11-7-99 - Well, my roomie finally dragged me into the world of table-top RPG. *blows raspberries at Tina* My character, Ailanna Johanson, is a 16 year old Child of Gaia in the Werewolf: The Apacolypse version of the World of Darkness. She first came into play... well... tonight. ^_^ I wrote up her first change fic for my ST *wavies at Hope* and decided to post it online for anyone who was interested to read. :-) More WoD fics about Ailanna (and her character sheet) will be coming as the storyline progresses - but don't worry, I haven't neglected my other fics. ^_^ Thanks for listening! Ja ne!

Ailanna's First Change
A Tale by Ailanna Johanson, A Child of Gaia
as scribed by Renee-chan

Ailanna paused for a moment to examine the structure in front of her. It wasn't terribly old, nor was it terribly imposing. In point of fact, it was fairly small and nondescript. And yet this very building contained all of Ailanna's dreams and hopes and most of her fears at the same time. She clutched her clarinet case a little bit tighter in her arms, desperately needing the reassurance that its familiar contours would provide her. it helped... but not nearly enough. She almost wished she'd accepted her father's offer to give her a ride. At least then she'd have his solid comforting strength to lean upon...

A high, grating voice rang out from behind her, "Aww... Looks like little Ailanna needs Mommy to hold her hand on the first day of high school! Isn't that just precious, girls? Maybe we should help her out...?" A harsh round of giggles followed the girl's biting comments.

Ailanna didn't even need to turn to know who was speaking. Of all the varied groups who got their daily happies from picking on her, Maggie's was always the worst. That girl always seemed to know exactly what to say to hurt her the most. It was almost uncanny... And there was no good way to deal with her. Responding to the harsh insults just made Maggie more vicious and ignoring her made her more persistent. It was a no-win scenario.

So, with a sinking feeling in her gut, Ailanna squared her shoulder, straightened her back, and walked into the building. My first day as a freshman... Why doesn't it surprise me that it's no different from all the previous days?

Once she was inside, away from the continued laughter, Ailanna felt a little calmer. Out of sight, out of mind - it was the only way to deal with bullies like Maggie. ignore them, forget them, pretend you didn't want to be part of their little clique-ish society to begin with. Sometimes it even worked.

"Watch out!"

Startled out of her reverie, Ailanna looked up just in time to see a very large upperclassman crash into her on his way by. He didn't even pause as Ailanna and her belongings fell straight to the floor. She sighed as she checked her instrument for any damage, Congratulations, Ailanna... just brilliant. Another stellar way to open the new school year. I'll bet I just gave Maggie and Co. enough material to fuel the joke mill for weeks... A heated blush crept over her face as she pulled herself over to a blank wall and sat down to finish giving her clarinet a thorough once-over.

So intent was she on her examination that she almost missed the quiet tenor voice that spoke on her right, "Any damage?"

Her head jerked up - in the rush of noise from the hall she hadn't heard him walk up. She tentatively labeled the slender young man as the one who had tried to warn her earlier. She managed to dredge up a genuine smile for him, "My case has a few bumps and bruises that it didn't possess before, but the instrument seems OK." She brushed a lock of her long chestnut hair out of her face as she put the clarinet away, "Thanks for trying to warn me..."

He smiled as he helped her back onto her feet, "My pleasure. The first day usually can be a tad hectic - especially for freshmen." He held out a hand to her, "My name's Jeffrey - I happen to be a senior at this illustrious institution. Might I ask your name?"

Ailanna couldn't help but laugh - truthfully, she felt more than a little flustered. Contact with seniors, much less males seniors, was something she hadn't exactly anticipated or planned for. She managed to take his hand and shake it, "Ailanna. Ailanna Johanson. It's a pleasure to meet you."

He gave her a small bow, "Just call me the welcoming committee. Need anything else before I whisk myself off to Calculus?"

Ailanna shook her head, unable to manage another verbal response. Jeffrey gave her another beaming smile and a comforting pat on the back, "Don't fret yourself too much over your first day - things can only get better, right?" He offered one last grin as he headed off down the hall, "See you in band!"

As Ailanna clutched her clarinet tightly to her chest, she couldn't help the secretive little smile that crossed her face. She had a friend - and a cute, male friend at that! - maybe high school wouldn't be so bad after all...

Seven hours later a harried and harassed Ailanna was about ready to reassess her opinion. In spite of Jeff's bright presence, the day had gone downhill since the beginning. The only thing that had gone right was her meeting with the music teachers. She had missed try-outs at the end of last year and so had been placed in 9th grade Concert Band and Concert Choir - groups far below her level of ability. The teachers had agreed to let her into Wind Ensemble and Chorale after hearing her play and sing - a vast improvement.

She sighed heavily as she settled into her seat on the bus. I just want this day over with. I want to go to sleep and forget it all happened... She closed her eyes, only intending to rest for a moment...

The woods were cool and clean - no human taint could be felt for as far as the senses could reach. She felt the wind rustle over her and smiled in contentment, feeling truly at peace for the first time in years. She rolled over onto her back and wriggled around in the grass like a child. Just then, something darted out from the underbrush and raced past her nose. She blinked once or twice, then leapt up to give chase with a joyous howl. And just before she could catch it...

Ailanna awoke with a start and a sharply muttered curse as she watched her bus stop disappear into the distance. She pressed against the window, a whimper forming in the back of her throat, Why me?

She got off the bus at the next stop and mentally prepared herself for the mile and a half walk home. This just hadn't been her day...

As she walked, Ailanna's mind turned back to the fleeting images of the dream. It had felt so... so... right. She didn't really know how to describe it, even in her own mind. She'd had the dream before - once or twice as a child, and once every other month or so in the past year. But these past few weeks... she'd had similar dreams at least every other night. She knew she should tell her father, but... she almost didn't want to. For now... the dream was her own precious secret, a retreat from the world when it got too painful. Ailanna desperately needed that untouched retreat.

When she reached her house and closed the door quietly behind her, Ailanna dropped everything but the clarinet case and headed straight up to her room. She laid her clarinet in its place of honor upon her dresser, kicked off her shoes, and curled up in bed. Moments later, the dream swept her away and erased the world with its soothing presence.

When she next awoke it was late and the moon was high. It was a beautiful, crystal clear night - the kind that dreams were made of. It filled her with a wild kind of joy. She leapt from her bed and padded quickly down the stairs in search of some refreshing water to match the atmosphere. Spotting her father in the kitchen, she padded softly over and smiled, ~'Night, Papa! What are you doing up?~

Her father froze, teacup halfway to his mouth, and stared at her, blinking rapidly. Ailanna tipped her head to the side and regarded him curiously before shrugging and moving to the sink. Huh... that's weird... when did the counters get to be taller than me? She turned back to her father, now thoroughly confused, ~Papa?~

Her father, teacup still halfway to his mouth, finally managed to achieve movement. He put the teacup down, rubbed his now sweaty palms on his pants and swallowed hard, "Yes, Ailanna?"

~Papa, why can't I reach the faucet?~

Her father blinked, started to speak, stopped, started again - managed to get Ailanna's name out, then stopped again. The third time, he managed to get a full sentence to emerge, "Ailanna... did you notice anything else that was different when you came downstairs?"

Ailanna shook her head slightly, ~Not really... though everything seems a little bit bigger now that I think about it...~

Ailanna's father rubbed his hands against his temples. He'd known he'd have to explain all of this too her eventually. His wife - may she rest in peace wherever she was - had made him swear to reveal the truth to their children by the time they were out on their own, human, Kinfolk, or otherwise. Kevin, firstborn though he was, had not undergone the Change, and so hadn't been told the secrets of their family until he was 18 - and well mature enough to handle it. So, in spite of his hopes that things might be different, he hadn't anticipated having to let Ailanna in on those things for another four years.

He couldn't help a tiny smile of pride at his obvious miscalculation. Looked like his baby girl had managed to surprise them all... He slipped off the chair and knelt down in front of her, ruffling one hand through the silver-tipped black fur of her coat and scratching behind her ears. Doubtless she hadn't even realized that she'd been speaking in Wolfspeak... He planted one gentle kiss upon Ailanna's forehead and began to tell her a tale - a tale of the Garou, and the Children of Gaia...

Ailanna listened to her father's story as his hands ran soothing patterns over the soft fur of her lupus form. She found herself caught halfway between dreadful confusion... and giddy joy. She wanted to run and leap and cavort like a... like a... well - a puppy! She wanted to revel in the feel of her powerful muscles and bullet-sleek form. She wanted to dash out into the depths of the woods behind their home and experience the freedom that she'd touched so briefly in her dreams... And she wanted... she wanted... her tongue lolled out in a canine grin. She wanted to howl. She wanted to howl out her freedom and her power and her joy - she wanted all the world to know about this night's revelations. Finally... finally... she knew what she was and why she never had fit into human society no matter how hard she tried. Under the circumstances, she did the only thing that she could - she pounced upon her father, pinning him to the ground and thoroughly washed his face with her tongue.

Her father laughed out loud and began to wrestle with her, shifting to full lupus to match her. He taught her some of the simpler games that pups play with their parents and litter-mates, reveling in the fact that he now had someone to pass these things onto. The two continued to play long into the night, eventually moving the games out-of-doors and into the woods.

When the stars had finally begun to fade into the light of false dawn, Ailanna's father slapped one large paw onto her to hold her down onto the ground. He panted as he gave her head fur a lick, ~Enough, pup. Time for you to go to bed. We'll see how you feel in the morning - to decide whether or not you should go to school.~ He licked her again at the little whine that she emitted from deep within her throat. He smiled tenderly down at his baby, ~Inside, Ailanna. To sleep.~

When they got back inside, Ailanna moved to go back upstairs, then paused, ~Papa...?~

He tilted his head curiously at her, ~Yes, Ailanna?~

She tucked her tail between her legs, ~How do I change back?~

He couldn't help the mental snicker that escaped at her pathetic appearance, ~It's simple, really - just think human.~

She closed her eyes and did so, shifting back with startling ease. He managed to make one calm comment to himself, Hmm... must have the metamorph gift... before hiding his eyes under his paws and yelping, ~Ailanna! Think clothes!!~

Ailanna blushed beet red from the tips of her ears down to her... well. She let out an embarrassed little yelp and dashed up the stairs, "Sorry, Papa!"

Her father chuckled softly to himself as he listened to his daughter scurrying around up in her room, then settling down to sleep. Yes... life was certainly going to be interesting from here on in... He sent out one last Wolfspeak tendril to the sleepy mind upstairs, ~Goodnight, little one - may Gaia watch over you and keep you close, always.~


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