Sitting beneath a tree again, once more removed from the chain of command, Dr. Pierre Thibaudet watched the others in the Greenhouse go about their business. He noted Lieutenant Penny talking with Dr. Saltonstall over the radio, giving him a complex series of instructions; she claimed that it would let him reconfigure the screen in his room to the monitors used in the security office. It sounded rather tricky, but she being an engineer, and Saltonstall being an electrician he was sure that they both knew what the other was saying; they probably were the only ones who would be able to comprehend and make any sense of the jargon that Penny was using - what in the world was a chromosensitive electrical conduit? Thibaudet shrugged it off as he looked about the room. The thick greeneries about them seemed almost stagnant and sardonic. They had been trapped in here for hours and hours upon end. They, the humans, where were the werewolves certainly would find most comfortable. The irony seemed more tragic than humorous.
He glanced over the faces, all of them familiar and just as morose as he. Dr. Handley still was sitting on the ground, her legs sprawled out before her, and hands lying limply in her lap, with her mouth hanging completely agape. He wondered when the last time a rational thought had passed through her mind. She was completely immobile and unresponsive. Perhaps she would come around in time? Still, Pierre was reluctant to wait for that. He didn't want to take any more chances with either her or McGee; they had to get out of this room soon, within the next hour at the very latest. McGee was off in the other corner, his face calm and serene as he chatted quietly with Darkwolf. How could that man with the four blackbelts be so peaceful about all this? He was going to become a werewolf, and yet he was acting as if everything was perfectly all right. How could one do that? Darkwolf, sitting there talking to him seemed very concerned. Why would Darkwolf want to talk to McGee? The answer was so obvious that Thibaudet wanted to smack himself in the forehead for not remembering. Darkwolf had said that he could hear the wolf inside of him. What would he be doing other than comparing it with a real live werewolf's thoughts and images?
Pillow and HuggyBear were sitting together staring up into space. They were leaning back against Jansen's desk at the far end of the Greenhouse. Neither seemed to be speaking to each other, they both were just staring at the ceiling. He studied John's face a moment, noting the way his lips creased and the way his eyes looked out. The sorrow was gone, at least in some ways. It was just a dull throbbing that was left, no more vicious pain that had once been there. Thibaudet was glad to see that. He really did not want to still be at the receiving end of all of that young man's anger. He was certainly no powerhouse, nor could he stand the barest moment with the werewolves before being cut to pieces. However, his wrath had more than made up for that, and the very thought of what Pierre had caused to Lapwolf was more than enough to make him vomit. He had nothing left, and he wished not to pursue that course any further. He wished that he could forgive himself for causing that boy's death. Regardless what happened back there with Rhodes though, he had no choice but to go on and try to save as many lives as he could. He hoped that his efforts had been sufficient.
Sitting down close to each other strangely enough were also Dr. Emil Jansen and that young girl Lassie. Why she called herself that, he would never know, as she certainly did not impress upon him the picture of a border collie who went about saving people's lives and helping others. She was more of a spunky yapping little dog like a terrier that he could tell. And Jansen, what about him? He had seemed nothing more to him than a snipish and shortfused man. He lost his temper so often and screamed at the top of his lungs for so long that Pierre was amazed he had any voice left whatsoever. What could possibly have come about to change all that? Was it the return of that engagement ring? It had to be, his face had been radiant every time he mentioned it. Still, he had lost his temper a few times, but he had been rather sharply provoked by Thibaudet himself since then. He had to admit that he probably wasn't fair to the man. Had they met under different circumstances, he was sure that they could be friends. He just needed to give it a chance. Perhaps making amends now would be a good idea. After all, Lucille Penny was going to be busy for a little while as she worked through the instructions with Saltonstall, repeating herself every few moments to make sure that Everett got the message properly. This would be the perfect time to do it. After this, she would probably involve them all in her little plan. Pierre idly wondered for a few moments just what it involved, and how dangerous it was going to be.
Then there was one other person who he had not dared to look at. Dr. Frederick Anselm. The very thought of his roommate made him want to throttle something. Anselm was going to prove recalcitrant and completely incontrovertible no matter what they said or did to him. Torture was simply out of the question. The only way Anselm was going to reveal anything was that if they already figured it out. What the point behind that was, he could not be sure. However, he knew it had everything to do with hiding knowledge from them. That was enough to get Thibaudet's blood boiling again. He wished that there was something he could to do to make that man talk, someway to convince him that revealing his orders was in his own best interest. The only way to get that blonde-haired psychologist to say anything at all would be to show him that his true desires were for them to let in on his secrets. He wondered just what it was that he was holding back. What could his orders be that were too secretive for them to know? Could they be harmless? Could he have just been ordered to observe as he had hinted at, or was it something more sinister? Pierre did not want to fathom what the more sinister meant. Watching Anselm slowly pace back and forth with his hands clutched behind his back and his eyes on the dirt in front of his feet, he knew that he must have been deliberating something. Perhaps to tell them what he knew? He wished that were so, but he doubted very much that it was true.
Still, where did that leave them all? They still were stuck here in the Greenhouse, two more of their number destined to be werewolves. Dr. Handley and Mr. McGee would have to leave shortly, that much was certain. He wondered just how Dr. Saltonstall had survived. From what he had seen, it was apparent that the werewolves knew at least in some respects how to use the passcards. That Rhodes had destroyed his on his way out had been a great relief. If he had not, then they would have had to climb up into the ventilation shafts much too early for his liking. It still remained a possibility, but now that they had both Anselm and Lt. Penny here it was much less likely. As long as they had a card with more security clearance than the werewolves did than they were safe here. If that happened to change, then they had to get inside the ventilation shafts. It was the safest place to be, if cramped and hot. The werewolves were a bit too big to be able to easily fit into the shafts, although he was sure that it would not stop them from trying. Even so, that did not answer the question how Dr. Saltonstall had survived. He did not have a security rating any higher than Pierre did, and yet he had managed to stay in his room and not get harmed. Perhaps the werewolves had simply overlooked him. Perhaps they were saving him for food later? Whatever it was, Pierre hoped it never was compromised, at least for his sake.
He turned his head as he saw Pillow approaching him calmly and with sure step. Thibaudet sat beneath the tree, cross-legged, waiting for him. He was not really sure he wanted to talk to this disturbed man again, but it looked like he was going to force the issue. He steeled himself for another biting vituperative and waited till Pillow had seated himself in the dirt before him. Pillow did not cross his legs, but curled them up beneath him as if they were incapable of bending any other way. He wondered about that for a moment, and then put it out of his mind as he stared into the young man's thin face. The eyes were still a bit sorrowful, but as before, it was more of a dull pain than anything else. He pursed his lips thoughtfully for a moment before finally saying, "I guess I came over here to apologize for yelling at you before. It wasn't your fault that Lap died. I just needed somebody to blame, and I didn't want to blame anybody but you. I don't know why, my heart just ached, and I needed somebody to lash out against. I'm sorry." it appeared that he had a difficult time saying the words, as he would stop occasionally in the middle of a sentence and then continue along as if nothing had happened.
"You seek my forgiveness?" Thibaudet asked, genuinely surprised. He could not deny that he was relieved that the kid wanted to make up for it though. At least he was semi-rational.
John grimaced visibly, looking away and towards the ground, "I know. I have a hard time asking for forgiveness. I always have. I just get so mad, and then I'd rather hold a grudge against somebody and spite them at every turn."
"So why the change now?"
John West took a deep breath, rubbing his forehead with one hand. "I was doing some soul searching and talking with HuggyBear. He suggested I do this."
"What did you find?"
"What do you mean?"
Thibaudet licked his lips, not sure what to make of this. "What did you find in searching you soul?"
"Oh, I found many things. Most of them pretty ugly. I am a terrible person, I have done some rotten things and I have not done what I should have a lot of the time. I just felt bad about yelling at you, and figured that I should make amends for those things that I can." Pillow looked back across the room at nothing in particular, "So, I'm sorry for yelling at you about Lapwolf. You did what you thought was right. You were not trying to get him killed. I know that now."
Thibaudet shrugged, "I may have done what I thought was right, but that doesn't mean it was the best choice. I'm sure that something could have been done that would not have gotten him killed. It is in a way partially my fault for not having thought of it sooner. In any event, I forgive you. You did what anybody else would have done in that situation."
"No, I should not have lost my temper like that," Pillow insisted.
"Well what would you have rather done?"
"I would have rather just cried. I should have just acknowledged your efforts. Instead I lashed out at you, even though you were trying to comfort me as well."
"Well, as I said I forgive you," Thibaudet did not know what to make of this kid anymore. He seemed to be on the verge of breaking out in emotional hysterics again, his face on the edge of abandon. He hoped that the kid was not so fragile as to be set off by a single word. He really did not want to have to deal with this kid crying or screaming at him again.
Pillow nodded, "Thank you." He did not move to leave though, just sitting there staring at the ground. His eyes traced over the shape and contour of the mounds of dirt that had been placed in this room for the special purpose of feeding these plants for two months. There was enough fertilizer about to keep them healthy as long as they got enough sunlight. The sun was now beginning to peek over the edges of the walls and beginning its shine on them. In another hour it would be fully visible just like it would on any day, except this time the sky would not appear blue. Many of the stars were already beginning to grow faint.
Pillow drew circles in the dirt with his fingers idly as he sat there. His tongue moved over his lips a few times as his head hung there. Thibaudet looked to the drawing, wondering just what he was trying to shape. It seemed no more than a set of circles on inside the other with lines crossing through them connecting them. It looked almost at times like a starburst, but Pillow quickly wiped it out, and starting over again with his fingers. He seemed restless, as if he wanted to say something, but was afraid what would happen if he did so. His other hand rested in the dirt as he leaned on it. His hair fell over the front of his face, as he worked at it. Thibaudet had to resist the temptation to break the boy's concentration. He did not want to startle him into not saying anything at all. If there was something important that had to be said, he definitely wanted to hear it, and anything he could do that might make Pillow not tell him was the wrong thing to do.
He began to listen to Penny's words. It seemed she telling Saltonstall something about splicing wires, and was naming off about fifteen different color wires each with their own location, and the proper sequence and way to organize them. The security measures taken to prevent people from doing what she was helping Everett to do seemed excessive. He had at first wondered why she couldn't just give him some code to punch into the system, it would require much less work and would help them get started on her plan much more quickly. However, she had been adamant that they do things her way. Just before giving the instructions, she had explained that if she gave him the codes like that then he would have access to do a lot more than just view things, and she was not quite sure that she was ready to trust him that completely. For some reason, her slight wariness made him feel much more comfortable, it reminded him that she was indeed on their side about these things and was not going to let things fall apart because of carelessness. She was a woman who checked all of her details thoroughly. That would be good, and if her plan was indeed workable like she said it was, then possibly they could all get out of this Greenhouse and get some food. He had tried not to think about it too much, but he really was very hungry now.
"I miss him already," Pillow broke the silence in a quiet voice. He was still drawing pictures in the dirt with his finger, though much less enthusiastically.
"We were lovers. Well, I guess that might not be the word to describe it. We had a relationship going, a very peculiar relationship. Nobody else understood it."
"What kind of relationship?" Thibaudet was not so sure that he wanted to hear what the kid had to say. While their actions were certainly not out of the ordinary in general, it did seem odd that he would be admitting it to a perfect stranger. He wondered just why Pillow was going to put his trust in him, a man who had through a bad decision caused the death of his lover.
"I...I'm rather ashamed to admit it all." Pillow tapped the ground with one finger, tracing out the curves of his drawing with the other. "I guess I just didn't know when to say enough is enough. I just loved him too much. I thought I could help him to understand the world. I thought I could show him how much God loved him by my actions. I think that is the worst of it, knowing that he is gone without ever having come around."
"Yes, I'm Christian, you?"
"I was born Catholic," Thibaudet admitted. "I stopped believing in it many years ago. Now, I'm not so sure I was right then."
"What do you mean?"
Thibaudet laughed, "Well, if werewolves can exist, why not God?"
"Hmm." Pillow remarked thoughtfully, "I would never have suspected that somebody would come to believe in the Almighty because they saw a werewolf."
"Stranger things have happened. I'm still not sure whether I believe yet or not. At any rate, what were you saying?"
"Well, I was hoping to convert him if I showed him love."
"And it didn't work?"
Pillow shook his head sadly. "I don't think he understood love in the same sense that I did. All he wanted was sex, and to feel like he was in control."
"So you slept with him?"
"I've been sleeping with him for the past few years. I know, it sounds crazy. I am homosexual; I have known that for sometime now. I was electrified when I saw him standing over top of me, powerful, and full of energy, and just as masculine as I. It gave me a sort of thrill. I enjoyed it, I still do. I wanted him so much to realize that God loved him that I would give in to whatever he wanted to do so easily. I enjoyed giving in a bit I think. I was just wanting him to love me more than just through sex, yet..."
"Yet that was all he wanted?" Thibaudet asked, helping Pillow continue. He had an annoying tendency to suddenly stop in the middle of a sentence and then go back to drawing in the soil.
"That's right. All he ever wanted was sex. Lapwolf wanted sex and dominance. At first I just thought it was the sex, as he didn't seem to care who was on top or bottom. Then he started doing things like manacling me to the bed. He never hurt me much, no torture or anything like that. He treated me more like a pet than a slave. I remember the day that he took me out shopping for a collar. I hate it, but I was somehow secretly thrilled about it. I knew that I was doing wrong, but I couldn't stop myself. I just wanted more and more to be his little pet. He even made me sleep on the floor by my bed a couple nights. I can't help but look back on those days with a sick feeling in my stomach. How did I do all of that? How could I subject myself to his depravities? I don't want to enjoy those things, but I did." Pillow seemed quite agitated by his inability to resist Lapwolf's monstrous charms. He was completely drawn into that whole cycle of deviancy that he saw no way to escape. Thibaudet felt a bit turned off, but at the same time he felt sorry for this poor fool. What was he to tell him though, to snap out of it and get on with his life? Hardly, that would only make the problem worse. He had to do something that would not seem like an affront but at the same time would be easy for Pillow to accept. He could think of nothing.
"Do you believe that it was wrong?"
"Yes!" Pillow replied emphatically. His eyes were wet now, his whole body quivering. Pierre saw that HuggyBear was watching the exchange closely. He did not move towards them however, he just sat in his corner by himself.
"Because you are a Christian?"
"Absolutely. I cannot read the Bible without seeing that woman was made for man and man for woman. Not anything else. But what about me? I don't want to sleep with women. The very idea seems repulsive to me. How am I supposed to cope with who I am?"
"Does sex with other men revulse you?" Thibaudet couldn't believe he was involved in this discussion, but then again, stranger things could have happened. After all, he was only locked in a Greenhouse on a space ship orbiting the moon such that it would always be facing them full. Loup garou were running rampant throughout the rest of the ship. Anselm was a Hasmonean and was going to take a bullet rather than reveal them the orders that he had been instructed to carry out. What was a little problem like this compared to all of that?
"Well, not really. I know it's wrong, but I can't help but feel excited by the thought of lying with another man."
Thibaudet nodded, "You have a conflict of interest. You have to decided what is more important to you, the physical or the spiritual." He thought that would sound deep enough to get Pillow thinking of the answer. He hoped that he wasn't really faking his way through this. He wished he could say that it all came from his heart, but that would not have been true. He'd rather have never had to say or hear these things. Something's were just not meant to be talked about.
"Well, the spiritual of course."
"Then it should be obvious, stop doing those things physical which interfere with your spiritual development."
"But, it is so hard."
"I may not have been a Christian for the last fifteen years, but I do remember a few things that the nuns taught me. I remember that there was never any sin so great that God and you could not handle. Perhaps you are trying to do it all yourself. I really don't know, this is your decision as a follower of Christ. I cannot make it for you. All I know is, you think homosexuality is condemned by the Bible, that's fine. Others would disagree with you as they have for many years now. However, if you do not want to do it anymore, then just don't."
"Just stop doing it?"
"But, it is so hard. I'm so used to it."
"And God will forgive you anyway?" Thibaudet completed the thought that he knew was coming. It was amazing how much of those Sunday School lessons were coming back to him now that he thought about it. There was so much that he just hadn't thought about it years. So many things that were refreshing to dwell upon. He had decided that God did not exist, but he had not forgotten the lessons that he had learned from Christianity, the positive ones. Pierre may not have practiced them as much as he should have, but still, he was not going out of his way to do wrong. That must surely count for something.
"Well, yes, but..." Pillow seemed to realize something then, his face falling again. His finger traced through the circles in the dirt again.
"But Jesus also told those he healed to go and sin no more. I guess I've just been trying to tell myself that God made me this way for a purpose."
"Don't ever believe that God doesn't make things for a purpose. I'm sure there is a perfectly reasonable explanation why werewolves exist. You do have a reason, Pillow. You have to find that reason in yourself though." Thibaudet hoped that it did not send like rhetorical nonsense. He wasn't even sure just what he was saying anymore. The problem was the words were often times out of his mouth before he could even think about them. It was like he was speaking from a part of him that he did not want to believe in. Could it be that he still, at least on some level believed in God? Could it be that seeing the werewolves had reawakened that part of him again? Somehow the prospect was not as intellectually frightening as he had thought it would be. He had snubbed those who had believed in a divine being as intellectually deficient for believing in anything that they couldn't see and observe. Yet, perhaps it was the other way around. Perhaps he was just blind. He would never have believed in the loup garou before today, now he could not deny them. How many more things in the Universe existed that he would have denied because he just hadn't seen proof of them yet?
"I thought it was to save Lapwolf. I guess I was wrong. I've let him walk all over me and use me in so many foul ways that I cannot begin to describe them all. I must be a blot in the sight of God. I don't think I could ever do the right thing. I certainly haven't so far."
Thibaudet sighed, this kid was going to be hard to crack, and he didn't seem to want to give up his own self-chastisement. "Pillow,"
"Call me John."
"All right then, John. Have you ever said no before?"
John nodded, "I have on many occasions. It only got Lapwolf mad, and then I would come crawling back to him a few hours later. It happened earlier today as well. I told him no, and he pitched a fit. I finally caved in and gave him what he wanted. I feel so dirty about it. I don't have any backbone."
Thibaudet finally had to laugh, "I heard that you were the one who thought of himself as a donkey?"
"Well yes, I do."
"You certainly don't act like one. I thought they were stubborn to the point of idiocy."
"Well, I can be," John admitted. "But in this, I just always gave in."
"Think of it this way then, why don't you try being stubborn about your faith for once. Don't compromise it, not for anybody else."
"I don't know if I can do it."
"I doubt I could myself, but that is not what is important. You asked for my help, that is what I suggest. You need to see in yourself that you are not a terrible person. You may have done something that you regret, but we all have. We are not really all that different. You just need to deal with it in your own way. What do you think would be good for you to do now, I suggest thinking on it."
John nodded, shifting about on his legs, "I guess I can do that. I probably should. Better yet, I should pray about it." He stood up, and brushed his pants off, though they were too filthy for it to matter very much. "Thank you, Dr. Thibaudet. I'm sorry you had to hear those things."
"No, I am glad that I was of some help." Pierre pointed out, giving him a warm smile. It was the first one he had shown in some time. With all of these problems going on about, a smile was not something that he felt like giving often. However, he knew it would be very helpful for John H. West in dealing with his particular problems. Reassurance was so hard to give. Correction was even worse. He hoped that he had managed to keep most of his opinions out of it and just let John see the solution in his own view of the world. It was really the only way to go about helping him. He watched as John walked back over to his friend HuggyBear before patting him on the back and getting down on his knees. Thibaudet noted Huggy's pleased expression, but did not stare for too long. He had his own thoughts to sort through.
Pierre was not so sure who was helped more by that conversation, John or himself. He hadn't really given much thought to God ever since his parents had accepted his choice to be an agnostic. Not that they didn't drop disapproving hints every once in a while, but they had pretty much left him to live his own life, the one that he had chosen. His knowledge of things biblical was not so startling though. He knew most of it, though he had not used it in so long. He still wondered just why they were called the Hasmoneans, but was afraid to ask for fear of having his blood boiled by Anselm's stubborn refusal to answer even the simplest of questions. However, that discussion had gotten him to thinking about many of the things he had grown up with and accepted as the truth when young but called into question as he grew older. He had stopped believing because he had seen no evidence for the existence of God. He had never believed in werewolves either, yet they existed. Perhaps evidence was not something that was always there. Perhaps his parents were right; perhaps one did have to take some things on faith sometimes.
Still, just because he was proven wrong once didn't mean he was always wrong. However, skepticism had taken a mighty blow. How could he continue to assume that something did not exist unless there was proof of it? To say that well they had been wrong before but now that we have it properly catalogued and studied we will not make the same mistake again was sheer lunacy. It made no logical sense. Perhaps there was a better way. Perhaps skepticism could be sustained on the one hand by saying that until the evidence proves something exists, we cannot say one way or the other. Then that would be admitting that anything could exist. Including God. There could be no way to disprove the existence of something under that definition. He wasn't sure there was a way to show something did not exist period. Perhaps there was room for a healthy skepticism that understood that it could be wrong. No longer could one look intellectually down on somebody who believed in faeries or other such mythological creatures. For all intents and purposes, how did he not know that faeries did not exist? He thought the loup garou were mythical, and look what had happened. So, why not God?
He grimaced, always back to that. Did he really want to deny the possibility, or was he just afraid that he would have to admit that he was wrong? Whether he saw evidence didn't seem to matter anymore. That was a useless statement. He might as well walk out the door and tell the werewolves to stop attacking them for all the good it would do him in the future. He needed to stop trying to look at how he could be right, but at what was right. He needed to stop trying to tell himself that there had to be a way that God didn't exist, and just ask the question whether he did? That he did not know, but something inside of him wanted to say yes, while another part vehemently wanted to say no. He grimaced. Was it possible for God to exist? He would have before replied no immediately, but now he had no choice but to admit that yes, he could exist. Just because he did not know something did not mean it wasn't true. He sighed; this was not going to be easy to sort out.
He was sort of glad that Penny spoke up then, because he really did not want to worry about it now. She had a bright big smile on her face and seemed rather excited about something. Thibaudet hoped that it was what he suspected it was. Her voice was bubbling with enthusiasm, "All right everybody, listen up. I've finished helping Saltonstall get his monitor prepared."
"So are you going to tell us what you have planned?" Jansen blurted in.
"Yes. That is exactly what I'm going to do. Now, I don't have all the details worked out yet, I'll need your help with that, but I'm sure, that once we get this put together, it is going to work."
"Good, let's get on with it," Jansen pressured. "I'm sick of sitting in this stupid Greenhouse."
"I can imagine so." Penny nodded to him, and then her eyes caught each of them in their gaze. Thibaudet stood up and walked a bit closer. This was something that he was not going to miss. He hoped that it would work!
End Part XXII