated at the island, date books open in front of them, two steaming mugs of tea nearby. Confused, Jack asked, "So I'm guessing dinner's done?"
"Almost, baby. The lasagna's just about ready to come out of the oven," Molly said with a quick glance at the digital clock on the counter. "You guys getting hungry in there?" When Jack nodded, she pointed to the toasted bread slices on a plate next to them. "Help yourself."
Jack took a seat at the island across from his mother and took one of the slices, happy to find that not only were they toasted, but also coated in olive oil. "Oh, fancy," he remarked, then glanced at Irene. "You and Mr. B take a cooking class while we were gone or something? We usually just order out on the weekends."
"We went to this new Italian restaurant," Irene explained, her eyes still on her date book. "Made me in the mood for my mother's lasagna. Won't come out like hers, of course, but I'm crossing my fingers that it'll at least come out edible."
The other two laughed, but Molly quickly went back to her own planner. "Okay, so we start 'Another World' tomorrow. We should be finished with that one by Tuesday, so we can start on 'She Sells' by Wednesday...actually we might be able to squeeze in a third song..."
"Whoa, hold on there," Irene replied, concern on her face. "You've got other stuff to do this week, like five radio shows, and an appearance on Wake Up, Colorado. We can afford to slow down a little."
But Molly stubbornly shook her head. "No, Irene, I already told you that I don't want to slow down. I need to be distracted right now."
At that, Jack and Irene exchanged worried glances while Molly kept her eyes down, silently asking each other who should jump on the issue first. Jack volunteered. "About that," he began. "You keep asking me if I'm okay, but we're all really concerned about you. What's going on?"
"He's right, Mol. We're all wondering...did something happen? Because you can talk about it with us," Irene added, anxiety in her voice.
His mother finally lifted her eyes from the planner, and noticed their troubled expressions. "I'll be fine," she insisted. Molly patted each of their hands in reassurance, through the gesture only served to irritate them more. "Look, I'm sorry, but...I can't explain it. Just know that I'm going through something and I'll eventually be alright."
In Jack's mind, her words only confirmed his fears. "Oh my God, Fi got to you."
"What? Jack, what are you talking about?" Irene demanded.
But as far as he was concerned, Irene might as well not even be in the room. "You believe," he accused. "It's like I thought. You believe in the paranormal." He thought he heard Irene gasp, but he continued with his angry rant. "That conversation we had, that wasn't just a moment of confusion, was it? Someway, somehow, Fi finally wore you down, and now you're just like her, and Dad."
"Jack, I am not like..." Molly trailed off as the phone rang At first it seemed like she was going to ignore it, but then said with a sigh, "And that's probably Fi calling to say if she'll be home from Candy's in time for dinner." She narrowed her eyes at her son. "We'll continue this later."
And she stormed out of the room.
But Jack couldn't care less. His own fury made him smack the counter so hard that the plate of bread shook. "Damn it," he cursed under his breath.
It all just frustrated the hell out of him. This paranormal crap was like a disease that was slowly infecting his whole family. Why couldn't they see that these beings and powers they believed in were all a bunch of ancient make-believe that didn't belong in modern times? He understood that perfectly well, as did almost everyone else on the planet. Of course his family had to be different.
The quiet inquiry broke through his thoughts. He blinked, as if he'd come out of a trance, and focused enough to see Irene stare at him. "Jack?" she repeated quietly. A trace of fear had mixed with her already-present worry. "What in the world is going on?"
"You.." He began, then couldn't help but shake his head at the irony. "You really don't want to know."
"So you'll be home in about ten minutes then?" Molly asked into the cordless phone. She began walking around the dining room, unable to sit down after the unexpected confrontation with her son. As she had predicted, Fi was on the phone. The teen had gone to spend some quality time with her best friend, since Fi hadn't seen Candy much between the tour's end and their trips to see relatives.
"Of course. Would I really miss a night when someone actually cooked?"
Molly chuckled. "Very funny. Though I have to warn you, I can't remember the last time I've seen Irene make anything, so who knows how it will come out." After a quick check to make sure no one was coming, she became serious as she asked, "Can you talk for a minute? I want to tell you something now in case I forget later."
"Um, sure. I went into a different room to make this call anyway. What's up?"
Paranoid, Molly glanced at the open doorway again. Though the coast was clear, she still whispered, "My ring glowed. When I patted Jack's hand. He didn't notice, but I saw it."
"Uh oh. My ring glowed too, yesterday morning when I was trying to get the remote from him."
"What are we going to do?" Molly asked, not above asking her daughter's input. After all, Fi was the expert in on the subject, while Molly had almost no experience at all. "I mean, I haven't seen anything different about his behavior, no signs of premonitions...maybe they were false alarms, or they glowed for another reason."
Fi sounded doubtful in her response. "Twice? I don't know about that. I say we keep a very close eye on him from now on, even more so than we already have. Maybe this is a sign that his visions are going to start up."
Her stomach uneasy at the thought, Molly finally sat down in one of the dining room chairs. Just the thought of having to talk with her son about any aspect of the paranormal made her nervous. "And then what? Ask him about them? You know this is going to be a nightmare."
"Hey, I had to go through it, now it's your turn," Fi joked. "Besides, I have a feeling we won't even have a chance to register what's happening. He'll probably start having visions so often that it will all come out in one big rush."
"I don't know about that...he still has his shield up, doesn't he?" Molly reminded her. "Maybe he'll get some little visions but that will be it. He doesn't have full access to his power like we do." At her words, for a brief second Molly closed her eyes in disbelief that she'd actually said them. She'd come a long way in a very short amount of time.
"That's true. We'll probably have to ask Grandma about that one, because I don't know too much about magic either. My specialty is more things that go bump in the night."
The reply made increased Molly's anxiety. Going into this, she had presumed she would at least have her daughter as her guide. But she shook off the concern for the moment. In a pressing time like this one, she had to ignore what she didn't know and focus on what she did. "I guess we will. Speaking of premonitions, have you had any since you saw your father?"
"Not really. I get the odd sense of deja vu here and there but nothing major. You?"
"Nothing," Molly replied, somewhat relieved that there was no impending disaster they had to worry about...that they knew of, anyway. "But I'm still worried about the demon. He's still out there, and he is going to attack again. I can feel that much."
"Me too, we definitely have to be on the look out. We have to start practicing battle spells this week."
Though she wasn't looking forward to it, Molly understood how important practice would be for when they had to do battle. Her daughter was counting her help. "Fine. But we'll have to figure out a way to get some time to ourselves. I'll be busy with recording and interviews this week."
Guilt crept up the second the words were out of her mouth. She knew she could be slowing down, as Irene had said, but at this confusing point in her life, she couldn't deal with any free time. The last thing she wanted was to stop and think about her radical shift in beliefs.
"But this is important too, Mom. Our lives are at stake here. Sorry to be so dramatic, but in this case it's true."
"I know, baby. And I'm sorry," Molly replied, a genuine apologetic note to her voice. "But you have to realize that I'm still..."
"Adjusting, right. I'm sorry too. It's just hard to remember that sometimes when we have conversations about the paranormal so much more easily now." There was a distant sound, and Fi explained, "I have to go, Candy's wondering what happened to me. Her dad is giving me a ride, so I'll be home in about ten, maybe fifteen minutes."
"See you then," Molly replied, then hung up the phone.
Amazed, she realized that her daughter had a valid point. She couldn't expect Fi to control her enthusiasm around her, when Molly was the only one she could talk with about this. To Fi, it must feel like a gate has been opened, to another way of resolving her pressing supernatural problems. But in turn, Molly had been feeling like the outsider lately, the one dealing with everything to herself because she knew no one else would believe her.
She had to wonder how long that would last when Jack started having visions.