Winter – Chapter 21 – 02

            “You.  You’re terrified?”  The thought calmed him and unsettled his stomach at the same time.  Phelan’s not afraid to be fucking terrified.  The rest of us are scared more than enough for three times our number.  He’s the only one that’s not.
            At least I thought so.
            “Don’t act so surprised, Jameson,” Phelan said softly.  “I’m just as human as the rest of you.”
            “Except for being thousands of years old and seeming to know everything we don’t about the world we’re suddenly living in.  What do you have to be afraid of?”
            “The future, mostly.”  Phelan sipped his tea and watched the younger man through the edges of the fire.  “I’m not much a Seer.  That’s a gift—or a curse—that my cousin has.”
            “The cousin that hooked up with Thom’s?”  J.T. asked, sipping his own tea slowly.  The cold was reaching them even here by the fire, and it didn’t surprise him based on the sound of the wind.  I should’ve grabbed a blanket or something.  The thought of a blanket brought thoughts of Carolyn and the bed they’d been sharing.  He stared down into the mug between his palms.  It had happened so quick.  Too quick, almost.
            “Yeah, Teague.”  Phelan looked away.  “Your bloodline, but…”
            “The woman I saw in the dream,” J.T. said.  “When I dreamed about the woman in the tarn, when I saw you.”
            “I don’t know if it’s reincarnation or genetic memory,” Phelan said, eyes still focused on something far away—perhaps something long ago.
            He’s no seer, but he’s a druid of the old order.  Part priest, part warrior, part bard—all of it and more at the same time.  Nan would have liked him.
            Of course, his grandmother probably would have thrown Phelan in the tarn, too.
            “Whatever it is,” Phelan continued, “part of me is grateful that you somehow remember it.  For better or worse, you were my entrée.”
            “I fucking punched you, Phelan.  I wasn’t your in.  That was Care, reminding us all that we were being total assholes playing Twenty Questions with a guy who’d walked for weeks to get to us.”
            “I deserved it on more levels than you know.”  Phelan stretched slightly. His eyes slid closed for a few moments.  “Teague asked me to come to  you guys about two weeks before things came apart.  I didn’t leave the city when I should have.  Too many other things I was trying to accomplish before I bailed, and I thought I had the luxury of time.  I didn’t trust him.  I didn’t trust what he’d seen.
            “The fact of the matter is, I should have been here before the world ended.  You guys shouldn’t have faced it alone.”
            “We lived,” J.T. said.  “We’re still here.  Hell, it didn’t start to get really bad until after you showed up.”
            Phelan choked on a laugh and shook his head, opening his eyes as he took a deep draught of his tea.  “That’s me.  Harbinger of doom.”  He stared across the fire at J.T.  “Do you think they blame you?”
            “The only actual trouble that you brought to us was Vammatar, and she’s dead.  You killed her.”  J.T. stretched, wincing slightly as his shoulder twinged.  “The other guy—what was his name?”
            “Cariocecus,” Phelan said.
            “Yeah, him.  Shadow man.  What he said to Mar and Thom at their wedding—all the shit that he caused before you ever got here—that sealed it.  He didn’t come here to trouble you, he’s here for us.  I’m not sure why he’s here for us, but he is.”
            “That’s part of what’s got me shaking in my boots,” Phelan admitted.  “It makes me think he knows something I don’t, and that’s never a good feeling.”
            “What the hell could that be?”
            “I don’t know,” Phelan said.  “That’s what’s got me worried.”
            Jacqueline’s voice intruded on them both.  “Guys?  We have a problem.  I can’t find them.”
            J.T. looked at her, frowning slightly.  “Who?”
            “Thom and Marin,” she said.  “They’re just gone.”

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