1. Welcome back to the Devereaux Legacy. To recap what happened in the last chapter: TINA DIED!That pretty much covers it, right? I mean, there were other things that had happened, like Puck kissing Erin. Oh, and Bella Gothreturned during Mortimer Goths funeral. But, really, the only part people really remember is my inordinate cruelty to Zane.And I am fine with that. Because I am the first to admit that I am cruel to him. But thank you for trusting me enough to go along withthis.Thats pretty much it for the recap. I hope you enjoy the chapter!***
2. What have I become My sweetest friend? Everyone I knowGoes away in the end. You could have it all My empire of dirt. I will let you down. I will make you hurt. -"Hurt" by Nine Inch Nails
3. "Yakko! Didnt I tell you that the fountain is mine? Only I get to put soap in it!" Spider Jerusalems voice was irritated as he scolded theshirtless man."Why?""Because I said so!""Why?""Stop pouring soap into my fountain god dammit!""But..but bubbles are bouncy! Bouncy, bouncy, bouncy! Well, until they pop."
4. Zane collapsed to his knees, completely deaf to the conversation that was going on before him. He couldnt go home. Everything therereminded him of Tina. The entire place, he knew, would still smell like her perfume. He thought coming to Spiders garden would besafe.He was wrong. He and Tina had gotten married in the garden. Waves of memories washed over him. He closed his eyes tight andtears poured down his cheeks. He began rocking back and forth as his sadness threatened to explode out of him.
5. "Yay!" Yakko cheered. "Zanes here! Now we just need the nurses to come back with the zombie man and we can finally party!"Spiders attitude was quite different. "Zane?" he asked hesitantly. "Zane, what are you doing?"
6. Zanes tenuous control shattered as everything burst out from him.
7. Spider took an involuntary step back as the psychic emotion wave hit him full force. "No," he said softly as he shook his head.
8. Another pulse burst out of Zane as he blindly crawled toward the fountain.
9. "Out!" Spider said to Max and Yakko."Spider Jerusalem, are you--" Max began but Spider interrupted him."No, Max. I mean it! You both need to leave right now!""But..but party! Nurses!" Yakko protested."OUT!" Spider screamed. He turned towards Zane and closed his eyes. "This is a potential Nameless situation, and only I know how todeal with it," he said softly. He waited until he heard the other two men disappear from his garden.
10. He cautiously knelt in front of Zane. "Whats going on?" he asked in a low voice."Tinas dead. Oh my God, Tinas dead. Shes dead! Someone took her away from me. Someone took her to the Mortal Realm. Oh myGod, shes DEAD! DEAD! I had to collect her. Oh my God. Dead. Oh my God. DEAD!"Spider bowed his head. "Im very sorry," he said. "Do you--?"
11. Before Spider could finish his question, Zane leaned forward and let out a loud, plaintive moan. The pulse that emanated from him wasstrong enough to knock Spider backwards with a grunt. Zane clutched at his head as he stumbled away, each pulse getting strongerand faster as it exploded out from him.
12. Spider gritted his teeth as he tried not to let the psychic waves harm him, He did the only thing he could think of doing at that moment:he punched Zane in the face.The force of his blow knocked Zane down and, thankfully, the waves of emotion stopped. For the moment.
13. "Goddammit, you know not to bring that shit in here, Zane. Do you know what you were doing? You were going to become one ofthem; one of those wraiths!"
14. Zanes eyes turned black as a look of anger, bitterness and sadness crossed over his features. "I know that," he hissed. "There is no pointin anything anymore. Leave me alone and just let me die! Let me be the monster I truly am!" He took a deep breath as he began topush his sorrow outward again.
15. Spider planted his foot on Zanes chest and pushed him roughly to the ground. "NOT IN MY GARDEN YOURE NOT!"
16. Zane struggled, bucked upwards, and attempted to hit Spider, but Spider forcefully held him down. "GET OFF OF ME!" Zane said withhis Reaper voice. He struggled against Spider to no avail.Spider gritted his teeth. "If you want to do that shit, then you can do it in your own home. But you know that my entire purpose as aDead Reaper Clone Child is to protect this realm from those wraiths, Nameless, whatever the fuck theyre called. If you become one ofthem, I will hunt you down and destroy you. This is for your own good, Zane. You need to pull yourself together. Be sad. Be pissed.Vow vengeance upon whoever killed your wife. But I will not let you do this!"
17. Zane stopped struggling and fell limp under Spiders weight. His eyes slid back to their normal gray color and his face turned completelyblank and neutral. He gathered all of his emotions, shoved them down, locked them in a mental room, and threw away the key, creatingan emotional vacuum.In a monotone voice he repeated, "Get off of me."
18. He ignored Spiders attempt to help him to his feet. He stood up and with deliberate calmness he brushed off the grass that had gottenonto his clothes. Spider watched him intently."Okay," he said, "now that youre kind of sane for the moment, Im going to ask if you know who did this? Because Ill totally help youkick their ass. Its the least I can do.""That will not be necessary," Zane said with his new, monotone voice."Dude--"
19. Zane gave him a blank look. He tilted his head slightly, raised his hand and snapped his fingers once. When Spider gave him aconfused look, he said, "I am done. I will not have any contact with the Mortal Realm other than when I am to collect them. No moreBone Phones. The single amulet that grants access to this realm has also been returned to me. The Mortal Realm has only caused mepain and suffering. The only person who has kept me human has been taken from me and I am unable to get her back. Why shouldthey have happiness and hope when I cannot? I am done."
20. Spider tried to grab Zane as he walked past, but Zane shrugged him off. "Zane--""Oh, and Spider Jerusalem Vetinari? Consider my open door policy closed.""What the fu--?""Goodbye," Zane said stiffly. He didnt look over his shoulder as he exited the garden.***
21. Oberon hummed under his breath as he walked into the offices of Reaper, Reaper, Reaper, and Reaper. He was caught up on most ofhis paperwork, everything was organized, and best of all, the special project he had been tasked to eighteen years prior was nearlycomplete and everything looked successful. Today was a good day for him. So when he saw one of the field agents standing in front ofhim, he smiled cheerfully. He liked the field agents because they always had funny stories to tell about the Mortal Realm.
22. "Here is the paperwork from my latest assignment," the field agent said dully to the secretary in front of him."Uh huh," she replied in a bored tone. "Ill make sure Oberon gets it."
23. "Actually, Peggy, Im right here. Ill just take that if you dont mind, itll save you the trip to my desk." He gave the other man a smile. "ItsZane, right?" When the other man nodded once his smile widened. "Well then how about you just make this easy on me. Was it aPlatinum death? Do I need to send in a form to the resource department letting them know that well need more booze for the MaiThais?"
24. Zane continued to stare blankly. The only emotion he showed on his face was a slight twitch of his eyelid. "It was a murder," he saidquietly.
25. When he didnt elaborate further, Oberon patted his shoulder sympathetically. "From what I hear, those are the worst to deal with. If itmeans anything to you, Im really sorry. I know how you field agents sometimes grow attached to your Mortals. Wait, was this the onethat had all those errors on it? Did you figure out what that was all about?""Yes," was the only answer he got before Zane walked out of the office.
26. "Was it something I said?" Oberon asked as he picked up Zanes clipboard. Peggy didnt answer, not that he expected one. He shookhis head and went to his desk.
27. Half and hour later, he still couldnt make heads or tails out of Zanes paperwork. The form had apparently been crumpled andsmoothed out before it was written on. There were also a lot of missing answers and, for some reason, the name "Tina Devereaux"didnt sound like one of the names in the Reaper Database. Zanes paperwork was inconsistent. And this wasnt the first time it wasinconsistent.Oberon looked up and gazed at Zanes desk. There were old office memos tossed on it, and everything looked dusty. Field agentstypically didnt spend a lot of time in the office, but they at least made sure they were up to date on office protocol. Based off the factthat the calender hanging on the wall showed not only the wrong month, but the wrong year, it was quite apparent that Zane hadntstepped foot near his desk in quite some time.He cocked his head and drummed his fingers on the desk in a vexed manner. A Soul Accountants job performance was directly linkedto how well their assigned Field Agents filled out the paperwork. Oberon had a feeling that he was going to have to get to the bottomof all the inconsistencies before they added up into a big ball of problems for him.
28. Before he could contemplate the situation any further, one of his co-workers approached his cubical. "Hes calling a meeting," a malevoice said from the depths of his deep hood. Oberon nodded. "Alright, well then we shouldn’t keep him waiting," he replied.
29. They both rode the elevator to the top floor office in silence. When the doors slid open, Oberon could see that his boss, as well as thetwo other Reapers assigned to the special project, were already present. As the elevator doors quietly closed, his boss looked up andsaid, "Ah, finally. Owen, Oberon, please be seated."The Reapers shifted quietly as the other two did as they were told and all four of them waited for their boss to begin.
30. Mr. Reaper stood up and eyed the four sitting before him. "For the love of Bob, change out of your robes. Id like to know who Imtalking to," he said peevishly.There were four mumbled whispers of magic words as the Reapers changed into their normal clothes.
31. Mr. Reaper shook his head. "Are you guys a bunch of whiny, emo goth kids? What is with all of the black? Add some color to yourwardrobes for Bobs sake. Those entitled brats are supposed to dress like us, not the other way around." He rolled his eyes and brushedthat thought to the side. "Status report," he said briskly. "Ilyena, you may start."
32. The brunette elven woman wearing Victorian garb shrugged hesitantly. "There are not many options in my realm. Most of the mortalsare human, though there are a small handful of aliens and a rumor of one... halfbreed...taking up residence. I am afraid there are noviable options, at this time, that we can use for the project.""I find this news disheartening," Mr. Reaper said. "You will keep me informed if the situation changes. Ruyven, what is your report?"
33. The blond, goggle wearing elf looked sheepish. "My realm is now at a standstill as the Simself in charge has begun solely monitoring theindividual who, uh, attempted to sue us. The time period he is in is outside of my reach. There were brief talks about my possiblydonating some clone DNA for one of the infertile individuals, but in the end they went for foreign transplantation.""But no candidates?"Ruyven hung his head. "No.""Then you have failed. Owen?"
34. The other blond male shrugged. "London Bridge is London Bridge. Its dead. Kaput. Has been for a couple generations now. All thatsleft are the punished souls and the freakin Nameless. I have absolutely no idea what you thought I could achieve there. I--"Owen was interrupted by a loud snort that came from Ruyven.
35. Owen glared at the other man. "What?""Big surprise. I have no idea why you were put on this project either, but its not for the same reasons you think. Youre disorganizedand you make the rest of us look bad. For Plumbbobs sake, you dont even keep track of the Clone Children you help produce, andyou only had one. One! And do you even know what happened to him when that world collapsed? No, you dont. Thats a CloneChild just, poof, lost in the mist.""Hey! Thats not true. I saw his mother semi-recently. Lilith or whatever her name was. She was kicking some Nameless ass. So there."Ruyven shook his head. "Why did I get into trouble over that arrogant asshole trying to sue us when in the end the books werebalanced? Owen here has lost a lot more due to gross negligence!"
36. Mr. Reaper arched his eyebrow. "Are you questioning me, Ruyven?""N..no, sir, I am not.""Good. Oberon, tell me of your success."
37. Oberon thought for a moment, then smiled. "Well, as you know I dont have much access to the Mortal Realm, so Titania-sorry,Lachesis- and I," he shrugged and grinned. "Our son, Robin, and daughter, Nichole, both show promise. Puck, sorry, Robin, especially.Nichole has the Grim Reaper capabilities, but our son also inherited some of the powers of Fate. He can see how Mortals fit into thepattern and with practice, he would be able to interpret them successfully."
38. Ilyena said in a stunned voice, "A living Grim Reaper who is also a clairvoyant?""Yes," Oberon replied."Oh my God, do you know what that means?" Ruyven asked.
39. "It means," Mr. Reaper said, "that my deductions were correct. We can procreate naturally and our genetics now have Reaper Powersattached to our DNA. Nervous Subject wasnt a fluke, though it was unfortunate that he inherited his mothers mental instability andneeded to be eliminated. Which is why we are going to either choose and elf, for their far sighted temperance, or one of the otherIncarnations. Imagine: Living Grim Reapers who dont have to suffer a mortal death to hold the position. Grim Reapers with thecapabilities of an Incarnation. Time, Nature, even War might be useful in a battle torn realm. This is the dawning of a new era; the birthof the True Reaper Children, and we are responsible. Congratulations, Oberon. You have done well."
40. "So when does the genetic experiment start?" Owen asked.Oberon gave him a disgusted look. "His name is Puck, and Im not sure if he wants to become one of us. His mother and I decided thatit would be his choice when he reaches the age of majority."
41. "Well then you must make sure that his choice is with us. We cant allow for this experiment to be exposed when its still in its infantilestages and he most certainly cannot run amok on the Mortal Realm when he comes into his full powers. He must join us. He has noother choice."
42. "But..but thats going against my word. Hes been told all his life that hell be able to decide for himself what he wants to do."
43. "Then it is your responsibility to either convince him otherwise, or to persuade him to see that our way is best."
44. "And how am I supposed to do that? For eighteen years hes been told that he has free will. We cant force him to do our bidding notunless we want him to put up a fight. Puck is a kindhearted, gentle soul. Wouldnt it be better if he were a willing participant in this?Ive proven that this can be done! We can make an army of True Reaper Children! We dont need to force anyone!"
45. "Surely you arent arguing with me. Are you arguing with me? Do you dare question me? Because I dont think you fully realize whatyou are saying, Oberon. Your son and daughter arent yours. They are the property of the offices of Reaper, Reaper, Reaper, andReaper. And while you may be correct in the fact that Puck has some semblance of free will, you do not! You belong to us. And if youdo not do what is expected of you, this office will make sure that you are no longer an issue. Perhaps you can spend some time hidingfrom the Nameless in London Bridge with the other dammed souls. Do you understand the choices that are before you?"
46. Oberon swallowed and looked away. "I understand," he said quietly. "I will make sure that he is convinced to see things my way."
47. "Excellent. I expect to see the results by this weekend. And by that, of course I mean I expect to see you and our successful experimentpresent in my office, him completely willing to do what is expected of him.""I understand," was all Oberon said.***
48. It didnt take much to stir the pot. A whispered word here, a broad implication there, and the flimsy alliance that the Capp and Montyfamily had was in shambles again. Oberon loathed himself for doing it, especially when he saw how upset Puck was. It wasnt the bestbirthday present he could give his son, and Puck was his son, his own flesh and blood, but it was all he could give. He hoped that Puckwould understand someday.
49. "Theyre dead," Puck said in sad disbelief. "Yesterday they were fine and everyone was happy. Today, Romeo thought Juliette killedherself, so he killed himself. But Juliette wasnt dead, but she did actually kill herself when she saw Romeo dead at her feet. And Tybaltand Mercutio? I..I have no idea what happened there! They just went ballistic and then the knives came out. What..what happened?Today we were all going to celebrate my birthday before we all went our separate ways. One last get together and..and now this."
50. Oberon sighed inwardly, though a small surge of pride pushed forward. His son was handling the situation quite well. He would havebeen a fantastic Reaper. "Im sorry this all had to happen on this particular day, Puck. I truly am."
51. Puck stood up and rubbed his neck. Oberon noticed a scratch on Pucks hand that was healing right before his eyes. That answers thatquestion, he thought to himself with a sad smile. "Today is your birthday, Puck. Today..today is the day you have to make the decisionyouve been aware of all of your life." He closed his eyes and pushed harder. "Especially since you have nothing that ties you to thisrealm." He noticed Puck flinch slightly. "Or do you?"
52. Puck leaned on the marble balustrade. "No," he said quietly.Oberon knew he was lying. He knew about the other path that was laid out before his son, and it hurt him immensely when he realizedthat Puck didnt trust him. Not that he could blame him. But he knew about the girl his son was destined to marry if he chose that path. Titania had told him about her a long time ago. Erin Devereaux, or something like that.Something clicked in his mind. Devereaux. Tina Devereaux. If he recalled correctly, Zanes last name was Devereaux.
53. As if he were summoned by the thought, Zane appeared on his white horse, ready to do the gruesomely morbid task that field agentswere sometimes required to do.Oberons mind raced frantically. The inconsistencies in Zanes paperwork. The name Tina Devereaux. Zanes blank attitude.Sometimes, though it was rare, field agents grew attached to their mortals. Very attached. It was unusual for one to be a Grim Reaperfor his home realm, but that was beside the point. Oberon suddenly understood everything. And he was going to look the other wayand make sure that Zane wasnt reported. At least he wont be until Oberons eventual replacement chose to take notice.And in return, Zane was going to pay him back without even realizing it.
54. He forced his voice to be casual and said, "Puck, my son, why dont you ask one of my field agents what its like to be a Grim Reaper?Im quite positive he will tell you that it is not as depressing or as onerous as one might think. In fact, Im pretty sure Zane enjoys hisjob..."***
55. Puck chose to follow his fathers advice, though he was reluctant to go back into the church where his dead friends were. He bit his lip.Hed have to get used to scenes such as the one that was laid out before him if he chose to work at his fathers office.He slowly made his way to the front, but stopped short of Tybalt and Mercutios prone bodies. He forced himself to look down at them.After a moment, he tore his eyes away. "They were my friends," he said softly to the Grim Reaper. "I grew up with them."The Grim Reaper didnt even look up at him let alone pause in his writing.
56. He licked his lips and swallowed. "So..what is it like? I mean, I know that if elders die happily they get escorted with Hula Girls and MaiThais. But what about in a situation like this? Are..are Romeo and Juliette going to go to the Punished Realm? They..they committedsuicide. Thats what happens to them, right?"
57. The Grim Reaper pulled back his hood and fixed him with a level stare. "How do you know about that?" he asked.Puck blinked and was confused for a moment. The Reaper had the look of a Clone Child. He didnt think..actually, he didnt know whatto think. He broke eye contact and looked at the ground. "It..its what I was taught," he said lamely.
58. The Grim Reaper appeared to float over to him, his robes not touching any of the blood that was pooled on the floor. "Who taughtyou?" he demanded. "EVEN MORE, HOW ARE YOU ABLE TO SEE ME?"Puck flinched as he realized his first mistake. Only family of the victims saw the Grim Reaper, and this particular one was not happy.His father had lied to him.
59. He tried to take a step back, but the Reaper flung his clipboard to the side and grabbed his shoulders. A burst of anger with underlyingsadness threatened to overwhelm Puck before it was replaced with nothingness. The nothingness scared Puck more than the anger did."YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE A GRIM REAPER?"Panic began to rise in him as he tried to break from the Reapers boney grip. He wasnt scared of being hurt by the Reaper. When hegot stabbed in the knife fight between Tybalt and Mercutio, it hadnt hurt and all of his wounds had already healed. But there wassomething in the Reapers eyes, and the images that began to gather over his head that terrified Puck. He shook his head. "No, I--""YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT IT IS LIKE?" the Grim Reaper repeated. "I WILL SHOW YOU WHAT IT IS LIKE!"
60. He became frantic as the Grim Reaper grabbed his hand and dragged him over the bodies and the blood of his friends. The Reapergrasped his hand with supernatural strength and Puck was unable to break free."WITH MY HAND, YOU KNOW WILL WHAT IT IS LIKE. WITH MY HAND, YOU WILL PLACE YOURS UPON JULIETTES TORSO.WITH MY HAND YOU WILL HELP ME COLLECT THE SOUL OF SOMEONE YOU CARE ABOUT. THAT IS WHAT YOU WANTED,CORRECT?""NO!" Puck screamed.
61. Suddenly, the Grim Reaper let him go and Puck fell to his knees, his hands landing in the cool, tacky blood on the floor. His chestbegan to hitch as panic began to take over. The Grim Reaper crouched before him."You do not like that thought?" he asked in a normal voice. "It was unappealing and terrifying, wasnt it? Thats what its like to be a GrimReaper. You will be constantly surrounded by sorrow. And pain. And death. Always death! You will lose all hope and you will want tobe nothing more than the monster you truly are. And you will embrace it." His eyes narrowed. "And I do not know who or what youare, but I can sense that you can do the same things that I can. Right now, you are aware that all it takes is one mental flex, and thefragile spirit of your friend Mercutio will be in your hands. Now imagine if that were your lovers body, for you will fall in love. And youwill have to collect them when they die. That is what its like to be a Grim Reaper. Did I answer your question in a satisfactory manner?Have I made myself clear?"Puck trembled as he felt a tingling sensation on the back of his hand. He became aware of Mercutios spirit waiting to be collected.
62. With a moan, he scrambled backwards. Away from the bodies and blood. Away from the Grim Reaper, who remained in a crouchedposition. Puck took an involuntary glance at the images that were forming over his head.They swirled fast and appeared out of order. A purple heart. A pacifier. Marriage of a Relative. Pacifier with a smaller pacifier. Deathof a relative. A gavel. Scissors severing. Death. Resurrection. College. First kiss. Red heart. Wedding rings. Snow. Purple heart.Pacifier. Pacifier. Pacifier. Death.All of them swirled faster and faster, out of order yet never wavering from the pattern. Faster and faster until he became dizzy justlooking at them.
63. With another moan he scrambled to his feet and ran out of the church.
64. He ran as fast as his legs could carry him to the only place he knew he could go. The information he received from the Grim Reaper,both verbally as well as mentally, overloaded his mind and he clutched his head as he fought the urge to throw up. Typically, he sawone, maybe two, images over a persons head. Never that many at once and never that fast.
65. When he finally managed to pull himself together, he looked up.The Three Fates were going about their business as if it were any other day. "Theyre all dead!" he shouted, hoping for some sort ofreaction. There was none, though the aspect of Clotho flinched slightly. "Did you hear me? Theyre dead! Hermia, tell me that youcare at least somewhat!"
66. Hermia Capp sighed, but she did not get up from her seat at the spinning wheel. "We know, Puck," she said sadly.
67. "I thought everything is planned from the moment were born to the day we die. I didnt see that at all! What is the point?"
68. "Sometimes we need to make quick adjustments to the weave. Every thread has a bit of slack until the very end. Puck, you are able tosee permanent points, but not even you can see something that we did not expect until just a short while ago," Titania said quietly.
69. Puck rushed to his mother and fell to his knees, wrapping his arm around her like he did when he was a small child. Titania rubbed hisback and rocked him gently. "My poor boy," she whispered. "Such a harsh and abrupt lesson you learned today. Your father is verysorry."
70. He pulled away and glared at the ground. "My friends didnt need to die. Isnt it bad enough that my girlfriend got wrapped up in thisentire thing?""Puck," Titania said gently, "you did know about that, and youve known for a long time. As for your other friends..." she trailed off with asigh. "Had your father known sooner about the harshness of the situation, he would have arranged for things to go a lot smoother. Buthe didnt and he accepts full responsibility. But neither he nor I wish for you to be in a position that you are very ill suited for; a job thatgoes against your very nature. We already have one person like that, and hes there out of necessity. To put you there would be anunnecessary cruelty we cannot bear.""So youve made my decision for me anyway. For years Ive been told that I would have a choice and here I am being told that youveplanned my life for me.""Puck--"
71. "But youre right, Mama. I have made my decision. I dont want any of this. None. I dont want to be a Grim Reaper. I dont want to beimmortal. I dont even want the long lifespan that elves normally get. I dont want to touch people and know that I can take their spiritswith a single thought. Most of all, I dont want to see things over peoples heads anymore. I dont want to know. I dont want my lifeplanned out for me. I want to make my own decisions. What I do. Where I go. Who I marry! I. Wont. Do. It! I dont want this. I wantto be normal. Thats what my decision is!"
72. Titania looked over to Atropos and Clotho with a sigh. Atropos shrugged and said quietly, "You know that we will assist you in any waywe can." Clotho nodded in agreement."We will be interfering with the plans the Reapers have," Titania said."And we are strong enough to deal with them," the old man replied. Titania nodded thoughtfully before turning back to her son.
73. "Puck, by doing this, it will mean that you will no longer be able to enter this realm or the Dead Realm freely. If you want to become amortal, you have to realize that you will need to be much more careful. If you fall, you will get hurt. If you get stabbed in the wrongplace again, you will die. You will age. Your body will begin to fall apart and betray you. You will have aches, pains, and urges thatyouve never had to seriously deal with before. And if things go badly, you will have only the other mortals to turn to for help, for yourfather and I will be unable to interfere. Are you sure you want everything stripped away? Are you positive you want to become fullymortal?"
74. He looked at his mother for a long moment before jutting his jaw forward. "Yes," he said firmly."Very well then. Let us begin."
75. He knelt on the ground as the Fates stood over him. They began a whispering chant in words that he couldnt understand. After amoment, he felt a tingling pass through his body. "This isnt so bad," he said. "I thought it would be a lot--"
76. At that moment he felt as if his entire mind, body, and spirit were being pulled out of him at once. He managed a gasp of shock beforeall of the air escaped his lungs.And then it was over. He fell forward and gasped for breath, his hands grabbing at the grass beneath him.
77. Eventually he managed to stand up on shaky legs. He looked down at himself. "I dont look or feel any different," he said.Titania smiled slightly. "Thats because youre only eighteen years old. Mortals your age always feel like they are invincible and theythink they will be young forever. Just remember, my son, your thread does come to an end now."
78. Puck pulled her into a fierce hug. "Thank you," he whispered. "Thank you for letting me choose my own fate."She raised her eyebrow slightly but didnt correct him. "You are very welcome. I think you will find a lot of your mortal life veryenjoyable." She hugged him tightly.When she let him go, he smiled at Clotho and Atropos. "I want to say thanks you you guys as well. Thank you so very much." He tookone last look at the sunny realm and walked out of its door for the last time.
79. "Do you think hell know exactly what Oberon did for him?" Clotho asked."He will in time and he will be truly thankful.""Did you tweak Oberons thread to make him go through with this?" Atropos asked.Titania smiled. "No, I did not. Oberon is part Family Sim. He knows that this path will lead to grandchildren for him, and that will makehim happy and help him survive where hes going." She wiped a tear from her eye. "Hes a good man and I will miss both him and myson very much."There was nothing more for them to say on the matter. The three of them went back to the business of weaving the fates of all themortals in the dimension. They had to make room for a new thread after all.***
80. Bella smiled happily as she teleported herself to her destination. She enjoyed the feel of magic flowing through her veins and she feltthat she had gone for far too long without.
81. "Well," she said as she looked at her nails, "they bought it. They believed the entire Oh, but I dont remember anything, act, just like yousaid they would. Its a shame, really. I had kind of hoped that they would be smarter and not buy the entire soap opera bullshit line. Onthe other hand, my dipshit son closed down the Elixir factories, so there wasnt much in the brains department to begin with. Anyway,how did you know that they would welcome me back with open arms and very few questions?"
82. Lillian didnt look up from her cauldron when she replied with, "One learns to be observant when they are on the outskirts. Learninghow people think and knowing what they want makes it very easy to predict their actions. Then one can use that knowledge to theirfull advantage."Bella rolled her eyes. "Spoken like a true Dark Sister," she said dryly.Lillian smirked. "And yet here you are."
83. "Speaking of that: where is the Elixir you promised me? I did what you told me to do, now I would like my payment."
84. The other woman still didnt look at her as she gestured slightly with her head towards the table. "You will find what you need rightthere."
85. Bella looked on the table. She saw the two green vials, a red vial, and a piece of paper that appeared to have website addresses on it. Aquick glance at the paper showed the words Awesomesauce, Morgan, and Fitzhugh on it. She shrugged that off and cast her glancefurther around the room before turning angrily on Lillian."Only two vials of Elixir? Thats not enough! What you have here is only enough to give me five or six years of youth. I did my part ofthe bargain, why are you jerking me around on yours? Its not fair!" She stomped her foot with a huff.
86. Lillian threw her head back with a mean cackle. "You silly, spoiled woman. Did you honestly think that the only task I had in mind foryou was to lie to your family members? No. What is on the table is incentive. Incentive to do well with the assignment I am going togive you.""But..but...its not fair!" Bella whined again."If you do not find it fair, then perhaps you should stop casting from the Neutral Alignment and switch to my side. We know how tomake Elixir. Tell me, are you willing to stoop to my level? Or are you going to be a good little opportunist and do as I say so you will berewarded with more Elixir? It is your choice." She cackled again.
87. Bella crossed her arms with a disdainful look and a sigh. She was going to protest against the dark witchs accusation about her beingan opportunist, but it actually was very correct. She was an opportunist. She just didnt like the illusion she had built up in her mindabout herself being shattered in such a blunt manner. With resignation she asked, "So what is it you want me to do?"
88. "Do not worry, my little Elixir addict, it is not an all together unpleasant task. You will not be destitute. In fact, I believe you will be verywell off. First, in one week, you are to go to Pleasantview Tech with that piece of paper and deliver it to Quinn Devereaux. Theinformation that is on it is incredibly valuable, though he will not realize it at first. Then you are to offer yourself to him. You are hisreward for a job well done. I believe in rewarding people who have pleased me. You ought to keep that in mind.""Wait..so..Im just some sort of whore? What is my reward in all of this?""As I promised you before, youth for as long as you are alive. Is that not what you want?"
89. Bella grabbed the love potion and waved it at the other woman. "So I suppose thats what this is for, huh?""It is. Use it however you wish if you find it necessary; use it on Quinn or on yourself, it does not matter. It is more potent than thewatered down version the gypsies sell, so be warned. You will only need a drop or two per dose."Bella thought about it for a moment. "You said that I can use it however I want. Can I use it on that boys father as well? Id far ratherhave him."
90. Lillian smirked. "As an added bonus for a job well done, I will say that you may if you so wish. You have a young body. Its fertile. Fromwhat I understand, his wife is getting older and unable to bear him any more children. Yes. That idea fits well into my plans. So long asyou accomplish what I have told you to do.""Fine. Ill do what you want.""Then you can expect another dose of Elixir in two weeks. Leave now and go prepare yourself...Bella Devereaux."***
91. "Youll call us as soon as youre settled in?" Eden asked."Yes, Mom, we will," Erin replied."You have that box of condoms, right Quinn?" Rhys asked."Oh my God, Dad, for the last time, yes. Do you need to ask so loud?""Have a safe trip!" Eden said."And dont do anything I wouldnt do," Rhys followed up. "But that gives you a ton of leeway because I did a lot of things." He laughedas his children groaned.
92. Rhys and Eden waved at Erin and Quinn until they could no longer see the taxi that was taking them away to Pleasantview Tech. Whenit was out of sight, Eden sighed."Hey," Rhys said, "none of that. I know exactly what youre thinking. Youre thinking, Our children are on their way to college. Wereold. Where did the time go?""But its true. When did we get old?""Were not old. Far from it. And youre looking at this all wrong. See it like this: we have the house to ourselves. Nobody to walk in onwhat were doing. For the next four years, we can do Whatever. We. Want.""Whatever, huh?""Yep."
93. A short while later, as the two of them lounged comfortably on the couch, Rhys heaved a heavy sigh. "You know what, Ede? We aregetting old. I never thought Id be sitting on the couch, watching television in front of a cozy fire and being perfectly content with that.But you know whats even worse? My hot wifes head is in my lap and shes reading a book.""I can move somewhere else if youd like," Eden said."No, its fine. Youre fine. Its just...I was under the impression we were a bit more exciting than this."
94. She laughed and laid her book down. "We are still very exciting. Rhys, weve been married for almost twenty years and we still hoo atleast once a day. And we still have movie premiers and other social functions to attend that have plenty of limos, bathrooms, andchanging booths to have sex in. We just dont have anything right now, today, because we wanted to see the kids off. So tell me, whatwere you expecting?"He smirked. "I was expecting us to strut around the house nekkid. I was expecting to see if I could stand at attention for twenty-fourhours no matter how many blue pills I would have to take to do that. I saw myself greased up like a Greek god, a conquering hero, andpossibly narrating our sexual encounters in my best Morgan Freeman voice. You know, making every night like Saturday night.""I said you got to do that Morgan Freeman thing that one time and that was it." She was quiet for a moment before she said, "There issomething thats been on my mind that Ive wanted to do for a while and I wanted to run it by you to see what you thought."Rhys grinned widely at her words.
95. He seemed confused at first when she went into the dining room. He made disappointed sounds when she pulled out some papersand pencils. He fell silent when she began talking.
96. "We have too many closets and not enough bathrooms," she said. "Its been rather awkward running to the bathroom after were donehaving sex. It was bad when the kids were younger, but now that they have a pretty good idea what were doing? Yeah. So, Id like toput a bathroom off of our bedroom. And off of Erins and Quinns. Theyre going to get married eventually. Well, probably. Anyway, Imsure they wont feel like doing an awkward dash to the bathroom. And then any grandkids we might have? Maybe put a bathroom offthe nursery. Heck, remodel the entire nursery."
97. She put the pencil down and rested her chin on her hands. "Actually, Id love for us to remodel our entire house. Give it a foundation sowe can have a basement. Get rid of that horrible attic area over the garage. Get rid of that roof over the porch that covers half thewindows out front. Maybe get some new furniture. Not for all the areas, but for some of them. This entire house is just...clunky. Idlove to leave our mark on this family by doing something like that.""So why dont you do it?" Rhys asked. "Theres more than enough money."
98. She sighed at looked back down at the blueprints. "But where would we live? What I want to do to our house basically means tearingthe entire thing down and rebuilding it from the ground up. It would take a year or two before its livable again and another year or soafter that to get everything decorated and situated."Rhys grinned. "Well go to Twikkii Island then," he said. "Theres the house on the beach there and its always warm. Hell, we could takea second honeymoon."
99. She turned and caressed his face with both hands. "Youre okay with this? Are we really going to do this?"He smiled. "Well, I cant remember all the details from our last honeymoon because its just this awesome, blurry, sex-filled haze. But Iseem to recall enjoying myself immensely. Why wouldnt I want to re-live that?""Rhys, I—you are the best husband a girl could ever ask for."He quirked an eyebrow. "I know. And you know what would be great? Starting our second honeymoon right now..."***
100. A special thanks goes to the following people:Marina/Smoothiequeen: As always, for the perma-loan of Rhys Fitzhugh (Fitzhugh Legacy/Villainous Apocalypse)Doc/DrSupremeNerd: Spider Jerusalem Vetinari (Vetinari Dualegacy)Prof/Professor Butters: Max Goodytwoshoes (Squeaky Clean Legacy)Lark/Lady Larkrune: Yakko Warner (Yakkos World OWBC). Thank you also for the SimHenge set. The Three Fates now desperatelywant a fridge, bathtub, and a toilet on the lot as well :)And of course, thank you to everyone for reading this story and for leaving me comments. Words cannot express how grateful I am orhow awesome all of you are!Until next time, Happy Simming!