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Title: Strange Power
Pairing: gen - Will Graham
Disclaimer: This is entirely a product of my own imagination, and I make no profit from it. I do not own the lovely Will Graham, unfortunately, just borrowing him for a while. Please do not sue.
***One foot in front of the other. Just put one foot in front of the other, and he would eventually get to where he was going. Will kept repeating the phrase over and over to himself, like a mantra replaying time and time again in his head.
Then he gasped aloud, opening his eyes.
He didn't know where he was. He had been sleepwalking again; that was his first thought. Winston was beside him, whining softly, looking up at him with those soulful doggy eyes, as though he was wondering just why Will had come here.
Will wondered that, too. It didn't look like a place that anyone would be comfortable in. It certainly wasn't anywhere he wanted to be.
The terrain around him was level; there were no rocks that he could see, which was a good thing, as he was barefoot. At least he hadn't torn up the soles of his feet like the last time he'd sleepwalked out into the forest that surrounded his home.
He had to somewhere near his home, Will told himself, turning around in a circle and blinking, trying to get his bearings. If he could assess the area he was in, then he could figure out which way he had come, and make his way safely back to the house.
He had done this before, he told himself, looking around with a frown. He had sleepwalked dozens of times; finding his way back home should be second nature by now.
But nothing looked familiar. Nothing.
He had no idea what part of the surrounding forests he was in; there wasn't much of it that he hadn't already explored in this time he'd lived here, but this must be one of those areas that he hadn't found his way into. Even Winston seemed uneasy here.
If the dog didn't like this place, then he really shouldn't be here. Will felt a chill of apprehension sweep through him; there was something not quite right here.
He didn't know what it was, but something about being here gave him the creeps. He hated to feel that way about a part of the woods around his own home; it was as though he was living far too close to some malevolent force that threatened him in some way.
That was ridiculous, he told himself firmly. There was nothing in these woods that was after him; the only residents here other than himself and his dogs were wild animals, and he knew from experience that they were more afraid of him than he was of them.
There was nothing to get panicked about. Nothing at all.
He had sleepwalked before. This was just another one of those annoying times when he would have to try to retrace his steps and find his way back home. He'd done it before, and then, he'd been alone. This time, he had Winston to help him find his way back.
"What do you say, boy?" he asked Winston, leaning down to pet the dog's head. "Are you going to point me in the right direction?"
Winston whined again, seeming to shrink away from the path in front of them, obviously wanting to turn around. So it made sense to think that the way back to the house was behind them, Will told himself as he straightened up to glance back.
But somehow, that didn't feel right. He felt as though he should keep walking ahead. There seemed to be some kind of clearing there, something that he couldn't quite make out from this far away, but he was sure that it wouldn't take long to walk there.
It was beckoning to him. He couldn't turn away.
Slowly, he began to move forward, one step at a time. He wasn't going to turn back and find his way home until he had seen what was in that clearing; he knew that there was some reason he needed to go there, even if he didn't stay long.
That was probably what had called him out here, why he had been sleepwalking in the first place. He was just going to get to that clearing and have a look around, and then he would go back home. He would rest easier once he knew what was out here.
His steps quickened as he headed towards the clearing; there seemed to be a light over the place, as if the moon had finally come out from behind the clouds.
Winston was beside him, still whining, pushing his cold nose into Will's hand. The dog obviously wasn't happy with the direction they were heading in, but he wasn't going to leave Will. He'd made that clear. Will smiled down at him, feeling grateful for his presence.
He wasn't alone. He had Winston here beside him.
Maybe it was silly that a dog could make him feel so safe, but it made him feel that he could keep going without hesitation as long as there was another creature here with him. Knowing that he wouldn't face some strange sight alone bolstered his courage.
He kept moving forward, but he was going more slowly with every step. Something told him that he might not want to see what would be revealed in that clearing; it might be a sight that he was better off never having viewed, a sight that would haunt him for all of his days.
But still, he made himself keep moving forward. He wasn't going to turn away now, not when he was this close, and his curiosity was running rampant.
He wasn't going to be deterred by fear, Will told himself, trying to keep his inner voice strong and firm. He had no reason to be afraid. The woods around his house were his home, in a way; he shouldn't be afraid to face anything that might dwell here.
His senses were screaming at him to run, that this was a very bad idea.
Will shook his head, refusing to heed what those sense told him. He was going to see what was in that clearing, convince himself that it was nothing that could cause him or his dogs any harm, and then he and Winston would turn around and go back home.
But as he approached the clearing, as the moonlight grew brighter, his steps grew slower and slower. He didn't really want to face whatever might be waiting for him there. Whatever it was, he couldn't help feeling that it would be something out of the ordinary.
Finally, he was only two steps away from the clearing. Will closed his eyes, stepping forward once, then twice; with that movement, he cleared the line of trees.
Bright moonlight washed over him; he opened his eyes -- and gasped aloud, his eyes widening. He could hardly believe what he was seeing there in front of him; he'd thought it was only a figment of his imagination, but here it was, brought to brilliant life in the stark moonlight.
The stag. Standing there waiting for him, magnificent and proud, staring him down.
The animal pawed the ground, shaking its head. Then it lowered its head to the ground -- and Will could see the sharp points of its antlers, gleaming in the bright moonlight. Was that .... blood on the tips? Had it killed something -- or someone?
He wasn't going to have a chance to find out. With a snort, the stag lifted its head -- and then it was rushing towards him, those antlers pointed directly at his chest.
With a gasp, Will awakened, clutching at his pillow and swallowing a scream. He sat bolt upright in bed, looking around him, closing his eyes in relief when he realized that it had only been a dream. There was no clearing, no moonlight, no stag. He hadn't been sleepwalking.
He was here, at home, safe in his bed. But these dreams, these disturbing dreams about the stag, were attacking him more and more frequently. He wanted them to simply go away, to leave him in peace. He didn't want to see that stag again.
But somehow, he was sure that he would.
He'd seen a lot of strange sights in his life, but that stag had to be the strangest. It was weird how the creature seemed to haunt his dreams on a constant basis.
Before he'd started working in the field, he'd never had those kinds of dreams. He had sleepwalked before, yes, but not to the extent that he did now. And his psyche wasn't as disturbed by things that should be firmly kept to the realm of dreams.
The stag scared him more than he could put into words. But somehow, he couldn't turn away from it. It was as though the thing had some kind of strange power over him, mesmerizing him, pulling him nearer even when he knew that he should run.
If it came down to a confrontation between them, Will was sure that he wouldn't be the one who came out on the winning end. The thought was chilling; he didn't want to think that the stag was real, but something within him told him that it wasn't just a part of his mind and nothing more.
It was terrifying to think that such a creature might actually exist. Maybe it was real; maybe it had stepped out of his dreams and into his life.
No. He wouldn't believe that. He couldn't let himself believe it.
The stag had to represent something that he feared; it was nothing more than a dream conjured up by his psyche to make it easier for him to deal with that fear. Once he figured out what it was, he could confront it -- metaphorically, if not in actuality.
There would be a confrontation with that stag one day, he thought with a shiver, burrowing under the covers and curling into a ball, trying to get warm. When that day came, he could only hope that he was prepared for it -- and that the day wouldn't be his last.
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