Thursday, April 5, 2018
Chapter 139: In-Between Places
Art is suffering. Or something.
Dysen Whitfield may not be a name anyone has ever heard outside of Monte Vista's sector, but here he is a celebrity psychic, and goes to work looking like this.
Cat hair on a black suit tops the list of his first world problems.
Toddlers destroying the furniture is a close second.
He may be a man of mystery on the streets, but at home Dysen is the same regular dude (who is a werewolf) doing regular dad things (like raising a werepup). Changing diapers, trimming claws, all that parenting stuff.
Including that horrible moment when his eldest kid is better at video games than he is.
"Mom, did you know Monte Vista is the first city to ever have a simbot as a local representative?"
Hey, there's Izzy.
Playing with magic.
After observing Aunt Izzy, Olive wants to try some magic tricks of her own.
Holland doesn't understand he should be impressed.
Izalee will not be around to tell Olive what to do with her magic.
Izalee did not have the strength to get up this morning.
Grim waits to be invited in. How considerate.
Izzy decides not to be rude...
After reaping, Grim hangs out at the empty Goldbeard house for a while.
He cleans their fishtank.
Then he catches up on some forums drama.
After a few hours Grim departs, leaving all the lights on.
After Izalee's death, Molly takes over care of Bluebird.
Molly misses having a caged toddler in here, so a bird helps fulfill the desire for company.
Ceth has never been one to react well to death.
Her attitude towards her family grows increasingly volatile.
Everyone abandoned her, she thinks. Everyone who matters.
Her real mother, her son, her best friends, now Izzy.
Ceth has lived a long time and had many wonderful experiences. Her music will be remembered for generations to come.
Yet here she is, feeling ungrateful, unfulfilled, and unhappy.
And then, one morning, there's a knock at the door.
"We're passing through the area," Acheron says. "I knew you'd be upset if we didn't stop to say hello."
Damn right she'd have been upset.
Dysen mirrors Acheron's incorrect signage, choosing not to comment on it. "You changed your hair."
"So did you."
"That's fair. Where've you been?"
"Roaring Heights, Setra, Isla Paradiso, in-between places. Oh, and Lucky Palms. Orazia and Fairuza say hello. I have a letter here..." Acheron digs in his pockets. "Somewhere..."
Cheek pinchies. We really have come full circle.
Little Harcourt's face reminds Ceth so much of Acheron at that age, she just can't help herself.
She'd be more surprised to suddenly have a grandson, but Acheron's last letter to the family indicated Claire was pregnant. It arrived not that long ago, really, though the boy is roughly Apollo's age.
Anyway, apparently Harcourt has listened to all of Ceth's music. How sweet.
Olive is immediately interested in Acheron's aura. He picks her up and snuggles. "Hello Miss Ollie."
Dysen is creeped out all over again. So far as he knows, Acheron has not been anywhere near this sector in a while, and shouldn't know about Olive and Holland. "So you really did know all this time. That Molly would have twins. What she'd name them."
"...Yes," Acheron answers softly, after a pause.
"Come now," Claire interjects. "There's an easier explanation for knowing a toddler's name. We could have looked at backlogs of Monte Vista's local paper. For the birth announcement."
"Just so you could know my kids' names without me telling you? I don't think so." Dysen scoffs. That's the kind of thing his coworkers do to scam people.
The talk of precognition is dropped when Ceth stops bothering Harcourt and joins them in the sitting room. Instead they talk about Orazia and Fairuza, who are both married now with children of their own. They intended Acheron to give their letter to Milo, but Acheron didn't have the heart to tell them he didn't know where Milo would be, so he hands it over to Dysen instead. Milo would have read it to the whole family anyway.
"Astral Woods, really?" Dysen smirks, skimming Fairuza's blocky handwriting. "I know I shouldn't make fun of child names, considering, but..."
"Rock named all four of them, I think," Acheron says with a shrug.
"And Zia's with a cop. That's weird!" Dysen frowns suddenly. "Do they still think the vampire could be monitoring our mail, looking for them? After all this time?"
Claire arches an eyebrow. "Why not? To a vampire, the incident happened yesterday."
Ceth just smiles, not asking any questions of her own. It's a shame Lela and Carlos won't get an update about Acheron or their nieces. She doesn't want to think about that.
Her little boy looks so grown up now. She can't stop staring.
Harcourt is excited to meet Apollo. He doesn't get to play with many children his age.
"I want to show you my tree house!"
Pretty sweet setup.
"So you get to travel the world? I bet you have lots of adventures!" Apollo is full of starry-eyed wonder and envy, but Harcourt just frowns.
"Not really. My parents watch over me closely so I don't get hurt. They're not going to let me have an adventure. And the landscapes are different but people are the same everywhere."
"But everything I've read says travel exposes you to other cultures and makes you a better person."
"Umm... sorry." Harcourt picks at his jacket sleeves self-consciously.
"That's okay!" Polly beams. "One day I'll see for myself. When we're older, we can both go on adventures, and our parents can't tell us what to do."
At some point, Acheron steps behind the barn to make a phone call.
"Did you find the books?"
"Yes... I did..." Loki stands in Izalee's study, staring blankly at the remains of a witch's life.
"Good. Now get out of there, before you inadvertently do something to raise suspicion."
"I'll just teleport. It won't be a problem." Loki frowns, wondering if he should thank Acheron for distracting their family, or apologize for tarrying. "Um..."
"Don't thank me." Acheron's voice is as deadpan coming from the machine box as it is in person. "Olive getting her hands on that stuff is a problem."
"You would know."
"Bet you're glad Izzy isn't here."
"W-what? ...Why would you say something so cruel?"
"Because. She'd want to know what you let become of poor Rain."
Harcourt wanted spaghetti for dinner, but takes one look at the weird herb funk coming off of the steaming plate and starts reading a book instead. Meanwhile Apollo would rather pretend this is her royal court than eat.
"Do you really have to go so soon?" Ceth murmurs. "You just got here this morning."
"Our train for Bridgeport leaves tomorrow," Acheron says. "If we miss it, the whole schedule will be thrown off..."
"...and our buyer will be wondering where her potions are," Claire finishes for him.
Ceth nods, acquiescing. "I hope you'll find a way to send me pictures of Bridgeport."
"Would you like to come with us, Mom?"
"...Y-yes, I would!"
That's how Ceth left the household.
"Goodbye Dysen. I'm sure our paths will cross again in another life."
"Hilarious," Dysen grumbles, mistaking Acheron's complete sincerity for a joke. He's a fortune teller, after all. He tells people about their 'past lives' all the time, if that's what they're paying to hear.
Acheron smiles. "You believe in my nonsense though, don't you?"
"There are places I think you should see," Acheron's expression turns sad. "Places I can't exactly give you maps to find. You'd be better off there. But you'd never go. Molly won't want you uprooting Apollo from her friends. I guess this is just how the threads connect."
Molly blinks, trying to decide whether or not she should interpret it as passive aggressive that Acheron is willing to just say that kind of thing right in front of her.
Dysen frowns. "Do I regret staying?"
"Um... well it's complicated. So. Just never mind."
"Just... shut up and give me a hug like a normal person, alright?"
Dysen doesn't let Acheron leave without reminding him how to shaka properly.
"See ya, Molly." Maybe he didn't mean to be a jerk after all.
"Laters, you weirdo."
The taxi carrying Acheron, Claire, Harcourt and Ceth speeds away down the dirt road leading away from the Whitfield/Robins home. Molly and Dysen spend a while staring out their front door windows.
Dysen is the first to speak. "I can't believe we have the house to ourselves."
It's not even a suggestive statement. It's just a statement.
Molly crinkles her nose. "How long do you think Ceth has?"
"I don't know. But I guess Acheron does."
Etc.: Have you ever seen some travel-snob brag about travel? They're like "you can't be your best self until you've taken two years off of school/work and traveled the world carefree on your family's dime, like I have" but you know for a fact they were a piece of shit when they left and you also know they're a piece of shit now.
Anyway! Look who showed up! I know, it looks like they're eating rotting food. Ewww.
Also half of the barn is invisible in one of the pics, it's driving me crazy but I didn't feel like staging the scene again so we'll all just have to deal with that glitch in the matrix?!?!?!