I sort of created this account to see if I could create links. Because I tried commenting on an anon meme and adding in a link with html, and it didn't work. And I thought to myself, couldn't hurt to have a dreamwidth account. Meh.
 See you guys tomorrow.

Edit/Update: This was all done yesterday, but I thought you might like to see it. 

Another revised fairy story. I think I might try this one again, but in a little while. )

Okay, so this is only about 700 words, but I did write more yesterday. I know I've been saying this for a while, but I'm finally going to make the commitment for tomorrow and spend most of the day typing after I get my daily assignments done. See you then. 

EDIT: another story for you guys

immortal/super strong girl to be re-written later )
 So, I think this is another false start, and I might give it another go before I actually keep writing the story. Also, the fairies might not be there any more. We'll see. 

The move the Evergreen Falls came as a perfect storm.

First Dad inherited a house with about one hundred acres of land, and whatever money his aged uncle had in the bank (which turned out to be a generous sum).

“Should we go?” Mom asked.

“We’ll have to see about jobs first,” said Dad. “And selling the house.”

They called Evergreen Falls about jobs, Dad to the nearby power plant and Mom to the largest bank they had. They talked and talked, then emailed resumes to their respective places. Soon enough, the house went up on the market, and soon enough it was sold. After that, they started selling off their furniture.

“We can buy newer things when we get there,” said Mom.

Then both of them gathered Tempest and her twin, Alethea in the living room, telling them it was time to pack.

Tempest did not know what to think of the move. Alethea was excited to live in a beach front town, surrounded by mountains and the possibility of new, cute boys. Tempest felt like something would happen, but she could not tell if it was good or bad. As she packed all of her books and art supplies, she tried not to think about it.

When they finished packing, they loaded everything onto a truck, and began an almost week long drive to the coast.

“Now girls,” said Mom. “Your father and I have talked about it, and we think you girls are old enough to decorate your own rooms now. So, we’re giving you an allowance from what your old things sold for, and a little bit more to buy paint and new room sets. But, we’re only giving you a week to decorate, all right? After that we want you out of the house and doing some things around the town. Try and find a job if you can. You girls are almost sixteen after all.”

“What about a car?” Alethea asked.

“If we feel that you’ve earned it, we’ll help chip in for a used one,” said Mom. “But you have to earn it, Alethea.”

Alethea rarely earned anything. She had almost always been beautiful, with stylish auburn hair, the greenest eyes anyone had ever seen, fair, flawless skin, and the right curves had grown on her overnight. She was born with the most charming part of her parents. Tempest did not consider herself ugly, but she knew that compared to her twin she must have seemed that way. Wild black hair, which only seemed to calm down when grown out, covered her head, she felt constantly covered in acne or uneven tans and burns and her body held no one shape, but merely retained itself as dumpy. Her eyes were the worst though—a sort of blue grey that looked like polluted ocean.

She looked like neither of her parents, to the point where she had had to ignore the words “paternity test,” more than once when her parents spoke of it.

After nearly a week of driving, they arrived. They slept in sleeping bags and called out for pizza.

The next day both girls were given their allowances and set free in town to do with it what they would. Alethea went straight for the furniture store, but Tempest took her time browsing around the hardware place, picking out a large galleon of paint, with several smaller cans she would use to paint the wall with. Then she asked about lumber, buying several lengths of dark wood to build shelves out of.

“I hope you do not intend to do that in the house,” Dad said when he came by to get her and the lumber.

“There’s a shed out back that Uncle Eberhard used as a work shop,” Tempest mentioned. “Could I have that as my studio?” Dad agreed, if only to keep the sound of sawing, and eventually, the smell of oil paint, out of the house.

So Tempest painted the walls a sea blue, and accented them with spirals and waves of midnight blue and grey weaving in and out. She fastened silver fixtures to the walls and then put up the dark shelves to hold her books when they arrived with the moving truck. It took her two days, but it looked beautiful.

“You still don’t have a place to sleep,” Alethea told her.

Tempest began to walk the town, which seemed to have a constant set of garage and yard sales now that they had come into summer. The first thing to come was a rug. She haggled, and bought it for about thirty dollars, when it would cover most of the hard wood floor in her room. Next she found a desk, which she placed near the window, so she would have natural light. Then, she founda trunk with extending compartments for her art supplies. Side tables of dark mahogany made their way into the room. Hanging lamps came after that, ones with orange glass around them, which she replaced the central light fixture with. At last came a bed, of the same mahogany wood as her desk and shelves that filled up perhaps a fifth of her room.

“I think you forgot something,” said Dad as she assembled it near a corner of the room.

“What?” she asked, giving the screwdriver a final twist.

“The mattress,” he replied. “Come on, we’ll drive into town and get you one.”

Tempest detested getting anything new, but with a mattress, she supposed she could make an exception. While they were there, she asked to get a new door handle to match her room (one which could lock, to keep Alethea out), which her father consented to. He also made her pick out two sets of sheets and different blankets for her bed, and then curtains. “I know you can sew,” he said. “But it’s easier this way honey, and look, they match your room.” Tempest grumbled,

“All right.”

But as they drove back, they happened to pass a yard sale, and Tempest called, “Dad stop!” He obeyed, stopping abruptly as she jumped out of the car and made for the sale. He followed her to an old arm chair still in good condition, with midnight blue upholstery flowing over the silver arms and legs.

“Like it?” asked the man presiding over the sale. “I’ll give it to you for fifty.”

“Thirty five,” she replied.

“Done!” he said. “I’ll get you a receipt.”

“Wait,” she called moving over to a table which had odd sticks of wood folded up together. “How much to do you want for this?”

“Ten?” he asked. “I’m not even sure what that is.”

“I’ll take it. Both of them.” She pulled out forty-five dollars from her pocket and handed it over, before she helped her dad load the chair into the back of his truck, propping the mattress up against it, and strapping them both down. Dad looked at the wooden contraption with a frown, but did not ask, so Tempest did not answer.

She placed the chair by the window, and when the truck arrived with all of the things they had not sold, she stacked her books on the shelves, lined her clothes in the closet and split her art supplies between her new trunk and studio.

After unpacking, she wandered into the kitchen for a glass of lemonade and a snack, and when she wandered back, she found a host of people gawking at her door.

“Whose room is this?” asked one of them.

“Mine,” Tempest replied, before Alethea could make something up. “Excuse me please.” The crowd parted and let her in, still gawking before Alethea called them all into her room.


When the decorating week came to an end, Tempest arose early. A plan had begun to culminate in her head when she bought the wood contraption, really a fold up easel. She dressed for a hike, packed a bag with her supplies, and brought a carrying case for her canvas as well. After a quick breakfast, she set off for a trail just behind her house, and began to walk up the path.

The path was half carved of earth and half made of broke, moss covered steps that you could slip on if you were careful. Tempest climbed carefully though. She climbed and climbed until she found something worth painting. After about an hour she stopped on a plateau where she saw something worth her while. There was a tree twice as thick as the others around it, its roots coming up out of the ground, creating something like a hollow. Tempest found a spot where she could see most of the tree and set up her easel took out her paints, brushes and pallet, as well as her oil and mineral spirits and began to paint.

Tempest painted until the sun was much higher in the sky. She began to sweat, but she would not leave the painting unfinished. She kept going, until it began to feel finished. She nodded at it, and decided to come back later to see if there was anything still left to add. She wrapped it carefully, and put it back in its case so the painting would not smear, and after packing up the rest of her supplies, she began to walk back toward the house.

Another hour passed, and when she arrived she set the painting out to dry in her work shop and washed out all of her brushes, which had been left to rest in the mineral spirits to keep the paint from sticking. She checked the time and found she still had an hour and a half before her normal lunch time, and so set off to explore the neighborhood.

Soon, she found a park, with a trail wrapping around it, and decided that another walk wouldn’t kill her. As she walked around though, she noticed there were signs that told when you should stop and do some other exercises. Well, she thought running her hands over the dumpy parts of her body, it couldn’t hurt. She lay down on the ground where she had seen others do so, and began a series of sit ups, or at least she tried. Tempest heard laughter over her, and sat up properly to see a boy standing over her.

“You aren’t doing that right,” he told her. “Here, let me help.” He knelt down in front of her, and held her feet. “Now bring yourself up until your chest touches your knees.” She did. “Now again.” He started counting, and her abdomen began to hurt. When he reached twenty, he had her stop and lay down himself. “Hold my feet for me, please?” he asked.

“Sure,” she agreed.

“I’m Carlos by the way,” he said.

“Tempest.”

“Wait you mean like, ‘we are the stuff that dreams are made of, rounded with a little sleep?’ That Tempest?”

“Yeah,” she replied, a smile forming on her face. “How did you know that?”

“I like Shakespeare,” Carlos said. “Am I close to twenty?”

“Does it feel like you’re close?” Tempest asked, because she had lost track.

“Close enough,” he replied. Carlos got to his feet, and said, “I’ll race you to the next drop point.” And before Tempest could protest, he took off, making her run after him. They raced and talked, and Carlos corrected her exercises with instruction she never really had from her gym teachers. “You’ll need it,” he said. “There’s a mandatory fitness test at the beginning and end of each year. And then you have to take a gym class every semester. But there are different ones. When did you guys get in, by the way?”

“Just last week,” she replied. “I’ve been working on my room since then. Painting it, building my shelves and getting all the furniture and stuff.”

“Took a whole week?” he asked.

“Well, not really. I painted it and built the shelves in just about a day,” she said. “The next day I went out looking for furniture and just brought it back in heats.”

“And what did you do for the rest of the week?” Carlos asked.

“Well, I went hiking, I drew landscapes. Went to the book shop.”
 In the mean time, enjoy a short story about faeries that I'm going to write. This is the beginning. It's going to get revised, because it does not want to be in first person. 


story time! )
Yeah, so....wait until I finish if you don't want it spoiled: here's the end of The Next Great Magician.

 
last chapter and epilogue )

 

Soo

Jul. 16th, 2011 10:36 pm
 I think I'm starting Camp over again. Never fear, I will post my old writings, just as soon as I get everything typed up as proof that I wrote for every day. But yeah, here's an outline for what I hope to begin tomorrow:

Warning Spoilers for the Novel and possible sequel )

 
So my key board is a little waterlogged, therefore I'm having a bit of trouble typing up m hand written work. If my keyboard isn't rise by Saturday, I plan on going to the library to ups everything up and get the journal updated. Ps: written from my iPod touch.

update:

It worried Tabitha a bit too, but instead she said,

“Don’t worry, it’s probably fine.”

“You don’t really think that,” Brian muttered. Before she could ask him just how he knew what she was thinking, the principal’s secretary came out into the hall and said,

“Good morning, everyone, Dr. Byers is ready for you now, if you will just follow me.” Tabitha’s parents filed into the school management offices first, and Mr. DiAmbrosio waved Tabitha and Brian in before he brought up the rear.

The principal’s office had only four chairs—obviously they had not expected both of her parents to come—but the secretary soon found another and they were all about to be seated when Mr. White, another assistant principal, and a teacher Tabitha did not know entered the office, slipping past Mr. DiAmbrosio to stand beside Dr. Byers. The adults shook hands, but Brian went a little white and grabbed her hand.

“Well I won’t keep you all in suspense. Earlier this week, Mr. Keith came to Mr. Grossman,” she indicated the teacher and the assistant principal respectively, “about what he felt was an attempt at plagiarism.” Dr. Byers slid on a pair of bifocals and picked up a paper which had Brian’s name at the top and slid it forward to let the parents see.

“Wait, if this is Brian’s paper, what has it got to do with Tabitha?” Carol asked.

“I overheard Brian say he had help from Tabitha on his paper,” Mr. Keith replied.

“So, she helped him,” her dad said. “Tabby’s lost more than a few friends for not letting them cheat off of her.”

“And I don’t see how you think Brian plagiarized this paper,” Mr. DiAmbrosio said. “I saw his original draft and his notes on revision. I agree there’s a marked improvement, but all Tabitha did was tell him what to fix. We talked about it when he got back from the library.”

“And what exactly could Tabitha have said to make such a great improvement?” Mr. Keith asked. “Mr. DiAmbrosio I’m sorry, but the best paper I’ve seen your son turn in was worth a C and that was after revision. This paper is probably worth an A in the honors class. I’m not sure even with the help of another student, he could have achieved this.”

“Are you people crazy?” Carol asked. “Do you have any idea how much this girl studies? How much she was to get into a good college? Tabitha would not write a paper for a boy—not even if she liked him. But she would help him if he asked for it.”

“Regardless of how intelligent Ms. Walls is, it is the official feeling of the school that Mr. DiAmbrosio could not have achieved such an increase in effort, or at least the amount necessary to produce a paper of this quality, in such a short period of time. We are not saying that Tabitha wrote the paper for him, but it arouses some suspicions about her own work—”

“You people are crazy!” Mitch declared. “Do you have any idea how hard my daughter works for her grades?”

“Well, Mr. Walls, how much of her studying do you see?” Dr. Byers asked.

“I watched her do every single sheet of homework up until she went to high school, and the only reason I didn’t see anything after that was because she did a lot of it when she was volunteering at the library. And I’m willing to bet each and every one of the librarian she works with would be willing to testify that she does her own work.”

“Your faith in your daughter is endearing, Mr. Walls, but this is not an open discussion,” Mr. White said.

“Mr. White is quite correct,” Dr. Byers said. “Unfortunately, we cannot accept your testimonial statement as you are their parents and you will say anything to protect your children. At minimum we are considering a month’s suspension.”

“All three parents began to object about loss of grades, when Tabitha snorted.

“Yes, Ms. Walls?” asked Dr. Byers. “Is there something you would like to add?”

“Yeah, just how stupid are you?” Tabitha asked. All eyes turned to her immediately. Her parent’s faces were especially conflicted between berating her and congratulating her on standing up for herself.

“Excuse me?” Dr. Byers asked. Tabitha had not meant to say it, but something in her—maybe even just the knowledge that she could do magic or that she was right—drove her on to repeat herself,

“Just how stupid are you?” she inquired. “Or better yet, how stupid do you think we are?”

“Ms. Walls I’m not sure what you mean but—” Dr. Byers’ face began to turn red when Tabitha cut her off,

“Then let me explain it to you,” she said. “Brian and I are part of a five to seven percent population of the school. It doesn’t seem like a lot when you look at it—unless you look at the report cards since we’re the kids who constantly bring home straight A’s. It looks even more different when you look at in spring after they grad the standardized tests, when we consistently get you the test scores that get the school finding which immediately goes to the failing sports program.” Tabitha paused for breath before she continued,

“If you suspend me or expel me, I can guarantee you one thing—I will not come back. I’ll bet you Mr. DiAmbrosio is mad enough that he won’t let Brian come back either, and once word gets around I’m willing to bet that certain others are not going to come back either.”

“You really think you can get the whole school to walk out over your petty suspension?” Mr. White asked.

“Not the whole school,” Tabitha returned. “Just five to seven percent. Maybe a little more once word gets around.” The adults sat in silence and Brian held up his cell phone,

“And you know with social networking nowadays, it’ll be through the school in an hour. Sure, maybe we’ll lose a semester, but we can all keep studying. There’s actually an early colleges program that I’m sure would love to have Tabitha as its poster child and I sure wouldn’t mind some free college credit.

“And you know something, with just a few of those kids, or maybe even just Brian and I, we might just be able to do something about the bullying problem the administration here seems so fond of overlooking,” Tabitha suggested.

“Perhaps a lawsuit,” said Mr. DiAmbrosio. “I know a few good lawyers who owe me a few favors.”

“On what charges?” Mr. White scoffed.

“Battery, assault, harassment,” Brian ticked off on his fingers. “Just to name a few.”

Dr. Byers stared Tabitha down so hard, that she almost relented and took it all back. But Brian gripped her hand tightly, and Carol and her father took the other in theirs. Tabitha hardened her faze and stared back.

“You’re suspended. Two months,” Dr. Byers retorted. “For threatening school faculty and for plagiarism.” Tabitha snorted again, grabbed her bad and stood.

“Challenge accepted,” she remarked as she walked out, her parents and the DiAmbrosio behind her.


When they reached the court yard her father let out a large whoop.

“That was amazing, Tabby—just promise me you never play us like that!”

“I promise,” Tabitha replied. “But can we go to the university to tell the dean about this? I don’t want him taking the school’s side.”

“Sure, baby, we just have to wait for Carol to get Reiss.” He held out his hand to Mr. DiAmbrosio and shook it tightly. “Thank you for supporting my daughter in there.”

“It was a pleasure,” DiAmbrosio replied with a smile. “Tabitha, if I may, when you finished with College apply for as many government positions as you can. We need people like you.” He blinked and turned to Brian. “What are you doing son?”

“Tweeting,” Brian said. “Then Facebook messaging. Then I might put something up on YouTube. Tabs, you have to be in that one with me.” He looked up at them. “What/ If we don’t do it like we said we would they won’t trust us to follow through all the way. It’s basic child psychology.” DiAmbrosio patted him on the back.

“That’s my boy.” Brian grinned and linked arms with Tabitha.

“My dear, you just became my best friend and my personal hero,” Tabitha grinned and flushed.


Chapter Eleven: In a Bad Place

The video started shakily, but aimed itself at a girl with dark brown hair, wearing a grey coat.

“Is it on?” she asked.

“Yeah, there’s the light,” said a deeper voice from off screen.

“Hi!” the girl chirped. “My name is Tabitha and over here is Brian—he’s your regular video maker.” The camera turned to an Italian boy who smiled and waved. “And the reason I’m talking is because I kind of started this whole thing. The whole thing being, as of about fifteen minutes ago, we got suspended for the rest of the semester.”

“Yay!” came a chorus of voices.

“A voice like gravel came out of the darkness only illuminated by the computer screen,

“She is very bold,” it said.

“It’s likely she knows we are watching her already,” said a robust voice. “She has no real reason to hide herself.”

“Does she suspect White?”

“Difficult to say, sir. She appeared uncomfortable around him before, but this appears told be a more general act of rebellion, than one specifically to get away from White. It still suites our plans well enough. In fact, it gives us more time as we have been met with some resistance.”

“Resistance?”

“We believe it will be taken care of before the solstice, though. It’s more a matter of time than actual resistance.”

“And what do we immortal men care for time?” asked the gravel voice.

“Exactly my thoughts sir.”

“And what of White.”

“Dealt with.”

“Dead?”

“No sir, I thought you would want to do the honors.” The gavel voice smiled over the sound of the children rambling on.

“Excellent. Let him suffer wondering for one more night, then bring him to me in the morning.”

“And the girl? What is our next move with her?”

“Plant more seeds to grow in her. I have a feeling this one will be easy to use toward our purposes. But first and foremost, look for the book. That is our prime objective.”

“Yes, Ambrosious, your will be done.”

Chapter Twelve: Wandering and Magicing in the Park

Tabitha wondered if a chemical high could make her feel as good as she did now. Brian’s social networking had paid off and they would even be interviewed for the news tomorrow. Plenty of kids were planning on pulling out of school and their parents were discussing the possibilities with Mr. DiAmbrosio and Carol. The dean had been very understanding and upon looking at Brian’s original paper and revision notes with the new one declared he could see no plagiarism and congratulated her on her bravery.

Unfortunately with no secondary school backing her, he had to put her on academic suspension. “But you are welcome back just as soon as you are able.”

Barbara told her to spend the night with her family and rest up for the days ahead as well as gave her a list of alternate schools.

The two families came together over the best Chinese food in town and a cake which read, “Congratulations on your suspension.”
 Well, analysis leaves me a little writing weary, and I have to go to bed tonight. So, I promise you approx. 250 words from the Next Great Magician, when I get them typed, which i should do tomorrow, and then I have a link, here to my other blog: writersmithy.blogspot.com/. Enjoy.

UPDATE: Here's that 278 words

Read more... )
 So, I'm not sure when I'll get around to posting all of this online, but I promise that I am writing my daily amount. 

Also, a little bit on this challenge for myself: I'm trying to write double what I should have for Camp write now, so yeah, I'll probably be continuing that today and tomorrow and see where I get. Peace.

Update: 

This is way longer than I anticipated when I did my estimates of how much I wrote. I thought at first it was about 2500 words, but I came up at 4184 )
 So, I'm going to be trying something a little crazy ie. writing twenty-five sheets of paper by hand, so I don't think I'm going to be posting it here tonight, but I will get it to you tomorrow, or soon, because this might be a three day thing. Yeah.

UPDATE:

Brian looked at her intently until Tabitha repeated,

“So? Talk.”

“I want to know how you did it,” he whispered. “And then you weren’t in school yesterday so I couldn’t ask then. But I’ve got to know what you did, Tabitha.”

“Why, exactly?” she inquired as she began stalking toward the library, where she could spend her study period on physics and the Odyssey.

“Because you gave me a second chance,” he whispered. “Look, I went a little crazy and I was going to do something crazy and really, really stupid, but you stopped me and made everyone forget.’

“How do you know that I really did anything at all? What if you just grabbed a water gun by mistake?”

“Because I loaded it myself, and then unloaded it when I put it back in my dad’s gun safe and then when I asked if we could go shooting because I had a bad day at school I reloaded it and shot five rounds out of it, okay? The gun I grabbed was real and it would have done very real damage. So I want to know how it became a water gun for about five minutes.’

“You timed it?” she asked, setting her stuff down on a study table.

“Not exactly,” Bet look, I’ve got to know. Was it magic?”

“You caught me,” she said, pulling out her physics packet and compared it to the Odyssey. She read and took notes faster than she worked out physics problems.

“Well, how did you do it?” he asked.

“Like you said, it was magic,” she replied, turning to the introduction in the book. “Look, Brian, I’m not sure I can explain what happened yesterday either, but why don’t you take you second chance and run with it?”

“What do you mean?” he asked.

“I mean—I don’t know—your older sister’s a fashion design major, right? Ask her to give you a makeover. Hit the weights so the popular crowd will think twice before picking on you. Stop failing English because you think it’s stupid.”

“But it is stupid,” he retorted.

“You still need it to pass the SAT and write a convincing essay to get into MIT,” she retorted.

“Says the girl who’s reading the Odyssey, and how do you know that you need an essay to get into MIT?”

“You need an essay to get into anywhere,” she retorted. “Are you really that much of a wannabe loner that you can’t just take a friendly suggestion and go with it?” He pulled back almost like she had slapped him.

“Ouch, I thought you of all people would get it.”

“Get what, exactly?” Tabitha asked.

“You honestly don’t think people don’t notice how smart you are? How desperate you are to go to college, because it means you’ll get out of here?” Brian told her. “Even the other geeks notice and think you think you’re too good for them.”

“People are allowed to think what they want to think,” she retorted. “And online you, Brian, I was actually the kid that no one wanted to play with because I never got out of the house long enough because my mom was sick and my dad was working. And then I had Reiss and Chelsea telling everyone just how weird I was because I liked to read. Okay, so I fit into the roll they built for me. I studied a lot and I got ahead in school. But you’ve always had friends, Brian, people who you hung out with and who cared about you. So don’t go telling me you get it.” He leaned back in his chair, and continued to look between her and a bookshelf.

“Well, not anymore…the friends I mean,” he confessed. “They all think I brought the gun to school, but that I chickened out at the last second.” Tabitha huffed and sat back in her own chair.

“Have they told anyone?” she asked. He shrugged.

“No, but they all think I’m a psychopath or something,” Brian said.

“Well, I hate to say it, but I don’t think psychosis goes into remission or anything,” she retorted.

“Oh TV, they talk about how some people have a cooling off period,” he retorted.

“Well, yeah, but that’s after they’ve killed several people.” Tabitha stared down at her book, and realized she was only on the second page. She folded it up and set it on the table, looking back at Brian. “Let me ask you this, how do you know that I was the one who did anything? I might not have been the one who made people forget about time, or changed the gun, or made people think it was all just a joke.”

“Well, I don’t know about forgetting about time, or the joke, but I saw your face,” he said. “When you watched me pull the gun, I kept looking at you. I watched you the entire time I was talking actually. You almost made me want to stop, with how scared you were. But then I kept seeing the others around you and I kept getting angry. And then I just couldn’t hold it in anymore, and it felt like I had to do it. But right before I fired, I saw your face again and I knew you would do something if you could. I thought you might jump in front of the bullet, but then the water came out of the gun and it felt like you had done something. I didn’t know what, but it was you.”

“So you don’t think it could have been anything else?” she asked.

“No.” Tabitha hung her head back, and in one swift motion, brought it back up to stare Brian down.

“I can’t tell you much, only that I’m in some pretty risky business right now.”

“You started a brothel out of your parent’s house?” he asked. At Tabitha’s look he muttered, “I guess you haven’t seen the movie.”

“Look, if I just say I had something to do with it, and tell you to take that and your second chance and run like the wind with it, will you listen to me?” He deflated, his chest and shoulders falling.

“Sure,” he agreed.

“Thank you,” she replied. “Now, I have some work to make up, do you mind?”

“Go ahead.” He pulled out a physics packet, nearly identical to her own, except that many more of the pages had notations scribbled all over them. Brian quieted down as he worked out the last of his problems. As he worked though, he kept sneaking glances at her. Tabitha decided it was all right, so long as she could ignore him enough to actually begin reading.

But the conversation with Brian put her off focus for the rest of the day—especially during physics when he sat right across from her. Tabitha realized, in the middle of physics, it was because she could feel him watching her, which made her wonder who else might be watching her too.


Chapter Six: A Study of Magic in the Dark

Tabitha emailed Weisz during a slow night at the library. Once she had shelved all the books she could find, read even more of the Odyssey, drafted her paper proposal, read her history assignment, outlined a paper, and done as many physics and calculus problems as she could handle in one sitting, she sat down and began to compose a schedule. She when through every day of the week and marked off times that she was indisposed, one way or another.
When she finished, Tabitha saw that there would only be time for her to meet with Weisz, or at least enough time for them to accomplish something, about three or four times a week. She volunteered at the library for four hours after school four times a week, and she had an astronomy class that met once a week, but it did not meet until much later in the evening. Weekends would be free completely, excluding the rare family outing, and would make the best time for magic lessons.

Once she figured all of her time slots into a schedule, she composed a spread sheet outlining everything and then emailed it to Weisz. She then received a quick reply thanking her for her promptness and saying that she would not be required to come to a lesson until Saturday. In the meantime, she should study the book Elba had left for her.
Tabitha stared at the computer screen for quite some time, and began to feel cheated for all the work she had done trying to find as much time as she could for Weisz. After all, he had told her that he wanted her every waking moment studying magic and then he changed his mind so suddenly, it made her head whirl. From what little she knew of Weisz, it did seem strange though.

But she did take the second piece of his email to heart, and tried to attach the first part from there. So after she arrived home and stocked up on all the fruits and vegetables the house had to offer, Tabitha holed herself up in her room, ready to study the book. Unfortunately, it just did not happen.

First, Reiss started up a loud punk rock band, and Tabitha knew that no matter how many times she might ask for him to turn it off or down, he would only turn it up louder. To focus, she put on a set of head phones and played her own music. That presented its own problem, as it just didn’t feel right studying an ancient magical text while she listened to pop music. Then her homework began to glare at her from its pile on her desk. With a sigh, Tabitha concealed the book in her coat, again, and set to work reducing the pile to nothing. She worked through texts, paper drafts, proposals and problem sets. When she stopped working and looked up, it was just passing midnight and she was hungry again.

She opened up a pomegranate, sucking out the seeds as she turned her attention back toward where the book lay in her coat, on her bed. Tabitha felt oddly energetic, when she normally would have felt drained after such a feat. It felt almost electric sitting in her chair, wondering just how much more she could take on, because it felt like she could stay up for hours more. She finished the pomegranate and opened up a banana, her eyes still on the book.
It still seemed wrong, somehow, to study the book in her room, where pieces of her nervous energy clung to every surface she could face. But she did not have anywhere else she could go, especially not at this time of night. Then a thought struck her; she could always go up.

The attic was the absolute final resting place of anything that he family no longer used, but did not want to throw out, give away or could not stomach keeping in the garage, which occasionally flooded. (Not to mention, the garage still acted as her father’s work space from time to time, and he liked to keep it free of clutter.) Up against one wall was a square mountain of boxes sorted and stacked according to year or use, There were old Christmas decorations, clothes Carol kept meaning to give away, clothes Chelsea did not have room for in her closet, a few boxes of books, and broken electronics her dad kept meaning to fix.

To the other side was all the old furniture Tabitha’s grandparents left to her mother when they died. Her mother did not have the heart to sell it or give it away, and after she died, her father held on to it to remember her by. On one of the arm chairs, Tabitha laid the book down, along with her journal and went hunting for candles. They had plenty of them as Carol and Chelsea had gone through a candle making phase. Tabitha could not complain about the large box stuffed to the brim with wax towers, though because the attic was not wired for electric lights.

She spread them around, lighting them as she went. When the attic filled with light, nearly as bright as a light bulb, Tabitha settled into the arm chair, opened the book and began to read.

It was a struggle, Tabitha found, to get past the first few pages, as the language presented itself as denser, more complicated English than she had ever read before. Reaching the third page, she began to flip through the book in her frustration. Thankfully, most of the book did not present itself in complicated tones, though some parts were not written in English at all. Tabitha squinted at the strange words and characters and slowly, they began to translate themselves. Though not so quickly that when she reached the most recent section, she could not tell it was in neat, tight French.
Her hand brushed over the page, tracing some of the letters of the neat curves. This had been Elba’s handwriting. The writing of a mentor Tabitha would never know. Suddenly her heart ached, prompting her to move back through the book, watching the language shift more and more into modern English for her to read.

The second time through the book, Tabitha noticed that many sections of the older writing and most especially many including spell work and ritual diagrams were cut from another piece of paper and pasted into the book. Though not all sections had been pasted over from former great magicians, some were rewritten in what Tabitha recognized as Elba’s neat script. Tabitha wondered at it, but knew her wondering would probably be left unfulfilled. When she reached the beginning of the book, she started again, this time the words and concepts clearer.

When she started reading though came an extra point of frustration. Magic—or at least what was described before her—seemed to combine bits and pieces of everything she had ever heard about it, as well as something akin to scientific theory here and there. Then, she read for pages and pages, but not of the writing insofar actually mentioned how to practice magic, simply described the force. That idea frustrated her as it seemed she might not receive any actual instruction from the book. But then, there came one small paragraph about how to focus her energy and draw it out of her, creating magic. She studied the small passage over and over, before she turned the page to find a warning inscribed before a drawing.

“Be warned,” it read, “that this ritual seeks to prolong the life of the one whom it would be used upon as it allows for an instance of great healing. I have seen it used to heal a wound which seemed beyond repair, but in doing so, it also took away such ills which come naturally with age, ills, which should be reversed.”
Two things: One, when I am finished, I totally need to reformat this as chapters, and two, because I am writing single spaced in word, this is a b to reformat to something readable here.

 She slid them onto a plate and handed it to her father, who collected his eggs and bacon. At which point, Tabitha’s stomach decided to growl.

“I thought you said you ate,” her dad said.

“I did, eat, that is. I guess I’m just hungry again,” she replied. Tabitha surveyed the fried food and decided to reach for an apple in the hanging fruit basket. “Do we have any water bottles in the house?”
 
“What? First you can do magic, now you’re on a health kick?” her dad asked.
 
“The two are not mutually exclusive,” Tabitha replied.
 
“I hate to say it, Tabby’s right,” Chelsea said over the breakfast table. “I mean, we all need to think about what we eat, right? And dad weren’t you just saying a little while ago that the doctor told you that you needed not to eat so much fattening stuff so that your arteries don’t get clogged?”
 
“There are worse ways to die,” he remarked.
 
“Heart attack symptoms can appear for hours before the actual event, and the actual attack can last up to thirty minutes which causes severe pain in the chest, and if you should survive, it sucks,” Tabitha said.
 
“Thank you Dr. Tabitha,” Carol said. “Look, your father and I both know the risks, and I admit, we could eat a little healthier. But it’s not like we want one of those British ladies from the TV knocking down the door and forcing it down our throats. Okay, girls? Baby steps. Tabitha, eat your apple.” 
 
After she finished the apple, Tabitha ventured back upstairs to prepare for school. She would have to leave early so that she could get her assignment from the day before. That meant she would be walking to school, as Reiss never went early, unless his life depended on it. Fortunately, it was only about a twenty minute walk, much less than what she did yesterday. She packed her bag with its usual products and then looked at her newer, magical items.
 
The boots were not a problem; she could wear them and almost look normal. A quick check of the forecast revealed it was not going to get above fifty degrees, and might rain, so she could definitely take her coat as well. As for the book, Weisz had advised her to never leave it alone, which mean it had to come with her. The safest option for that was do leave it in the pocket in the back of her coat. Much to her loathing, Tabitha left the typewriter at home, just to give herself one less temptation.
 
Tabitha reviewed all assignments which were due for that day, and before the clock could think of striking seven, she set out for school.
Arriving forty minutes before the bell rang in a small town was a little unusual, but the security guards knew her well enough as the mild-mannered sister of Reiss McLane, so they barely shrugged as she walked into the school early. She had not missed her morning classes, so she skipped the visits to her history, computer and calculus teachers, and never felt more grateful to have fourth hour study period. Fifth period was basic art, and the teacher reported that they only had in class work, so she might want to come in during lunch to work on her drawing. Her physics teacher handed her a packet filled will problems, and suggested that she come in during lunch if she needed help. When she reached English was when she ran into trouble.
 
It turned out that her English teacher, Ms. Grant, had been sick yesterday and today and subbing in was one of the assistant principals. The assistant principal who took care of all of the students from S to Z, meaning he was Tabitha’s assistant principal.
 
He was sitting at Ms. Grant’s desk looking over a lesson plan when she entered, and noticed her before she could walk right back out.
 
“Tabitha!” he called. “Came for your assignment?”
 
“Yes sir,” she replied.
 
“Good. I thought you might. It will give us a chance to talk about your truancy yesterday and this way you won’t have to be called to the office. Take a seat.” Tabitha felt that her stride became slower and stuck together the closer she got to the room. The feeling of being in trouble was wholly unfamiliar to her as the last time it had happened in school, she punched Sarah Jones after having a rock thrown at her head. Not to mention, she had skipped school for a good reason, she could not exactly tell Mr. White that. “So,” he said, pulling out a chair from one the desks and sitting right in front of her, “do you want to tell me why you skipped school yesterday? Because I think we both know that your parents didn’t pull you out.”
 
“I…didn’t…feel well,” she said slowly, trying to work out a reasonable excuse.
 
“If you didn’t feel well, why didn’t you go to the office or the nurse, and ask to be sent home?” he asked. “I’m sure Reiss wouldn’t have minded driving you.”

“It wasn’t a physical unwellness,” she said. “I just…I needed to get out of the school.”
 
“Why?” he asked. “You’re such a good kid, Tabitha, I can’t even begin to wonder why you would do something wrong like that. Did someone put you up to it or…what happened that made you feel like you wanted to leave?”
 
“I felt like I was being watched,” she retorted. “And no offense, Mr. White, but you can’t exactly tell the office every sneaking suspicion you have. That’s what gets kids sent to an institute.”
 
“You felt like you were being watched in the school?” Mr. White asked. “Watched by whom?”
 
“I don’t know. I just felt so anxious and at ease, it’s like I had to leave or I was going it…I don’t pass out or freak out on someone, okay? I just needed three periods for my mental health. Considering the fact that I consistently do not need to fill a period and already take two classes at the university, I don’t think this should be that big of a deal.”
 
“That’s why it is such a big deal, Tabitha,” he said. “Because I don’t want to see such a promising student like you get involved into anything terrible, okay? I’ll let it go this time, but if you ever feel uncomfortable in the school, just come and see me during a passing period and we’ll talk about it, or if you really need to, I’ll let you go home. Just get the absences excused and we won’t have any problems.”
 
“All right,” she agreed, though the words stuck in her throat, and she felt like a coward for speaking them. What had made it so easy to tell the truth to her family, but then she could not say the exact same thing to a school official? Was another problem being a magician would bring her? Always having to hide certain activities and reasons from people she should have been able to trust?
 
“Okay, then, your assignment for yesterday was to begin reading Odyssey, introduction and up to page seventy-five. We’ll be discussing it today and class and you need to consider a possible essay topic, and write up a proposal for the end of the week.” He handed her a worn paperback copy of the book, and waited for her to fill out the card in the front. When she handed it back to him, he said, “That’s all for now. You can go and try to catch up on your work.”
 
She still had almost a half-hour before school began, so she sequestered herself in the library skimming her history book, and taking down notes that would have to be discussed in class. Thankfully, she had a fully written essay done much ahead of time, and she was also ahead in her computer skills class, which meant she would have a second study hall that morning, during which she could work on calculus problems. Her real study hall would be spent getting into her physics packet and reading the first one hundred or so pages of the Odyssey.
 
“Life could get worse,” she muttered to herself.
 
“You could have killer magicians after you.” Tabitha jumped and looked to see Weisz sitting across from her.
 
“Did you have to do that?”
 
“Have to?” he inquired, a grin spreading across his face. “Not strictly speaking but it was quite amusing, so…In any case, I just came to tell you where I’ve taken up residence and ask when you will be free for your first magic lesson.”
 
“About that,” she said, making Weisz frown. “Don’t make that face! I was just going to say, I told my family the truth, so I need to discuss curfews with my dad and my stepmom.”
 
“And how late will that and…advanced placement physics take you?” he asked, reading her packet upside down.
 
“I’m not sure,” she admitted.
 
“Tabitha, I loathe to inform you of this, but there are people who will be attempting to kill you,” Weisz replied.
 
“Well, I hate to tell you this, but my dad will be on that list if I don’t obey his rules,” Tabitha replied. “Look, I know this is not going to be easy for either of us, all right? But I am a good student. I always do my homework when it gets handed to me, and I learn quickly. Don’t worry so much about what you will be able to teach me. It just can’t be tonight.”
 
“They know where you are Tabitha,” he said.
 
“Yeah, I know.”
 
“I don’t think you do.”
 
“I don’t think you were here yesterday when I skipped school because I could feel them watching me,” she hissed. Weisz eyes grew wide.
 
“And can you feel them now?”
 
“Can you?”
 
“Not necessarily,” he replied, ducking his head to look out a window. “Answer me honestly, do you think you will be able to devote enough of your time to become the Great Magician?”
 
“I will give you whatever time I have left. Whether or not it will be enough is for you to decide after our first magic lesson.” Weisz stared her down, but then snorted and leaned back in his chair.

“Very well. I trust you’ll be in contact?” He held out a small manila card to her, which had an address, phone number and surprisingly an email and fax.
 
“Good to know we don’t use pigeons for mail,” she muttered. “And that I can email you my schedule. By the way, my weekends are almost completely open.”
 
“And in the old days you would have trained from before dawn until well after dusk, every day of the week, no matter how tired you were,” Weisz cheerily informed her. “I begin to think Klaus was right in wanting to keep you hidden away in Germany.”
 
“Times change,” she retorted.
 
“And thankfully for you, I change with them.” The bell rang, and Tabitha began stacking her papers and things, sliding them neatly into her bag. “Well, then, I won’t keep you.”
 
“I wouldn’t let you anyway,” she replied. That actually made Weisz smile.
 
“So much like Elba. It actually hurts a little. Off to class with you, then, we would not want you to be late, now would we?”
 
“Actually, I think you might get a little joy out of it,” she replied, and began to walk off. She heard him laugh, but then nothing. When she turned back to check, Weisz was gone.
 

History went smoothly enough, because the teacher almost never called on her, due to the fact that Tabitha usually had all of the answers. As she predicted, they had not moved on to their next lesson in computer skills, so she used it to do calculus homework. Calculus was all right too, it was only after that Tabitha hit a snag in her day. Brian d’Ambrosio stood next to her locker as she approached.
 
“Can we talk?” he asked.
 
“Talk,” she replied.
 
“No, about the other day, about what you did to the, uh…” he lowered his voice. “Gun.”
 
But, gradually, Tabitha began to set down all that had happened to her over the past day.

“It makes me wonder,” she wrote, “what my life will be life from now on. If I will be constantly scared or anxious or if I will be ready to face these immortality seekers when they come for me. Because the way Klaus and Weisz make it sound these people will come for me.”  Tabitha leaned back in the chair and stared at her words, more wonderings coming to her head.

“Can I trust them?” she thought. “What if I am completely on the wrong side of things? What if these people that they say I need to fight are not so bad after all? What if I can’t be the Great Magician?”

“Tabitha!” Weisz called. Tabitha took her journal from the typewriter, and converted it back into a little brick, because she pushed both back into the pockets of her coat.

“Yes!” she called back, stepping out into the hall. Weisz appeared at the end of the hall, waving at her.

“Come, Inoue is here, and she’s going to take you and I back to your home.” Tabitha followed him down the hall, adjusting her coat as she went to make the typewriter shift against her chest. Weisz let her down into a receiving hall where a Japanese woman stood waiting with Klaus. “Tabitha, this is Inoue Hotaru. She’s the best transporter in the world. Inoue, this is Walls Tabitha, the Great Magician.” Hotaru Inoue bowed to her and Tabitha replied with the same motion, making Inoue give a slight smile.

The woman offered out her hand which Tabitha took, while Weisz accepted her other one.

“Close your eyes and picture your home,” Inoue instructed. Tabitha breathed in and closed her eyes, picturing her home in the suburbs, on the only hill there. She pictured walking up the small slope and arriving at the front door. The drooping red gutters came to mind, that happened during the last hail storm, as well as the white primer around the edges of the garage door because her father had fired the painters doing the job, because he did not like their service, and did not repaint them himself, like he said he would. There were three cars, one each for her father, step-mother, and older step brother. Her step-sister had a scooter, and her younger brother always leaned his bike up against the house instead of putting it in the garage.

A breeze blew across her face, and when Tabitha opened her eyes, she stood in front of her house, the sky still dark.


Chapter Five: At Home and at School

“You did very well,” Inoue said, bowing to her again.

“Thank you,” Tabitha replied bowing back. Inoue smiled and turned back to Weisz saying,
 
“I must go, but you know how to reach me.”
 
“Of course, thank you,” Weisz said. Inoue disappeared, though not through a puff of smoke or some other trick, which Tabitha had been expecting. She simply was not there one moment, when she had been the moment before. “Do you want me to go in with you?” Weisz asked.
 
“That’ll go over well,” Tabitha remarked, turning to look at her house.
 
“You have so little faith in your family,” Weisz said.
 
“They don’t have much faith in me either, or a lot of understanding for that matter.”
 
“Magical children are never very well understood,” Weisz said. “But that is not say many parents have not tried.”
 
“What did you parents say when they found out that you were a magician?” Tabitha asked. Weisz flushed. “They never knew did they?”
 
“They were Orthodox Jews,” Weisz said. “I wasn’t sure how to explain to them that I would far out live them and make magic happen. Is your family particularly religious?”
 
“They’re orthodox something,” Tabitha replied. “I’m just not sure it relates to religion. I’d better go. It’s already…” Tabitha flicked open her watch pendant. “It’s five in the morning. My dad’ll be getting up soon.”
 
“I won’t keep you then, but I will be in contact soon,” Weisz promised. “We will need to work out times for you to study with me and of course, I will be watching over you.” Tabitha waved to him as she walked up the steps of her drive to her front door, quietly punching in the code on the lock, unlocking the door to enter the house. She quietly pushed the door into its frame, releasing the handle only then for a quiet click.
The house was the one she had grown up in, and it had been around since the thirties or forties, or maybe earlier. After her mother died her father renovated it as a grieving process; by the time he was finished with it a year later, it had all new insulation, a central heating and cooling system, modern appliances, and everything else he could think of to make it better. The grieving had evidently worked so well, that by the end of that same year; he also had a new girlfriend, Carol, who would eventually become her step mother.
 
Tabitha had hoped and prayed that Carol and her father would not last as a couple, and then her father won nearly half a million dollars playing the lottery. It was not as much as he could have won, but combined with a great house that had a ton of bedrooms, her father’s steady job, and the money left over from her mother’s life insurance policy, her dad had probably seemed worth any problems they might have had in their relationship. They got married soon after the lotto draw.
 
Her younger sister, Hope, had actually been too young to remember much of their mother, but Tabitha did. For some reason, Carol never made that great of an impression on Tabitha as a mother. She felt more like an aunt over staying her welcome, but Tabitha listened to, respected and obeyed her as much as she could. Carol was helpful in some cases, sometimes a bridge between her and her father. But Carol sensed their tense relationship and out of her own two kids, Hope, and Mikey who came shortly after the marriage, Tabitha tended to come last in Carol’s books.
 
Tabitha went to the kitchen, first thing. Despite all the water Klaus had made her drink, Tabitha still felt a little parched and dehydrated. While she was drinking her water, her father appeared on the stairs, slowly descending, leaning on the railing as he did.
The very first thing he did, which was the first thing he did every morning, was walk to the sliding glass door that led out to a patio and smoked a cigarette. Normally, he went all the way out as so he would not get smoke on the dining room walls, which had been repainted a few times already. But today, he leaned against the sliding glass door and looked at her as she drank down a second glass of water. Tabitha looked back, wondering what he might just say. When she went to get her third glass of water, he asked,
 
“Where were you, last night?” Tabitha set the glass on the counter and leveled a look at her father.

“Do you want the honest to God truth, Dad?”
 
“Lay it on me,” he replied.
 
“France, and then Germany,” Tabitha replied.
 
“And how exactly did you get to France and then Germany, and have time to come back here?” her father asked.
 
“Magic,” she said. “I’m a magician, and I traveled through a magical pawn shop to France and met other magicians who told me that I’m not something called the Great Magician because the last Great Magician died the other day. I went to her wake and paid my respects. Then I passed out because I was doing magic on an empty stomach so some of the older magicians took me to the Black Forest. And then they made me breakfast.”
 
“That’s the biggest load of crap I’ve ever heard,” Carol said, hurrying into the kitchen in only a robe to start the coffee pot.
 
“Bigger than, ‘No, Mom, I don’t know how the pot got under my mattress?’” Tabitha asked.
 
“It was one of his friends that did that, and you know it,” Carol retorted. “Tabby, why do you have to be like this so early in the morning?”
 
“It’s one of the only times of day you guys will actually talk to me instead of telling me not to sass you,” Tabitha replied. Her dad grunted, but  it sounded suspiciously like a laugh. 
 
“So, you gonna do some magic for us, or something?” he asked.
 
“I can’t, I just found out about it yesterday,” Tabitha said. “The guys said that I should tell you the truth about all of it. I wasn’t going to, but something possessed me, so there it is. Speaking of which, I have to take magic lessons to protect great secrets and prevent people from making themselves immortal. So that means you’ll probably be seeing less of me, around the evenings and such.”
 
“You could just say that you have another class that you want to go to, or heaven forbid, you want to go out with some friends,” Carol retorted.
 
“But I am the friendless freak who studies too much, remember?” Carol, who had been digging in the fridge, leaned up at the same time as her father who had been bending to put out his cigarette.
 
“You heard that, the other night?” her dad asked.
 
“Even with the insulation, the walls aren’t that thick,” Tabitha replied, drinking down her water. “And you guys wonder why Reiss and I don’t get along.”
 
“It’s ‘cause your stuck up,” Reiss replied wandering into the kitchen. Tabitha knew he wanted to say something other than stuck up, but would not in front of their parents. “But Dad, she’s got one thing right, the walls are still kind of paper thin.”
 
“Ain’t anything we can really do about it. Tabby, are really serious about this magic stuff?” he asked. “’Cause if you are, I just gotta say that lying about where you were last night won’t help you. If you were out with a guy or decided to go to a rock concert or whatever, that’s fine, I can get over that. But if you are shitting me, young lady, and it comes out in the end, you are not going to like the consequences.”
 
“Dad I promise, I’m not shitting you,” she replied.
 
“Okay, sure, then we’ll need to talk about this later and new curfew rules if you’re going to be out doing magic.” Tabitha blinked. “And you want to make some breakfast for everyone, since you’ve already eaten? I’ve got to go take a shower.”
 
“Ah, sure,” Tabitha replied, watching him walk back upstairs.
 
“Where did you get those clothes?” Carol asked. “You don’t own anything like that.”
 
“How do you know?”
 
“I’ve been through your closet, young lady,” Carol retorted.
 
“Looking for what? Extra homework?” Tabitha asked. “I’m gonna go change, then I’ll get started on breakfast.” As she moved toward the stairs, she passed Chelsea her step sister who stopped and stared.
 
“Where did you get that? It’s nice.” Even still half asleep, Chelsea still made it sound like an insult that Tabitha was actually wearing something nice.
 
“From a magical pawn shop, and well, a dress shop in France.” Chelsea blinked awake, wondering what sort of opportunity she had missed.
 
When she returned downstairs to cook breakfast, Reiss was sitting on the kitchen counter eating directly out of a cereal box, while Chelsea dug into a grapefruit and Carol nursed an early morning migraine and her second cup of coffee. Tabitha only shook her head at the scene and began to fry up some breakfast for her family. When her father returned back downstairs, it was a quarter to six and she had just finished cooking his eggs over medium.
 Weisz held on to her as the world went dark.


Chapter Four: In Klaus’ Kitchen

Tabitha woke, shooting up into bed the moment she remembered what had happened. She was still dressed in her frock and leggings, but her coat hung over a chair nearby and her boots at its feet. A window to the left of the bed she lay in indicated that the sun shone brightly outside.

How long had she slept?

Tabitha grabbed her bag, and slipped on her coat and her boots. How on earth was she going to get out of this place? And back home? Was she still even in Rennes at all? She slipped out of the bedroom, and began walking down a corridor, only to have Weisz bump into her when she tried to turn a corner. She jumped again.

“Calm down, duckling,” he said. “You’re at Klaus’ home just outside of the Black Forest.”

“In Germany?” she asked.

“Yes, of course. You passed out because you’ve used magic, very powerful magic, twice in two days, not to mention your intuition was running high due to the immortality seekers, you went through a magical pawn shop and you were automatically translating other languages, or at least French. It’s not a wonder you were exhausted.”

“How long was I asleep?”

“About fourteen hours. Klaus has just finished breakfast if you would like to eat something. You probably should. You have not had anything since your dinner yesterday and—”

“I was passed out when I would normally have dinner,” Tabitha told him. “But if you mean the noon meal, I didn’t have that either. I wasn’t hungry, so I gave it to Tiberius as a trade.” Weisz scowled.

“That scoundrel! He’s been around long enough to know what missing a meal will do to a young magician. Come on, then, we must get some food into you.”

“What exactly does missing a meal do to a young magician?” asked Tabitha as she followed along after Weisz.

“Well, duckling, magic is like any other energy you produce—kinetic energy for instance—you must have fuel for that energy. If you go for a five mile run without enough fuel in your body, you collapse.” As he talked Weisz led her down a set of stairs into a large foyer, and then into another hallway to a panel in the wall. He released a latch and opened the panel into reveal a kitchen. Klaus stood before a stove, pulling eggs from a boiling pot.

“Good morning!” he greeted when he saw them. “And how is our duckling feeling this morning? Hungry no doubt?”

“Now that you mention it,” she replied. Klaus motioned toward a set of chairs at a counter, and Tabitha took a seat next to Weisz. “You both can call me Tabitha, by the way. There’s no need for animal nick names.”
 
“Well, up until now, Tabitha, we did not know your name,” Klaus reasoned, setting two poached eggs before her in a small bowl. “By the way, if you have a love of fried things, I would advise you stop eating them.”
 
“Not a particular love,” she said, digging into the white of the egg. Klaus continued to lay things out before her—cold cuts of ham, turkey, chicken, some cuts of fish, grainy rolls, all colors of fruits but many green vegetables.
 
“Eat something of everything,” Klaus told her. “And before I forget…” He then set a large glass of water in front of her. “Drink that down as well.”
 
“You have an accent,” Tabitha noticed. “Did you have that last night?’
 
“Well, not really. Last night I was speaking French to you, and this morning I am speaking English,” Klaus said.
 
“It’s like I said, duckling, you were automatically translating everything you heard,” Weisz said, cutting up fruits and taking them out of their skins, always leaving half before her. Before she knew it, Tabitha was inundated with pomegranate seeds, orange slices, apple quarters, a peach half, a plum half, half of a banana and more. Klaus also served up green beans, snap peas, spinach and kale, as well as one serving of each meat.
 
“And you both expect me to eat all of that?” she asked.
 
“Some of everything,” Klaus told her. “It will help you regain your strength.”

“I’m not sure I’ve got the time. I really need to get home. I was out all night, and I have only some idea of how angry my dad and step-mom are going to be.”
 
“To take a trip across the water is not a simple thing,” Klaus said. “Only those who concentrate on developing such a skill will be able to take us so far, and one is being looked for. We will take you home when we are able, Tabitha I promise. In the meantime, break your fast.” Tabitha dug into her eggs once again, and once she started eating, she found it rather easy to continue. 
 
“Now you have the book in a safe place, right?” Weisz asked. “I won’t ask you to produce it for me. Really, it’s only for the Great Magician, or the Great Magician’s apprentice to see. I just want to know that it’s safe. You didn’t leave it back home did you?”
 
“No,” Tabitha replied. “It’s safe. What was that you mentioned last night about you teaching me?”
 
“Well, normally one Great Magician will teach the next,” Weisz said. “But Elba asked me to teach you in the event of her untimely demise. She taught me a great many things, so I suppose it’s really rather fitting. But you must also study the book.”
 
“Will I still be able to go to school?” Tabitha asked. “I realize that becoming the Great Wizard is important, but I would rather not neglect my other education.”
 
“I don’t see why it would be impossible to work around,” Klaus said. “Do you, Weisz?”
 
“No. You attend a secondary school?”
 
“Well, and I take some classes at the university,” she said. “Some are online, but some I do in person. I only have one night class once a week, though so I should be able to work with you after three most days. But what about my parents? What do I tell them?”
 
“The truth,” Klaus said.
 
“That’s funny,” Tabitha said, taking a bite of avocado over a piece of salmon. When she swallowed she asked, “What do I really tell them?”
 
“Why can you not say you are getting magic lessons for a very important cause?” Weisz asked.
 
“Weisz, how old are you?” she asked.
 
“One hundred thirty-seven,” Weisz replied.
 
“And if you told your parents one hundred twenty-two years ago that you were getting magic lessons for a good cause, what might their reaction have been?” Tabitha asked.
 
“But that was a century and a quarter ago!” Weisz exclaimed. “Surely they cannot be that close minded to these ideals.”
 
“You need to get out more often,” Tabitha suggested.
 
“For now, Tabitha, say nothing too particular,” Klaus said. “If you truly fear retribution from your parents, when you attend lessons with Weisz, tell them that you are going to class or you are working a job. Both are technically true.” Hearing the word job made Tabitha wince.
 
“That reminds me—I volunteer four times a week at the library. We’ll need to work around that as well.”
 
“You certain demand not uproot your life,” Weisz observed. “Are you that afraid of change?”
 
“Well, it certainly would not be good if someone noticed something off about my routine,” Tabitha said. “My parents I might be able to fool with something, but my co-workers won’t be so easily taken. They have my schedule pretty well memorized. Plus what about these immortality seekers we’ve all be so concerned about? Won’t they notice something if I change my routine too radically? I mean, going missing yesterday can be explained with the arrival of the book. They could think I went someone where to study it for a time. But if they notice my magic lessons with Weisz, and they will be watching me, if yesterday is any indication, it would be best to maintain a routine, so they do not think anything too suspicious.”
 
“Most unfortunately, you have a point,” Weisz said. “It would be best if they did not notice you so much. After all, you barely know anything about magic, so it would not be a good thing if they caught you.”
 
“Agreed,” Klaus said. “It is not to my favoring, but it is a sound idea.”
 
“What would be to your favoring?” Tabitha asked.

“That you stay here, let us teach you magic,” Klaus said. “But the world no longer works that way. People would notice you were missing and send out word. It would reach us even here in the Black Forest if they were to suspect.”
 
“It might not for some time,” Tabitha said. “Even so, I’m not sure I would want to go missing from my family. They may not understand me at times, and they might have some cruel things to say about me being a magician, but they are still my family, and I know they love me.”
 
“We won’t pull you away, Tabitha,” Weisz said. “But it is imperative that I be able to teach you.”
 
“I know,” Tabitha replied. “I’m not sure I understand all of it, but I know that this is my duty or destiny—in any case I do have to do it. I almost…I almost feel it. Like how some people say they can feel the rain coming in their bones. I can feel this.”
 
“That is good,” Klaus remarked.
 
“Is it?” Tabitha asked.
 
“Yes; it means Elba definitely chose the right person.” Klaus smiled at her, and nudged the food closer. “Keep eating.”

They talked for another half hour as Tabitha ate more food than she probably ever had in one sitting. When she finished her water, though, Klaus gave her a delicious cup of hot chocolate, with a touch of mint. He said that it would help her digest, but Tabitha was just glad for the sweet treat. When breakfast was finished, Weisz and Klaus dismissed her, saying that they needed to wait on transportation a bit, and she needed to digest her meal.
 
“If you do before she gets here, we’ll start your first magic lesson,” Weisz promised. While she was digesting, though, Tabitha explored Klaus’ home a bit as Weisz and Klaus talked elsewhere. Eventually she found what she guessed must have been a drawing or sitting room when Klaus had used the house more. She moved back musty curtains to receive a cloud of dust in her face and a load of sunshine. It must have been past nine now which meant that it was close to four in the morning at home. Tabitha hoped they could get her home within the next few hours, and that her parents would not be too disappointed that she did not get home last night.
 
Tabitha sat down at one of the tables and pulled out her journal. When she reached for though, her hand brushed past the typewriter, and so she pulled it out, converting it to its regular size on the table.
 
“If only you could type on my journal without having to rip out the pages,” she said, converting it to the small size which would type on one of her journal pages if she ripped it out. Running her hand along the opposite side, she found another series of buttons. Pressing the one closest to the front of the typewriter, she found that the typewriter expanded in width, but now also had a set of braces to hold something up against the back of it, one on each side of the typewriter. It is the right size for her journal, so she fits it into the slots, and hits a key.
It ends up placing a random h on a page she’s already written on, though thankfully not over any actual writing. She fiddles with the type writer, trying to manually make it move so that it will type on the right page, and littering the left page with random letters as she goes. Finally, she gets something on the top right, and begins typing as fast as she can on the typewriter. The pressure under the keys feels different from that of a computer keyboard.
 I am dog tired. I know I could have written earlier today, but first I made potato salad and then I had to read a book that needs to go back to the library tomorrow. Then it was time for dinner, then I did a little writing and then we went to a fire works display. So here's a bit from the Next Great Magician and something from an essay story i might do for inkpop.


The Next Great Magician Part 3 )
essay story thing on books )

 Tabitha eyed them for a moment, fearing that they might develop a mouth and eat her, but then reseated herself in the chair and pulled them on. The boots fit her perfectly, the soles soft and flexible, so much so she thought she might be able to run in them. She had only bartered for two things, and since she had them now, she turned to get her back, so that she could find her way to the front of the shop.
When she did, Tabitha saw that the typewriter had moved from one end of the table to the other. Tiberius words came back to her, that she found the shop because she needed something from it. Tabitha did not know why she would need a typewriter, though this one was quite nice, and appeared to be made of brass. She ran her fingers along the edges and found that there were several buttons along the lower side of it. Curious, she pressed one.

The typewriter, which had been a full size a moment ago, shrunk down to the width of perhaps five inches wide at its paper slot. She pressed another button and it grew to a width of fourteen inches wide. A small dial, she found toward the back, adjusted the size of the type. She flicked the button closest to the front of the typewriter, and it shark, folding itself up into a brass box, about eight inches long, four inches wide and two inches thick. Tabitha picked it up and turned it over in her hand, and still held it when she grabbed her bag and the box, walking the same way Tiberius had moment ago.

She walked for a time, but quickly found a front desk with a register and Tiberius behind it. Tiberius was chewing rather slowly as she approached; with some hesitancy, he swallowed.

“Did you find what you need?” he asked.

“Yes, but I found three things,” she replied, “and I only bartered for two.”

“Well, you’ll need the coat—it’ll keep you warm or cool, no matter where you go, and the boots will travel far and you’ll never get blisters. As for the brick, I’m not sure what you’ll need that for.”

“It’s a typewriter,” she said. “Here, watch.” Tabitha pressed the button closest to the front but nothing happened, so she reached for the button between five and fourteen inches and a regular sized typewriter folded itself out of the brass brick.

“Say! It’s like that new movement, oh what’s it called—”

“Steampunk?” Tabitha guessed.

“Yes that’s…!” Tiberius trailed off and scowled darkly. “Take it then, it’s yours.”

“I don’t understand,” she replied, pressing the button to turn it into a brick again. As she slipped the surprisingly light brick into a pocket at her breast, Tabitha added, “Why are you just letting me have it?”

“I’m not. I asked for information and you gave it. I have to repay you with something.” Tabitha smiled at him.
 
“Well, here,” she said, reaching into her bag. “If you liked the salad, you’ll like this.” She held up and orange, sweet roll to him, but he just scowled again.
 
“And what do you want for that?” he asked.
 
“Nothing,” she replied. “It’s a gift, not a barter.” His face softened, and he muttered at her,
 
“Too good, Tabitha Walls, you are far too good.” He paused and stared at her for a minute and then said, “Wait here a moment.”
Tabitha obliged him, and when he returned, he was holding a jewelry case. He opened it and pulled out a silver pendant and held it out to her. “Here, a gift for you. I don’t know why, but you’ll need it one day.”
 
Tabitha accepted it, and pulled the long chain over her head, letting the pendant fall down on her chest. The designs were of silver filigree, but had a moon stone in the middle. On the side, there was a fine gear, with a small nob on the top that looked familiar. Tabitha pressed into the knob, and the pendant opened to reveal a watch face.
 
“That’s wonderful!” she exclaimed. In addition to the time, told in twenty-four hour intervals, there was also a small moon in the shape of a crescent, a thermometer and barometer.
 
“It was Elba’s,” Tiberius revealed. “She bartered it for some very precious information. Nearly killed her to let it go. I think you should have something of hers, to keep her close to your heart and remind you just what she did to get you that book you carry.” Tabitha almost asked what Elba had done, but then she remembered the woman’s letter. She closed the fob watch’s cover, and slid off the coat. Removing the book from its box, she slid the large volume into a pocket on the back of the coat. She felt better having it touch her back, so that she would know it was there. From her bag, she removed her wallet and slid it into another pocket, followed by various pens and pencils.
 
She slipped the coat back on, grabbing her bag, just in case she might need it, and turned back to Tiberius.
 
“Where is the way out?” He pointed at a door way, which had appeared by the front desk. “But that’s not the way I came in.”
 
“You came in through the back door, girly,” he told her. “That’s the proper way out.”
 
“Oh, okay,” she replied, going for the door.
 
“Oy, wait a moment, you’re just going to leave that box with me? You can do that!” he said.

“And my shoes,” she added. “I left them in the stacks. Let’s just say you’ll owe me three.”
 
“Finding my shop is a once in a life time opportunity,” he retorted. “Either take what you want now, or you will never get it!” Tabitha smiled.
 
“How many times did Elba find this shop?” Tiberius sputtered a little before he pointed toward the door,
 
“Out, missy, before you cause me any more headaches.” Tabitha smiled a little wider before she walked out the door.
 


Chapter Three: At a Wake in Rennes

The sun was much further west when she exited the shop, but that was not the only odd things she observed. When she turned to look back at Tiberius’ shop, it was gone. That did not surprise her much, but the location did. Tabitha knew every square inch of her town, because it was small enough that she had walked every inch by the time she was nine. She never before had seen a shop called Marianne’s Dresses.
Today had been odd, Tabitha admitted to herself, and she did not know much about magic, but she could not believe that she was in a completely different city. “I’m going to have to get used to this, aren’t I?” she asked herself. With a new resolve, Tabitha entered the dress shop.
 
“Yes, how may I help you?” asked a woman sorting through her racks.
 
“I’m sorry, I’m a bit lost, I was wondering if you could tell me where I am?”

“Tourist?” asked the woman. This time, when she spoke, Tabitha recognized an accent. French, maybe? She hoped she was not in New York, she would never find her way around.

“Yeah, I guess you could say that.”

“Your French is very good,” said the woman. “I’ll tell you what, you buy something from me, and I’ll give you directions to anywhere you want to go.”

“I’m not sure I have enough on my card to buy any this nice,” Tabitha said, fingering the price tag on a dress, still trying to work out the comment about her French.

“Well, I only take cash, so you can check at the cash machine down the street,” said the woman. “Make a left as you come out of the shop, and it’s squeezed between the bakery and chocolate shop.” Tabitha nodded and left the shop. She found the ATM easily enough and first checked the card her father had given her. It only had fifteen dollars on it, which meant that her step-brother or sister had taken it out and used it. Tabitha rolled her eyes, and pulled a card from a secret space in her wallet, that was tied to an account her family did not know she had. She withdrew three hundred dollars (which was actually euros), promising herself that she would make up the amount later when she was not in a strange city.

The lady smiled when she saw her return, and gestured to the clothes. “Pick out what you like. I might even be able to fit it for you, if you’re quick. I have to close up shop soon.”

Tabitha riffled through the racks, looking for something both cheap and in her size, and soon had to choose between a green and a black dress. “You have a black dress at home?” asked the woman.

“No,” Tabitha replied.

“Then take the black. Every woman needs one.” Tabitha tried on the dress to make sure it fit, and the woman found that she could do no adjustments.

“Is there any way to let the hem down?” Tabitha asked.

“I have some cheap leggings,” the woman replied. She fetched a pair for Tabitha, and then insisted she wear it out. “No man will be able to resist you tonight, and you will get a lot of free drinks.” Tabitha decided not to mention she was only fifteen. In the end, she decided to pay the woman the odd one-hundred fifty euros she owed her, and declared it the less satisfying bargaining experience of the day.

The woman did not have a cash register, so she had to draw everything up by hand and count out Tabitha’s change. While she was, Tabitha looked around the shop, and found her eyes landing on a newspaper. A name on the page caught her eye, and she asked,

“Can I look at this?”

“Mm, yes, I am finished with it,” the woman replied. “Oh, by the way, where will you want your directions to?”

“Could you tell me how to get here?” she asked pointing to the address in the paper under Elba Mullins’ name.

“Why on earth would you want to go to a wake? You’re not strange, are you?”

“No, I just know the woman who died,” she insisted. “But I didn’t know until now that they were holding the wake.”

“Well, then aren’t you glad you bought the black one?” the woman asked. “I’ll write it down for you.” Directions and change in hand, and her clothes resting in her bag, Tabitha marched out onto the streets determined. She walked and walked, until finally after the sun had gone down, she found the place where the wake was being held.

“Would you like to buy some flowers for your dear departed one?” asked a vendor near the shop. Tabitha figured it would only be polite, and picked out a small bouquet of white lilies. “Ah, yes, the death flowers, good choice.” She paid the man his euros and entered the small building.

There was a crowd of people who were scattered about a number of rooms. Tabitha drew into one though where she saw a table of flowers around a picture, which no doubt depicted Elba Mullins.

Tabitha laid down the flowers, and simply stared at the picture for some time. This was all that was left of the woman who had wished her well. Who probably would have been her mentor and taught her all about magic, had the circumstances been different. She was a pretty woman, taunt red curls with just a few streaks of silver running through them, brown eyes like oak and a nice face. It was the sort of face  Tabitha remembered her mother having.

“I wish I could have known you too,” she whispered.


Weisz was considered young for a wizard. He was only one hundred thirty-seven, so some though this made him immature. Weisz believed for the most part that he simply enjoyed life, and saw no reason not to act like it. But right now, Claus believed he was being at least a little childish, due to his sulking on top of a cabinet in the corner of the wake room.

“She wouldn’t want this you know,” Claus told him.

“No, she was so at peace with it, she walked right up to them and practically said, ‘Kill me,’” Weisz snarled. “She was my best friend. The only one who took me seriously at times. I was with her the day before she died, and I can’t believe she’s the first one in almost one hundred years the immortality seekers had to go and kill.”

“All of that is true, but she would also knock you off of the cabinet for sulking as you are,” Claus said.

“I know,” Weisz grumbled. “I just don’t want to admit it. Even though I came to Rennes as fast as I could, she was still gone when I got here. And now I have to be the one to teach the girl child she chose. I’m not sure if I can do it, Claus. I’m not much of a teacher.”

“You’ll learn,” Claus said. “And the Great Magician never just has one teacher. Should you not be with this girl child now? Teaching her and protecting her.”

“She’s all right,” Weisz said. “I put some spells on her before I left her school yesterday. An alarm will go off if she’s hurt at all. And besides, she’s in—” The words Weisz were about to speak died on his lips, as he raised a finger to point across the room. “There, she right there!” Though he spoke in exclamation, his voice dropped down to a whisper as he pointed out a dark haired girl wearing a black frock and grey coat.

“How did she get to Rennes?” Claus asked.

“I suppose we’ll just have to ask,” Weisz replied.
Prologue: Atop A Roof during a School Shooting

Elba Mullins sat at the edge of the roof of what appeared to be the music building of a small high school. Below her, a boy waved a gun around threatening to shoot everyone around him. Resting her chin in her hand, then her elbow on her knee, Elba watched the situation unfold. True, she could have stepped in, and stopped the boy. No doubt, it would have been easier for her than any other security officer (all of whom were currently investigating another claim somewhere else in the school). But Elba had been given very specific information, and so she waited and she watched.

“Is he really going to shoot all of those kids?” Without looking, Elba knocked Weisz in the knee. “Ow!” the younger magician cried. “Why on earth did you have to do that?”

“I am concentrating very hard to watch this scene, Weisz,” she replied. “You’re only making it more difficult. Sit down and be quiet.” The younger magician obeyed.

The scene below involved a mass of high school students paused in the school courtyard as the young man waved his gun around ranting about injustice and amoral society practice. He reminded Elba of the young men at the university from when she was younger, and he it appeared he chose much the same path. But she was not looking much at the young man with the gun. No, most of her attention was on the girl with the dark hair, who sat at the ground looking very much paralyzed but staring directly at the young man’s gun. She happened to be the reason why Elba was here to watch.

A few minutes earlier, before the boy had pulled his gun, the girl had been shoved by a brute of a young man, and she and her books were tossed all across the pavement of the courtyard. The girl had scowled at him, but had only gone to collect her things when the gun had been pulled. But Elba had felt it then as she felt it now. She felt the girl’s heart race, and she felt the gift rising out of her.

The boy finished ranting, aiming his gun at the very same brute as earlier, and fired. All that came out though was water. The entire population of the school yard unfroze from their terror, except the girl, and laughed

“Is this what you do in your spare time?” Weisz asked. “Go around and stop random high school students from taking their rage out on their fellow man?”

“I was not the one who did that,” Elba said. “She did.” Weisz squinted at the girl, who still sat on the pavement, her heart racing, her chest rising and falling in uneven rhythm, as all of the other students began to move around her.

“She…the girl…did that?” Weisz asked. “On pure instinct.”

“I don’t believe it’s the first time either,” Elba said.

“But a novice can only do so much,” Weisz reasoned. “That was quite serious magic!”

“The girl has a good harness of her emotions,” Elba explained, standing up, using her walking stick to assist her. “I want you to help her, show her some of the ways. I garner she will pick much of the rest up on her own.”

“Why can’t you teach her?” Weisz asked. “After all, I’m not even one-hundred yet, surely someone more experienced would be better for the task and after all you are…you. And a better teacher than I will ever be.”

“Weisz have you ever heard the story of a man who saw Death in his home town? He told his friend about it and decided to flee to Damascus or another city very far away. Later the same friend saw Death, and asked, ‘Have you come to take me?’ and Death replies, ‘No, I’m just passing through on the way to the Damascus.’”

“…I don’t think it was Damascus,” Weisz replied.

“I’m not arguing fact, I’m arguing sentiment. Have you heard it?”

“Well yes,” Weisz replied. “What about it?”

“I’ve decided not to run to Damascus,” Elba replied, leaning on her stick. Weisz blinked for a moment, taking the parallel in.

“You…you actually talked to Death?”

“She’s quite a pleasant person when you get to know her.”

“You’ve talked to Death more than once? And you didn’t think to haggle for more time?”

“Weisz, you don’t get more time. When she says you have to go, you have to go. She did me a solid, since I’ve brought people in for her in the past and told me I had a week, so I better find the one who was going to follow me.”

“And how long ago was this?” Weisz asked.
 
“Oh, I’ve decided not to tell you,” Elba retorted. “After all, I wouldn’t want you risking your immortal soul. Or mine for that matter. Especially not mine. And especially since you will be looking after that young woman right there, because she will have quite a few people coming after her very soon.”

“Why can’t…” The question died on Weisz tongue. Elba only smiled at him. “You knew you would get me to do something in the end, didn’t you?”
 
“I wouldn’t say I for saw it, but yes, I was quite certain.”
 
“Where will you go then?” Weisz asked.
 
“Where do you think, Weisz? I’m going home, and I’ll have one last cup of tea with Death, and then, I’ll be gone.”
 
“Now you just sound like a children’s movie. She couldn’t at least tell you how it would happen?”
 
“She’s an angel. They enjoy being mysterious.” Weisz grumbled.
 
“You’ve set everything up, I truth.”
 
“More than you could imagine. Just watch her Weisz, make sure they don’t hurt her or convince her to live forever. That’s all I can ask.” Weisz’ shoulder drooped.
 
“All right,” he agreed.
 
A bell rang in the courtyard bellow, and the students, who had only gone inside a moment ago, ran back out for their cars and buses. The only one who had not moved was the girl. She had stacked her books, but still remained seated on the pavement, just looking at her hands.  “How long did you let that boy rant?” 
 
But Elba did not answer. She was gone.


Chapter One: In a Library Stall

School had ended oddly enough the day before. But a lot of odd things happened to Tabitha Walls, so she left after a five minute period that her teacher did not object to and took the long way home to think about things. She knew that the gun Brian d’Ambrosio held in his hand had been a real gun. She knew because she watched him load it before he fired. Well, before he began his very long rant. If she had not been scared out of her minds, she might have thought to time it, because it did seem to go on for some time.
 
The odd thing was, aside from the gun turning into the water gun at the last second, Brian did seem to rant for a really long time. In fact, it seemed almost like time had stopped. Tabitha had even heard the bell for class to start, which everyone ignored. And none of the teachers seemed the least bit suspicious that half the school had not shown up for class. Neither the security guards, nor the on campus police offer showed up, for that matter. And Brian just went on, ranting about the popular kids. At one point Tabitha had stopped being afraid and started wonder where he got the lung capacity.
 
But then he cocked the gun and started to wrap up his speech and Tabitha thought, “Don’t let it kill anyone.” And like that, it was a water gun. Only Brian looked as shock as she was that it was a water gun, everyone else just laughed. Then she just kind of sat there as everyone when to class for five minutes and then went home for the day.
 
Tabitha reasoned with herself that the gun had been a water gun all along…but she had seen him load it.
 
“There’s only one possible explanation,” she told herself. “I’m crazy.”
 
“It’s not the first time this has happened, though,” said a small part of her.
 
“Yeah, and that makes me even crazier.”
 
She did not bring up the day to her father and step-mother, just did her homework and her online class that went toward her associates degree that the school was paying for. She wrote in her journal and then went to bed.
 
The next day, Tabitha felt completely on edge from the moment she woke up. It led to mistakes like including her journal in her back pack, instead of her history notebook. She did not notice until first period AP History, when she went to retrieve it for notes, but had only the notebook and a few other binders awaiting her. She had to take notes in her English binder, least her fine leather bound journal get stolen and passed around the class. Nothing shook the feeling though, and she kept spacing out during her classes.

She almost caught the brunt of her teacher’s wrath for such a thing in AP Calculus, when the loud speaker announced,
 
“Will Tabitha Walls please come to the office? Tabitha Walls to the office, please?”
 
“All right, Tabitha you’re free to go,” the calculus teacher told her. Tabitha packed her bag and made for the door. When she arrived in the office, she was met with the front desk lady’s glare.
 
“Young lady, the school is not a post office,” the front desk lady told her from behind her fifties, wing glasses.
 
“I know?” Tabitha inquired.
 
“The next time you have an urgent package, you can have it sent home, and wait the five hours you’ll take to get there,” said the front desk lady, jerking her head toward the large package resting on the front desk.
 
“Ma’am I didn’t have a package sent here,” Tabitha replied, furrowing her eyebrows, in hopes that it would make her look quizzical enough that the front desk lady would let her off the hook. The front desk lady matched her furrow with the raising of an eye brow.
 
“But you are Tabitha Walls?”
 
“Yes ma’am.”
 
“You are a sophomore?”
 
“Yes ma’am.” The front desk lady frowned.
 
“Well, then, perhaps you should write back to whomever sent you that package and ask them to please not send you mail at school anymore.”
 
“I’ll do that,” Tabitha agreed. “May I take it?”
 
“It’s yours. If I opened it, it would be a federal crime. Mail tampering is a very serious thing, young lady.” Tabitha took the package. But she did not feel like going back to math class. In fact, she felt like getting out of school all together. Something in her gut, the thing that was putting her on edge was telling her to cut and run as fast as she could.
 
So for once in her life, Tabitha listened to her gut, and cut class.
 
She did not have a car—she was only fifteen, and for that matter did not have a license to drive—but the town was small enough and the walk to the library would not be so long.
 
The library sat a block away from the University and served as both the town and the University library. It was Tabitha’s favorite place in town. Next year, when she turned sixteen, the librarians had promised her a job for all her hard volunteer work that she did. Truth be told, one of the main reasons why Tabitha liked the library, and why she volunteered so much, was because everywhere else she went, someone always had something to say about her. The librarians said things to her,
 
“Tabitha, could you re-shelve that cart for us? Tab, could you man the front desk? Tab, would you mind cleaning up the kid’s section? Good work, Tabitha, you always do such a good job.”
 
Everyone else said things like,
 
“That Tabitha girl is a strange one. Tabitha is never going to get a boyfriend with the way she acts, and dresses, and looks. Who’s Tabitha Walls?”
 
Tabitha much preferred being spoken to, rather than about.
 
Nancy, the library’s own front desk lady, raised her eye when she saw Tabitha walk through the door.
 
“I didn’t think school got out until at least three-thirty.”
 
“Please don’t tell, Nancy?” Tabitha asked. “I just needed a mental health day.”
 
“All right, but only because you’ve never skipped in your life. Personally, I think you need to be a little more bad on occasion.” Nancy smiled brightly at her, and Tabitha returned the smile, only with less force. She moved toward the stair well and raced to the top level of the library. It always held the least amount of noise, and on this Tuesday afternoon it was particularly abandoned. Tabitha loved it, and went straight for her usual library stall.
 
She set the package down gently on the stall table, and closed the door behind her. Once seated, Tabitha ripped into the sides of the package covering, not wanting to rip the beautiful cursive on the front, which would allow her to write back to her mysterious benefactor. Beneath the brown paper wrapping, she found a polished wooden box that looked far too undamaged for suffering the postal services. Around the middle of the box though, Tabitha felt the slightest of crack. When she managed to get her fingers into it, she lifted up and found the most beautiful leather bound book she had ever seen.

Her fingers slid over the designs imprinted into the leather work, and it felt like they moved under her fingers. Tabitha lifted it out of the box, discovering a folded slip of parchment underneath.

trapeze

Jun. 30th, 2011 11:59 pm
 Inspired by watching Cirque de Soleil

Here's a summary: Before Ziggy was a ranger, before he worked for the Cartels, he lived and worked in a circus. In fact, he was born into circus life and always loved it. He gave it up to protect his family from the cartels, and then the Venjix up rising happened, leaving Ziggy no way back to his family. But once he escapes the cartels and returns to become a ranger, Ziggy begins practicing his circus arts again. The group discovers this when Ziggy rescues a small boy from grinders atop high scaffolding.


Trapeze part 1 )

OMAKE 6

Jun. 29th, 2011 11:16 pm
 OMAKE: Once, in the Future...

It was early, before anyone else had arrived. Both Jude and Artemis had felt the need to satisfy a craving, so Conner had already been up early, and just went straight to work. The bouncy pop number played in the background as he danced and danced, feeling his adrenaline rush. The pop number died off and he slowed to a stand still and then raised his hands up into the sky, before falling down in his position to touch his toes. After a few minutes, she rolled up slowly, and brought his hands to heart. With his heartbeat in his ears, he could also hear the breath and heart of another.

Conner turned and saw Xander standing on the stage.

"Yes, oh creepy manager?"

"Oh, nothing," Xander replied. Gone was the pixie of a man, a despite red hair covering his head and face, Xander looked more like David than ever. "I just thought I would let you know that they've moved up the international conference to this evening, but not many people know. Still, a number of nations are calling for a negotiator. Someone who loves peace, justice, and still feels isolated enough from all of the countries. You've been nominated, and the politcals are voting right now."

"You know in a way, David becoming president is the worst thing ever," Conner said.

"Yeah, like he was going to let Lex one up him," Xander said. "But Superman stands too much for the United States, even if he is from Krypton. And of course since the Themyscira was made an official country of the UN, your mom's not an option. But you are the perfect plan, Conner. World travelar, diplomat, friend to the people. Think you can make room for us in your schedule?"

"You're a bitch, Xan," Conner replied. "How's Arcadia?"

"Doing well," Xander said. "We're thinking of actually getting married soon. Babi thinks it's about damn time, what with us living together already, but Mom, Dad and Dr. and Mrs. Carpenter understand. Is Jude giving you hell? And Artemis?"

"Jude's doing fine, so is Artemis. The babies are fine too. All three of them." Conner shook his head. "It blows my mind, knowing that in just a few short months I'm going to be a dad." Conner paused and turned back to Xander. "What time?"

"Conference starts at seven."

"I'll be there."


Conner had the morning to do a first run through of the new off-Broadway musical he was staring in. After a quick lunch, he had to be in the studio, but stopped by his apartment that he lived in with Jude and Artemis.

"I have icecream!" he called.

"In here!" Jude shouted from the bed room. Conner got two spoons from the kitchen and brought a pint of their favorite to Jude and Artemis. "Don't you have to be in the studio in like, ten minutes?" Jude asked as Conner bent to kiss him. Conner pressed a finger to his lips and shushed him.

"I'm cheating. And fifteen."

"I would like a kiss too, brother," Artemis said, from where she sat up on the other side of the bed. Conner reached over Jude and pecked her cheek, and she his in return. He then turned to see that they had the TV hooked up in the bedroom, something Conner was no used to.

"I know you don't like mixing media in the bedroom," Jude said. "Niether do I, but the bed really is more comfortable, and Diana called and the David called about this world nations' summit that's starting to conglomorate. They managed to keep it a secret until now, so it seemed interesting enough to watch."

"Yeah, speaking of which, I'm going to be late tonight," Conner said. Jude's eyes went wide.

"They asked you to speak?"

"They aske Super Wonder to speak, but yeah. And I figure who am I to get in the way of world peace?"

"This is big, babe."

"I know, Jude," Conner said, running a hand through his hair. He leaned down and hugged his husaband, and then pulled back, kissing Jude's stomach twice. "You two be good for your dad." Then he leaned over and kissed Artemis' stomach as well. "You be good too, my little amazon."

"Be well, brother and keep your head," Artemis advised. Conner grinned,

"Fine advise from the mighty Artemis."

"See you later babe," Jude said. They kissed one last time before Conner sped off to the studio.

Eureka was there waiting for him.

"You're nearly late," she remarked.

"I'm seven minutes early, Eureka," he retorted.

"Every good musician is thirty minutes early," she replied. "How's Jude and Missy?"

"They're doing just fine. How's Cooper?"

"He's holed up in his cave, helping the Plumbers monitor the nations' senate and space while the Justice League is on guard," she replied. "Oh, and Al came to see if you could squeeze in a segment of 'Dueling Pianos' You game?"

"If I have enough time. A certain guest had been asked to attend that same nations' senate tonight." He wiggled his eyebrows at Eureka, who giggled a little.

"All right, then, well we better get to work."


Studio work was metally grueling, and afterwards, Conner had to run a few times around the planet, before arriving at his home base, just north (and a little up) from metropolis. Inside his invisible crystal fortress, Conner showered, shaved and dressed, and came out as the Super Wonder.

His costume had changed again, as he had gotten a little older, and he now wore loose combat trousers, with a breast plate, stamped with the sheild of El, surrounded by laurels. Over which he wore a blue, Kryptonian style long coat (or at least, what Jor-El's computer's said was a Kryptonian style long coat). As always though, he wore the same style of boots he had since he was sixteen. Dressed as the superhero and prince he was, Kon-El, the Super Wonder flew from his fortress to New York, and to the United Nation's building.

He landed on the steps, and the reporters swarmed around him, but managed to keep a respectful difference. The second he landed, a second person landed beside him.

"Kon-El!" Kara greeted cheerfully. Her uniform was gone, and in place of it she, too, dressed in the style of a Kryptonian and bore the mark of the house of El. The only thing unchanged was her cape, which she kept in place of a coat. "It is good to see you cousin! Shall we enter together? Cousin Kal-El is already in place." He grinned and offered his arm to her, as camera's clicked all around them, and walked up the steps of the UN Building.


Jude watched his husband enter the UN Building, and the babies kicked excitely in his stomach.

"Yeah I know, you're excited for your dad, but calm down," he told him, rubbing his stomach. It was then that he felt a sharp pang in his lower abdomen.

"Are you all right, brother?" Artmemis asked on the other side of him.

"Just a pang," Jude said, fanning himself. "Did it get like a million degrees warmer in here?"

"No?" Artemis cocked her head and then felt her eyes grow wide. "Julian, are you in labor?"

"Well, it's kind of hard to tell when you're a guy," he replied, shivering, another pang ripping into his stomach.

"We must get you to a hospital!" Artemis declared, climbing out of bed. She made it to the other side in good time for a woman who was eight months pregnant, but Jude waved her off when she tried to lift him. "I am still an amazon."

"A very pregnant amazon! Missy, I'm only five months along, I'm not sure I can even have the babies right now. After all, fae children, even half-fae, gestate for at least a year, and..." Jude sniffed, and Artemis rubbed his back.

"Call on your mother, she will help," said Artemis. "And I will call the amazons I know who have trained as midwifes, and they shall come to help us."

"Can you use the phone all on your own?" Jude asked. Artemis looked like she wanted to punch him but only reconsidered because of the pain he was already in, and waddled into the hall to use the phone. Jude inhaled against the pain and called out, "Mother, I need you."

And in a swirl of purple mist, Queen Mab was there.

"Oh! Julian, I feel your pain, what is it, child?"

"The babies, mother, I need you to help me deliever my babies."

"Breathe deeply, my son," she advised rubbing his back. "Titiana, Puck, I require you!" The two faeries appeared in the bed room. "Young Jude is having his children, and I shall need you both to assist me."

"Oh, yes, queen mother," Puck replied.

"Are the children old enough to come out of him?" Titania asked placing her hands on his stomach. "Oh my!"

"What, what's wrong?" Jude asked.

"They are quite old enough!" Titiana exclaimed. "Perhaps the mix of blood made it possible. I could not think of how else. Come, we need you undressed. Is the amazon calling for other midwives?"

"Yes, I'm not sure when they'll be here, though," Jude said.

"Worry not, my son," Mab said. "You will still be a time. Shall we fetch young Conner?"

"No, he's needed where he is," Jude said. "I can't tear him away, not now." Mab got a look in her eye, but Jude grabbed her by the arm. "Mother don't, not now. Conner is where he needs to be."

"As you wish, my son," Mab replied. "Artemis? Amazon, are you well?" Puck wizzed out of the room, and shouted back,

"Not so well, queen mother. Her water is broken."

"The others will be here soon!" she called.

"Two births in one night," Mab said, shaking her head. "Conner will have quite the surprise when he returns home."


Super Wonder listened to the two nations argue, waiting for a good moment to interrupt, when an amazon sister came up to him.

"Forgive me, my prince, but..." she leaned down and whispered in his ear. Conner's eyes went wide, and he stopped in shock, so long that one of the delagates asked,

"Kon-El? Are you quite all right?"

"Forgive me," he replied, shaking himself out of it. "But I was just informed that my children were born about half an hour ago. Two boys and a girl, all very healthy." The assembly paused with him gapping, before appaulse rose in the room. "I would like to take this time to reflect on the new life that we all create, and say that for this new life, we must make changes to help them suceed. This international contract will be best for all of us. We can work out the finer points in time, but it is for our children that we must ensure peace." The applause continued, and another international intermediary came up to releave him.

"Your children were just born!" he exclaimed. "Go! And be happy! All things will be well." Conner flew all the way home.


Mab opened the window to their apartment and smiled at him.

"I trust you heard the news?" she asked.

"Yes, yes, thank you Mother Mab." He kissed her cheek, and embraced her.

"Jude, Artemis and the children are all asleep, but you may look on them." Conner could not help but grin as he entered the bedroom, and found three basinets, faerie made, very evidently. He grinned again as he saw a smal hand reach out of one and grasp one of the stars hanging down from a mobile. He reached into the basinet, and slowly picked up the baby. Craddling him in his arms, Conner knew that this one was Jude's by the purple eyes that stared back at him.

"You're supposed to be asleep, little one," he crooned.

"Which one is that?" Conner turned to see Jude pushing himself up in the bed.

"Did I wake you?"

"I could just feel you here," Jude said, accepting the baby as Conner held him out. "Ah, yes, I was thinking of calling her Iole, but I didn't want to name her until you got here. Iole Diana, if your mother will approve."

"And what does Mother Mab think?" Conner asked.

"She thinks the child might get beat up in school if we call her Mab," Jude replied. One of the babies began to cry and it roused Artemis.

"I'll get him, hold on," he said as she began to rise. It was indeed her red-headed baby boy who had cried out, and had also kicked himself out of his one-sie.

"There now my little prince, there is nothing to cry over," she said, holding him to her breast. The child began to suckle eagerly. "He has your eyes, Kon."

"He'll be a lady killer when he gets older," Conner replied with a smile, to which Artemis glared. "A very respectful lady killer, I can assure you."

"Hippolytus will be what ever he wants to be," Artemis replied.

"You might want to pick another name," Jude advised, "Since you are planning on raising him here half the time. And you know, that whole getting picked on in school thing."

"Paul?" Artemis asked with a smile.

"No Beatles names," Jude retorted.

"Aw, I was hoping to name the other one Ringo!" Conner exclaimed. The third baby cried out from his crib, and Conner went back to lift him out. "Do you miss your brother and sister?" he asked. The baby burrowed into his chest, but not before he caught the bright blue eyes that his son has.

"And he looks just like you Kon," Jude said. "I figured I could wait for you to name him."

"I like Seth," Conner said, as the baby grasped one of his hands. "He can be Seth Jonathan Prince."

"You know tomorrow, we're going to be inundated with family and friends," Jude said.

"Well, the confernce was televised. Eureka or someone is probably making a sign up sheet for when everyone can come," Conner said. He riggled into bed between Jude and Artemis. "I'm so happy," Conner confessed. "Thank you. Both of you." He kisse Artemis' cheek as she nursed Hippolytus, and then kissed Jude full on the mouth. Seth burbbled in his arms, and Conner held him close. "I don't think I can be any more happy than I am right now."

Now, more than ever Conner was grateful that his mother had taken him in all those years ago, and raised him to be the man that he was. 
 The door to Jude's room stood open, but Conner rapped gently on the frame, and Jude looked up from a book he was reading.

"Hey," he said.

"Hey," Conner replied, entering the room. He took off his jacket, hanging it on Jude's sparse coat rack, and pulled off his boats before he fell into his boyfriend's arms on the bed.

"You want to talk about it?" Jude asked.

"I dunno," Conner said, resting his chin on Jude's chest. "There's a lot to say...You know how Superman's my genetic donor?"

"Yeah."

"Well, he wasn't the only one. I...Lex Luthor is my other dad." Jude's fingers run smoothly along Conner's scalp.

"You know that doesn't change anything about us. Anything at all," Jude said. "It was never about who your parents are, Conner. It had always been about who you are to me. Are you still the same? Probably not exactly. But you're still my Conner." Then, Conner knew he did not need to control the tears anymore, and Jude just held him as he cried. They fell asleep like that, together; Conner felt sure he could do that, minus the crying, every night for the rest of his life.


Conner awoke to the sound of his cell phone. He thought it was his mother, so he rolled off of Jude and flipped it open.

"Hello?" he asked.

"Ah, yes, Conner." Conner shot up on the bed.

"How did you get this number?"

"Your mother gave it to me," Lex Luthor replied. "She and I agreed that our conversation yesterday ended rather abruptly. She, your fathers and I would like to include you on what we all discovered yesterday. Would you meet us at the Greenwich for breakfast in an hour? I'm sure you can borrow something suitable from your friend, Mr. Moon."

"All right," Conner said.

"Good. We'll talk more when you arrive." As soon as the call disconnected, Conner speed dialed his mother, while Jude looked up at him sleepy and confused.

"So I take it Luthor called you?" she asked as soon as they connected.

"Of course he did!" Conner said. "You thought he was genuine enough to give him my phone number?"

"Conner honey...it's really too much to say over the phone. Bruce, Clark and I will explain at breakfast."

"Breakfast, right, at the Greenwich?" Conner asked.

"Yes. Can Jude loan you something to wear?" Conner looked at Jude, who was sitting up, eying him with a sleepy expression in his eyes and a smile on his face. Conner resisted telling her that Lex Luthor had suggested the same thing.

"Yeah I think Jude can loan me something," Conner replied.

"All right, we'll see you soon, sweetheart," Diana said.

"Bye Mom." Conner waited for her to repeat the words and then hung up the phone. Jude wrapped his arms around Conner, and pressed his lips to his boyfriend's neck.

"What am I loaning you?"

"A suit, or something equally nice. I'm having breakfast at the Greenwich."

"Mmmm," Jude muttered. Conner leaned back into him, and they staid like that for a few minutes until David called,

"Conner! Shower!"

"Why is it that I have so many parents?" Conner asked. "First I'm Superman's clone, then Diana adoptted me, Batman always acts like everybody's dad. Then David and Fox, since we started dating, and now Lex Luthor, who is probably genuinely interested in my well being."

"Think so?" Jude asked.

"I don't think we would be meeting with him otherwise." Conner turned to Jude and pressed a kiss to his lips. "Thank you. For being you. And amazing."

"I do my best," Jude replied, swinging his legs around Conner and sliding off the bed. "Could I bother you to take a quick one, babe? I have to be down at Less Than Twenty-One in a while to set up things for today and train a couple of newbies."

"Sure," Conner replied, pulling off his shirt and walking toward Jude's bathroom. He scrubbed off, washing as quickly as he could, and gave up the shower to Jude in less than ten minutes.

"Thanks, babe," Jude said, kissing him quickly before striding into the bathroom. "Owen's got a suit for you!"

Owen was waiting near Jude's bed, laying out the suit, boxers, socks and shoes.

"Mr. Xanatos thought perhaps you might like something more fitted," Owen explained.

"David knows my sizes?" Conner asked.

"Mrs. Xanatos has an exceptionally good eye," Owen replied. "Will that be all, sir?"

"Oh, yes, thank you, Mr. Barnett. Sorry to hold you up." Owen gave the smallest of smiles and exited the room, closing the door behind him so Conner could get dressed. He did so quickly, and was grateful, as Fox entered the room without knocking just as he was pulling on his shoes.

"Almost done?" she asked. "I'm the one taking you."

"Can't I just--?"

"No flying. Don't want to give anyone suspicions about Conner Prince and the Super Wonder." Conner pulled on his jacket and stood, and Fox moved foward to straighten his tie and jacket, in the way Diana would have. "Did you run a comb through your hair?"

"Yes, Fox," Conner replied.

"Well, let me do it again, really quick and then we can go." He bent down for Fox to comb his hair and when she finished, they both took the elevator down to the garage where the car was waiting for them. Conner was nearly late because of the traffic, but he made it just in time for Fox to give one last piece of advice, "Don't let Luthor scare you. He's like a lot of people who come into fortunes--scared he'll turn into his father."

"How is that supposed to help me?" Conner asked.

"Well, when Xander was born, I was scared shitless that I would do something to mess him up. And my dad was attentive and a descent man. Lionel Luthor was probably some of the worst scum you would ever meet. If I were Lex, that would probably be the reason why I did not currently have children. Knock'em dead kid. I'll wait here in case you need a quick getaway."

"Thanks, but I can fly remember?" Conner said. "And thanks for the advice, Fox."

"No problem," Fox replied. Conner stepped out of the car and walked quickly up to the Greenwich.

"Good morning, Mr. Prince," the door man said.

"Morning," Conner replied, entering the building. He walked up to the reception desk, waited quietly until a clerk was ready and when he quietly announced himself, they were tripping over themselves to find someone to take him to the room where his parents, Bruce and Luthor were waiting. He felt better seeing his mother and Bruce there, but his throat still tightened at the sight of Luthor, who sat, without an expression on hsi face.

"I'll see about breakfast coming along," said the young attendant.

"Thank you," Luthor replied as she showed herself out of the room. "Please, have a seat."

"I feel like I'm about to get fired," Conner confessed as he took a seat facing Luthor, but near his mother.

"Well, considering I haven't taken you on for any positions, yet, I find that highly unlikely," Luthor replied. "Actually I want you to have something." Luthor pushed a file across the small conference table to him, and Conner accepted it. When he opened it, it read the words "Cadmus Labs," at the top of every paper.

"You're giving me Cadmus labs?" Conner asked.

"I feel it might be best in your hands, considering your history," Luthor replied.

"If you would like, I will help you run it until you feel ready to manage it on your own," Bruce said. "Your mother is more than willing to help too."

"I don't understand; we know you are a member of the Light. You knew about my project. Why did you have such a sudden change of heart?" Luthor gave a very thin smile.

"Yes, it's true, I was a member of the light and I knew of your engineering. What I did not know about was the use of my DNA to help stabilize Clark's," Luthor replied. "Conner, I am a coarse man, and I do things for my own well being. One of the reasons I decided never to have children was simply because my father helped create the dark man you see before you. I knew I would create such a person and he or she would one day push me out of a window." Conner almost whistled at Fox's accurate guess. "You were a total surprise. A good one, seing as you have such high morals that you have a much better chance at not murdering me, but all the same, the light forgot one essential thing when it used my DNA."

"And what's that?" Conner asked.

"No one should fuck a Luthor," Lex replied, his grin widening. "If they fuck you, you fuck harder."

"Do you have to be so vulgar?" Diana asked.

"He is in high school, he'll have heard the words," Lex said. "In any case, Bruce managed to get me to agree that you will also inherit Luthor corp upon my death, faked or real, not to crush your dreams of being a pianist or an actor."

"I don't suppose running Luthorcorp will help any sort of political career either," Conner muttered.

"If you clean it up," Lex replied with a shrug. "Besides, I'm sure people will be begging the Super Wonder to help them work our their problems in the future. And if you turn out anything like Clark or I, you might be able to manage more than you think. Though, I understand that you already have quite the meal on your plate with Amazons begging for your sperm." Conner flushed, and then even more so when a voice behind him asked,

"What's this about Amazons?" Conner turned to see Tony Stark standing over him with a grin. "Sorry to interrupt, but I was having breakfast with Stephen, and I see two of my biggest rivals, with one of the country's best reporters, and Ms Prince, who is soon going to be the CEO of an up and coming company, and I couldn't resist."

"Well, Tony, as hard as it might be to believe, this is not business at all," Bruce replied, putting on his most charming smile. "And I never took you for corporate espianoge."

"Well, not when I'm sober." Conner felt the joke fall a little flat.

"You are doing better though, aren't you?" Lex asked.

"Oh, yeah, been just about a year since the transplant, and I have plenty of people slapping my hands away from drinks when I feel the need. Sorry, that was inappropriate, but as long as I can be sure I'm not missing out on the deal of the century, I'll leave you too it." Tony waved them off and returned to a table with a man who Conner swore was the socerer supreme.

"What happened?" he whispered.

"Tony's been a drinker for some years," Lex replied. "Got it from his father. It finally took him down about a year ago. A previously unknown relative stepped in and donated a part of her liver to him. Brilliant girl from what I could dig up on her. She'll probably be running Stark industries when he's gone. You should meet her." Conner blinked.

"Ria Stark?" he asked. All four of the adults turned to him. "What? I met her through Xander."

"Hmm, I may yet have uses for you." He smiled as he said it, though Clark glared at him, so Conner could not tell if he was joking.


When he returned to the mountain, he got sympathetic glances from Robin, Wally and M'gann. Artemis and Kaldur staid back a bit as Wally clapped him on the shoulder and said,

"Luthor as your dad. That's a bit harsh."

"He wasn't that bad now that he's not helping the light anymore," Conner said. "Arty? Kaldur? What's wrong?"

"We both have something to tell you guys," Artemis said. "In support of Conner....My father is Sportsmaster. If you guys didn't already figure that out when he broke into that party to get me. Mom worked with GA briefly, and when she got a hold on me over a year ago, she took me to him and to the league for protection."

"And though I have been raised by and along side the royalty of Atlantis...most recently, my king and queen confessed my parentage was not a favorable one either," Kaldur replied. "My father is Black Manta, and my mother is the woman known as Siren."

"It doesn't change us," Conner said. "It doesn't change anything about us. We are still who we were, and we are still a team." Robin grinned, a grin that reached his eyes under his sun glasses, and stuck his hand out into the middle of the circle they had created. Wally put his hand on Robin's and M'gann followed suit. Artemis rolled her eyes but added her hand to the pile, then Kaldur, and at last, Conner added his hand. "We are together as one."

And as he looked at the faces of his team mates, Conner knew everything would be all right. Not just in this moment, but always, here after, everything would be all right.

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