Disclaimer: I do not own, nor am I in any way associate with, WOWP. I'm just playing with the characters.

AN: I actually used the book I'm reading as the book Theresa's reading here: The Handmaiden's Necklace by Kat Martin.

More Woe

The small lamp sitting beside the couch and the clock on the microwave (now switching over to 1:17am) were the only lights in the living room. Theresa turned the page in her newest romance novel, trying to focus on Rafe and Dani's troubles rather than the late hour. Three pages later the lock clicked quietly and the door swung slowly open. Theresa replaced her bookmark and looked up expectantly.

Justin paused halfway into the room, clearly just now noticing the light. "Hi, Mom," he said quietly.

"Hi, honey. How was monster hunting?"

At first she'd hated that Justin had chosen such a dangerous independent study, but after the past few months she'd forced herself to grow accustomed to the sight of him in his monster hunting gear: dark top, dark pants, heavy boots, and a jacket to hide the weapons he wore crisscrossed over his chest.

He seemed to wince at the question and Theresa immediately moved into the kitchen, both to make him a late night snack and to give him time to form an answer. She heard him slide onto one of the stools as she began searching the fridge for ideas.

"You're not mad that I'm late?" he asked cautiously.

Theresa's hand stilled on the milk jug's handle. They'd pushed back his curfew to one after he became the Monster Hunter Council's last surviving hunter. The witching hour was when monsters were at their most active and, though it was a far later curfew than any of them would have liked -- Alex had been especially vocal about it not being fair -- it was a necessity. They couldn't let other people be hurt just because they wanted their son to have a few more hours sleep.

"Of course not," she said. "You do a good thing out there. How could I be angry?"

But she was angry and she would have let other people be hurt if it meant keeping her son safe. She knew it was selfish and if things hadn't changed she would have marched right up to the Council and shown them exactly what a mortal woman could do.

After pouring two glasses of milk, Theresa shot Justin a coy glance and pulled a pack of double chocolate cookies from the depths beneath the sink. He returned the smile, nodding his head in a silent promise to keep the hiding place secret from the others.

"So," Theresa said, dipping one of the cookies in her milk and leaning over the counter, "how did things go tonight?"

He gave her a look asking if she really wanted to hear about this and when she didn't object he began, "I was chasing this banshee out by where the Statue of Liberty boat tours take off from."

Some of the tension left Theresa's shoulders at that, every night she worried that her baby would come up against a vampire. She knew all vampires weren't evil, but in a mother's mind every danger was at its worst and she always envisioned Justin up against a blood-crazed beast. He would fight, maybe even nearly win, but then be unable to deal the killing blow. And then it would be him who died in some dark alley.

"She'd gotten into the water and built up this heavy fog," Justin was saying and Theresa quickly focused on her very much living son. "I had just remembered the starburst spell I needed to light the area and dissipate the fog when she started singing."

"Singing?" Theresa echoed. "I thought banshees screamed."

Justin nodded and began speaking as if he'd just read the section in his textbook. "It's a common misnomer. Banshees, sirens and the like are actually cousins, and have very similar powers. A banshee's scream hits a frequency that actually taps into the brain, causing it to think the body is experiencing pain, typically causing a sense memory response that associates the present feeling with a real one felt in the past. The closer you are to the source of the sound the more intense the pain. At a distance it may cause you to relive a stubbed toe. Close up it would bring up the most painful moments of your life and make you re-experience them.

Theresa winced. If a scream could do all that, what could a song do?

"Think of it this way," Justin said, "a scream is like cutting up an old credit card with a meteor. A song is like using a pair of scissors. But it depends on the song," he added quickly, finally noticing her look of horror. "A dark, angry song causes pain, a happy song …"

Justin trailed off and Theresa slid another cookie across the counter. It hit his fingers and the corners of his mouth pulled up momentarily. He nibbled on the cookie, downing it and half of his milk before continuing sadly.

"I was happy with Juliet."

Theresa reached over and gave his hand a squeeze. "I know, sweetie."

He turned his hand over and clung to hers, his head bent so she couldn't quite see his face in the dim light. This was it, this was why she'd had to let Justin go out late every night to fight monsters. He'd loved and lost Juliet and he'd translated all of his pain into hunting. It wasn't the most healthy of coping mechanisms, but it was what her little boy needed.

After several moments Justin released her hand and reached for another cookie, blinking rapidly.

"Did you get her?" Theresa asked conversationally.

"Had to steal one of the tour boats," he said around a bit of cookie. "I was halfway to New Jersey before I caught up to her. But yeah, she's locked up. Right next to Frankengirl actually. She says 'hi.'"

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