Friday, March 9, 2018
Chapter 135: The Less You Know
Carlos cannot get a good night's rest anymore. His dreams all turn into vague nightmares about shady faeries kidnapping his granddaughter.
Ceth is oblivious to the tension the other adults are hiding from her. Everyone hides things. When she helps out with Polly, for example, she can't help but miss her own little boy and wonder where he is, and if he has any children with Claire by now.
Polly is still too young to grasp the concepts in the kids' astronomy books, so Carlos reads a "Greek Mythology 4 Kiddoz" book to her. She thinks it's hilarious there's a character with her name in there!
Carlos would read the 'real' stories to her, but they're all horrible.
Being read to is one of the few things Apollo will sit still for. Most of the time, it's a challenge to keep up with her roaming ways. She is especially fond of her grandfather's garden.
It's easy for her to pretend she's in a huge, majestic forest.
"Ladybugs look tasty, but you shouldn't eat them." Lela teaches Apollo what she needs to know about the majestic forest.
Wow, a broken sink and shower at the same time???
I guess you'll have to call Carlos again.
With its many security cameras, cold metal doors, locked gates and obvious fingerprint scanner, the back entrance of Molly's workplace is anything but welcoming.
Good Guys Inc. has the face of a normal business office out front, and in fact runs several legitimate businesses as cover for its more shady dealings.
That entrance is locked up tight right now, so Molly must use the back way.
Molly steps inside with more trepidation than usual. This is the night she's decided she will speak to the boss.
Of course he's busy, but she's able to schedule a meeting a few hours later — at his house.
Piero Ferrari is a man who looks perfectly unassuming. From his powder blue hoodie to his messy hair, he seems nonthreatening. Ostensibly he's a chef with his own catering business, but to those in-the-know, Piero is running Monte Vista's criminal operations like a well-maintained money printing machine.
Molly finds him on one of the house's tiny balconies reading a book, and lets him know she's a bit uncomfortable meeting him at his house. She keeps her hands on her hips, too stubborn to grovel or appear meek.
"I met you here because you said it was a sensitive issue," Ferrari says.
"It is. I need someone gone."
Piero snaps the book he was reading closed. "We don't do that kind of thing."
Molly doesn't flinch. "I was hoping you'd make an exception. My family is being threatened by a mage."
The boss's answer is silence.
"I know you know about magic," Molly says, "because the organization has vampires. Not in Monte Vista, I guess, but elsewhere. You may even answer to one."
"If there is a vampire edging in on our territory we need to know," he answers quickly. Criminal activity outside of the organization is not tolerated, and with their superhuman speed and strength, vampire criminals are the worst kind of pests to have to get rid of.
"I actually don't know what Todd Lau-Landgraab is," Molly admits. "But he used magic on me and I don't know where else to turn. Tell me what I need to do for a favor."
"The disowned Landgraab?" Piero is incredulous.
"Have you met him?"
"Not personally, no. He used magic on you directly?"
"That's a very serious allegation..."
"I know, but you don't exactly want me going to the police, do you?"
"I'd prefer you not to get yourself investigated."
Molly sits down on the other chair. "He's blackmailing me. I came to forge your crap art — sorry, but it's crap — just because I needed money to pay him."
"Trang Pham is shit," Piero agrees with Molly's tastes. "I knew you were hiding why you needed money, but you're paid well enough. Maybe you should tell me what exactly is going on."
"I'm not going to lie about what Landgraab has on us, but I don't know if I can trust you either, boss."
Ferrari scoffs at the dramatics. This won't be the first time he's had to intervene in his goons' personal lives to keep things running smoothly. "I'm not out to sell you to the highest bidder, Robins. Now stop being a paranoid little shit and tell me what's going on before you make a mess I have to clean up."
Molly gets home late, wearing a vacant smile. She changes into more cozy clothing and barely listens as Dysen tells her about the stupidity of today's clients. She may owe the boss forever, but love and family is worth it, right?
She's lucky he only wanted to dock half her paycheck for... ever.
Trouble in cat paradise?!
Better get Carlos on it...
Yikes! Guys, get this garden under control!
Alright, that's... a little better organized, I guess.
Molly wasn't sure how Ferrari would be quietly taking care of her problem, exactly, but she didn't expect it to be so quick. Within a couple of days, it's all over the news.
"Hey, Whitfield," Marvin Craft is more wide-eyed than usual, Dysen notices. "Do you know anything about that Landgraab thing?"
Dysen stares blankly. "Uh... what Landgraab thing?"
"That Lau-Landgraab fellow. Everybody's talking about it. He had a birthday cake for his kid, you know, as parents does, and... boom! It causes a huge fire! His wife, she thinks it was unnatural, causing a big fuss, see? But the fire detective, uh, the fire marshal, whatever, she said that thing just kinda happens from time to time."
Dysen frowns. "Is everyone okay?"
"The Mum and the kids is okay, but that guy... boom! No, he's dead."
"I didn't even realize he had children."
"Oh, they're real little. Polly's age I think."
"What a shame." Dysen can't muster any sincerity. "Wait, why'd you ask if I 'knew anything about it'?"
"Oh. You know me. I like to put my nose in everything." Carft smiles apologetically. "Better get to work, Whitfield. Those cards won't read themselves you know."
Dysen has always been able to read Craft's simple mind like a book. Suddenly it occurs to him that what he's seeing could be a facade...
Nah! That's crazy! That wouldn't even make sense.
Dysen rushes home on his lunch break to tell Molly.
"Well I don't believe in karma, but every once in a while, the universe tries to trick me into it," Molly says, her tone both cold and breezy.
"You... are not surprised," Dysen notices.
"Maybe the less you know, the better."
Dysen glares. "No, I think communication is important in a relationship."
"Okay! Fine. I told my boss Todd Lau-Landgraab attacked me with magic in a public place. It's not a lie."
"I didn't know this would happen exactly. But I knew something would happen. I thought maybe we could have Todd framed for something and chased out of town... I didn't expect this."
"You can't say anything that will make me feel bad about it."
"YOU did this?" A small voice squeaks, and a light descends from the lamp overhead. "You human criminals did this?"
"Oh shit," Molly giggles inappropriately. "Hi."
"I knew I smelled something weird in here," Dysen growls. He had too much on his mind to pay attention to what his werewolf senses were telling him.
"Many suspects. One truth. Answer question," Veracity demands.
"Yeah," Molly says. "So, Dysen and his family didn't know anything about it. I knew about it. Kinda? But not the details? And I didn't do it."
"Then..." Veracity looks at the ceiling, "I go home. Finally."
Molly chews on her lower lip. "You won't tell anyone about us, will you?"
"No need. Farewell, human."
"Wait, wait," Dysen interrupts.
The fairy's wings take her a foot off the air, where she hovers. "Why?"
"Where is home?"
"Home is the meadow in the dome where I emerged from the fallen petals of my mother's favorite flower," the fairy says this as if Dysen is a fool for needing to ask.
"But you're an agent, right?"
"It's okay, Dysen," Molly says. "I knew she couldn't take retribution against me. I'm human."
Veracity frowns. "The Landgraab... he make a mistake. He threaten many mages and inhuman creatures. He know I must protect him from them. Is assignment. But you are human. He is not allowed to harm you. He break rule. If he dies as result of that, then I am not fail. Mission is complete."
"You're welcome!" Molly says.
"Look that's not what I mean," Dysen grumbles. "Does she know what could happen to us if she tells her people we're here?"
"Have you done something worth report, yappy yap person?"
"He hasn't!" Molly says quickly.
Dysen makes a rude hand gesture.
"Then my word is my being and my silence is my apology."
"Is every fairy so pretty?" Molly asks.
"I haven't met every fairy," Veracity says, shrinking back from the question. "Cannot say."
After that, she becomes a tiny speck of light again, and escapes under the door.
"Well, I took care of it," Molly says. "Why are you looking at me like that?"
Dysen opens his mouth, then closes it.
"So I was thinking we could have another kid?" Molly tries a new angle.
"We should probably leave town, like right now."
"We can't leave town, Dysen. The boss needs me here."
"Your boss that has people die to exploding cakes..."
"Yeah, I can really pick 'em, right?" Molly pets her husband's shoulders, smiling playfully. "It's not like boss made the decision... he has his own boss, you know. Somewhere. They don't like magical creatures edging in on their territory."
"I am a magical creature, Molly."
"Yeah... but... you're not thieving or threatening anyone without their permission..."
Dysen is annoyed, incredulous, terrified, and mildly impressed. Somehow this leads to violently passionate on-the-floor making out.
Molly is quite pleased with herself, especially for someone who just agreed to be indebted to Piero Ferrari.
Etc.: Stone cold, Molly.
Todd Lau-Landgraab is dead, but the fairy is still around, so here's more about her: Veracity was created in a laboratory. She's much younger than Foxglove, and unrelated. Veracity resembles Styx because she is one of Styx's descendants. She recoils from Molly's question because, while Veracity hasn't met many fairies, she'd really like to, and knows she probably won't get the chance.