Title: Solstice 06
Feedback address: email@example.com
Date in Calendar: 21 December 2009
Fandom: LWM, Poltergeist: the Legacy, Stargate SG-1, The Division, CSI, The X-Files, The Sentinel
Pairing: Alex/Rahcel, Sam/Janet/Art, Dace/Catherine, Dana/Monica, Alexis/Tory
Word Count: 3762
Summary: Solstice 2006 brings family together again at the Ranch.
LWM Book: Reverberations
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DW09
Disclaimers: All original characters belong to ShatterStorm Productions and are the creations of A. Magiluna Stormwriter and Shatterpath. They also belong in the Light, Water, Muses universe, tho’ this is a standalone within the whole of that universe. For specific characters/series, see below:
Author's Notes: This was an emergency write, as in "Holy crap! I have nothing for Solstice, so I'll write about... Solstice!"
++ Alex M ++
Exhilarated from our small, but intense little magics over the elaborate meal, I grab my wild-eyed wife to kiss her as though we will be separated for all time. Now, I don't know why this overt use of our gifts makes us so wild and, frankly, horny as hell, but it does!
I'm faintly aware of the girls giggling and the soft pad of cat-stealthy feet. But I don't care, because I know all their presences and Rachel's gorgeous mouth and warm body are blissfully distracting.
"Yum," Dace drawls with a visible smirk in her voice, "dinner and a show."
It's uncharacteristically Rachel that giggles her way out of the kiss, draping herself all over me, pressing my hips hard into the countertop.
"Sorry, guys," Dace chortles from the doorway to the kitchen as she gestures at the girls. "But everyone's finally gathering out back. Come on, rug rats, it's time."
"But mama," Sandy whines, "it's cold."
"Wussy desert kittens," her mother sighs fondly and crouches so that she can scoop up the twins and allow Rose to clamber onto her back. "We'll cuddle! Oof, you're all getting too heavy for this!"
Through the open back door, Dace carries the trio of protesting girls and I see Catherine toss a blanket over the whole mass of them. Many bodies move in the darkness, their paths illuminated by lanterns and candles but no flashlights. Like the rising natural magics in the air on this magical night, they converge on the circle of spluttering torches where we are being drawn as well.
"Come on, love," I call out a bit impatient, wanting the magical high to last as long as it will. "I'd hate to be fashionably late to our own ritual."
"Not just ours," Rachel admonishes as she scrambles out of the bedroom, pulling her elegant white robes to order. "But I suppose that Darya will kill us if we don't get over there!"
Hand in hand we follow the others to the big torches, relying on the ambient light of the moon and stars. The houses behind us lie in complete darkness for the ritual, to really let us feel the raw power of the Winter Solstice.
"There you are!" Darya calls out, sounding frazzled, and we quickly pull her into a hard hug to calm her. We three are the most attuned to this sort of thing among this group, though there are plenty that feel it just as keenly. My maternal senses automatically reach out and account for the children, Rose and Kat with Dace and Michel with his father.
Centered once again, Darya steps away with a smile and draws herself up proudly to her small height. When she raises her arms for attention, the gathered crowd begins to quiet immediately, dousing their own candles and lanterns, as requested. The benches have been deliberately arranged so that our family is facing away from their familiar homes and looking to the inky desert beyond. This will keep their minds on what is happening here.
++ Darya ++
"Tonight is the longest night of the year, the Winter Solstice," I call out clearly to our assembled family, their familiar faces a blur in the faint light from the torches that ring the fire pit and help make up the low fence to keep out curious children. "This is a time of rebirth, of a journey out of the darkness that will lead back to the abundance of spring and summer. This is a time of renewing relationships, not just with one another, but ourselves as well."
Around the well-defined fire circle, Rachel and Alex walk with ritualistic purpose, sealing our doings away from the rest of the world.
Taking a momentary indulgence, my eyes travel around the circle, sensing each individual presence more than seeing the person associated. So many people that have come to mean so much to me over the years; right beside them, I can feel the presences of those who are no longer of this world. Even Alexis is here, pressed in the center of her most cherished people with little William curled up happily in her lap, nearly asleep. How she adores that boy!
By rote, I speak a bit about ritual things, but keep it brief for the children's sake. "And tomorrow we will welcome back the sun!"
There is a ripple of excitement as I give the torch closest to me a shove and it falls with a clatter to the prepared pyramid of wood and tinder. With a great whoosh of sound, flames erupt and swirl towards to the sky. It's more than a physical release of energy that we all feel: that indefinable rush of something just outside our human perceptions, the touch of the beyond.
My own eyes close briefly, surrendering myself to the warmth and radiance, to the promise of renewal, to the chance to share something so simple and important with this family I've cultivated over the years. So much has changed, and yet remains the same. The continuing cycles of time and energy are definitely at work again tonight.
Our assembly is excited now, the babble of voices rising, and no one is paying me any mind as I call for their attention. Michael stands and helps by emitting a piercing blast of sound that cuts through the babble like a knife. "Pay attention." She smiles with deadly sweetness and gestures that I should continue.
"Remember your loved ones this night, the magic of when you met, when children or new loved ones entered your lives. Remember your own milestones, your triumphs and misfortunes. If you have anything that you would like to let go, please feel free to write it down and leave it for the fire to carry away." All of the formalities out of the way, I grin my mommy grin that makes the children smile back. "And then we'll all go hang decorations from the big pine tree by the gazebo!"
++ Art ++
I don't get this esoteric stuff, even as I can feel it hum at the edges of my perceptions, but I participate with relish. After all, it's these indefinable forces that have shaped my twins and so many people I love. Even Janet has grown tolerant to the weirdness, her shock value worn away over the years. Strangely, it has always been Sam that is the most accepting, as though she no longer requires concrete evidence to believe.
Too many years through that damn Stargate I guess.
It still boggles my mind that nearly eight years have passed since I met the women who have transformed me so; fiery Janet and sweet Sam with their opposite personalities and amazing intelligence, their loyalty and friendship that led to love. The cascade of memories makes me huff in amusement, Janet craning her neck around to smile at me in the firelight. "What is it?"
"Just remembering meeting you and Sam. With Cooper's nose down your shirt."
Chuckling with me, my wife twists her body around, making a sleepy Cory grumble, to drape me in a loose hug. "I always believed it was that amazing dog that made it impossible to not fall for you."
"Flatterer," I tease and kiss her warmly.
It hard to believe that this vivacious woman is still mine, some days it still makes me feel like I'm in some sort of lovely dream. Oh, even the bad days are bliss. Days when the kids are sick or cranky, when Janet is worked into a rage that has even the pets scurrying for cover. I love all of it and the bad makes the good all the sweeter. To her and Sam I will always be slavishly devoted, just as my birth family and my beloved dogs taught me.
With a last, sweet kiss to his mother, I tickle Cory until he bats at my hand and opens sleepy brown eyes. "Would you like to go hang your ornament from the big tree?"
Yawning hugely, my younger son stretches like a cat and makes us laugh by slithering off his mother's lap to land in a perfect linebacker crouch. "Ta da!" he sing-songs and we clap in delight. He's a natural athlete, just like Elana, even at only four and half. With all of his sturdy young strength, he takes our hands and drags us off to join the others in the merriment.
++ Sam ++
It's funny even to me how much flattery makes me blush and giggle. Heaven knows why, but the attention embarrasses me so. Oh sure, it's an entirely pleasant embarrassment, and I think the others like that they always get a reaction out of me. Karen and Dace and Michael ganged up on me to press sloppy kisses all over my temples and cheeks, the former scooping up Elana's sturdy little body so that she could reach the long pieces of yarn dangling from the pine's branches.
Perched on Karen's strong shoulders, my baby looks like an angel with her pale woodsy hair gleaming in the torchlight and her smile a mile wide. She's grown so much it boggles my mind. Always a big child, she looks closer in age to her twin brother and sister rather than her four and half years. Giggling, she both helps and hinders Karen's outstretched hands, trying to help tie her little papier-mâché trumpet to the yarn.
"Look, Mia!" she calls out and I move closer, leaning against Karen to reach up and ensure that the ornament will stay put.
"It's beautiful, baby."
Grinning wildly, Elana leans over, wrenching Karen nearly off balance with her muscular body to plant a sloppy kiss at the corner of my mouth. "Love you Mia," she whispers sweetly before jerking upright once more. "Can I have a ride, Kryn?"
Whinnying expressively, Karen trots off across the big park, several of the children following her, squealing with excitement. I linger there, beneath the battered little paper trumpet, sniffling happily at the tableau.
"Hey Mia," Janet's familiar voice purrs out the children's name for me and before I can turn, two pairs of arms gather me into a big hug. I kiss Janet first, since she's cuddled to my chest, before turning my head to nuzzle Art at my back.
"Mama?" Cory asks quietly and we all look down where he stands at Janet's hip. "Can I hang my ornament and go play too?"
He's so sweetly earnest that we all restrain ourselves from laughing and Art scoops him up to swing him onto my shoulders. "Of course, little man! Do you see a string that you like?"
"The green one, there!"
It only takes a moment to tie up his little fabric doggie, stiffened with white glue, and he's off to join in on the rough housing in the moonlight. From here they look like wild animals, or some sort of magical sprites, the crowd of children and their attending adults.
After sweet kisses and endearments, Art runs over to join in while I remain behind to cuddle Janet's small body against the chill.
"Happy Solstice, Janet."
I feel her smile into my throat, pressing a kiss there. "Happy Solstice, Sam."
++ Michael ++
"Charlie! Don't eat that! God, girl, you need a muzzle."
Irritated, my girl child makes a break for it, dodging my hands because I'm weighted down by her twin and her half-brother. Luckily, Monica materializes from the shadows and scoops up the errant toddler, easily avoiding the flailing struggles.
"Hey, monster, you need to listen to your père. Bad little girls don't get presents from Santa," she admonishes and I tap Henri on the head when he sticks a smug tongue at his sister.
"At least this time it's only grass," I sigh, gathering up Henri and Michel. At least the latter is behaving, not a shock since we rarely see each other. "Thanks Monica."
Chuckling, she keeps a kind but firm grip on the sulking Charlie as we head in from the desert chill. Honestly, she's just overtired and acting out. Even during the short walk to the main building, Henri is half-asleep on my shoulder, his not insignificant weight seeming to grow exponentially to her tiredness.
Being a parent has been an adventure for me. It's tiring and maddening and the best job I've ever had outside of loving their mother. Even when I want to strangle the little monsters, I cannot help but adore them utterly.
In the warm hominess of the Great Room, Charlie makes a break for it, surprising Monica and squirming away. Even as I shout at her, Jamie melts from the crowd and apprehends her, to my relief. At two and a half, the mind boggles at what sort of trouble she could get into. Thwarted and frustrated, the tears come out, the volume of her petulant distress threatening to upset every other small child within a thousand yards.
"Here, trade me, Jamie. Nice catch, by the way. You're getting really good at that."
"Practice," the seventeen-year-old chuckles and passes me the squalling Charlie and takes the boys. When Michel looks forlorn at my leaving him, I chuck the boy lightly on the chin.
"I'll be back soon, beau. I promise."
He smiles beatifically and looks appraisingly at Jamie, who he barely knows. That leaves me to take my bundle of temper tantrum to our rooms upstairs to calm down.
++ Dana ++
Oh good, it looks like Monica has managed to rescue Michael enough to get Charlie out of the room to settle down. With all of the excitement and the time zone change and the late dinner, it's inevitable that someone was going to melt down. My little man, just a few months younger than Michael's brood, is happily chowing on the plate of potluck goodies Dace plopped in front of him a few minutes ago. Dace's girls, thirteen months older than he, are also busy stuffing their faces.
They seem particularly enamored of the luscious looking macaroni and cheese casserole brought in by Kat. No doubt some of that special magic of her moms is at work here. The thought makes me smile and ruffle William's sorrel locks.
"Hola, mi corazon (Hello, my heart)," Monica purrs as she comes over to give me a lusty kiss that makes the Bogart twins giggle and my heart race. Once I'm let up for air, she waits until I smile helplessly before leaning over to press a kiss to William's head. "Qué bueno, hijo (Is it good, son)?" Nodding, he offers a sloppy spoonful that she snaps up with gusto.
Every child that lives here is multi-lingual due to the diversity of the adults around them, but William hears almost exclusively Spanish from his Mexican-raised mama. Even I'm getting fairly fluent by proximity. But I still feel awkward conversing in it, as it never seems to come fluidly. But they are both patient with me.
"Gracías, amante (thank you, lover)," I murmur with true affection to Monica, who grins warmly and kisses me again. We both smile into the liplock as a flash goes off, in chorus with a group of 'awwww' from several of our friends.
"All this mush even without any mistletoe," Zo laughingly marvels and both Steph and Jo chuckle along. "When the brood starts to fade, the mattresses have been laid out over by the fireplace."
"Hell, I'm ready for it now," I whine, earning laughter and a reproachful look from my son. He doesn't like when I use words that he can't. It's confusing. So I kiss his crown again in apology before excusing myself to get some food in me. I'll need my strength for the rest of this long night.
++ Rachel ++
Some part of me feels as though I should be more exhausted than this. After all, the witching hour is long past in our vigil for the sun to return. I'm blearily tired, but the solstice energy coursing through my soul and body has kept me awake. At the massive farmhouse table, Alex and Darya are pouring intently over a puzzle to keep themselves occupied, also wired by the intense, simmering energy.
As is, no surprise, Michel. Leaning heavily into my ribs, the youngest of our clan dozes in and out of consciousness, unable to truly sleep. For once in his young life, I don't pressure him to stop fighting wakefulness, hypersensitive on this night to how responsive he really is to these magical things beyond most people's ken. Besides, I love the weight of his wiry little body curled so trustingly into mine while I read quietly.
"Go fish," Darya murmurs with a giddy smile in her tone and Alex sighs in exasperation.
"Oh shut up."
They've been bantering and bickering back and forth to chase off boredom and tiredness, but the intervals between the sounds of their voices grows longer and longer. "Girls?" I ask quietly into the quiet. "Why don't you catch a few winks before dawn? I'll keep vigil with the little man here."
"We're fine," Alex demurs while Darya makes an annoyed and amused noise.
"Nuh uh," Michel scoffs as he shifts and pulls at my arm until I'm forced to hold the book with one hand. "You are cranky. You always say that I need a nap when I am cranky."
Darya is choking on her laughter and I can clearly picture Alex's glare behind me.
"Do take his advice, loves," I say in my most placid, deadpan voice, never taking my eyes from my novel. There's no point in aggravating either woman, particularly my wife, by teasing them. Even if it takes some real effort…
With small sounds, the movements of Alex and Darya are translated to my ears and I wait for my love to lean over me and say her peace. She does not disappoint and I'm surprised and concerned by just how exhausted and wasted she really looks. "Are you sure you're okay on your own to stay awake?"
Smiling lovingly at her, I tug the coveted black curls until I can kiss her sweet mouth. "Absolutely. I feel very peaceful and zen right now. Besides, I have the magical moon child here with me. We'll wake you in about an hour and a half to wake the others and greet the sun."
"Love you," she murmurs softly, almost childlike and wobbles over to the pile of bodies that contain Rose and Dace's pack. The elder Sentinel's blonde head jerks up alertly at the disturbance, takes note of what's going on and immediately returns to slumber. Despite any differences we may still have, Dace's eternal vigil over those she cares for never wavers and I appreciate that sense of safety.
"You'll see," I tell Michel where he is intently examining my trapped hand as though it will tell him the secrets of the universe. "With a nap, your mama will be more herself again."
"Yes, Maman," he replies distractedly and I kiss his head before settling back to our quiet vigil.
++ Alexis ++
The bubble of isolation, the constant, cold aloneness of my life is little more than a hard, icy kernel at my core now. Oh, it never goes away, but it no longer controls my very existence day in and day out. That I will never know the one who died, the one who was meant for me no longer is such a torment. Tory has been a big help with that and she stirs at my side as in response to my thoughts. The others around me, most of them sprawled around the great room in various stages of sleep, do even more.
The Guides soothe me as best they can, their combined presences melting away the glacier inside of me to that little ball of pure ice that will never fade. Tonight is a good night, when I feel completely normal, the madness of my broken existence quieted to a low hum at the periphery of my mind. Tonight, the wounds dealt to my soul are scars, throbbing only with the faint memories of how they came to be.
"'Lexis?" says a quiet child's voice, far closer than I would have believed. Eyes confirm ears and I smile at the sleepy Michel. "You are not sleeping and it is almos' time. Can you help me?"
Eagerly, I nod and wiggle away from Tory's compact body, pausing to stretch out the long night. Michel wanders off, wearily intent on his task and I look over to his pale mother for permission. As I am broken and unpredictable, this is what I must do time after time. The almost eerie calm of Rachel makes me smile, the expression echoed on her face. That one is the most powerful among us, a force of nature, and as she grows ever more powerful, her sense of calm and control grows as well.
It is very soothing to the likes of me, just as her fury is terrifying. Really, I don't know how Dace deals with it. Speaking of Dace, one sleepy blue eye opens as I mince closer, the twins doing the same moments later. "It's almost time," I explain softly and relish their matched trio of smiles.
Soon the room is full of sound and movement as our clan stumbles into the fading night in various stages of wakefulness. Following Rachel and Darya and Alex, we gather on the big central lawn where I hang back at the edges of the group, clinging to Tory's warm hand.
Black fades slowly to blue, like a bruise healing, the colors shading towards pale yellow, with the wisps of clouds pink and cream. Even the children are quiet and still, caught up in this long, drawn out magic of reawakening.
"The dawn," Rachel speaks into the quiet just as the first rays of the sun spear over the nearby foothills and we sigh as one entity. For an endless moment, we are one with each other and the world around us. Boundaries of the modern world fall away and we truly feel the amazing turn of the seasons as our ancestors must have. The pulse of nature in all of her complexities is like our own heartbeats.
When the babble of normalcy returns with the growing sun, children complaining of hunger and tiredness, adults returning to their familiar roles, I know that it is a magic that is fleeting, yet permanent.
Let the seasons turn again.