"I can't do it. I can't kill my own daughter, if she becomes a loup. That's all I think about. It would be my duty as a mother and an alpha, and I just can't." "That's why there are two of you," I said.
"What if he can't do it? Things happen to alphas. Daniel could be challenged. He could fight a threat to the Pack and lose. If something happens to Daniel and later our daughter becomes a loup, I'll have to kill her. Then there will be nothing left." She looked at me. "Nothing."
If she was looking for wisdom, I had none to offer. "Look at it this way: if we don't find that device tomorrow, we will all die. Problem solved."
Jennifer shrugged her narrow shoulders, her eyes haunted. "I suppose so. I didn't ask to be born a shapeshifter. It just happened. Sometimes you want to stomp your feet and yell, `It's not fair,' but it won't change anything."
I didn't ask to be born Roland's daughter. I just had to live with it. The world was screwed up. Fanatics tried to murder us, and sometimes we had to kill our own children.
"I'm so angry," Jennifer murmured. "If I could just get over my anger, I'd be all right."
What the hell did she want from me anyway? Was I supposed to hug her and tell her everything would be all right, with Julie lying there as far from fucking all right as she could get?
"Sometimes it helps to live through it," I told her. "Find a time when nobody will bother you, and imagine it. Imagine the worst-case scenario in as much detail as you can manage. Let yourself live through it; feel the fear, feel the pain. It's a terrible thing to put yourself through, but once it's done, the anxiety goes away. It never disappears completely, but it leaves you alone enough so you can function."
"Thanks," Jennifer said. "I might try that."
Doolittle walked into the room, quiet as a ghost, and patted my shoulder. Jennifer rose and slipped out of the door as silently as she'd arrived.
"It's time to take a break," Doolittle murmured. "Come. I'll fix you a nice glass of iced tea."
I rose and followed him out into a small room across the hall. It looked just like an ordinary kitchen: a stove, a fridge, a table with a bench and three chairs ... Doolittle pointed at the padded bench. I sat. He got a pitcher of iced tea from the fridge and two tall glasses. Oh no.
The iced tea splashed into the glass. I picked it up and drank. Fifty percent honey. Maybe more.
"People think it's the beast that makes us lose our sanity." Doolittle sampled the tea in his glass and sat down with a sad smile. "They think the beast takes over and we become loup. Animals don't destroy each other for pure pleasure. They don't have serial killers. They kill, they don't murder. No, it's not the beast in us that makes us lose our balance. It's the man. Of all the animals, we're the most aggressive and the most predatory. We have to be, otherwise we would've never survived. You can see it in children, especially adolescents. Life is hard for them, so they attack it and fight for their own place in it. Homo homini lupus." "Man is a wolf to his fellow man?"
Doolittle nodded. "A wise Roman playwright once said that."
"Did he write tragedies?"
"No. Comedies. Good ones, too." Doolittle drank his tea. "I don't trust tragedies much. It's easy to make a person sad by showing him something tragic. We all recognize when sad things happen: someone dies, someone loses a loved one, young love is crushed. It's much harder to make a man laugh--what's funny to one person isn't funny to another."
I valiantly drank my tea. "That's what I don't understand about the Keepers. They're people. They laugh, they cry, and somehow they kill hundreds of their friends and neighbors with no remorse. There is no emotion involved in any of it."
"No, my dear. It's all emotion," Doolittle said. "It's rage."
"Themselves, mostly. Rage is a powerful thing. People get upset over many things. Frustrating jobs, small paychecks, bad hours. People want things; people feel humiliated by others who have the things they want; people feel deprived and powerless. All this gives fuel to rage. The anger builds and builds and if there is no outlet for it, pretty soon it transforms the person. They walk around like a loaded gun, ready to go off if only they could find the right target. They want to hurt something. They need it."
He refilled his glass and topped mine off. "Humans tend to segregate the world: enemies on one side, friends on the other. Friends are people we know. Enemies are the Other. You can do just about anything to the Other. It doesn't matter if this Other is actually guilty of any crimes, because it's a matter of emotion, not logic. You see, angry people aren't interested in justice. They just want an excuse to vent their rage."
Doolittle sighed. "And once you become their Other, you're no longer a person. You're just an idea, an abstraction of everything that's wrong with their world. Give them the slightest excuse, and they will tear you down. And the easiest way for them to target you as this Other is to find something that's different about you. Color of your skin. The way you speak. The place you're from. Magic. It comes and goes in cycles, Kate. Each new generation picks their own Other. For the Keepers, it's people with magic. And for us, well, it's the Keepers. We will murder them all. No matter if some of them are confused, or easily led, or feebleminded. Or if they have families. They will die. It makes me despair sometimes."
There was such profound sadness in his voice that it made me want to hug myself.
"And then there are lost souls like Leslie, so full of selfhatred that they trample the world in a rush to blame someone for their pain." He shook his head. "Well, look at me, getting all melancholy in my old age. I don't know what came over me." I knew. It was looking at Julie's tortured body for the last twenty-four hours. He looked on her and felt terrible sorrow. I looked at her and I felt rage.
"When Erra died, did you get hold of any tissue samples?" I asked. "Blood, hair, that type of thing?"
Doolittle looked at me from above the rim of his glass. "Why don't you just tell me straight what it is you're hunting for."
"There is a ritual that may be able to save Julie. To do it, I need to be able to do what Erra did. I need to know if there are any differences between my blood and hers so I can figure out if it's possible to compensate for them."
"That will take time," Doolittle said.
"Can you keep her asleep long enough?"
Doolittle nodded and stood up. "Follow me."