Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Chapter 107: The Plan



The water below the pier rages, threatening to shake the whole thing apart.


"You and Mom never listen to me! But I guess you don't care about me, I'm such a disappointment!" Harcourt yells and screams, insults his parents, says something about how maybe they'd prefer it if he wasn't even around...

Typical teenager stuff, in Acheron's opinion, though this only goes halfway to explain why he's staring at his son impassively and not saying a word.


"You just don't give a shit, do you!" Harcourt sighs, frustrated with his father's silence. "The coven is dangerous. I don't want any more to do with it and you shouldn't either..." The wind whips around them, its howl drowning out most of Harcourt's words.

"We need to go inside," Acheron says, knowing full well Harcourt will ignore him.

The boy's eyes widen, full of youthful fury. He steps closer to the edge of the pier. "I'm not going back in there!"


A violent wave sweeps Harcourt off the pier. The teen yelps, then is lost in the dark waters.

"I love you," Acheron says. Maybe he should have said it sooner.

He doesn't move. He isn't certain how long he just stands there, before Claire finds him.


The panel. Acheron has lost track of how many times he's seen it. He runs his left hand across its cold surface. He knows the feel of it, he's more familiar with it than he is with his own body. Yet he has never set it to a combination that doesn't end his life.

He's seen events long past here, yet he's never entered the right code. Am I not supposed to be here? he wonders. Does this event connect to nothing but death? No future events necessarily connect with this one. Yet he is here, and he doesn't know how to get out.



He enters the wrong code.


"I was just going to let you kill me," he tells Claire, who gasps as his fingers sink in between her bracelets. "I've seen you take my soul. But that was before the universe knew I knew I couldn't die. It influenced that vision so I'd avoid getting killed. Now it has to get craftier."

"What trick is this..." Claire hisses.

"If I pretend I don't see you, and you cast your spell, you just botch it and end up in the hospital. Then your coven shows up and I have to deal with that, and they hurt my Mom.

Claire slaps him viciously. "Let go!"


"I can't let you go through with this," he warns.

"Go through with what?" she laughs.

"You know what."

"How long have you known about my spell?"

"Since I was a child," he admits, tearing up with embarrassment.

"Oh, Acheron," she says his name with deep affection, "All this time, and you never found a way to stop me. I'd say that means it's fate."

All this time. All this time. He needs more time. Acheron tries to move, but it's as if his feet are glued to the ground. "You've lost your mind. I don't know when you lost it but you've completely lost your mind."

"Remember me more kindly than that," she requests.


As long as he stays in her life, she manages to get herself killed... and yet he can never manage to leave her.


It's been generations since Claire's death, but the grief still runs hot. He never kept his promise to her, he never sought out their son, he never tried to cure their descendants of the curse that kept them mortal. It's possible, no, likely, he can't cure them anyway. "I'm looking for Cayenne La Mer."

"I'm sorry, but... well... maybe one of the other healers can help you," the doctor suggests.

"I need to find Cayenne so I can find Loki and stop him from ending the cycle that restarts time."

"Sorry, what?"

"Tell me how to find her. Then I can remember when I wake up, and we won't actually have to have this conversation."

Doctor Cora Wilson of Moonlight Falls can practically smell the crazy on this guy, and she begins to look frightened. "Alright... I'll tell you what I know..."


Kir stares past them, as if they are not important enough for his eyes to rest on. "Why do you try to unravel my works? What I've given you is immortality. What can be more comforting than knowing you can start all over again? Even your beloved Eris..." he addresses Acheron's companion directly, "...protected from my spell by my own brother's betrayal... only remains untouchable as long as my hold on this plane of existence remains absolute. Destroying me will make her as vulnerable as anyone else."

"What you've given us is lies, and with every cycle we become more twisted and corrupt," Loki scoffs.

"Your attack on my sanctum will fail. It always does." Kir smiles before he disappears.



"What are you doing here, Harcourt?"

"What am I doing here? What are you doing here? Where have you been?"



With those ears carefully pinned down under his hair, Loki almost looks normal. "Acheron? What are you doing here? Was there a problem?"

"No."

"You're supposed to be-"


"I know my role in the plan."



Loki lays there, staring wide-eyed at the sky. When he tries to talk, his voice is a weird, liquid sputter. "Acheron..."

Acheron knows he should kill Loki, not only to put him out of his misery to but stop the other mage from pulling any last minute tricks. Yet as he studies the dying man's face, he sees deep sadness, the sort of heartbreak that only a loved one can inflict, and an unsettling thought occurs to Acheron.

"I'm told this happened before," Acheron muses. "I'm told I'm clever enough to prevent you from remembering it. But I think... you just don't want to remember."

Loki's fingers twitch, pressing down on the rough stonework and the growing puddle of his own blood. He doesn't attempt to answer. Maybe some fondness for an earlier version of his grand-nephew clouds his judgement, or maybe not. It's hard to know for sure. As Loki's consciousness fades, Acheron tries to count the number of stab wounds in his body. He doesn't quite recall making that many, but he must have, because there they are.

The scheme to stop Kir will fail without Loki. The universe cycle will begin again. Things will be different next time. Nobody has to stay dead. None of this mattered. Acheron feels his lips twitch into a smile for a second. Nothing mattered.


Grim arrives, but has nothing to say to Acheron. He never does.



"Boy meets girl... boy and girl fall in love... girl dies... boy kills some people and turns back time," Acheron mumbles to himself, rocking back and forth in the hour before dawn. "Boy meets girl again."

_____________________________________________________
Etc.: WELL

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Chapter 106: Warm



"Does Dad know you bought that bathing suit?"

"Nah, and what he doesn't know won't hurt him."


"I heard your grades have been in the toilet," Milo begins what he hopes won't be too painful of a conversation.

"Did my mother want you to talk to me about them?"

"No-"

"There's a reason for that."

Milo frowns deeply at the boy he thinks of as his nephew. "Your mother adores you and thinks you can do no wrong. I, on the other hand, worry about your future-"

"Why?"

"Acheron-"

"I don't need a job. All I have to do is take some of my mother's money, invest in whatever, and watch the simoleons roll in. All it takes to make money is money, and we have money, so who really cares?"

"...I see."

"Maybe I'll declare myself an artist and pretend I'm contributing to society."

Milo sighs. "Your mother would probably like that."


Ceth is impressed by how quickly Acheron picks up the driving skill. "It's like you've been driving your whole life."

Acheron rolls his eyes. "I thought you wouldn't want to be seen dead in this car."

"I make an exception when I need to teach you important life skills."

"Thanks," he says, though he can't keep from sounding insincere. This is a waste of time. He knows how to drive, he knows how to cast spells, he knows how to choke a bitch.

"So... how are things?" his mother asks. She's got him trapped in a car. No interruptions from the other six members of their household. Just the two of them.

Acheron's hands tighten on the wheel. "Y'know. Same."

"What is... 'same'?"

"Boring high school, idiot teenagers, just waiting for it all to end."

"Don't wait for other people to grow up," Ceth advises. "They never do."

Acheron smirks. You'd know, he thinks, though he doesn't muster the energy to say it. He's pretty sure his mother is perfectly self-aware.

"There's my boy's smile."

They ride in silence for a while. "It's stupid we don't have self driving cars here," Acheron speaks up.

"Milo said you were being snippy," Ceth changes the subject.

"He was on my case about my grades and my future."

"Uh huh. How do you see your future?"

Acheron chokes on a laugh.

Ceth frowns. "What?"

"Nothing. Nothing." He recovers. "I was thinking maybe musician."

"Awesome! I approve. I know you'll succeed at whatever you put your mind to." Ceth smiles again, content that this is true because she doesn't want to live in a world where it isn't.



Lela stares Emmy down, but her discomfort about the snake in her house does not diminish.



Milo isn't thrilled about the snake either apparently.



 Fairuza steals the last of her dad's nachos while he sleeps in. Fool shouldn't have slept in!



"You were sniffing my aunt's bedsheets, you creep." Fairuza is still mad at her friend Rock Woods.

"I'm sorry! I was high on bubbles. I just wanted her autograph. Her music inspires me."

Fairuza was ready to remove Rock Woods from her list of guys to potentially date, but they just have so many compatible traits, it's hard to cut him loose. One day she'll be leaning towards accepting Rock's advances, and the next she'll be be more for Rishi Best-Sagar, the boy she's liked since she was just a little girl.


"I'm really sorry, okay?" He presses her for a response, eyes wide and sad.

"Okay," she melts.



Athletic but directionless, Fairuza worries sometimes about her future. Nothing "speaks" to her. How is she supposed to know what to do with her life? There isn't enough time to do everything.


"Ack! Don't turn around 'Zia, the gnome's on your bed again."

Orazia narrows her eyes. "I hate that thing."

"The Rock Woods of gnomes," Fairuza jokes.

"You said it, not me."

"Oh don't shame me for being into him..."

"You said it, not me."


Feeling embarrassed about her crush on Rock Woods, Fairuza decides to make her move and call Rishi Best-Sagar. They'll go to the park, play some skeeball, roller skate, eat snow cones, romantically share a first kiss... but her grand plans are thwarted by Rishi's overzealous study habits and part time job work schedule. He can't ever make any time for her.


Rock, on the other hand, always has time for her.


Of course, there are other fish in the sea, other boys in the school, but Fairuza isn't interested in any of them.


"Why don't we go get coffee or something sometime?" Rock makes the first move, taking Fairuza completely by surprise.

"Are you asking me out, you nerd?"

"Well... yeah kinda... unless you're still mad at me about your aunt." He glances pointedly at Ceth's bedroom windows above them.

"A coffee shop, though..."

"Hey, I can be intellectual."

"I don't knooow..."


"The big game this Saturday, then."

Fairuza smirks. "You know my father plays for the-"

"I don't think he'd notice us in the stands."

"Okay. It's a date," Fairuza agrees.


She wonders if she's being a little too impulsive, a little too eager to not go through high school dateless... but at the same time, she can't deny how well they get along, even when they disagree.


Fairuza doesn't wait to see if their date on Saturday will go well. She wants her first kiss now.


"How was it?" Rock asks shyly.

"Warm," Fairuza giggles.


Orazia wanders into the back yard just in time to see her cute baby sister heavily making out with Rock Woods the creeper.


Ew, ew, ew! Orazia runs away before they see her.


"Dad is going to flip out," Orazia confides in Acheron.

Acheron rolls his eyes. Acheron does a lot of that. "Rock isn't so bad."

"He was perving on your mom!"

"He's a harmless idiot. His parents are, like, weird hippie types. They sold Uncle Carlos this house."

Orazia isn't sure how Acheron knows so much about people, considering he actively avoids them. "I don't see what that has to do with anything. Rock is still a creep."

"He cares about your sister at least."

Orazia shudders. "If you say so..."


When Dysen begged for a pet, Carlos had a feeling he'd be the only one cleaning up after it.


Dysen does nothing but screw up his chores, wallowing in ineptitude until his parents take over for him rather than fight him about it.


So cute, but so bad.


Dysen struts about the house confidently. There is no planned party, but he's still excited about his teen birthday.


"Yaaaaay!" Dysen screams.

"Meh," Acheron comments.


Dysen Whitfield become a teen werewolf.


Artistic friend Molly made him the bandanna. He wears it with pride.


Wait. Dysen Whitfield... Acheron La Mer... Orazia Giordano... Fairuza Law...


I don't actually have a Goldbeard kid. How will we know who the heir is?!?!


Ceth mixes some drinks to help Dysen and Molly celebrate their birthday.


"I had a feeling you'd grow up to be beautiful," Dysen purrs.

"I had my doubts about you," Molly teases.


Dysen finds himself blushing. "Are those doubts erased?"

"Hmmmm... I think so," she chuckles.


"Then we will go steady?" Dysen ventures.

"Obviously," Molly replies.


That's that, then. Despite the somewhat aloof responses, Dysen can't recall Molly ever looking happier than she looks right now. He wants to keep her smiling forever.




_________________________________________________
Etc.: It's Dysen. Dysen is the heir.

Fairuza was a strong contender. I love her face. I just didn't feel like she quite fit the roll for gen 5, so I'm grooming Dysen for it instead.

I was trying to set Fairuza up with Rishi, but the game wasn't having it. Rishi didn't even make it into any pictures. So when Rock Woods started following Fairuza home, I let her rolled wishes take over.