Gender: Male Age: 21 Location: N/A
|Introduction: Not my Story.. All credit goes to Eric Storm|
Don saw the teens as soon as they had shown up, and he had immediately recast his spell on them as well. It was getting tough to hold it in place, but he hoped he wouldn't have to do so for long. When it became obvious that they weren't going to let her pass unhassled, he had to consider what to do. He wasn't sure how or when to intervene. If he moved too early, she would be suspicious of a setup. If he moved too late, she could get hurt. Timing was everything.
"Hey, don't walk so fast, Honey!" one of the boys called out. "We just wanna walk wit' ya!"
Annie did her best to ignore them, and kept her feet moving one in front of the other. When one of the boys stepped in and pushed her, she staggered sideways, right into one of the other boys. His hands groped her body, but she got away before he could touch anything truly degrading.
"Ooh, that felt nice, mama," the boy taunted. "I think I want me some more of that!"
The punk reached for her arm.
Don saw the one youth push Annie into the other, and he saw her struggle free. The next move was both angry and easily readable, and Don's decision had been made for him.
Annie screamed out as the boy grabbed her arm roughly.
"Let me go!" she said, and slapped him with all her might.
Annie heard the snik! of a switchblade opening.
"You shouldn'a done that, bitch," the punk said. He waved the knife blade around so that it reflected light into her eyes. One flash was especially bright...
In the next second, a siren and blue and red lights filled the air. Everyone whirled, and Annie lost her balance, falling to the ground. The punks took one look at the cop stepping out of his patrol car, and they knew this was no time to act tough. They all ran like hell.
Annie looked up at the 6' 6" tall officer who looked like he pumped iron on his lunch hour.
"Are you all right, Miss?" the officer asked her. She nodded shakily, looking over her shoulder. The teens were nowhere in sight.
When she looked back, the officer wasn't anywhere around, but in his place was another person. The patrol car had oddly vanished, as well.
"What?" Annie cried in alarm.
The man in front of her reached his hand out to help her up. She took it, shakily. Before she could say anything to him, he spoke.
"You again!" Don said, acting as surprised as he could. This was the most crucial moment; if she didn't believe his shock, the game was up.
Annie was badly shaken, and it took her a long moment to realize who he was.
"What are you doing here?" she asked.
"Being lost," Don said. "I saw those guys harassing you... though I didn't know it was you you, if you get my drift... and, anyway, I decided to try to help."
"So you called the police? Where'd he go so fast, anyway?"
"It's a long story," Don said with a smile. "Would you like a ride home? Why don't you have your car?"
"That, too, is a long story," Annie said bemusedly.
"I'll tell you mine if you'll tell me yours," Don said with a smile.
"Deal," she said. "You first."
As he opened the passenger door on his car, he said, "There never was a cop. It was just an illusion to scare the piss out of those idiots."
"Uh..." Annie replied as he got behind the wheel. He knew what she was thinking.
"I'm a magician," Don explained, looking over at her.
"Right," she replied, in a manner that clearly indicated she thought he was joking.
Don cast an illusion spell right before her eyes that showed a glowing bouquet of roses. It shimmered brightly, then faded. It was just a silly little trick, but it proved his point, or so he thought.
"So you installed a hologram projector in your car... neat, technically speaking, I guess, but hardly convincing."
Don arched his eyebrows. "You really want me to prove it to you?"
Annie shrugged her shoulders. She didn't want to offend him; she wasn't home yet, after all.
Don sighed. "Okay. Open your door." Once Annie had opened the door, Don closed his eyes and began to chant. This was a very difficult spell that he'd not tried on this level before, and he chanted for two solid minutes. Annie would have interrupted him, but she was distracted by a distinct shimmering just outside her car door.
After the chant was complete, the shimmering began to coalesce, and Annie gasped in shock as a small carousel horse, on a pole, appeared out of thin air. She was even more surprised when it began to slide up and down on the pole, as a carousel horse would.
She looked back at Don, who looked as if he had a splitting headache.
"So... it's just another illusion..."
Don shook his head without looking at her. "Pick it up."
She looked back at it, and then, slowly, she reached down to grab it. She was very surprised when she was able to pick it up and hold it in her hands. The horse continued to move up and down slowly on its pole.
"How..." she stammered.
"With great difficulty," he responded. "Sorry it doesn't contain a music box. I'm not that good. It does have a spot for one, if you'd like to buy the mechanism from someone, though."
"Oh," she said, now embarrassed that she'd not believed him. The idea, however, that she was sitting next to someone who could do real magic, however, was a little disconcerting.
"Wow," she said with some awe. "I... wow." When he looked over at her, he saw her shiver a little.
"What's the matter?" he asked.
"I've never met someone who could do real magic. That's kind of creepy."
"Sorry. But it did save your butt back there..."
"True," she said after a long pause. "Thank you, by the way."
They drove in silence for a little while, with Annie caressing the intricately-detailed wooden horse he'd created for her. At the right place, she directed him to turn.
"I believe you were supposed to tell your story now," he said with a smirk. She could see that he was still suffering from a headache.
"My brother is an asshole. He probably broke the car on purpose, just to get me in trouble."
"Why is he like that?"
"Turn here. It's a long story."
"I gathered that already," he said with another grin. She giggled, and began to tell him about it.
"My parents died in a plane crash a couple years ago. My brother's always been kind of a jerk, and Mom and Dad didn't like him much. They left everything to me in the will, and of course, he was some kind of pissed. Ever since then, he has done a lot of shit to try to get me to pay him to leave me alone. I'm not going to do that, because I know it won't work. He'll only harass me more."
"I see. Does he work?"
"Yeah, when he can keep a job."
They talked for a little while longer as Don drove her back out to her house. Finally, he pulled in the driveway that he had watched so avidly for so many days. He turned off the car, and looked over at her.
"Would you like me to come get you and take you to your car tomorrow?"
"Oh, thank you... but I couldn't ask you to..."
"Well... I mean, you didn't really ask, I offered..." Don said. He felt nervous dealing with Annie, because she didn't really know him anymore.
Annie had to bow to his logic, though. "True. If you really don't mind..."
"No, I don't mind at all," he said, then kicked himself mentally. He knew that had come out too eagerly.
Annie smiled at him. "Thank you." She pulled a receipt out of her pocket, and grabbed the pen he had lying on the dash. She scribbled her phone number, and gave it to him. As their hands touched, Don felt tingles shoot through his arm. She leaned over and kissed him quickly on the cheek, then leaned back. "And thanks for saving me, even if it was by... magic."
"My pleasure," Don responded. "What time should I call?"
"Early. I want to try to get the car fixed tomorrow."
"Okay. I'll see you tomorrow, then. Good night."
Don watched as she got out of the car, taking her gift with her, and he followed her with his eyes until she waved from the door and went inside. After that, he started the car and went back to the apartment.
"So?" Katie asked, sitting across the table from her brother.
Don explained the night's events to her. "So I'll probably be busy all day tomorrow."
"Then... are you tired?"
"Not really," Don said, stretching. He'd been sitting in his car for most of the evening.
"Good," Katie said with a smile. She walked over to him and wrapped her arms around his neck. "If I'm going to be stuck here all alone tomorrow, the least you can do is keep me company tonight..."
Don pulled her close to him, kissing her hotly. Her tongue pressed against his lips, and he opened his mouth to admit it, his own tongue slipping against hers in passion. His hands massaged her lower back for a while before slipping down onto her ass. Katie moaned against his tongue as he plied her butt cheeks.
Katie tugged at her brother's shirt, pulling it up his body. She wanted him naked, and soon. They had to break their kiss to get his shirt off, and she peeled hers off as well. Don pulled her against him tightly again, their kissing resuming where they'd left off.
Don let his hands slide up his sister's back until they reached the clasp of her bra. He worked for a few seconds to unfasten that, and then he tugged it off her shoulders. They didn't break their kissing as they stepped apart just slightly, to allow the bra to fall to the floor.
As Don's hands caressed his sister's back, her hands were unfastening her jeans and pushing them down off her hips. They eventually fell to her feet and she stepped out of them, being barefooted already. She then set to work on her brother's pants, which took her only slightly longer.
Don kicked off his shoes as Katie pulled his jeans down off his hips. His socks went with the jeans, and he stepped out of the pile of clothing. Katie wasn't through, though. She pulled his briefs down and off his body as well, leaving him completely naked.
Breaking their kiss, Katie knelt in front of her brother. She gripped his dick lightly, and licked the head, using a feathery touch, causing his cock to twitch. She smiled at that, and then she opened her mouth and took him inside. Her tongue swished back and forth across his shaft as her lips applied suction. Her head bobbed up and down, and it felt absolutely wonderful to Don.
Don tangled his fingers in Katie's hair as she continued to suck him. He was too worked up to last too long, and he could already feel the pressure building in his balls. He moaned in pleasure, and Katie increased her movements, driving him to his climax.
In only a few more seconds, Don grunted and came, blasting his load deep into her mouth. Katie swallowed quickly, keeping up with the flow of his cum. She sucked until he was past his orgasm, and then she slowed her movements, gently licking his cock as she very slowly let it slip from between her lips. She let her tongue trail behind, letting it lick around the head of his prick even after her lips had moved all the way off him. Finally, though, she rose back to face him again.
Don took her tightly into his arms, and kissed her passionately. As their tongues once again dueled, Katie could already feel his cock hardening again, as it pressed against her stomach.
Don pushed Katie backward, walking with her as they continued to kiss, until she bumped into the kitchen table. Don lifted her up onto the table, putting her ass right at the edge, her pussy in the perfect position. He moved his hips back, still not breaking their heated kiss.
Reaching down, Katie took hold of Don's cock, positioning him at her entrance. Then she reached out for his hips, urging him to take her. Don thrust forward, pushing his dick halfway into her on the first thrust. Katie screamed into his mouth in pleasure and surprise.
Don pushed the rest of the way more slowly, but it didn't take him long to bury his cock inside her. He didn't pause at all, but immediately began thrusting into her. Katie was quickly moaning and squealing in bliss, lost to the feel of his cock pounding into her.
Don grabbed her hips for leverage and fucked her hard and fast. He needed the release as much as she did. Her hips were soon rolling and bucking in time to his movements, driving both of them closer and closer to their peaks.
Finally, in unison, they screamed out their orgasms, and writhed against one another as their bodies shuddered and their minds reeled. It was a long time before either of them began to come down. Don was the first to begin to gather his thoughts, and he caressed his sister gently as she slowly descended from her high.
She looked at him with a smile. "That was great," she said.
"I'm glad you liked it," he kidded. "Care for more?"
"Fuck, yes!" she replied enthusiastically.
It was a long night.
Annie slipped into the passenger seat and smiled at Don.
"Thank you so much for doing this," she said quietly.
"My pleasure," he replied, and pulled out of the driveway.
The ride back to the shelter was mostly quiet. They made some chit-chat, but there was little frivolous conversation left to have, and Don could hardly talk about their relationship, as they didn't yet have one in this world.
Luckily, it didn't take him long to make it back to the shelter. Annie had already called a towing company, and the driver wasn't long in showing. He hooked the car up to the truck, and off he went. Don followed him to the shop.
The mechanic looked at the car with total disinterest as the tow truck driver dropped it off in his space. Don parked the car, and the two of them were soon standing by the mechanic.
"So, what seems to be the trouble?" the mechanic asked.
Annie said, "When I got in last night and went to start it, it wouldn't catch. It kept cranking, but the motor wouldn't ever run."
"Uh-huh. You wanna get in and try again?" he asked.
Annie slipped behind the wheel and turned the key. The starter cranked for several seconds before she gave up. The mechanic nodded, and then lifted the hood. Before Annie was able to finish climbing out of the car, the mechanic had found the problem.
"Yep, no wonder it wouldn't start. Your coil wire's been disconnected."
"Disconnected?" Don asked.
"Yeah. Take a look. It ain't broke or nothin'. Someone just pulled it off. I'd say someone don't like you, ma'am."
"Frank," she spat.
"Your brother?" Don asked. She nodded. "Oh."
"He's a real pain in the ass." To the mechanic, she asked, "How much to fix it?"
He waved her off. "I ain't gonna charge you for this. It's twenty-five bucks for the tow, though. You can pay in the office." The mechanic quickly wrote up a slip and handed it to her. It wasn't long before she was done.
"Guess I didn't need to drag you out of bed so early," Annie said to Don apologetically. "I figured Frank had done something really bad."
"It could have been really bad, if I hadn't come along when I did," Don reminded her.
"Yeah." She shivered thinking about it. Don put his hand on her shoulder gently, and she smiled at him.
"Hey... you were expecting to have to wait on this thing all day, weren't you?" Don asked.
"Yeah," Annie said, frowning.
"That means you don't have any plans, right?"
"Nope," she said, a slight grin playing across her face. She knew what was coming.
"Maybe we could do something together, then. Go to a park or a movie, maybe do something fun... I don't have anything to do today..."
Annie felt drawn to him. She didn't know why, but she liked him already, which was unusual. She still felt a little afraid, however, remembering that she didn't really know him at all, and her mind reminded her that he was capable of using real magic...
Might he be dangerous?
Still, her heart told her she could trust him. The battle was clear on her face, though she didn't realize that. She sighed slightly, trying to decide what to do.
Don could read the expression on her face clearly for once, and felt he needed to make her feel more at ease. "C'mon. It's just a day doing stuff together. I promise, I'll be on my best behavior. We can quit anytime you say, and if you don't like me, I won't bother you again."
Annie wavered for a few more seconds, but then decided that she didn't feel like spending the day alone, anyway. She nodded to him.
"Well... okay. How about something more active, though? I haven't been roller skating in a really long time, and they just opened a new rink up the road from me..."
"Okay, great," Don said too enthusiastically. "When would you like to go?"
Annie looked at her watch. It was barely nine o'clock. "They don't open for another hour, I think. Did you eat breakfast?"
"Okay, maybe we could grab something at Cracker Barrel, then..."
"Sounds good. Why don't we take your car back home. I'll follow you, and you can ride with me?"
She looked at him for a moment, but bent to the logic of it. "Okay."
Breakfast was slightly uncomfortable for both of them, as they were still getting acquainted. Don had to be very careful not to mention things in her life that she had not told him about outside of Zemlia Nov, and that caused him to restrain his conversation a bit.
For Annie, she was battling with herself. She had long protected herself from strangers: men especially. With this man - teen, she told herself - however, she felt drawn to him, as if she knew she could trust him. The incongruity of the two emotions caused her to falter from time to time on her own words, when she found herself relating things that she didn't normally tell anyone.
Finally, it was late enough in the day that the roller rink would be open. They drove over to the facility and went inside.
The smell of newness was still in the air; Annie had not been kidding when she'd said it was recently opened. Don paid for their entry and they got their skates before heading to a bench to change footwear.
As he put on his skates, he watched Annie. He saw a look of concern cross her face.
"What's the matter?" he asked.
She looked up at him, startled. "Oh! Sorry, didn't mean to look upset. I haven't been on roller skates in probably six years. I'm kind of worried about falling."
"I'll stick close to you until you get the hang of it again," Don offered.
After they both had their skates laced, Don rose to his feet. He'd been on skates far more recently, having attended a party with his sister at the beginning of the school year. Annie sat nervously, trying to get up the nerve to stand.
Don reached out his hand to her, and she looked up at him. Taking his hand, she rose hesitantly until she was standing, shakily, on her own two feet. Don let go of her hand reluctantly; he didn't want her to get upset with him.
"Oh, boy," she said. She tried to move, and only Don's quick grab kept her from falling. He tried very hard not to laugh, but a grin spread across his face, anyway. Annie was too disconcerted to notice.
"It's going to be a long morning," she groused.
Don skated easily next to his partner. They'd been on the floor now for over an hour, and Annie was still struggling to keep herself upright. He'd taken to keeping his hand very lightly on her back, so that he could react quickly enough to catch her if she started to fall. She had given him a dirty look at first, but after the second time he'd kept her from landing on the floor, she didn't object.
Although the rink was mostly empty, a group of teens had come in and were racing around the place. Their very presence made Annie uneasy, and she skated a little closer to Don, not conscious of her action, but wanting to be nearer to him for encouragement.
One of the boys, obviously a more obnoxious one, zoomed by them and pushed Annie. She immediately lost her balance and wound up on the ground. Don swiveled around, staying with her, and dropping to one knee.
"You all right?" he asked, concern etched into his features.
"He did that on purpose!" Annie grumbled angrily.
"Yes, I think he did," Don said. "Just wait for a second." The boy was already zooming back toward them, laughing derisively.
Don closed his eyes for a second, and then chanted softly. Annie heard him speak, but couldn't make out the words. He opened his eyes when he was done, and glared at the youth.
Suddenly, the youth screamed in panic, and jolted backward. Unfortunately for him, his feet did not jolt backward as quickly as his head, and he landed unceremoniously on his ass.
Annie giggled. Don laughed outright. She looked up at him with a smile.
"Magic has its uses," he replied quietly. Her eyes twinkled at him, and then she took his hand so he could help her up.
The two continued to skate and talk pleasantly until after noon. They weren't really exerting themselves much, so they didn't tire out. The teens had given up harassing them and left the rink shortly after the little incident with Annie. Finally, they decided they'd had enough.
"You know," she said, pondering, "you never did tell me what you did to that boy."
"I just placed a large and angry beast in front of him. Right in front of him."
"What did you use?" she wondered.
Annie cocked an eyebrow at him. "Seen many ogres lately?"
Don almost answered, Just one, but caught himself. Instead, he just smirked.
"You hungry?" he asked.
"Yeah," she said. "I don't normally do all this moving around."
"What're you in the mood for?"
"Let's just do someplace quick," she said.
After lunch, which had been nothing more than a trip to Wendy's, Don asked Annie if she would walk with him in the park. After only a brief hesitation, she agreed. They were walking along a quiet path at the moment; teenagers didn't find much of interest here, so they stayed away.
The pair chatted pleasantly about vaguely personal things, but they didn't get in-depth. Annie had related most of her life story to him, and he had told her about himself. She'd been intrigued when he'd talked about his magic.
"How did you get interested in becoming a magician? I mean, how did you find someone to teach you?"
Don knew better than to answer that question substantively. "I'm not allowed to talk about that. There was a... test involved, but I can't tell you more than that."
The two continued to chat as they wandered aimlessly through the park. They made their way into an area with children playing while mothers watched over them. Don walked toward an ice cream vendor.
"Want some?" he asked Annie.
"Are you going to make me wear it?" she asked with a giggle. Don blushed.
"Not this time," he said, grinning.
They got their ice cream and continued their walk. They weren't going anywhere, they were just spending time together.
Eventually, their ice cream gone, they made their way over to an area of fountains in the middle of the park. They sat side by side, enjoying the cool spray and watching the way the wind blew the fountain water to and fro. It was a pleasant way to wrap up their day together, and they sat quietly for a long time after they had run out of things to say.
After a little while, Annie looked at her watch.
"Oh. I guess I'd better get home. I missed my morning at the shelter, but I don't want to miss dinner."
"Okay," Don said. They had been sitting on a retaining wall and, while she had stood up on the lower level, he had put his feet under him and stood up on the top of the wall. "If you don't want to walk all the way over there to the steps, this is quicker..." he offered, reaching down with his hand.
Annie took hold of his hand and put her foot up on the wall. He pulled as she stepped up, and then she was standing next to him. She had wondered why he had taken her right hand with his left, but now that she was beside him, she realized that he wasn't letting go. It took her only a second to realize that she liked the feel of her hand in his, and she didn't say anything, but smiled at him.
The pair walked back to his car in comfortable silence, hand in hand.
When Don pulled into Annie's driveway, there was someone standing at the front door. He was taller than Annie, but had the same auburn hair and dark complexion. He could almost feel her shiver beside him.
"Aw, shit," she said. It was the first time he'd heard her swear on Earth.
"Who's that?' Don asked, pretty sure he knew the answer.
"Frank," she confirmed. She got out of the car, and so did Don. While Don stayed several steps back, Annie strode up to her brother.
"What the hell do you want?" she snarled. Don raised an eyebrow. She was obviously upset.
"I need money," Frank snapped back. "I deserve half of what you got. You know that, you stupid little bitch."
"Mom and Dad didn't think so, and neither do I," she replied.
"Listen, you little cunt, I don't have to take this shit from you. Bad things can happen to anyone, you know."
Annie stepped back at the thinly veiled threat.
"Get the fuck off my property," she ordered. She cringed at the quiver in her voice.
"And if I don't fuckin' feel like it?" he taunted, stepping closer to her again.
Suddenly, he felt a firm hand pressed into his chest.
"The lady asked you to leave," Don said. He'd chanted both a strength spell and a stamina spell to get him through this. He wasn't going to let anyone hurt Annie.
"Who the fuck are you?" Frank growled.
"None of your business. Your sister told you to leave. You can do so the easy way or the hard way."
Frank sneered at the boy in front of him. "Don't threaten me, wimp, or I'll tear you a new asshole."
Don shoved. It was a magically augmented shove. Frank staggered back until he lost his balance and landed painfully on his ass.
"Fuck!" he snarled. He got back to his feet, and began to move toward Don again.
Don wasn't going to let this continue. As soon as Frank was within range, Don stepped forward and hurled a right cross to Frank's jaw that sent him reeling, and once again landed him in the grass.
"I can hit you harder than that," Don lied. His hand was already throbbing from that. "But it would be better for you if you just left."
Suddenly, Don saw a strange shadow pass over Frank's features. The sun didn't dim, so it was not a cloud, but the man's face was clearly blurred by a darkness.
Some kind of magic? What's going on?
As quickly as it had come, it faded, and Frank rose to his feet.
"You ain't getting rid of me this easy," he said to Annie. Then he stormed off down the street.
Annie came to Don. "You hurt your hand."
He was shaking it to try to get blood flowing again. "Yeah. I really need to learn some more healing spells."
"Well, until you do, we can do it the old-fashioned way. C'mon, I'll get you some ice to put on it." As she unlocked the house and led him inside, she turned and said, "Thanks, by the way. He was really starting to scare me."
Don nodded, still wondering just what he'd seen.
I need to talk to Veronica about it.
"Hey, Lover," Amy said when she opened the door.
"Amy!" Don said in some surprise. He recovered quickly, though, and embraced her, kissing her warmly for a long moment. When he finally released her, she smiled. "What are you doing here?" he asked.
"Just visiting my favorite aunt," she replied.
"Don't let her fool you," Veronica said from behind her. "I'm her only aunt. She's been waiting here for you."
Don cocked an eyebrow at Amy, waiting for her retort. She just smiled at him, and pulled him inside the house.
"So how are things going?" Veronica asked as they all sat down in the living room. Veronica didn't feel like getting up, and so she conjured tea for all of them. Don was not used to that sort of thing, and his eyes widened to see her do it. She noticed.
"Hey, if I can send your immortal soul to a different dimension, don't be so surprised that I can whip up tea out of thin air."
Don blushed. "It's not that... hell, I had to conjure something myself the other day, but... I'm just not used to you doing it."
"Well, just us magicians in the house, no reason to hide. You're avoiding my question."
Don sighed. "Annie and I seem to be getting along okay. I spent the entire day with her a few days ago, and we've been on one more date since. She seems fairly comfortable with me."
"But there's a problem?" Amy asked, aware of the concern in his voice.
"Her brother. Veronica, remember when you said you thought there was something wrong around Annie?" Veronica nodded. "The other day, her brother came over to confront her... I had to kind of calm him down..." The other two let that ride; they knew what he would have done to protect Annie. "Anyway, I saw, like, this shadow pass over him... but there weren't any clouds, so..."
Veronica looked at him with concern. "You think he's being affected by a Shadow?"
"A Shadow. A demonic presence under the control of an evil magician. Shadows aren't very strong... they're manipulators; they try to make people do things, but they can't force them to act completely against their will. Her brother must already be something of a pain."
"He is, so she says."
Veronica nodded. "Let's go into the seeing room."
The three walked through the study into a darkened room. Veronica turned on a very dim light, which reflected off the inky pool of water in the middle of the room. She knelt down in front of it, and the other two joined her.
Veronica began her chant, her eyes closed. She muttered quickly and softly, opening her eyes about halfway through the spell. Soon, the pool began to ripple and bubble, then it settled, giving them an image. Though Don could see it, it didn't make much sense to him. He didn't have a grasp on it before it faded entirely.
"Okay..." he said. "I saw it, but... what was it?"
"You couldn't decipher it because the evil magician is trying to block the information. I was able to get just enough. It is a Shadow that is affecting her brother."
The three left the seeing room, moving back into the study. Veronica motioned Don to his stool, and he sat up on it.
Veronica looked to Amy, and sighed. "I should have warned you earlier... probably should have warned both of you. Evil magicians will target you because you exist. They don't usually need more reason than that. If they find out about you, they'll try to get rid of you."
"Okay," Don said. "What's that got to do with Frank? That's her brother," he explained.
"Though Frank is the one being used, he's not the target. They're not after Annie, either. At least, it is unlikely that she's the target, unless she's done something to offend this magician... but going about it this way makes it seem more like she isn't. You are his most likely target, and he's using Annie as a means to get to you without confronting you directly... perhaps wearing you down."
"He doesn't need a reason. He just doesn't like the competition. Most evil magicians fight regularly."
"Great. Is Annie in danger?"
"Wait a minute. How can he know about her? I mean, Frank was being a dick before I showed up..."
"Well, Frank is probably a dick by nature. But the Shadow has probably only been there for a few weeks."
"But I haven't been there a few weeks!"
Veronica sighed again. "When you were in Zemlia Nov, I was not the only one who observed you. Of course, Amy was there... but there were others, as well. Not all of them are good people."
"You let evil magicians run loose in ZN?"
"I don't control Zemlia Nov, Don. I just used it for my purposes. There are others that know how to pass in and out of that space."
"Chances are that you were observed by this magician. In fact, I think I know when he saw you, from the display we watched with your sister."
"Yes. I think that he was playing as the dragon of Sacred Swamp. The dragon normally found there is not crimson in color, he's normally blue."
"But, if he's evil, why would he save my ass?"
"So he could keep tabs on you, and see if you were the one. He knew that I wouldn't let you perish in the swamp, anyway... your sacrifice there was proof positive that you were the right type of person to become an apprentice. By continuing to let you play, he could keep track of you. So, he knew all about Annie."
"But how would he know where to find her? Would he be able to overhear us?"
"Not without being close. But it is possible that he was able to track her through the game itself. I will need to look into that."
"How dangerous is he?" Don wanted to know suddenly.
"This could be a serious threat. If he can control demons, even minor ones, he is at the least a fourth-circle magician... or its equivalent, in his system."
"Yes. You need to renew your training with an eye toward fighting."
"Okay. Let's get started."
Don fidgeted after knocking on Annie's door. He'd never come over before without having an invitation, but he felt he needed to talk to her as soon as possible.
"Don, hi!" she said enthusiastically when she came to the door. She let him in, and led him into the living room. "I thought you were out of town for a while."
"I was. I came back early." Veronica had told him to practice what he knew, and he would return to her every week to get new lessons. She'd not wanted him to be away from Annie for too long under the circumstances.
"Oh. Is something wrong?" Annie could see the concern on his face, but she didn't know what was causing it.
Don motioned her to sit on the couch, and he sat next to her, but not too close.
"Annie... you believe in magic, right?"
"It's kind of hard not to, around you," she said with a grin. Don smiled at her, but he wasn't reassured.
"But you realize that it's not a bunch of tricks... that it's real."
"Okay... I have some bad news for you, but it might be a little hard for you to believe. I'm not telling you this to try to hurt you or anything... I think you need to know this for your own safety."
"Okay," she said nervously. His tone had her worried.
"Your brother is... being manipulated."
She raised her eyebrows at him. "Don, he's always been like that..."
Annie reluctantly shook her head. "Well, no. Recently, he seems to be getting worse, but still..."
Don interrupted her. "That's because of the thing that's manipulating him. When he was over here the other day, I saw it. It's called a Shadow. It's... well, it's kind of a demon."
"A demon?" she repeated, panicked.
Don put his hand on her arm, to try to calm her down. "It's a very weak demon."
"My brother is possessed?"
"Not in the typical way, no. It's more like... hmmm... Like he hears a voice in his head, telling him to do stuff. If it was stuff he wouldn't normally do, he could fight it, but this demon is just egging him on, making his anger worse, and urging him to act on it."
"Oh. Still, I mean, c'mon, maybe he's just being a bigger jerk than usual."
"Annie, I saw it. Well, I mean, as clearly as you can see this sort of thing. They don't really have a shape. His face was clouded on a sunny day. I talked to my magic instructor about it, and she checked it out. It is a Shadow."
Annie shivered, and Don returned his hand to her arm. She looked at him thankfully. "But why is it doing that to him?"
Don couldn't tell her the truth; he was afraid she would send him away if she knew he was the cause. "I'm not sure." He didn't lie entirely; he wasn't sure why the evil magician wanted to hurt him, despite Veronica's insistence that he didn't need a reason.
"Is there anything we can do about it?"
"I don't know for sure. I'm working on it."
"Of course, it won't make him a good person without the Shadow. He wasn't one before..."
"No... but he might stop bugging you so much."
She nodded. She sat quietly for a couple minutes, mulling things over, while Don sat next to her, silently comforting her as best he could.
"You want to stay for dinner?" she asked suddenly.
"Uh... yeah, sure, if it's not a bother. Don't you have to work at the shelter?"
"Mr. Witherspoon and I had something of a disagreement. I'm staying away for a few days until I can calm down enough to consider things."
"Wow, it must have been nasty. You want to talk about it?"
"Not really. He's just very insistent about us always reminding people that their food is a 'gift from God,' you know? But I don't go there for that. I just want to feed hungry people, so I'm nice to them, but I don't beat them over the head with the God thing... hell, I haven't been to church myself in ten years or more."
"Oh. Well, that's too bad, that he's being that way. Anything I can do to help with dinner?"
After dinner, which had been a simple but tasty meal, the couple sat down on the couch. Annie, without bothering to ask him, picked up the remote and started a DVD. Though he wasn't sure he would like her choice of movie, he was happy to be with her, so he didn't say anything.
When she slid over and leaned against him, he wrapped his arm around her shoulders, allowing her to cuddle even closer. She curled her legs under herself and rested herself tightly against his body. He almost found it hard to watch the movie because it felt so good to have her close to him, and his hand caressed her arm as they continued to watch the movie, which turned out to be a fantasy-world romance piece that wasn't half bad, in Don's opinion.
As the movie continued to play, Don grew slightly bolder. He let his hand move up and begin to play with Annie's auburn tresses. He heard her sigh gently, but she didn't say anything at all. He wasn't going to go any further without her encouragement, but this was nice enough for the moment, anyway.
As that movie ended, Annie tilted her face up to look him in the eye. Luckily for Don, he'd seen that look on her face before, so he knew what she wanted. He leaned down and softly pressed his lips to hers, kissing her tenderly, but with some meaning. He didn't know how she would feel about the kiss, but he loved being able to feel her lips against his once again.
The kiss lasted for several moments, before he finally leaned back from her and smiled. She smiled back, but then grabbed the remote. She had a multi-disc machine, and she switched to a second movie. This one he'd seen before, and it was okay, but a little dull. He didn't tell her that.
Annie laid her head back down on his chest, and he returned to petting her hair. It was so comfortable with her, just relaxing together on the couch...
He never noticed whether she fell asleep before he did.
Don was cuddling with Annie on the couch again, as he had done for many nights over the last week. They were just about to watch a movie... if they ever stopped kissing long enough to start it.
Just then, there was a loud banging on the front door. Annie jumped, startled at the noise. Don held onto her, to reassure her, and she smiled at him for it briefly.
"That's got to be Frank," she groaned.
"He's really becoming a pain," Don said.
"Yeah, but what can we do?"
Don sighed heavily. When he'd been back to see Veronica, she had given him an option, but it would be tough.
As the pounding repeated, he said, "I can try to drive out the Shadow. My instructor taught me the spell, but it could be tough. We'll have to let him in the house, so he can't easily run away. The Shadow will encourage him not to stick around."
"I'll help you clean up afterward," Don said with a smirk.
Annie went and opened the front door, backpedaling quickly as her brother came in ranting. It was obvious he was drunk.
That should make this interesting.
Don began to quietly chant the spell, closing his eyes and focusing on what was going on. He knew that Frank wasn't yet to the violent stage, and he hoped that they could drive out the demon before he got there.
Suddenly, there was a shift in Frank's tirade, and Don opened his eyes to see Frank staring daggers at him. It was clear that the Shadow knew what was going on.
Frank lunged, and Don dove over the back of the couch to avoid him. He renewed his incantation more vigorously, and more loudly. Frank picked up a heavy knick knack and threw it at Don, but Don ducked out of the way. Annie was cringing in the corner, trying to avoid the fight.
Don moved so that he was now in-between Frank and the front door. It would be impossible for him to run, now. His spell was nearly complete, and he stretched out his arms as he reached the final lines. Frank screamed, and dropped to his knees. Suddenly, he leapt over the couch, reaching for Don's throat. Don stepped back, and Frank's body fell to the floor, nearly unconscious.
Don began the chant again from the beginning, now standing over Frank's body, which was writhing in what looked like pain, but Don had been told it was the demon trying to hold on to the body as it was being forcibly driven off of. Don was covered in sweat; the spell required massive amounts of concentration, and he was barely able to keep himself focused enough to manage it.
Finally, after the third recitation of the spell, which he finished up shouting, a horrid screech was heard and Don could see the Shadow rip from Frank's body. The creature flew around the room in a rage, but neither of the other people present were a suitable host. It flashed through the wall of the house, and was gone.
Don, having used up all of his energies, collapsed to the floor, unconscious.
Don awoke slowly, noting it was fully dark outside now. It had been twilight when he'd collapsed. He groaned softly, and Annie was quickly looking down at him.
"Are you okay?" she asked, the concern clear in her tone.
Don mumbled, and tried to sit up. His head complained rather loudly about it, but he was able to make it to a seated position. He looked around to note that he was still on the floor.
"How long was I out?" he asked.
"An hour and a half. I was tempted to call 911."
"I'll be okay... but I think I pushed myself just as far as I can go right now." Don looked around for Frank, but didn't see him. "Where'd the idiot go?"
"When he woke up... which was maybe an hour ago, he just sort of mumbled something and walked out the door. Are you okay?"
"I think so." Don struggled to get to his feet, and Annie helped him up, and then steadied him as he walked to the couch. "Oh, crap, my head hurts."
Annie disappeared for a minute, but she was soon back with some Tylenol and water. "Here."
Don took them and rested his head on the back of the couch. Annie sat down beside him and slid close, laying her head on his shoulder. "Thank you for trying."
Don put his arm around her gently. "Oh, I got rid of the little bugger. The Shadow is gone. Of course, your brother's probably still gonna be a jerk... he's just not going to have something egging him on anymore."
Annie looked up at him. "Oh." She leaned forward, and Don tilted his head until their lips met. For a long moment, they communed silently, their lips slipping wetly against each other.
When they finally broke the kiss, Annie looked at him with concern. "You look pretty wore out."
"My head still hurts."
"Why don't you lie down, and we can watch the movie?"
Don lay down on the couch, and Annie grabbed the remote to start the movie. When she slipped in behind him on the couch and then pulled the afghan - normally laid across the back of the couch - over them, he closed his eyes. When she wrapped her arm around him, he smiled slightly to himself. He was asleep before the movie even began.
"What's the matter?" Don asked as Annie escorted him into the house. He stopped dead when he entered the kitchen.
"That's the matter!" she cried.
Don saw the toaster floating across the room, bread still in it, but charred to a crisp. There was a mixer spinning in mid-air, its blades turning dangerously. Neither device was plugged in.
"Oh, shit," Don breathed. "Annie..."
"Do something!" she cried.
"I don't... duck!" Don grabbed her and pulled her to the floor as a knife went whizzing over their head. Suddenly, the devices spun swiftly back into place, and the room grew quiet.
"It's been doing that all day!" Annie cried. "It'll act up for a few minutes, and then nothing! Don, I can't deal with this!"
"Can you stay with a friend for a few days?" he asked.
"Are you sure it wouldn't follow me?"
Don had to admit that he wasn't. Especially given that it was almost certainly sent by the magician who was out to get Don. Annie was the poltergeist's target, and so it would go where she went.
"Don... will you stay here, until it goes away?"
Don stuttered a bit.
"I have three spare bedrooms. You can use any of them... Please?"
Don nodded. "Okay. Let me call my sister and let her know."
"Shit!" Don yelled as the butcher knife bounced off his shield. He was using a full-frontal shield, which meant he had to keep his wits about him, and protect his back, which was where Annie was currently hiding. He maneuvered sideways to block some flying books, which tumbled to the ground.
"Watch out!" Annie screamed. The fireplace poker was lancing at him full-speed. Don whirled and blocked, the poker actually bending under the force of the impact. It dropped with a clunk! to the carpet.
Don had been defending them for over twenty minutes this time. The attacks had grown steadily worse as the days had gone on. He twisted and turned, blocking the movement of vases, books, umbrellas, and more dangerous objects like knives, scissors and fireplace implements.
Suddenly, they heard a groan. Don wheeled to see the large-screen TV lifting off the ground and beginning to move toward them.
"Annie, I can't stop that without destroying it..."
"I can buy a new TV!" she screamed.
Don nodded. He didn't wait for the poltergeist to bring it to him. Instead, he dropped his shield and formed the one energy ball he knew how to make. He let it loose at the television, and the device shattered into thousands of pieces. Luckily it didn't have a TV tube, and so there wasn't much flying glass. Still, he was cut in several places.
Suddenly, the poltergeist stopped. Objects dropped to the floor, and the room was quiet once again. The wind caused by the phantom was now gone, and the room seemed deathly quiet.
Don and Annie both slumped to the floor. Don pulled Annie against him, and she laid her head on his shoulder. It wasn't long before she was crying. Three days of this torment were simply more than she could take, and she was completely at a loss. Don held her tightly, letting her cry it out. He wasn't sure what to do, but he knew that he wasn't going to be able to stop the creature by himself. If it kept up for much longer, he would have to call for help.
Don was once again defending them. This time, he was using a full-body shield, which he couldn't hold for very long. He hoped it would be long enough.
Objects were pelting them from every direction. Annie was curled up into a ball, lying on the floor. Don was kneeling over her, his one hand resting on her side, his other raised to keep the shield in place. He suffered from numerous cuts and bruises that had been caused over the last six days.
The poltergeist had broken every major appliance in the house with the exception of the refrigerator. The couple had spent their nights and days in terror and exhaustion. The phantom didn't let them sleep, it hardly let them rest. Don's magic was beginning to falter; he could only go so far.
There were dozens of objects swirling around in the room right now. Every second or two, a few of them would launch themselves against his shield. He could feel it weakening; it would give a little with each impact.
The noise in the room grew to a deafening shriek as more and more objects pelted him. His shields began to crack.. the shriek became a roar...
Suddenly, the room was filled with a giant sucking sound, as if the world was trying to vacuum itself up. It lasted for no more than a few seconds. All of the objects in the room then crashed to the floor with one thunderous clamor.
"What the fuck?" Don asked. It was entirely different from the way the poltergeist had left on all previous occasions.
"Is it over?" Annie whimpered.
"For now... I guess..."
Don helped Annie up and over to the couch. He brushed the rubble off it so she would have a place to sit. He sat next to her and held on while she shivered in fear. It had been a hellacious week.
What the fuck will he do next? Don wondered.
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