A Fragile Immortality
Sid and Lacey Ann bring in yellow roses and hand them to the cast and crew. Lacey Ann wears one in her hair.
Five Fairest glare at Robert. Sid gives him very sincere thanks at Court, away from the others. he’s in the doghouse. Sorry Gabe- Scott
“Yeah, I just have to find a replacement for him now.”
“Well, I do we you a favor. Would I do? Would they work with someone as young as I seem to be?”
“Hmm… I’ve got to make some calls.”
Lacey Ann offers him a yellow rose, then offers to hang onto it for him. He says for her to take it to Arianne.
Gabriel has track practice. “Everyone got a ride to Loudoun County High School?” Coach asks. It dawns on Gabriel- he checks the photos, and yes, his fetch IS on the team- one of their stars.
Beltane’s next week. _At home: Lacey Ann offers to help Sid, “Sure, you can help with refreshments.”
“Oooh, is there a ribbon dance?” Lacey Ann starts speculating on Beltane.
“Yeps. There’s all sorts of games.” Sid replies.
_ “What sort of games are there?” Gabriel asks at the meeting.
“Isn’t your motley mate planning it?” is the reply.
“I dunno. Maybe?” Gabriel’s answer inspires confidence.
“Don’t you talk to your motley mates?“
“Yeah, but they’ve been busy.” Gabriel’s a little defensive.
At home: Lacey Ann asks, “Do I get paid to mud wrestle?”...
Sid wakes to an email from Robert Carter. “They’d love to have you. Play opens Friday. Runs the weekend.“
Sid double checks all the prep and planning. Let’s them know he’ll be at Beltane… just late.
Sid has no issues getting early dismissal from school. The show is an all gay production of Midsummer nights dream.
Arianne is sick, so Sid escorts Niobe. Niobe approaches the queen after the meeting.
“How can I help you, little Niobe?“
“I, uh, was hoping you could tell me if there was a curse on the school play?“
“Hmm, a bitter spell. It sounds like a health spell. But then, the three-fold rule would bring it back to them. Unless they found someone to take the curse. But… if I remember, no changelings got hurt. it may have simply been meant to bring us to the front. Some fetches have ways with Fate. They may have used a boon to bring you to the front. If it’s a boon, there’s no three-fold curse. John! Come here. Have you ever used a boon as a curse?“
“Yes. Give the power to drive. Wait until there is a race, the driver on a hair pin curve. Then, take it away.“
“Well, it might have been Sid’s fetch, I guess. ‘Cause it couldn’t have been Lacey Ann’s, she’s only 8? And she said she wouldn’t tell Them if we stayed away” Niobe rambles.
“You met her fetch?!“
“Yeah. And we told Miss Stewart and she said… Oh! We forgot to tell Miss Stewart and then we ran into the creepy invisible people at the beach and came home through the hedge.” Niobe realizes her lapse.
“You’ve had a lot of adventures, lately, Niobe“
“Did you want to learn the deeper arts?“
“No. I just want to be able to tell when a fetch is near. They can sense us.“
“Why Sid’s fetch?“
“Because he was the weakest link, the easiest to draw out.“
“And my sister said my fetch might be moving back to the area with her girlfriend.” Niobe relays the news and our friendly magician twitches at the girlfriend. Niobe continues, “And Cole’s fetch would be very old, he was like from the 20’s. Is there any way to make the blessing go away?“
“There might be Goblin contracts to protect against curses. Or it could just be a neo-pagan witch who didn’t make it.“
“There are witches to watch out for too? Isn’t there a list of the local ones?“
“The changeling teachers don’t know. Well, Mr. Potter might. who knows, he may even be advising them.“
“Well, if you want me to look into it, I can, but curses… they’re generally love curses or death curses.” John offers.
“Is this a favor?” Niobe’s cautious. For some definition of cautious.
“No. You’re sweet. Reminds me of my great- great-great- granddaughters.” John smiles at her.
“Then, yes please? Sid’s here if you need to ask him about his fetch.“
Niobe asks Sid if he wanted to ask any questions. He says no, but witches would be HOT.
At home, Niobe gets Cole to call Miss Stewart and we tell her about Lacey Ann’s fetch. And what she said. Miss Stewart is concerned the fetch was in contact with THEM. And explains that yes, the fetch could have summoned her keeper RIGHT THERE. Niobe freaks out. Rocking back and forth.
“So, do you want the certain or the less certain method?” Sid offers Lacey Ann.
“The certain?” Lacey Ann asks.
“We execute her.” Sid is stoic.
“Gabe can help.“
“But then mom would be alone.“
“She can adopt. Other choice- you leave her completely alone.“
“But… I was going to stealthily keep an eye on her and you were going to help me send her gifts and help her!” Lacey Ann’s voice gets higher and higher pitch, her words start to jumble together.
“But she could cry one word and Summon A Keeper!” Niobe stops freaking out long enough to say.
“But I can’t do that to my mother! It would destroy her.” Lacey Ann is in tears.
“But Jessica could destroy You” Niobe’s voice is grim.
“You can think on it.” Sid offers.
“I like my first choice best.” Lacey Ann mutters.
Separately, Sid and Gabriel discuss his fetch and the meet.
Sid knocks on Lacey Ann’s door. A teary “WHAT?” is heard through the door. He enters to find her curled up with Teddy.
“Don’t sound so upset with Me.” Sid begs.
“Sid. OH. What?“
“Are you okay?“
“No. I don’t wanna do that to my mommy.” Lacey Ann whines.
“But, if she calls her keeper, they might take your mom too. Last time was a chance grab, this is payback.“
“No!! They can’t. I love my mommy. I want to help my mommy. I don’t want to hurt her. They should just Leave my Mommy Alone!“
Sid checks on Niobe.
“You want ice cream?” Sid offers.
“Want a pastry?“
“No. Not hungry.” There’s a lump of terror in Niobe’s throat. Not very appetizing.
“Want a stuffed bat?“
“No. ... Wait. What?“
Sid wanders in with a stuffed bat and hands it to Niobe. She hugs it.
“Are you going to come with us to the meet on Saturday?“
“Are there going to be fetches there?“
Niobe uses her serious voice.
“I don’t know. Any more than at school. Or at the movies. Or on the metro…“
“Meep! I’m never going out again!“
Niobe curls up tighter at the thought.
“You have to. You can’t stay in here forever.“
Sid and Gabriel are talking.
“We’re not using my girlfriend as bait!“
“She’s our girlfriend now?“
“We go on dates and make out and stuff. What else would she be?“
“Did you have the talk about going exclusive?“
“Why wouldn’t we be exclusive. We’re dating, that’s how it happens.“
Niobe stays in her room.
Sid knocks. “Niobe?” No answer. Opens door. Not in bed. He pokes the sheets to make sure. She’s in her closet, stuffed animals keeping watch. Curled up with a horseshoe in her hand.
“They would have attacked you by now if there were any evil fetches at your school. You’re safe. It’s time for waffles, then school.“
“You want to take something with you to school? Keep your horseshoe in your backpack?“
“Not Going.” Niobe doesn’t move.
“Fine.” Gabriel dials Miss Stewart.
“God Dammit!... Yes Gabriel?” She quits cursing at traffic.
“Miss Stewart? Niobe says she’s never going to school again.“
“There are fetches out there!” Niobe shouts at the phone. Not Going until I can spot them First._”
“Mr Potter might know how. But you have to go to school to talk to him.“
“Fine. But just today.” Niobe consents and waves them out so she can get dressed.
At school, Niobe is told that a wildlife speaker will be coming in next week. After school, she hightails it to Mr Potter’s classroom. Gabriel txts cause she’s not at the standard meeting spot. She replies. @Mr Potters
“What can I do for you, Niobe?” He asks, with a smile. The classroom is empty.
“I need to be able to see fetches.” The NOW is understood.
“Yes, well, come in and Close The Door. Now. What do you need, exactly? there’s a goblin contract, but the price is rather high.“
“They told me that fetches can Summon Keepers. I need to be able to see them first.“
“Well, the Dukes might know.“
“Who are they?“
“They hunt fetches, mostly before their counterpart returns. I could use my contracts to find out.“
“Would that be a favor?” Niobe is wary.
“Yes. But.. I don’t need to formalize it. I trust you and your motley.” Mr Potter says.
“I can’t pledge for them.” Niobe tries to be careful.
“I know. That’s fine. Do you still want me to?“
“Okay. Now, go unlock the door and let Gabriel in.“
Click. “Hi Michael.” Mr Potter says before Gabriel comes into sight.
“Got what you need?” Gabriel asks Niobe.
“Yes. Thank you.” She turns to Mr Potter before they head home.
Gabriel and Jennifer have a date that night. It goes well. She lets him know that she and their friends are coming. They cuddle and chat about everything But the track meet.
Gabriel showers after Niobe remarks that he’ll smell like Jennifer. He doesn’t shave, though, and is a little scruffy.
There’s a bus to his old school. He’s stretching- and brought a spare uniform.
“What?” Gabriel tries to keep his head down.
“You got a brother or a cousin? In Loudoun?“
“Cause that guy looks like a clean shaven, shorter haired you.“
“Hey, guys! Look!” Four teammates join him. The other team notices, and notices why.
“Well, they probably don’t run as fast.” He doesn’t look.
A little girl remarks, “I sure hope Gabriel does well today.” Niobe can’t spot her, though.
The teams shake hands. His teams staggers at his look. Gabriel glowers. His fetch has a shit-eating, feral grin. Gabriel digs his claws in. He presses into Gabriel’s palm and it opens.
“Go Gabe!” The ‘sister’ cheers, and looks over at us.
Michael’s team is winning. Slots to run. 2nd: Gabriel X 3rd Michael Perdita…
“Nice to see you again.“
“You too.” Gabriel’s fetch has a mirrored cross. As the race starts, Michael’s in first, then Gabriel pulls ahead at the hurdles. “I’d be careful about having me behind you.” Gabriel mutters to his fetch.
“No worries. I’ve got a leash” His fetch grins and walks away singing, “Somebody wants his puppy back..“
Adrienne goes to the snack table. Sid asks, “Wanna do something for Michael?“
“What does Miss Stewart think?” Niobe is wary.
“Well, are you planning what I think you’re planning?” Miss Stewart raises her eyebrows.
“Well, it would simplify things.” Sid offers.
“Just be smart and don’t get caught. I’m your mentor, not your parent.“
Niobe declines. Until proven otherwise, she assumes all fetches can summon keepers.
Both are 3rd stretch in the relay. Out in the field. The fetch starts talking,
“I’m sure your sister would love to have a talk with you. If she could talk.“
Gabriel jumps him.
The fetch pulls a mirrored blade from the cross and stabs it into Gabriel. 2 lethal. The crowd is watching as the two fight. Family and friends and referees run for the scene to break it off. Gabriel is unconscious. His fetch gets an extraordinary success to put the blade in Gabriel’s hands, then screams, “He stabbed me!” and clutches his chest. The doctor on the spot on Gabriel shouts, “Can’t stop the bleeding“
By this time, Miss Stewart has grown a bit and raced across the field. She takes some of it into herself and quietly collapses.
Sid coaxed Niobe quickly, saying that the fetch girl was running for Michael and then there would be two teamed up on him. So, she tries to sing and hypnotize Adrienne. She fails and Adrienne spots her and her eyes widen.
Sid gathers an authoritative air and shouts, “*Stop. Sit Down.” Adrienne stops. Then screams, “MOM!” and every mom’s head turn. The ambulance and cops show up. The main story is that a “DC kid jumped and stabbed Gabriel!”. Miss Stewart is holding one side but manages to get back to the car. Niobe hands her a towel. She raises her shirt. There is a lot of blood. She hands Sid her phone. “Call my emergency number.“
“What have they done, now?” A guy’s voice answers.
“This is Sid. Who is this?“
“Jerry.” He sounds very concerned now.
Sid explains. Gabriel, knife fight with fetch, in plain sight. Jerry curses and half heartedly threatens to shoot the messenger.
“Don’t get yourselves caught. Keep it small. Both are badly cut up. Probably not anyone who can see through the mein. What possessed him? I’m talking to his queen.“
“His sister’s fetch was there as well.“
“Of course.” Miss Stewart refuses to let anyone else drive. Sid has the phone. We go to a hotel, near the hospital. Lacey Ann and Sid get sent to Rite-Aid for superglue. They get it, plus food, and bandages. Sid tells niobe to cheer her up.
Miss Stewart is in the bathtub.
Niobe asks, “_Are those all of Gabriel’s wounds?
“No. The lung Really sucks. It’s okay, it’ll reinflate in three or four weeks.“
She seals the wounds with glue from the inside. Sid and Lacey Ann take a cab to go visit Gabriel.