Dear Uncle Kay,
I wish you were around. I really wish I could talk to you in person. It’s been ages since I’ve seen you… over twelve years? It doesn’t feel that long. Pa still worries about you. I worry about you. I wish you could tell me where you were. Can’t I come visit sometime?
I stared at the e-mail and with a heavy sigh backspaced the last sentence.
I wish you could tell me where you were. I wish we could visit. We’re staying in Aurora Skies now. It’s very pretty here. The nights look amazing. I’m sure you could point out all the constellations and tell me what they were. Anyway. I G2G. – Zaid.
I hit ‘send’ then angrily pushed back from the computer. There was so much more I wanted to tell him but couldn’t. This wasn’t fair! I couldn’t even have a simple chat with someone I missed because of… well, whoever spied on the messages.
>I know you miss him but it’s been over twelve years. I don’t think he’s coming back. You might not even be e-mailing him, you know. Could be someone else completely pretending to be him,< Lumie informed me. I thought of a rude gesture and she mentally scoffed. >You know it’s true.<
>Leave me alone. I have stuff I need to take care of today anyway.< Ew, furniture shopping. I didn’t want to do this but the house I’d be moving into pretty much had zero furniture in it besides some kitchen and bathroom things. >No, I don’t want you to go with me. I don’t need my big sis holding my hand,< I said when she offered.
>Your choices will probably look like, all clashy and stuff,< she giggled.
I got into my dresser drawer, pulling out the envelope full of cash. Lumie and I both had been given money from our family when we returned home with our college degrees. Pa and Dad had given each of us kids a tidy sum for graduating. In addition, Vilkas gave us all money since he had a lot of it. And Grams gave us a bit, as did Aunt Miracle’s family and Great-Aunt Kaylee. Altogether Lumie and I each raked in 2,100 simoleons. Maybe not enough to furnish a house but if I bought secondhand furniture I’d be able to afford a few things, plus Dad would be giving me an old desk from the Rag. They were throwing out a bunch so he gave me and Lumie each one for our places.
We talked about moving in together again but Lumie and I figured we should live apart for a while. She found an apartment while after a few weeks of job hunting and house hunting (and being depressed over what would have been my one year wedding anniversary) I decided screw it all and get a proper house. Well. Rent a proper house. I found one that allowed cats, that both Max and I loved. The price surprised me because of the size of the place but even so I’d need someone to move in as well to pay the rent and stuff. Max didn’t like the way I advertised for a roommate though. He told me over and over that it’d be a mistake and ruin everything but I didn’t care.
The ad ran fairly normal except for one additional line: Supernaturals Welcome. I knew there were supernaturals around Midnight Hollow and the area but I didn’t really meet any or see much of them. In fact, the reason I got my rental house as inexpensive as I did came from the fact the landowner was an ‘out’ wizard (in the sense of everyone knowing his magical abilities). Not many people wanted to buy from him and he seemed pleased about me being fine with having a supernatural roomie. Naturally, Grams had inspected the wizard to make sure he wasn’t an enemy and it turned out he didn’t have very many ties to the magical community and didn’t even know that a name had been attached to the old ‘destroying magic’ rumors. He seemed fine, though, about it being my name and told me if I wanted to destroy magic to give him a few days notice so he could set his affairs in order.
He also knew about Max and seemed pretty excited about renting to a shifter. “Don’t see many of those around, then again I don’t really go looking!” he had exclaimed. He also agreed to put up a few extra protection spells around the house for a little bit of a fee. Having extra protection definitely made the 50 simoleons more a month worth it.
Max and I bought some furniture for the house and were able to move in that night, since I now had a bed. I could have taken the bed from my childhood but I really wanted a new, bigger bed. Cheap, old couch, some lamps, a table and folding chairs–we really couldn’t afford a lot but when we got everything moved in (including Max’s cat stuff we bought years ago for the college house) I felt pretty accomplished that I had a house. I hung up my college certificate up on the wall and flopped back on the couch, clinking my beer bottle against the bottle of milk Max had to drink.
“The ad runs tomorrow,” he said after a while of watching some old B-movie. “Supernaturals will be contacting you.”
“Mhm,” I said with a nod.
“Probably enemies too.”
“Mhm,” I said with another nod. “And if they are enemies, we will kill them. Either they’ll come one-by-one, which will be easy to deal with, or a lot will show up and… well, we’ll be able to deal with them.”
Max sniffled loudly. “Sure about that, Zaidy-boy?”
“They’ll be coming after me eventually.” I stared at the TV as the good guys killed the monster with lots of badly done explosions. “Might as well be now.”
“You’re drunk,” he accused and I shrugged. “Zaid–“
“I’m not drunk.” I got up, feeling anger surging through my body. “I’m mad. I’m glad I got time off from my attacks, more or less, but I learned to fight to protect myself. I can use swords, daggers, and shoot a bow pretty dang well. I can use my fists and feet, too.” I stood up at full height in front of Max. “The break will be over one day and I might as well end it on my terms instead of theirs. At least now I know they’ll probably be coming, if they see my name in the newspaper with that ad–which I am guessing they will. Maybe they won’t. But least now I’ll be ready.”
He just stared at me for a while then got up, hugging me tightly. “Attaboy, Zaidy.” He pat my head like you would a cat and then licked my cheek. “I’ve always preferred that attitude of yours!”
I just hope I’m brave enough to deal with this, I thought as we both sank back down on the couch. Max curled up against me, purring loudly and headbutting my hand until I scratched his head lightly. Guess we’ll find out tomorrow if I get a real roomie or a possible killer…
>Yeah, he wants to kill me,< I told Lumie two days later when the first person who answered my ad showed up. He pretended to be interested until I turned me back then out came a glowing knife. Max, who had been in cat form, leaped towards him and shifted into human as he did. I whirled around at the sight of Max wrangling the knife away. When it hit the floor and went over to kick it away before grabbing the man by his collar and lifting him in the air, slamming him into the wall. Before I could ask him questions, Max jammed the glowing knife into him and the man dissolved into mud.
“Damn it!” I snapped, hopping away from the mud. “I wanted to ask him stuff.”
“He wouldn’t have answered,” Max replied coolly as he studied the knife. “I should take this to Gretchen.”
“We could have tried–“
“He was a golem,” Max pointed out. “He probably didn’t know anything other than ‘get Zaid and bring him back’.”
I paused then scowled, knowing he was probably right. “So why the knife if he was just supposed to bring me back?”
Max sniffed the blade then made a face. “It’s heavy drugged. Soaked in sleeping magic. One little slice on you and you’d be knocked out. Why a knife though? I mean, the magic works best getting into your bloodstream but… hmmm. I’ll get this to Gretchen. Later. Can’t risk you being here by yourself.”
“And we have a mess to clean up,” I added, waving my hand at the mud.
Max cringed back. “I have to go to the bathroom, bye.” And off he ran with me shouting after him till the door shut then I trudged off to get cleaning supplies. I got all the mud into a plastic bag then put that in a paper bag then put that in a big garbage bag and finally I put that in a second garbage bag, and took it to a dumpster halfway across town because I didn’t want it anywhere near my house just in case.
Possible roommate #2 turned out to be a normal person who made it clear they thought supernatural beings deserved to be killed and ‘weren’t human’. I told them I already had one supernatural roommate and that our landowner had a wand, and possible roommate #2 skedaddled faster than I thought a person could.
#3 wore a bulky coat and since the temperature hovered in the 80s with the sun beating down on us I knew she had showed up to do something to me. Once inside off came the coat revealing wings. She at first pretended she just wanted to hide from the townspeople but that didn’t fly with me, no pun intended. “After all, if you move here you wouldn’t be in hiding, would you?” I asked. “I’d prefer not having to hide a faerie if she doesn’t–“
Wham! I flew back through the air and hit the ground hard. She was on me in the blink of an eye, fingers sliding down my cheeks. Heaviness began filling my head… No… no sleep… no…!! I summoned some energy and reached around, grabbing her wings and yanking. She howled in pain, flinging herself away from me. I released her and got to my feet, dizzily watching Max tear into her. They fought while I swayed, fighting the sleep. I stumbled over and kicked or, or tried to. Instead I fell over and into darkness.
When I woke up I found myself in bed with Max sitting at my feet, looking quite happy. “She gone?” I asked stupidly. Of course she’d be gone.
Max nodded. “Got rid of her. Not a golem, so I had to kill her.”
I rubbed my head. “Did you question her?”
“Why? I doubt she would have told us the truth,” he said.
“Wha…?” My eyebrows shot up at that. “Faeries can’t lie… can they?”
Max began laughing at that. “Of course they can. Well, most can. A few can’t. But faeries generally perpetuate the myth because that way some people will trust them more. Not all the myths about supernaturals are true, you know. Holy water doesn’t fend off vampires. Leprechauns don’t hide their gold at the end of rainbows, though they do usually spend a lot of time there. Rainbows enhance their magic or something, I dunno. What?” he asked, as I stared.
“Nothing. I guess I just never thought about all this before.”
“Don’t worry, Zaidy-boy. I’m here to help you.”
Two more attacks on me before I finally got someone who actually wanted to be my roommate. I had gotten an e-mail from someone named David asking if he could swing by the house at four PM and check it out, and meet me. I agreed and made sure I put my daggers somewhere easily accessible. At four, exactly on the dot, the doorbell rang. Max sat as a cat, waiting.
I went to the door and swung it open. “Hello, are you David?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said rather hesitantly, looking very nervous. I tensed up, preparing myself to go for the daggers. “You must be Zaid?”
“Yes, come in.” I stepped back and he walked into the house. Something about the way he moved made me feel strange. Not quite right. I swallowed and shut the door, confused as to why my hands were shaking a bit. Did he put a spell on my already and I didn’t notice? “So, um, this is the place. Your room would be over here…” I led him to the third bedroom, pushing the door open. He peeked in with wide eyes and gave a nod. “There’s a bathroom through that door. Um. O-over here is a sort of, uh, hallway and… um, follow me.”
I led him through the house trying to get my bearings. Something familiar but strange. I didn’t like this. “Dining room, kitchen is through there. That’s my room there, and this is Max’s room, he’s a shapeshifter.”
I waited for David to react. Either disgust or pretending he didn’t care. “Oh,” was all I got. That’s it. Nothing else.
“You don’t mind?” I asked.
He shifted his weight, rubbing one arm and looking down at the floor. “You s-said you didn’t mind supernaturals, right?”
“Yeah. Are you one?” I asked bluntly.
He flushed red and then human Max came into the hallway with an annoyed look on his face. He grabbed the hat that David wore and tore it off his head. David squeaked and clapped his hands to his ears but not before I saw the very long points. “He is,” Max said, making a face. “I can smell it. He’s an elf.”
I gaped at David who slowly lowered his hands, his long, pointed ears poking out of his hair. His entire face burned red. “Well. Th-that came out quicker than I meant it to. And I’m only half elf, thank you very much!” David pouted a pout that rivaled Max’s pouts.
“Whoa. I–I never–I didn’t uh, I didn’t know elves…” I trailed off, feeling stupid and blundering. My tongue felt rather thick too. “I guess I shouldn’t, uh, be surprised. But I guess I always… thought…”
David raised an eyebrow and stuck his lower lip out even more. “You were expecting Dobby, perhaps? Or maybe a Legolas?”
I flushed since those were the two that had come to my mind. “Um. W-well. Uh. I never really expected elves to really, um. Be real.”
“You live with a shapeshifter,” he said, cocking his head to one side towards Max who stuck his tongue out.
“Yeah. S-sorry,” I apologized feeling extremely stupid. “Um, yeah, so uh–I don’t mind elves. I guess. I’ve never met one but I don’t mind supernaturals so… you’re welcome to stay.” I looked him up and down, waiting for him to attack me or something because my entire body felt buzzy and uncomfortable. I knew he had to have put a spell on me!
“I can?” His face lit up and the buzzy feeling got worse. “Awesome!”
“As long as you’re not trying to kill or kidnap him,” Max added and I bit my upper lip.
David’s eyes got very wide. “Why would I do something like that?”
“Cause,” Max said, folding his arms. Then he lifted one hand and did the ‘I’m watching you’ sign. David backed up a little looking more nervous.
“I’m sure he’s not been sent to hurt me,” I said though I couldn’t be sure. Maybe elves just had an aura that caused this weird feeling? I went over the price with David who nodded and said it’d be fine. “So um, what’s your full name?”
“Oh. Baroque. David Baroque.” He paused and scrunched his face up. “But y’know, I much prefer being called Goose. By a lot.”
“Goose?” I couldn’t help but give a bit of a laugh. “That doesn’t sound very… elvish. Then again neither does David.”
“I’m only half-elf really,” he said with a shrug. “I mean, my body and magic and anatomy is essentially elf. But I’ve got human blood in me too. Besides, what do you expect elves to be named? Besides Dobby or Legolas.”
“Touche!” I laughed now and offered my hand without thinking. As soon as he took my hand I felt that familiarly strange feeling course through my body. I quickly pulled my hand away, embarrassed at the realization my face had gone red. “So, erm. I guess you’ll be moving to want in?” Wait, what? “Um. Wanting to move in,” I corrected myself.
“Mhm. It’s a pretty nice place,” he said, hands on hips as he looked around the hall. “I didn’t expect to–to be able to find a place, honestly. Not many people are open to our kind.” He said that last bit with a glance at Max. “I’m glad you are, though, Zaid. It’s nice to meet someone like you.”
My throat tightened and I couldn’t speak for a split-second, fearful I wouldn’t be able to speak or breathe again. But then my throat began working again. “My brother’s a werewolf so I pretty much was raised with the idea that supernaturals are the same as anyone else.”
Goose smiled broadly. “That’s awesome. So, do I need to sign anything?”
I took him back into the living room and got the papers for him to look over. We both signed them and then after we chatted a bit more he left so he could start packing up his old home. I shut the door behind him and took in deep, slow, calming breaths.
“You okay?” Max asked.
“Damn it. Yes. No. Maybe. I don’t know.” I wandered away from the door, chewing at my thumbnail. “I feel weird. Elves are magical then? Very magical? Like, creating an atmosphere of magic or something? Cause I felt–I felt… I don’t know what I felt but that wasn’t normal.”
Max studied me carefully. “Elves are very magical, yes. In fact nobody really knows just how much they are. They’ve not been around long.”
“Wh-what do you mean?”
Max began pacing around, obviously uncomfortable about something. “They only appeared about two hundred years ago. When–when time stopped and all that? Those who believe in the barrier theory assume they crossed over when the barrier broke down. Elves never talk about it, though. They’re very… secretive people. I don’t know if I trust him. What’s an elf wanting to do in a human habitat?”
“Hey, nothing wrong with that,” I said a bit defensively. “So… do they create an aura of magic or something? To cause this?”
“Not really. Not to my knowledge at least,” Max answered with a bit of a scowl.
I rubbed my chin and tried to figure out where I had felt that weirdness before. “What sort of magic do they have, then? You didn’t seem keen about the fact he’s an elf.”
“Elves are just so mysterious and weird,” Max whined. “Seriously. Beyond the fact we know they exist, they have pointy ears, they appeared two hundred years ago, they’re very magical… nobody really knows much about them, but I’ll talk to Gretchen. You better get that ad taken out of the paper. You also need to warn ‘Goose’ about the fact others will probably be coming to hurt you.”
“Oh! Yes. Yes, I will. Actually I better let him know now.” I went to find the paper that he wrote his information down on and sent a text asking him to call when he could. Ten minutes later my phone rang and as soon as I began talking to him I felt all befuddled and mixing my words up again. Eventually I untied my tongue and spoke to him a bit about the rumors/prophecy, and the fact I had supernaturals after me to kill me.
“That’s why you two seemed so edgy,” he said. “Oh. I’m not one of them I promise! I guess that doesn’t mean much but–“
“No. I mean yes. I mean–um, I mostly wanted to tell you because the enemy knows where I love now–uh, live now–and they’ve been sending a few golems to try and get me so there might be fighting going on. Now that I have a roommate now, then now I can, er, tell my Grams to put up the protection spells. But there still might be some. Fighting. And you should know.”
Goose gave a quiet sound I couldn’t make out then said, “Thank you for telling me. I don’t mind. And I could help if you wanted.”
“No! I don’t want you to risk yourself–“
“At least let me help with the protection thing,” he said quickly. “I can do magic that will help keep away those that wish you ill.”
“You can?” I marveled.
“Mhm! My dad taught me how to do it. Pretty much–” He paused and then cleared his throat. “It’s something elves can do, you see. Helps the seclusion.”
“Whoa. Wow. Yes! That’d be great! Um, only if you want to I mean–I feel like that’s asking a lot from you and we only met today.”
A very long pause of silence and then he said very quietly, “N-no, I don’t mind. I offered after all. It doesn’t take much.”
We talked for a while longer, getting on random subjects like TV shows and books, and even had a short discussion about how weird this one billboard at the highway looked before finally getting off the phone. It didn’t feel like we talked for very long at all so my jaw dropped when I realized I had been on the phone for a full hour. Jeez.
I got a good night of sleep but when I woke up I still felt as jumbled as before. I poured orange juice in my cereal bowl and buttered my toast with a fork. I finally gave up and just ate an apple while musing over my confusion. I cautiously tapped at Lumie’s brain until she let me in and I asked for her advice on the matter.
>Mmm, your brain is super jumbled. More than usual,< she teased and I rolled my eyes. >It’s been a while since I’ve felt this sort of thing go on in your brain.<
>You’ve felt it before?< I asked, confused as to why I hadn’t.
Lumie laughed. >Yep. Doesn’t surprise me you don’t realize. But you’ve felt it from me, too. I know you have–well, assume you have. You felt this way around Maisy Briggs, and felt this way around Davina. Zaid, you’ve fallen for someon–WHAT?< she shrieked as Goose’s image came to my mind. >Is that who…?<
>No!< I protested. >Leave me alone!< I yanked my barriers up so hard it gave me a slight headache. ‘Fallen’ for someone?! What the HELL did she mean by that? Fallen for someone? Like–the same jumbledness my brain went around AZ and Davina?! That made zero sense whatsoever.
“Max!” I exclaimed as he came into the room. “Dude. I’m glad to see you.”
“Of course you are, I’m awesome,” he said, getting into the fridge and instead decided to open a can of tuna. “Whatcha need, Zaidy-boy?”
“Um.” Shoot. How did I ask this? How did I mentioned this? Maybe it’d be best not to. But I had to talk to someone. “I’m not feeling well,” I said.
Max raised his eyebrows. “What’s the matter? Your stomach?”
“No. Well. Kinda, actually, now that you mention it.” I began pacing, trying to sort out my thoughts which wasn’t easy at all. The jumbledness seemed to get more jumbled. “Can I ask your–your opinion on something? Hyp–well not hypothetical. A friend, uh, e-mailed me this morning and, um, I need advice. For him. You see, he, uh, he’s feeling weird things and–and well, he thinks he might be… gay.”
Max ate the tuna from the can, blinking at me. “So?”
“The thing is he doesn’t think he is,” I said, trying to sound calm. “He’s had feelings for girls before. You know? So, he can’t be gay. Because he li–you okay?” I asked since Max dropped the can, splattering tuna across the floor. “Max?”
“Uh. Wh-wh-what? Yes–hello. Um. I’m Max.” He backed up a bit then looked down, frowning at the sight of the tuna being no longer eatable. “Continue.”
“My friend he likes women, but he’s thought about guys before…” That part was hard to admit but I felt a whoosh after I got the words out. I did think about guys before. I thought guys were cute, and–oh Watcher, those urges with… I stared hard at Max seeing him in a new light. I bowed my head, unable to look at him anymore right now. “He likes a guy now. And is very confused.”
Max got a new can of tuna and since I knew he wouldn’t clean up the dumped one I got paper towels and began cleaning the mess up. “What’s so confusing? If he likes guys, he likes guys. You have two dads.”
“Yes but–he likes girls too is the thing, and you can’t like both!” I exclaimed as I wiped the floor over and over.
I glared as I threw the towels into the trash bin. “Because you can’t. I mean. You’re with… it’s just… I mean, you hear all the time about like, celebrities saying they’re–they’re…”
“Bisexual?” Max offered and I flinched.
“Bisexual. But it’s always either they’re with the opposite sex, or the same sex,” I mumbled, feeling unhappy saying those words. “You’re either gay or your straight, that’s–what–people say?”
“Mmmm.” He began eating the tuna looking disinterested now.
“Don’t ‘mm’ me!” I snapped, getting a bit angry he acted so annoying. “My dads are gay, they’re not interested in women. I am interested in women!” Max squinted at me and I turned beet red. “I mean. My friend is interested in women.”
“Okay so people say you’re either gay or straight,” he said and I grumbled. “Some people say supernaturals are horrible and deserve to be killed. Some people say the most important thing in life is to–to have a family. Some people say you shouldn’t eat meat. Some people say the Grim Reaper is just a conspiracy. Some people say we never even went to the moon, speaking of conspiracies. You shouldn’t mold your life around what other people say!”
“It’s not–those aren’t–it’s–not–it’s different, Max…”
“Why?” he demanded. “People say shitty things all the time, you shouldn’t let what people say change how you feel! If you like just women, fine! If you like just men, fine! If you like neither, fine! If you like both, fine! And if you like all the inbetweenies, fine!” He looked rather enraged and I felt a bit scared. “Maybe it’s because I’ve lived so long but you know, I kinda feel like just because some people expect things should go a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the way it should go.”
He approached me, grabbing my shoulders. “If you like both guys and girls, so what? Bisexuality is as real as anything else. You shouldn’t deny yourself possibilities just because some people say ‘you can’t do this’.” He hesitated then licked his lips slowly. “Do you… like guys… Zaidy-boy?”
I stared into his eyes, feeling so much confusion I wanted to run away and hide. My stomach knotted itself so much I didn’t know why I hadn’t vomited yet. But his words hit me hard–hit me very hard. “I… think I do… I–I think I’m… bi…?” My heart sat thickly in my throat but somehow I managed to admit, “And… I think I like Goose.”
His lips which had parted a bit clamped shut. I felt his fingers tighten on my shoulders for a brief second before he let go and backed away. “You do?” His tone sounded off and I knew why. His jealousy issue whenever I had friends or partners. Sure it wasn’t as bad as it once was but if he disliked elves it might be… I mean… well… No, that’s his problem, I rationalized in my head, refusing to accept any other possibility.
“Yeah. I–I think I do.” I slumped down at the counter and put my head in my hands. “I think I’ve fallen for my elven roommate. And he’s not even my roommate yet.” I banged my head against the counter, wondering how I could ignore the fact I thought guys were cute, how I could ignore I felt attraction to both genders, how could I even be bi though? I had always thought—well, people said… the media always said… they were just confused… or denying their true sexuality… but I was pretty sure I felt attraction to both because I had had very strong physical and emotional feelings towards women but–but now this. Now I… I mean, I had thought about guys before. But–ugh. Well if bisexuals were supposed to be confused then I sure as hell had that down pat.
But most of all I wondered how I would manage to hide my attraction from Goose…
Author’s Note: David “Goose” Baroque is one of the kids born to llama-in-space’s 100 baby challenge. Thank you SO much for allowing me to use him!