How are you liking the house so far?
Everyone keeps asking me this, “how do I like the house” and I keep wanting to respond with “could use a paint job”.
Truthfully, it’s such a loaded question that I could be asked a thousand times over and respond a different way each time.
The silence seemed thicker now, and despite the small warmth and comfort offered by the fire he was aware how cold and empty this place could feel sometimes. It wasn’t welcoming in any real sense of the word, but he wondered sometimes if that wasn’t the point.
"I’ll be around. I’m not a hard man to find." It was more honest to say he rarely left Greystone at all, but an unnecessary comment on his life all the same. This was it now, and if it there’d been a point where that wasn’t good enough, it had come and gone. He wouldn’t go so far as to say he was happy, because he didn’t quite remember the feeling, but this was his home and his life and he didn’t allow himself regrets. He’d been raised a hunter and that was both how he would live and how he would die. The only thing that still drew him with any real, burning strength, was the idea that Vincent was still out there.
It wasn’t a question anymore of if he’d find him, but when. He knew in his bones that he’d come face to face with the man again, because the universe had too much symmetry to it for someone else to catch up with him first. It was why the orders to stay off his case hadn’t bothered or swayed him any. Just made him more discrete in his own inquiries.
But those were thoughts best left for when he was alone, regardless of whether the other person in the room was a witch or not. His hand curled around the back of the chair, shifting it back to where it’d come from. "Enjoy the rest of your night."
Some nights were better than others, but for Roy, they were all a varying degree of shit. Tonight was a better night, one that didn’t require copious amounts of liquor to help drown out the clawing at his back or the warping of his shadow that only he could see these days. Reflections, shadows he cast, it all warped whenever he looked at them, but only for him. Only in his eyes and it was an awareness he had about himself that this could be due to what he was, or simply what he’d done. That he’d corrupted himself or that he’d broken some part of himself that there was a reason he went to a psychologist once a week.
It had him wandering tonight. A semi-good mood and a sobriety he would probably put an end to when he made it back to his room. But he was restless enough that the manor itself needed to be roamed. Just so he could see what was happening in it. There was the thought that he hadn’t been down to the library in a few months. When he’d first gotten here, maybe he’d come down to see if there was anything interesting, anything that would tempt him in ways he’d only been tempted once, but he hadn’t found anything. Nothing that could surpass what power he’d already felt and fed on before coming here. That was years ago. A decade maybe? Was he that old? He felt it.
He didn’t expect for someone already to be down here. The libraries weren’t often a place people went to relax. Some came down to study up before they were sent on a hunt, or to read up on something that would benefit them personally. But for the most part, Roy found the information held within these walls to be dry. There was nothing out there worse than what he’d already encountered in his lifetime, worse than things he’d made or brought into the world, and it left the information in these books as useful only when he needed to know how to kill something.
It was someone new. He thought. He’d been in a drunken stupor for the past few days and today was his first clear one in a while. He didn’t think her face looked familiar. He was almost certain he’d at least recognize someone he’d run into before. It’s uncommon for him to walk around in anything but his boxers and robe, but today he has on sweats and a robe. Maybe a little more modest, but it wasn’t on purpose. His favorite boxers were in the wash. Sweatpants were the next best thing.
"I came to check for Leprechauns," he says in response. It’s a lie and it’s a familiar tic he has of explaining why he’s in a certain place at a certain time. He’d had no reason to come in here other than to clear his head and that wasn’t something he wanted her to know.
"Leprechauns?" Melissa fumbled with the pages of the book before her, bending them back to their proper place before standing and wiping the dirt off onto the leg of her blue jean’s. It wasn’t until she lifted her gaze, fully divulging the entirety of her attention back to the man that had stumbled into her domain, taking in a good look at his obvious state of disarray, that her lips thinned into a terse line of disapproval. Was he drunk? The woman cocked her head to the side, staring at him through narrowed judgement, her thick framed glasses perched carefully upon the tip of her nose. He certainly looked it. What time was it anyway that someone would be wandering around in their sleep attire so informally? As the thought came to her mind, she shook her arm out in front of her, the small silver watch revealing the hour to be later than what she had originally anticipated.
Okay, she thought, so maybe the man wasn’t drunk, or crazy. “You’re not sleep walking are you?” She inquired waving her hand out in front of her as she crossed the room over to where he was standing and setting her book down on the table beside her. “Or if you were you wouldn’t really know that you were now would you?” Melissa shrugged and shook her head. “Either way. No leprechauns here. Just me. And I detest the color green.” She admitted openly. Pushing her glasses back up onto the bridge of her nose, she turned her attention back to her book and flipped it open right down the middle, her eyes widening as she pondered over it curiously.
"Fanscinating…" Melissa breathed the word in admiration as her hands ran over the markings on the pages before her. She was still smiling as she looked back to where he was standing beside her and pointed. "Look at this!" She insisted, sliding the book closer to where he stood before leaning back over it with wide eyes. "These markings…much like the phoenician alphabet only it doesn’t appear to be entirely acrophonic. I doubt I’ll ever be able to fully translate this within my lifetime, but still. Just fascinating."
The witch went back to examining her findings, her finger tips delicately tracing the drawings of the lunar cycle and the symbols and foreign words that surrounded it. It was the first time she’d felt genuinely happy since she’d arrived, and the muscles in her face actually felt somewhat twinged with pain from the ordeal of it all. As she stood back up and folded her arms across her chest, her one hand idly sought her face and rubbed at her cheek with blunt part of her palm. It took her a moment, wiggling her jaw back and forth, before she finally started feeling some relief, now taking the time to actually look her guest over once again.
"I’m sorry…I don’t think we’ve met before, have we?"
His fingers laced together while he watched her process, thumb idly tracing his skin where his ring used to sit. It was habit at this point, but it was more of one not to wear it. It would invite more questions than he was comfortably answering. As it was, he thought he could see enough of them behind her eyes, though he didn’t know her well enough to try and guess what shape they take. For the most part she’d stuck to business and it’s something he quietly appreciated.
When the question did come, it almost surprised him. That she was powerful was certainly aware to both of them, and it had left him with the assumption that she was widely educated on magic as well. It had him shifting his perceptions slightly, because perhaps that had been part of the problem. Power, without all the knowledge that should’ve come with it. Still, it didn’t cost him anything to explain it.
"We make better ones. Despite what the church might tell you." While she could’ve been a religious sort, he didn’t place her as one. Black magic didn’t seem consistent with their beliefs, and regardless of how she’d started, he could see faith being a hard thing to cling to after something like Orias. "It takes power to force something as dark as a demon out of a human vessel. We have more of it than a man with a cross." If his tone was dismissive, it was nothing he tried to hide. An exorcism required faith and ritual either way, but he’d seen it done without his kind of power behind it and it was painful and inefficient.
He stood then, because he didn’t see that there was much else he could offer her. There was a quiet expression on her face, the kind that made him wonder if she’d still be here in the morning. He didn’t have any words to ease that. Her circumstances were unique unto themselves, but they took a shape he’d seen pass through these doors before. If it was a chance at redemption, it was the kind that felt like condemnation.
"Try to get some sleep," he told her. It wasn’t an answer to the question, because he didn’t have a clear one on that either. Even if a job came in tomorrow, he couldn’t promise that it would be something he sent her on. No matter how much control he liked to maintain over his life and the world around him, working with the Tenebrae was never predictable. "Get yourself acclimated. I’ll let you know."
She could see him move out of the corner of her eyes as he stood, his words playing across her mind like a lesson learned. Maybe it wasn’t so much that she didn’t know that witches could be exorcist so much as she never really believed it. When Melissa thought of witches, she thought of her coven back in Virginia. Summoning demons, not exorcising them. However, she would be lying if she didn’t admit that it made a certain degree of sense putting power behind already powerful words such as the one’s read during a demonic expulsion. But did that mean that Sebastian still believed in God?
Melissa wasn’t sure what she believed in anymore. She had stared into the darkness and that darkness had done something to her. Robert had been right about one thing, after that night things were no longer the same for her. Her magic felt different. She felt different. There were some nights when she would lie wide awake within her room, wherever that had been in the past, and she could see Orias shifting through the shadows. Could feel him just as she had always felt Robert. She would always tell herself that it was impossible, because Orias had been exorcised that day, or so she had been told. But every now and then, in the still of the night she could hear him, feel him breathing. Watching her.
"Okay." Melissa pushed aside her darkened thoughts and lifted her gaze, nodding her head excessively as she swallowed the foul taste in the back of her throat, her gaze rising to meet Sebastian’s just once more. There were goosebumps on her arms now and it took every ounce of the woman’s reserve to keep from looking beneath the couch she sat upon like a child looking for a monster under their bed. The only problem was Orias had been very much real. "Thank you, I suppose." She grinned weakly. "I suppose I’ll be seeing you around then?"
The library. It had ended up being everything that Melissa could ever want and more. Already she had read over twice her weight in books and ancient texts, and she had hardly even been there a week. A week. As the woman leaned against the ladder that spanned up, further still, into shadows of long forgotten sectors at the back of the library, she shook her head in disbelief, all the while smiling. It had been quite some time since she had felt this…at ease. She couldn’t exactly say she felt at home because this house, nor any other, would ever be anything compared to the homes she had dreamt up as a little girl.
She’d been 8 years old when her mother had died, and she had never really known her father who’d left shortly after her mother’s passing. So when the devil had taken her mother as his own, Melissa had ended up in foster care, being shifted from home to home. Abused. Ridiculed. Unloved. The only time she had ever felt at home had been that time back with Robert, but that had only been a lie. A nightmare that even still the witch was incapable of escaping.
Sliding her hand along the edge of the shelf in front of her, Melissa’s eyes widened as she found the book she’d been looking for and pulled it away with a puff of dust. She choked as she inhaled it into her lungs, coughing deeply and waving the air around her until she could breathe clearly again. The title was written in a language that had died out centuries ago, and while it look Greek in nature, Melissa knew that it wasn’t. Regardless of being unable to read it she knew what it was as it matched the script in the libraries codex. Phases of the moon.
Ever since Sebastian had first warned her of the upcoming full moon she’d been digging around and doing as much research as she could on the beings known as werewolves. It was intriguing enough, however she was still unsure as to why they were specifically linked to the full moon. Brushing her thumb along the title’s imprint on the books cover, Melissa was startled at the sound of the library doors opening and closing suddenly. She jumped, her arms flinching and the book falling loudly to the floor, dust unsettling from it’s pages as it landed half open, it’s pages bent where it met the floor. Shit, she cursed under breath. If she damaged one more book she was going to be in some serious trouble.
“Hello?” She called out then, kneeling down to pick up the book, her gaze shifting through the shelves to see who had come in so abruptly.
He offers a tight-lipped smile in return for hers, though it’s not a thing that lasts long. They’re cut from a similar cloth, but the specifics of how he was raised ensures that he’s never felt a great sense of camaraderie with others similarly gifted. Somewhere in the world he’s got a half brother that might be the exception to that, but he hasn’t seen him in so long that it counts for little at the moment.
"Exorcist," he supplies, though he appreciates that she doesn’t ask. But he’d like to think volunteering as much will clear up a number of things for her, even if he doesn’t explicitly say them. He doesn’t know what she saw, doesn’t know the specifics of what it was like when Orias came through. But he’s seen countless others, and if she knows what it’s like to stare into the face of hell, he can say he’s experienced similar. It would be dismissive to say the same, but definitely similar.
There’s a slight furrowing of his brow at the words, though he’s not quite annoyed by them. He just finds it interesting that other’s assumptions of his thoughts are rarely his actual ones. He imagines it’s her own sense of self reflecting back now, but he is blunt by nature. Whatever he thinks of her, there’s very little softness left in him to temper his words. “What I think is exactly what I told you. I don’t care what you’ve done, I care what you do. If I thought otherwise, I would tell you.”
Whatever’s left of him that’s still human would like to just take her at her word. He believes that she hasn’t played with anything that powerful since, and that much trust he can offer. Anything more than that requires faith, and his died years ago. “You asked me what your restrictions were and I told you. Predicting the future isn’t one of my talents so I can’t tell you with one hundred percent certainty that you might find yourself in a situation where any of those things are called into question. I would rather be prepared for it than taken off guard and I’d like you to do the same. Don’t think it suggest in any capacity that I am already expecting your failure. If I did, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
"An exorcist." Melissa quoted him thoughtfully, shifting uncomfortably on the sofa as she rubbed the palms of her hands along the skin of her arms just above the hilt of her elbows. There had only ever been one other time in her life where her path had crossed with that of an exorcist, and it was by no means under amicable terms. She could remember cold hands holding her down, the bright blue eyes of the older gentleman as he drowned her repeatedly in holy water, until her lungs quivered on the brink of failing from lack of air. Answers. That’s what they had said they had wanted. The truth. But as the days she had spent with them dragged onward into weeks, and those weeks into a solid month, and the more relentless their approaches became, the more Melissa began to suspect and believe that their actions were moreso a form of punishment than anything.
Her head tilted to the side, brows furrowed as she looked at him directly. “I didn’t know that witches could be exorcists.” For weren’t they just as damned as the rest of the supernatural lore would suggest? Of course she kept that last bit to herself as she finally leaned back against the cushions of the couch, her hands still fidgeting in her lap, her gaze steady on where Sebastian sat in the chair across from her. It was hard for her to imagine him in the place of the priest who had kept her all that time after the incident with Orias. But then again, she hardly knew this man, and even if she would try her best to see the good in everyone, just as she would have them do of her, Melissa ultimately knew nothing in comparison to the things that he had probably seen in his time at Greystone.
As the fire crackled beside them, bathing the room in a warm glow, Melissa found herself shivering at the thoughts that crossed her mind unbidden. Thoughts. Memories. Raw unbridled emotions rippling across her face against her will. Confusion, sadness, thoughtfulness. Melissa had always been told she was an open book, but the emotions came and went so quickly that it was like trying to read a poorly written translation of a first edition novel. Almost impossible. As her mouth thinned into a grimace, silence falling upon the room save for the noise the fire made, she couldn’t help but look at him questionably.
Melissa had known what she was getting herself into when she’d agreed to join the Tenebrae, or at least she had thought she’d known, and regardless she’d agreed. Agreed to the possibility that she would likely, however eventually, die, and she was okay with that because compared to the lives she had seen taken mercilessly on that night so many years ago, what made her any better? But as she sat there across from Sebastian, in that instant, the fire light casting shadows upon the man’s face making his eyes appear darker and his demeanor more etched and jagged, the witch had never been so uncertain about anything in her life.
Sucking in a deep breath, her gaze flickered for a moment before looking away, her hands suddenly folding themselves upon her knees, as she tilted her head downward. “When is my first mission?”
She & Him - I Put a Spell on You