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Hiya! And welcome back to the Bohemian Legacy chapter 4.13! Last time Generation 5 teened en masse, and a final little unexpected arrival was welcomed to the family in the form of Coriander Buccaneer. Rhapsody managed to get herself accidentally abducted by aliens, Requiem began to quietly and guiltily resent her best friend's perfect life, Cayenne kissed one of her brother's best friends, Elise became a cheerleader, Journey sang badly and Phoenix collapsed in the Gym following a particularly vivid and disturbing vision from Dee. You with me? If not you probably want to go read 4.12. If you are, then carry on.
Journey drummed his fingers on his knee, a gesture of impatience and worry. The other four were still and silent. Finally he sighed, he wanted to say something, anything to break it. "I hate hospitals.“
"Oh what a wonderfully original, insightful and helpful comment Journey." Cayenne snapped, her voice sounded sharper than usual, she was upset too. "Everyone in the world hates hospitals.""I don't" Dee interjected without looking up from where her shoe was tracing circles in the rough beige carpet.
Her brother looked at her, an exasperated expression "How can you not hate hospitals? It's where people come to die.“
Dee shrugged "Not really, it's where people come to get better. I think that's kind of wonderful." She smiled at her brother tiredly and he felt the corners of his mouth quirk upwards, before he returned to scowling at his knee and they all fell back into silence.It was 1 a.m, the hospital was quiet. They were the only people in the waiting room. By rights they should have been kicked out hours ago, but this was one of the perks of having doctors in the family. Em was the only one who had been sent home by a rather annoyed looking nurse on the grounds that she wasn't strictly related to Phoenix or anyone of else of influence at the hospital.
The rest of them were left to wait while their parents and the doctors conferred and fretted around Phoenix.
Elise barely felt the touch. She was elsewhere, she felt very strange. Dettached from anything important and yet sharply aware of everything trivial in the world.
She was listening to the thrumming of the neon vending machine beside her, and she could dimly make out the sound of a television playing infomercials in a nearby patient's room. She felt the well worn felty fabric of the couches on her bare shoulders, the uncomfortable fit of her uniform. And down the hall she could just see through one of the glass doors of a patient's room. A heart monitor was beeping, but slowly, very slowly.
She couldn't handle the wait anymore. She got to her feet abruptly. "Where are you going?" "Nurse's station." Elise replied absently as she strode confidently out of the room onto the linolium tiles of the hospital, making her perfect white shoes squeak with every step.
"Hi," Elise leaned over the divider "I'm looking for some information, I was hoping you could tell me what's going on with one of your patients. He went in to the ER a few hours ago?" The nurse didn't look up "Sorry." She replied shortly "I don't know anything like that, and even if I did I couldn't tell you." "But-" "I'm sorry miss. Now if you don't mind, I'm busy here." Elise felt what little patience and politeness she'd had left after a trying day evaporate "Yeah I don't care if you're busy or not, you little scrubs wearing peon, I'm not leaving until I find out what's happening to my brother."
The nurse stood up looking indignant "Look, I already told you, I can't help you. Now are you going to leave or do I have to call security?" Elise tapped her foot stubbornly "Fine. Then I want a job application form to be a nurse." "Excuse me?" "You heard me. I'm planning to be a doctor someday, and when I am I'll be far less of a beeyotch than you are by the way. So I might as well start now. So give me a form."
The nurse made a derrisive noise "No offense" she told Elise in a tone that was clearly meant to offend "But I don't think you're exactly medical material." Her gaze swept her condescendingly. Elise became sharply aware that she must be looking at her cheerleading uniform. "What's that supposed to mean?" She snapped "You know what, I could have you fired in a second, I'll have you know my father is chief of medecine here and my grandfather was chief of staff before you were even able to fill out those scrubs so-"
Cayenne decided it was probably a good time to intervene as she heard Elise begin to launch into an uncharictaristically bratty tirade. ”Ok you're done." She put her hand firmly on her cousin's back in an attempt to lead her away. "I'm not done! I'll tell you what else-" "Nope you're definitely done. Please forgive my cousin, I'm sure she didn't mean to get all 'when good girls go bad' on you like that, it's the uniform, it does things to her head. Oh yeah, and the fact that her brother might be dying. So thanks for your sympathy on that one. Now how about you hand us a job application form and we'll get back to the waiting room." The nurse looked both angry and embarassed as she passed the clipboard over the desk. Cayenne smiled winningly, a trick learned from her brother, and thanked her while Elise snatched the clipboard and glared, a trick she had learned from Journey, as they returned to the waiting room.
It was several hours later when her father's voice broke through Elise's dreams "Elise, Lili, Sweetie, wake up." She rose groggily from the couch as she felt his warm hand squeeze her shoulder before moving away. "What time is it?" she croaked "How long was I asleep?" "It's nearly six a.m." Elise glanced around the room. It looked like she wasn't the only one who had passed out. Her cousins were sprawled across the couches all around curled up and quiet.
She looked up to see that her father was smiling as she rubbed sleep from her eyes "Good news?" "Phoenix is stable. He has Pneumonia, the inflammation of the lungs stopped the oxygen flow to his brain and the excercize wasn't exactly the best thing for him, which is why he passed out. He's on antibiotics at the moment, which we're being careful with, because they might start attacking whatever zombie DNA your brother's inherited from Mom. But at the moment he's ok and in quarantine so he doesn't catch anything else while what little immune system he has is fighting the Pneumonia. Your mom is with him now. You want to see him?"
"If you need anything at all I want you to tell someone ok sweetie. Don't hesitate to call one of the nurses, or me if you want. Ok?" "Mom, really I'm fine. I feel alot better. Just a bit drowsy, I swear." Phoenix caught sight of Elise through the glass as she rounded the corner and a broad grin split across his pale face. "Lili! Hi!"
After delivering a quick peck to her daughter's cheek, Snow moved aside to give the pair some room. Elise barely noticed. She was only aware of a wave of relief wash over her. He didn't look fine, he looked sick, but he was alive and for that she wanted to hug him, but a large glass wall was in her way. So she just rapped it with her knuckles reproachfully instead. "If you ever scare me like that again I'm finding a different brother to adopt." Phoenix just smiled at her. "You must be so tired." Elise rubbed a hand across her face. It was just like Phoenix to be worrying about her when he was the one who had nearly died. "I'm ok." They were silent for a moment. "Thanks for staying." "Any time."
"We're going to get the kids home." River was telling Snow a little way off. "We can drop Cayenne and Turner off on our way and update Saffy, who has texted me no less than eighteen times tonight to make sure everyone's ok." River checked his phone "Actually make that an even twenty. Do you and Elise want a ride while we're at it?" Snow shook her dark hair "We'll probably leave in a bit. Phoenix needs some sleep and I'm sure the rest of us do too. It's been a long day."
"He's going to be fine you know." River squeezed his twin's blue arm comfortingly. Snow peered over his shoulder to where Elise now had her hand pressed right up against the glass talking to Phoenix. There was a nervous knot in her stomach that hadn't quite gone away since he had first gotten ill, but a smile was pulling at her lips. This felt like a victory, he had survived this illness, and he would survive the next one, they would take it one step at a time and he would keep surviving. He had to. And she had to believe he would or she wouldn't survive. Besides, River was her brother and their heir and she believed him when he told her it would be alright.
"'Morning Mom." "Good morning sweetie. Your Dad left early again to check on your brother at the hospital, they're doing a full check since it's been a week since he got sick. So I thought I would make chocolate chip pancakes, since it's just the two of us for breakfast. And he said to let you know that he'll pick you up after Cheerleading practice and drive you to the hospital for work. And - since when do you wear glasses?" Snow paused with a half cracked egg resting against the side of the mixing bowl as she finally glanced up at her daughter.
"Since this morning." Elise tapped the lense of her new glasses "I found them in the costume box. They kind of hurt my eyes, but I'm sure I'll get used to it." "Sweetie, if you need glasses we'll go down and get your eyes checked and-" "No, it's cool, they're ornamental. I'm wearing them to look smarter. See, I have this theory that I'm too pretty to be taken seriously. Which is no fault of my own thank you very much." Snow decided to let the slightly vain comment slide, after all if she'd had Elise's confidence at her age a great deal of ill might have been avoided. "But with glasses," Elise barelled on in her analysis of human behaviour "I think people will take me seriously. They make me look clever."
Snow sighed a little "First of all, yes you are very pretty baby girl. Second of all, wearing glasses that hurt your eyes seems like the opposite of clever to me. And thirdly, you are clever Lili and people know that without you resorting to costume gimmicks. Just be yourself, and look like yourself ok?" Elise toyed with the frames "Or I could just take the lenses out and..." "Elise" Snow's voice took on her best mother's tone "take off the glasses, stop being so silly and come sit down and have breakfast." "Yes Mom." Elise muttered, rounding the counter as she reached up to pull the glasses from her face.
"Oh hey, check it out, it's snowing." "Hmm, so it is. Make sure you take your duffel coat today and wrap up extra warm." "But my duffel coat makes me look chunky." "Tough luck missy. I won't have you catching cold." "Ach! Watch where you're waving that spoon Mom."
"I don't know Journey, don't you think it looks kind of...Evil." "Not Evil. Hardcore and awesome. Geez Dee, get with it." "Ok if you say so. Where on earth did you get a pitchfork by the way?" "Cayenne has a whole cupboard full of them. They were a gift from Satan I believe." "Journey. Be nice." Dee brushed snow out of her brother's hair and straightened his scarf a little around his neck to protect him from the cold. He scowled at her but allowed it.
"Oh my god what's that over there!" "Where?" Journey cackled and grabbed a handful of snow as his sister scanned the white horizon vainly. "Sucker." Dee Yelped as the the snowball made contact with the back of her head, and icy particles trickled down her shirt. She laughed amiably at her cackling brother. "Oh you're in trouble now!"
From a window, warm inside, River watched the pair scream and laugh as an all out war broke out in the snow. Neither of the two were usually early risers, especially on a weekend, but the snow made it a special occasion. He shivered as a chill slipped between the window panes, and turned away.
"Good morning" Zoe stopped his progress with a kiss. "Good morning yourself gorgeous." River pulled her closer, running a hand along the warm silky fabric of her pajamas "I was going to let you sleep in." "That's no fun when there's no one in bed with me to cuddle when it's cold outside. What have you been up to bright and early?"
River took a deep breath "I've been thinking about who I want to make heir." Zoe blinked at him under wavy dark bangs for a second before bursting into laughter "Wow. I haven't even had a cup of coffee yet and you're already making major life decisions." "What can I say, I'm proactive today. You haven't seen my mom have you?"
Artemis was in the greenhouse out back as it turned out. River thought it prudent to actually get dressed before he trudged across the snow and frozen sands of the back garden to find her. But in the greenhouse it was warm and damp like summer had never left. "Hey Mom. Can I talk to you for a second?" "Good morning honey, of course you can, grab a basket by the door there and help me out while you're at it though ok?" River did as he was told and carefully shook the snow of his shoes before stepping onto the carefully tended earth.
"So I've been thinking about the kids. And who should inherit." River began as he pulled beans from between the leaves. There was a moment of silence as Artemis waited for him to go on. When he didn't speak immediately she decided to press him a little. "And?" "They're both such great kids." River sighed "I mean Dee is happy and nice and so full of energy, and Journey is tough and driven and doesn't get pushed around."
"River," Artemis interruped her son before he could begin listing all his children's good qualities "I know it's not easy. It feels like you're playing favourites with your children, and you don't want to. But you have to make a choice. And you wouldn't be here talking this over with me if you hadn't already come to a decision. Now, out with it, who do you want to inherit?" "Rhapsody." The name came out easier than he he thought it would "I think it needs to be her. I've tried coming up with pros and cons, but I keep coming back to the gut feeling that it should be her. That she's better suited to the job than Journey is."
"I think Dee would do an admirable job." Artemis smiled. "She's caring, to a fault, she'd do anything for this family, just like you." "I sometimes worry she might not be...tough enough." "Well Journey is stubborn enough for the both of them. Good luck breaking the news to him by the way. But I think Dee is stronger than you give her credit for. Besides, she's only a teenager, if you think she or Journey are done becoming the people they're going to be, you're wrong. I mean, look at your sisters, look at you. Do you remember what you were like at Dee's age?"
River straightened "I try not to." "Oh don't be silly, you were teenagers. You all grew up but I was proud of you then, and I'm proud of you now." "Thanks mom." River pulled his mother's petite elderly form into a hug. She hugged him back fiercely before releasing him. "Now stop stalling and go tell give those kids of yours the news."
River cornered Rhapsody in the basement where she predictably received the news with a girn that threatened to split her face and a fair amount of bouncing. "Wait, are you serious? Really me? Really." River grinned at his first born, her smile was infectious "Me? Really?" "Yes you." "This is so cool!" she bounced a little on bare feet. "I promise I won't let you down! I'm so happy. Thanks Dad." She delivered a quick hug then pulled away, looking concerned "Is Journey ok with this?"
"Whatever." Journey shrugged. To be honest the whole heirship thing hadn't really been preoccupying his mind since he teened. He supposed it might have been cool to have it, but he could care less, and he was trying to shake off the feeling that he should want it just because Dee now had it. "You're sure you're ok about this, because just so you know it's not a reflection on you and-" "Yeah, yeah, it's cool." Then a thought occured to Journey, if his Dad was clearly feeling guilty about this, he could probably use this to his advantage. "Hey, if Dee gets the heirship can I have a new car?" River was a little taken aback by that request, but when he phrased it like that, there was really no way to say no.
"No. No no no no no. Journey Bohemian your father gave you permission to get your own car. This is not a car." Zoe eyed the motorcycle warily. "It's close enough and I already bought it." Journey crossed his arms across his chest defiantly. "Don't take that tone with me. Do you have any idea how dangerous these things are?" "But Mom! It's so cool! The way I see it, this works out great. Dee gets to have the heirship and live at home and have some kids and be boring. And I get to be awesome."
River loved his son but as he and the rest of the family eyed the bike and the argument, he was suddenly very certain Dee was the right decision. Flicking snow out of her hair Dee took a step towards "Can I ride it sometime?" "NO!" five voices chorused immediately.
"He didn't." Elise nodded, a huge grin on her face "He did. I've seen it. It's both the awesomest and stupidest thing he's ever done. Aunt Zoe flipped out apparently, but they're letting him keep the stupid motorcycle for the time being. I'm pretty sure he doesn't have a clue how to ride it though."
Phoenix smiled at his sister through the glass "As much as I love getting family news updates I can't help but notice that you're not wearing scrubs today." "It's my day off." Elise shrugged. She had been working at the hospital a little under a week, mostly doing menial jobs, while soaking up as much information as she could from the nurses and doctors around her and spending every break she had talking through the glass with her brother. "But I miss you. And I wanted to be here when you get discharged later." It was about time too. She has been learning to read a chart and far as she could tell there was no real reason to keep her brother in the hospital since he had gotten over the Pneumonia, besides letting him make friends with just about every nurse and patient in the place. Plus his hospital room was beginning to get as messy as his room at home. 'Clean room' indeed.
"This has severely sucked for everyone just so you know." She told him flicking the glass in lieu of being able to reach her brother. Phoenix laughed "Sorry about that. But I'm fine now, I promise." For Now . The words hung unsaid between them. Elise knew as well as he did that this wasn't the last of their problems. They could keep treating him for individual illnesses but the underlying problem wasn't going to go away on its own. "I bet all this stuff makes you really glad you're adopted huh?" Phoenix laughed.
He watched as his sister's face fell a little. "Lili, I'm sorry, I didn't mean-" "No I know what you meant." She forced a smile. "Do you ever wonder about it?" her brother asked gently. She did. Elise wondered alot. She had ever since she had been old enough to fully understand what it meant to be adopted. The conclusion she had eventually come to was that either her biological parents were dead, in which case it didn't matter. Or that they hadn't wanted her, in which case screw 'em. "Not really." She lied, then, quickly changing the subject "So guess what you're getting out of here in time for tonight? Cori's Birthday. More cake!" Phoenix laughed, "Hey, anything but hospital food sounds really good right about now."
Cori Buccaneer was the only person in the family to remain totally unaffected by Phoenix's illness. She was far too young to understand such things, and had bigger things to worry about. Things like Crayons. And colours of crayons. Green was a good colour she had decided after munching on a few others. She scribbled intently on the page the crayon clutched in her tiny fist.
"There's my girl." She let out a surprised squeak as an unexpected force picked her up off the ground, making her drop the crayon abruptly, A wail of protest began to form in her throat until she realized that it was her mother settling her into the crook of her arm. That was all right. She liked her mother, it was ok if she picked her up. "Hi mommy." She beamed tugging on a piece of her mother's dark hair. "Bed Time?" She inquired. "No, not tonight sweetie, it's birthday time tonight." "Oh." She had no idea what that meant, but mommy seemed to think it was ok, so it must be.
Family members arrived at the house just after dark, and, once everyone had delivered relieved hugs to Phoenix,Turner somehow comandeered the right to take Cori to her birthday cake. The usual blowing out of candles, and blowing of party horns accompanied Cori's sparkly transition.
As soon as the whole thing was done with Cori retreated back to the task of completing her very important drawing. She wasn't terribly interested in the party. And at least now she had the sense to not put crayons in her mouth.
While the youngest member of the generation was occupied with the serious business of colouring, the adults were confering over poker downstairs. "So I've been thinking." Artemis spoke up, as River shuffled cards and Saffron, used to people who cheated at this game, watched him do so intently "Since Phoenix just got out of hospital, it might do him some good to...get out of the desert a bit. Get a bit of country air. And since Cori's old enough now, your Dad and I were thinking that we might take them for a little trip to Three Lakes."
"That sounds great Mom." River smiled as he began to deal "I don't see any problem with Dee and Journey going. What do you guys think?" Saffy checked the cards she had just been delt, poker faced, before responding "Well...the only problem I can think of is that the kids might have flags on their passports from that time- Oh wait nevermind." "What?" "Nothing." "Saffron." Artemis's tone was warning and motherly. Her eldest grinned in a way that only meant trouble. "I just thought their passports might have been flagged on account of mine being flagged after an incident with international customs a few months ago, but then I remembered that I used a fake passport under the name 'Nikki de Saint Phalle'." River snorted and Saffy grinned "I thought it had the right jet setting heiress ring to it."
The look her mother was giving her was a mix of amused and exasperated. "What? I was wearing a blonde wig and everything, they would never suspect it was me. So in conclusion, yeah, by all means, you can take my lot. Knock yourself out...not literally though." She added hastily as it seemed to occur to Saffron just how much trouble her dynamic trio might actually be for her elderly parents. Then shrugged it off, they'd managed her for years, it would be fine.
Snow hesitated a little longer, running her fingers through her dark hair "I...I guess, I mean Dad would be there the whole time and he's got about twice the years of medical experience Tim does, if anything does happen." the other three watched Snow as she struggled to let go. "I guess it would be ok." She gave her agreement a little reluctantly. She knew she couldn't baby her teenage son, no matter what kind of shape he was in.
"Awesome. That's settled. I'm sure it'll be fun and in no way cause any strife, injuries, or international disasters." Artemis looked at the trio suspiciously "What exactly happened when you three went on holiday with grandma and grandpa?" Three pairs of eyes met across the poker table as memories of Snow blowing up at Saffron, Saffy getting them all lost in a dangerous jungle, talking to strangers in masks and jabbing sparky electrical things with screwdrivers came back to them "Nothing." They all chorused, suddenly becoming very interested in their cards. "And even if it had, let the record show that they followed me of their own free will." "Of course we did, we would have followed you just about anywhere in those days." River grinned at his sister.
Dee scanned the piles of colourful neatly folded piles in her dresser drawer in frustration. It occured to her that staring at her clothes wasn't going to make anything suitable for the mountains mysteriously appear there. She heard the door open behind her, and the unmistakable sound of female footsteps "Mom, do I have anything that would work for mountain weather, whatever mountain weather is. Because-"
"Oh hey Emmi!" She interrupted her ramblings as she realized that the foosteps belonged to her friend, rather than her mother. It suddenly occurred to her that she hadn't actually seen Em properly since they'd taken Phoenix to the hospital, there had been alot of...family time since then. She smiled at Em brightly, it made it twice as good to see her.
Em did not reply immediately, instead her eyes strayed to the suitcase sitting rather conspicuously on Dee's bed "What's going on?" There was a neutral quality about Em's voice that seemed almost forced. Dee tried to shrug it off as she followed her friend's gaze. "Oh Luggage. For vacation. I'm going to Three Lakes, with my grandparents, and Journey, and the others for family time...it's stupid" she added hastily as she noticed Em trying to hide a hurt look.
"But hey, guess what, I have news!" she changed the subject quickly "Phoenix is out of hospital and Journey bought a motorcyle and I'm heiress!" "When did this happen?" "Last couple of days. It's been sort of nuts. Sorry I haven't seen you more." Requiem made a non commital noise as her face remained a careful blank study. "I should let you finish packing." "Oh Ok" Em let herself be hugged by Dee before quickly escaping out the door.
` Dee collapsed onto her bed a little unhappily, managing to whack her leg into the suitcase as she did so. "Ow." She muttered, rubbing the sore spot on her bare thigh. She hated when people were unhappy. Especially when she couldn't do anything about it. She has known Requiem for years, she was her best friend, and sometimes she still felt like she was trying to read a closed book when she talked to her.
"So I've been thinking it through and here's how I see it Grandpa, the problem with treating Phoenix for individual illnesses is that it's like treating symptoms for a disease rather than the disease. We're not tackling the real problem and-"
"Elise sweetie." Holden laid a hand on his granddaughter's shoulder to stop the rambling. She had barely taken the time to drop her suitcase on a bed and change her clothes before cornering him in the living room of the lake house to discuss what had clearly been on her mind the entire flight. "We will figure out how to make your brother better, permanently. We will. Your Dad is working on it at the moment. But right now you're on vacation and you can't do anything about it. So just try to relax ok?" "Fine." Elise granted her grandfather. "But what if-" "Are you all ready to go explore a bit?" Artemis's voice cut across the conversation as she emerged into the living room. "No!" The general chorus came from the various bedrooms followed by the sounds of scrambling as teenagers hurriedly changed.
With some difficulty six teenagers and one child managed to get themselves changed and their grandparents ushered them out the door in a totally disorderly fashion. The day was largely uneventful for a tired sore group. After the long flight they the decision was made to retire to the spa. The girls naturally indulged their inner girliness.
The evening found a sleepy and jetlagged group returning home and pulling on their pajamas to enjoy a family dinner of fresh salmon, or mixed vegetables in Dee's case. It was Cori, eating rather more neatly than most of the family who looked up and sniffed the air. "Does anyone smell burning?" "Don't look at me" Artemis laughed running her hand across her youngest granddaughter's head "I haven't burned a dish since I was pregnant with your mother." Cori chewed her food slowly, unconvinced, glancing around "Huh. Maybe it's 'cause the floor is on fire" She noticed.
"Oh My god the floor is on fire!" The panic was instantaneous as everyone jumped up from their seats to search for fire extinguishers. Dee was the first to find one and rush forwards, which was probably how she managed to catch her pajamas on fire.
She dropped the extinguisher in a sudden panic as she attempted to stamp out the flame slowly consuming fabric as it crawled up her leg. "Ow. Ow. Ow." Fortuantely Artemis reacted fast. Seizing the fire extenguisher Dee had dropped she doused her granddaughter with the white foam, successfully saving her from serious burns.
Fortunately this was not the first fire in three lakes caused by inatentiveness and an open fire place. The Fire departement responded quickly and the rest of the fire was dealt with before the whole house could go up in flames. When the floor and Dee were both successfully extinguished the two men offered some short fire safety tips before enquiring "Who built the fire in the fire place anyway?" Dee looked a little sheepish "Sorry." The two men exchanged a look that blatantly said stupid tourists before leaving the family to their own devices.
Artemis found Rhapsody sitting on the deck early the next morning. Pre dawn mist was still rising off the lake and the young girl was bundled up against the biting cold. "Mind if I sit?" Artemis asked. "Of course not grandma." Dee offered a sincere smile.
"And for the record, I'm really sorry about almost burning down the house last night. And almost killing myself. And possibly everyone else." Artemis smiled as she settled her old bones into the chair "You know, when your aunt Saffron was your age, I used to worry about her constantly. Saffy just went looking for trouble, usually dragging your father and aunt Snow along for the ride, and she would always, always find trouble. It was a gift of hers."
"Now you Rhapsody, you don't go looking for trouble, I know that. But trouble seems to come looking for you, and it always finds you too." She paused and looked at her granddaughter seriously "You could have died last night you know." Dee chewed her lip, "I have this theory that death is out to get me." she confessed. Rhapsody had been thinking about that ever since the incident in the gym, but it was the first time she had said it out loud. "What makes you say that?" For a moment Dee considered telling her grandmother everything, then changed her mind, she didn't want to worry her over something she couldn't do anything about "No reason" She smiled .
They were silent for a long moment, listening to the sound of nature waking up. "You know something else about your aunt Saffron? She was always very good at finding trouble and very good at getting out of it too. She still is. And I think you are too." "Yeah?" "Absolutely. Even if things like this" Artemis waved her arm vaguely in a gesture that encompassed accidental fires, alien abductions, baseballs to the back of the head and other things she didn't even know about, things like grim reapers, "keep happening to you. I'm confident you'll make it out the other side intact." Dee grinned. Somehow her grandmother's faith in her made all the difference in the world. "Thanks Grandma."
The side door bashed open with the type of brutal enthusiasm that often seemed to herald Journey as he stepped out onto the porch. "So are we going out, or are you two going to sit here and be boring and lame all day?"
Breakfast was the first order of the day as the family trapsed into town, and Dee dug into a warm pile of flapjacks drenched in melted butter and maple syrup eagerly. "You ok?" She questionned a yawning Phoenix next to her, as he waited for his own order. "Yeah, awesome. I just didn't get much sleep wondering if I was going to wake up to you burning down the house again you pyromaniac." Dee laughed amiably as the blonde boy smiled at her "Nah, it's just the air up here. It makes me feel so sleepy." "I know what you mean." Dee repressed her own yawn. Something about the mountains made everything feel sharper. Food tasted nicer and pillows definitely felt softer. She smiled contentedly and took another bite of her food.
Having already inhaled their own breakfast Journey and Turner had found axes and were busy being guys for a while. Whether it was because he was older, or because he was simply built differently than a still slightly gangley Journey, Turner was proving somewhat better at it than his cousin. Which naturally frustrated the younger boy to no end. Turner was just collecting his axes from the bullseye when he happened to glance to his right.
"Dee!" He called her name, as he noticed her standing in an extremely unsafe area of the throwing yard. "Dee! Get out of there now, before you get an axe to the chest!" Broad strides took him across the yards to practically drag a laughing Dee to safety. Looking around he was surprised that Journey hadn't followed him with some quip about his sister's intelligence to fling in Dee's face.
Journey had actually not noticed his sister was in any kind of danger, he was intent on Turner's sister as it happened. Cori, who had somehow slipped out of the line of both her grandparent's supervision, had found the logs. Journey watched as she eagerly jumped onto the unsteady wood, which instantly rolled beneath her feet and pitched her sputtering into the water.
Journey arrived on the small dock just as Cori was pulling herself out. "You ok? You didn't hit your head or something stupid like that did you?" Cori dripped on the dock for a moment, catching her breath "No. I'm ok."
She straightened herself, looking a little distressed as she squeeze water out of her brown ponytail. "Go find Grandma." Journey advised, "She'll get you dried off so you don't catch cold." Cori regarded him properly now "Why do you care? Kay says you're a jerk." "Yeah well you can tell your sister I said she's a brat with a stupid face." Cori giggled "That's funny. I like you." Then she scowled "But don't be mean about my sister." Journey had to laugh "You're alright yourself. Now go find grandma."
After Cori had done as she was bid it didn't take long for the teens to discover the log rolling. "Seriously Dee?" Turner grinned roguishly at his cousin as she stepped onto the precarious log. "I mean, no offense kid, but this doesn't seem like it would be your sport, since it demands, you know, balance and coordination, neither of which are your strong points." "Shush." Dee grinned at Turner "It'll be an experiment. Maybe rolling logs are my forte over solid ground."
"Or maybe not so much." Turner laughed at the water into which Dee had just disappeared. "You know, part of me feels bad, it's almost too easy. I mean it's you Dee. No offense or anything." He grinned disarmingly at her as she emerged laughing and dripping wet from the water.
But Dee had a lifetime's experience falling down and getting back up and trying again. "Haha. You were saying about it being easy?" Those were the last words Turner heard before his body hit the water with a 'fwoosh'
"Not a word Cayenne." "I didn't say anything." Journey scowled as a bone dry Cayenne grinned at him from the other side of the water in which he was currently submerged. He pulled himself up onto the dock and glared at her. But for once Cayenne didn't glare back.
"By the way, thanks for...you know...keeping my sister from hurting herself, or drowning or whatever." Cayenne offered the words a little hesitantly as they stared at each other across the pond. "Bite me brat." She shook her head exasperated "You're impossible you jerk." "Rematch?" "Oh it is so on."
It didn't take long for the winter weather to come to Three Lakes, and it did so with an apparent determination to bury the whole mountain town under a white cloak. But inside the house it was warm and cozy and the nine residents settled into familial hibernation.
If they did venture out into the cold it was only for strictly necessary activities and they were always glad to return to the warmth of the house, faces flushed, clothes wet, to find a cup of hot chocolate waiting for them.
Days were wasted away curled up talking, eating Artemis's delicious meals, playing board games, or curled up by the fire wih a book. The whole family seemed to gradually knit itself closer as they did largely nothing together.
Cori, inititally a little overwhelmed by the sheer energy of six teenagers, took up stalking Journey. After some initial half heartedly sullen efforts to shake her off, gave up and decided that maybe he didn't have to hate her. Especially since him spending time with Cori seemed to annoy Cayenne.
But amidst it all, in the tranquil, cozy environkent, Dee couldn't get her mind to settle. The image of death, standing in that gym, his finger pointed at her chest weighed heavily on her mind. All the more so because she hadn't told anyone about it. And somehow being here felt like she was only painfully delaying having to deal with what it might mean.
Glancing up from where she was absently doodling on the page of a notebook she noticed Elise pretending to read a book and felt somewhat comforted by her presence, in a morbid way. She knew death was praying on her mind as well, though in a much more traditional sense. Her worry for her brother was etched permanently across her face these days. They were both itching to be able to do something.
Dee slammed the notebook shut. Suddenly restless. Suddenly tired of just being in this tiny remote place. She needed to do something. She needed to talk to someone. She needed someone who would understand. Someone who could take her seriously.
"Guys, it's snowing and we've been out here for over an hour and hypothermia and frostbite are very serious conditions, two weeks ago at the hospital I-" "All right geez. Don't get your smarty pants in a twist Lili." Cayenne grinned over her shoulder to take the sting out of her words "It's just that it's our last night here and the lake is beautiful, all I said was I wouldn't mind staying out here a bit." "Blah blah blah, the beautiful lake has been here the whole time we can look at it through the window with a warm cup of hot chocolate. Can we go in now?" Journey scowled at them rubbing his hands together and inching backwards towards their bonfire even as he did so.
"You know it's a shame we weren't here in summer." Dee spoke up, her voice laced with a smile as always, "It would have been fun to go swimming." "Well...you know...the lake's not frozen..." Phoenix piped up. "Saying things like that is why you get sick." Cayenne informed him drily. "So not funny." Elise shot back, then to her brother she gave a stern look "And she's right." "I was kidding, lighten up Mom." Phoenix laughed, moving to hug his sister who took the opportunity to start guiding him inside.
Turner followed the twins with his eyes, shaking his head as he moved to "I should probably pack anyway. You coming kid?" Dee shook her head "I'm going to stay out for a bit and make sure the bonfire is put out properly." Journey rolled his eyes, "Ok Smokey, and remember only you can prevent-ow" He finished as Turner punched him hard in the arm as he passed him on his way into the house. Journey followed muttering something under his breath, though not loud enough for Turner to hear him, leaving Dee staring at the lake considering.
The water was predictably icy and Dee felt a shock run through her as soon as she half splashed half slid into the cold lake, ending in a violent shiver that she ignored as she continued to submerge herself. One footstep after another robbed her body progressively of its heat. She was pretty sure she could actually feel her lips turning blue. Or she would have if her teeth hadn't been chattering.
Still she smiled to herself as she braved onwards. She was a Bohemian. She wasn't about to let reality get the better of what she wanted. After lapsing into familial indolence it felt absurdly good to so something stupid and dangerous and bohemian.
Journey barely glanced up from one of the horribly outdated books he had pilfered from the shelf when his sister returned to the room they were sharing, but it was long enough to take in the fact that her dark hair was dripping down her back. "How come you're wet?" He demanded. "I took a shower." Dee told him. It wasn't a lie. She had immediately hopped into a warm shower after running back to the house literally freezing with every step.
"Mmm, whatever." Journey dropped the book to the floor as his sister clambered into bed without meeting his eye. Dee never had been a very good liar and Journey suspected she had somehow managed to fall into the lake. After all it wasn't like she would go in intentionally. She wasn't that stupid or brave...although she was pretty stupid.
Elise listened distantly to the scrambling of her family as they tried to get everything in order before their flight. She had been ready for hours of course, mostly to avoid things like this. But it had left her with plenty of time to go through the battered old wooden bookshelf and pick something to read on the flight. The collection of books was leftover from a previous owner of the little cottage and were, as with many houses like this, only there because they were not wanted on any bookshelf that wasn't eight billion miles north of anywhere someone would read something that wasn't totally vacuous. In other words Elise was having trouble finding something she actually wanted to steal from the lakehouse.
Finally, after some time of letting her fingers drift across raggedy spines she pulled out a neon green volume with the words "Mars Attacks!" printed in obnoxious lettering. "Gee, I wonder what this could be about" she muttered, about to flick open the cover when a handful of papers slipped out from between the pages, and landed at Elise's feet.
For the briefest of seconds Elise thought the book was simply falling apart. But as she went to gather up the pages she noticed that they were scrawled with tiny little cramped handwriting, similar to the one her father and grandfather had developped after years of dashing off prescriptions. Curiosity getting the best of of her Elise found herself scanning the pages decifering the chicken scratch, the book gripped in her hand forgotten as her brows settled into a deep furrow. Then suddnely understanding dawned and they shot up as Elise exhaled violently "Holy Sh-" "Elise."
Her spine snapped up instinctively at her grandmother's voice and she found herself dropping the book on top of the pages to conceal them. "Hey Grandma," She smiled too brightly. "Well nice to see at least one of you is dressed." Artemis looked pointedly at several other pajama clad teenagers ambling around the house with no apparent rush to get ready. "Goody-two-shoes" Journey muttered on his way back. Elise stuck her tongue amiably out at him. "Just like your mother." Artemis added. Elise beamed at this.
"Grandma, can I ask you a question?" Elise blurted out suddenly, trying to keep her gaze from straying to the bookshelf "This cottage. We own it right? But it's not new is it? I mean some family owned it before we did right? And they're the ones who left, like, I don't know, some of the furniture and board games and books and stuff?" Artemis looked curiously at her petite brunette granddaughter. "Right so I was just wondering, who it was. Who used to live here I mean." Artemis shook a head of white hair "I don't know honey, we didn't buy the house stright from them, they'd sold it back to the Three Lakes township, and we bought it from a realter."
"But there's got to be a way to find out right? I mean, there's got to be papers or something? Legal documents? I mean, I'm sure some of it is all classified or something. But there's a way to find out." "Why are you so interested in this Lili?" "No reason" Elise lied quickly "Just, last night the roof above my bed was kind of leaking. And I thought that you should...complain to the previous owners or something." She knew the story wouldn't stand up to scrutiny, if only because the roof above her bed was perfectly fine. If truth be told she was pretty sure Artemis knew then and there she was lying to her. But unlike her mother, her grandmother was willing to not press an issue. Artemis nodded, and for a moment she looked like she might say something else when she noticed that Turner and Cayenne had made absolutely no progress towards getting ready and went to sort them out.
As soon as her grandmother was gone Elise gathered up the papers carefully and stored them back in between the covers of the book. As she went to flick it closed she noticed more writing, this time inside the cover of the old book. Only four words, in the same cramped nearly illegible handwriting from the notes. "To Cassie, love Dad" "Whoever your Dad is, he's very clever Cassie" Elise informed the alien on the front of the book, shutting it and going to store it safely in her backpack.
"Emmi! I've missed you!" Requiem embraced her best friend tightly, more grateful to see her than she had ever been "Welcome home." "How have you been?" Miserable Em bit the truth back with a smile as she pulled away "Fine." The truth was that without Rhapsody around she had felt more horribly alone than she had in a long time. But somehow with one smile Dee seemed to brighten the world, warm it up, and Requiem could leave her cold lonely life outside with the snow storm.
Em returned the smile as Dee elbowed the door of Sims Gone Wired shut behind her. "Listen, I'm sorry I was a little short with you before you left. I was having a bad" life "day." "It's cool. I get it." Dee smiled understandingly, "I have so much to tell you! I feel like I haven't spoken to you in ages. I tried to call a ton of times from the mountains but the connection sucked." "How was the family holiday?"
"It was really cool! Well...cold. Except for the night I tried to burn down the house. Well, I didn't try, it was an accident, but I almost killed us all. Also I fell off a log. And did I tell you that I'm heiress?" "Yeah you did. Congratulations." "OH!" Em started back as Dee's eyes suddenly went wide "And I saw death." Em blinked at her "In a non metaphorical way?" "Yeah."
Em shook her head "Dee, there's a vampire watching a sappy movie over there and you're still the strangest person in here." "I've been dying to talk to someone about this. I haven't told anyone yet." "Not even your family?" "No. I don't want to- worry them I guess. Besides, I trust you." Em felt herself flush. "So what's death like?"
A while latter Dee had discolsed every detail she could remember from the incident in the Gym and then promptly become distracted by an arcade game while Em mulled it over. "You know I've been reading alot of books on the occult-" "That's grim. Why?" "You were gone. I was bored. Anyway, I don't want to scare you or anything, but usually sightings of the Grim are prophetic of someone about to die. The only time he can cross over between our world and the afterlife is when someone is dying and it forms a breach between the two. But it doesn't fit."
"Because no one is dead." Dee completed. "Yet." "Exactly, and usually people who have reported seeing the reaper experience a death within a matter of days. Except the crazies." "I'm not crazy." "I know. Which means that something is off..." The two girls lapsed into silence interspersed only by the occasional beeping of the arcade machine. Dee hit a few buttons maladroitely and her tiny pixelated character was promptly devoured by an equally pixelated crocodile as a funeral march beeped out of the machine. She let her hands fall to her side for a moment, "I'm out of lives." she told Requiem absently. "Can I borrow a quarter?"
"Elise sweetie, what are you still doing up." Elise started as the sound of her mother entering the study, and just had time to minimize her work and bring up a new page before smiling tiredly over her shoulder at her. "Nothing Mom. I have some more homework to do." "Elise it's 2 a.m." "I guess I'm still jetlagged." An improbable excuse at best, they had gotten back from the mountains a while ago. The snow was even beginning to give way to spring time buds in their garden. It would have been one tenacious jetlag to still be affecting her now.
Snow studied her daughter quietly, Elise met her gaze with sleepy unreadable grey eyes. Snow reached out and moved a strand of thick brown hair from her face. "Don't stay up too long. If you keep this up, staring at the computer screen you really will need glasses." "Ok mom." Elise reassured her "I just want to finish this." Snow nodded, seeming satisfied, and dropped a kiss onto Elise's forehead before staggering back upstairs.
Elise immediately returned her attention to the computer screen, blinking at it a few times to try to make the numbers stop bleeding together. She leaned back and rubbed her eyes. She knew when she was beat. If truth be told she had probably known she couldn't handle this on her own when she had first found the papers, but she had had to try anyway. And now she had tried and she had failed. That left her with two options. Give up or seek reinforcements. She chose the latter.
Rhapsody dropped the pencil to the wooden floor, took a deep breath and leaned back. Across the papers her eyes met Requiem's and she knew they had both worked it out at the same time. In spite of an undeniably artsy nature Dee was actually very good with some of the more sciency aspects of life when she wanted to be. Not in a way that was ever useful in school, but she had taught herself enough from her hours spent solving number problems online and messing with her computer, that, when combined with her uniquely sideways thinking she could wrap her brain around a problem others sometimes couldn't. And Requiem. Well she was just smart. That was why Elise had come to them for help. And as their faces went from confusion to abrupt realization of what they were looking at, she knew she had been right to do so.
"Well?" Elise looked from one to the other. "Well..." Dee shook her head "I don't know if we're a reliable source for this. But...it looks sound to me." Elise felt herself swell with hope. "But-" Em interrupted abruptly "It's half an equation at most." "I know, that's why I need your help." Dee laughed "You think we can solve this? Lili, we're a few classes ahead of you. Not fully fledged scientists."
"Ok, is anyone going to tell us what this is about?" Turner interrupted sharply. The other four were peering at the papers spread out across the ground, perplexed by what was clearly some ratty old pages covered in numbers. The three girls exchanged glances. It was finally Dee who spoke up "It's a half worked out formula for a cure." she told them brightly. "A cure?" Journey asked scanning the paper "For what?" "Anything." Em replied unsteadily "Everything. For death." "For you." Elise piped up looking at her brother whose eyes had gone wide.
"Wow." Cayenne blinked at the paper. "So quite a big deal then." "Hang on." Journey interjected "If someone had found the key to eternal life, or the cure for all the illnesses in the world, or whatever, we would have heard about it." Em shook her head "Not necessarily. What's here, it's...it breaks alot of laws, it implies some pretty grim human testing and it's very unethical and that's why we can't possibly complete it." "And why I can't take this to Dad or someone who might have a shot at it." Elise added.
Dee sat up a little straighter "It's science not medecine." She spoke softly "And it's kind of sick." "But can't we try to duplicate it somehow?" Elise spoke up, there was an edge of desperation to her voice "I mean not the live forever part. The way it's supposed to work is that it innoculates someone against all diseases, makes their body strong resistant to stupid things like...Pneumonia and the flu, right? Makes them invulnerable to the usual things that would weaken and kill them." Dee looked at her sympathetically, she could only imagine how her cousin must be feeling, if it were Journey instead of Phoenix... Em shook her head "You're not going to be able to do anything with a half finished formula for a miracle pill."
Elise got to her feet unhappily, Dee and Em traded a look before following suit. "Yeah I know." She admitted. "The only other thing I could think of was to get in touch with whoever it was who was working this out, the people who owned the Three Lakes cottage before us. But no dice on that front. The real estate people keep telling me that's confidential." Cayenne and Turner both made a noise at the back of their throats, "You tried asking outright?" Turner looked surprised. "What else was I supposed to do?"
Cayenne turned to Elise, an eyebrow raised above her glittering blue eyes "Didn't your parents ever teach you to con someone when you were a kid?" "In our house we bonded over board games and bedtime stories." Phoenix informed Cayenne ruefully. Cayenne glanced at Elise's hopeful face, before offering her a wry grin "Watch and learn Lili."
Cayenne dialed information as the others watched, shuffling out of her way as she began to pace, phone pressed to her ear. When she finally spoke her voice sounded tart and businesslike and totally unlike Cayenne. "Hello? Yes, this is Mrs. Mona Hatoum from the wildlife preservation bureau, I am calling about a number of private properties occupying the lakefront area of your town, particularly one at 5 Lakeview Drive, which we are worried might be violating some fairly serious rules and thereby endangering a great deal of the flaura and fauna in the area. I don't have to tell you what kind of fines I would have to impose on your company if this were discovered to be true. To properly investigate I will need the names and contact information of all owners, past and present of the property." The others traded a glance, not even Journey could help feeling a little impressed, though Turner wore a smile that indicated this wasn't the first time he had seen his sister do something like this.
"Mr. Goth." Cayenne announced triumphantly as she hung up. "Only previous owner of the house currently owned by Mrs. Artemis Bohemian. No contact information available. But the real estate guy did tell me that he lives somewhere called Pleasantview, it's a suburb of sim city, and then he told me he had loads of cash, and that if I was going to sue anyone it should be him. Coward." "So what now?" Journey asked, glancing at his sister.
Rhapsody blinked for a second, then realized that Elise had crossed her arms over her chest and was looking at her expectantly too. They all were. Even Turner. And then Dee realized why, she was heiress. They all knew what they were going to do, Phoenix was family and if someone, even someone eleventy bajillion miles away had a way to make him better, they were going to go. But they were waiting for her, for their heiress to say it, to make the decision. To get them there. Dee took a deep breath. She knew what she had to do.
"Not bad kid. Not bad at all." "A bus! You got a bus! Do you even know how to drive a bus. And where the hell did you get a bus?" "Who cares where she got it. I call shotgun!" "There's no shotgun on a bus idiot." Dee grinned at the assembled mix of gaping faces. She just wondered what they were going to tell their parents.