Vacation

I am so ready to not be in this car anymore, holy shit. It’s so awkward in here I’m writing just to make some time pass a little faster. Julian isn’t even speaking at all at this point, which leaves Neal more and more space to chatter on and on and on. On the bright side I’m hearing all sorts of stories which is always fun. On the other hand, it’s super not helping.

For example:

“Remember that time Silas and Danny were pissed we weren’t taking trap making seriously enough so we dug a pit trap off the back porch and Silas fell in?”

Or,

“Remember when we lost you and Beverly on that Orkai hunt and you guys had to camp out in the canyon for like a week before a guided rafting tour found you?”

Or,

“Remember when Paul was teaching us to handle fawns and we left the gate open and they ran all over the park terrifying all the monsters?”

And Julian just sits there nodding along, not emoting at all.

I’m literally dying. I’m not used to Julian being the sulky one, that’s super Neal territory. He just sits there staring out the window.

Neal finally formally explained how Julian’s dog saint power last night. Julian was out getting food, and I stayed behind in the motel room to make sure Neal stayed in bed, which by the way, is a power he’s abusing the fuck out of, like bro you can reach the mini fridge, you don’t need me getting your drinks for you, but whatever.

Turns out Julian’s power is an eldritch monster always lurking under the surface waiting for its opportunity to emerge and wreak chaos on Julian’s life situation. So it’s a bit like Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, except instead of drinking the Bad Drink, Julian just has to feel anything other than perfect inner peace, and that’s when the beast emerges.

“He’s honestly got the whole thing almost entirely under control,” Neal said. “Even when Nolan died, he waited to unleash the thing until he was out in the woods by himself.” And then with an awkwardness I actually sort of appreciated: “We should have told you this could happen. I just didn’t think it could at this point. I haven’t seen him lose control like that since we were kids.”

Imagine a 12 year old that transforms into a ravaging beast whenever he’s upset. HAHA YIKES?

“Louie had him in meditation and impulse control therapy the moment we showed up on his doorstep,” Neal explained. “Back then there was nowhere else for kids like us to go, especially kids like Julian, who were potentially dangerous. Any hunter that found out what he could do would have had him killed. But Louie wouldn’t give up on him.” And then with a little wry smile: “On either of us, really.”

So yeah, Louie is the only good person on this earth.

Oh no, okay, I have more information.

We were just at a rest stop and Julian went in to get snacks, and the moment he was out of the car Neal sort of deflated.

“Hey, I need your help,” he said, and he sounded so tired. “I can’t reach my back.”

This IDIOT has been straight up not disinfecting the wounds on his back because he’s so determined to pretend he’s fine and I’m going to kill him.

We went to the bathroom and took the bandages off, and it was actually not as bad as I expected. I mean he’s still got like 40 stitches in there, but at least they weren’t actively bleeding. The back was looking decidedly worse than the front, obviously, because he hasn’t been taking care of them all week.

I swear to god, they’re idiots. Idiots.

When I put the hydrogen peroxide on he whined and hissed at me because despite pretending that he’s fine all week, in fact he’s a huge fucking baby. He’s literally so annoying.

I was dabbing at one of the bigger, stitched-up claw marks on his back, and finally just said the thing I’ve been thinking, which is essentially that probably it would make Julian feel better if everyone was just honest about what was going on. To which Neal sighed heavily and said, “Remember when the lemniscate tried to kill us?”

When the giant lobster mantis made me hallucinate the day I died like 40 times? I wish I could forget that, Neal.

“Well, Julian relived the day our parents died,” Neal told me. “Julian was 7. Some guys broke into our house. Our car had broken down, so it wasn’t in the driveway, so they must have thought we’d gone on a trip or something. They weren’t expecting company. Or I mean, that’s the conjecture, it’s not like we could ask them. Julian was downstairs getting water, scared the shit out of them, and they just started shooting.”

At that point I stopped with my cleaning, because I saw where this story was going.

“We didn’t know about Julian’s powers at that point. He’d never changed before, so he didn’t know how to control it and changed immediately. Obviously it sounded like a damn nightmare down there immediately. My parents made Nolan and I stay upstairs and went down to investigate, and um.” He paused, looking for the right words. “Well, they never came back up.”

“So Julian —”

“I mean we don’t know entirely how it all went down,” Neal said. “Julian only sort of remembers what happens when he changes. But yeah, from what we can tell, Julian killed everyone down there.”

So yeah, I want to scream. I must have been wearing all the horror on my face because Neal quickly added, “He was just a kid, and none of us knew he had powers. It wasn’t his fault. Not that I can convince him that.” Neal said. “He works so hard to control it, and he’s largely so successful. I should have known when he killed that fucking goat man, I should have known he was struggling, he’s just had it together for so long I forgot what it looks like when he starts losing his grip.”

He scrubbed his face with his hands and forced a smile. “Aren’t you glad you came with us?” he said.

Obviously I told him I would be calling Agent Mulligan at my earliest convenience, because how bad can medical experimentation and government oversight be, really?

But actually… I mean, where am I gonna go? My worst day with the Hawthornes — and there have been bad ones — is better than doing a second senior year lmfao

Oh god it just got super real in here.

We’re still on our way to Neal’s super surprise location, but going’s been slow. Julian’s making Neal get up and move around every couple hours so he doesn’t get blood clots, which none of us are certain is even a real risk, but Julian’s pretty convinced and he’s got limited control over the situation so we’re just giving him this one.

So we stopped at a view pullout so Neal could stretch, and he’s moving like a grandpa.

“Neal —” Julian began and Neal said, “Will you stop worrying? I’m fine!” And then he stretched and popped a fucking stitch. He tried to hide it, but he was wearing a white t-shirt and the blood came through.

It was the blood smear I think that finally pushed Julian over the edge.

“Okay, enough,” he said when we were all back in the car. “I’m taking you back to the hospital.”

“The fuck you are,” Neal said.

“You can’t even walk! Look at you!”

“I’m telling you I’m fine! And anyways, we’re going to miss it unless we hurry.”

Julian didn’t respond for a long time, but it was a fraught long time. So fraught that Neal eventually said, “Jude, I promise, I’m —”

“If you say you’re fine, I swear… ” Julian sighed, and Neal grinned, and I knew from his expression that he was about to say the wrong thing.

“What are you gonna do?” he asked. “Maul me?”

Julian’s face went blank. “That isn’t funny.”

“It’s a little funny,” Neal said, but Julian didn’t budge, and it was deafeningly quiet in the car for approximately a 10,000 years until finally Julian said, “Maybe I should just go. Find a cabin somewhere remote —”

Neal groaned. “This again? Fuck, Jude, none of this is your fault. You’ve done everything in your power to keep it under control, and for the post part you’ve done it perfectly. You need to stop beating yourself up — there was an accident, nothing came of it, we’ll double down and be careful.”

“Nothing came of it?” Julian repeated. “Look at you!”

And to be fair, Neal looks a damn mess. I mean, he was already looking rough before the Julian monster tried to kill him, and it’s not gotten better post-mauling.

Neal rolled his eyes. “Yeah, but I don’t count,” he said and Julian started to ruffle up so Neal had to speak over him. “Look around Jude. We’ve had a new case EVERY WEEK for MONTHS. We’ve never been this busy. This is getting worse. You think the world will be better off with you hiding in a cabin somewhere? We have the power to help people.”

Which I thought was an innocuous enough thing to say, but Neal started back peddling immediately.

“Fuck,” he said. “I didn’t mean it like that.”

“That is so fucking easy for you to say,” Julian growled. And then, “Pull over.”

“Julian —”

“I need a minute! Please pull over!”

There wasn’t even a shoulder we just stopped on the highway, surrounded by trees, and Julian got out. He slammed the door so hard the rabbit shook.

Neal pressed his fingers to his eyes and sighed a series of expletives.

“…should we… go talk to him?” I asked.

“No,” Neal said. “Give him a sec. He’ll be okay.”

It was a long sec though, so I said, “…what did you say exactly?”

Neal was busily adjusting the mirrors so he could keep an eye on Julian’s progress walking up and down the highway without being too obvious about it. “How do you think it sounds, to the guy who spends literally all of his energy trying not to murder everyone he loves, when the guy who can tell you’re lying lectures him about his responsibility to use his power to help people?”

Ah, hahaha. Yeah that makes sense. As far as dog saint powers go, Julian definitely got the short end of the stick.

When he got back in the car he was calm as a smooth lake.

“Good?” Neal asked and Julian nodded, and that was the end of the conversation.

Meanwhile I’m like sitting in the back seat drinking 7 Up with a straw like

I do NOT like it when they’re fighting. They usually get along so well — I mean they sort of bicker, and Neal’s obviously a button pusher, but usually Julian just laughs it off, and now it’s just like silent and horrible in here. I feel like a little kid watching her parents inch closer and closer to divorce hahahahaha.

I have no idea where we’re going, but I hope it’s vacation because this whole situation does not pass the vibe check and we all need to chill out.

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