We Were Dreamers

Continuing in the same vein as “Imaginary Journeys” and “Pausing to Reflect”.  This piece was inspired by a word prompt at the WriYe DreamWidth: believe.

**

Marian sat on the bed, frowning at Emily as she spoke with her superior on the telephone.  Actually, she wasn’t doing very much speaking.  She was scowling as she listened to whatever the person on the line was saying.

“Fine, sure,” she said.  Then, she set the telephone back into the cradle.  Then, she heaved a sigh and looked at Marian.  “They don’t believe me,” she said, shaking her head.

He nodded.  That wasn’t very surprising.  He knew how the Agency had reacted when Felicja had first shared with them about her gift.  Precognition was rare enough.  For two agents to share a dream the way they had… he shook his head.  “What do they advise?” he asked, his voice faint.

She sat on the edge of the bed and rolled her eyes.  “Carry on as we’d first planned,” she said.  Emily frowned.  “You’re meant to drop me at my sister’s house and then carry on with your assignment.”

“We both know what’ll happen if we arrive at your sister’s house now,” Marian said, shaking his head.  He surged to his feet and then stalked to the telephone.  “They might not believe us, but… I believe what we dreamed.  There have been too many coincidences this far.”

“What are you doing?” Emily asked, scowling as he lifted the handset for the telephone once again.

“Calling my contact in this country,” he said, his voice soft.  He dialed the number and then waited as the telephone rang once and then again.  “What’s your sister’s name?”

“Michelle,” Emily said.  After a moment, she added, “Michelle North.”

Marian nodded as the person he was calling answered.  “Hey, Painter,” he said.  “This is Wanderer.  I’ve got an odd problem here that I’m hoping you can help me out with.”  He explained the issue in a brisk, confident tone.

Painter hummed softly.  “I’ll meet you at Miss North’s address,” he said, his voice soft.  He sighed softly.  “They might not believe Glitter, but I believe you.”

“Thanks, Painter,” Marian said.  He said his goodbyes and then replaced the handset.  “He’ll meet us there,” he told Emily.  “Hopefully, that’ll be enough to prevent what we saw.”

As she nodded, he held out one hand.  She hurried to his side and they went back out of the hotel.  They paused just long enough to deposit their key with the owner of the hotel before they were on their way once more.

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Pausing to Reflect

Here is the continuation of a story (Imaginary Journeys) that was inspired by a picture prompt from the WriYe DreamWidth.

**

Mirror Lake, Yosemite National Park

Marian had fully intended to leave Emily in town.  However, as they’d both feared, she hadn’t been home.  So, instead, Marian had agreed to bring Emily to her sister’s house.

They’d continued on the quiet country road.  Slowly, the dry brown had given way to lush green.  The trees that had been in the distance were closer now.

“Was this in your dream too?” he asked, frowning at the high peaks that were perfectly reflected in the lake.

He glanced towards his passenger.  He could tell from her expression that it was.  “Stop here,” Emily said.

There was something in her voice that made Marian listen, even if he might not have otherwise.  He pulled his car to a stop on the shoulder of the road and glanced out the window as she jumped out.

Emily stepped over to the edge of the lake and shook her head.  “It’s… uncanny,” she said.  She turned and looked over at him.  “Ain’t nothing like this has ever happened to me.”

Marian turned off the car and slipped out.  He moved to stand at her side, shaking his head.  “Me neither,” he said, his voice soft.  His brows furrowed and looked out at the perfect reflection of the mountains in the water.  “What do you want to do?”

“I ain’t never believed in destiny or fate,” Emily said.  She scowled and then grabbed a stone.  Flinging it at the water, she whirled to face Marian.  “I’ll be damned if I will now.”

Marian blinked at the shattered reflection and then smiled at Emily.  “So,” he said, “I take that to mean we aren’t going to your sister’s house?”

“No, sir,” Emily snapped.  She stalked back to his car and Marian followed.  “There’s a town just up this road a piece.  We’ll go there and I’ll try calling my sister again.  I ain’t going to her house until I know for positive that she’s there.”

“Works for me,” Marian said.  He got into his car and then turned the key.  As the engine roared to life, he turned to his passenger.  “Tell me about yourself, Emily.”

A smile touched Emily’s lips and she leaned back in the seat.  “Not much to tell,” she said, shrugging.  “I work for the government and I got… no real family, except for my sister.”

“I’ve got a niece,” Marian said, nodding.  He shook his head.  “My elder brother died last year and his wife… she’d died years ago, so… I’m raising my niece.”  He didn’t want to believe in destiny or fate either.  So, if Emily wanted to act counter to what they’d both dreamed, he was all for that.

“That accent… I’m guessing you’re from outa town?”

Marian nodded.  “I’m Zeimian – here on… business.”  He gave her a sunny smile and then shrugged.  “I work for the government too, actually.”

Emily got a curious look on her face then.  She turned in her seat to look directly at him.  “Are you… This is gonna be stupid if you ain’t, but now I gotta ask.  Are you with IIA?”

Blinking, Marian turned to Emily.  “Yes,” he said.  He could tell, just from her expression, that she was also with the Agency.  Somehow, that explained a few things.  “Are we still going to that town?” he asked.

“Hells yes,” Emily said.  She crossed her arms over her chest and shook her head.  “I need to check in with my superiors.  This can’t be no coincidence, us having that dream and what’s happened since.  No way, no how is that a coincidence.”

Marian nodded again.  “I would tend to agree,” he said, his voice soft.  That begged the question though: assuming it wasn’t a coincidence that they would both be agents and have the dream.  Where had the dream even come from?  So far as Marian knew, he wasn’t gifted that way.  He wasn’t about to ask Emily if the same was true of her.

Imaginary Journeys

So, here’s my answer to the picture prompt posted at NaNoWriYe’s DreamWidth yesterday.

prompt-46

Something struck Marian as strange the moment he took the turn onto the country road.  It seemed like an ordinary day.  Clouds covered the sky, threatening rain.  The ground was dry and brown, it would welcome the promised moisture.

Mountains stood in the distance.  Marian could see trees near the horizon, even though there were open fields to each side of the road.  It was beautiful, but normal, day.  The strangeness was something that Marian couldn’t shake.  At the same time, he couldn’t figure out what seemed unusual to him.

Then, he saw her.  A woman was sitting on top of a suitcase that was set directly in the middle of the lane.  He slowed to a stop and she turned to frown at him.  He eyes were covered by large shaded lenses, like Gilbert often wore.  The wide brimmed hat covered her head and shaded her face.  However, her arms were bare.

Scowling, Marian rolled down the window.  Peering out, he called to her.  “Are you all right?” he asked.

She moved to her feet and lifted the suitcase.  “My boyfriend and I had a fight,” she said, shrugging.  “He just… left me here.”

Marian blinked at her.  “So you waited in the middle of the road… hoping he’d come back for you?” he said, shaking his head.

She chuckled and then shrugged.  “Two cars went by, but… they just kept right on going,” she said.  “I figured that, if I parked myself in the middle of the lane, the next car would have to stop.”

Nodding, Marian unlocked the passenger side door.  “I can give you a ride into town, I guess,” he said.

“You’re a life saver,” the woman said, grinning.  She stepped over to the passenger side and then tossed her suitcase in the back seat before sliding into the seat beside Marian.  “I can call my sister from town and she’ll come and get me,” she added.

Marian nodded.  He closed the window and then set out once again.  Frowning, he said, “I’m Marian.”

“Emily North,” the woman replied, flashing another smile his way.

For a while, Marian rode with her in silence.  Then, he realized what he’d been sensing as strange earlier.   “I’ve been dreaming about this,” he said, his voice soft.  He glanced over at Emily.  “I dreamed… about you.”

For a moment, he thought the woman would tell him she was crazy and demand that he pull over, so that she could get out.  Instead, she frowned.  “That’s what my boyfriend and I were fighting about,” she said, shaking her head.  “I said that I’d been dreaming about riding down this stretch of road and… he asked if I was dreaming about doing it with him.”

“But… it was me?” Marian said, blinking.  When she nodded, he looked back out at the highway that stretched out before them.  “He didn’t take it well, you dreaming about another man.”

“Funny thing is… if I hadn’t mentioned it, we wouldn’t be here now, acting out the dream,” she said.  She laughed and Marian flicked a glance at her.  She was shaking her head.  “It’s crazy how things work out.  Isn’t it?”

“It is,” Marian murmured.  He wasn’t going to mention how his dreams always ended.

Emily whistled.  “If my sister ain’t home, I think I’m gonna either laugh or cry,” she said.  When Marian glanced at her, he saw the flush of color in her cheeks and chuckled.  Clearly, her dreamed ended the say way his had.

Interrupted Dreams

This story is set several months after the story I wrote yesterday, but not very long after “Shining Dreamers”.  Here is the photo prompt that inspired it (from NaNoWriYe’s DreamWidth):

prompt-36

Marian frowned slightly.  For some reason, his gaze was drawn to the flowers.  One of them had little water droplets on the petals, like tears.  Somehow, that was fitting.  In a way, it was beautiful.  They reflected the flower, like tiny mirrors.

“I’ve been meaning to stop by for some time,” he said, his voice faint.  He smiled weakly.  “Camelia started classes at the Academy.  It seemed like a good idea… she’s with her friends and she seems to be doing better.”

He heaved a sigh and looked up towards the trees.  “She just finished her first year and… she did really well,” he said.  “Her teachers were really impressed.  They said that she has the makings of a great agent.”

He paused for a moment, his gaze going back to the flower.  “She is quite the little lady,” he said, smiling.  Stifling a laugh, he added, “She’s got me wrapped about her finger, like she did you.”  He settled down in the grass then and shrugged.  “I’ve been playing the escort and attending tea parties with her, much to Felicja’s amusement.”

His brows furrowed.  “Felicja and Ilya are acting like newlyweds,” he added.  “It’s all really sort of sweet, but I’m not sure how Henryk feels about it.  Zofia loves having a Papa, but Henryk… I’m not so sure.”

Marian looked down at the medal in his hand.  “Valor,” he said, his voice strained.  He shook his head.  “I wonder if they really know the meaning of the word.  I wonder if they have any concept of the sacrifice you gave…” he trailed off and then shook his head quickly to clear it.  “I shouldn’t be angry at them.  It won’t do any good.”

He stood, then.  Setting the medal on top of the stone, he said, “I’ll find out what happened, Nicholai.  I’ll do everything I can to raise Camelia the way you would have wanted and I’ll find out who sabotaged your plane – who made it so you won’t be here to see her grow up.”

Stepping back, he said, “I promise.”  Then, he turned and strode away.

Sunshine Daydreams

I had a lot of fun with this prompt.  Just imagining the situation my character finds himself in was fun.  At the same time, I could totally see it happening.

Prompt: Sparkle

“Uncle?”

Marian looked up from his newspaper and hid a smile.  Camelia was wearing one of her party dresses.  It made sense.  After all, she was having a party.  However, it still caught him a bit off guard.  “Yes, Camelia,” he said, his voice soft.

When she hesitated, he folded the newspaper and set it aside.  “Is there something wrong?” he asked.  He glanced at the clock.  Her friends would probably be arriving in about thirty minutes.  He frowned at her.  “You’re not worried because they’re not here yet, are you?”

“No,” she said, flushing.  She gave him a weak smile.  “It’s early yet, but… I wondered if you might… like to join us.”

For a moment, Marian just stared at her.  The last couple months hadn’t been easy for either of them.  Marian knew that he wasn’t the ideal father figure.  He could be scary at times, especially to a little girl.  He also tended to be horribly overprotective.

He was trained to protect people.  That didn’t always mean that whoever he had been assigned to protect got to do what they wanted.  In fact, it was often quite the opposite.  When his niece wanted to do things, he treated her the way he did people he had protected in the past.  He assessed the situation and, too often deemed it too dangerous.

It had led to arguments.  Why couldn’t she go to the soda fountain with her friends?  Why did she need to stay close by him when they were in public?  Worse, too often, he couldn’t find a reason beyond, “because I said so”.

So, when Camelia asked him if she could have the other girls in her class over for a tea party, he couldn’t say no.  She would be in their backyard.  He could watch her from the kitchen window.  What could be safer?

This, however, was something he hadn’t anticipated.  He was torn from his reverie when Camelia flushed and shook her head.  “You don’t have to,” she said, a bit too quickly.  “I just figured that – that it…”

“I’d love to come,” he said, smiling.  Her eyes widened and, for the first time in quite a while, she smiled at him.  He gave a nervous chuckle and stood.  “Let me get changed,” he said.

By the time her friends were arriving, he was ready to join them.  He couldn’t help but chuckle at the girls – none of them older than twelve – arriving at his home dressed in their Sunday best, which hats and gloves and jewelry.  “They look so grown up,” he murmured at Gilbert.

Chuckling softly, Gilbert nodded.  He waved at Gretchen and said, “Have fun, sweetie.”  As she nodded and scampered out to the garden with Camelia, he turned to Marian.  “What are you going to do?”

“Camelia invited me to join them,” he said, shrugging.

Gilbert grinned and nodded.  “Have fun with that,” he said.  “I’m taking the boys out for ice cream, in the meantime.”

Felicja arrived at that moment with Zofia, also dressed in a lovely party dress.  “Henryk’s looking forward to that nearly as much as she’s been looking forward to their tea party,” she said.  Giving Marian a playful wink, she said, “Have fun, Marian.”

Marian nodded and offered Zofia his arm.  “The other girls are in the garden,” he said.  When she blushed, he added, “I’ll show you the way.”

“All right,” she said, taking his arm.  She waved absently at her mother as she and Gilbert left with the boys.

Outside, Marian was confronted with the reality of attending a tea party with four pre-teen girls.  They had their dolls in their laps.  Their gowns and jewelry seemed to twinkle in the sunlit garden.  There were sugar sprinkles on their cupcakes.  Even the teapot seemed to shine.  He’d never seen anything so sparkly in his life, but there was no escaping now.

He straightened and then poured tea for each of the girls.  Then, he took a seat between Camelia and Milda.  He was uncertain at first.  However, soon, he was chatting with the girls and, occasionally, their dolls as if he were at any afternoon tea.

When the time came for the girls to leave, he saw them out with Camelia by his side.  Then, he turned to her and smiled.  “Did you have a good time?” he asked, his voice soft.

Camelia nodded.  “Next weekend, can we do it again at Zofia’s house?” she asked.

“I don’t see why not,” Marian said, nodding.

Laughing, Camelia hugged him.  Then, she scampered off to change into her play clothes.  As she reached the upper landing, she said, “And, of course, you’ll come too.  It won’t be the same without you.”

“Of course?” Marian said, blinking.  He was certain, somehow, that he would be going above and beyond the call to attend another tea party.  After all, none of the other parents had stayed for this one.  He heaved a sigh and shook his head.  He knew that he’d been trapped, now.  He’d be attending tea parties with Camelia for the rest of the season.  “God, save me from little girls.”

Dreamers – part 12

This is, I think, the last section of this story.  The next part is going to be a sort of prologue, but given the time-jump necessary, it won’t be part of “To Wake the Dreamers”.  I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.  This section used a picture prompt from the NaNoWriYe DreamWidth.

inspiration typography

Valdis didn’t like the way things were now.  No one seemed to hear him or see him.  Worse, he couldn’t touch anything.  That was incredibly frustrating, since he very much wanted to slap Ivan.  At the moment, he was sitting on the edge of his old desk, glaring at his former boss.  He might have remained there, except that he heard someone calling him.

“We call upon the spirits of Valdis Kaslauskas and Ilya Putin,” the voice said.  “If you can hear me, speak now, through the spirit board.”

“Spirit board?” Valdis said, blinking.

He startled when someone spoke up from behind him.  “It beats hanging around here.”  He turned to find Ilya standing behind him.  Giving him a weak smile, the agent said, “Come on, kid.  This is no way to live… or… whatever.  Why are we still here?”

“Right,” Valdis said.  He blinked and, suddenly, they weren’t there anymore.  They were in a small, dimly lit room.  Four people – two men and two women – were sitting around a table.  A fifth was standing back with a notebook and pen.

Valdis blinked at the man with the pen.  “Taurys?” he breathed.  Then, one of the women spoke up.

“Ilya,” she said, her voice soft.  “Valdis, speak now.  Please.”

Ilya stepped over to the spirit board and frowned.  He set his hand on the planchette that the four people were holding and guided it towards the word “hello”.  “It’s working,” he said, his voice softly.

“I haven’t been able to touch anything,” Valdis said, his voice soft.

“Who is this?” the woman said.

Chuckling softly, Ilya said, “We can touch this, it seems.”  He guided the planchette through the letters of his name.  Then, he continued to spell out words.  After a moment, he stopped.

Taurys read out the message that he’d written into the notebook.  “Ilya,” he said.  “Valdis is here too.  Felicja… I’ve missed you.”  He looked over at the table and gave a flashed smile at one of the women.

“Eliasz,” she breathed.  “You… are such an idiot!”  Tears welled in her eyes and she gasped when Ilya tried to brush them away.  Looking at the other woman, she said, “I felt… he touched me.”

She nodded.  “I’m Madeline Schneider,” she said.  Nodding at the man across from her, she said, “You might remember my husband.”

“Doctor Schneider,” Valdis breathed.  He frowned and stepped over to the spirit board.  He chewed at his lip as he spelled out a message of his own.

Taurys nodded as he read the words.  “He wants to know why we called them,” he said.  He looked at Dr. Schneider and added, “He called you Dr. Schneider.”

“That’s Valdis, then,” Dr. Schneider said, smirking.  “Ilya was never so formal.”  He heaved a sigh and glanced around the room.  “I’ve perfect the body that I was trying to make while I was in Veligrad.”

Taurys nodded.  “I’m… using one,” he added, his voice soft.

“We called you here to… give you a chance to do the same,” Dr. Schneider said.  He grimaced.  “If you’re willing, I’ll get started right away.”

“Anything is better than the way we’ve been living,” Valdis breathed.

Ilya nodded and moved the planchette to the word “yes”.  Then, he spelled out the word “please”.

Dr. Schneider nodded slowly.  “Right,” he said, a faint smile touching his lips.  “I’ve got them started already, at Arthur’s insistence.  It won’t take long to finish with the programming and then we’ll discuss… you moving into them.”

“It’s not going to be easy,” Taurys said, smiling.  “You’ll get used to it, though.  I promise.”

 

 

Dreamers – part 11

I’m having so much fun with the prompts from NaNoWriYe’s DreamWidth.  My story has take another unexpected turn.  I know this thing with Marian’s brother is going to come up again.

(Prompt: Alone)

Marion frowned slightly as he strode into the banquet hall. Most of the other agents were married, or at least were dating. The young lady on his arm was not any sort of paramour for him.

“A bit young, isn’t she?” someone said.

Resisting the urge to roll his eyes, Marian turned to glare at the speaker. “Walker,” he said. Waving at Camelia, he added, “This is my niece, if you must know.” His brow twitched as he struggled to school his features. “Her father, my brother, passed away… suddenly. You might recall.”

“He’s being decorated posthumously,” Reader said, her voice soft. She gave Camelia a weak smile. “I’m sorry for your loss, Miss Albescu. Your father was a great man.”

Camelia nodded slightly, but she didn’t say anything. Marian gave Reader a wan smile. “Thank you,” he said, his voice soft. He spotted Gilbert and then sighed as he noticed that the Schneider children were there too.

“Come on, Camelia,” he said, his tone gentle. He guided her towards Gilbert and Madeline and said, “I want you to meet some friends of mine.”

“Yes, Uncle,” she said, her voice faint.

It broke Marian’s heart to see her this way. He was hoping that seeing other children might help raise her spirits a bit. Her mother had died when she was very young. Now, Nicholai was gone too and she was alone.

“Hey, Gilbert,” Marian said, his tone full of forced cheer.

Gilbert whirled away from Singer and Tinker and frowned at him. “Marian, hey,” he said. He glanced at Madeline and tilted his head slightly to one side as he looked back at Marian. “Are you all right?”

Marian gave a weak laugh. “Peachy,” he said, shrugging. He heaved a sigh and then arched an eyebrow. “You hear of that transport accident?”

When Gilbert’s brows furrowed, Marian knew that he hadn’t heard anything of it. The science agent turned to his wife. “Maddie?”

“It happened about a week ago,” she said, her voice soft. “You had just come back from the Mushroom and you’ve been in your laboratory since you got back.”

Singer nodded. “I heard about it,” he said, his voice soft. His brows furrowed. “They were saying it might have been pilot error… that he got disoriented in the fog?”

“Papa didn’t crash the plane,” Camelia said, her voice cracking. She hiccupped and then buried her face in Marian’s chest, sobbing.

Marian blinked and then hugged her, a bit awkwardly. “They… My brother was the pilot,” he said, shrugging. He bit his lip and squeezed his eyes closed against the tears that were suddenly threatening.

To his surprise, Tinker drew Camelia into an embrace. “It’s all right, sweetie,” she said, her tone soothing. “You’re allowed to cry about things like this.” Then, she frowned at Marian. “You’re holding up all right?”

“Bereavement leave,” he said, shrugging. He pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped at his eyes. Then, he looked at Singer. The other agent was looking chagrined now and he shook his head. “Don’t worry about it, Singer,” he said. “That’s what the preliminary findings were pointing at.”

“They have new data, then?” Gilbert said, blinking.

Marian nodded. “They just finished analyzing the in-flight voice recorder,” he said. “It was sabotage. Nicholai said… that the controls weren’t responding properly. He could steer, but he couldn’t slow down. He fought to keep the transport in the air as long as he did… so that they crashed into an unpopulated area.”

“That’s why you’re here, then,” Madeline said. When Marian nodded, she gave him a weak smile. Then, she waved towards her children and Felicja’s twins. They were crowding around Camelia, chatting and exchanging hugs.

“They know each other?” Marian said, blinking.

Nodding, Madeline said, “Nicholai sent her to Camp Whip-poor-will for the summer?” When he nodded, she shrugged. “We did too.”

Marian heaved a sigh. “Well… hopefully, it’ll do her some good, seeing some familiar faces,” he murmured. He shook his head and then gave Gilbert a weak smile. “How’s it going with your investigation? The… dreamers?”

“We were going to try to contact them tonight,” Gilbert said, glancing at Madeline quickly. When she nodded, he heaved a sigh of relief. Then, he frowned at Marian. “Did you want to help? I know… you used to do séances when we were at school.”

“For All Hallow’s Eve,” Marian said, flushing. “That was… just for fun. This would be serious.” Then, he looked at Madeline and shrugged. “I’ll help, if you think I’ll do any good.”

“I’d be more comfortable with five people participating,” Madeline said, her voice soft. Her brows furrowed and she looked at Gilbert. “Four isn’t a good number.”

“There you go then,” Gilbert said, shrugging.

Singer nodded. “Daina can keep an eye on the kids,” he said, glancing toward the group, which now included his daughter as well.

Dreamers – Part Four

Getting down to business.  This section picks up right where the previous one left off.  This was written using another picture prompt from the NaNoWriYe DreamWidth.  (It’s also rather long.)

**

Taurys fell into step with Marian and smiled. “You don’t want to get changed first?” he said, shaking his head.

The other man gave a shrug. “Dr. Beaumont will be cross enough that I’ve taken this long,” he said, shaking his head. Then, in relative silence, he led them through the winding corridors. Taurys could feel that they were moving upward, towards the surface, but he didn’t say anything.

They passed several rooms and Taurys could hear people hard at work inside most of them. Sometimes, he could hear the clatter of keys. Other times, he could hear soft discussions or the workings of machinery. Finally, they reached what was clearly some sort of examination room. Tensing, Taurys looked sharply at Gilbert.

“She’s not going to hurt you,” Gilbert said, his tone clearly meant to reassure. He smiled faintly. “The Cabinet just wants to… you know.”

“Make sure I’m actually in here,” Taurys said, his voice soft. He looked around the room and added, “Verify that I’m not just some sort of very complex computer program, like RX-9 was.”

“Just so,” a new voice said.

Taurys looked towards the speaker. She was a petite woman with short brown hair and dark eyes. She was a little heavy-set, but she looked healthy in spite of that. Her features, while not striking, were even and held a sort of plain-spoken beauty to them. Taurys took in all of this at a glance and then looked towards Gilbert for some sort of introduction.

Gilbert adjusted his glasses. “Dr. Beaumont?” he said, tilting his head slightly to one side. He stepped forward, extending his hand. “I’m Dr. Gilbert Schneider. I’ve read of your work. I find some of your theories simply fascinating.”

“Charmed,” Dr. Beaumont said, taking his hand briefly in her own. “I know of your work as well, Dr. Schneider. I look forward to examining Singer.” As she said the last word, she looked over at Taurys.

Taurys shifted uncomfortably. “Dr. Beaumont,” he said, nodding politely. He fidgeted with his bangs and said, “I… prefer people to use my name.”

Dr. Beaumont regarded him critically for a moment. Then, she nodded. “Taurys, then,” she said. She waved dismissively at the others. “If you would leave us, then I shall begin my examination.”

“Sure thing,” Gilbert said. He smiled at Taurys. “Just be yourself and I’m sure everything will be fine,” he said. He nodded and then Marian escorted him and Felicja out of the room.

Once they were alone, Dr. Beaumont turned away and picked a clipboard up off a nearby counter. “You may undress, Taurys,” she said.

“What?” When she looked over at him with a frown, he felt his cheeks warm. “I can’t… I mean, you’re a woman and that wouldn’t be proper and…” he trailed off. She was a doctor, after all. She wanted to examine him and undressing was a normal part of that. Ducking his head and fidgeting with his hair, he said, “Could I have some privacy, maybe?”

Dr. Beaumont wrote on the page clipped to the board and then nodded. “I will give you a few moments, of course,” she said. She waved towards a cabinet and added, “You will find the gown in there, no?”

“Uh, thank you,” Taurys said, as she turned and left. He heaved a sigh as he shook his head. He rubbed at his brow. “Get hold of yourself, Taurys. There’s no reason to be so shy.” Then, he turned to the cabinet. He found the gown she had spoken of. After shedding his clothing – down to his boxers – he pulled it on and then stepped over to the door.

“Awkward,” he murmured. Then, he peered into the corridor. He gave her an uneasy smile. “All set,” he said, shrugging. “Sorry for the wait.”

“It is no problem,” she said, smiling brightly. Then, she stepped into the room. As he settled on the examination table, she took out a stethoscope and set it against his chest. Taurys heaved a sigh and looked up at the ceiling.

“Dr. Schneider did a fine job with your body,” she said. “It is nearly impossible to tell that you are not… organic.”

“Yeah,” Taurys said, smiling wanly. “Sometimes, I forget that myself. Then, I’ll…” he trailed off as laughter met his ears and he sighed. “I’ll hear Gilbert, laughing down the corridor and remember that I really shouldn’t be able to hear something so far away.”

“Indeed,” Dr. Beaumont said. She finished the physical examination. Then, she said, “I am going to show you a series of pictures and I would like for you to tell me which, if any of them, jumps out at you as… different in some way.”

“All right,” Taurys said. As she set a binder in his lap, he tucked a lock of hair behind his ear and frowned. She opened the cover and he looked at the first set of pictures. They were pictures of animals: a rabbit, a songbird, a deer and a bear. He tapped the bear. “Bears are omnivores and these others aren’t,” he said, his voice soft.

He turned the page and found that the second grouping was like the first. One image stood out to him as, in some way, not belonging. This went on for some time. Finally, he came to four pictures of children. His gaze locked on one in particular. “Milda,” he breathed. He felt his cheeks warm and his hands tightened on the binder. Looking up sharply, he said, “How did you get a picture of my daughter?”

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Dreamers – Part Three

This one picks up directly where Part Two left off.  Gilbert, Felicja and Taurys have just arrived at the docking bay of the secret base.  This was also written using a prompt from the NaNoWriYe DreamWidth.

Prompt: Umbrella

As they stepped off the ship, Taurys noticed that Gilbert was looking around. He frowned for a moment. Then, he scanned their surroundings. He noticed a person standing in the shadows, out of sight. He was average in so many ways that he would vanish perfectly in a crowd. The one thing that caught Taurys’s eye was the umbrella. He was leaning on a folded umbrella as he watched them.

“Average man is watching us,” Taurys said, his voice soft.

Gilbert chuckled and adjusted his glasses. “Average man,” he said, shaking his head. “It sounds like some sort of failed super hero. I am so telling him you called him that.”

“If the shoe fits,” Taurys murmured. He stifled a smile when the man watching them shook his head, clearly amused by the exchange.

Rolling her eyes, Felicja stepped forward. “Hey, Wanderer,” she called. “Are you going to come out and tell us what’s up or are you going to stay in hiding?”

“Tinker,” Wanderer said, as he stepped into the light. He paused a few feet from them and leaned on the umbrella once again. “Sleeper, how’s things?”

“Hey, Marian,” Gilbert said, his tone cheery. He frowned at the umbrella and then arched an eyebrow. “Expecting rain?”

Marian rolled his eyes. “No,” he said. He shrugged. “The Director was all… ‘Singer’s unpredictable. Don’t go in there unprepared.’ I figured that I should have a weapon.”

“Umbrella’s a weapon?” Taurys said, arching an eyebrow at Marian. He stepped over to Marian and tilted his head to one side. “What are you going to do with it?”

“Come at me and find out,” Marian said. He was smiling and Taurys knew that it wasn’t a prelude to a fight. The security agent wanted to test himself against Taurys. “I’d certainly like to see what the first subject from Project Lullaby is capable of.”

“Marian,” Gilbert said, his voice tense. “We don’t have time for this, do we?”

“This won’t take long,” Taurys said. His eyes narrowed and he thrust out with one arm. He smiled when Marian dodged perfectly. He laughed when Marian swung the umbrella up and around.

As Taurys danced out of the way, Marian flipped the umbrella opened and spun it, so that the canopy blocked Taurys’s view of him. “Not so fast,” Taurys said. He blinked and, a moment later, he could see through the umbrella. Marian had something in his other hand now and Taurys knocked the umbrella aside and grabbed hold of it.

“Crochet hook?” Taurys said, incredulous. Did this man not know how to use conventional weapons or did he just like confusing people? When Marian tugged his arm back and up, breaking free of Taurys, Gilbert called out.

“Hey, Marian, don’t hurt him!”

In the blink of an eye, Marian had raised his hand. Taurys blinked as the man stopped with the crochet hook inches from his face. Flushing, Taurys fell back, using the umbrella to pull Marian down with him. He kicked up against Marian’s chest and sent the man up and over. As Taurys was sitting up, Marian landed in the water.

Felicja burst out laughing. “Marian’s an expert in the use of unconventional weapons,” she said, smiling at Taurys. She scampered to the edge of the dock and threw down a rope. “Singer’s an expert at unarmed combat, Marian. I think he’s got you beat, for once.”

Marian climbed back up and shrugged. “I just wanted to see what he could do,” he said. He smiled at Taurys and then looked down at his clothing. He was, of course, soaking wet. Shrugging, he said, “Follow me and I’ll show you the way down to the lab.”