She woke before him. The sun was barely out, and she ate a few pieces of the fruit. Afterwards she cleaned her hands, and then carefully lifted the phone from his jacket pocket. She tucked her wings under her shirt, they puffed out, but it hardly made a difference.
Nicole was the last person he called. She pushed her picture, and waited.
“Yeah, I made a fool of myself trying to sleep with your brother, but this world has a nice ocean. I don’t quite want to throw myself into it.”
“Ocean? Wait, first Nicky turned you down? Nicky? Is he wounded? Like head wounded?”
“I’ll check, but he just didn’t seem into it.”
“Was he drunk?”
“Well I know Pa wasn’t there to piss him off.”
“He said I was weak.”
“Sorry, A,” she said. “I did warn you.”
“I know you did. Sorry too. Is everything alright there?” Annabelle cleaned the steam from here glasses with one hand.
“Good, well not good. Still just starting to work on this. Clan stuff.”
“You too, kid. Don’t worry about Nicky, he’s probably just thinking you’re like the others. We both know you’re the best damn fairy on this world, and any other.”
“Yeah it’s so blue, we’re right outside it.”
“What?” she asked after a moment of silence.
“Where are you guys? Town name? Nearest road?”
“Ashland, and no, but you should be. He’s not taking the quick route. He’s taking his time.”
“Maybe he just wants to get away.”
“I should put his phone back, he was still sleeping.”
“Tell him the money’s at a western union, usual Rose info. He’ll be able to pick it up.”
“I wasn’t going to tell him I called you. I just wanted to talk to a friend.”
“Tell him, and take his phone! Don’t give it back.”
“I don’t want it. He had….” They talked for a few more minutes, Nicole trying to explain the concept of blackmail for most of it. The leprechaun had some business though, so she let her go to it, and then spent a pleasant few minutes memorizing the waves in front of her. It had never even occurred to her that this planet would have an ocean too.
Whatever light mood the conversation evoked, his empty chair cast shadows across. The shower was running again, and she sat on the bed, eating the rest of the fruit.
The door opened after a while, and he exited the bathroom wearing just the beat-up shorts.
“I called Nicole. She said the money was at the Western Union, and normal Rose Path stuff.” She gestured to his phone, on the table by the TV.
She saw flashes of color, as he walked around the room, but she didn’t bother focusing on the tattoos. After a moment she removed her glasses.
“I am sorry, about all the stuff I said, and did.”
“No need to be.” He pulled a shirt on, and then walked over to stand in front of her. He took the glasses out of her hands, and sat them on her face. Crooked, and without any sort of extra touching. “You picked these out.”
“Nice tell you my social security number too?”
“No, but she was drunk.” Annabelle fixed her glasses, regretting the little scrape on the lens again.
“I saw the end of your show. I saw the whole show, both of them. You did the stars so perfect, I knew you must like them.”
“I like them, because I do them so well. They look good under my name.” She didn’t lie often, she was not that type of fairy, so she didn’t think a little one would hurt.
“All the things you do look good.”
“I’m not touching you.”
“I’m just being honest.” He backed up a few paces, and put his hands up.
He started to gather up the few things they had, and then he took them to the car. When he came back, she left the room, and sat back down in the front seat. They drove to a store, like she had visited with Nicole, and he opened the door.
“Want to come in?”
“I’ll be fine.”
A head shake as he left. Regret sank in at the same speed as boredom, but she occupied herself counting cars. When she lost focus there, she read the white tags on the back of them.
A few people went by, at one point a kitsune crossed the lot in a hurry, but mostly she watched the humans coming, and going.
A few minutes after even that began to wear on her he returned with a pink box, and a small bag. He sat in his seat, and dropped a small stuffed toy onto her lap.
“What is this?” Her hand shook as bad as her insides, as she lifted the toy.
“It’s a stupid peace offering. You can burn it if you want.”
“I know it’s a peace offering, you’re still a uwarun, but what is it?”
“Oh, it’s an emoji. It’s like a little picture to represent emotion in a text, or tweet.”
“No, nope, not even doing the social media talk.”
“What does this one represent?”
“Uhm, well hearts for eyes are…” Mild rose across his cheeks.
“I think I can guess.”
“I won it. In a chance machine. I was going for the dumb looking one.” Eyes on the sky as he spoke.
“It’s nice. Thank you.”
“Food too.” He wiggled the pink box.
“Yeah, orange juice too.”
“Thank you.” He sat in the seat, facing outward again. He twisted, to grab some doughnuts, and then sat quietly while he ate a few.
“I could get you something else. I thought fairies liked sweets.”
“I’ll eat in a minute.” She held the little toy up, staring at it’s bright yellow skin.
“What’s a Uwarun?”
“Not something to talk about while eating.” She set the toy down, and grabbed a doughnut.
He swung his legs in, and then glanced over at her but didn’t speak. They didn’t get back on the large road, just pulled onto a small one, and drove along the ocean. After a while he started playing with the radio. Eventually music came through clear, and he turned it up.
Hours passed in silence, and today it was fine. He didn’t seem to mind either, so eventually she leaned her head against the window once more.
After a few more switches he gave up on the radio. Her eyes were closed, but music blared, tinny, and small like from Nicoles phone. She opened one eye, and saw him attach his phone to a cord.
“Battery is shit, lately.”
“Where are we going?”
He stared at her for a long time. “California. Modesto.”
“Nicole said we were going the long way.”
“How did she know?”
“The ocean. It was so nice, I told her about it.”
“Did you tell her everything?”
“I told her you turned me down. I didn’t tell her how mean you were. How you danced with me, and then called me a whore, again.”
“You really wanted to dance.”
“We all make mistakes.”
“Why did we take this route?”
“It’s a pretty view.”
“She was a water elemental.”
“Are you sure you want to talk about this?”
“I treated you like you were her. Figured you might want to know why I was mad.” He took a long deep breath. “She came through while I was on duty. I don’t normally take guard times, but things were busy. Dad ordered me to, and I bitched but I was there.”
“Sitting in a garage that bad?”
“It was a Friday.”
“I wanted to do other things. Anyway, she came through, and said she was being chased. She just wanted to make it to the ocean.”
“It’s not that far.”
“Other one. It’s pretty far from here.”
“It’s a really big planet. Also we’re not a Pangaea, we’ve got separate smaller continents.”
“That’s amazing. How many continents are there?”
“I was doing my dramatic backstory.”
“It’s fine, just never told anyone this.”
“I said sorry.”
“You don’t care I’ll just clif note it. She liked another guy, a wyvern, and things didn’t go my way. She knocked me down, and he took my leg off. Woke up in the basement of a friends in New Mexico. They shipped me home.”
“Sorry, some elementals are just not nice.”
“I knew what she was. I just thought maybe we could overlook our natures for a while.”
“Doesn’t make it any less horrible. What she did.” An hour of silence. She was too awake to sleep again, so she stared out across the ocean, dreaming of the type of boats a world like this might have.
“You like the water?”
“It’s no excuse for how I treated you,” he continued on. “She was just the same, a lot of the time. Danced with my Dad the first night there. Danced with me a lot more. We we’re going to live on the ocean together. In Florida.”
“Why would you want to live here? It’s always raining.”
“Right, sorry, but still water. Too much is bad for you.”
“No, for you. Leprechauns need water, and food regularly. Are there any donuts left?”
“A strange one with brown stuff on it, and a pale one with pink goo in the side.”
“You like the goo?”
“Is it a Goo?”
“No we don’t have those, it’s strawberry jam.”
“Then yes, I like the goo.”
“I’ll take the strange one then.”
Silence overtook them again. Chirps broke it throughout the day. Comments, a quick meal. One awkward knuckle brush, she was aware of for quite a while.
Eventually he pulled into a small motel, this one only a single story, and a very large antiseptic smelling pond sitting in the middle.
“Two beds?” she asked, preparing to argue with him. He limped like he was about to collapse, and there was no way she was sleeping big, on a full bed, if he was in a chair again.
“I can get two rooms,” he said as he got out.
She jumped out after him. “No one room is fine.”
“We can get two.”
“Just one, I don’t want to sleep in a room by myself.”
“Damn Girl THIRSTY!” A woman yelled from by the pond. A few people with her laughed.
“Was that an insult?” she asked quietly.
“They think you want to sleep with me.”
“So it was-.”
“I’m done here.” He walked off toward the building, and she climbed into the car. He returned shortly, and drove them around to the back of the building. He held a keycard out, and she took it slowly from him.
“It’s 42, dummy. I’m just going to go get dinner. You don’t want to be alone, you don’t got to be alone.”
She went inside, and chose the bed farthest from the door to bounce onto. She laid there a few minutes before she went into the bathroom.
She took her shirt off, and closed her eyes. The light was off, so it was hard to see well. She left it dim, and turned to the side. The wings both flexed up. After a few minutes she flicked the switch, and stepped into the other room.
She leaned against the wall, breathing heavy for a moment, before she returned.
Two teeth had torn through the top section. Her gorgeous little curlicued ‘A’, just off the center of the wing was shredded. A strip dried strip hung in the center of the two tears. She flapped them slowly, and watched the upper piece flop useless.
She stripped the rest of her clothes, and climbed into the shower. The water wasn’t really warm enough for her, she preferred just heating the skin, but the pulse of it against the back of her head felt nice.
With a creak the door closed, and she climbed out. After toweling off, she put her clothes back on. He was on the bed she chose, a bag of food in front of him. A separate bag set on the other bed. She just sat down, and ate.
“Get some rest. We’ll be there tomorrow.”
“Okay. Goodnight.” She crawled under the blanket.
To be concluded….
One last dance tomorrow. See you then.