Winter Rain, part 34

I feel raw. Empty. Like a fire has raged within, and left nothing but a dead, smoldering husk.

My arm has begun to ache in earnest now: the pain of deep swelling; the promise of more to come. My back, too, where Conlan scraped me. And where I rolled through broken glass. It’s always like this—nothing hurts when I do it. At least, nothing seems to.

Later, it’s a different matter.

I pause on the upper landing. Muffled sounds of Faolan and Cormac talking in the den echo up the stairs from below, but the rest of the house is quiet.

Conlan’s door is ajar; dim yellow light spills out around and under the door. But I’m not up to any more hard conversations tonight. I step as softly as I can into the hall, carefully avoiding the creaky floorboard just to the left of the stairs, and head for my room.

I just want to put this day behind me.

“I would never have called you a coward. Until today.” The growl is quiet, but unmistakable, and Tara steps forward, out of the shadows at the end of the hall. She must have been waiting there a long time.

I fight to keep my eyes open, but it’s a battle I know I can’t win.

“Can we talk about this tomorrow?” I ask. Even I can hear the exhaustion in my voice.

But she doesn’t seem to notice. Or simply doesn’t care.

“How could you do that to him? All he’s ever done is look up to you. And you’re supposed to look out for him!”

Her voice is angry, but hushed. Like she doesn’t want Conlan to hear us.

Probably because he told her to leave it alone.

I glance to the door of my room, but she steps closer, blocking the way. Her tone and posture needle me fiercely, and anger rises like a fire. It seems strange . . . that I still have the energy for it. But maybe, when you wear me down to nothing, anger’s all that’s left.

Best I can do is hold it, just short of my mouth.

“You know nothing about it, Tara. And I’m too worn out to explain it to you tonight.

“Can you please let me by.”

She steps closer and pokes me in the chest. “No. Go talk to him. Now.” She punctuates her final order with another jab.

And I almost hear, more than feel, my hand moving upwards, as if of its own accord, as if I’m watching someone else—someone who looks like me, but isn’t me. Someone who would do that sort of thing.

Someone who would enjoy it.

And I wonder, if maybe it’s okay. If maybe, just this once, it would be okay.

Faolan would do it.

Yeah. He would.

But I’m not him.


And it is my arm swinging. And it’s not okay. And with the last of my will, I pull it back, just in time.

She steps back and her eyes blaze. “What, me next?” she growls, her voice defiant.

But there’s just a hint of fear, too. It sickens me.

I focus hard on the words. As inadequate as they’ll ever be. “I’m sorry, Tara. I didn’t mean it. I’m just . . . in a lot of pain, right now. And I’m so tired.

“Can we talk about it tomorrow. Please?”

I take a deep breath and wait for her response.

I could just tell her. Get it over with. Deep down, I probably do want to.

Because, deep down, I want her to hate me, too.

Maybe I’ve already seen to that.

“What, you think because you were right about the trap you get a free pass on any bullshit you want to try tonight? Is that it?”

And the decision’s made.

Because, deep down, I want her to forgive me, too.

I meet her eyes in the dim light, then look past her to some spot in the shadows. My voice sounds lifeless in my ears as I speak.

“I killed a man tonight. Tore his throat out. Because I wanted to. Faolan’s proud of me for it. And I don’t know how to feel about that. Because I want him to be. And I hate him for it. Or me.

“I beat the shit outta Conlan. Because he insisted. And because I wanted to. At least, I probably did. Faolan’s proud of me for that, too. And I know how to feel about that. But I want him to be, anyway. And I hate him for it. And me.

“So, tell me, Tara? What’s there to say? To Conlan. To you. To me? That will ever make any of this right? Ever again?”

I stare at the floor. What would I find in her eyes if I met them? Fear? Loathing? Disgust? Pity? Or just sadness. Now that it comes to it, I can’t bear to look.

She says nothing.

I step past her and she lets me go. I enter my room, and quietly push the door shut behind me.

Because she’s right. There really isn’t anything more to say.

7 Responses to “Winter Rain, part 34”

  1. Sorry it’s a bit late.  I have two very good excuses: Hancock, and The Dark Knight.  :-)

    Anyway, I’m considering this the end of Chapter 3 (aka The Angst Chapter).  We’re moving on to something more active next chapter.  I hope. 

    Given my track record, don’t expect a new ep until Thursday.  It seems to take me a few extra days to figure out a new chapter.

  2. Vercin says:

    I submit that if you’re going to keep track of chapters and such, you should at least tell us about them :P Linear numbering is nice, but working in the chapter/installment somewhere would be nicer. I like the 1.1, 1.2, . . . 3.11 style used by AE’s Tribe.

    Also—wait, what? I look back and you’re right, it’s been better than 10 chapters since any of the really good stuff. So yeah, I’d support you returning more to that style.

    I found a really interesting quote when skimming back to try and figure out where the other invisible chapter breaks were, tho. We see now just how much Tiergan has to fight his killer instinct. It’s THERE, even if he represses it . . . makes one wonder.

    “Because it’s not enough, Tara,” I say with a shrug.  “Her parents are insisting on a First, and we both know I’m never going to be that.”

  3. srsuleski says:

    Augh fuck off Tara ye great big git.


    Anyway . . . 

  4. Hey Vercin — I don’t consider the chapter boundaries to be particularly important.  They are more for my benefit to be honest.  Each one contains a discrete “chunk” of the story, and I generally go into each with some vague clue of what will happen.  Not necessarily a destination, but at least a direction. 

    As for “good stuff”, well, I can’t promise lots of Tiergan killing people, if that’s what you’re after.  ;-)  I think the violence will be mostly punctuation for the story.  But I do hope this chapter was the limit for how much angst I will put in a chapter.  The chapters with a plot are way easier to write.  :-)

    And Sarah — lay off poor Tara.  It’s not like she doesn’t feel horrible, right now.  ;-)

  5. srsuleski says:

    I will not lay off Tara. :P Conlan was being a douchebag and it was his own fault Tiergan had to beat him up. :P

  6. Vercin says:

    Chris—nah, it doesn’t need to be killing, just . . . dunno. I’m too tired to describe it clearly, but running around dodging doggie love and doggie hate or plotting for the night’s mission was somehow much more intriguing than listening to how Tiergan doesn’t want to be his brother for a half-dozen chapters :)

    And I’ve gotta stand by Sarah on this one . . . Tara earned a lot of idiot points this chapter. I mean, “How could you do that to him?  All he’s ever done is look up to you.  And you’re supposed to look out for him!”?!

    Right. Not only was Tiegran’s drastic “MUST ABORT NOW” action vindicated by the alpha getting, you know, SHOT, but everyone should have known that Conlan pushed the action to that level before Tiergan could MAKE that warning. “OK, I’ll submit to my little friend while the rest of the pack gets wrecked by unknown forces”? She might feel horrible but she’s definitely taking it out on the wrong target, and that absolutely doesn’t excuse it.

  7. I think the more interesting thing is the signs of Tiergan’s humanity at war with his wolf — he wants forgiveness from Tara, and understanding — but the strength in him, the instinct, and the knowledge that he was right — almost made him lash out at her.  If he had more rank, he probably would have done it — but he resists wanting rank, because he doesn’t want to be his brother.

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