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This Is the Way the World Ends, Part 18

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Jul. 26th, 2004 | 12:32 am
mood: recumbentrecumbent
posted by: semaphore27 in monaboyd

Author: Semaphore
Pairing: Billy/Dom
Rating: PG-13, violence and language
Summary: It's the end of the world as we know it and no one feels fine. The world of Lotrips mingles with Stephen King’s The Stand. I'm just ashamed how long it's been since I updated this story! When last seen, the four Hobbits and their new companions were camped out in a Bed, Bath and Beyond store, in a shopping mall on the edge of desolation. They had a few our before the wolves would be arriving. Someone probably should have set an alarm clock.
Feedback: longed for and appreciated. So many thanks to all who've commented so far!
Disclaimers: This is entirely fictional. No disrespect intended. The people involved belong to themselves. The Stand was written by Stephen King. The title comes from T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men." Max quotes a piece of Neil Gaiman's The Wolves In the Wall again and Dom's "awfully big adventure" quote is from J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. The German words in Dom's flashback (not to state the obvious) are "Our Fathers" and "Hail Marys."
Previous chapters and other writings can be found at: Caraidean



This Is the Way the World Ends, Part 18

Dom jerks into a half-alert state, shouting. “You didn’t wake me. God, you didn’t wake me!” Out in the dark, he can feel them, the wolves, and heat from the SUV burning, and voices that speak less in words than they do in howls.

He’s staggering through the dark, because it’s always dark where he is. Always dark except for his times of vision, and that’s not anything like a fair exchange, because it’s nearly always frightening, and he never gets to see what he loves best anymore. Billy gazing down at him with his green eyes softened. Billy rising above him. Billy’s face as he draws closer, and closer still, for a kiss. At least Dom can still feel him, though not just now, because Billy isn’t sleeping with him.

He wants to yell out, ‘Foes! Fire! Flood!' like the Bucklanders in Lord of the Rings, but he’s damned if he’s going to. Besides which, he doesn’t want to send out into the world any echoing noise that might be heard. Dom’s never been so aware of his own vulnerability.

A wave of longing for the old world that will never be again washes over him, a world in which, if creepy people were giving one a hard time, one could call the police, a world of clubs and lunches with friends and international flights. A world in which nearly all the people he knew and loved weren’t dead.

Dom slips out of the Hobbit-sized bed, feeling with his toes for the floor. His first thought is Billy, how to reach Billy and wake him, how to wake his other friends before their fragile security is breached completely. From too close by, there’s the sudden blast of a gun firing, one shot right after another, like something from a film, and Dom instinctively drops, feeling nothing at all like Daredevil, the man without fear, not feeling any sudden, drastic heightening of his other senses to compensate for his loss of sight.

Mostly what Dom feels is his knees bruising as they hit the floor, a mad sense of panic that makes him want to be sick and a rush of abject fear that he won’t find Billy, that they’ll be separated, that something will happen to Billy, that Billy will be hurt and it will all be Dom's fault, because of his own helplessness.

“Bills,” he’s muttering. “Bills, Bills, Bills.” But then a familiar grip is closing on his arm, at almost the same moment they’re knocked down, by something powerful and harsh and incredibly smelly.

Billy lands on top of him, knocking the breath from Dom’s lungs, but Dom’s rolling, putting his body on top of Billy’s, shielding him, whilst Billy’s muttering. “What’n hell do you think you’re doing, y’feckin’ daftie?”

There’s a blow from above them, sharp nails or claws cutting through Dom’s shirt, scratching his back, and somewhere in the dark what has to be little Max is screaming, and Elijah’s yelling, “It’s all right, it’s all right, honey, I won’t let them hurt you, I won’t, I won’t.”

Dom’s trying to scramble up, his stockinged feet slipping on the tile floor. Without even thinking, he kicks out, Wushu-style, actually connecting with something that’s soft and hard at the same time, foul breath gusting out over him with a grunt.

Three more shots blast out, blam blam blam, from too close by. Something heavy slams into Dom, leaking wetness. The odour’s unbelievable, bad enough to make him gag, but then there are strong hands on the shoulders of his shirt, dragging him from under the weight and to his feet. Dom lashes out, trying not to panic. “Dom. Sblomie. Chill, chill,” Sean’s voice pants. It’s a little high with tension, and possibly fear as well, not that Dom blames him for that in the least.

He laughs a little, hysterically. "Ta, mate."

"Don't mention it," Sean answers.

Dom gropes, following the guidance of his hearing as much as he can, feeling for something, anything--and there’s the film, solid shape of Sean’s chest. Dom leans against it, panting, and Sean hugs him briefly. “You okay, Dommie? You okay? What about Billy?”

“Dunno. Dunno. Bills?”

“’m okay,” comes Billy’s voice from somewhere beneath him. As Sean lets loose, Dom reaches down, groping again through the darkness until Billy’s small hand closes round his.

They’re hugging, tightly, but only for a moment.

Sean says, in that same frightened ton, “Bill, take this. They’re everywhere.”

“You didn’t wake me,” Dom says, not accusingly, but with frustration—and too loudly, because his ears are still ringing like churchbells. “Bills, you can’t protect me. Not when it’s our lives.”

Billy jerks away, and there’s another rapid-fire blare of gunfire, from both sides of Dom, and then someone else’s hand has closed around his wrist, tugging at him.

Elijah’s voice calls out, “Run, Dommie,” and Billy’s giving him a bit of a push.

“Goan, y’numpty, gie on out of here.” Billy sounds tough and very Scottish. He sounds like James Bond, ready for whatever the world throws at him.

Elijah’s running very fast, faster than he knew Lij could run, his hand closed brutally hard around Dom’s arm. Dom’s stumbling, falling, scrambling to his feet again. They blast through a set of doors. One swings back into his face, knocking him off balance again, but then they’re racing on, out into a large, echoing empty space.

Elijah’s panting, “Ohfuckohfuckohfuck,” and there’s little Max’s voice calling out,

“You said a swear, Lijah.”

Elijah runs Dom into something that clangs hollowly and bruises his hip, falling over with an even more deafening noise. It must be a rubbish bin, nothing but a rubbish bin. Most likely they’ve escaped into the inner courtyard of the shopping precinct.

Dom struggles for his balance, still stumbling as they start to run again. He soon gets up to speed, though it’s not easy to run, blind and in his socks. Elijah’s panting with a tearing sound. He’s not a runner, never has been. It’s amazing, really, what a little fear for one’s life will do for one’s athletic prowess.

There’s another crash through a second set of doors, then the outdoor heat strikes Dom in the face. It’s easier to run now, with tarmac under his feet instead of lino, and although there’s gravel and what might be broken glass, and the surface seems extremely hot. Dom scarcely notices the pain. Adrenaline’s pumping through his body, filling his mouth with a flat, metallic taste.

“Ohfuck, ohfuck, oh holy fuck,” Elijah breathes, wheezing now.

“What is it?” Dom gasps in return—except he knows, really. A heat washes over his face that’s separate from the heat of the summer air. There’s fire, fire everywhere, and the wind reeks of smoke and petrol.

Dom receives a flash of vision: the flames leaping up, red and orange against the night sky, the silhouettes of the wolves sharp-edged against all that burning colour.

There’s Elijah beside him, clutching Max in his arms, the two of them disheveled and heavy-eyed with sleep, rumpled and kitten-haired.

With a strange sensation of doubling: there’s the vision of the fire and all that’s approaching them on one side; the darkness and Elijah’s hand gripping tightly, now, to Dom’s upper arm on the other.

“I love you, man, I love you, Dommie,” Elijah’s mumbling, and Dom slips out of Elijah’s hold to wrap his arms around the two of them, the little boy and his best friend.

"'To die will be an awfully big adventure,'" Dom murmurs. God, but he's scared. "'To die will be an awfully big adventure." He can feel both Max and Elijah’s hearts beating madly against his chest.

“I’m sorry I got so weird, Dommie,” Elijah says. “I’m sorry I gave you a bad time.”

“It’s all right, Doodle. Love you anyway.”

“We’d fight them if we could, right? Only I don’t think we can fight them. There’s just too many.”

“Should try, though, I s'pose,” Dom answers. In truth, all the energy of his recent adrenaline rush has left him, leaving him with nothing but the lingering weakness of his recent illness and the way the visions have worn away at him. He feels eroded, unsteady.

“Do you think it was right, what Gandalf said?” Elijah asks. His fingers are twisted into Dom’s shirt, and the skin beneath, hard enough to bruise.

“What’s that, Lij?”

“You know.” Elijah speaks softly, “About seeing ‘white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.’"

The wolves are prowling closer now. The vision’s shut off, leaving Dom sightless again, but all he can think of is how lovely that would be, to go to a beautiful place and meet everyone he loves, who’s gone on ahead.

He remembers having a crush on that girl—what was her name, then? Yeah, Gisela Baumgarten, that's it. Sitting in Catechism Class as a boy, watching the way the sun shone through the dusty windows onto Gisela's bright blonde hair, the way the light would outline her profile. He remembers Father Ubermann catching hold of his ear and calling him a bad, naughty boy for not paying attention. He remembers the way he took a certain delight in going to confession and telling about all the pranks and misdeeds he’d not been caught at, knowing that the priest was constrained by the seal of the confessional into not passing the information on to his parents, and the numerous Vater Unsers and Gegrüsst seist du, Marias he’d be given as penance, which he’d actually never minded, because Dom liked the way the German words felt in his mouth, round and bright and furry, like eating ripe apricots.

He’s sorry he hasn’t kept up with his German, and wonders if there’s anyone left to speak the language. He supposes there must be, one out of a hundred, or ten out of a hundred people.

He’s just damned, suddenly, if he’ll let the wolves kill them without a fight. Even if it's feeble, it's something.

Dom lets loose of Elijah and turns to face the spot where the wolves must be, even though he knows quite well they’re all around him, really.

He’s shouting at them, words even he can’t understand, or hear very clearly, because Dom's ears are still ringing, and his heart’s pounding, but he fucking well doesn’t intend to go down without a fight.

Max’s voice, though, rises above his, screaming, “It’s all over! It’s all over!”

There’s howling, then, terribly animal yelps of terror and pain. The little boy’s body burns against his, hotter than humanly possible, and the pong of burning petrol fills up the air, making Dom feel even sicker.

Max’s fingers bite into his shoulder, stronger than any little boy’s should be.

Terrible, wet, breaking sounds follow. The whole world smells horribly sweet-bitter-coppery. All the air’s being sucked out of Dom's lungs and his nose is bleeding again, wet and sticky down his face. Max’s is too, and so is Elijah’s, because Dom can feel their blood flowing over him, and the sound of the small boy’s breath, whistling in his ear.

Elijah’s sinking, about to hit the tarmac, and though Dom tries to hold him up, he can’t manage. It seems his brain’s turning inside out

Dom thinks of the black feather, of Elijah playing with the black feather, and he slips his fingers into the breast pocket of Lij’s shirt, feeling the spiky quill there, feeling it snap in his fingers as he pulls it free.

He can feel, too, with some sense that isn't touch, as the feather rises, blue-black and shiny, caught by the wind, twirling away from them, into the fire.

Then, all in an instant, everything’s perfectly silent, and Dom would think he’s losing his hearing along with his sight, except that he can still make out the low, distant hiss of dying flames.

Wee Max is collapsing, then, into his arms, but Dom can no more hold him up, despite his small size, than he could support Elijah. Dom’s sinking then, too, down onto the ground to where Lij's already out cold, not moving. Dom head rests on Lij’s belly, not very comfortably, and his own consciousness ebbs and flows, ebbs and flows, until Dom's aware it will only be seconds before his awareness washes out entirely.

“What’n hell just happened?” he wonders.

The truth is, Dom knows.

Little Max killed them. Little Max killed them all, with some strange, unknown ability, and that may also explain why the boy was still alive when he was found at the rest stop, but also why his mind has gone strange, scarcely anything but the words of his favourite books left inside it.

Dom cuddles the little boy close, holding him tightly as he’s able. “It’s all right, love,” he whispers in Max’s ear. “’s all right. You only did what you could to save us.”

His thoughts go disjointed then, but Dom doesn’t intend to let loose of the boy in his arms. He’ll never let loose of him.

Billy, he thinks, Ah, God, Billy, be all right, won’t you, please? Can’t do this without you?

There’s a brief flash of Billy limping toward them, their three figures sprawled out on the ground, battered and blood-stained with the dead wolves around them. There's Billy’s face, tight with concern, leaning down toward them, Billy’s hand stroking the hair back from Dom’s forehead, his beloved voice saying softly. “Dommie? Still with us, are you, céile?”

Oh, that’s all right, then, Dom thinks, with some satisfaction, before everything fades away. Billy will find us.

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Comments {28}

Maree

(no subject)

from: ms_maree
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 01:34 am (UTC)
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Eeek...eeeek. Reading this after a little break is like plunging into episode of 24 in the middle of the action sequences...and about 500 times scarier.

And you're HURTING Dom again! What did I tell you Sema. I might have to start gettin a little more critical here (but he does look pretty when he hurts).

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 01:50 am (UTC)
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Heehee. I'll take that as a compliment. I really love writing action sequences.

Dom's not really hurt again, just temporarily passed out. I've taken a vow of non-Dom-hurting, and I'm trying my level best to stick to it, before people start laughing and pointing at me. :-)

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Maree

(no subject)

from: ms_maree
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 01:56 am (UTC)
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Ha, well knowing you, you're just gonna migrate to abusing Lijah or Billy - tsk, tsk, tsk.

One day I challenge you to write a story that's complete fluff...I know you can, I know it ;) *with kittens and puppies and perhaps a rainbow* and you can set it in my home town because the boys went clubbing here when they flew over for a holiday (and did I know, NOOOOO, dammitt).

Anyone I'll stop rambling now, this bloody cabin fever.

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Who, Me?

(no subject)

from: aire_blair
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 04:11 am (UTC)
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Forgive me for asking stupid but, has Max got that Drew Barrymore "Firestarter" thing going on?

And I'll take your word that Dommie is just passed out, and Billy really is right there next to him, Dom is not just imagining him there, right?

I know everyone has told you this, but, really, you are the best at this. Combing just the right elements to scare us silly, then give us just that little bit of hope that they will survive. But wait, while I'm typing this comment, I just caught a glimpse of the line about Billy limping toward Dom?? LIMPING???? Not my Billy!! Okay, I can see why, but not too much, please?

Erin

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 04:49 am (UTC)
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That's not stupid at all. The wolves started the fire, but little Max definitely has some Sissy Spacek Carrie action happening.

I promise! Just passed out, Billy on the way. Slightly battered from the fighting but okay. Nothing a couple aspirin and and icepack wouldn't cure.

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(no subject)

from: tenwords
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 04:19 am (UTC)
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hello there...

first, it's been a dog's age since i've commented, and i'm sorry about that. real world stuff has been keeping me rather crazy busy. i am still reading, and i am still loving the heck out of your writing. just, like i said, i've been very ungood about lj and commenting and time and such lately.

second, even though you've been focusing on the other stories recently, there was basically zero momentum lost in this one. man, this moved! yay for max, i say.

third, i am very curious about something that seems conspicuous to me, and i am eager to see if you've done what i think you've done. </is vague>

fourth, have a lovely day. :)

<hugs>

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 04:50 am (UTC)
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Oh, I know all about how RL can be! Thank you for saying such lovely things. :-)

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Aranel Took

(no subject)

from: aranel_took
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 06:05 am (UTC)
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Wow, that was intense! But Max saves them! And Elijah seems to be a bit better!

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Alys Scarlet

(no subject)

from: alysscarlet
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 06:31 am (UTC)
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Yay for Little Max! At last they have a 'weapon' that they can use to fight back!

What a ride!

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The Lovely Lisa

(no subject)

from: indigo_blind
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 06:46 am (UTC)
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I keep dipping in and out of this because *whispers* it scares me a little.

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scandal in the ink

(no subject)

from: laughingdryad
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 07:00 am (UTC)
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“You know.” Elijah speaks softly, “About seeing ‘white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.’"
I absolutely wanted to cry there. How dare you mix highaction!TITWTWE with highaction!LotR to make it twice as heartbreaking. :P

Dom liked the way the German words felt in his mouth, round and bright and furry, like eating ripe apricots.
I don't speak German, but that description sounds so very lovely and appropriate.

I. Love. This.

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Dee Sarrachi

(no subject)

from: deesarrachi
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 07:01 am (UTC)
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Ooo! This was...And then the...With the...

haghafglhkdfkafa;;;'afha <==That about sums up my full and total response.

It's amazing the way you can freak out so many people. Your writing is just so smooth and flowing and utterly heartbreakingly perfectly wonderfully scary. I'm practically holding my breath the whole time I read it, and freak out at the end going "Ahh! What happens next???"

*loff it and you madly*

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levonne

(no subject)

from: levonne
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 07:26 am (UTC)
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Perfect as always. You're just too good at this. <3

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Set phasers to fabulous!

(no subject)

from: cincodemaygirl
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 07:47 am (UTC)
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It was interesting to have Dom's viewpoint through an action-y chapter, since he can't really see- made this a bit strange to read, but I think it heightened the tension quite a bit. And GO MAX- I'm glad they've got some kind of power on their side, you know?

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PirateSorka

(no subject)

from: piratesorka
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 07:52 am (UTC)
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Ohh BOY, this was one heckuva action packed episode! I LOVED IT, even if, while reading it, I was mumbling "bad dream bad dream bad dream..." I didn't want the wolves to find our heroes!

“Goan, y’numpty, gie on out of here.” Billy sounds tough and very Scottish. He sounds like James Bond, ready for whatever the world throws at him.
YES! Make Billy a hero! Make him all JamesBondy! Make him a hero for Dommie!

Elijah’s panting, “Ohfuckohfuckohfuck,” and there’s little Max’s voice calling out,

“You said a swear, Lijah.”


And there, in the midst of panic and mayhem comes this tiny chuckle.
Clever, clever Sema!




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Moonie

(no subject)

from: moonilicious
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 08:17 am (UTC)
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Wee bit of a correction. It's Vater Unser, not Unser Vater. The latter makes perfect sense (means 'our father') but the prayer's called Vater Unser. :)

I'm really going to miss your fic (Haunted especially, of course ;) when I'm on vacation. Looking forward to catch up once I get back, though! <3

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sema

(no subject)

from: semaphore27
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 10:08 am (UTC)
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Oh, thanks so much for letting me know! I looked it up on a website, but if I'd thought about it a little, I might even have gotten it right.*g* Will be sure to fix the boo-boo right away!

I hope you have a wonderful vacation. Drive safely!

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Still learning to be me

(no subject)

from: canciona
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 08:26 am (UTC)
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How did you know I was dying for a TITWTWE fix??

And it was so perfect. Gorgeous and terrifying and perfect. And hurrah for poor, poor Max. And them all. And poor Elijah, who's not in his happy place anymore. But especially poor Dommie and Billy. *hugs all characters to pieces*

*hugs you to pieces*

Lovely, dear. In that brilliantly, vibrantly terrifying way. Perfect. Thank you!

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new jersey success story

(no subject)

from: awkwardjonas
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 08:35 am (UTC)
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I love this so much. I spent one day a week ago reading all of your fics and this one sticks out in my mind the most (besides the Lost series). I loved The Stand growing up and this is just awesome!

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wiccawise21

(no subject)

from: wiccawise21
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 11:21 am (UTC)
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i have been hoping and hoping for another part to this. and here it is! woo!

*breathes*

one day i will be able to make it through without gasping! eeek! this is an amazing story!

=x=

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blue bird sitting on my windowsill

(no subject)

from: kashmir1
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 03:03 pm (UTC)
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EEP! I mean... no... yeah... let's go with EEP! Wow. I was on the edge of my seat! Good Lord, girl. I loved! So damn vivid, as always.

And... you hit on a kink of mine. =)

Dom speaking German. Just... guh.

Also loved the whole bit about him being in Cateshism class and going to confession. Seems like exactly something young Dom would've done.

Can't wait for more. ;)

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Rayne Maiden

(no subject)

from: raynemaiden
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 07:44 pm (UTC)
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This is my favorite fic series right now and I am soooo glad to see another part. Your writing ability just amazes me. I am quite a bit jealous. :) So lovely, all of it.

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Tara

(no subject)

from: biglipz
date: Jul. 26th, 2004 08:49 pm (UTC)
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Yay! I'm so glad you updated this. So incredible. I am reading The Stand for the first time right now, thanks to this story, and I've still got about 200 pages left so I still don't know how it ends so I'm on the edge of my seat for all of this.
I'm enjoying reading TITWTWE at the same time cause they fit together nicely. It really is like it's one story.

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Krystal Shay

(no subject)

from: krystalshay
date: Jul. 28th, 2004 12:14 pm (UTC)
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Another great segment Sema, thank you, as always, for posting!

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deaver

(no subject)

from: deaver
date: Jul. 29th, 2004 02:48 pm (UTC)
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Finally got a chance to catch up on my reading, sorry now that I missed this one, it's a rather exciting chapter. And CREEEEPY! Max and his odd powers, the icky wolves, and poor lost Dom. I love the pace you are seting for this story, each chapter just pulls us further into the story, without feeling rushed, or that you are leaving any of the details out. Thanks!

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