Monday evening, 7:35 PM. Although mostly hidden, the moon periodically peaks from behind the onslaught of clouds. Chill winds creep across the city, which keeps the temperature fairly low. Temps: 3C/37F lows and 8C/46F highs.
skin credit goes to miss texas, custom structure scripts go to black, and the toggle cbox goes to subdevo. credit for mini profile goes to bee.
The brisk air hits him when he walks outside of the tavern in pursuit of Sam. Matt buttons up his jean jacket, but leaves the black leather jacket he wears over it unzipped. The young shaman drinks in the scenery as he walks along the sidewalk. He notices that the small town isn't exactly bustling. It seems like most of the shops are closed for the night. The tavern being one of the few businesses still open and taking in patrons.
Matt imagines Istanbul proper to be a much different sight at the moment. Busy and with a traffic full of people. The perfect place for Max to get lost in the crowd and become difficult to track.
(What are you hiding from? Running from?)
He looks to Sam and realizes that with her help his brother Max may not have the option to run and hide much longer. He'll have to face Matt and be confronted with the hard fact that in his quest for vengeance he officially broke apart what little family he had left.
Matt draws in a breath to keep his cool. He tries to bury the hurt feelings over being abandoned by his brother and the loss of their father. So, he thinks back on Sam's words about believing there is a reason she met the two Johnson brothers. As a Shaman, Matt has been taught to respect and honor fate and destiny. Part of him wonders if Sam's own personal destiny is tied more to the magical than the mundane.
"When you met Max," he begins to question Sam about her encounter with his wayward brother. Both as a distraction and an opportunity to learn more about what Max has been up to. "How was he? I mean, was he okay? What exactly did you guys talk about?"
Outside, the air is on the chilly side and Sam pulls the zip up on her jacket as she walks. After a few days, this scene is familiar to her. The tavern is the loudest, brightest business still open on the street, but there’s a certain beautiful quality to the mostly quiet streets.
She loves big cities, but there’s something about small towns and quiet suburbs at night that Sam appreciates.
For a moment Sam contemplates breaking the comfortable silence, but lets it linger for a few moments longer while Matt collects himself and his thoughts. She doesn’t quite understand - can’t quite relate - to his present circumstances. She’s neither lost a parent or had a wayward sibling. It’s hard not to start thinking about the circumstances that must have led to the estrangement - for surely, that’s what this must be - between the two brothers.
It seems oddly out of character if all she takes into account is the surface knowledge she has of the both of them. In reality? Sam has nothing concrete - nothing real - with which to make any such assumptions. For all she knew, both brothers could be playing her, in their own way, and she’d never even know it.
Her gut instinct says they’re not, but she’s been wrong before.
When Matt does speak up, she turns her head slightly, to watch him as they walk.
"When you met Max, how was he? I mean, was he okay? What exactly did you guys talk about?”
Sam shrugs her shoulders. It’s not indifference, but the question - despite it’s apparent simplicity - is not easy to answer.
“He seemed fine,” she answers, “but I guess I’m not going to be the best gauge on that front, I don’t really know him. I mean, he was charming and polite, and aside from a bad habit at picking the labels off his beer, he didn’t seem like he was in trouble, or anything like that.” He had seemed distracted, too, having the uncanny ability to pay attention and not all at the same time, but nothing that had set alarm bells ringing in her mind.
As for their conversations?
Sam almost asked, have you ever walked into a bar and started talking to a complete stranger? but the question was pretty much redundant in this case. Instead, she went with, “I don’t know. It was New Year’s Eve and we talked about goals like world domination and puppy daycares. It was that kind of random conversation you have with a complete stranger who you don’t expect to ever see again."
She shoved her hands in her jean pockets, facing forward. “He didn’t talk about his family. He did mention that he’d been in the military and that he was travelling on his own terms now."
Sam turned her head again. “Are you worried that he’s in trouble?"
At first, Matt keeps his gaze locked on Sam while he waits for her reply. There is uncertainty on what answer he hopes to hear. Knowing something, even bad news, is better than not knowing anything at all. Or so he assumes. And, unfortunately, Matt's anxiousness gets the better of him while he ponders the possible scenarios. It seems like the pair continue to walk for minutes without a response from Sam.
This extended flow of time is all in his head though. No more than thirty seconds pass by before an answer is provided. But due to his attentiveness, Matt doesn't miss that Sam's initial response is physical and nonverbal. She simply shrugs her shoulders and Matt has to decipher what it really means.
Rather despondently, he turns his head. It is in this moment Matt realizes Sam's encounter with Max may have been brief. Not long enough for Sam to get a good grasp on his brother or his most recent state of being.
But he knows Max made some kind of impression on Sam. She would not have remembered him so vividly otherwise. Then again, Matt is left to wonder…
Internally, he thoughtfully muses on the meaning behind Sam's shrug. Was Max not okay? Or was he okay, in a generic sense that requires no real elaboration? Matt questions how much he would care either way. If Max is in some sort of trouble, would he feel sympathetic for his brother or chalk it up to his karmic fate? Matt quietly ignores the fact that he has so many mixed feelings regarding Max. It's hard for him to cull his true thoughts from the myriad of emotions bubbling deep inside of him.
"He seemed fine, but I guess I’m not going to be the best gauge on that front, I don’t really know him."
Matt nods in understanding. Earlier his mind was overreacting due to his anxiousness mixed with his grief and anger. Now that he is so close to finding Max, he has become wrought with mixed emotions and he doesn't know what to do. So, Matt makes the decision to simply listen. Gather the intel he needs and then go from there.
"I mean, he was charming and polite, and aside from a bad habit at picking the labels off his beer, he didn’t seem like he was in trouble, or anything like that."
Matt chuckles softly.
(Sounds like him.)
"I don’t know. It was New Year’s Eve and we talked about goals like world domination and puppy daycares. It was that kind of random conversation you have with a complete stranger who you don’t expect to ever see again."
"Yeah, I know what you mean." Matt says, and his eyes drift back to look at Sam. Max had become a ghost after his last disappearance. Matt doesn't expect him to leave behind too strong of a trail.
"He didn’t talk about his family. He did mention that he’d been in the military and that he was travelling on his own terms now. Are you worried that he’s in trouble?"
Matt shakes his head to answer Sam's question. He believes her to be only half right. "Not with anyone else. Just himself." It's as honest an answer Matt can give without delving too deeply into his family history. He doesn't think talk about demons and murder and quests for vengeance will go over well with Sam.
Then again, she is taking him to meet a gypsy in hopes that she will be able to psychically locate his brother. Maybe Sam can handle the truth? However, Matt realizes there is a difference between believing in the psychic world and coming face to face with real demons.
He couldn't do that to Sam. He couldn't willingly do that to any mortal.
"My brother," Matt continues with a more mundane explanation, "is his own worst enemy sometimes."
There’s something like relief that seeps through Sam when Matt tells her that the only person Max might be in trouble with was himself. On one hand, it was a far more complicated set of trouble, but in many ways it’s also something of a relief.
She doesn’t understand why it’s so important to her, though. All of this.
Yes, she’s used to helping people - it’s something she’s almost always done, ever since she was a child - and yet, for her? She doesn’t usually find herself so immediately embroiled in someone else’s problems so quickly.
It’s unusual, and she wonders if it has anything to do with Alyson disappearing. Sam’s not helpless without her - on the contrary, there's something to be said for doing things her own way - but there’s a certain sense of loss to not knowing where someone who’s been there for significant life events is, even if their relationship is strictly business. Perhaps she relates a little better to Matt’s situation than she first thought.
“Aren’t we all though?” she says in response to Matt’s comments about Max being his own worst enemy. “I think it’s just human nature."
And maybe that’s why the vampires and the demons seem so unburdened?
It does beg the question, again, what exactly has happened to Max to send him off on this path. It’s also none of her business.
By her recollection, they’re not too far off from the gypsy’s store now. A few minutes, maybe. Time always passes quicker with company.
Sam also wonders what exactly will happen when they reach their destination. By rights, she should drop Matt off and let him have his encounter with the gypsies. She’s not sure whether to pray that they can help him (and expose him to magic), thus finding his brother, or that they can’t. The latter would leave Matt in a far worse state, she imagines, but becoming deeply knowledgeable of the magical world has the potential for causing greater problems.
“He’s lucky to have you, you know,” Sam says. She glances sideways at Matt. He’s an inch or two shorter than she is, and probably a few years younger, although she’s always had trouble pin-pointing people’s ages. Facts she hadn't noticed until then. By rights, he should be out enjoying his life, not having to chase his brother around the globe to deliver the news of his father’s death. There has to be something going on, something that prompted Max to leave in the first place.
“I mean,” Sam adds, smiling, “not a lot of people travel half-way across the world to find someone who’s doing their best not to be found."
Her heart is aching. Not just from her own pain, but the pain she feels from another. She searches out this pain to extinguish it. The anger that such a pain exists pushes her to see that it is permanently put to an end. She will hunt out the location of such a travesty and see it stopped.
A feral growl escapes her lips and the fiend casts a calculated leer through the shadows of the small town. The source of the pain is near. She can sense it. Her powers leave her restless, and so the Banshee makes her move. She travels at incredible speeds and leaps unfathomable bounds while moving from rooftop to rooftop. Soon the demon is high above a small storefront and begins to stealthy stalk a couple walking along the sidewalk.
She's found it. The unbearable pain that is aching her heart. She doesn't know why the pain is there, but she knows that it must end. Now that she is so close, she can't stand such an intense pain. (How? How can they stand it?!) Her thoughts run vivid with confusion and she can't contain the blood curling SCREAM that bursts from deep within.
The demon leaps from the rooftop and drops in front of the man and woman. There is several feet in distance between them, but her focus isn't on a physical attack. Her eyes become wild and filled with anger, confusion and pain. All she knows is the pain has to stop and she will be the one to stop it. The Banshee looks at MATT and SCREAMS again.
Matt nods at Sam's question. She is right, everyone is predisposed to their own weaknesses. However, Matt can't help but feel that Max suffers more than others. He believes his brother to be lacking something that would help him cope with battling himself. He is uncertain of what that is. Compassion, perhaps?
Matt only knows his brother as someone who has put his own selfish desires above others. To the detriment of himself and his family. The young shaman looks up at the night sky. The crescent moon hanging high above is beautiful. Without the intensity of city light, even the stars are luminescent. He grows a smile, however ridden with sadness it may be.
"He’s lucky to have you, you know."
At Sam's compliment, Matt drops his gaze and look over at the tall blonde. Confusion is riddled in his eyes.
"I mean, not a lot of people travel half-way across the world to find someone who’s doing their best not to be found."
"Maybe he's not lucky, and I'm just stupid." Matt retorts and shoves his hands into the pockets of his leather jacket. He looks away from Sam and mulls over her words. Luck and the Johnson family? He isn't sure that is true. Unless, you want to count the bad luck they have suffered throughout the years.
"I guess—" Matt begins but then he is abruptly cut off by a piercing scream. He flinches and looks around for the source of it. Then a demon drops down out of nowhere. Though there is some considerable distance between them, she looks particularly feral. Then she proves this assumption true when she lets out another scream. The glass of neighboring windows crack from the intensity. Those closest to the demon even shatter into pieces.
Matt instinctively pulls his hands from his pockets to cover his ears. The scream hurts and out of fear he SHIFTS. The human that is Matt Johnson exists no more as he transforms into a brown colored sparrow. The small bird hovers in the air, flaps its wings feverishly and releases a high-pitched squawk.
Sam sighs, confused again. She’s no clue about what’s going on with Matt, or his brother, and she ought to know better than to offer what amounts to platitudes, no matter how well intentioned, or how strongly she believed them.
“Don’t say that,” Sam says, although her voice is quiet and spoken forward into the night, not towards Matt. If there’s one thing she can’t abide, it’s people putting themselves down.
Matt begins to speak again, but his words are cut off by a sound that Sam hasn’t heard before. A shriek that pierces through the otherwise still night. Matt flinches, but Sam doesn’t; instinctively she starts looking for the source, identifying quickly that the sound came from above them, somewhere ahead.
Then, the demon drops to the ground before them and Sam starts running through the list of possibilities here. She’d spent one particularly memorable afternoon (if only because of the annoyance she’d made of herself in her curiousity) quizzing her Whitelighter on the different types of demons. Her skills might be vampire-centric, but that didn’t preclude her from running into other monsters along the way. The shriek, and the wild, feral look of the demon in front of her suggest Banshee.
Really not her purview, and yet when the demon lets out another scream, Sam drops to one knee, letting her bag fall to the ground beside her while she covers her ears with her hands. Beside her, Matt’s covered his ears, and she turns to look, to make sure he’s okay when she sees something that makes her stare with open shock. One second, Matt’s there and the next, he’s not, the man replaced by a sparrow and if she wasn’t currently under apparent-attack from a banshee she might have cursed fate and destiny both for her predicament.
Magic sought out magic, or so it seemed.
Now Matt was a bird and the banshee was screaming and Sam couldn’t stand still a moment longer. It might not be a vampire, but she needed to stop the screams before she wasn’t able to any longer, and before anyone else was hurt. She launched herself towards the banshee, running low and fast, putting as much speed and strength behind her as she could in her current state, straight towards the banshee.
Sam had no idea how to get rid of the demon, but she was going to try and knock the wind out of it if she could. Stop it from screaming. She hoped Matt had the good sense to get the hell out of there.
The pain she zeroed in on escapes her. She witnesses her intended victim transform from a man and into a bird. Her eyes begin to boil with anger. And just as the Banshee begins to let loose a screeching scream in frustration, with the intention of unleashing the full magnitude of her power, the demon finds herself being tackled to the ground.
The impact of the blow causes the Banshee to tumble back several feet as she collides into the cold hard ground. The body that crashes into her is strong. It feels like she has been struck by an eight hundred pound wrecking ball. If she had not been a demon the blow would have immediately knocked her unconscious if not outright killed her. However, her own enhanced durability helps the Banshee withstand the unexpected tackle and recover.
This woman is supernaturally strong. Almost as strong as the Banshee herself. However, the demoness cannot sense much grief emanating from the blonde. And with Matt off her senses, she can not channel his pain to empower her scream. The Banshee knows she must resort to using her physical powers to defend herself.
"IT HAS TO BE STOPPED!"
The cursed demon taps into her enhanced strength and attempts to throw a fully empowered punch at the woman. She intends for the blow to be strong enough to send her attacker catapulting off of her.
Matt, in sparrow form, continues to hover in the air with the support of his newly crafted wings. With his emotions running rampant, the young man finds he is stuck in this shift. The shaman's current focus is on gathering his bearings and calming himself. Rather unexpectedly, his power automatically activated based on adrenaline and his emotional trigger. This resulted in Matt turning into the first animal he ever connected with as a child.
When he was no more than six years old, Matt sat outside in his front yard and watched a small sparrow hop around in a tree. It seemed carefree, peaceful. A curious Matt reached out with his animal empathy and formed a connection with the animal. Almost immediately afterward he performed his first shift. It was both thrilling and frightening. However, the comfort he felt by the experience helped him to feel safe in his new form. The sparrow became his go-to shift.
With all the years he's experienced with his powers, this isn't the first time Matt has instinctively shifted. It is, however, the first time he has done it with a mortal present.
(Shit! Shit! SHIT!)
So much has occurred in the briefest of moments. Matt simultaneously revealed his powers while being under attack by a demon. Unfortunately, Matt is not certain what demon is trying to kill them. With a sharper vision than most mortals, Matt seeks out Sam to make sure she is not in any immediate danger. Instead, he catches sight of the woman plowing into the demon at super speeds.
(That's not normal…)
Matt thinks there's more to Sam than he originally suspected. If not from the display of her physical capabilities, then the way she charges at the demon without concern or fear.
(Who is she?)
Matt realizes he cannot do much in his current form to assist Sam and so he tries to concentrate on getting his emotions under control. It is the only way he will be able to shift back into his human form.
If anyone ever stopped to ask Sam what went through her head when it came to fighting, the only word that would spring to her mind was survival. It was what drover her in a fight and stopped the fear from creeping in and disabling her far more effectively than any vampire, demon or other creature of darkness.
Once upon a time, Sam would never have considered herself a fighter.
A lot can change in nine years.
Hitting the banshee is almost like hitting a brick wall (and she’s done that a few times). Sam might have enhanced strength, but so do most magical creatures and she doesn’t think she’s caused the banshee much damage at all, at least not if the demon’s recovery time is any indicator.
Whether the result of the tackle or for some other unknown reason, the banshee’s no longer screaming - which suits Sam fine, she doesn’t need the headache - but she is yelling about it needing to stop. Rolling to her own recovery position, Sam tries to remember as much as she can about banshees. Something about pain and loss fuelling the banshee’s powers.
Sam doesn’t have long to think about it because the demon is telegraphing her next move, clear as day. Sam moves a split-second before the punch finds its target. The move ensured she didn’t take the full force of the hit, but it’s enough to send her crashing backwards, propelling by the enhanced strength of the demon.
That’s going to hurt later, Sam muses unenthusiastically, rolling back up into a crouch. She’ll heal, of course, but her enhanced durability didn’t rule out pain.
Within seconds Sam’s back on her feet, changing tacts. She doesn’t know how to kill a banshee; she could improvise, but she needs time to think. She knows, without looking around, that Matt’s still a bird. How? Well, she has bigger problems at hand and that’s something to be dealt with later.
Sam holds up her hands to the banshee, adopting a non-combative stance. “What do you want?” Sam asks, trying to buy time. She’s only good in a physical fight, but she suspects she out-matched without a good opening.
The demon's fist connects and the huntress crashes to the ground some feet away from her. Demonic blue eyes glare at her only adversary. While she lost the connection to the one who drew her here, the Banshee still has her own pain to contend with. She raises her hands and claws at her head.
This is all too much for her!
She looks skywards and her mouth creaks open. "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!" A brief scream escapes her lips, but because she doesn't have Matt's grief to tap into, it is not magical in its manifestation. This saves Sam from falling victim to the effects of a true sonic scream.
When the scream desists, she hears the question posed by Sam. It confuses her. The Banshee drops her gaze, cants her head and leers at Sam. How could this woman not know what she wants? She already explained that the pain has to stop.
The world's pain.
It's all too agonizing!
The Banshee becomes angry at this woman in spite of her non-combative stance. "Death is the only answer!" She shouts and her words are fueled with a feral venom that cuts through the cold Turkish winds. To prove her wisdom true, the white haired demon takes angered steps forward.
She snarls at Sam with each new stride.
Too blinded by emotion to fight smartly, the Banshee's next move is clear to predict. She starts to run forward and jumps up. Her body flies high in the air as her agility pushes her a good distance of ten feet high. The Banshee allows her full body weight to come crashing down towards Sam. Her sharp claws are bared as she scratches through the air. Her intention is to claw at Sam's face the moment she potentially makes contact with the human woman.
(OOC: Posting out of order with John's permission.)
The screaming was getting old. (Although if what Sam knew of banshees was correct, she was getting off lightly, and so any complaint at this point was not going to pass her lips.)
There was something truly off about the demon in front of her. Wild. Untamed.
Anger that has no tangible cause, at least not to Sam.
"Death is the only answer!”
“Well that explains it,” Sam mutters under her breath, even as the banshee steps forward, slowly. Angrily.
This wasn’t going to end well.
All pre tense gone now - whatever slim chance Sam might have put towards resolving this issue now irrelevant - Sam let her arms fall to her side. She’s no longer a non-combatant. She might not hold a weapon, or be striking a ridiculous pose, but every part of Sam was taut. Coiled. Ready to move based on the actions of the demon.
Banshees might not be her forte, but if Sam had to, she’d take a chance on taking the thing’s head off (which, if nothing else, would slow it down) before the demon took off and potentially caused harm to an innocent. She had a few weapons in her bag, a few feet away, that she’d chance reaching if she got the opportunity.
This was the flip side of her life.
The banshee snarls as she steps forward. Sam’s fingers curl up instinctively.
As a child, Sam had never been able to bring herself to harm any living creature. Not even spiders, even though they weren’t her favourite thing in the world. Then she’d learnt that vampires were real. Demons, too. Magic and mystical forces beyond her comprehension, and it was her new responsibility to learn how to fight; how to kill. She’d been sick for a week the first time.
The banshee moved to a run, launching herself into the air. Sam saw the outcome clearly: the demon would drop down, allowing gravity to give her the advantage of crashing down on Sam, enough to disorientate or incapacitate Sam. The demon’s claws were extended, outstretched. It was sloppy to telegraph one’s movements so freely, and in that split second, Sam knew what she would do.
Until the last split-second, before the banshee landed in the spot where Sam had been. Calling on her own agility, Sam had moved. Not far, but far enough out of range that the banshee might have to compensate on her landing.
Sam was behind her. Without waiting for the banshee to recover, she put all her strength behind a kick to the back of the banshee’s knees, hoping it would buy her precious time to reach her weapons.
Teresa follows behind Abraham and Brianna Duval. Dark eyes remain on her children. She knows both are grown adults. Abraham's wounds disappear instantly. Brianna, though not tested in battle, has sharp instincts. She inherited those from her late father. Still, Teresa can't help staring at the back of their wonderful heads. She watches her children.
While the darkness watches them all.
Her fingers itch to grab the fire potion in her purse. No, she steels herself. Teresa needs to trust the plan. Setting her jaw, she continues striding behind the two people she helped raise and nurture. This shouldn't take too- She freezes, feeling glass crunch beneath her shoes. Teresa slowly glances down...
So much glass. Most of it comes from the windshields of cars. She follows the trail of broken glass to something quite incredible.
She instinctively moves to stand in front of her children. However, Teresa pauses and realizes the banshee isn't attacking an average white woman. In a flash of blond hair, the innocent moves to kick the beast's legs. Her eyes narrow; is she a vampire? No... Her perception would've picked up on that. This stranger is something else entirely.
"Abraham," she breathes. "Shoot the beast. We'll protect the girl and..." Her eyes take in the sparrow for the first time. She frowns, puzzled.
Matt!Sparrow flutters about in the sky during the midst of Sam's battle with the banshee. The little brown bird circles the curb of the sidewalk in panic. His mind initially focuses on calming his emotions, but Matt's deep concerns for Sam's safety halts the progression of his meditation. Instead of worrying about himself, Matt is on the look out for Sam. Yet, what he sees is not a woman in danger. He sees one that is holding her own against a powerful demon.
Whatever Sam is, she is powerful enough to go toe to toe with a banshee.
There is little Matt!Sparrow can do for his new ally, but he knows that even with the amount of power Sam displays, it doesn't guarantee she is going to make it out of this one alive. At least not without some magical assistance. So, the small bird swoops down to the ground and settles behind a parked car near the sidewalk. Matt!Sparrow is now some distance between the ensuing battle.
(Okay, Matt, concentrate…you can do this.)
With a deep breath, Matt!Sparrow wills himself to SHIFT back into his human form.
"Whoa." Matt mouths the exclamation and wobbles on his newly reformed human feet. It takes a few seconds, but he gains his balance. Ready to aid Sam, Matt moves from around the parked car.
(Alright, now where's Sam and the—)
Troubled thoughts are abruptly stopped when the shaman sees three people are standing behind Sam. They look to be watching the fight, but Matt isn't sure if they are friend, foe, or innocents. Even though he is curious as to who they are, Matt knows he has little time to think or question their presence. Sam needs his help. Or so he believes.
Without any further thought, Matt rushes forward. During his run, he reaches into the inner pocket of his leather coat and quickly pulls free a potion vial. It is a stunning potion, often used to blind the victim, which he learned to craft from one of his father's books. Matt isn't sure the potion is going to work, but it's worth a shot.
The closer he gets to the battle, the more of the scene he can make out. Sam kicks the demon from behind, and the trio of locals stand further behind her. Matt, left in front of the demon, pulls back his hand and throws his STUN POTION at the demon.