This one is for my Mom. She may not always understand what I do, but has always been supportive. Thanks Mommy. Much love and hugs. Also to my Grandmother. Thanks for the afghan, my permanent hug.

Always thanks to TAE for the wonderful beta.

Chapter 16: Harmonious Discord

"Oh Sweetie, I'm so happy that you decided to come to this retreat with me," Naomi said as she gave Blair another hug, reassuring herself that her son really was there with her.

Blair gave his mother a tolerant smile as she tucked a few errant strands of hair behind his ear. "I'm glad I came, too, Mom. We haven't spent a lot of time together, lately."

"Well, we'll have plenty of time together here. This retreat will be perfect." Naomi was her usual bright and energetic self, "And you can work off all that negative energy that I see in your aura."

The grad student hurried to keep up with his mother as she skipped along the path that led through the commune where the retreat was being held. "Oh yeah, I could seriously use some cleansing. Finals this semester were the worst I've ever experienced. How some of those students can look themselves in the mirror is a mystery to me."

Naomi turned and gave her son a look that said she was humoring him, "Yes, I remember you telling me about your classes when we spoke on the phone, but surely they couldn't cause the darkness that I'm seeing. Are you sure it's from school and not from spending so much time with those pi... police?"

Blair miraculously managed to avoid rolling his eyes, but couldn't avoid the tired sigh that escaped his lips. "Mom we've been through this before. Yes, I do see a lot of things that are sickening, but I also see a lot of good things. Jim and the others do a lot of good to help the citizens of Cascade. I wish you'd stop worrying about me hanging out with them. They watch out for me. That's what friends do."

"Blair, I know you consider Jim and his co-workers your friends, but you simply can't be around that much anger and hate without being affected. You're my baby. I know your heart. Eventually it will poison you." Naomi was starting to get agitated. She couldn't understand why her son refused to hear what she was saying.

The reason she asked him to go on this retreat was to remove him from the influences of the police department and hopefully allow Blair to re-open his eyes to the freedom that she feared his heart was losing.

Blair was also becoming upset with his mother. Her inability to see the reality of his life with Jim and their friends was tiring. He wished he could make her understand that this was where his life's path led. "Mom, Jim and the others aren't a poison. They are the medicine that controls the sickness of crime and hate. They deal with it so others like us don't have to. Why can't you see that?"

Naomi was about to answer when their argument was interrupted. "Naomi, it is so joyous to experience the brilliance of your energy, again." Paul, one of the leaders of the commune, said as he approached the mother and son. He then turned to Blair, "We are exuberant that you also join us in our celebration, Blair. I see that your aura has only grown stronger since I last saw you."

It was then that the newcomer addressed the issue that attracted his attention to begin with, "But, why such disharmony? This gathering is intended to facilitate the merging of energies and uplift the soul. The conflicts of the world can only be solved if we first resolve our own. We must bring harmony to ourselves before we can bring it to others."

Paul had obviously slipped into his preaching persona and now stood looking to the sky with his hands held out as if expecting the clouds to part and a beam of light to shine down on him.

Blair couldn't help but wonder if Paul was for real. He glanced at his mother only to see a similar thought reflected in her yes.

Either not noticing the reaction of his audience, or simply ignoring it, Paul continued, "We must seek a solution to this discord." He then gave Naomi and Blair a searching look, as if he was studying something that only he could see.

Naomi was about to suggest that they proceed to the meeting hall when the self-appointed spiritualist came to a decision. "Blair, give your mother your sweatshirt."

Both mother and son did a double-take, not sure what to think of Paul's declaration. Blair looked down at the inside-out sweatshirt that he was wearing and suddenly realized which sweatshirt it was and why he was wearing it inside out. "Umm, I don't think that would be a good idea," Blair said, dismayed at the thought of his mother's reaction to the shirt.

"Nonsense, lad. Our clothes are a part of us. We live in our clothes. They exist closer to us then anything else we posses. They absorb a part of who we are and store it. Which is why I keep my wardrobe to a minimum. Too many clothes and we have too many pieces of ourselves stored away from the whole."

The commune leader paused for a moment and mumbled something to himself, almost as if he realized he was drifting away from the situation at hand and was trying to find his way back. "Our clothing absorbs a piece of us and stores it and when we wear it again we are able to draw from that stored energy." He gestured between Blair and Naomi, "Blair, by allowing your mother to wear your sweatshirt she will be able to draw from the energy stored in the cloth, thus merging your energies and achieving a better balance and understanding."

Blair looked at Paul then at Naomi. He hadn't grown up with Naomi as a mother and lived with Jim for the past few years and not learned when it was just easier to go with the flow. He just shrugged, grabbed the hem of his shirt and pulled it over his head.

He was still extracting his head when he heard his mother gasp in shock. When he finally was able to see again he looked up to see Naomi leaning on Paul, her eyes glued on the now visible front of the shirt, her mouth opening and closing soundlessly.

Blair took a step towards his mother, unsettled by her pale look and silence. "Mom?"

"Oh, Blair," she replied sadly. "How could you? What have they done to my baby? No wonder I sensed such negative vibes from you." She stepped away from Paul and took the sweatshirt with its clearly visible "ARMY" on the front. She moved as if to toss it as far away from her son as possible, but Paul easily took the sweatshirt from her.

"Naomi, Blair has willingly given up part of himself. Would you toss it away so easily?" He stood quietly cradling the shirt in his arms, waiting for her decision.

She looked back and forth between the nonjudgmental look on Paul's face to the hopeful, expectant look on Blair's. Her son's soft blue eyes looked back at her with love and trust. She had never been able to disappoint those eyes.

Calmly accepting the Army sweatshirt from Paul, Naomi pulled it over her head. She expected to feel a cold evil trying to wrap itself around her heart, but all she felt was a warmth that reminded her of her son, a joyful spirit, and something else that she couldn't quite identify.

For a moment it was as if she were a little girl again, wrapping up in her grandmother's afghan during a thunderstorm. She had always been enthralled with the magical way the simple yarn blanket muted the thunder and chased away the monsters of the night.

"Sweetie, have I ever told you about Nana's afghan?" Naomi asked as she smoothed out the front of her borrowed shirt and felt the soft cotton that served as an armor against the cold world.

"No, Mom, you haven't," Blair answered as his mother wrapped her arm around his shoulder. They traded stories as they continued down the trail to the meeting hall.

Paul followed close behind, absorbing the harmonious energies that emanated from mother and son.

The end

Chapter 15

Chapter 17


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