Chapter Three: Slow, and Steady
Nicole sat at the kitchen table, blue eyes hard on the candy-red fairy.
Annabelle quaked a little under her death glare. Nicky sat beside the fairy, in his wheelchair, face twisted in sympathy.
“Just call it,” he advised her. “No need to make this worse.” Annabelle turned to him outrage on her face.
“I’ve got this, you no-faith,” she said, her voice a caress of flutes across Nicole’s ears.
“I’ve got all hotels on all through there, and every utility. Good luck, Wings,” Nicole said, and then downed some of her soda. “Nicky might have enough cash to cover it, if you want to sell him some of your stuff.”
“I’m not contributing to this trainwreck,” he said, wheeling himself back from the table. He had broken the only real leg he had, so her brother was stuck rolling around. Normally he was a sourpuss anyway, but the fairy certainly improved his mood. Even if they were still just flirting, she had it on good authority that he had feelings for Annabelle.
“I don’t need help, I’ve got luck,” Annabelle said, shaking the dice. She tossed a ten, and ended up on a blue space. A sheet of clean white paper held more expression than the fairy’s face, as she moved her little metal piece forward. Piling everything up, she just pushed it at Nicole. “Again. Everytime we play this-.” With a series of curse words in Fairy, she stood up. Nicole felt the room warm up a bit, as her friend paced out her frustration.
“Should learn to play,” Nicky told her. “Not rely on those pretty red eyes to get you through a round.” He rolled himself back to the table, and slid half his well organised play money to the fairy’s side. “I’ll front you, though. They are really gorgeous.” The fairy looked at him, her mouth open just a bit.
Nicole opened her mouth too, about to say she was going to call it a night anyway, but her phone rang. Three-notes letting her know it was not a number she had saved. Not important enough to answer after dinner.
“I’m going to take a shower anyway,” she said. “Wings, you can have my side, if you want.”
“No! Stay up a bit longer,” Annabelle said.
Nicole’s phones again, her heart caught, as she recognized the ringtone.
“Why do you build me up-” That wasn’t a programmed one. She hadn’t used it for anyone else.
“Gonna get that?” Nicky asked after a moment.
“It’s his number.” It stopped ringing, the screen going black after a few seconds. Tears in her reflected eyes, big enough so even the fingerprint smudges could not obscure them.
“They say it’s cold, it feels like independence day-.” Another of theirs. He could never sing, but that never stopped him for some songs.
“Nicole? Siyalette?” Flutes, but so far away they barely touched her ears.
She stood up. “I’m going to take a walk-.”
“I took a walk around the world-.”
“-And get some fresh air.”
“What’s going on?” Annabelle asked, stepping in front of her.
“Yeah, Jesus,” Nicky said. “You look like you saw a ghost.” The slow pace in his voice made her think he might have recognized the ringtone too.
“It goes by like dust to dawn, isn’t that the way?-”
“It’s his number.” Nicole sidestepped the fairy, who glanced at Nicky with one brow raised.
“Who?” Nicole heard far, far behind her, as she walked outside.
A small tree, a young eucalyptus, was far enough from the house that she felt comfortable. Still she waited, letting the music play. Song after song, the memories floated into her. She wanted to answer, but the fantasy of the moment was too high. It was just a sick joke, she knew, but for just a second she really wanted it to finally be real.
Finally she answered, not wanting to just let it end, but not believing in any sort of miracle. She wasn’t that lucky anymore.
“You’re so messed up.”
“Hey, honey, I’m on my way home. Did you want me to pick anything up?” His voice, still so smooth, too soft. Velvet across her goose pimpled skin.
“You’re dead.” Not much else to say, nothing in her head but a buzzing sound, and a ridiculous concentration of heat on her face.
“It didn’t take,” Matt told her.
Matt walked toward her, he could see the light of the phone on her cheek.
“I missed you, honey,” he continued, since she was silent. Her hair was long, the brown strands blackened by the gathering night. Jeans, and a t-shirt, her arms bare in the cold spring evening.
“You were fucking dead. Right?” she asked. “You were really dead?”
Matt stopped, cold coursing into him. She was still a hundred-feet away, and made no motion to indicates that she had seen him. He was a bit stunned at the question, shocked that she would even ask something like that.
“Nicole, I couldn’t let you get through a shower, without joining you. You really think I could hide for five years?”
“How the fuck am I supposed to know?” she asked. “I just-.” The phone cut off, and she stared at it. At first he thought she had hung up, but the darkened screen gave it away, if her running to the house was not a big enough clue. Dead battery. She never did remember to plug-in the damn thing.
Part of him wanted to call Nicky, or the house, to keep the game going, but his phone rang a second later. ‘Annabelle Rose’, on the caller ID.
“‘Lo?” he asked.
“My battery died,” Nicole said.
“I figured,” he said, as he started walking to the front of the lot again. “New friend?”
“Annabelle. Fairy came through a month ago.”
“We keeping them now? I told you feeding them was a bad idea.”
“Haha. Nicky actually is trying his best to keep her. Things are looking pretty good between them. Got his damned leg eaten by a wyvern though.”
“That’s great. About the fairy, not the leg.”
“She’s great. Fire fairy, and she’s awesome with magic. Good friend too. Not the brightest bulb sometimes.”
“That’s great,” he said, watching as she appeared again, at the corner of the house barely twenty feet from him. Her eyes were off in the distance.
“She creates all these cool lights. Even wrote my name once.” He was silent, the phone gone. Probably on the ground he realized. Her voice bare in his ears, and even though he had no memory of the last five years, the ache from being without her caught in his chest. A few tears slipped, but he barely noticed them.
Nicole stared for a long time, before she checked the phone. She turned the other way, facing the street with her back to him, as she asked, “Matt? Babe?” Soft, and so sad.
What little remained of the ruse nearly burnt him, as he cast it off.
“I’m here, honey,” he said. A low metal fence sat between them, and he pulled it to pieces with a wave of his hand. Nicole turned, as he stepped through the gap. The fence rebuilt itself behind him.
“Showoff.” There was no truth, in a denial, so he occupied himself with wrapping his arms around her. Her arms were cold so he pulled off his coat, wrapping it around her again, something he always enjoyed. Matt knew what the gesture meant to the leprechaun he loved.
Her hand met his chest, fingers splayed wide across. It ran down lifting his shirt, eyes on the tattoo just at his hip. Back up to his shoulder, checking the long scar that ran from ear to nipple. She pulled his shirt down a bit, and then gripped his chin, moving his head from left to right. A long look into his eyes next.
“I know, I need some time in the sun.”
“You look like the bastard of a vampire, and a fucking cotton ball,” Nice said, running her warm fingers along his cheek. “Your hair is cool. I like it.”
“I think something went wrong with the resurrection.”
“Maybe they ran out of tan?”
“I don’t think it works like that.”
“Oh like you know,” she said, then after a moment. “Do you know?”
“No, I woke up outside a really good food truck a few minutes ago,” he said. “Really great carnitas, and I don’t even like pork.”
“You stopped for fucking burritos?” Her eyes bulged.
“No, gods, no,” he said, then laughed. “The god who brought me back had like some pressure thing going, so I ate the tacos.”
“That sounds like a euphemism.”
“Naw, cupcake, you’re my only euphemism.” A slight movement of his head, as he inched the gap that separated them closed.
“You even know what a ‘euphemism’ is?” Her turn, a slight incline, her face just a little upward.
“I’m a mage. I know what everything is.” Matt had planned to end the infernal distance, and a lot more, right on the lawn, but a bright red figure in the window caught his eye. A fairy, in her human form, wearing a black hoodie, and glasses with red stars on the arms. Her pink hair was short, and choppy. Her wings moved just a bit, her face pressed to the glass.
“I figured,” Matt said, giving the fairy a little wave. She gave him a thumbs up. After he snapped his fingers, and the curtains slid shut.
“Aww, I think they were going….” The fairy’s voice, Matt guessed.
“Yes, I do bel-.” Nicole beat him to the punch, hard, angry, he thought for a moment, before it softened. Tears crossed on their faces, as the oldest habits slipped easy into them.
“Wooo!” Faint from the upstairs window. They ignored it, and focused on important matters. After what was nowhere near enough time, they broke apart, her pushing off first. Matt wiped her cheek, and she wiped returned the favor.
“Got beer inside,” Nicole said, after a minute. “Shower, if you want.”
“Do I smell bad?”
“Like barbecue, and sweat.”
“Food truck had a pit going. Might be that, and I did sort of jog here.”
“Sorry,” she said looking down.
“We gonna share?” He could care less what, as long as she stayed within a few feet of him.
Okay, Chapter Three up. Hope you’re enjoying it, let me know what you think in the comments.