Campaign of the Month: March 2017

Nocturnum: Rebirth

P is for Protector (And Parent)

Darrek Tinsley
Henry Anders

This interlude occurs during Episode 7, while Darrek and Henry are in the car returning home following the events at Grisson Manor in McKeesport

After dropping the rest of the crew off at Matthew’s loft, while driving back to the house to get ready for the mysterious art show at the Warhol, Darrek comments on Henry’s bravery at the Lyssicus-infected Grisson Manor, and thanks Henry for putting himself in harm’s way to shield Darrek from being attacked.

Coming to a stop light, he glances over and looks at Henry and says softly, “Every day that I know you, I’m prouder of you than I was the day before, and I know that your parents would be very proud as well.” He smiles. “I want you to remember, though, that it’s my job to take care of you, and not the other way around. You have enough obligations to worry about.”

He pauses for a moment. “You’ve had to endure more horrors than any young man your age should ever have to, and it’s all so completely unfair. You came to me for help, for guidance, for answers…but I don’t know anything about what it means to be a Protector…or anything about being a good parent, for that matter. As much as I want to, I can never give you your old life back, the one that was stolen from you. Nothing I say or do now will change the fact that Sam was my responsibility and I utterly failed both of you that night, the night he murdered your parents.”

His eyes grow sad. “For two years I wondered and tried to find out who they were, and not a single day has gone by since that night that I haven’t thought about them, and about what would have happened if I had gotten there even fifteen minutes earlier.” He pauses again. “And telling you that I’m sorry will never be enough, but I am…so incredibly sorry.” The light turns green and he steps on the gas, easing the car forward.

Henry stares out the window. “You know plenty about being a protector. You do it every day. It just doesn’t start with a capitol ‘P’ for you. As for taking care of you, helping you… I’m pretty sure that is exactly my job. My mom didn’t really get a chance to tell me everything I’m supposed to do, but I’m pretty sure that helping people is part of it. It’s kind of right there in the name, right? And hey, you’re out there protecting people, too, so if I save your ass, it’s like I saved hundreds of other people all at the same time, right?”

Henry wipes his eyes, clearly trying to pretend that he isn’t crying. “I know you blame yourself for what happened to my parents. A part of me did, too, at first. But I know it wasn’t your fault. Sam turned into a monster, and you did everything you could to stop him. Sometimes, our best just isn’t good enough, and it’s not our fault. Mom used to tell me that the only real failure was not learning from the experience. You’re not who you were when Sam went crazy. You learned from it, and you know how to stop the same thing from happening again. So it wasn’t exactly a failure. Kind of a crappy way to look for silver linings, huh?”

He turns to face Darrek and smiles. “And I know you’re worried that the same thing will happen to me…but don’t. One of my first memories when my mom started teaching me how to use my Gift was her telling me, ‘Under no circumstances are you to make pacts with the Other Side, or bargain with It directly.’ She told me stories about men and women who did that. It never turned out well for them.” He wipes some sweat from his forehead. “Besides, even if I wanted to, this Lyssicus crap even being in town is making me feel like I have ebola. Can you imagine how miserable I would be if I actually let that stuff inside me?”

Darrek returns his smile and says, “Well, I’m pretty sure that worrying about you is exactly my job, now, just like protecting is yours. I know this might be hard for you to hear, Henry…but the two of you, you and Sam, I mean…you two are remarkably similar—outside of your choices, that is. I guess that’s truly what counts, in the end…but he was also just a boy, whose parents were taken from him. A very lost, confused, and angry boy. And I did try, but the more I tried to help him, the more he refused to listen and the harder he pushed me away…much like another boy I once knew.” He glances in the rear view mirror at his own reflection for a moment. “Anyway, you’re absolutely right that I don’t want to make the same mistake again. I want you to know that, poor substitute that I am, I am here for you. I want for you to feel that you can come to me, and that I will always listen to you. I may not always understand, and I may not always have the answers, but if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s finding them.”

MV5BMTgwNzc1MTUyN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzc2MDgyNjE_._V1_CR0_25_266_150_AL_UX477_CR0_0_477_268_AL_.jpg

Henry reaches over and squeezes Darrek’s shoulder. “I’m just a kid. I know a lot of kids my age are fighting to prove how grown up they are. They get pissed if you call them a kid. But I think I could be in my fifties and still feel like a kid. I have to worry about vampires, and demons, and cosmic threats, and the mystical implications of deforestation, and whether or not the chemicals being dumped into the river are going to kill off the colony of Kappa that live near the Mon Wharf, or if the Dryad that lives in the oak tree on Flagstaff Hill is getting sick from the college kids vomiting all over her. That’s on top of my grades, and lying on my science papers so we don’t get visits from CYS about me claiming that demons are real, and pretending that I don’t know that the Knights Templar weren’t eradicated so I can pass history. Oh, and trying to get a date for Friday night, which is hard because of the whole gay thing, on top of running the risk of having to cancel at the last minute because a minotaur starts killing kids in Sewickley. Or, gods forbid, falling in love with a mundane and having to figure out how much I can tell them. My world is huge, and I don’t think I’m ready for it. I don’t know if I ever will be.”

He looks down at his hands. “But I’m 100% positive that I will never be ready for it without you and Emily.”

Darrek pulls into the driveway, puts the car in park, and turns it off. He clears his throat and also glances down at his hands.

“My father was often very hard on me when I was growing up, and I acutely remember how much I resented him for it…and still do. I guess as much as I hate to admit it, I inherited some personality traits from him that I’m not proud of.”

An embarrassed look passes over his face. “I don’t want for us to have that kind of relationship. You’re a fantastic kid, Henry, and you’ve proven to me more than once that you have a very good head on your shoulders. I’ll try to remember that, and not be such a bloody spaz, alright?”

He reaches over and also squeezes Henry’s shoulder. “And for what it’s worth, Em and I are in complete agreement that our home is your home for as long as you want it to be.”

Henry smiles. “Thanks, that does mean a lot. I’ll try not to be one of those weird guys who lives in his parents’ basement until he’s 40, eating Cheetos and playing Call of Duty with racist 12 year olds all day. And I’ll try not to start any apocalypses… apocolypsi? Apocalyptae? Anyway, I’ll try not to do anything that will end the world. Besides, I think if I tried that, someone a bit more powerful than you would have something to say about it, and as much as you can be scary when you’re pissed, I’m pretty sure She is WAY worse. Now, I’m going to go eat enough to kill a medium sized African elephant. I have a feeling that I might not have much of an appetite after the art show tonight.”

Henry gets out of the car, and heads straight for the kitchen.

Darrek follows Henry into the house. Omar comes galloping down the stairs yapping and begins running in between Henry’s legs doing figure eights around the kitchen. Darrek holds his hand up and snaps his fingers and she immediately runs over to him and sits at attention at his feet. He smiles and pulls a treat from his pocket and gives it to her, then reaches down to scratch her behind her ears.

“Good girl,” he praises her.

Softer footsteps echo down the stairs, and a moment later Emily enters the kitchen, wearing a black cocktail dress, her hair carefully styled. She walks over and kisses Darrek in greeting.

“Both of your suits are pressed and hanging upstairs, and there’s leftover pizza in the fridge that I can heat up for you if you’re hungry, Henry,” she says.

When Henry opens the cupboard, he sees a multitude of packages of various Chips Ahoy cookies lining the shelves. She meets Henry’s eyes over Darrek’s shoulder and winks at him, smiling.

Comments

jasonvey julrox

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.