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Aberrant: Dead Rising - So Close... and Yet So Far

Dawn OOC

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Date: Friday, April 27th, 2007.

Time: Approximately 11:15 p.m.

Willy had seen the woman skirting the edge of their area earlier that evening, walking a path around their vehicles. She was harmless looking, a human worn down by loss and horror. Her once-lovely face now only exhausted, as if she didn’t have the energy to live up her potential. Willy had pointed her out too all, and the crew watched with amusement as she walked by several more times that evening. Clearly, she wanted something from them. It was probably something illegal or illicit; most people who wanted something just walked up. Her dance indicated Something Was Officially Up.

Finally, her steps faltered, and then she turned sharply, approaching their fire. She scanned them until her eyes found Priest. Licking her lips nervously, she asked, “Can I talk with you privately, Mr. Priest? I have something I want you to procure for me. Something confidential. And important. And private.” She looked around at the watching scavengers. “And alone.”

Priest extended his senses and felt no current danger from her. She looked harmless, and his powers said she was – not a single tingle. The question was, what did she want, and how painful would it be to fetch it?

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"Sure, lets walk along the fence and talk," he said with a mixture of respect and compassion.

He offered her his hand and led her back into the night.

"I must admit I'm intrigued. Why me and me alone. I mean, I'm part of a team for a reason. It had better really be important."

He clears his throat,

"What I mean is that it must be important to want this of me. The reason for privacy is a bit odd. I trust everyone on my team with my life. Anything you can trust with me, you can trust with them."

"Beyond that, I do promise to keep this conversation confidential. I pride myself on getting what people need in the manner they need it, as long as its nothing immoral.

Seeing that they were now some distance away,

"Now, what is it?," he said with a gentle smile.

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She studied Priest for a moment; she seemed emboldened by his smile. She gave him a nervous smile of her own and said, "I want you to give me a baby."

As he spun and gaped at her, she held up both hands in supplication. "Please, I just lost my last child on our way here, and my husband wants another." She began to weep, straight from dry eyes to rivers of tears to quickly that Priest knew that she was an emotional wreck. "But I can't, can't go through that again. Please, you're one of the super people, and any baby you'd make would be super, too. He or she would survive! I wouldn't lose them, please, you have no idea how much that hurt. I thought I would die, just from a broken heart - and I wanted to die! Wanted it so bad!

"And don't worry about Jay - my husband, that's my husband, Jay. My husband would never know! You look a lot like him, that's why I choose you. You're the best match I could find here."

She looked up at him, her eyes wide, tears staining her face. The wild look of hope in her eyes was heart-breaking - and frightening. She might not handle a rejection well.

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Priest staggers and loses focus for a second.

"Holy Shit Lady, you don't ask for much. Good God."

He takes a hand away from hers (but leaves the other intertwined with her) and grasps his chest.

"Sorry, I need to put my thoughts together on this."

"You want me to sleep with you until you get pregnant. You want to hide this from my team, your husband ... hell, everyone which I don't even know is possible. Seriously ... you haven't give me your name."

"Lynn," she said meekly.

"Lynn," Priest said as he put an arm around her and started walking again, "first off, you are attractive. Secondly, I'm not sure that supers have super kids. After all, my own daughter is not a super. Third, I'm going to have to think about this."

"I think I understand your loss. My own wife ..." he looks away. "My own wife is gone now."

He stops, holds both her hands in his and looks down on her with pained eyes.

"The problem - my problem - is that I haven't been with ANY woman since my wife died. In a way, if I do I have to let her go, say goodbye. Maybe that time is now, but I don't know. Do you understand that?"

"Let me think on it tomorrow and come back tomorrow evening, if you can. I'll have an answer then. I can't tell you how much this means to me."

Priest kisses her on the forehead,

"I just need to wrap me head around this. I mean, I don't even consider myself one of the supers. I lead a small scavanger band is all. It's how I see myself and then I'm no one special. Now you are saying I am someone special and thats ... Well, can you give me a day to think about this?"

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"Oh, yes, yes, I can!" Lynn said, her smile lighting up her face. "Oh, god, oh, god... Thank you." She hugged him enthusiastically, practically bouncing with excitement. “That you’ll even consider this, after all you’ve been through… oh, god, you’re a saint.”

She stepped back and tugged her shirt straight. It was plain that she’d chosen the nicest shirt she had left to wear; it had the shiny-fresh-from –the-package look. “I’ll walk by your area tomorrow night at this time, and if you’re ready to answer, you can just fall into step next to me. And if not, I can wait – a few days.” She straightened out the collar of his jacket, fussing with his clothes. “A few more days.”

Grinning, she stood on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek. “Thank you.”

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Inside he was screaming. Inside his old way of living and the old tensions that were left stuck in place were at war with his desire to be more than he was and sympathy - to do the right thing.

Part of him wanted to open a new door in his way of working at the world. He could look at Leo or Rhonda in a new way. Would Sarah agree? Hell, she already knew about sex. Bethany and Willie made that abundantly clear. No, his fear was that he would have to make a decision.

The problem about this was that he couldn't talk to anyone about this. He could go to now one to give him advice, or an easy out. It was all in his lap.

"Lynn," he gazed into her happy face and suddenly realizing the terrible fear she must have gone through just coming to him, as total stranger, "sleep tight. If I see you tomorrow, is it okay if I say hey, or is that too risky?"

Oh, if this comes out this will do wonders for super-human relations. It will hurt my crew.

"Lynn, I'm going to have to tell my daughter. There is no way I could do this without telling my daughter. Can you live with that?"

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"You can talk to me," Lynn said with a laugh. She looked years younger, giddy and excited with the hope that he was offering her. "No reason why we couldn't have met while you were passing things out day before last." Priest thought back and did remember seeing her gathered around the trailers after they got back from Dallas, enjoying the scavengers' hard work.

She grew a bit more somber. "Isn't your daughter a bit... young to talk about this with? I mean... she's your daughter and you know best. But she seems a bit too young to know what her father does and who he does it with. If we were..." Her cheeks flushed as she whispered cutely, "getting together as a couple, then I could see it." She stopped and bit her lip before smiling. "It's your call. Whatever you need, Raphael. Can I call you Raphael?"

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Priest smiles,

"When we are alone together you can. Only my team calls me Raphael, or Raph, when I've done something wrong."

He doesn't say that his wife was the only one who called him Raphael when they were alone together.

"Sarah is older than her years. We all are. If I'm putting her mother's memory to rest, she needs to know."

This is so going to blow up in my face. Word will get out. Her husband will find out and come going for me, or make trouble for Fox as one of those 'damn' supers takes liberties. Oh God, why am I even thinking about it?

You are thinking about it because he can give her some hope; something she does not have and she's in desperate need of. You try and make a difference. You are not some heartless mercanary. You are considering this because she breaks your heart, dressed up as best she can ... and it has been six months, and you are still a young ... -ish man.

This is going to change my relationship with my team - with Rhonda and Leo especially.

To hell with it. Sleep on it and make up your mind tomorrow.

"Lynn, I'll see you tomorrow, and I must say you do look nice tonight. You don't make it easy for a man to say no ... not that I'm inclined to say no."

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"Ok," Lynn said, smiling like a sixteen-year-old girl. Her blush was cute, but the experienced look in her eyes promised him that she was far from a child. "I'll see you, at least, tomorrow... Raphael."

She turned and walked away, a spring in her step and humming something bright and cheerful. She was in love - not with him, but with the idea of a healthy baby who wouldn't go away and leave her alone again. She was in love with hope.

Priest watched her go, wondering if he were clinically insane, or just that horny. He wasn't sure he like either possibility, and his heart was heavy as he headed back for camp.

She found him halfway there, stepping out of a shadow, hands on her hips. "Well, look who I run into," Min said, cocking one of her generous hips to the side. With his thoughts already flowing in that direction, it was suddenly easier to notice that Wesson's granddaughter was one of the prettier women around, even when all she wore was a grease-marked tank-top and ripped, battered blue jeans. "Mind if I walk with you to your convoy, if that's where you're going? I was hoping Willie has some more of that rotgut - Blue's cylinders are filthy after that trip to Dallas and I've yet to find anything that works better."

She said 'filthy' like his wife said 'laundry' - their private word for sex when Sarah was old enough to understand words. It was funny that his wife had once thought that learning that her parents were in love was the worst thing Sarah could know.

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Four women? Well, four women plus Sarah. I'm not James. Why don't I just shoot myself in the head. That would make things quicker. One at a time. One at a time.

Or, I could sleep around and be a man-whore, lose all my friends and probably get lynched, or knifed in my sleep. Nah, I think I want to live.

Priest put his arm around Min's shoulders and started walking her back to camp. Quietly he said,

"You know its not going to happen. Your grand dad would rip off my head and through it through my trucks engine block. I really couldn't live without my truck," he grinned.

"Yeah, I know that makes me a coward, but I got two things to live for - hope and Sarah - and two other women in my life. I'm a poor catch, but a good friend."

As they stopped outside the campfire light,

"You going to shoot me now?"

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Min stared at him, her face strange. "Priest, what the fuck are you talking about?" she said evenly. "I want some rotgut to clean my engine. You... must think very highly of yourself. Or lowly of me."

Shrugging off his arm, she sauntered into his camp, her back straight and her head high. "Willie, got some of that homemade booze?" she called when she got close.

"Damn girl, again? Whatcha got for it this time?" As the two walked to the side to haggle, Bethany moved to Priest's side. "You look like you've been knocked on her ass and then picked up and tossed down a hill. What's wrong, Priest? That she-devil say something to you? Don't look at me like that. She's trouble. She needs a good man to do what her granddaddy ain't and put her over his knee."

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"She needs someone to Love her for her," Priest told Bethany privately. "If she doesn't find something to live for, she's going to drink herself dead. Can't afford to be drunk in this world."

"Bethany, spread the word quietly. That other woman was never here, got it? I wish she hadn't come here because now her problem is mine and I've got some facing up to do."

Now he looks off into the dark beyond the fence.

"I want out of here. When its just us, shit makes sense."

As he made to walk past her, Priest had a thought.

"Tell Willie I want him to ask Min to join up with us. If she stays were she is, she's going to die."

Seeing the look on her face,

"Just ask him. She'll probably say no, but this is the only thing I can think to do."

As he moved toward Sarah he had time to think.

Lynn, I know you need hope, but its going to cost me. How much, I don't know. I'm going to do it, unless Sarah goes nuts. There is too little hope and maybe this is some sort of sign I should care about someone before myself. Maybe I'm deluding myself because I'm horny.

He came up to the hood of the truck were Sarah, Pumpkin and Pumpkin's "Puppy" were all sitting back watching the stars. Sarah was going over the constellations for Pumpkin who seem facinated to be outside. It probably reminded her of better times.

"Sarah, can I borrow you for a bit. There is something I need to talk to you about."

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"Sure, Daddy," Sarah chirped. It was one thing she had that Pumpkin didn't: a daddy. She made sure that the other girl knew it, too. Though far the littest super had taken it well. There was still the danger that she could change that stance rapidly, which concerned Priest more than a little.

Sarah seemed unaware of that fact as she got up and went to her dad's side. Taking his hand, she led him on a circuit around the camp, sticking within the bounds of their camp, just like she was supposed to. "What's wrong, Daddy?" she asked when they were alone.

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Yeah, he looked guilty of some heinous crime as he looked down at his daughter. She trusted him ... now. Would she trust him after this.

"Honey. No, Sarah, something real important has come up, something I wasn't prepared for and I've had to make a decision. First off, this is a secret between you and me and one other person. Promise me you will never tell anyone about this except me."

Once he got her nod, Priest pressed on.

"Do you remember that woman who came into camp? Her name is Lynn. Lynn lost all her children in the Plague. The last died recently and she is basically ... without hope. She has latched on to one idea to stake her life on. That idea ... Oh Boy! is that if she has a child with my help ... that this child will be a super and won't die. She will have someone to love and nurture."

"You know about how a man and a woman make a baby, right? Well, that is what she wants to do with me. I haven't been with anyone save your mother. I've been hanging on to her memory all these months. I think it may be a time to let go of the past and look forward to the future we are building."

"There is a hitch or two of course. First off, Lynn has a husband she hasn't told about this. I'm sure if he finds out, he will be furious ... with both Lynn and me, but mostly me. There is also the fact that ... that I don't believe that any baby of mine will be a super. It's too great a risk to a child's life."

"Oh hell," Priest looks off into the dark.

"Honey, if Daddy believes this is a lie, he can't go on can he? No matter how much hope this woman needs, I can't build that hope on a lie."

No matter how horny I am, I can't take advantage of her.

"Thanks Sport. You've helped Daddy figure out something really important. Tell no one about this discusssion of course."

He rubbed her head and turned them back to their area of camp.

"Something else I want you to keep secret. I'm finding Pumpkin a home here. I can not in good conscience take a child not my own into the wilderness and there are good people here who can handle her special talents. Don't hurt Pumpkin's feelings, even when she gets on her nerves. She lost everyone while you still have me ... and I have you."

He kissed the top of her head as they walked.

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"But she keeps showing off," Sarah said, pouting. "She's so awful. A baby. I hate her.

"Are you going to get me a mommy?" At Priest's startled look, Sarah said, "Look, I know how this works. Men need women to look after them and help them with their family. It's not fair that the zombies killed Mommy and now you don't have anyone to help you. So, I've made a list.

"A... list?" Priest asked, daring to wonder what it was a list of, but afraid to ask exactly what it was. It seemed to better to confirm the existance first.

Sarah nodded, pulling out a dirty, heavily creased paper. "Yep, of suitable mothers. Jules is nice, and she's been a mother before, but you might need to let her have some more time. So if you're in a hurry, you should pick another. Jasmine is too young, and while she's nice, she's not ready to care for anyone else. I don't want Violet - she's too flighty. Rhonda would be ok, but she's very shy and I think she has a crush on Colt, anyway. Leo's cool, but kinda absent-minded. If she were to be my mother, she'd need to re-focus on me more and her work less. Jennifer might be good, but I'd have to talk to her more - she's never around anymore! Min's too drunk." Sarah sighed. "Face it, Dad, anyone you pick is gonna need some work, but I'm ready."

His daughter gave him a look of long-suffering patience.

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The conversation kind of went like this.




"Hold on Honey, Jules is kind of with Captain Fox, Jas is too young, and Violet is not flighty ... she's got problems. Rhonda is barely older than Jasmyne. Leo is ... is fine, but I'm not sure she's ready for any kind of relationship. Jennifer is not an option, she's just not. (Sigh) Min has her reasons for drinking as hard as she does. We'll talk about that later."

"Sarah, I'm glad to know you want a Mother. It makes things much easier on me ... but I can't just marry a woman to give you a Mom. That isn't fair to that woman. I have to care about her. I have to love her and want to spend the rest of my life with her."

"Listen, I miss your Mother terribly. It has taken me up til this very night to accept the back that I'm not going to see her in this life again. It has been a hard thing for me to accept. Now ... now I'm ready to start looking for that Mother."

I'm not even going to go into tonight why Colt and Rhonda ain't going to happen. If he doesn't want to talke about it ... what am I going to do?

"Tell you what though. I'll see what I can do about Pumpkin acting the way she does. Be patient. It may take a few days."

As they turned back toward camp,

"Oh, and no asking women if they want to marry me. That's my job. I swear I will get on it asap."

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"Well, yeah," Sarah said, rolling her eyes. "You have to ask. I don't want to marry her! You have to, or she's not my mom. She'd be your daughter in law, and that wouldn't work. But I didn't mean right now, I just thought you needed my thoughts on it."

Sarah was quiet for a moment. "Dad, I know you miss Mommy, but you can't miss her forever. We have to move on. We'll always love her, we just have to love her in addition to someone else, right?"

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"I have to ask Sport, because if I didn't and you did you would say But Daddy, you didn't say I couldn't. Tell me I'm lying."

He walked back holding her hand.

"I'm going to have a rough next couple of days. I don't look forward talking to Lynn. Remember, don't tell anybody."

A thought occured to him,

"What about Myf? She's a woman in the compound that's intelligent and interesting."

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"Oh, Dad, she's old," Sarah said as if that were the most logical thing ever said. "Doctors go to school for twelve years. As adults! That makes her like... fifty or something." Sarah sighed. "I guess she'd do in a pinch, though. If no one else works out."

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"I think she's in her thirties, Sarah. That's not that much older than me. Never call he old. It's rude."

She'd do in a pinch ... and she would also make sure you were well educated. I think she would come to love you too.

Yeah, but could I lover her?

"Sarah, do you like life on the road? Have you ever thought of settling down? I like the road, but I don't think I've ever asked you what you like. Have you ever considered a settled life?"

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"Nope," Sarah chirped. "I don't plan or ask for anything, because we had lots of plans and then the zombies came. I'll be happy wherever you and Beth and Willie and everyone else are." She smiled at him, his reprimand about Myf having rolled right off her back. Her smile faded. "Besides," she added, "the zombies will come here, eventually too."

Priest nodded. "But Fox and the others will stop them, just like they have before."

"Will they?" she asked curiously. "That's not what you said in your sleep last night."

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That brought him up short.

"Honey, have I been talking in my sleep? What have I been saying?"

Someone walked over Priet's yet-to-be occupied grave. The hair on his neck stood up on end. He knew something had been growing in him the past few weeks. When he came back from Dallas, the dull ache of it became a brain-chilling pain. Priest had tossed it off as some of his old allergies kicking in - things he hadn't experienced since the Fall.

Now he was afraid it was something else. There was something wrong with him - something to do with his powers.

"Sarah, let me know if I talk in my sleep tonight. We need to talk with Fox in the morning."

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"Ok, Dad," she said, looking a little concerned. She'd probably caught his mood; since the Fall, she'd gotten better at reading his emotions. "You've been doing it for a couple of nights. I think you were talking to someone last night. You kept telling them to leave you alone, that they were making your head hurt." She looked at him. "Does your head hurt?"

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"Yeah Honey, my head hurts and I don't know why. I don't think anything is really wrong with me," he lied.

"If it gets worse, I'll go to the doctor and get some pain-killers. The Tylenol we got isn't doing the job."

Seeing the growing concern on her face, he again mourned her lost childhood and marvelled how fast she had grown up.

"I'm going to be okay, just you wait and see ... but, do tell me what I say when I wake you up at night with my talking. I'd like to know how much sense I'm making."

He paled slightly,

What happens if I nuts like Cassandra, or worse ... if that's what's wrong with her. Cassie with her Broken Tongue and me dreaming up shit and then not remembering it. Which is worse, a Mysterious Prophet or an Ignorant one?

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"Ok," Sarah agreed easily, but she still looked at him with worry and love in her eyes. "But Dad... don't lie, ok? Headaches without a cause are bad for normal people, so they've got to be worse for you since the normal stuff doesn't bother you so much. I won't worry too much, because you're a super, but don't pretend it's nothing, right?"

She stepped close to him and put a thin arm around his waist. "I need you to be ok, Dad, so if you need to go see Myf, please go see her."

As if she'd read his mind, she asked, "Are you going to be like that crazy lady? Cassandra?"

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"No, no," I hope not.

"I tell you what, if the headaches don't go away in a day or two, I'll go see Myf and she what she has to say. It's probably nothing."

Just my power rewiring my brain.

"As you said, I'm a super right? I don't really get sick anymore, and I'm sure my system will lick this pretty soon. Just you watch."

"Besides, time we got you to bed. It's late and tomorrow comes early."

He always was saying that. In his world, time was more than money, time was survival. Stay in any one place too long and they came for you.

"Honey, I'm taking Pumpkin to the Doctor's tomorrow. I will be gone a while. Hang close to Rhonda."

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"Ok," Sarah said, looking a bit disappointed. Priest held a bit of hope that his daughter was learning empathy for the other child, but she said, "I can be away from you if it gets rid of her. I mean... aw... I'll miss her."

It was progress, of a sort, so Priest let it go, for now.

All too soon, bedtime came for the emotionally beleagured leader of the scavengers. And with bedtime, came sleep, and then the morning and a new day, which flew far too fast. All too soon, it was dark again, and Priest could see Lynn ghosting around their camp, at a safe distance, waiting for him.

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He walked to her with a heavy step toward her. He hated this. He hated to think he would take away someones hope. He hated to think he would steal away that spring in her step. He hated himself for the choices he felt he had to make because he hated lying and liars more.

"Lynn, let's walk and talk some. How was your day?"

He could hold off this decision for a few more minutes, couldn't he?

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"Well, Raphael," she said, smiling at the feel of his name on her tongue, "I washed clothes. I do that in exchange for extra food and supplies, which my husband can trade for other things we need or even, occasionally, what we want. He's a good man," Lynn added quickly. "He was a good father to... Jesse. He'll take good care of... a child. He treats me like a princess."

Before Priest could follow that up, Lynn looked up and said, "Isn't it beautiful? The night sky?" She stared up and murmured, "So strange. I lived in Little Rock. I never looked at the stars, never even looked for them. And then, z-day, and all that happened. I just wish that I'd been able to enjoy the stars, to convince myself to drive out of the city, and see them before the zombies forced me too. Then I wouldn't feel so bad about needing the world to end to appreciate it."

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