See How She Lives

Part One


                The beat up old SUV finally pulled to a stop at what I hoped would be our new home.  Kennan had wanted to blindfold me but given the events of the past few months he had agreed to just let me close my eyes.  I could barely contain myself, I desperately wanted to see what would become our home. 
                We were finally safe.  No more Corporation, no more Xavier, no more Council.  It could finally just be us and our future.  A future that would begin in the house if Kennan ever let me see it.
                “Are you ready?”  Kennan’s voice rumbled next to my ear causing my toes to curl.  I would never get tired of this man.
                “Yes!”  I wanted to rush out of the SUV and see our new home.  As I started to open my eyes, Kennan placed his hand over them.  “But, we’re here…. I want to see!”
                “Patience.  Just keep them closed until you get out.  Promise me.”  His breath was hot against my skin.  I would pretty much do anything he asked if it got me inside of that house with him any faster.
                “Promise.  Now come help me out so I can see our new home.”
                “You are so impatient.”  Kennan grumbled as his door shut.  Before I could really breathe again he was opening my door.  He must have used his super Guardian speed to get over there that quickly.
                Two strong arms lifted me out of the car.  He helped me down to the ground and then led me around the SUV.  I was barely able to keep upright.  I hoped he would let me open my eyes soon. 
                We came to a stop and all I could feel was Kennan’s heart beating against my back.  I sank into his heat.  “Ready?” he breathed against my ear.
                I opened my eyes and looked at the two story farmhouse.  It was a simple white house with dark shutters.  The paint was chipping away on the wood siding from years of being weather beaten.  This house held memories and would hold many more I hoped.  I was finally home.  I turned toward Kennan with tears brimming my eyes. 
                “We’re home.”  I squealed as I threw my arms around him. 
                “Yes, we’re home.”  Kennan mumbled into my hair as he kissed the top of my head.  “Let’s get you inside.”
                He swept me up into his arms once more carrying me over the threshold into our new home.  I looked up into his face taking him in.  This was the man I was going to marry.  The man that I would spend the rest of my very long life with.  I lifted my hand to his face causing him to look down and meet my gaze.  His eyes flashed with a fiery passion I had grown to love.
                “Would you like a tour?”  Kennan barely choked out. 
                “How about we start with the bedroom?”  I could not think of anything but being with him.  The house be damned, I needed to feel safe.  I needed to feel like I was a part of something else.  Something more than the events of the past few months.  I reached up to brush my lips along his as he rushed us up the stairs to what I guessed was our room. 
                The next few hours passed in a haze of sheer physical delight.  I threw off all that haunted me in favor of the man lying on the bed.  He became my soul focus and with that all else seemed to vanish.  As we lay there exhausted, and the last of the euphoria faded, reality crept back in.  I was exhausted and I knew without a doubt that the dreaming would take me soon.
                My eyelids grew heavy as the dreaming started to take me away into its foggy grasp.  I fought it trying to keep myself awake.  It had been weeks since I had experienced my last nightmare, but somehow the fear lingered.  I never knew what might be waiting for me over that precipice.  I wondered if I would ever be okay again.
                My body jumped just as I started to drift off.  I had once more startled myself awake.   I opened my eyes to find Kennan staring down at me intently. 
                “Do you want me to block it?” 
                “No, I need to learn to deal with this.  I won’t let him haunt me forever.  I can’t.”  I settled back down against the bed and strengthened my resolve.  I would not let him torment me forever.  I couldn’t.  If I spent the rest of my life like this then Xavier had won.  I wouldn’t let him win.
                “It is always your choice, Izzy.  Just know that I am here if you need me to pull you out, or if you need me to do something to help you.”
                “I know.  I love you, Kennan O’Malley.  Just having you here makes me feel better.”  I curled my body against his and let his warmth guide me fully to sleep.
                “I love you back.”  Kennan murmured sleepily. 
                My lack of sleep and the nightmares had been keeping Kennan up for the past few weeks.  I knew that I needed to get myself under control for the both of us.  He had helped me put a stop to the dreams more or less, but I was still having some nightmares.  They weren’t dreaming induced nightmares, just the normal sort.  I knew eventually, those would fade as well.
                “Go to sleep.”  I whispered entwining my fingers with his.
                “Wake me if you need me.”  With that Kennan was out.  I had always marveled at his ability to pass out so quickly.  I had never been one to fall asleep so easily. 
                I lay there for a while longer sending up a prayer to God as I shut my eyes.  “Please bring me peace tonight.”  I begged as my eyes closed and sleep finally pulled me under.
                I was in the dreaming.  Not just a regular dream night then.  Awesome.  I swallowed deeply trying to calm my nerves.  I looked around trying to make sure I was safe, that nothing was coming for me.  Something was different about the fog.  Instead of the grey smoky miasma I had grown so accustomed to, there was now a blue tinged fog. 
                I walked through it running my hands along the low lying clouds and felt an inexplicable sense of calm wash through me.  I had never felt anything like it before in my life.  I was at peace.  Truly at peace for the first time since this whole thing had started. 
                I giggled loudly as I spun in the fog.   I let the dreaming sweep over me and relished in the way it pulsed through my body.  Just as I threw myself into it fully I heard a sound in the distance.  The sound brought all of my fears rushing back to the surface. 
                “Who’s there?”  I asked with trepidation.  I had grown wary of any night time visitors.  They never bode well.
                “All will be revealed in time.  For now, know that you are safe, Izzy.”  The voice was a deep rumble surrounding me in the fog.  I had no idea where the voice originated.  I had no clue who it might belong to, but I knew whatever or whoever it was meant me no harm. 
                “Who are you?”  I yelled to the fog.  I wondered if God himself had come down to protect my dreaming.  After all, I had sent up a plea just as my eyes shut. 
                “Not God.” I heard a slight chuckle before he continued.  “Patience, Izzy.  For now, enjoy your life.  Enjoy your Guardian.  You will find out more in time.” 
                A figure emerged from the fog and moved toward me.  It moved so quickly I could not track it with my eyes.  Suddenly I was staring up at a man.  The most breathtaking man I had ever seen.  He had shoulder length jet black hair and eyes that burned an intense blue.  There was something not quite human about him.  My breath caught in my throat as I looked up into his rugged face. 
                “Who are you?”  I gasped.  It seemed my stupid mouth refused to form any other words. 
                His hand lifted to run along my cheek in the barest of touches.  I looked up into his eyes and my heart dropped.  Staring back at me were the saddest eyes I had ever seen.  I knew these eyes.  Somehow, in my mind, he was there.  He brought his other hand up to cup my face.  I was pinned down by his gaze.  I could not move even should I want to. 
                “All will be revealed in time.”  he said brushing his thumbs along my cheeks.  “Slumber now, Izzy.  Rest.  When you once more awaken, you will have no memory that I was even here.  Yet, you will remember that you no longer need to fear the dreaming.  You are safe now, Izzy.  You are protected.” 
                He bent his forehead to mine and muttered words so foreign I could not even begin to decipher their meaning.  I was struck once more by that great sense of calm before I was sucked out of the dreaming and into a dreamless sleep.
                I opened my eyes to the morning light and stretched out my sore muscles.  The room came into focus, and for the first time, I really noticed my surroundings. The furniture looked like something straight out of a Country Living Magazine photo spread.  It was sheer perfection.  A loud yawn escaped my lips causing Kennan to stir next to me.
                “What time is it?”  he grumbled.
                “I have no idea.  Is there a clock somewhere?”  I looked around the room in search of said clock and found one next to his side of the bed.  Its red numbers blinked back the hour.  It was ten in the morning and I felt more rested than I had in months.
                “Gah, it isn’t even eleven.”  Kennan threw himself back on the pillows trying to pull me back down with him.
                “Nope, I am getting up.  I want to explore our new house.” I barely evaded his clutching hands.  I knew the only reason I was able to escape was because he was tired.  If he had been more awake I would not have stood a chance.  “Is there a coffee pot in the kitchen?”
                “Mmmm hmmm.”  he mumbled into the pillows.
                “Alright, well I am going to go downstairs and make some coffee.  Maybe you could wake up and join me?”  I poked his side and made my way toward the door.
                “Unnnggggh.” was the only reply I received. 
                I walked down the wooden stairs slowly running my hand down the beadboard walls.  This house was everything I had ever imagined wanting.  I could grow old here, have a family here.  I smiled brightly at the thought of a tiny Kennan running amok.  I wondered if he would love mornings as much as his father.  I giggled at the thought as I made my way into the fully furnished kitchen. 
                It was a thing of glory.  I was surrounded by bright white cabinets in an open farm style kitchen.  I made my way straight to the coffee pot and found everything to get it going.  It looked like it was a much better one than the one I had in Chicago.  I turned around and propped myself against the cabinet so that I could take in my surroundings.  When had Kennan done all of this?  He was quite resourceful. 
                “It is too early.”  I heard and ogre grumble.  Oh, wait, that was Kennan.
                “No it isn’t.  You are just a lazy bum.”  I snickered as he pinned me against the cabinet, caging me in with his body.   He brought his face down to nuzzle my neck causing shivers to run the length of my body.
                “I don’t have to be lazy.”  he mumbled sleepily.  I swatted at him just as the coffee pot announced its successful finish. 
                “Cofffffffeeeeeee.”  I droned. 
                “Really, you will choose coffee over all of this?”  Kennan moved his hands up and down his body in mock affront.
                “Yep.”  I moved to fill my cup with liquid perfection.
                “Why are you so chipper this morning?”  Kennan grumbled moving toward the refrigerator.  He began pulling out stuff to make for breakfast as I perfected my cup of coffee with some sugar and milk.
                “I slept really well.  I can’t explain it.  I feel like a weight has been lifted.  I feel free.”  It was bizarre.  I couldn’t remember anything from the night before.  All I could think about was the great sense of peace that had washed over me in the dreaming.  It was as though my fears had all been erased.
                “What happened in the dreaming?”  Kennan asked with more seriousness than I felt the situation warranted. 
                “I don’t really remember.”  I shrugged moving toward the table. 
                “Was someone there?”  Kennan’s intensity was really starting to unnerve me.
                “Um, not that I remember.  It was just me and the blue fog.  It was lovely.”  I stared off into space feeling well and truly whole.
                “Damn him.”  Kennan murmured under his breath.
                “Um, who?  What are you talking about?” 
                “What?  I didn’t say anything.”  Kennan deflected.  “You want some bacon?”
                “Subject changer.”  I groused.  I really could care less what he was talking about.  I felt good for the first time in months.  He wasn’t going to rain on my parade.  “And yes to the bacon.  That sounds yummy!”
                “Alright, you settle in there and I will get to cooking.  Maybe afterwards we can drive around so that you can see where we live now.”  Kennan waved a spatula around as he talked making me giggle.  I could just see him in a frilly apron. 
                “I would love to see the town, but maybe we could get a better look at our room after breakfast.  I feel like I missed some details last night.”  I arched a brow in his direction. 
                “Do you really want to wait until after breakfast?”  He growled in response.
                “We need fuel, sir.  Get to cooking.”  I blushed and looked down into my coffee.  I was still not used to his intensity.  I knew I would never get enough of this man.  No matter how long we were together, it would never be long enough.

Prequel Part 2


                The next few months passed with the same calm that had become ever present in my life.  I no longer feared the dreaming.  I no longer felt haunted by the events of the past year.  I had barely even had a vision.  I was living in a delightful bubble of euphoria. 
                “What’s on the agenda for today?”  Kennan asked from the closet.
                “Cake tasting and then dress shopping.”  I waited for the groan I knew would emit from the closet at any moment.  I had been dragging Kennan around for weeks trying to get everything organized for our wedding.  We wanted it to be in the fall so I knew we had to hurry to make it happen.
                “Isn’t it bad luck for me to see the dress?  I think I should sit this one out.  Maybe you could just choose the cake, too?”  he leaned out of the closet to find me standing with my hands on my hips.
                “No way, Kennan O’Malley.  You got out of choosing flowers but you are going with me to taste the cake.  No arguments.”  I narrowed my eyes in his direction.  I would not take no for an answer.
                “You aren’t as scary as you think you are.  You know that, right?”  he smirked at me before disappearing back into the closet.
                “Listen, I don’t have Molly here to help me.  That means you have to go and pretend to be enjoying yourself.  I don’t think I am asking for much here.”  I was starting to get grouchy. 
                “Don’t even act like Molly would be enjoying this.” I knew Kennan was right.  Molly would rather be saving the world one vision at a time.  It didn’t mean he would be getting out of the day’s errands. 
                “That isn’t the point and you know it.  You are going to go, you are going to act like you are enjoying yourself, and you will make this day fun for me.  Do I make myself clear?”  I stomped my foot as I came to a stop outside of the closet. 
                “Yes ma’am!”  Kennan mock saluted. 
                I moved around him to grab my clothes from the hanger snapping the bottom part of the hanger from the hook in the process.  I growled and moved towards the bathroom.  Today was not going at all as I had hoped it would.  Was it too much to ask a man to be excited about eating cake and dress shopping?  Okay, the dress shopping I could see, but the free cake.  I mean, come on!  I went into the bathroom and closed the door forcefully, jarring the walls in the process.
                “Easy killer.”  Kennan laughed on the way out of the room. 
                It wasn’t that I was really upset about the day.  I had just felt off for the past couple of months.  Everything had been so calm since that first restful night.  I knew enough about the world I now lived in to know that it wouldn’t last.  It put me on edge constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I tried to shake the negativity off and think of the day. 
                “Today is going to be great.”  I promised my reflection.  She looked back at me rather skeptically.  I did what any mature adult would do, I stuck my tongue out at her. 
                I finished getting ready in a hurry, pulling on a dress so that I didn’t have to take off eight thousand things when trying on wedding gowns.  I was going to buy my dress today if it was the last thing I did.  After all, this was the only shop in a fifty mile radius for me to look.  I looked myself over one more time before heading down to greet the day.
                We arrived at the cake shop ten minutes early.  The sugary confections assaulted my senses as we walked through the door, causing me to instantly drool.  I had been coming here to get cupcakes since we moved.  They were possibly the most delicious cupcakes I had ever eaten.  I was developing an addiction.  When I found out the proprietor also made wedding cakes, well it was a no brainer. 
                “Hello Izzy.”  The proprietor greeted brightly.
                “Hey Mrs. Ryan.”  I walked into her hug.  That was one thing I loved about the south, once you knew a person, you became like family.               
                “Kennan.  How are you doin’ today?”  she drawled.
                “Fine, Mrs. Ryan.  Looking forward to eating some cake.”  he rubbed his hands together like some sort of mad scientist.
                “Well, let’s get to it then.  Ya’ll have a seat over there and I will go in the back and get the different cakes and icings we can pair.”  Mrs. Ryan moved into the back of the store while Kennan and I settled ourselves at the table.
                “You seem more excited about this now.”  I grumbled at Kennan.
                “Well, I am more awake now.  Plus, have you smelled this place?  I would have to be insane not be excited right now.”
                “Hopefully the sugar will sustain you through dress shopping.” 
                “I think I may drop you off and come back to get you.  I really don’t want to see the dress before the big day.”
                “But how will I know if it looks good or not?”  I was terrible at choosing dresses.  My luck, I would pick one that made me look utterly ridiculous.
                “You will be fine.”  Kennan leaned over to place a kiss on my forehead.  I just glared up at him in response. 
                “Alright, ya’ll.  All of the cakes are labeled as are the frostings.  Just combine them until you find the perfect mixture and let me know what ya’ll decide on.”  Mrs. Ryan set a tray of cake samples and icings in front of us.  Suddenly all of my fears disappeared when faced with such sugary delights.
                Kennan and I went to town trying the different cakes and icings.  He kept trying to combine really odd flavors while I stuck with the traditional combos.  Ultimately we decided to have a three tiered cake with chocolate and vanilla cakes layered.  Then a simple buttercream frosting to top it all off.  I was seriously surfing a major sugar buzz by the time we left her store.  The woman was a cake genius, maybe even a goddess. 
                “Ready to go try on dresses?”  Kennan asked brightly.
                “I feel like I just gained a thousand pounds in there.  I suppose this way I will have plenty of room in my dress.”  I looked down at my suddenly pooched out tummy.
                “You look beautiful, like always.”  Kennan mumbled into my hair before kissing the top of my head.
                “Yeah, yeah.  You are still dropping me off, huh?” 
                “Yep, just call me when you are done and I will come get you.  Just make sure that whatever dress you get is in a dark bag so that I can’t see it.” 
                “I just hope the sales ladies are honest and tell me whether I look like a taffeta nightmare or not.” 
                We arrived at the dress boutique far too quickly.  My stomach was in knots and the previously delicious cake decided to start a rebellion.  What if I chose the wrong dress?  What if Kennan didn’t like it?  When did I become so neurotic?  It was just a dress. 
                I looked over to find Kennan looking at me intently.  I sucked in a deep breath and got out of the beat up SUV. 
                “Call me when you are done.  More importantly, find the dress you love.”  Kennan hollered after me.
                “Okay.”  I squared my shoulders and headed in to meet with the sales assistant for my appointment.
                As soon as I entered the store, my senses were set into overdrive.  Everywhere I looked there was poufy white and ivory.  Was I really ready to get married?  Until death do us part was an awfully long time for Seers.  I sucked in another calming breath and thought of Kennan.  I was absolutely ready to spend the rest of my life with him. 
                “Izzy?”  I heard a chipper sales lady call.  She looked to be about my age and was meticulously coiffed.  She made me look like a ragamuffin.
                “Yes, that’s me.” 
                “Is your wedding party with you to help?”  she asked with an air of confusion.
                “Nope, just me, myself, and I.”  I smiled brightly, or maybe it was maniacally.  From the look on the girl’s face, I thought it was probably the latter.
                “Well, we will get you taken care of.  Have no fear.”  She looped her arm through mine and drew me deeper into the store.  “So, tell me, what are your neckline preferences?  What silhouette do you prefer?”
                “Um, wedding dress?”  I replied.  The girl was speaking Greek to me.
                “How about we just take a look at some magazines first and then you can let me know which ones you like?”  I think the panic must have been evident on my face.
                We sat down at a white desk and she pulled out a stack of bridal magazines.  Each with a ridiculously expensive dress gracing the cover.  I knew Kennan said to get what I wanted, but I couldn’t see spending that much on a dress I would just wear once.  It seemed wasteful. 
                I sat flipping through the magazines until I came to rest on the most perfect dress I had ever seen.  The bottom had gathers making it look like icing on a cake.  The top had what the clerk dubbed a sweetheart neckline.  It was simple, beautiful, and perfect in every single way.
                “This one.”  I breathed out.  Tears threatened to pool in my eyes.  I couldn’t understand my reaction to the dress.  My Seer senses must have been out of whack.  They seemed to be offline lately. 
                “You are in luck.  We have that one here.”  She clapped her hands together and moved away to be swallowed up by the white dresses.
                She came back with several dresses on her arm and motioned for me to follow her back to the fitting rooms. 
                “We have several sizes and variations of the dress you liked here.  Let’s get you fitted.”  she said brightly.  I wasn’t sure if her enthusiasm was genuine or not, either way it was contagious.
                We slipped into the dressing room and she helped me get into the first of the dresses.  It was two sizes too big so we scrapped it immediately.  Then came the second of the dresses she had brought in with her.  It was too small.  I was beginning to feel like Goldilocks.  But much like her character, the third dress was just right.
                I stood staring at my reflection in shock.  It was the most perfect dress I had ever seen in my life.  Even better, it fit me like it was made just for me.  There was no way I could leave here today without this dress.  I looked down at the tag and gasped at the price.  So much for not spending a ton on a one day dress.  I was pretty sure if the tag had read a million dollars I would still not be able to leave without it.  Perfect dresses just don’t come along every day.  I had to snap this up before it was too late. 
                I turned to the clerk with tears in my eyes and smiled brightly.  “I think we have a winner.”
                “I think you are absolutely right.  This is perfect!”  She clapped her hands together in delight. 
                “Alright.”  I sighed, reluctantly returning to the fitting room to get back into my lame sundress.  I wanted to live in that wedding gown, but I didn’t think it would be appropriate attire for going to the garden center. 
                “Is there anything else we can get for you today, Izzy?”  she asked as she hung the dress back on its hanger.
                “Is there any way we can put the dress in a dark bag so that my future husband can’t see it?” 
                “Absolutely.  I will get it all set.”  She moved out of the dressing room and let me finish getting myself put back together.
                I pulled out my phone to give Kennan a call.  “I’m ready.”  I said brightly.
                “Did you find it?”  he sounded as excited as I was. 
                “Yep, and it is perfect!” 
                “Well, I am heading in.  I was waiting out in the parking lot.  I still can’t seem to leave you.”  Kennan breathed.  I knew how he felt.  We had not been out of each other’s presence since we left the Council months ago.  
                “Meet me at the counter and prepare to spend your entire life savings.” 
                I moved out of the stall as Kennan entered the building.   He must have forgotten to mask his true form.  The sales clerks all turned toward him stunned.  I could understand the reaction.  It was the same way I reacted to him.  My stomach started to jump when he headed for me.  I still couldn’t believe he had chosen me.  Out of everyone in the world, he loved me.  He moved toward me with complete focus as if the rest of the world would never matter again. 
                “Hey, Red.”  He smiled down at me and I became a pile of goo. 
                “Hey, you.  Have I told you lately that I love you?  Because I do.”
                “You can never tell me enough.”  he threw his arm over my shoulder and guided me to the counter to pay for the dress.
                “Umm, it will be, ummmm…..”  the poor sales clerk couldn’t seem to get herself under control.
                “Here, just put it on this.”  Kennan handed her a card never looking away from me. 
                “Yep, sure thing.  I am getting right on that.”  she mumbled.
                I looked up into his face and had to smile.  He had no idea the effect he had on people.   One of his smiles could probably bring about world peace, well in a world full of women it could. 
                “What?”  he whispered into my ear.
                “Nothing, you are just turning everyone into blubbering idiots because you forgot to disguise yourself again.”  I whispered back so that he was the only one that could hear me. 
                “I seem to forget a lot when I am around you.”  he said back.  The heat in his eyes turned me to smoldering ashes.  We couldn’t get home soon enough.
                “You are all set Mr. O’Malley.  Just sign here and we are good to go.” the clerk said.
                “Thank you for taking care of my girl.”  he signed and grabbed the black garment bag from the sales clerk.
 Part Three


                It had been an eventful day.  Between the cake tasting, the dress shopping, and Kennan thoroughly ravaging me I was exhausted.  By the end of the day all Kennan wanted to do was sleep.  I didn’t fight him.  I was absolutely done for.  Kennan’s warmth behind me comforted me until I was pulled into a deep slumber.  With him at my side I had nothing to fear.
                I was in the forest and the wolves were tracking me.  I knew this dream.  I had dreamt it back at the lab.  I knew this wasn’t real, but it did not stop the terror from seeping deep into my bones.  I looked around the fog trying to find the comfort that had aided me the past few months.  There was none of it to be found. 
                I turned and ran trying to escape the predators.  Knowing that this was just an echo of my past, a remnant of my terror, did nothing to dissuade my fear.  The fear sank deep into my soul until all I could think of was to run.  I had to find an escape.  The memory of the wolves tearing my flesh from my bones fueled my escape.  I couldn’t do it again.  I couldn’t live through this again.
                I came to a stop looking in all directions.  I couldn’t find a way out.  I spun around and came to a stop facing a man I never wanted to see again.
                “You aren’t real!”  I shouted at the phantom.
                “They are coming for you all.”  Xavier wheezed before fading into the fog.
                As soon as he disappeared from sight the wolves descended upon me.  I felt my flesh begin to shred away from my body.  My own scream ripped me from the dreaming.
                Kennan was staring down at me when I awoke.  His eyes were filled with worry.
                “It isn’t over.”  I breathed out as tears filled my eyes.
                “Yes it is my love.  It was just a nightmare.  You haven’t had one in a long time.  Have you ever thought that maybe you are afraid of being happy?  You need to stop waiting for the other shoe to drop, babe.”  Kennan rubbed my back as I tried to calm my breathing.
                Somehow, I knew it was more than just a dream.  It had been real.  The terror was palpable, not a distant echo as it would have been in a mere dream.  I swallowed my fears and set them aside.  Perhaps Kennan was right, maybe it was just a dream and nothing more. 
                “You’re probably right.”  I shook my head trying to shake off the last of the fear.  “Let’s try and get some more sleep.”  I smiled weakly at him.  I turned my body to face the wall and breathed out slowly.  I hoped he was right.  I tried not to think of my fears as the dreaming swept me back under.
                “The time is coming when you must face a great burden.”  a man whispered from the fog.  His robe shielded his face, effectively masking his features. 
                “Who are you?”  I asked.  His voice seemed so familiar yet so foreign.
                “Soon, perhaps too soon, you will need me and I will come.  For now you must prepare yourself.  Rest Izzy, for soon you shall find no refuge in either the waking or the dreaming.”  his voice was a balm to my weary soul.  Even though his words spoke of great hardships ahead, I felt no fear towards this man.  Just an unsettling sense of familiarity.
                I moved toward him in the fog.  His body was as still as a statue.  I lifted my hands up to the hood of his robe and tilted it back away from his face.  Inhumanly blue eyes gazed down upon me. 
                “Who are you?”  I asked with my brows furrowed.  I had this tickling sensation in the back of my brain.  I somehow knew this man, yet I could summon no memories of him.
                He lifted his hand to my cheek in a gesture that seemed so familiar.  His large hand emanated warmth into my chilled soul. 
                “Brush me from your mind Izzy, for you will find me sooner than you expect.  Instead remember my warning.  Prepare yourself.  Your burdens will be great and your obstacles many.  Dream now of pleasant things for the nightmares will soon return.”  He whispered pleasant words as my soul gently drifted into a peaceful sleep washing all memories of him aside.
                “Izzy.  Wake up.  It is past noon.”  Kennan was shaking my shoulder trying to pull me out of my pleasant dreams.
                “Ungh.”  I replied.
                “Rise and shine sleepy head.  Molly is on the phone.  She wants to talk to you about Ian and something about dresses.”
                “Ungh.”  I muttered holding my hand out for the phone.
                “Here she is Molly.”  Kennan snickered as he handed me the phone and left the room.
                “Hello?”  I mumbled half into the phone half into the pillow.
                “I am going to kill him.”  Molly screeched into my ear.
                “What did he do now?”  I turned over so my voice could be somewhat audible.  I still refused to open my eyes. 
                “What didn’t he do?  He is completely ridiculous Izzy.  You can’t expect me to spend the rest of my very long life with this walking fashion victim in tow.”  Molly fumed.
                This was the same conversation we had been having for months.  It was a never ending circular argument.  Molly would call complaining about how unreasonable Ian was.  Ian would call complaining about how stuffy Molly was.  I would be expected to play the referee in the never ending war.  It was exhausting.  I wished the two of them would just kiss and get it over with.  I knew Ian had feelings for Molly, but instead of acting like an adult he had taken on the persona of an elementary school boy pulling his crush’s pigtails.  With everything Molly was going through I knew that his joking was grating on her already frayed nerves.
                “Molly, I can’t change who he is.  You just need to find a way to cope with him.”  I wasn’t awake enough for this conversation.  I needed coffee.  Just like that Kennan magically appeared with a steaming cup of liquid perfection.   I covered the receiver saying, “I love you so much.”
                “Just talk to him.  Maybe try and convince him to at least wear coordinating colors when we are in public.” 
                “I will try.”  I knew it would be pointless.  I still had no real idea why Ian dressed the way he did, but it made him happy.  Who was I to rain on his parade?  “Kennan said you needed to talk to me about a dress?”
                “Yes!  Did you find it?”  Molly’s voice raised and octave with her excitement.
                “Yep.  It is glorious.  I will send you a picture later when Kennan isn’t in the house.  He is going to till up a garden plot for me today.”  I got up and moved to the window to see that he had already started.  He was shirtless and the heat had caused sweat to bead on his body.  I had to walk away from the window so that I could concentrate on what Molly was saying.
                “Wait.  You are going to attempt to grow things?  I foresee this going really well.”  Molly snarked.
                “Did you really See it or are you just being a pest?” 
                “You know my visions are offline right now.  So, no, I am just basing this information off of my intimate knowledge of you and your city slickin’ ways.”
                “Hardy har har.  You keep this up and I will put you in the most God awful bridesmaid’s dress you have ever seen.  You will make Ian look positively stylish when I am through with you.”  See what sassy comment she had now. 
                “Let’s not get excited.  It is all in good fun.”  Molly used her calming voice.  I knew it all too well.  She had used it on me quite a bit back at the Council when I was such a basket case.  “So, is there anything else going on with your right now?”
                “Nope, why do you ask?”  I hoped that she couldn’t tell from my voice that I’d had another nightmare.
                “Well, let’s see.  You are asleep until noon for one.  For two you seem evasive.  I hear it in your tone.”  I was a fool to think I could pull anything over on Molly.
                “It was just a dream.  I think it is just from the stress of the wedding.  I’ve felt off since that night of restful sleep.  Like someone is watching me, waiting for something.  I don’t know how to explain it.  Maybe I am just not used to things going well.  I think I am probably overthinking everything and freaking myself out.”  I sighed.  I had just talked myself in a huge circle coming back to the same conclusion I’d had last night, I was going insane.
                “It probably is just stress.   Why don’t you have Kennan block the dreaming for a while?  It isn’t going to hurt you to be separated from it.”
                “NO!”  I shouted forcefully.  For some reason the thought of being separated from the dreaming made my stomach turn.
                “Ooooookay.”  Molly drawled.  “I was just trying to help.”
                “Sorry, Molly.  I feel like I need to be there.  I feel like something is coming.  I am probably wrong, but whatever.  We will see.  I better get going.  I have a garden to plant.”
                “Right.  Try not to hurt yourself.  Oh, and talk to Ian.  I am begging you.”  Molly pleaded through the phone.  I could see her down on her knees begging me. 
                “If you both keep bugging me, I am going to stick ya’ll in couple’s counseling.  See if I don’t!”
                “Whatever, I will talk to you later.  Oh, and let me know when I need to go to the shop to be fitted.  Love you.”
                “Love you, too, Molly.”  I hung the phone up and threw on some shorts and a tank top.  It was time I got my plant on.
                It had been two months since the first nightmare.  At first they were few and far between, but the past week I had been struggling with the fear of falling asleep.  It was almost a guarantee that I would face some new horror with Xavier at the center.  I wondered if it would ever end.  I had done my best to hide it from Kennan.  I didn’t want to worry him.  For all I knew, I was suffering from some sort of PTSD.  It was entirely possible. 
                “Are you okay, Red?”  Kennan’s voice was laced with concern.  I knew he was starting to suspect something was wrong with me.  I had been secretive, if not downright evasive. 
                “I’m fine.  Really.  I think the wedding is just stressing me out.  It is coming up soon.”  I widened my eyes at him before sliding under the covers into bed.
                “We can wait, if you aren’t ready.”  Kennan wrapped his arm behind my head and started to draw lazy circles on my arm.  It broke my heart that he thought my hesitance was caused by him in any way.
                “Absolutely not.  Kennan O’Malley, I cannot wait to be your wife.  Don’t ever think that.”  I smacked his chest before turning my lips toward his.  I kissed him quickly before turning on my side.  I needed to get my crap together before I drove him away.  “I just need sleep.  I love you.”
                “I love you, too.  You better not be keeping anything from me.”  Kennan turned pulling my body against his.
                “Mmmhmmm.”  I pretended to be half asleep.  I didn’t want to lie to him.  I just didn’t understand what was going on.
                I laid there listening to the sounds of his breathing grow heavy.  In moments he was whisked away into a peaceful sleep.  I envied that.  I knew that he would come into the dreaming with me if I asked him, but I could not bring myself to do that to him again.  I had scared him so much after the lab that I was afraid to drag him back into my insanity.  It was time to face the music. 
                Oh great.  It was the wolves’ nightmare again.  I really hated this one.  I always felt exhausted by the end of it.  Perhaps I would just let them eat me and get it over with tonight.   Maybe if I didn’t run they wouldn’t chase me.  I stood still listening to the forest around me. 
                The fog was a thick blanket moving across the land.  It weaved in and out of the trees obscuring anything that might come for me.  Then I heard it.  The second wolf howl, the signal to attack.  It was time to run or stand fast.  I wasn’t sure I had any run left in me.
                I stood looking out into the fog determined to hold my ground.  “Come and get it you miserable excuse for a phantom.  I am so tired of these games.  Just tell me what you want.”
                Laughter echoed through the trees accompanied by the sounds of the wolves.  I saw their glowing eyes as they stepped through the fog towards me.  With them, the figure of Xavier emerged.  Only this time he looked a bit stronger.  Something had changed.  Perhaps I had finally gone completely mad.
                “It has begun.”  Xavier laughed lifting his hand in the air as the wolves charged me.  “I am coming, Izzy.  Nothing you can do will stop me.”
                “WATCH ME!”  I screamed as I threw myself to the ground.  I curled into the fetal position as a blinding blue light ripped through the dreaming.  I refused to open my eyes.  The wolves would be on me at any moment.
                “You can’t interfere.”  I heard Xavier shout in disgust.
                “Watch me.”  I heard a calm voice reply. 
                “It is against the Code.  You are forbidden.”  Xavier was becoming hysterical.  I sort of wanted to open my eyes to see what had his so worked up.  I dared to peek out of my arms and looked up at a tall robed figure.
                “I am not breaking the Code.  I am forbidden from directly interceding.  It does not follow that I may not assist.  Your end draws nigh Betrayer.”  The man turned towards me and reached out a hand to help me to my feet.
                “It doesn’t change what is coming.  She isn’t strong enough to stop it yet.”  Xavier disappeared back into the fog.  His words echoed through my head. 
                I looked up into the face of my savior and gasped.  Who was this man?  I felt the strangest sense of déjà vu when I looked at him.
                “Thank you.”  I squeaked, dropping my hand from his in the process.
                “It is time to stop running, Izzy.  You must face what is coming.  Your time of peace has passed, now is the time to fight.  Wake and rise your Guardian.”  the man reached his hand to my face and cupped my cheek.
                “But, what is coming?  And more importantly, who the heck are you?”  I was so over the man of mystery thing.  I wanted to know why I felt like I knew him.
                “Forget me, Izzy.  For in less than a weeks’ time we shall finally meet on your plane.  Until then forget me, for I am not important yet.  All you must remember from this dream is that you must go to the Council.  The time for hiding is through.  Now awaken.”  he brushed his lips across my forehead and I was thrown from the dreaming.
                “It is time to fight.”  was my last thought as reality bled back in.

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