Caleb walks slowly through the tall stalks of corn growing behind his small house, tracking the footprints of his much adored house cat.
“Halo” a little girl is sitting up against a tree on the brink of the woods, picking apart a flower with her nails. Her hair is tousled, and her smile is feral. A flicker of pent up magic ignites within Caleb. He smiles back.
Caleb trots hurriedly down the thin dirt street running through the center of of his town, cat held tightly in his arms, struggling limply to escape his grasp.
A little boy is sitting on the curb of a shop, picking the weeds idly from between the cracks of the gravel. He pushes up his thick spectacles, smiling half-heartedly up at Caleb. “Halo” says the little boy. A shock of hot magic runs down Caleb’s spine.
Caleb is reading beneath a tree in the middle of summer, the tall grass engulfing his bare feet. A young girl - as she will no longer tolerate being called little - sits next to him, reading a book of her own. A young boy sits on her other side, nose practically pressed to the pages of his thick tome. The girl will sometimes look up to the sky, stretch, and begin to read over one of the boys’ shoulders. They pretend not to notice.
Caleb sits in the library, studying, with pen ink smudged on his forehead, and deep bags beneath his eyes. He rarely even glances at the young woman - as she will no longer tolerate being called a girl - who sits stubbornly on his left, studying as well, but taking moments here and there to point out a mistake in one of her cohorts’ papers. And he almost never looks to his right, where a young man sits, face still too close to his book, glasses still held together by hopes and dreams. Although, their hands all interlace at points; a silent show of comraddery. They work in unison, trying their best to block out the whispers that always surround them.
Caleb puts his hands in front of him, Sparks still emanating from the tips of his fingers. He feels the weight of a hand on his shoulder, Astrid's breath on the back of his neck. The hand brushing his, Eodwolf silently telling him to move on. The tension of Trent staring down at him from yards away. And he crumbles. And the world goes black.
Mollymauk jolts up in bed, an unshed tear blurring his vision and cold nausea clenching at his stomach. He can't remember what he dreamt, but feels like it must be important. He rolls gracefully out of bed, hitting the floor with a bit less flair then he'd prefer. He hates the nightmares, mostly because he knows they aren't meant for him. He fumbles slightly over the mess of clothes and shoes that he calls a floor, stretching widely as he steps out his door. It smells like hash browns and red meat. A strange breakfast choice, but then again, the woman cooking it could hardly be called normal.
"Good morning, darling.” Molly casually pats Yasha on the shoulder as he walks to the counter, and plops down on a stool that looks like it was pulled from a dumpster fire.
Yasha makes an acknowledging grunt, and slides his plate towards him. "You look like shit." If he were anyone else, he would have taken offence from that, but he sees the worry in her eyes, notices the sincere tone to her voice. She isn't making fun of him, she's staying a fact of life. Molly looks like shit.
"You're looking lovely, yourself." The steak is medium rare, and the hashbrowns are slightly burnt. It's delicious. "We have a gig today, yeah?" Its a statement, but it comes out as a question. He punctuates it with a satisfied bite of crispy potato.
Yasha's smile is a brittle thing, nothing close to her thick, muscular figure. Her lips curl a bit at the edges, and her eyes glow with sincerity, but the rest of her face stays stony cold. She grunts. This seems to be a grunty kind of morning.
"I always look better on stage." Molly does a small hairflip as he says this, showing off his peacock tattoo, glimmering in the harsh lighting of the small grubby kitchen.
Caleb's life gets significantly more complicated.
I switched to Caleb's POV, because I felt like it.
The world is purple, and blue, and green, and white, and tan. All of it is swirling out of control. Something is pulling him closer, closer, closer; the swirling colour disorienting and leading. There is something he NEEDS to do. He reaches out-
“Caleb. Caleb!” the colors all blink out, and Caleb is in bed, his best friend above him; sharp teeth far too close to his face. “Caleb you're going to be late!”
“Gute morgen, schatz.” Caleb rubs his eyes blearily, trying fruitlessly to remember what he had been dreaming about. All he remembers is a sense of urgency, of a need to do something. He would lay here all day trying to remember if he could, but it's 7:13 a.m on a Thursday morning, and Caleb Widogast has to go to work. Nott pokes him between the eyes, sharp green fingertips obscured by horocious human-like gloves. “I am awake, I am awake. I'm getting up.” Caleb puts his hands up placatingly, and Nott, seemingly appeased, rolls off of him and scampers out the door to go wherever Nott goes on Thursday mornings.
It’s a dreary day, much like many autumn days in Zadash, but Caleb doesn’t mind. He barely notices the dark clouds that hang over the city as he walks out his door, too caught up in his unknown dream. All he remembers is the feeling, the need to do something. He's not sure why, but he feels like Nott was there, in the dream; her distinct short stature, green skin, yellow eyes. He doesn't know for sure though, which sets him on edge. For the first time in a long time, Caleb can't remember something. It sends shivers of dread down his spine.
The walk to the bookshop Caleb works at is a deliciously secluded one on most days, although today, being late, he’s stuck in the rush. The streets are crowded with cars, and the sidewalk littered with hurrying college students and stony-faced businessmen. Caleb feels blessed when he finally steps up to the bookshop, out of the way of staring eyes. He realizes blankly that he should have opened up half an hour ago. It doesn't matter, really, because no one ever comes in until noon on days like these, but nevertheless it is the routine. Caleb enjoys his routine.
His morning is salvaged, however, by the lack of people there to bug him. He sits for hours, organizing shelves, re-reading classics, and generally reveling in the seclusion of the glorious bookshop. Until the bell, as it is prone to doing, chimes twice on its purch above the door, innocently ruining Caleb's day. He took a long breath, and putting on his best customer service voice said, “Welcome to Fireball Books and Antiques, if you have any questions feel free to ask.” or, really, he said, “Welcome to Fireshdlslrnhkaaaa” As the moment he laid his eyes on the woman in the doorway, he collapsed into himself, head exploding with pain.
She was tan, and lean, and extremely disgruntled, but Caleb did not have time to notice this, as when he looked into her eyes, memories spilled, uninvited and unwanted, into his mind. Colours, and sounds, and flashing light spilled in from all corners of his mind, sending shivers of violent pain down his spine. This was not his past, not his memories. They were, as unlikely as it seemed, hers. Suddenly, a picture of him appeared, hunched over and in pain, and as quickly as it began, it came to a stop. The memories stripped back out of his mind, leaving him feeling vacant, and very, very alone.
The woman - he thought to ask for her name, but realized with surprise that he knew it. It was Beauregard. - was hunched against the closed door, breath slowly evening out. Caleb goes to speak, but before he can, she stands a bit taller, and says simply, “well fuck.”
Caleb cannot help but agree with this sentiment. Well fuck indeed, Beauregard, well fuck indeed. Something of this nature had only ever happened to him once before; when he met Nott. That time it had made sense. Nott was his Soulmate. His best friend and only companion, she and him had been protecting each other for three years now, making sure each ate, went to work, was warm. Now this woman, Beauregard, has shown up and ruined his simple little life in this- while he was monaloging to himself, she had stood up, walked to a bookshelf, grabbed a book, and slammed it onto the counter a bit too hard, leaving a scuff mark on the wood surface.
“$4.50” he hears the numbers leave his mouth distantly, as if it were an echo in a wide, empty cave. Caleb takes her money numbly, watches her walk out the door, counts to fifty in Zemnian, slowly sinking to the ground. This has made his life much more complicated.
“Fjord, we have a fucking problem.” Beau held her phone close to her ear, her grip tighter than it needed to be, and her stance filled with frustration. She was hunched against the cold bricks of a building 3 blocks from the bookstore she was going to buy Jester's birthday present from. She was planning to get a textbook as a gag-gift that hid her new painting set inside. But, because of unforetold circumstances, she grabbed the closest book she could find, which ended up being too small to hide the paints in.
“It'll be alright, Beau. I'll be down there in 5 minutes tops, and we can deal with it. Just take a second to breathe real slow.” A gruff southern drawl poured out the other end of the phone, setting Beauregard slightly at ease. Fjord had a way of making any situation feel perfectly okay, even when it was not, by any means, okay. “Just sit and wait.” she could hear him hold back a chuckle at her audible cringe. If there was one thing Beauregard did not do, it was ‘sit and wait.’ “On second thought, you might want to go in alone first and scope out the scene. Figure out who this guy is.” He had gone into plan mode now, and there was no stopping him. However, the idea of a super secret spy mission wasn’t too shabby.
“That reminds me, how much of the dreams do you remember?” Well shit. She hadn't thought to try and remember them. Without an active attempt at keeping the memories you gained when you first met your soulmate, you forget them rapidly, leaving you with just about as much of an idea of who they are as you have of the person who checks you out at the grocery store; their face, voice, hair colour, and maybe their name, or a story about them if you are extremely observant. Sadly for Beauregard, she was not particularly observant.
“umm… just about nothing. Except the fucker has seen some shit, but I don't really remember what. His name is a little bit screwed too. I can't really remember it.” As she spoke, Beauregard began to walk, - Or, less walk, more intricate parkour. - towards where the small shop had been.
“alrighty then. I'll be by soon. Jess is out shopping, so she might not check her phone for a bi-” it seemed to have taken a moment for Fjord to realize that Beau wasn’t listening, because there were still the distant sounds of his voice long after she tuned him out. By the time her feet hit the pavement in front of the bookstore, however, he had given up, as the phone held snugly in her hand had stopped emanating his drawling voice.
Now, for the hard part; pleasant social interaction. She prayed to whatever god was listening that this person was more socially adept than her. She pushes the door, the bell above it chiming. She curses quietly to herself when she realizes that it is far too late to turn around and walk away.
When she walks in the door Beauregard is surprised to see that the man across the room, in the approximately 20 minutes she has been gone, has not moved. It comes to her mind that she should probably like… say something. “Are you okay?” It comes out more gruff than she means it, but the sentiment is there. She hopes.
“Ja. I am fine.” His knees are pushed to his chest his hands over his ears. “I suppose you would like to talk.” He moves his hands slowly from his head, and slides up the wall. “It's nice to meet you. My name is Caleb Widoghast.” he pushes out a shaky hand, eyes looking slightly above Beau's head. She takes it reluctantly, squeezing it a bit harder than she thinks she should have. Apparently the gods were set on making this difficult for her.
“Yeah. I guess that would be a good plan. Fuck, I'm no good at this. Ummm… I'm Beau? Or do you like… already know that? Fuck, where's Fjord?” This was already not going well. She took a large breath, and began to speak again, “Hello. I'm Beauregard. I like, have two other soulmates or some shit already, so you fucking surprised me. I guess I'm… like… sorry for running off or some shit. How much of my fucking personal life did you retain?” She was slowly raising that she probably looked mad. She wasn't mad. Fuck. She has to smile.
Beauregard's face contorted in what was most likely a smile, but was probably just a snarl. Caleb seemed to understand. At least she thought he did. Luckily she didn't have to ask, because the beautiful, wonderful, awesome bell above the door rang, and in walked Fjord. She would never tell the motherfucker, but she was so fucking grateful in that moment that he was so fucking punctual.
This chapter took me an ungodly amount of time to write. Sorry. Life happened and I lost track of this story. But I swear I will be posting more regularly from now on!