Author’s note: warning, I guess, there is a vague mention of suicide in this chapter.
Pee-oh-tur, that’s how he pronounced his name. But like, super fast. Pee-oh-tur Rut-cow-ski. What kinda name was that? It sounded really weird to me. Grandpa looked blank at the name, like it didn’t mean anything to him either… but to my surprise after a coupla seconds Dad reacted. “Excuse me?!” he demanded, eyes wide, skin kinda going a bit pale. His hands were even shaking.
“Piotr Rutkowski,” the man repeated. “I need to speak with Chance. It’s a personal matter, I’d prefer not to–“
“As in, Luke-ya Rutkowski?” Dad cut him off. I only later learned the spelling, ‘Lucja’.
Now the Rutkowski guy’s face changed color. First very pale then very red. “How do you know my mother’s name?”
Dad swallowed. “Oh Watcher.” He stepped back and raised his hand, rubbing his forehead. “Oh, Watcher, Watcher.”
“Er, I really do need to speak to Mr. Danevbie-Greyson privately,” Rutkowski said. Then, “I’m sorry, but how do you know my mother?”
Dad shook his head. “I was–ummm–Zaid’s housemate in college. And best friend. I met Lucja a couple times. I didn’t know–we–he–you’re–” Dad stopped, looking very stressed.
“Am I missing something very obvious?” Grandpa asked, pouting a bit. That’s what I’d like to know, I thought.
“I’m not–” Rutkowski began but Dad interrupted him completely and said, “Zaid’s kid. This is… apparently… Zaid’s kid.”
My sisters, Grandpa, and I all spoke at the same time. Rutkowski’s face went all tight. Reeny’s eyes were huge. Arty’s face had the some shock that had to be on mine. Grandpa looked rather… weak.
In fact he sank down a bit but didn’t hit the ground cause of I assumed Grandad. “Zaid…?” he whispered, slowly getting upright again.
“It was a private matter between Mr. Danevbie-Greyson and myself,” Rutkowski snapped, face red once more. “But since you have now made it, apparently, public–“
“Public?” Reeny snorted. “Dude, get used to it. Not exactly like we’re random people.”
“I’m afraid I–“
“I’m your sister,” Reeny continued, ignoring him. Rutkowski’s mouth shut quickly, his lips going thin. Oh Watcher, I realized. “Half-sister, to be precise.” She flipped some of her bangs back and stared straight into his eyes. They looked so different that it seemed laughable they were siblings. Him with his smooth hair and pressed suit, her with her wild hairdo and slashed up clothes. “She’s your half-sister too. And that’s your half-brother.”
He looked first at Arty then at me. That’s when I finally noticed his eyes were the same as Grandpa’s eyes. Brother. I had a brother. Dude.
“I… I…” His mouth continued to move but no sounds came out.
“Why don’t you sit down?” Grandpa offered, reaching out with shaky hands. “Oh my Watcher, you’re really Z–Zaid’s kid?”
Rutkowski–errr, Piotr folded his hands in his lap. “Yes. My mother did not inform me of my father’s name until around a month ago. I began searching for him since.”
“He’s dead,” Reeny said bluntly.
“Eirene!” Dad looked furious.
Reeny raised her eyebrows but Piotr quickly put up one hand. “I am aware of this. I finally found the names of his parents, since my mother didn’t know. I’ve been searching for–for Mr. Danevbie-Greyson. I was unaware, however, that Zaid had any other children.”
“Same goes for us,” Reeny said sounding kinda bitter.
“I didn’t know there could be a possibility,” Grandpa whimpered. “I didn’t know your–uh, Lucja? Is that her name?” He looked at Dad.
“Lucja and Zaid dated for a while when he was, erm, nineteen? Twenty?” Dad rubbed his chin, looking vaguely uncomfortable. “I don’t think they even dated for a year. After they broke up, Zaid got together with Davina.” Who the heck is Davina? I wondered but judging by Dad’s face he knew her at least. “When were you–you–born?” Dad asked.
Piotr shrugged slightly. “January of ’98. January 12th, to be precise.”
Dad began counting on his fingers. “If I remember right, then she would have been a few weeks in at the breakup…?”
“Yes, she told me that she had been pregnant and knew it, but did not inform him.” Piotr adjusted his glasses. “I am not sure why she didn’t inform him.” His fingers remained at the side of his glasses as he stared at Dad. “Pardon my confusion, but how are you involved in all of… this?”
“My name is Noah Danevbie–“
“His brother? No, you specifically said housemate and best friend. A brother-in-law?”
“No…” Dad coughed a bit. “I’m his widower. Widow? Widower. We were married for… Watcher, only three years.” Dad rubbed his arm, looking off to the side sadly. “Felt like longer. Feels like longer, honest. Maybe cause we knew each other so long before, but uh yeah. We were married.”
Piotr frowned and his eyes glanced first at me and Arty then at Reeny. His eyes narrowed very slightly but he remained silent. I didn’t know what he was obviously trying not to say but Reeny apparently did because she said, “Yeah, they’re my half-siblings too. My other father died when I was… two?” She lifted her eyebrows at Dad who nodded.
“Oh. I see. So, Zaid was gay,” Piotr said.
“No, he was bisexual,” Reeny said protectively.
Piotr stared blankly then his lips twitched slightly. “My apologies. I suppose it was wrong of me to assume that.” Reeny tensed then glared slightly, obviously annoyed at the apology. I guess she wanted to argue. “How old are… the three of you?” He looked at each of us, his gaze lingering longest on me.
“I’m seventeen, Artemis is eleven, and Apollo is nine. And you’re… what, twenty then?”
Piotr tilted his head and nodded slowly before turning his gaze to Grandpa. “And you are my grandfather.” Grandpa’s eyes got all big and watery. He tried to say something but couldn’t so he just nodded. “That is why I came here. I suppose it must be very odd for me to appear about of the blue like this, but as I said my mother only recently told me my father’s name. I wished to meet my family… my father.” Piotr frowned. “When I learned he had died, I searched for his parents. For you…”
“I’m glad you did,” Grandpa said in a squeaky voice.
“I inherited your eyes.”
“Yeah–yeah you did.”
Piotr smiled at that. “I always wondered where I got them. Mother told me my father had very pale, almost… ‘icy’ green eyes.” Now he looked at the three of us and gave a bit of a nod again. “I always wondered what it would be like to have siblings.”
“So, your mother never–had any other kids?” Dad asked a bit awkwardly.
“No. Nor did she marry again. It’s always been the two of us. Before I was born she moved her wedding planner business to Bridgeport. Away from her mother. So I never had any grandparents around either.” Piotr hesitated before adding, “When she finally told me about my father–the reason she moved to Bridgeport was so my father wouldn’t know. When she told me that, I was afraid he had been a bad person but she assured me that it was not so.” He didn’t sound completely convincing and I wondered if the reason he had come looking was to find out if our father really had been bad or not.
Anger welled up inside of me. “Our dad was a hero,” I said and everyone looked at me in surprise. Hadn’t they heard the tone in Piotr’s voice? Didn’t they realize what he meant?
Dad walked over and put a hand on my shoulder. “If you need information about the breakup and your mother won’t tell you, then the person you should talk to is Lumie. I admit, I don’t remember much of what Zaid told me about the breakup. But Lumie might and she’d have better insight. Lumie is… was… Zaid’s twin sister. Your aunt. Actually, they were coming in later for a visit if you–you want to meet them.”
Piotr looked startled. “I never thought about having aunts or uncles. I didn’t really continue research after getting Chance’s name.”
“You have three aunts, and an uncle,” Grandpa said with a smile. “And an aunt by marriage and an uncle by marriage. And five cousins.”
“Three uncles,” Artemis said. “Uncle Max and Uncle Royce.”
“But they’re not related, technically,” Grandpa pointed out.
“Zaid had an extremely close friend,” Dad explained. “Max. The kids regard him as an uncle, and his husband and their kids as family as well.”
“I think we’re overwhelming him,” Reeny put in.
“I don’t think we should leave Uncle Max out just cause he’s not related by blood!” Arty protested with a stomp of her foot.
“Okay! Everyone!” Dad clapped his hands. “Reeny is right, we are probably overwhelming him. Why don’t we go in the other room and let Mr. Rutkowski and Chance talk about things, like he came to do.” He gave Grandpa a curious look and Grandpa nodded. “Come on.” Dad ushered me and Arty and Reeny out of the living room. We went into the kitchen where Dad collapsed down in a chair, his head in his hands. I heard Grandpa and Piotr murmuring in the other room but couldn’t hear ‘xactly what was being said.
Reeny stood by the door to the garage, arms tight over her chest. Arty sat on a counter, kicking her heels angrily against the cupboard. I just stood near Dad feeling super confused. I had a big brother. I always wanted a big brother. But why did it feel… wrong? Cause I didn’t know him? Cause he didn’t look anything like the rest of us? Arty and I looked so close to one another that our family called us twins. They joked that I was just too comfy in the womb and stayed an extra coupla years. Reeny, though she looked somewhat different still looked a bit like us especially with the eyes.
Maybe it wasn’t even the looks thing. I felt my stomach twist tightly in knots remembering his tone. ‘Afraid he had been a bad person’. Our father was not a bad person. He was a hero. He died to save lives. I wished Dad had let me keep talking in the living room. I wanted Piotr to know–to know his dad… our dad was an honest-to-Watcher hero.
Piotr left and Grandpa went to his room not saying everything they had talked about. Dad told us that Grandpa was just emotionally worn. Shortly after, the relatives showed up. Aunt Lumie, Uncle Adan, and our cousins Carlos and Catalina. Carlos was a year older than Arty, and Catalina was year younger’n me. So I always had to play with her when we visited. Ugh. I didn’t like Cat very much. She was super into princess stuff and always wanting to play house and tea parties.
Instead of sipping invisible tea I scrambled to the living room and jumped onto the couch between my aunt and uncle. Aunt Lumie smiled and wrapped an arm around me. “You can’t stay too long, though, your dad and I are talking about adult stuff,” she said.
“’bout what happened today?” I asked, not wanting to leave the safety of my aunt’s arm to go back to my cousin waving an empty teacup in my face and trying to get me to pretend to drink with my dang pinky sticking out.
“Yes…” Aunt Lumie shifted a bit. “He’s been telling us about… erm, Piotr. I–I’m just shocked. I never knew…”
“None of us did,” Dad reminded her. “Zaid didn’t either.”
Aunt Lumie’s face went a bit greyish at that and she withdrew her arm from me so she could rub at the side of her head. She always did this when my other dad was mentioned. Suddenly I remembered that day on the beach, when I was told ’bout my ability. Dad said that my other dad could talk to Aunt Lumie in their heads. I wondered if that had anything to do with it. If that’s how it went then I wondered what it’d be like. To hear someone else in your head all the time. Then to have that voice go away forever. No wonder she always touched her head like that.
“At their breakup she said she had something important to tell him, then said it had just been a trip to somewhere.” Aunt Lumie continued rubbing at that spot. “Now I wonder if it had been about a pregnancy.”
Dad coughed. “Apollo, why don’t you go play with Cat?”
“Aw, Dad, come on. I’m almost ten. I’m not a little kid.” I sank deeper into the couch, half against Aunt Lumie in hopes she’d protect me but she gave me a gentle nudge and repeated Dad’s request to play with Cat. BETRAYED! I slid off the couch and slunk off outside into the chilly November air. Better there in the cold than fake tea.
Piotr visited the next day. He took Grandpa out for lunch, just the two of them–well three. I doubted Granddad woulda let them go off on their own. To my surprise when they got back Piotr offered to take me out for hot cocoa or something. Then disappointment when Dad said thanks but he felt everything was still pretty new for me to be going off with him. Piotr nodded, then turned and offered to take Eirene out for hot cocoa instead.
He stayed in Storybrook County for five more days, visiting every day. Once he brought gifts for all of us. Mine was this little kit where you could put stuff together and make things like a clock that uses potatoes instead of batteries. I thanked him and then put the kit under my bed, not really interested in that. Not at first, at least.
Finally he left. He gave us each stiff handshakes, promised to visit again soon, made sure we had his address and phone number, then left. Grandpa got a text a few hours later when the plane touched down in Bridgeport.
“Can’t believe we have another grandkid from Zaid,” Grandpa mumbled when he saw that text. “Yeah, I know–no, I know, sweetie, it’s just… makes me feel like… makes me miss him all over again.” He dropped his phone and buried his face in his hands. Reeny and Arty sat on either side of him and wrapped their arms around him, comforting him. I didn’t know what to say, but I’d always remember those words, that look on his face–missing his son. The feeling of helplessness, the same as I got after my vision-dreams. Seeing something and not being able to help.
I’d always remember, cause that was the night I had a dream about someone I knew.
A thin forest. Trees with leaves on them–not pine needles. I couldn’t remember the name for them, Delicious trees or something. It was windy, and dark. I found myself following a path. Something ahead of me glimmered. A light? I followed it and came out of the woods to find myself on a big hill… no, a cliff. Something… someone stood at the edge of the cliff. A faerie? A winged person at least, and I couldn’t tell the wing colors. Pink or orange or something. Then I stared in horror as the winged person jumped and didn’t fly.
I ran over to the edge of the cliff but it was too late. Someone else was screaming too. I stared down at the bottom, at the body broken on the rocks below. Someone was screaming almost right by my ears. I looked up and nearly fell off the cliff.
In my heart I knew it was me. Older. I couldn’t tell my age but I knew it was me. The dark skin, the same hair, the green eyes. Me. “No! No!” my older self screamed. “NO!”
“Apollo!” If there was any doubt it was me that certainly shattered it. Someone else came running up, another guy. “Apollo–“
“FUCK OFF!” my older self screamed, taking a swing at the guy who had really tall orange hair and pointy ears just like Reeny. An elf? The guy dodged and grabbed my–his–the older me’s wrists. They struggled for a minute then my older self collapsed down, sobbing. “It’s not fair, it’s not fair!”
“Apollo, man, come on, it’s not your fault! None of us knew–“
“You don’t understand, I could have stopped this–I can stop this. I’m here…” My older self stopped crying, his head snapping up as he stared almost directly at me. “You–me–I know–this is–I can stop! Apollo! Listen to me, this is fucking important, you have to find a way to stop–“
Then I woke up in bed.
At first I didn’t move, still expecting to be on top of that cliff with the older me yelling but no. I was in my room, alone. Had I been shouting what happened? Oh no, my future self said a very dirty word twice. Had I shouted those? Would I get in trouble for shouting out the f-bomb because it was in my vision? Surely not! But, my future self had said the f-bombs so maybe so…
Stop! I got out of bed, rubbing my eyes, trying to figure out what had happened exactly. A cliff. Someone with yellow… orange? wings throwing themselves off. Me running over, trying to stop. Some pointy-eared dude chasing. Stopping–stopping someone from doing that. I had to stop someone I didn’t know. Obviously in the future I’d know them.
My door opened and Dad came in. He opened his arms and I scurried into them, pressing my face against his chest. I wasn’t really crying but mostly just felt confused. So confused. Then I pulled back, debating whether or not to tell Dad ‘xactly what happened in my dream. Unsure what he had even heard. Had I shouted my own name when the pointy-eared guy did?
“Come on, let’s go to bed,” Dad said, pulling me towards my open door.
I pulled my hand free. “I don’t want to sleep. I want to think about things.”
Dad seemed surprised but just shrugged, patting my shoulder. “Okay kiddo, but come in if you need to. You don’t even need to wake me up if you don’t want to.”
I shut my door behind him and then went to my desk. Fresh piece of paper. Sharp pencil. Leafy trees, wind, night, lots of hills, I wrote down. Wings. What color were they? I’d get back to that. Older self came running screaming orange hair guy pointy ears say my name tell me not my fault, older self look up and says for me to stop. I woke up.
Pitiful. Hardly any information to help me figure out what I needed to stop! Well, obviously I needed to stop the faerie from killing theirself. If it was a faerie but I couldn’t think of anyone else who had wings. I had only met one faerie… a long time ago. I was so young. We went back to Midnight Hollow when my great-grandma Gretchen passed away. I was like, five or six. Two vampires were there and took me by the hands and led me off somewhere alone. Surprisingly, Dad let them. They told me they had known my dad Zaid and had fought with him when he died. I couldn’t remember their names… Ack something and Emily. They told me I was very special and–
Oh. Had they been meaning my psychic ability? They told me I had a very important future ahead of me, and that I had a special talent. They must have meant my visions. The woman whose skin was as dark as night picked me up. She stroked my cheek and told me to never, ever, ever forget how special I was.
Then I met the faerie. She had fought with my dad too. Ack and Emily introduced me as Zaid’s child and the faerie began crying. She had said something about it being so tragic. Or maybe sad. Something like that. But she had these huge beautiful wings that she let me touch. I expected to have faerie dust on my hands and I tried to fly, like in Peter Pan. But when I jumped off the desk all that happened was that Emily caught me. He held me up high and smiled. He had told me that there was too much hurt in that day for me to cause more of it by breaking my bones.
I played with those two vampires all day. I never went to my great-grandmother’s memorial or burial, and neither did the vampires. Dad later told me they’d visit at night when they wouldn’t burn up. I guess they hadn’t wanted me to see my great-grandma dead or something… or maybe there had been another reason. Maybe they just wanted my company. I didn’t know and soon forgot about them.
But now I remembered them, thinking about that faerie. A special child with an important future. I wondered if it was true, if I really did have an important future ahead of me. What it meant. It had to mean my visions, and if that’s what it meant… what the vampires meant then it must mean I could help people with my visions. I just needed to figure out how.