Shadows and Light Ch. 18byEmerald_Dragon©
Chapter 18 Aftermath
Two weeks later.....
Finn stayed by Simon's bedside pretty much permanently once he was allowed out of bed. His legs were healing quickly but he still needed crutches to help him with his balance. Simon was in and out of it and still bedridden. A second, smaller bed was set up in Simon's room so that Finn could stay with him. He could tell that his father was stifling his objections, which made Finn grateful beyond belief. He couldn't fight so many battles at the same time. Right now Simon came first and foremost.
Finn had insisted, with Jezi's backing, that Simon be fed only Finn's blood as much as possible. Their mental bonding had been tenuous after the fire; Finn's blood helped reestablish and strengthen it. This also helped with Simon's physical condition as Finn could tell them where the pain was far better than Simon could. Finn also gave his lover an emotional anchor to cling to and his condition had been steadily improving.
With the improving of his condition they had lightened the sedatives and backed off as much as they could with the pain medications. Simon was awake more often, even if he was very groggy from the pain meds. The lightening of his meds also made it easier for Jezi to work with him.
"I can't erase the damage," she had explained to Finn, tossing her heavy black braid over her shoulder, "but I can speed the healing process. I am also fading and blurring the false memories that Pru implanted. This way he can tell the difference between what's real and what's not, but still be able to relate why he did some of the things that he did."
She was referring, rather obliquely, to Ian's rape.
Finn had first been in denial and then overcome with grief and guilt when he had been told the entire story of what had happened at the cabin. He had not been told until after Ian and Isabelle had left for Minneapolis. His first thought was of how deeply this would affect Simon and he had been overcome with guilt that his first thought had not been for his brother. He and Ian had had several very long and emotional discussions over the phone and he had come to a sort of peace with it. Ian was coming to terms as he was working with his therapist and was not holding Simon accountable. He had been Pru's weapon, and his victim. Ian was healing but Simon had yet to face it or deal with it. Finn knew that his own turmoil wouldn't stop until that happened.
Simon moaned softly and Finn shifted his attention to his lover, sitting by the edge of the bed and caressing his face with his fingertips. Pale blue eyes opened and focused for the first time in quite a while.
"Finn?" the voice was almost a whisper.
"Hey babe," said Finn, tears rising in relief. He had been so afraid that Simon wouldn't know him, wouldn't remember that he loved him. He had shoved that fear into the very back of his mind but it had worried him from the beginning.
"Where...hurts, it hurts," Simon sobbed.
Finn promptly hit the button on the morphine drip. "It is ok babe; the med should be kicking in almost immediately."
Simon seemed to calm a bit and opened his eyes again.
"You were badly injured at the cabin, Si," Finn explained. "There was a fire and part of the building collapsed. You are going to be ok."
"No..., what? Hungry," Simon gasped.
Finn could feel the hunger rising quickly inside of Simon. He could also feel the confusion roiling in his mind.
"It's ok babe," reassured Finn. He quickly opened a vein in his wrist and put it to Simon's mouth. Instinct took over and Simon drank greedily. Finn couldn't help the reaction of his body at their joining. Need overcame him and he began kissing and stroking the unbruised portion of Simon's face and throat. He nipped gently and lapped at the small amount of blood the tiny wound produced, moaning in pleasure at Simon's taste on his tongue. Simon moaned, releasing his grip on Finn's wrist. Finn licked the wounds closed and met Simon's lips in a tender kiss, tasting his own blood.
"Finn," Simon begged, almost incoherent with need. He was at the mercy of his body's changing needs. Finn could feel the roiling of thoughts and emotions, confusion at the top of the pile.
"Lay back babe, let me take care of you," Finn replied. He drew the sheet down Simon's body, carefully avoiding the large bandaged areas of his chest and his casted leg. He used the mental technique that Jezi had taught him, to block Simon's pain and increase his pleasure and at the same time immobilizing the parts of his body that shouldn't move.
He could feel the blood flow quicken and sharpen the pain in Simon's still healing bones and burned skin. Finn buffered it, even as he took Simon's erection deep into his mouth. He wanted to feel Simon inside of him, but Simon's fractured hip and ribs wouldn't allow that yet. He settled for stroking himself as he devoured Simon's cock.
Simon's cries were breathless, and each one sharpened Finn's need for his mate. He began rubbing himself against the side of the mattress as he took Simon with both hands; one on his shaft squeezing and stroking, the other teasing the tender skin of his balls. Torturing the slick head with his tongue and then engulfing the length with his mouth as far as he could reach, Simon stiffened and with a cry, emptied himself into Finn's willing mouth. His orgasm triggered Finn's own and he struggled to swallow Simon's seed while his own body shook and sprayed the sheets and his belly.
After cleaning up himself and the bed, he gave Simon a bed bath, wiping off the sweat from every part of him that he could, dropping kisses on every undamaged part that he could reach. Simon watched him with sleep hooded eyes, stroking what ever part of Finn's body came within range of his unbroken arm.
"What happened to me?" he asked, when Finn had seated himself next to his unbroken arm, kissing the fingers gently.
Due to their bond, Finn knew exactly what he meant, and unfortunately he couldn't put him off.
"Prudence McKindrick was Cullen's partner. She tortured you and turned you unwillingly."
Simon stared at him for a moment. "Turned," he said like he had never heard the word before.
Simon stared at him with shock. "Is that why I feel so strange? She turned me. Why?"
Finn nuzzled his face into Simon's hand and tried to project calm into Simon's roiling mind. "She apparently had been plotting revenge against my father for a very long time. When she turned you she also controlled you and had very deep access to your mind. She used you to try to get back at my father."
"To get back at him, but how?" Simon asked, still trying to put the pieces back together.
"Ian," said Finn softly, "she tried to make you kill Ian."
Abruptly memories came smashing back into Simon, and Finn could feel the horror and shock rising as he tried to reject what his memories were telling him. Simon pulled his arm abruptly back from Finn's grasp, as if he were afraid he would contaminate his smaller lover.
Simon was shaking now, his eyes wild, shaking his head back and forth. "I didn't do that. I couldn't do that. He is my friend; I couldn't do that to him. Tell me I didn't do that Finn, tell me," he was screaming now and slapping away Finn's hands as they tried to hold him. "Tell me I didn't do that, tell me!"
Finn grabbed him, one hand on each side of his face. "Simon, calm down," he said. "He knows it wasn't your fault, he knows. Ian is ok, he is ok. He knows it wasn't you, he knows. He would never blame you. It wasn't your fault."
Simon was sobbing now, screaming sobs as he clung to Finn. "No, no, no," he chanted, "I couldn't do that, I couldn't, I didn't, no no no no."
Finn simply kept up his reassurances, curled up as close to Simon as he could, holding him close and stroking his hair as Simon wept uncontrollably. He rode out wave after wave of Simon's feelings of denial, horror, and guilt, simply trying to project calm and love back. He could feel that some of the feelings went much farther back than his encounter with Ian. Some long hidden memories were being stirred up and they simply added to the pile.
After what seemed like forever Simon began to quiet a bit. By this time Finn was sobbing also, tears streaming down his face as his lover clung to him in desperation. "I love you, Simon. No matter what. It will be ok, we can face it together. I love you, I won't leave you, I promise. It wasn't your fault. It wasn't. Ian has already forgiven you, he loves you."
Simon began to drift into that twilight between waking and sleeping and Finn was unsurprised to see Jezi next to the edge of the bed. She reached out with her strong hands and began to stroke Simon's hair, helping to ease him into restful sleep. Her face took on the unfocussed look that she often had when using her healing abilities, mending broken minds and bodies. She looked so calm and still, but Finn could feel through his link with Simon the tremendous amount of carefully controlled energy she was using. She projected calm, helping to shore up Simon's shattered psyche and lay the ground work for future healing.
Soon her calming energy extended to Finn, and he surrendered his aching head and heart into her capable hands. He soon fell asleep, still cradling Simon in his arms.
Finn woke first, rather cramped from not changing position for several hours. The dim light from behind the heavy drapes was fading, Simon would be waking soon. He idly wondered when he would be well enough to test how affected he would be by sunlight. Getting him back on the job and on a routine would probably be good for him; Simon always had been something of a work-aholic.
Simon's pale blue eyes opened. "Why didn't you let me die?" he asked quietly, "I don't see how you could still love me after what I did."
Finn stroked Simon's hair softly. "You missed out on a lot of what happened Si. Prudence was almost as old as father, which made her an especially strong vampire. She was also a mage, a very practiced one. You didn't stand much of a chance against her."
He continued to touch him gently as he gathered his thoughts. "Do you remember when my father told us about Richard, his eldest son and his second wife Anne?" He waited until he felt Simon nod to continue, "Prudence was the one that twisted Richard and was behind Anne's murder. She was also the one that subverted Cullen, right under father's nose. She was watching, waiting and planning for hundreds of years, wanting to make father suffer as much as possible for some imagined slight. You didn't stand a chance once she stripped your control away. Whatever fantasies you may have had about Ian were used against you."
Finn could feel Simon jump in surprise. He smiled against Simon's silky hair, "Who wouldn't have fantasies about Ian, Simon? You two have been friends for a long time. There is nothing wrong with that. I would be willing to bet that you didn't think about anything but friendship with him when you were involved with other people."
Finn tipped Simon's face so that he could see his eyes. "She took away your control. She wanted to make you hurt and kill Ian in the worst possible way; to hurt my father, to make him suffer. What happened was not your fault. You were simply a tool."
He could see and feel that Simon was struggling to believe him, wanting to believe, desperate to be absolved in some small way for what had happened.
Brown eyes held blue. "There was something more, when you realized what happened. Some bad memories got stirred up, something a lot older than what has been happening in these last weeks," said Finn. "Do you want to talk about it?"
Denial rose up in Simon's mind, Finn could feel it. Before he had a chance to say anything Finn spoke again, "Don't you realize by now that you could tell me anything and I would love you just as much," he said hoarsely his throat clogging with tears. He could fee Simon's inward struggle with a pain that ran so deep that it seemed to be lost in the depth of his soul. Simon tucked his face into Finn's neck and took a deep shuddering breath.
"It was my first year of college," Simon said so quietly that Finn had to struggle to hear him. "My parents had thrown me out of the house, and out of their lives. I was almost nineteen. I had started school older than most kids because of my October birthday. My roommate was a couple of years older than me but was a freshman too. He seemed really nice and we had quite a bit in common. He could buy booze because he was over twenty one. We got drunk one night and when he asked me why I wasn't going home for Thanksgiving break. I told him."
Here Simon began to shiver and Finn held him closer. He had a sick feeling that he knew what Simon was going to tell him.
"He forced me to have sex with him, over and over that night. Then he tied me to the bed and took pictures of his dick in my ass, and as he sucked me off. He threatened to show them to everyone unless I did what he asked. For the next two weeks before break he fucked me at every opportunity. The night before he left for break he brought over his best friend and they took turns fucking me and taking pictures. I felt so ashamed, so dirty, so used. I wanted to kill myself. I almost did, several times. Instead, I packed up and ran the day he left. I took incompletes for my classes and transferred half way around the country to another school. For a long time I had nightmares about him finding me and showing everyone the pictures that he had, laughing at me. I didn't tell anyone, ever, about what happened to me."
Simon was sobbing softly now and Finn held him close, stroking him, and trying to reassure him. "I love you Simon," he told him, over and over.
For Simon it was as if a huge weight had been lifted off of his soul. He had told Finn everything, absolutely everything, showed him the absolute depths of his soul, his darkest secrets: and he still loved him. Somehow Finn still loved him.
He drifted off to sleep with the feeling of Finn's arms around him, and for the first time in a long time felt like he would not have to worry about being alone anymore, that he was worth something. It was nice not to have to be so strong, to hide behind his size. Finn loved him, and for the first time, maybe ever, he actually felt loved, truly loved.
Isabelle paced the house. She couldn't put her finger on what was bothering her, she just felt so, unsettled. She had tried to draw but found to her frustration that she was just too antsy to sit still and she couldn't concentrate.
She didn't think it was Ian. He had come from his session with Dr. Halloway, or Jack as he called him, and was napping. She smiled at the thought of him. Both of them had quickly adjusted to their new routine once they were back at the house. They both went every other day to see Jack. It was helping both of them a good deal. Isabelle was gaining some much needed perspective about herself and Ian seemed to be easier about what happened with Simon. This was reflected in his inner feelings as well as his outer behavior. Of course it helped that they were connected on a psychic level now. She was learning to buffer the connection, like she was right now. Ian was sleeping peacefully despite her restlessness.
She still had some acceptance issues with the fact that she had turned fully Were. She had not been able to duplicate it and was angry and frustrated. Both Dr. Halloway and John had urged her to try to contact her grandfather, or another Were-panther to talk about it. Isabelle was hesitant, and for the first time began to realize the depth of her resentment toward what she viewed as her grandfather's abandonment of her because she wasn't Were.
"Besides," John had told her, "If what Jezi says is true and this is just a dormant side of you emerging, you may be undergoing further changes. Just be patient with yourself."
Isabelle was quite surprised by John lately. Once the mask of indifference had been lifted from his features she was finding that she rather liked him. He had driven down to see Ian several days ago and had only just left to drive back up to Finn. John had actually sought her out and they had had several very good discussions. Over her objections he had established a checking account for her in which he had placed a huge chunk of money.
"Nonsense," he had said to her objections. "Considering everything that has happened this is nothing." He had smiled at her, a genuine smile full of kindness. "You need to have some independence," he had told her, "to take Ian out, to buy yourself clothing, art supplies or whatever. I don't want you feeling like you have to ask for the things you need."
Ian had agreed with his father (kicking himself because he hadn't thought of it first), overriding Isabelle's objections. Ian had also asked her officially to move into his apartment with him. This relieved her of a worry that had been gnawing at her for a while. Their relationship was no longer in limbo, with Isabelle wondering what was going to happen when Ian got tired of her. She knew that that was not being exactly fair to Ian, but deep down she had wondered if he regretted being involved with her. A small portion of her had been sure that he would change his mind about loving her.
She was looking forward to moving in to the apartment. It wasn't too terribly far from the University. She didn't think that she was ready to go back yet but she knew that she would want to eventually. Maybe next fall if things continued to go well. She would have to transfer credits from Wisconsin and take care of some other small things but that should be easy enough.
Ian's apartment, our apartment she corrected her self with a happy shiver, was ideally placed for both the university and the gallery. She would be able to take the bus, and she had a feeling, from some of the things that Ian had said offhandedly, that she would be spending a lot of time with him at the gallery. She was looking forward to that too.
John had also surprised her with the news that Carl Witherspoon had taken care of the matter of her being a missing person. She was now officially found and her professors and fellow students knew that she was alive and well. They had received a carefully edited version of the truth: her kidnapping and torture and her killing her captor. Left out of that version was any mention of anything supernatural, as was to be expected. He had also taken the liberty of getting her belongings and art pieces out of storage at the school and had them carefully packed and put in storage at the house. She hadn't had time to go through them and had decided to wait until she was moving into Ian's apartment to sort things. Ian was going to empty his guestroom and turn it into her studio (as it had good northern and eastern light) and have her help with some redecorating.
Done with pacing for the moment she curled up on the bed next to Ian and watched him sleep. His face was relaxed. It still struck her sometimes how handsome he was, the sculpted planes of his face, the curve of his lips and the dark fans that his eyelashes made against his cheeks. The thin lash scar on his cheek would always be there, although it was already faded quite a bit. Isabelle reached out and stroked it gently.
It scared her sometimes, the depth of her feelings for this man. She loved him so much that the memory of almost losing him was like a knife to the heart. In the last six months or so she had had such extremes of emotion in her life it was still a little exhausting to try to sort through them.
She was a little afraid of the week ahead. Ian had decided that it was time for him to go up to see Finn and Simon. In two days they would head up. Simon was apparently physically healing but emotionally devastated. Ian agreed that a meeting would probably be good for both of them. Isabelle agreed and disagreed at the same time. Her first instinct was to argue with him, to protect him from the pain. Intellectually she knew it was time, emotionally she was less sure. It all boiled down to trust: trust that Ian knew what he was doing, trust that his and Simon's friendship was strong enough to help heal them both, trust that she would be strong enough to help support Ian without being smotheringly overprotective. She hoped so.