It was a completely normal afternoon, and Bridget decided she would go down to the Far Cliff Cafe and have a late lunch.
There was a few people in the place, and she recognized most of them; Mr. and Mrs. Stanley, having a coffee; Jeff Hanson, eating a ham and cheese sandwich; and Solomon Jackson, the local handyman, who was sitting at a booth, ordering something from Tina, the waitress.
Bridget walked in and sat down at the far end of the bar. Solomon finished ordering and smiled at her, a smile which she returned. He was a very nice man, even if he was a bit slow. Bridget felt a kinship with him that she was sure all outcasts feel toward each other. Being the only black person in town, on top of his slight mental retardation, was more than enough for a few small-minded bigots.
The blond woman started when she felt a cold hand on her own. She turned, and sitting next to her was a man she didn't notice on her first inspection of the place. He had dark hair, and strange, oddly colorless, eyes. He was dressed in clothes that had seen better days, and had a road-weary look about him.
There was something else in his eyes, that Bridget only caught a bare glimpse of, before he turned away. "Sorry, miss. Didn't mean to scare you."
She glanced at him, surprised. She should've seen him when she walked into the cafe, but hadn't, which was strange. He seemed to shed no aura, which was stranger.
"I didn't... see you there. It's okay."
The man shrugged, and smiled a wry smile. "Happens a lot. No biggie." He then sipped at his coffee once more, while tracing a little trail in a battered map book with a pen.
Tina came up to take Bridget's order, which interrupted her study of the man. The blond woman asked for a salad and an iced tea, then resumed looking at him from the corner of her eye.
In the background, she noticed Mr. Stanley rise up and pay his bill, while Mrs. Stanley walked outside. Mr. Stanley chatted with Matt, the cook, and then Bridget saw Jeff get up from his far table.
"I have come, and the time is now! No more running for you, fallen one!" said Jeff, a normal guy with a boring job at the textile factory, who had once come by and brought his nephew trick-or-treating by Bridget's house, and had never once said something so ominous sounding in his life.
The wiry man shoved old Mr. Stanley aside, and drew a six-shooter from inside his pants. He took aim at the man sitting next to Bridget, and she could tell it would be true. She made to shove him aside. He pushed her back just as the gun went off. Bridget was knocked into the bar, and the deafening blast of the gun made her cringe. The traveller fell heavily to the ground, his dirty white T-shirt filling with a spreading red stain as the bullet hole in his chest leaked out his blood.
Bridget knelt before him. She paid no heed to the frantic rush that occurred in the cafe then, ignored all the shouting and noise; her eyes were entirely on the man who was dying.
He had a smile on his face, even though he was becoming pale. "Can't believe... it's going to end like this."
The blond woman shushed him. "Don't say that. You'll be okay."
He laughed, and a bit of blood came out of his mouth. "Sure, and I believe in the... Easter Bunny, too." His voice was a harsh, restrained groan.
Bridget passed her hand over the hole in his chest, aligning herself with the man. If anyone could save him, it would be her. She didn't care who saw what.
Feeling his injury empathically without feeling his aura was a very peculiar sensation. It was harder to align herself with him than she expected. It was like trying to catch hold of water in her bare hands.
He grunted, then looked at her with wild eyes. "Don't do it. I deserve... to die."
His voice was faroff, though, as Bridget had finally caught hold of something she could rely on; they were both living, and, even though it was far, she valiantly swam into what she hoped would be a good alignment with the stranger.
Bands of life energy encircled the two of them, and Bridget pressed her hand down hard on the bullet hole, transferring the lifeforce she had gathered into his body.
Even as she felt it rush from her and into him, Bridget knew it wouldn't be enough. He wanted to die, and somehow was repelling a good deal of the energy she was trying to give him.
"Don't save me, dammit!" he shouted with his newfound strength. "I deserve to die!"
Bridget came in close to his face, which even now was starting to lose its color, and kissed his forehead. "No one deserves to die. I've got to help you. Let me."
He squinted, but whether it was in pain or happiness, she couldn't tell. His eyes rolled back into his head, and Bridget sensed a relaxing of whatever guard he had put around himself.
The blond woman held her hand up to the sky, calling forth even more of the ambient lifeforce into her body. Bridget reached and reached, bringing in more and more until she thought her body would explode from the sheer power she was summoning.
Bridget reached out and aligned herself with him, which was much easier this time. She caressed his soul with her own, and got the images that he kept buried; she felt a deep-seated anguish, a depression that ran very deep, and something else, although she didn't have time to comprehend it fully. The time was right.
She threw her hand down onto the traveller, and was blinded by the white flash that followed. There was a cry that came from the man below her, and then the quiet sound of waves lapping at the shore that always followed the release of her power. Exhausted, she lay her head on his chest.
When her ears become her own again, she could tell he was breathing easily enough below her. Bridget's eyes were still reeling from the blast of light that had followed the transfer, but it receded soon enough.
The man's shirt had burned away where she had touched him. A handprint had been branded into his chest. She looked around, but all the other patrons were gone, having fled from Jeff's insane act or her own magic, she didn't know.
"Are you okay?" she whispered into his ear, knowing full well the answer.
He only groaned. "Yeah, but did someone get the license plate of that mad assailant?"
Bridget laughed, although she could feel anxiety creeping in on her. What had just happened?
When the traveller opened his eyes and locked them on hers, she could feel his intense gaze, and got a sense of confusion from him. "Sorceress, huh? Grand. Just [expletive deleted] grand."
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