WAR: Birth (2)
About 2 hours after “Birth”, Las Vegas, NV
She finished smoothing the dark green, rayon dress over the sleeping girl’s tanned legs. Everything about the girl, from the tips of her toes to the crown of her head, radiated peace. She was perfectly, absolutely safe and knew it, even in her sleep.
Hanna sat softly down beside her on the bed, a brush in her hand, and slowly began to stroke it through the girl’s long, coal-black hair. She wasn’t aware of it at all, but she began to hum quietly a wordless tune. Had she noticed, she would have recognized it as the same tune her father once hummed to her as a child, whenever she grew frightened. Even in the midst of a nightmare, he could sit by her bedside, humming it to her, and her dream would grow peaceful.
Her father. After almost a millennium, she couldn’t remember the slightest detail of his face. But she could still hear the sound of his humming.
She stopped brushing for a moment, her index finger stroking down the side of the girl’s cheek softly. Did she remember anything of her father? Did she want to? She knew the precise moment Jennifer Schanke had run away from home, because she had kept a constant vigil over her after she had left New Jerusalem. Her parents kept her at home, thinking it best to keep her feeling safe and secure. All the friends Jenny had at school and around the neighborhood were shut out completely, not by Don or Myra, but by Jenny herself. Whenever a friend would come to see how she was feeling, bring a present for a birthday, Jenny would simply walk into her room and close the door, refusing to respond to anyone. Myra has suffered a nervous breakdown, consumed by guilt over the fact that she had been completely incapable of protecting her only child. Don had tried to comfort her, tried to make her see that it was in no way her fault, but Myra refused to accept that she had no part of the blame.
Don started drinking, until Reese had to suspend him for a week for drunk driving. Hanna intervened then, mentally dominating Don into kicking the habit. She left him with the thought that he had gotten Jenny back alive and unspoiled, despite the things she had seen, and that there were plenty of terrible things in the world that happen that a parent is powerless to stop. She filled his mind with her own memories of Racine and his Norman cohort that had come to her father’s manor. She showed him how her father had died, knowing what the soldiers would do to his daughter, and being unable to
Myra had come in the living room while she was there, and Hanna quickly added her into her impromptu “therapy”…
“The only ones who truly have any blame in this are either dead, or soon will be,” she assured the both of them in her ruined voice. She smiled at Don whenever he grimaced at the sound. Naturally, she could have healed her shredded vocal chords, but felt neither the need or the desire to.
“And you must take comfort in the fact that Jennifer merely saw things no one should see, whether a grown man, a woman, and certainly not a child. Her mind and spirit were overwhelmed, but they can recover. Things could have been so much worse, especially with Davistch’s fascination with pure, unspoiled, little girls.”
Myra wept uncontrollably, and Don cradled her head against his chest. “Do you have to say that?”
“Would you rather I lie to you? You both hold yourselves to blame for things that were beyond your power to stop. I am simply telling you that you must be thankful, for Jennifer’s sake, that Davistch forbade anyone else from touching her, and that he himself restrained his perverse desires, for the simple fact he wanted to savor her as long as possible. Imagine if he had not! Imagine if he had done to Jennifer all of those horrid, evil, perverse things
he has spent hundreds of years enjoying! Imagine the state she would be in now, had she survived such treatment! I tell you now, the only reason he did not was because he had planned to Embrace her on the night he took her virginity. He had decided that SHE was his perfect little girl, that he would keep her “perfect” forever. For some, like him, the blood becomes sweeter when the suffering is the greatest. He wanted her ripe with pain, with absolute anguish of the soul. When the time was right, he would have raped her quite literally to the point of death, then he would have drained her, and
Embraced her. I swear to you, Donald, Myra, it could have, and should have, been so much worse.”
“SHOULD HAVE!?” Myra screamed at her.
“Had I not saved her from Davistch, he would have. I doubt Donald told you anything of me, or what was done to me, when I allowed myself to be caught, so that Jennifer could go free.”
“But I thought…Micah…Jon…Jonas…I thought you let August take you so they could escape?” Don asked her, his eyebrows drawn down in puzzlement.
“I did. And I sent my spirit out to Jennifer in the Prince’s Tower, showed her the way out, to save her from Davistch. You do remember the cemetery, do you not, Donald?” she smiled at him, and he immediately began to shrink back into the couch.
“I wish I didn’t!”
“You have no idea how much I agree with that sentiment, Donald. I would definitely rather not remember being buried, bloodless, in quick-drying cement. And I could spend the rest of my immortality never remembering having to rip my way up to the surface through it.”
Don looked at her sharply, a disturbing thought settling in his mind. “You’re not holding a grudge against Jenny for that, are you?”
Hanna laughed, the sound of it assaulting them so strongly that Myra slammed her hands against her ears, whimpering, and would have run from the room had Don not held her tight against him. As it was, he was almost inclined to run himself. “Why in the world would you think something so incredibly ridiculous as that? I could say I have never harmed an innocent in my life, and that had been true up until Casa Loma. Let us leave it as I have never willingly harmed a innocent, and I would never dream of holding a grudge against Jennifer, or Micah for that matter, for the consequences of a course of action I chose. If there was a need to hold a grudge, August and Davistch, perhaps Divia as well, would have been the only ones that
I would have held to an accounting. August, quite obviously, received her punishment. Divia I will leave to Lucius, Nicholas, and Trapper.”
Don looked straight at her, was going to ask her about Davistch until he noticed her eyes. Where before he had seen them change from violet to coal black, now they were burning red. His mouth dropped open, the question dead on his lips, and he felt suddenly very certain he, Myra, and Jenny were all about to die.
“Do not be foolish, Donald Schanke. I would not have troubled myself with saving your child, nor would I have come here to try to help you with your ordeal, if I had intended to kill you. And believe me this, if you believe nothing else I say,” she leaned forward a little, and Don drew back away from her, “if I wanted to kill you, you would never see me coming.”
Myra pressed her hands tighter to her ears, trying to shut out that horrid voice, and Don started stroking his hand up and down her back, trying to comfort her.
Hanna sighed. She knew she was doing more harm than not, but she truly wanted to help them. She had tried easing the memories in Jenny’s mind while the girl slept, but the child proved to be a Resistor. So, having little choice in the matter, Hanna resolved to try to alleviate the guilt Don and Myra were feeling. She shook her head, thinking to herself how little success she was having with them as well. They simply refused to believe there was nothing they could have done to prevent what happened. Jenny, however, was stuck in a trap of guilt, feeling that somehow she was to blame. Hanna knew precisely how she felt, since she had spent the better part of her immortality believing the same thing about Racine and the Norman soldiers that had raped her for weeks. She of course knew now that most victims of abuse harbor feelings of guilt and responsibility over the abuse done to them, but in Jenny’s case, it angered her almost to the point of madness. She knew Spike had taken Jenny because of August’s orders. August knew she would be obligated to save Jenny. She also knew it would make it all the worse for Hanna if Davistch had the girl, given the man’s tastes. So in a very real sense, Hanna was to blame for all that Don, Myra and Jenny were going through.
“I am not helping at all. I realize this, and I am terribly sorry.” She sighed again as she rose, turning to leave. “I simply could not let this go on without trying to be of some help, since the child suffered only to spite me. Since I am only causing you more grief, I will go. Only know this,” her voice grew stronger, more forceful as she turned her head to look at Don over her left shoulder, “Davistch will never lay a finger on her. I swear it to you, on all that I hold dear to me.”
Don met her eyes, knowing she meant what she said. He didn’t like her, couldn’t like her, but he did know he could trust her word if given. He nodded once at her, understanding completely…
She moved the brush again, watching the light play along Jenny’s freshly washed hair. “Poor Donald. If you knew what your little girl forced upon herself, trying to banish the demons visited upon her mind…”
Once she finished brushing Jenny’s hair, she climbed up into the bed and lay beside the girl, occasionally alternating between stroking her hair and her cheek. She had promised the girl, but she couldn’t bring herself to the act, not without knowing if she was absolutely aware of the consequences. As she waited for Jenny to wake up, she remembered back over the years since New Jerusalem was utterly destroyed. She had spent almost all of that time watching over Jenny, trying to keep her safe. She watched her since before she ran away, always hoping beyond hope that Jenny would call out for her, just once, asking for help. She knew if she rushed in to “save” Jenny at any point, the girl would grow all the more indignant, and slip further into the abyss. So she was forced to wait. Forced to watch as she lost her virginity to a pimp and his six best friends. Forced to watch as she was sold to anyone for any price. Forced to watch the beatings, the rapes…all the horrors Jenny endured.
She was never able to stop anything from happening, knowing how Jenny would feel about it. She ached, burned, for years to make each one of the bastards pay. She never forgot a single one of them, or where to find them. And now, after Jenny finally reached out to her, finally accepted her help, she waited. If Jenny was still certain once Hanna was through trying to dissuade her, if she truly wanted to…
“We shall see,” she whispered as she lay her head down on the pillow next to Jenny.
She closed her eyes, and as sleep came to her, she revisited the memories of each man that had ever raped Jenny…
What they looked like…
Where they lived…