The Fellowship of the Sun

A triangular mass of windows and modern side-panels of an off white, the church the Fellowship of the Sun congregate in is nothing short of welcoming. Its doors are comprised of transparent glass, allowing the world outside a glimpse into a richly carpeted and lavish lobby area. This is the heart of the church's information network; a place where tables filled with pamphlets and educational materials can be found as well as the corkboard holding up all the flyers and notices of recent events that might interest the congregation. Attached is a coat room, and the pair of handsome doors leading into the main chapel of the building, as well as a staircase that leads downstairs, where independent study rooms, the kitchen, and function rooms can be found.

In the room of worship, the walls are lined with magnificent, large windows. Large, fairly spacious, the altar stands proud and elevated like a stage in front of the masses of wooden pews standing sentinel. An elaborate wall of organ pipes make up the back wall, and above that is a golden cross, proclaiming its status as a holy place. The room always seems extraordinarily bright and sunny, a combination of the light colors used to decorate the room and the towering glass walls put into effect.


A gorgeous sunny day, light filtering into the FotS building, shining down upon the pews as though it were a godsend. The group of people milling about outside seem to think so as well. A large yellow bus filled with parishioners just moments before has someone currently removing the bags from underneath.

Hope Tyler is off to the side of the crowd, busily texting into her phone. She's not worried about her belongings. The girl who's dressed in a pink track suit with a white 'Light of Day Institute' tee that has a large logo on it, is the only one that attended the conference that has a set of pink luggage. She does look up once and shakes her head, "No, just bring those boxes into the church please. They need to be handed out during the Sunday services. A new set will be coming in next week for sale at the booth…"

Pink luggage no doubt stands out quite spectacularly amidst the brown, grey, black, and other darker colors that are more typically seen as luggage colors. It probably stands out more than the woman emerging from the black SUV that pulled up only moments after the bus emptied. Having said that, she's probably fairly conspicuous, for all that she's dressed casually. In the first place, there's nothing on her that sports even the smallest FOTS or LoDI logo whatsoever. In the second, the quizzical look given the happy, smiley people coming off the bus is another tip-off that she's probably not a regular parishioner. Still, the expression clears quickly enough as she looks up at the bright building. Shoving hands in her back pockets, she begins to walk slowly towards the entry, skirting just a little around the main crowd.

With all the hub-bub and the people, no one's really going to notice a newcomer. Now that the Newlins have already made their exit, there's no one really to show anyone around the church and the grounds.

No one, that is, except Hope Tyler, poster girl for the FotS!

Noting someone near the crowd that she doesn't know, she waves in a friendly manner to them. "Why hi there," she calls cheerfully. "Looking for someone?" Never know who's here to pick someone up, and who's here for other reasons. Since the sun is still shining, it's definitely not a vampire, and so she's got nothing to worry about, right?

Oh, Rachel's definitely not a vampire. In fact, she doesn't even have any marks or scars that would indicate she's ever been near a vampire, either — though she does have a 'soft spot' (so said with sarcastic quote marks) for one particular leach back in NYC. That fact, however, will not come up in conversation, here. Indeed, as far as can be seen, the slender brunette is nothing more than a casual visitor. Her head turns as blonde in pink calls out to her. She puts on a bright smile of her own now. "Not at all," she admits, her accent definitely not-from-around-here. "Actually, I was just curious, so I thought I'd stop in and see what this place was all about."

"The reverend and his wife just went on home, but I can show you around if you'd like?" Hope's got a key so that she can lock things up after everyone's gotten their things out of the bus, and done a double check of the church to make sure it's all empty. "Though I guess you can't really take my word for much. Honestly I've never really given the initial tour before, but we're just a church like any other." Pause. "Well if you're Christian, that is. I suppose we'd be mighty different from a Jewish or Buddhist place…"

Rachel's demeanor is relaxed and easy. She laughs lightly. "Oh, I don't know," she replies easily. She gestures about at the modernity, white walls, and colored glass. "Church I grew up in didn't quite look like this." Hope is awarded an easy smile. "But, I'd love a tour, since you're offering." Her eyes do sweep the outside of the church, noting small details in the layout and landscape, how people move about the place, how they interact with each other. The bright smiles, the easy camaraderie, the laughter of shared memories from the conference weekend. She's seen it before. She files faces away in her memory… partly just because it's habit, partly because she doesn't know if she'll need to recognize them in the future.

"Every church is different," offers Hope, helpfully. It's true. A United Church shares similarities with a Catholic Church, but the two differ greatly. She holds up her index finger, then moves over toward the bus. After a brief discussion, she returns with a smile. "Well alright. The grounds are fairly large, we've got a good deal of acreage here, most of it grassy areas where we hold picnics and summer rummage sales." Moving toward the building, she easily heads up the stairs toward the doors. "I really can't tell you a whole lot about the history of the building and all, but it's really pretty once you get inside. We don't have stained glass windows, just regular plate glass so that the natural light can shine in when we have services."

"Letting lots of light in's important," Rachel says agreeably, falling in beside Hope as she returns and moves towards the building. "Especially, I imagine, for a place like this. I mean, not that I really know, but I was looking at your website the other day, see. So, I thought I'd come visit. What are the services like?" On some level, she's just making idle conversation, though, again, her restless eyes note the architectural details as they're pointed out, and again she marks the layout of the place — entrances, exits, corridors and rooms as they come across them.

The lobby itself is quite open and airy — a nice place for coffee and donuts after the Sunday services. There's a community room to the left, where social mixers and lady's groups are held. The location Hope takes Rachel to? Right to the center of the FotS universe — the church proper. "They don't call us the Fellowship of the Sun for nothing," the Tyler twin says with a smile. "Definitely in a place like this. I'll tell you, I've been Christian my entire life and I don't find the services much different at all from the church I attended back home. The only difference is, Reverend Newlin likes to make sure that we're well aware of how dangerous vampires can be." Even with all the mainstreaming, Hope is not about to believe that a vampire is a nice cuddly puppy.

And Rachel won't argue with her. She's far more aware than she lets on of what monsters out out there. Human and otherwise. Thus, she nods in response, face growing serious for a moment as she sympathetically mirrors Hope's expression. But, it passes after a heartbeat as her head cants curiously to one side. "So, what are the Newlins like?" she asks now, the same curiosity reflected in her tones. "They seem pretty nice in their webcasts. Really sincere."

"Sarah is honestly the best woman I have ever met." While she's not Hana-level obsessed with the woman, she does consider Mrs. Newlin to be a role model of sorts. "The Reverend is real nice too, and he makes everyone feel at ease here at the church." If there's anything nefarious going on, it should be obvious that Hope Tyler, FotS poster-girl, has absolutely no clue. "They really promote this sense of… I'd say family, but it's more than that? It's more like community. You'd really have to meet them to see though. If you're interested, I could likely set up a meeting this weekend." Running her hand over one of the pews, she smiles sunnily. "I got real lucky where they're concerned. Reverend Newlin is going to officiate my wedding later this summer."

And, Rachel's not looking, specifically, for anything nefarious. Not consciously, anyway. But she does want to expand her familiarity with the more contentious spots in the city, and the FOTS certainly qualifies. She just decided to come during off hours, so her blue pantsuit and sensible shoes wouldn't be screaming Fed. And, indeed, she's not here in any official capacity, in any case. As Hope tells her about the Newlins, Rachel continues to smile, body language relaxed. "You're getting married? Well, congratulations," she says. "That's great." Of course, a glance to her left hand would show her to be unmarried, though the faintest of tanlines on her ring finger might suggest that it's a recent phenomenon. "I'd love to meet the Newlins," she says then, following up on the earlier suggestion. "They sound like great people. Really."

Just then, as she's turning about to get a better look at the sanctuary, her hand brushes the smooth wood of a pew. It's an innocuous movement, and probably not one to be particularly linked to the sudden gasp of pain that escapes the woman. Her hands fly to her temples, heels of her hands pressing hard against them as her eyes screw tightly shut and she grimaces, grinding her teeth.

Images flash behind those closed eyes:

Radar images of an immense swirling storm in the Gulf. Cities leveled by floodwaters. Rain lashing coastlines and winds whipping inland, driving the storm into a nearly demonic fury. In the sanctuary of the FOTS, people are huddled together, sitting in the pews, lying on the pews, tired and dirty. None of them have much in terms of belongings, perhaps just the clothing on their backs in many cases. It looks like a disaster scene — perhaps a shelter of some sort… right here, in the sanctuary.

As the images fade, Rachel pants with the lingering pain. "Oooowww…" she groans, reaching out for that pew once more and falling heavily onto it into a sitting position. "Fhhhheehhhhhhahhhh— Ow." She leans over and just cradles her head forlornly in her hands. Whispered: "Crap."

Unable to see the images, or hear the noises, Hope just sort of blinks when the woman suddenly grimaces in pain. "Are you alright, Ms…" At least the empty ring finger didn't go unnoticed by the younger woman. Forgetting the worry of propriety and the name, she kneels down beside the pew. "Do you need me to call anyone? Do you need something from your purse?" There was no medic-alert bracelet on the wrist, so there is the hope that it's not an immediate medical emergency. Good upbringing and social graces can only take one so far in taking care of another.

"Oh! A migraine…" That's the assumption at any rate. Her voice drops to nary a whisper and she says, "Stay here a moment. I've got some ibuprofen in my bag outside, and I can bring you back a bottle of water. You might want to close your eyes though, I heard that light sensitivity triggers them…"

"Migraine. Yeah…" Rachel catches that much of woman's words. That and the words 'ibuprofen' and 'water', which might as well have been 'mana from heaven', if they work. "That'd be great, thanks." Her voice remains only a touch above a whisper. She actually does keep her eyes mostly closed — open to bare slits — partly because she's fixing the images that flashed through her brain a moment ago into her memory. She sits there quietly while Hope goes to fetch the medication, simply breathing. In…. out… in… out… in…. "Ehhh." As some of the pain begins to subside, she leans back, looking up at the ceiling.

At most, Hope is gone three, maybe five minutes. Bright pink luggage? Hard to miss, and it's sitting right at the base of the steps. Her first aid kit is retrieved, and she stops in the community room to grab a bottle of water from the fridge. Then she's hurrying, albeit quietly, back to the pews. Offering out the bottle of water, she gently opens the first aid kit to reveal the bottle of ibuprofen. "I'm sorry. My soon-to-be sister-in-law suffers migraines too, so I've made sure to keep some handy, just in case she has an attack when I'm around. If this doesn't help in a few minutes, I can call for an ambulance if you'd like?"

Gratefully, Rachel takes the medication and the bottle of water. "Thanks," she says, swallowing the medicine down. "Ambulance… no." she shakes her head. "'Salright. I can manage. Just need a moment or two." She sits forward again, this time her hands pressed heavily on her knees, rather than cradling her head. One rises to pinch the bridge of her nose gently. After another couple of minutes, she rolls her shoulders some, and her breathing has returned more or less to normal. Tension pain still lingers around her eyes, but she's not crying with it. So, that's something. She gives Hope a wan smile. "I'm sorry about all this. The headaches just kinda hit me, sometimes. I can't ever predict when." Thus, she tries to change the subject, while she waits for the ibuprofen to kick in. "Still… when's your wedding? That'll… be exciting for you." A beat. "I'm… Rae, by the way… Nice to meet you."

"Hope Tyler," she offers, figuring that most in the city will know her by now anyhow. No point in hiding it. "I know how it is with the headaches, but you just let me know if you need anything else? I'd be more than happy to get you whatever you need." There's a larger medicine kit in the community room, locked up, but Hope has the keys. "Huh? Oh…" Smiling once more, she shows off her pretty pink diamond heart-shaped ring, and cheerfully says, "August twenty-eighth. It was supposed to be the weekend previous to that, but mama said that wasn't an appropriate amount of time to give notice for."

"Ah." Rachel says, giving another small smile. She was married in June. Thinking about it, actually, she realizes her anniversary would have been sometime near the end of next week, had the divorce not happened. Of course, really, the anniversary will still happen. The date will come and go. She just won't be celebrating it. "Well, good luck," she says softly, then, wan smile becoming wry in response to her thoughts. "All the best to you and your fiance. I hope it works out well for you." Better for them than it did for her, anyway.

"Thanks, I really appreciate that." After the last few months, they can likely use all the luck they can get. Hope reaches into the track suit and pulls out a scrap piece of paper, and a small pink sharpie pen that she was using on the retreat. "I'll set up that meeting for you though, Rae. I just need to get a contact number so that the Reverend can give you a call sometime tomorrow or the next day. He can tell you anything you want to know about the church, and the building."

For a moment, Rachel looks confused. Then, she remembers the request to meet the Newlins. "Oh. Yeah. Uh…" For a moment, she goes to reach for a business card — until she remembers herself a little better. Giving out an FBI business card may isn't a good plan, here. "469-555-1212. That's my cell. You can get me anytime on it." A beat. A better smile as she straightens a little, perhaps beginning to feel some relief. "'Preciate it."

"Any time." Hope would offer her number in exchange, in case the Reverend doesn't call, but she's not exactly got a plethora of places to store cards and date books at the moment. "If you've not heard anything by Sunday, and you'd still like to talk to them, just come on by the services. They'll be in the lobby afterward, talking to the parishioners and enjoying the spread that the Women's Auxiliary usually puts on."

Rising slowly to her feet, Rachel reaches out gingerly to touch the pew. It's almost like she's expecting to get burned. Her fingers brush it once, twice, and then settle on the smooth wood fully, letting it bear her weight for a moment until she's steady. "I expect I've taken up too much of your time, Miss Tyler," she says now. See? She was listening, before. She caught the name. "Thank you for the tour and… the aspirin. I appreciate your kindness. And hospitality." Especially since most people don't know how to take these little 'episodes' of hers. "But, I should probably get going."

Hope watches quietly, trying to make certain the woman is steady on her feet before she moves to the side to let her be on her way. "Oh! Please, don't think anything of it. We're real friendly around here." Pause. "Well unless you're a vampire, which you obviously aren't since you're walking around in the middle of the day and all." Not that they'd outwardly attack a vampire, but Hope has her own ways of keeping safe. Silver honesty wring, silver cross necklace, silver mace that's never too far off. "Are you sure you'll be able to get back to your vehicle without issue?"

Rachel nods faintly, immediately regretting the slight movement, though it doesn't unsteady her. "I can. Thank you." To prove it, she squares her shoulders and gives a somewhat warmer smile as she moves out of the pew and towards the door. Giving Hope a small wave, then, she turns toward the doors and lets herself out, heading back to her car. Truth be told, when she reaches her car, she sits with her head against the backs of her hands on the steering wheel for several long moments before she finally turns the ignition and heads for mother's. Someone's gotta be able to help her make sense of this one.

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