On Fighting the Demons

IC Time: April 17, 2007
Location: Forks - St. Anne's Catholic Church
Synopsis: Luc seeks solace from the town's priest, Vincent. He asks Vincent about a very ancient procedure for ridding demons out of the body…
Submitted by: Luc

Although it's nearing 5:30 and Luc isn't sure what the hours are at the church — some are open all of the time, some only on certain days — but he is here regardless. He parks in the small lot and steps out of his SUV, straightening his pants, wrinkled from the drive. He finds the door open and steps inside, keeping his head bowed. Something about the church humbles him and keeps his head down as he makes his way toward the nearest pew and sinks into it. It is only after a moment of silent prayer that he glances toward the altar and then to the confessional, his hands still in prayer position, but white at the knuckles. The cross, high above the altar, seems to impose down on him, and as if burned, he jerks up and begins to head swiftly for the door.

One moment Luc is alone in the church…and in the next moment, he's not. Granted, Luc might have heard the priest silently traversing the hidden hallways of the church. Then again, in such an emotional state, he might have been too distracted to notice. Either way, when Luc turns to go, the priest is standing in a doorway that opens onto a hallway, head cocked as though listening to a distant tune. He isn't holding his walking cane, but then, a priest should know every inch of his church like the back of his hand. At this point, the cane would only get in the way. As Luc stands and suddenly heads for the door, a kind smile curves the priest's lips, and he speaks in a gentle voice, his words simple but to the point. "I hear a troubled soul."

"Er…" Luc stands with his hand on the door, ready to push it open and head outside the confines of the peaceful church — his posture is frozen as his mind races: should he go? Or stay? He drops his hand to his side and turns his body toward the priest. As much as he thought he wanted to go, he /did/ come here for a reason. He notes the priest's glasses, no doubt indicating vision problems. "Good evening, Father," he responds finally, words tinged with a French accent. "I did come here but I'm sure you're probably heading home soon, so I'll just go and come back on Sunday," he says hurriedly.

Vincent chuckles faintly, with just a touch of self-mockery. "This building feels more home to me than anywhere else in the world. In fact, I was just preparing for evening Mass…" He hesitates, assuming that listening posture once again as his smile falters. "I have a feeling that the empty pews will not be offended if Mass is a bit late, tonight. Frankly, I would be busier on Sunday than I ever am on a Friday night," he explains, giving a quite logical reason for Luc to stay, in an attempt to banish any suggestion that the man might be intruding. "I would be happy to help you in any way that I can. We can retire to my office, if you prefer privacy…?"

Luc looks apprehensively toward the pews, as if expecting to suddenly see patrons sitting down ready for the evening mass. After listening for a moment longer, however, his posture relaxes, comforted by the thought that he didn't walk in on the start of a mass. "I see." He studies the other man carefully. "That would be great, actually." Not that the church was particularly crowded as it were, but privacy would do.

There is always the possibility that someone will show up, of course. For that matter, Luc has already shown some of his nerves by nearly running from the church… Vincent is patient as Luc studies him, and as the man accepts the offer, the priest nods. With another gentle smile, he beckons Luc toward him and turns down the hallway from which he had emerged. "Follow me," he suggests, leading the way down the hallway with careful, measured steps, while one hand traces along the wall. "I'm Father Vincent LaRoe, by the way," he offers, belatedly, as he walks.

"Luc Bussey. Nice to meet you," Luc replies, his voice seeming to show less strain, possibly because of Vincent's warm demeanor. "Nice congregation you've got here." He pauses and wonders if the priest had been exposed to any of the strange happenings in Forks. Did vampires ever go to confession? He smirks in spite of himself as he follows with a slow step. "Have you been here awhile?" Luc makes small talk to avoid talking about himself, but after and if he gets any response, he awkwardly manages a snippet about his religious history. "I'm… not really a devout. I mean, in France, I used to be, but I haven't been in years, I do hope it's okay I still talk to you. I don't know the rules."

If Vincent is aware of the existence of werewolves and vampires, there's no way to tell. "It's good to meet you, too, Mr. Bussey. Or do you prefer Luc?" he asks, opening a door to a small room. The so-called "office" has very little evidence of the typical office furniture. There is a bookshelf that takes up most of one wall, laden with strange notebooks with Braille cards taped to the spines. A pair of worn but comfortably padded chairs are tucked into a corner, while the only other evidence that this is an office of any sort is a small typewriter that would probably look somewhat odd unless Luc has had reason to see a Braille typewriter before. "There's no law that says a congregation must attend church twice a day, every day of the week. But we still hold services, for those who are in need." He gestures in the general direction of the two chairs, "Why don't we have a seat?" he offers, closing the door behind the other man before moving to join him. "There are a good many rules," he comments, with another smile. "But I don't believe any of them forbid either of us from talking."

Luc takes in the room with what he means to be a quick glance, but he finds himself studying the bookshelf a bit closer and then glancing back at Vincent, drawing a few more conclusions about the other man's sight. "Luc is fine," he says, his tone formal but friendly. Luc sits on the edge of one of the chairs, clasping his hands together. "Ah. I wasn't sure — as a child, I used to find all of the rules daunting." He laughs a bit nervously.

"So, er, I suppose I should explain why I'm here. I… I came into the church wanting to understand myself better. Guess you've probably heard that before." He pauses awkwardly and then asks, "Is this er, confidential, Father? I mean, I know you wouldn't tell anyone, you seem like a good guy, but what are the rules about, you know, the law?" He shifts uncomfortably.

Vincent nods slightly. "Many adults find the rules equally daunting," he replies, with a chuckle. "I suppose if they were easy rules, I'd be out of a job, wouldn't I?" As he walks, he generally stays next to the wall, tracing his hand along the wall to orient himself until he reaches the chair. He settles down, relaxed but leaning forward slightly. Although he may not be looking at Luc, his posture conveys what his gaze can't…that his attention is centered on the other man. "Well, according to the law, our conversation is considered privileged. Anything you say is between you, me, and the wall. Though I should also tell you that there /are/ exceptions, such as if you revealed to me that you planned to harm another individual." He tilts his head slightly, smiling encouragingly. "You don't sound like the violent type to me."

Luc chuckles. "Yes, you're quite right." It sounds almost as if he's a little guilty of being daunted by the 'rules' still, even now. He grips the edges of the chair as the father speaks of the privacy and nods, his lips falling into a frown. Well, he might have to improvise a bit. "I detest violence." There is genuine truth in his voice, though his face is pained. He pauses, debating the door for a moment before he draws in a breath and begins a brief introduction, of sorts.

"I'm here for two reasons. First, I was hoping for some advice — maybe an awakening of sorts — of how to deal with my grief. I lost my wife and two young children many years ago. I've blamed God, I've blamed other men, but mostly now, I blame myself." He lets that sit, but before he receives any advice, he shifts in his chair and says, "The second reason is a bit more, er, unorthodox. Do you perform exorcisms?"

Vincent nods a little, not surprised to hear the honesty in the other man's voice. But as Luc goes on to explain why he has come, it is the second request that actually takes him by surprise. He manages not to be too unprofessional about it, but his eyebrows raise, and he even goes a bit pale at the thought. He is silent for some time, and finally takes a deep breath. "To the first… I can certainly help you, if you are willing to trust me. At least, I'm willing to try…" He hesitates before continuing, but finally manages a slightly weaker version of his earlier smile. "All priests are technically qualified to perform exorcisms. But there's a rather…involved process to get permission from the church. There would be a very careful investigation into the…psychological health of the person being possessed. Permission is occasionally given, but it's very rare." He concludes uncertainly, concern written all over his features as he hesitates over the next question. "If you don't mind my asking," he finally asks, more gently. "Who is it that you believe is possessed?"

"I can commit to that, if it will mean some of my pain is erased," Luc responds along with a nod, thinking positively toward somehow coping with his loss. The man leans forward in the chair, effectively making it squeak a bit, as he listens to the response to his second request. "I see. But… it's real, and the church confirms it? I can attest to you, Father, there that are demons walking this Earth, in this town." He nods to himself and nearly shudders. "I don't know the name. You might say then, that I do not know this person well enough — you could be right. I believe that she may have had something to do with the disappearance with a young woman. And the way she laughs, the the ways she moves: it's all so erratic, crazed, almost."

Vincent reaches out one hand, perhaps responding to the not-quite-shudder reflected in Luc's voice. With blind uncertainty, his hand encounters Luc's arm for a comforting pat, though no doubt the man could easily avoid it, if he should so choose. "I have no doubt that demons are real," he says, his voice full of sincerity. "And yes, the church does occasionally perform exorcisms. But most cases of possessions turn out to be cases of mental illness. Certainly, if that is the case, this woman should see a doctor…" He licks lips gone dry, and returns his hand to the arm of his own chair, tapping uncertainly. "Either way, if you believe she might have harmed another person, it must be investigated. Where did you meet this woman? Do you have any idea where she might be found?"

Luc doesn't move to avoid the pat. He wears a frown and leans forward, his elbow on his knee and his chin in his hand. "Understood." Luc ponders the situation. Of course, he knows more than he lets on, but his words and questions are spoken with upmost honesty. .oO( At some point ) "So the first course of action would be to get a doctor's conclusive testament that the said person is not affected by a mental disorder?" Luc tilts his head, "Not to question you, Father, but it seems to me the doctors call whatever they can't explain an illness. How is one certain it is an illness of the soul, or, in faction, the total devoid of the soul?" He lets the question hang before responding to Vincent's questions. "I met her in Port Angeles. A friend of mine knows much more about her. And the young woman that disappeared was investigated by police. Apparently, she has cancer and abruptly moved."

Vincent considers this for some time, and eventually gives an uncertain chuckle. "To be completely honest with you, Luc, I'm not sure what the first step would be. This isn't exactly a situation that comes along every day, you see." A crease in his brow reveals deep thought, as he considers the options. "Hm… I believe that the first step would be to send word to the Bishop, asking permission to perform the exorcism, and explaining why I feel it's necessary. They'll do their own investigations, I'm sure…" He continues tapping absently at the chair's arm, a nervous habit resurrected by the unusual topic. "Before I can do that, however, I think I must meet her," he decides, finally. "Do you think that your friend could arrange a meeting, however brief it might be?"

"Meet her?" Luc echoes, back straightening a bit. He finds himself oddly surprised by the question, despite the obvious need for a meeting to diagnose the… creature. "Of course. The only problem is that's she's rather er, uncooperative. Not very friendly; I doubt she'd actually come along with me." He sits stumped for a moment. "But I could manage it, with a few friends. Would you need to meet her alone?" He frowns deeply.

Vincent chuckles a little, raising an eyebrow. "Somehow I think that if she really is possessed by a demon, meeting her alone would be a rather bad idea. Of course, I trust the Lord to protect me…but He helps those who help themselves, yes?" With the same nervous amusement, he considers the question. "I can come to her, of course," he offers, uncertainly. "I seriously doubt a true demon would come anywhere near a church. Even a mentally ill person who believed they were possessed would be likely to shy away from here…"

Luc nearly sighs a sigh of relief, but manages to keep it to a simple outflow of breath that he had been holding. "I concur. I do deem this cr… er, person to be a little unpredictable and dangerous. It might be better arranged that way. If you want to try. I realize that this might be a rather odd request," he says, a bit embarrassed that he might have made the other man uncomfortable. "And odds are, it isn't a demon, but I'm tired of accepting other explanations so complacently."

Vincent smiles quietly, and waves away any embarrassment. "Think nothing of it. Odd requests are my specialty, you know… and if she's as unpredictable and dangerous as you say, it is even more important to discover whether she is truly possessed or merely in need of a doctor's care. The sooner we determine which path is the best, the sooner we can come up with a plan to help her."

"Or hopeless," Luc adds in with a grim smile. "Drugs and therapy can't cure everything, unfortunately. But I do hope perhaps God can help her." He can't help but keep the grim smile on his face, smiling at perhaps his own desperation for a solution. "So, shall I give you a call when I learn a little more about where she resides and such?"

Vincent nods slowly, and gives a sigh. "Yes. We must keep her in our prayers, in any event." The last is met with a nod and a faint smile. "When you know more about her identity, we can at least make a plan. Of course, I do have duties here that can't be neglected. But I'm quite accustomed to juggling, these days." He quirks a little smile, and adds, "And…don't forget to take care of yourself, Luc. I lead a support group for those who have lost loved ones on Wednesday afternoons. You should think about attending, if only once."

Luc nods. "Of course. Your congregation comes first." Speaking of which — Luc shifts at the invite. "I don't know, father, it was a long time ago, in France… I'm not sure the other people would understand." He bites his lip and moves to a stand. "Thank you for taking the time."

Vincent chuckles a little, cautiously pulling himself to his feet as he hears Luc rise. Perhaps he ought to offer wise words about how sharing another person's grief can help one understand their own healing process… But he just smiles quietly, and replies, "Well, you'll be welcome, if you choose to come. I believe it's Ms. Kelly's turn to bring the cookies this week. Even if it doesn't help, at least you'll be able to say you've eaten one of the best cookies in town." He laughs quietly, smoothing his shirt and reaching toward the wall. "Regardless, I'll look forward to meeting with you again, soon. It was a pleasure to meet you, Luc."

"I will keep it in mind, thank you." Luc nods. "Thank you for speaking with me. I… I'm glad I stayed. It's funny how you saw me about to run out of here," he notes, a certain humor in his voice. He moves toward the door, but waits for Vincent to lead the way out first.

Vincent smiles faintly. "The Lord has a way of calling us to the right place at the right time, if we're willing to listen." He moves with his customary care to the door, retracing his steps back through the door. Presumably to get on with his preparations.

Luc follows Vincent out. "I suppose so," he concurs. "Have a nice evening. Perhaps I will see you Sunday." Once in the hall, he bids a farewell and then heads back into the church area towards the exit.

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