Kris and Marry took that moment to appear in Bethany’s office, “Or we can have it now?” Kris smiled. “Sorry we weren't eavesdropping, but I felt something here, and I had to make sure Bethany was ok.”
Bethany leapt from Faith’s arms, right into Kris and Marry’s. Kris grunted a little, but Marry giggled and knelt to kiss Bethany’s cheek.
“I’ve never felt anything like that. It was like his very presence here was poisoning me.”
Kris frowned at that, turning to Faith as she stood, her chair vanishing again. “I thought no mortal could harm us? … He was mortal right?”
“Hate isnt a mortal. He’s my brother.. was my brother.” Faith sighed.
“But,” Marry began, but stopped short, looking quite confused.
“But you said the twins could handle him! They’re doomed!” Bethany cried out, but Faith shook her head, smiling gently.
“They’re part of a plan I’ve put in motion to save him. I locked him away a long time ago, He tried to take my powers once, and he learned from that, but he needs to see for himself that I’ve changed as well.”
“Why didn’t he just ASK you to make him more powerful?” Bethany asked, sounding as confused as Marry looked.
“Because I can’t. He’s part of existence, like me.”
“Is this one of those entropy doo-dads?” Bethany asked, causing both Marry and Kris to look at each other, mouthing ‘doo-dads?’ before returning their gaze to Faith.
Faith shook her head slightly, “No, this is a balance in a way, a scale. When I came to being he was the only thing here, standing before me he called me his little sister. He wasn’t always as bad as he is now.”
Marry let go of Bethany to approach Faith. “What worries me is, you haven’t fully recovered from what you did to Sarah and, to a lesser extent, Taylor and Michelle yet.”
“He won't try for me even weakened as I am. I have you three and many others to draw from, and for now it is just him. He isn’t stupid and knows I can kill him.”
“Still...” Marry answered thoughtfully, “If I were you I’d keep your dog on a tight leash for awhile. If he’s a manipulative type then he’ll probably use anyone who’s got a grudge against you.”
“I’ve taken care of loose ends. I hate destroying things but sometimes I have to do things I do not like to keep the universe balanced.”
“Indeed,” Kris answered quietly, voicing his strong support for Faith’s decision despite this being his only contribution to the conversation so far. Bethany looked up at him and frowned for a moment, but then she wrapped her arms around his waist and nodded as well.
“I know you didn’t like doing it Kris, but I thank you for helping me. I will try not to make you ever have to do something you don’t want to again.” Faith hugged him tightly.
Kris shrugged his shoulders as he wrapped his arms around her. “Free will, remember? I could’ve said no. I actually think you’re right this time. She was a threat, and this way, she can properly redeem herself.”
It suddenly dawned on Bethany what they were talking about, “What did you two do to poor Eva?”
“‘Poor Eva’ was an evil, manipulative bitch,” Kris answered grimly, “But she’s not dead, if that’s what you’re thinking. I lent Faith my strength so that she could put a kind of magic lock on her. I didn’t know why at the time, but … The look in her eyes told me something was coming, so I decided to help.”
“I have one warning to you my children. Be careful, Hate is on the hunt to make his own Personas but you will always be more powerful then they are, just be careful.” Faith kissed each one on the forehead. “If all goes as planned, then you’ll have nothing to fear from my brother, but the very nature of our existence makes it impossible for even me to see if my plan will succeed.”
“Clever,” Marry commented thoughtfully. “That’s why he’s after the twins. It’s true that magic users make the most powerful personas isn’t it?”
Faith nodded, “It’s why I chose those who love and those two are powerful not only in magic but in their heart. You three were the most powerful magic users of your time, but you also cared about others before yourselves.”
Kris and Marry looked at each other and frowned. Marry spoke what was on both their minds. “If we were powerful magic users, with all due respect, there’s no way in hell we’d have been locked up in that asylum like that.”
“You were untrained. You all know about Accidental magic and what untrained users are like. There is no way you could have escaped on your powers, I just didn’t know about you two till it was too late again for that I am sorry.” Faith sighed a tear rolled down her cheek.
Marry and Kris both shrugged, Kris answering this time, “You’ve been apologizing for the better part of … Eighty? Ninety years? I know you think in terms of billions of years, but we’re still getting used to that kind of thinking. It was a long time ago for us, and believe me, it’s forgiven. Besides, we have these great bodies now,” he added with a genuine grin.
Marry had a thought deep in her head and she turned to Faith, “If you are supposed to be good, and he’s evil, why am I your persona of War and not his?” she had to ask.
Faith grinned, “Good question daughter. He will have a persona of War as well, but even good goes to war against evil, and who better to lead then you?”
“Hear that, Marry?” Kris teased, “You get to be the knight in shining armor!” He paused a moment for reflection on that thought, then added, “Erm, on second thought, perhaps not. That would leave me as the damsel in distress. That role didn’t work out too well for me in life.”
Faith giggled, “You two... And I know it’s going to eat you later Kris, as to why you are my Death and not his. Everything dies, be it good or evil, Death is mine and not his. He has no domain there. It is part of what makes me more powerful - for better or worse.”
“Um,” Bethany asked, raising her hand as if she were one of her students.
Faith looked at her youngest daughter. “You are not a student my Princess. You can talk anytime you wish.” Both Kris and Marry mouthed ‘Princess’ and stifled a giggle.
Bethany giggled. “I’m just trying to figure out where I come into all this. If you’re the universe personified, and he’s Hate, and I’m Love, does that mean we’re like, arch enemies, or is he just kinda there?”
“He never used to be Hate. That is what he choose to be called, like I was never Faith. We had no names. He isn’t your enemy either; he is mine.” Faith kissed Bethany on the forehead again.
“Okay, so how do I protect myself from him? Because just being in proximity to him felt like someone was tearing my heart out with a red hot poker...”
Faith nodded, “You won’t ever have to deal with him that much. He will create his persona’s for that, Just like I have you for to deal with things on a mortal level,” Faith answered vaguely.
Kris and Marry whispered something among themselves, and Kris couldn’t help laughing out loud. He cleared his throat, smiling innocently.
Faith grinned, “You two have something to share?” as she looked at Marry and Kris.
Kris glanced at Marry. Marry giggled. “We were just wondering if this means he’s going to get a job here in Alpine Springs too.” As she finished, Bethany’s eyes widened, and she started laughing too.
“I sure hope not. I can’t stand him in his current form, but I cannot stop him unless he attacks me personally.” Faith answered.
“I just can’t shake the mental image of him in a hair net now,” Bethany added, still laughing.
Faith started to giggle, “Knowing him that is beneath him. What he would probably do is start a R&D for the military here or something.”
“Oh, that brings up a good point,” Marry answered, still laughing to herself. “Two, actually, but I’ll get to the second one in a minute. Will I have to deal with another War, or some lesser pretender trying to be War?”
“Yes, to answer your first part of your question, and the answer to the second, the other War will be a lesser then you are. You will always be stronger then his. He was always jealous of my powers, and since I created you all, you will always be stronger then anything he creates.” Faith smiled.
“Not... looking forward to that,” Marry sighed. “My sister and I got along great, but my friend the next farm up used to bicker with his siblings constantly. I can’t help expecting the same from a “lesser” War.”
Faith nodded. “Hate for the lack of a better name to call my brother, isn’t evil, my children. He’s harboring bad feelings for me. Just because he’s fuming evil right now does not mean he or his persona’s will be evil later.”
Bethany stared blankly back at Faith. “But... How can someone who spews pure bile and hatred to the point that I was almost in tears from just being in the same room with him not be evil?”
“I had something to do with that.” Faith answered sadly. “I locked him away because we had an argument, and he tried to best me. I won, but even back then, spoiled brat that I was, I could not bring myself to kill him.”
Marry frowned slightly. “Yeah, I guess that’d piss anybody off. What’s he doing back? I mean did you let him free or did he sneak out when you weren’t looking or something?”
“I didn’t create his prison to hold him forever. That would have been cruel even then when I was indifferent to feelings I wasn’t a cruel evil heartless bitch.” Faith giggled.
“No, that’s my job,” Marry shot back with a grin.
Faith giggled more, “No Marry that really isn’t your job, War can be hell, but things come out of war that are necessary, look what you wrought after World War II. The medical science that came from that was astonishing.”
“The atomic bomb, not so much,” Marry answered ominously. “But I guess it’s like everything else - balance. I mean, superglue was invented in 1942 as a possible gunsight material. That didn’t pan out, but it has a thousand other uses.”
Faith nodded, “After Vietnam the United States learned some valuable lessons on warfare and also lowered the voting age to 18. They also eliminated the draft which saved millions of lives.”
Bethany stuck out her tongue. “Plus the Vietnam War gave us the most bestest things of all. TIE DYE! And GREAT music!”
Marry and Kris both giggled, “You crazy hippie.” Marry stuck her tongue out at Bethany.
“And proud of it,” Bethany bubbled happily.
Faith nodded, “I have a question for you Marry, speaking of your role. I know you have taken a passive role with Cassandra, but how is she doing? I promised to stay out of your affairs so I haven’t checked on her.”
Marry grinned. “You should see her now. She’s a one woman army. After saving Zoey she really took off. She’s even relocating to Alpine Springs soon I believe, if she hasn’t already.”
Faith nodded, “That’s good to hear daughter. I know she is your favorite human. I’ve seen you watch her.”
“Speaking of favorite humans, I completely forgot to ask you my second question earlier... Can you do me a really big favor and talk to Jennifer soon? I know that there’s been bad blood between you because of misunderstandings, and that you’re trying to give her her space, but I don’t want to see her fall down the wrong path and become one of Hate’s pawns. She’s better than that.”
Faith smiled, “You don’t have to worry about Jenn turning on me. She loves me, and I love her, but yes I will talk to her and let her know my brother is out again.”
“Thanks. I mean, I’m not against her becoming a persona in her own right - not at all. I just don’t want it to be for the wrong reasons.”
“Her and Nari will be in their seats. I intend to give it to them when the time is right - Nari has return to earth, and soon they’ll be together as they should have been all these years."
Marry blinked, turning to stare at Kris. Kris smiled sheepishly.
“Remember that thing, I kept telling you we needed to talk about? Yeeeah.”
Marry swatted Kris’ shoulder. “Jerk. You should’ve left me a note or something,” she teased.
“Ah, young love,” Bethany giggled, earning a double-tickling from both sides. She squealed, racing around to hide behind Faith.
Faith giggled, “Ok Ok, I love you all, but you two need to stop hiding yourselves from each other. Bethany is right; I can even see it.”
Marry blushed furiously as Bethany quietly approached, grabbing their hands. “I’ve tried to find someone for you Marry, and I’ve left Kris alone, but you two really are meant for each other.” She pulled their hands together then let go and grinned.
Kris glanced down at his hand, now holding Marry’s, and then looked up at her. She smiled wryly. “I’ve been waiting eighty years for you to ask me out, you big doofus.”
Kris blushed a bit, “You and I are best friends Marry, and... um... I didn’t want to ruin what we had you know?”
Marry smiled as she lay her head against Kris’ shoulder. “Yeah, I know. But that’s what love is. It’s building on friendship.” She paused and giggled. “Let’s um... continue this conversation in private later.”
“Awwww,” Bethany pouted. “Just when it was getting good!”
Faith nodded her approval, “Well I have some things to work on, and I want to have that conversation with Jennifer. I love you three and remember, Hate’s personas won’t be evil, and soon he may not even be Hate anymore then we can work things out between ourselves.”
Bethany continued to pout. “I still don’t trust him. But I won’t throw things at him if I see him.”
Faith nodded, “I do, and that’s all that counts daughter. I’m sure he learned what he was supposed to while locked away. He’s just still angry.”
“Um... But if you trust him, how come you got rid of Eva?”
“I don’t trust her.” Faith sighed. “If Hate were to meet with Eva, she could manipulate him to hate more.”
“Ohhhhhhh,” Bethany answered in a particularly elongated expression, her lips forming a perfect ‘o’. She nodded.
Faith nodded her head, “Again I won’t keep anything from you , I am manipulating my brother as well to see fit to forgive me.”
“Faith, manipulating people?” Kris teased. “I didn’t know you had it in you anymore.”
Faith giggled, “Sometimes I have to do things I don’t want to, for the better good of all things.” she glowed and disappeared to meet up with Jennifer.
Marry laughed. “There’s an interesting philosophical debate to be had there, but we’ll have to pursue it another day. Right now, I think Kris and I have about eighty years’ worth of things to talk about.” She grinned, Kris giving a helpless ‘oh crap’ glance as the pair vanished, still holding hands.
Bethany sighed and took on her adult appearance again, “I love them so much; too bad it took them this long to realize they loved each other.”
A raven haired man in his mid to late thirties walked into the Offices of Ashleigh McGregor’s in Alpine Springs. He was wearing a sharp business suit and had an air of complete arrogance surrounding him. “Hello Mrs. McGregor.” He had a smirk on his face.
Ashleigh was out at the front desk talking to her secretary at that very moment and turned to the man. “Hello to you; what can I do for you today?”
“Oh this and that. I would like to offer you some money, but only if you drop the adoption of Angel and Casey Owens so I may adopt them.”
Ashleigh eyed the man up and down with distaste in her eyes, “No amount of money would make me drop a case.”
The raven haired man had a nasty grin on his face, “Money talks.”
Ashleigh smiled, “You're right. Money talks, and right now it's saying you're facing at least five years in prison for attempting to bribe a federal employee which, by the way, as a legal representative of the state in adoption cases, I happen to be. You can turn your ass around and walk back out that door, or I can use my phone right now to call my friends at the FBI. What'll it be sport?”
The raven haired man sighed and frowned, ”You haven’t seen the last of me Mrs. McGregor.”
Ashleigh grinned, “I hope not. This is going to be fun.” as the man turned and left her office.
The man disappeared in a flash of light outside the office building, and in front of a young blonde haired woman with a smile on his face, “Hello there.”
The blonde girl who looked around fifteen stared at the man with a confused look on her face as she stood at the edge of the bridge ready to jump, “Um where did you um like come from?”
The man grinned a loving grin and offered her his hand, “Come with me and I will show you things that are beyond anything you have ever seen before.”
The girl looked frightened at the man, “But like I’m useless... Even my parents said so. I’m just a dumb blonde they said.” tears in her eyes rolled down her cheeks, her makeup ruined.
“Oh you are so much more then that pretty child.” He smiled at her, unaware that this girl was planted for him to find to melt his cold heart.
Hesitantly she reached her hand out and took his into hers, and he smiled at her. “Child of Faith, you are now my daughter of War.” He kissed her on the forehead as they both vanished. But it wasn’t as a lover or even a friend. It was a kiss as a loving father, comforting his daughter.
Faith appeared on the bridge with Jennifer and grinned broadly. “You picked the right choice daughter. Thank you.”
Jennifer giggled, her arm still wrapped around Faith’s shoulders. “She wasn’t really going to jump. She would have chickened out - that’s what most of the possibilities I saw suggested anyway, but...” she trailed off, frowning.
Faith nodded, “You know her don’t you? Other then your visions?”
Jennifer nodded. “I know her, yes, from cheer camp. We met this last summer. She was very unhappy, and … she would have remained unhappy for the rest of a very long life. This way she might - MIGHT be unhappy for a short time as she realizes the man she serves is going through a difficult phase, but in the end she will be much happier.”
“I wish things would have been different between me and him, but maybe he will see how much I do love him now.” Faith smiled.
“The girl was the great granddaughter of one of my host families by the way. I don’t know how her life ended up so badly - entropy I guess, but I owed her a second chance. She might be an untapped magic user, I’m not certain, but her heart’s big enough to make her a great persona.”
Faith nodded and kissed Jennifer’s cheek, “You were always my favorite Jenn. I’m sorry it took me so long to come home and fix things, but I’m back now.”
Jennifer smiled as she turned to Faith and pulled her into a tight hug. “I’m just sorry that I wasted so much energy on misplaced blame all these years. For all that I’m as ancient as the customs of my people, I’m still a child sometimes.”
Faith nodded, “I still feel it is me to blame. I should have not taken off after I locked him away.”
“If there’s one thing I understand, it’s the pain of betrayal. That’s not a shot at you, by the way,” she quickly added with a grin. “There was a man like your brother in my village, jealous of my gifts. He was older, and believed himself wiser. I was a ‘petty child’, and he sought to control me. He earned his fate though, and his bones have long been dust. Your brother at least can be redeemed, I believe.”
Faith nodded, “He wasn’t always evil and can be brought back. You had seen his good side once. He gave you Nari as a gift remember, but he grew this hatred for me, this contempt that he was not good enough because I was stronger then he is.”
Jennifer, turning to stare out across the river from their vantage point, leaned against the support beam beside her. “That’s one thing that I don’t understand. In the course of my lifetime - my ‘real’ lifetime I mean, he went from benevolent to... Well, frankly insane. I didn’t think ‘gods’ could change on a mortal timescale like that.”
“I went from an uncaring ungrateful goddess to a loving goddess in a short time as well Jennifer. Remember how I was back then? I acted like a spoiled child when things didn’t go my way.” Faith sighed.
“I remember the volcano wiping out an entire war party from a rival village because they refused to heed our warnings about you planning to come and speak with us,” Jennifer answered with an amused smile.
Faith nodded, “That was just a small part of the selfless things I did back then. And then I abandoned you all because I couldn’t take what I drove my brother to become.”
“Does he know I already have a place with you? Because he’s sure to remember us if not.”
Faith nodded. “He can feel it, I’m sorry I took you from him. I know your place was supposed to be with him not me.”
Jennifer shook her head slowly. “No. Between the two of you, I chose to serve you as - if you’ll forgive my use of a mortal term, the lesser of two evils.” She grinned. “I know you’re not like that, and neither is he, but even before you gave me a visit with Nari, I wanted to work with you to try and do some good in this world, after he changed.”
Faith smiled, “Thank you daughter, Nari is his child, but you were always mine, he gave you Nari so you could be with him not because he wanted to take you from me, but that’s where you were supposed to be. It was a trade to bring our two people together. It wasn’t against your will to fall in love with Nari either.”
“If you ask it of me, I’ll return to him.”
Faith shook her head, “No it’s your free will to remain with me, and Nari choose to become part of me as well, it was her choice as well.”
Jennifer nodded, glancing back down at Faith. “But if you ask me, I will choose to return to him. If it will help. As long as Robin and the girls are safe.”
“No but I will have to call on you to help me find the rest of his personas Jennifer. I can’t do it on my own right now.” Faith sighed.
“You’re still weak aren’t you?” she asked, turning fully to face Faith now.
Faith nodded her head, “Two changes and one destruction of magic in such a short period of time has left me a bit winded as you would say.” She winked and smiled.
Jennifer laughed. “You need another vacation already? I know this great beach. Surfing, sand, coconut drinks with those tiny umbrellas...”
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