Tears of the Fallen Ch. 13byJazCullen©
Where does time go to? I can't believe that this is the first chapter I am posting this year! I have reached new heights in tardiness and I do apologise for that. I will try to do better.
Once again, my thanks goes to Mistress of Shadows and Angel n Disguise for editing for me #hugs.
If you want to catch up with me online please visit my Bio for links to my Facebook page and Blog.
Thereasa wanted to groan at her choice of room to teach Liam, but her options had been limited due to her current status. The pack was hardly likely to let her leave or go to a less secure house, so she had to make do with what she had.
She quickly ran her eyes around the interior of the bedroom; it was patently obvious that though it contained a large King-sized bed, it was clearly furnished for one occupant. There was a single, large upholstered chair beside the empty fireplace, and a smaller chair beside the vanity table. Liam's huge size ruled out the smaller chair and brought the larger one into doubt as well. That only left the bed.
There was nothing else for it, so she squared her shoulders and turned around to look at the Vârcolac. "Do not get any ideas. After choosing a position at the head of the bed, she faced him as she crossed her legs and got comfortable. She motioned for him to join her, and the mattress dipped under his weight as he mirrored her position at the foot of the bed. Liam placed the book between them.
"Before we start, will you please stop that?"
Liam blinked slowly, unable to hide the confusion that crossed his face. "Stop what?"
"Looking at me like you're about to eat me up," she snapped, as she added glare for good measure. "You are extraordinarily powerful, and you will need your full concentration for what I am going to teach you. We don't have the luxury of time here, Liam. Who knows how much longer those people up at the Praetorian Compound have? It's been days since the incident."
Her words appeared to sober him, and he nodded in agreement as guilt flashed across his face.
"We don't have time for that either," Reasa remarked, though her tone was slightly less acerbic. "It happened. Deal with it. The important task now is to see if we can fix it. Put all your energy into that and just maybe we have a chance of doing the impossible. "
"It's that easy for you, Reasa? You do something wrong and you just deal with it?"
There was curiosity in Liam's tone as well as a hint of reproof. It was clear they wouldn't be able to begin the tutoring straight away as she'd hoped. The large male before her had too much empathy, too strong a belief in right and wrong. Everything was black and white to him; he had to learn that there were shades of grey too.
Taking a deep breath, Reasa closed her eyes while searching for the words that might help him understand. "Everything moves at a fast pace when you live in the covens. It's a completely different world to the one you live in, Liam. Here, you have the luxury of being protected by those who love you. From what I have seen during the short time I've been here, you are vastly overprotected—to your detriment—and that's why the incident occurred up at the other compound. In the covens, you have to prove your worth daily. You have to be stronger, faster, and have a unique talent that sets you above everyone else. Only then would you attain the protection of your coven leader. It has to be earned."
His eagerness to absorb every word was dampened by the thoughtful frown that settled across his face. Reasa took another deep breath and continued. "If you make a mistake you have to deal with it swiftly. You can't afford to wallow in self-pity and 'if onlys'. If you do that, you're dead. So, yes, Liam, it is that easy for me. It's how I've stayed alive for as long as I have. I learn from my mistakes and I move on." She let her words sink in, and fought to keep a smile from tilting her lips upwards. She could see almost see the wheels turning in his head as he processed what she had said.
He finally nodded, his gaze intent. "You have had to struggle all of your life, Reasa, I can see that. You don't have to struggle any more. The pack will protect you. I will protect you."
It was on the tip of her tongue to snap out that she didn't need his protection, but she did. She was human now, frail and easily hurt as had so recently been demonstrated. Until she was immortal once more, she would need their protection and that was something she was just going to have to accept—for now.
Reasa rolled her shoulders and focused back on the task at hand. "The shields you wove earlier are very good. You learn quickly, so that should speed things along. Did you sample the emotions in the house when we were all together?"
A wide smile split his face and she had to stop herself from sucking in another deep breath. He lit up when he smiled—a different kind of beauty from the savage, feral animal he had been when she was hurt—but beautiful none the less. It concerned her that she was noticing how attractive he was. She had meant what she said; she was not his mate and never would be. Still, she was so enthralled it took her a moment to realise he was talking again.
"The emotions were there but so muted. They didn't overwhelm me at all; in fact, they felt sort of comforting."
"Good, that is the way it should be. I will teach you how to separate the emotions and apply them to each individual, but first you need to understand how a mind works, how to use the deftest of touches. I have years of experience but lack your strength. If someone has a very strong mind, they can keep me out without realising it. For this exercise, you will need to allow me into your mind."
"My mind is always open to you, Reasa. You need never ask to join with me."
His voice was filled with so much honesty and trust that, for a moment, all she could do was stare at him with her mouth open. Then she pulled herself together and gave herself a mental shake. If what he said was true, she could enter his mind and wipe it completely. He would put up no resistance, would allow her to do as she willed. If she really wanted to, she could finish what she started up at the Praetorian Compound, but she found herself oddly loathe to do so.
She told herself it was because the others would kill her on the spot if she harmed him, that she would never learn to Dream Walk or help the injured vampires. She would lose any chance of ever becoming immortal again. It had nothing to do with the fact that the male before her had defended her not once, but twice. No, it was about what she could gain from the situation, what she could learn to protect herself.
"You might find it easier if you close your eyes and just relax. I will keep my delving slow so you can follow what I'm doing within your mind. I will continue to talk out aloud as opposed to telepathic communication. It will help keep you grounded in reality. It is very important to remember that, when you delve, you are in the physical world as well as in the mind."
When he obeyed her without question, she swallowed hard. She let her gaze trace his strong features, and for some reason her heart twisted at the trust he exhibited. He was probably at his most defenceless right now, and yet, he was completely relaxed. Oh, how she wished she could trust as easily as he did.
Reasa reached out with her mind, and slipped into Liam's, passing his outer defences with agile precision as he laid himself bare to her. "You should view the mind as an infinite corridor with doors running down either side. Behind each door is a memory of the past or the present." She breathed softly, smiling as he quickly grasped her meaning, and suddenly the long corridor was before her psychic self. The doors were brightly hued in a perfect rendition of a colour chart, from light to darker shades. He'd even placed numbers on the doors, though they were out of sequence numerically.
"Excellent, Liam. You have a wonderfully structured mind for one who is so strong in empathy. Usually empaths have a more random structure, the corridor twisting and turning haphazardly, flowing downwards and then rising sharply. It is a testament to your increasing control that you can formulate a more logical arrangement."
"It feels easy to do this, Reasa. Should it be harder? Do you like the colours? I was initially thinking of white, but figured that would be too harsh on your eyes."
She could feel his happiness and pride. Being in his mind amplified the emotions and she couldn't help but smile at the almost childlike glow coming from him. He was happy because he had done something she approved of. While she smiled, a shiver of concern washed over her, which quickly began to escalate. He was projecting without realising it!
"Liam, dial back your emotions a bit. I know you're pleased with your easy grasp of the concept, but you're projecting that happiness onto me. I know I said you needed to let me in, but you do still need to maintain shields around your emotions. Projecting is dangerous as you've learned to your cost."
Immediately, the building euphoria died down and Reasa felt more able to function under her own emotions. She took a moment to calm her racing heart, then she met Liam's gaze and saw concern in his deep brown eyes. "It's okay," she quickly reassured him. "I'm fine, though I'm sure the others out in the main room will be wondering why they were suddenly walking around with silly grins on their faces for a moment."
As if on cue, there was a knock on the door and Elina's concerned head peeked in. "Is everything okay? Liam?"
"Sorry, Elle, I projected outwards without thinking. Everything is fine. I won't do it again."
His cousin looked doubtful though she disappeared again, closing the door quietly.
"Oops," Liam smiled with a chagrined expression, and a soft giggle escaped Reasa unbidden, as amusement danced in her eyes.
"Oops, indeed. Now concentrate. We need to get back to the task at hand." She was surprised to find that instead of being annoyed at his mistake, she was actually enjoying the experience. She attributed it to the fact she'd never had the opportunity to explore her talent with anyone before. Truth be told, she was equally fascinated by Liam's mental strength and what she could learn from him as he learned to control his powers. Anything that could benefit her was a good thing, at least, that was what she kept telling herself.
"As I was saying, behind each door is a memory, but some of them will actually contain a part of you. Those are usually grouped closely together, as they need to be close to make you into a whole individual. Someone fully in tune with themselves can gather all the fragments into one room, for want of a better word. The Dalai Lama has an amazing mind. He is one of those individuals. For the most part, everyone else has to make do with having their essence as closely packed together as possible. People with mental health issues generally are more scattered within their minds."
"You've met the Dalai Lama and been inside his mind?"
"With his permission," she sighed. "And that's a story for another time. Will you please focus now?"
"Sorry, Reasa. This is all just so fascinating that I keep getting side-tracked."
Reasa sighed again, her expression grave as she nudged at his knee until he opened his eyes to look at her. "You can't get side-tracked when you're in someone's mind, Liam. You could damage them that way. You have to focus. If you won't, then I cannot teach you. In fact, I will refuse to teach you if there is any hint you might endanger someone."
It was hard not to soften a bit as she looked at his crestfallen expression, but she really needed to hammer home the point otherwise he could potentially cause devastation if let loose on his own.
"I want to learn," he answered, his expression turning serious. "I don't want to hurt anyone. The newness of all this just overwhelmed me for a moment. I promise I will do everything you ask of me, exactly as you say. Please teach me, Reasa. Please help me ensure I never again inadvertently hurt someone else."
"Close your eyes," she answered, her tone business-like, as she once more slipped back into his thoughts. She gave him a moment to regain his inner balance, and then she was staring down the endless corridor again, with its pretty coloured doors that looked just a tad muter in colour than they had before.
"The duality of your nature is a precursor to your essence being split. You are wolf and you are vampire; however, there is also a part of you that is human. Vampires and Weres try so very hard to ignore that fact. Never the less it is true, even if the human portion is so minute it is barely detectable. We need to find your different personas behind these doors, Liam. Only you know where they are, so you will need to guide me. With what has happened twice already, I believe that your essence is too fragmented. We must find you and bring you more into harmony with yourself. Only then will we be able to begin your training in earnest. Will you help me?"
Liam heard the words and felt a tremor run through his body. His mate was asking for his help, but what she was asking for terrified him. Up until this moment, everything had been fun and exciting. His agile mind grasped the concepts she explained easily, even if he had made a bit of a mess a little earlier. However, what Reasa was asking of him now...he didn't know if he could do it.
He knew precisely where his wolf was, that was a given. He had been in tune with his animal all his life and didn't even need to think twice about what door that part of his persona lived behind. He could also detect the miniscule part of himself that was human, now that its existence had been brought to his attention.
But his vampiric side...that was the part that terrified him the most. That side of him had hurt his aunt! It was full of rage and consumed by the need to destroy. Although his wolf also shared some of those basic urges when threatened, the intensity of them paled in comparison to what his inner monster was capable of.
"I'm afraid," he whispered, still feeling Reasa in his mind, and reaching out to her psychic presence with his own. "What if I can't control it? What if I hurt you?"
"You didn't the last time, Liam You may have not been aware of it, but you were able to exert some control over your vampire. Your speed at learning is exceptional. Twice the vampire has arisen, and twice you have learned from the experience. It's time to face it again with the new knowledge you have to guide you. It doesn't have to be right this very moment. We can start with the easier doors until you're more confident in your abilities. In fact, let's start with a few memories first."
Reasa's reassuring words helped and he grasped at the chance to put off the inevitable. Liam strode towards a pale yellow door and threw it wide open without hesitation...
Girlish giggles echoed through the forest, and the wolf pup's head rose sharply from the damp earth, tilting to the side to listen. It gave an excited bark and raced off into the trees towards the sound, the breeze caressing its deep auburn pelt.
"Elle! Elle! Elle!" the wolf projected telepathically as it barked again and scampered ahead at full speed.
"You're not supposed to let me know you're coming, Liam," his cousin giggled, as she hung upside down from a low branch. Multi-coloured hair brushed the moss beneath the tree as she swung, her legs hooked around the branch the only thing that prevented her from falling.
The pup burst into the clearing, yapping excitedly and jumping up to lick the little girl's face, which sent her into another flood of giggling.
"Ugh, that's wet! Stop it, Liam."
Elina's laughter caused her to lose concentration when the wolf jumped at her again, her body swaying with the impact. She forgot to maintain her grip with her legs and shrieked loudly when she fell from the branch.
In a flash, the wolf pup vanished, to be replaced by a little boy a couple of years older. Elina landed on top of him, her face showing concern when his breath whooshed out and he made a funny noise.
"Are you okay? I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you."
Liam grinned and rubbed his stomach before giving her a hug. "I'm fine. You're too teeny to really hurt me, and it was my fault you fell anyway." He had meant to reassure his cousin but from the expression on her face, his words had clearly had the opposite effect as she rose to her feet and planted her hands on her hips.
"I am not too teeny! Mother says I am as strong and fast as everyone else in this pack, and I'm not to let anyone tell me any different. That includes you, Liam Eriksson. You're family and family are supposed to stick together."
"Jeez Louise, Elle! I didn't mean anything by it. I know you're super-fast and super-strong. You're better than all the other kids in the pack. You've got Eriksson blood and we're the best!"
Her expression lightened instantly and she smiled happily. "Yes we are! We're going to grow up and be Alphas like Rafe and Lacey."
Liam laughed at her determined expression, happy his cousin was smiling again. He loved seeing her smile. He would do anything to hear her laughter and often goofed around so he could. "I'm not so sure about being Alphas. Maybe we might make betas."
"Mother says I can be anything I want to be if I set my mind to it. I'll be Alpha if I want to be," Elina said grandly, her little nose tilting up in the air. "And who is Louise?"
Liam laughed, as he jumped up and grabbed her hand. "It's just an expression, like when I call you Elina the ballerina. Aaron Junior said it the other day and it made everyone laugh. I wanted to make you laugh."
"You do make me laugh, Liam. You always make me laugh. You're the best cousin ever."
"Good, my job is done then." Liam pulled her hand and they began to jog out of the clearing. "Just so you know...if we're both Alphas we would have to be in different packs..."
"Okay...betas it is, then."
The memory faded as Liam closed the door, a hint of moisture in his eyes as he relived that day playing with his cousin. She had been so happy as a child, with her infectious laughter, and her fierce determination to be the best in everything she did. It hurt him to experience the moment, knowing that his beautiful cousin was so different now.
"I was an only child and we lived in a secluded region. I never had anyone to play with when I was little. Thank you for sharing that memory with me."
Reasa's quiet words twisted his heart painfully. He wanted to reach out and soothe her, but knew it was much too soon and she wouldn't accept any solace from him just yet. He felt hopeful that she had chosen to share something of her own past with him. It was a beginning.
He moved to another door, another memory from his past. He took a deep breath and opened the dark blue door.
The room was dark, the compound silent in the early hours of the morning. Someone was crying; someone was hurting so badly inside that it felt as if shards of glass were scraping along his chest, gouging deeply. The weeping continued, anguish so intense it was overwhelming, and all he could do was weep with her.
He tried to reach out with his mind, tried to find a way inside—but he was too little and her mind was strong. "Don't cry," he sobbed softly. "Please don't cry. It will be okay. Everything will be okay, I promise."
Had she heard him? He didn't know but the sounds vanished swiftly and he was left alone in his own mind as if she'd never been there. Liam scrubbed at the tears on his face, rolled over in his bed, and gently rocked himself back asleep.
It was light when he opened his eyes again and he could hear Mommy making breakfast. He headed into the kitchen quietly, so quietly she didn't hear him. Looking at his mother, he saw she had a strange look on her face and the moment he saw her, he was flooded by unfamiliar emotions again.