Of Mars and Moon: Salvation
by Cecily Hawkins
Sum-up: A surprise at the church! Shaye's decision.
Disclaimer: This is a not-for-profit fanfic containing characters inspired by copyrighted characters. No damage is intended. This story may contain same-sex romantic and sexual relationships. This is number 7 in the series Of Mars And Moon. Each entry takes place in one day.
Religion warning: No offense to any sect, belief, or lack thereof should be inferred. Oh, and love and kisses to Shandryl for beta-reading these things. :)
"Ooo, you said a naughty word," the ten-year-old Teresa taunted, and ducked as he swung futilely at her. "Daddy's gonna wash out your mouth."
"He's not *your* Daddy," he retorted. "He doesn't love *you*. Why don't you just leave?"
"Shut up!" She punched him in the face. She hadn't meant to do it, not really, not like that. Bobby was so small to have such a big mouth. The force of the blow staggered him backwards, into the cluttered coffee table, knocking the piles of letters and overdue bills every which way.
"What was that?" a bass voice rumbled from another room. The dingy apartment was too small for any real hope of privacy. Any scuffle could be overheard, and there was no place to hide.
"Shit," Teresa mumbled.
Bobby flashed her a look of wicked triumph, then burst into loud tears.
Furniture jostled and jingled as the heavy footfalls approached. "What did you do?" a voice accused. In her dream, his face was as blurred as his alcoholic perception had been in life, but the hulking shape of HIM was not something she could forget entirely.
"He started it!" Teresa defended. "He called me a bad name!"
Bobby blubbered. "S...s...she hit me, she twisted my arm...."
"He hit me first! He pounded on me 'til I grabbed his arm to make him stop!"
HIS eyes fell on the scattered paperwork. "Little brat! Those are important!"
"He knocked them over!"
"S...she pushed me into the table..." Bobby sniffled.
HE grabbed Teresa by the shoulders, shook her. "Isn't it bad enough that you never do anything useful around here? Do you have to mess up my work and beat on my kid too? Do you want us to get evicted? Is that what you want?"
"No, Daddy, I didn't mean to..."
"Don't call me Daddy." HE shoved her away. "You're the child of the Devil. You're no daughter of mine."
And then she was fleeing, stumbling and running down a long dark corridor, but no matter how her legs pounded she couldn't seem to gain any speed. At last she reached the white door, dove through it, and turned the lock behind her, then jumped into the dubious safety of the
bathtub and pulled the curtains around her.
The door rattled in its frame as thick fists pounded on it. "Devil! Bastard! Whore! Everything you do is wrong!"
"You can't come in," Teresa screamed. "I'm in the bathroom! You can't come in!"
Wood splintering, door warping. "You're evil and violent! You're always fighting! You are a child of sin! You deserve to be punished!"
She huddled against the cool surface of the tub, whimpering, waiting to feel the hand upon her neck.
Terry woke, her heart racing.
Stupid dreams, she thought to herself. Why couldn't it have been the naked princess again?
The past was far away from her here, in the waking hours. *Her* apartment. She didn't have to share it with anybody. And it was bigger than that miserable hole-in-the-wall her "family" had been jammed into together, back then. Cleaner, too. Bedroom, bathroom, small kitchen,
living area, and tiny tucked-away office that could be a guest room if she ever had visitors overnight. Perhaps it wasn't luxury by some people's standards, but it was more than she could have imagined calling her own as a child.
She stood, leaving the bed unmade, and went to her closet along the wall. Not a walk-in, but you couldn't have everything. It was Sunday, the day she had promised to join Shaye at church, and she needed to find something to wear. Unfortunately, her tastes in clothing did not run to
the demure dresses that she dimly remembered being forced into to attend church sometime in the past. Of course, she was fairly certain that those services had been in the late morning, but Shaye had insisted that they go there in the evening. Was the evening dress code different? Why hadn't
she thought to ask ahead of time?
Terry shoved hangers to the left, searching for items that hadn't been worn in a long time. A long black low-cut dress, not quite right. A Halloween toga, definitely not right. Short burgundy velvet... she smiled. Junior prom. A night out with a friend who understood that he wasn't her type and didn't push her about it, a night she had been able to relax and let people tell her she was beautiful. She had no occasion to wear the dress now, but it was one of the few things remaining of a
past she had left behind.
Alan's email rapped at her mind. "I know who you really are," he had written. What did he know? Her sexual preference? Damned if she was going to let herself be bullied with that. Alex and Shannon never had any trouble on campus. Her past? Highly unlikely. Even a dedicated hacker
couldn't find records of her previous existence - the person she had been then wasn't important enough for there to *be* any webbed records. Juvie files, maybe, but only if someone already knew where she had lived, and those were supposed to be torn up when she became an adult. Supposed to be, at least. Still, there wasn't much even in those. That left only....
but he couldn't know that.
She reached the end of the row of hangers. Nothing. Well, she'd just have to buy something cheap and harmless. At least she had the afternoon to shop.
Food first. Terry wandered into her kitchen and rooted in the freezer for some quick microwave lunch. She had no illusions of being a cook, although she owned a few of the basic staples to revent her cupboards from looking too bare. Quick and hot and ready was the way she liked it.
Necessities fulfilled, she threw on a t-shirt and jeans and went out to stalk a dress.
Hours later, after wandering disgruntled through an array of stores, grabbing something out of desperation, and catching some fast food on her way back, Terry stood again in her bedroom. Her eventual choice was a wine-colored shift, long sleeved and conservatively-necked, with a skirt
that came just over the knee. It looked slightly more professional than churchy, in her estimation, but it was a *dress*, and perhaps she could use it again when she needed to look respectable. She fluffed out her short dark hair and eyed her reflection in the mirror. The dress' solid color, despite the faint embroidering on the front, made her wish for some wild jewelry to break up the monotony, but the point here was not to stand out, after all.
Next she eyed her bare legs. Was even Shaye worth wearing hose for? Maybe. Just this once. But never again. She inched and wriggled and fought her way into the charcoal stockings, noting to herself that if she ever *did* have to do this again, it might be a better idea to put the hose on before the nice dress. Lastly she slipped her feet into a pair of black shoes with just a touch of heel.
It was only at this point that she remembered that very few dresses have pockets. Cursing feminine fashions roundly, she decided that she didn't really *need* anything with her except her keys, which could be tucked into her bra - at least she wouldn't lose them there.
Terry left her apartment and locked the door behind her, hurrying down the hall towards the stairs and the exit before anyone could intercept her. The last thing she wanted to do was explain where she was going and why she was all dressed up... the well-wishers might manage to talk her out of it.
Her car - a sensibly inconspicuous Accord - waited for her in the lot behind the building. The February sun had already set, and the moon was out of sight, but the shadows did not bother her. She was on her way.
The church property looked innocuous enough, if larger than Terry had expected. Shaye's directions to the "Church of the New Dawn", which didn't sound like any denomination she recognized, had led her to expect something fairly small and close-knit. A single chapel, not a set of
buildings. But then, she didn't know much about churches.
She pulled into a parking space. While the property size had been startling, the number of cars here was about what she had expected, despite the large lot. Maybe more of them came in the morning?
Shaye had promised to meet her outside the building. Terry locked her door and dropped the keys down her front, adjusting them snugly into the hollow between her breasts. On her way to what appeared to be the main entrance, she passed a black couple, who smiled and nodded at her in
a friendly way. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all.
"You made it!" Shaye was standing on the steps outside the open doors through which other people were entering. She was lovely in a long dress of sky blue with white buttons. She rushed up to squeeze Terry's hand. "Thank you! You won't regret it. Tonight will change your life."
Slightly daunted by the shining enthusiasm, Terry gestured to the buildings around the church. "What're all these for?"
Shaye turned her head and indicated the one to the left. "That's offices and the library and the breakfast room and the choir practice area and stuff. See how it connects? They come in through there. Over here," she nodded the other direction, "is classrooms. For Sunday school mostly, but study groups and kindergarten for members' children too. There's a lot more to our congregation than just the worship, although that's the most important, of course."
"I didn't know."
"Come on, we need to get seated." Shaye drew her gently by the hand through the doors into a small reception-type area, with a small table and guestbook and the choir's door to the left. Terry wondered if politeness would require her to sign the book - she really didn't want to leave her address here - but Shaye continued moving to another set of doors, where two tall men in suits nodded at each entrant. "She's with me," the blonde breezed cheerily, and then they were inside.
The decor was simple. Brick walls, wooden pews, without gilt or stained glass to brighten the room. At the head, a table covered by a white cloth sat on a raised platform, supporting a plain wooden cross and four unlit candles. Shaye led her up the aisle to the front left pew,
which was empty.
"Should we really sit here?" Terry asked. A quick glance behind her showed, if not a crowd, a good scattering of people throughout the rest of the chapel. Why were they sitting up front if no one else would?
"It's okay, my uncle's the minister, I told him I was bringing you," Shaye smiled, and then, "Oh, don't put your feet there!"
Terry snatched her feet off of the folded-up kneeling bar, which she hadn't even noticed. "Sorry."
"It's all right."
Trying not to fidget, Terry looked around for prayer books, hymnals, or service guides, anything to give her an idea of what she was in for. Not a thing. Either the front row wasn't designed to store them, or else everyone was expected to know the format already. Great. A system designed to make visitors feel awkward. How did they gain followers this way?
Minutes passed while the rest of the congregation shuffled in. At last, the overhead lights dimmed, just a bit at first, and then to almost-blackness. Terry had the odd feeling of waiting for the curtain to rise and the movie to begin.
A small light flickered behind the altar, then bobbed and dipped to touch the four candles that had been waiting there. As their glow grew to illuminate the cross, a shadowy figure raised the original flame overhead. "Light and Peace, in Jesus Christ our Lord!" the voice rang out.
"Thanks be to God," murmured Shaye and the congregation.
The lights came on. Terry blinked at the dark-haired man in white robes standing before the altar. His hands were raised over his head, but he held no candle in them. The man continued, "It is not ourselves that we proclaim; we proclaim Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your
servants, for Jesus' sake. For the same God who said, "Out of darkness let light shine," has caused his light to shine within us, to give the light of revelationthe revelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."
"Amen," rumbled the crowd.
"Let us pray."
With a clatter of thumps, kneelers were lowered. Terry began to move from her seat, but Shaye motioned for her to stay in place as she slipped forwards onto the bar.
"Almighty God, we give you thanks for bringing us together here in the presence of your holy light, through which night and day shall be as one. Drive out the darkness from our hearts as you drive it from the world, that we may more gladly serve you in your will. Make us champions
of your light, that as the Final Nights descend, we may walk through them with power and joy, in the honor of your name, until we reach the New Dawn. Bless us with your light and defend us from all our enemis, by the love of your son, our Savior, Jesus Christ."
People shifted back into their seats and raised their kneelers, as the soft sounds of music began to trickle from the back of the church. Terry guessed that it was where the choir stood - there certainly were no lofts for them here at the front. No organ, either, only voices. She couldn't tell how many without craning her neck to look, which would be impolite, so she took advantage of the song to get a better look at Shaye's uncle the minister. He was not an impressive-looking man.
Slightly overweight, hairline only thinning at a few points, and a smile as thin and full of holes as an old coat. He did not look like a charismatic leader, but neither did he appear overtly untrustworthy.
Terry risked a glance at Shaye, whose eyes were closed in an expression of rapt concentration. The music wasn't *that* good, Terry thought. And I'm certainly not being converted by any holy vibes yet.
The song ended, and the minister once more raised his hands. "Oh Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me, many are saying to me, 'There is no help for you in God.' But you, oh Lord, are a shield around me, my glory and the one who lifts up my head. I cry aloud to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy hill. Rise up, oh Lord! Deliver me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked. Deliverance belongs to the Lord, may your blessings be upon you people! Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy
Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and shall be forever."
"Let us humbly confess our sins to God our Creator."
Terry wondered how long she would have to listen to this fellow talk.
"Almighty God, Father of All, we confess that we have sinned against you, in thought, word, and deed. We acknowledge and bewail our misguided actions, our times of wickedness, and all moments in which you were not foremost in our hearts. We, your flawed vessels, beseech your
forgiveness, although we acknowledge that the taint of our sin is deep and heavy within us. Show us your mercy, oh Lord, that we may rise to victory over your enemies."
Terry wondered if perhaps there were no prayer books because the minister was making it up as he went along.
"Accept these, our humble offerings, as meager restitutions for our failing in your purpose, oh Lord."
Suddenly one of the tall men from the entrance was at her side, holding out a wooden bowl. Terry looked at Shaye. "I didn't bring..." she whispered.
"It's all right." Shaye withdrew some money from her purse and set it in the bowl, which the man bore on to the next pew.
Terry stared at her hands as the choir started up again. Her life did not feel changed, except possibly by embarassment.
The collection was brought to the front and received with a bit of spiritual handwaving, then set aside. "The peace of the Lord be always with you," Shaye's uncle intoned.
"And also with you," came the reply.
The man stepped forward, approaching Terry's seat. She shifted nervously. "Welcome, my friends!" he called out.
"Welcome!" the congregation cheered back.
"Is the Light strong with us tonight?"
"Then the Light will triumph!"
"Yes!" they roared, and applauded.
He raised his hands to quiet them. "We have a visitor with us tonight." He looked at Terry. "Tell us your name."
"Welcome, Terry!" he cried, and they echoed. The people in the pew behind her pressed their hands up for her to shake, which she did in a daze. Was this a religious service or an AA meeting?
"We need every hand we can raise to carry the Light, for the Final Nights are coming. Only our vigilance will defend us!"
She looked away, hoping his attention had moved past her now, but such was not the case.
She looked up.
"By coming here, you have made the first step. Yet we must act quickly, to banish the darkness from your heart and make you an agent of God's will."
"Uh," she said eloquently.
"Come forward, Terry, and receive the Light of God."
"Feel the Light!" someone in the congregation cried out. "The Light is warm, Terry! called another. Shaye, at her side, nudged her. "Go on," she prompted.
There was a general round of applause as Terry rose to her feet. The tall doormen escorted her to the space before the altar, where they received candles from Shaye's uncle. They flanked her, and he smiled at her much like a fox at a rabbit. "Come into the Light, Terry," he coaxed.
"Feel the light inside of you."
Terry privately noted that this was much weirder than any pagan ceremony she'd been a part of.
"Look me in the eye."
She stared at him, not about to be intimidated. The crowd hushed, waiting.
What's going on? Terry wondered. Am I supposed to break down and start crying for the Lord to save me now? Why didn't someone give me a script? I don't know what they want...
The minister's expression intensified. He frowned. Pointed. "This girl is an agent of darkness!"
Gasps rang out. "No!" cried one little voice.
"She resists the light! She is a child of evil!"
Uh-oh, thought Terry. She took a step back, only to feel hands laid upon her arms as the two men seized her. "Hey, let go!" They did not.
"But we can save her!" the minister trumpeted.
"Praise the Light!" cheered the audience.
"Hey, I've had enough of this," Terry said, twisting, but she was not in a good position and her captors were larger than she. "You're all crazy. Let me out of here."
"It is our duty to bring you into the love of God," the minister smiled. "We cannot turn our backs on a child in need."
"You're fucking crazy!" Terry squirmed. "Shaye?" She turned her head to find the other girl for support. But Shaye was standing back at the pew, watching, making no move to interfere. "Shaye!"
Blue eyes stared sadly at her.
"Take her downstairs."
Still protesting, Terry was led through a door at the back that she hadn't noticed earlier, down a flight of stairs. Shaye hadn't said anything about a basement. But then, there were obviously a lot of things that Shaye hadn't bothered to mention.
The room they brought her to appeared to be a small office, with a desk and chair and a sole lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. The men shoved her inside. "Wait here," one said gruffly, and the door closed.
Terry twisted at the knob. Locked. "Oh, this is so very uncool," she muttered. "This is ridiculous. They can't keep me here." Balked, she went to search the desk for clues, but its drawers, too, were locked. The room was very cold, and she rubbed her hands up and down her arms as she
paced, caged in.
She waited there, alone, for some time - long enough, she guessed, for the service overhead to conclude. Abandoned for the wolves, she thought glumly. This is insane. Politeness be damned, she'd had enough of this. The minute that door opened, she was slamming her way
through it and out of this nuthouse.
It was a good thought, but when the door finally did budge, it was the compact form of Shaye's uncle the minister that she crashed into. He was stronger than he looked, and knocked her backwards, although he did not close the door behind him. "Is this any way to treat your
Savior?" he asked silkily.
"Is this how you recruit people? Lock them up until they buy into your religion? Let me out of here, you crazy fuck."
"Oh, no," he smiled. "Most people are quite willing to submit when they are exposed to the holy Light. Only a few such as yourself require... special treatment."
"Get out of my way," she growled, and braced herself for another charge.
And was met with the flash of metal as he raised a small pistol and pointed it at her head. "Now, now. Let's be reasonable."
"You're insane," she whispered.
"You are possessed by evil forces and do not know what you say. I forgive you." He had a grin like a fox, sneaky and full of teeth. "Now, be a good girl. Take off your clothes and sit on the desk."
She stared into the gun and wondered if it was worth it.
"Come on, move." He wiggled the gun to gesture her along. For a split second, it wasn't quite aimed at her.
It was at that moment that a blow crashed into his head from behind.
He staggered and fell, the weapon slipping from nerveless fingers.
Terry gaped. "Shaye?"
The blonde stood in the doorway, baseball bat in hand, expression harder and more focused than Terry had ever seen on her before. "Come on. We have to get out of here."
She dropped the bat and held out her hand. "Trust me. Please."
Terry grabbed hold.
"Come on!" They took off together, running through dark hallways, not back the way Terry had originally been brought, but she did not ask where they were going. A small staircase brought them up to what Terry hoped was the level of the entrance. They turned left, and froze at the sound of footsteps. "Back this way," Shaye hissed, and pulled her around behind the stairs, where an incomplete wall left a dark, narrow recess. The blonde pressed Terry against the wall and clapped a hand over her mouth, listening for pursuit. Terry could feel the other girl's heart racing through their close contact.
A few moments later, "Clear," Shaye hissed, and they sprang into motion again, emerging in the reception area through the choir's door, then out the main entrance into the parking lot, not stopping.
"Here," Terry gasped, as they reached her car. She fished in her bra for her keys, hands trembling a bit. "Thanks. I didn't... I thought you... I..."
"They're not like that, really," Shaye said softly. "He's not the only minister, and I've never seen that happen before... I heard rumors that one or two, but only one or two... they're not like that."
"Yeah. Well, I don't think I'm going to be coming back. Sorry." She fumbled with the lock, getting the door open.
"Take me with you."
"What?" Terry looked back.
Shaye's face was pale, her voice unsteady. "Don't leave me here. Take me with you."
No time to argue about it. "Get in."
Shaye slumped into the passenger seat, and they sped off into the night.
Once the buildings of the church vanished behind them, Shaye broke down, and imparted a tearful history full of rules and a dominating Church, a family that had not abused her but had never made her feel loved, the despair and worthlessness she felt at being forced into the role, of never being allowed to be herself, of not even being sure she had a self outside of what she'd been crafted into, the perfect daughter of Light. Terry, at the wheel, could only offer murmurs of encouragement
as the monologue finally dissolved into wordless sobbing and, when they reached her apartment building, help the exhausted girl up the stairs and into her guest bedroom, where she fell asleep almost immediately.
Terry sat in her own bedroom. She pulled the wine-colored dress over her head, held it in her hands, stared at it. "My gods," she whispered. "What have I done?"
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