Round Robin Chapter 4


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Round Robin Chapter 4

  1. 1. “You know what we could do.” “Rob a bank?” “No, I’ve already thought that through see, because if you did, and you go caught then I’d have to come visit you in prison and when you throw the whole pregnant thing into that mix that would just make me look like a cliché.” “You realize that I can just walk out of a jail cell right? Come back and get you, and then we could go on the run. Travel the world with the baby... You know the more we talk about it the more I’m liking this plan.”
  2. 2. Tara gave her fiancé a sideways look, “I refuse to admit that that actually sounds like fun. But we’re having a baby it’s going to need to go to school and have a life and have friends! And I’d really like us to be married before the baby is born...” “...and we can’t afford a wedding.” David completed, the thought of it saddened him, there were so many things he wished he could give Tara and the baby and he couldn’t. Not even with them cutting costs the way they were, hoarding any money and spending Saturdays in the park enjoying free concerts like this one.
  3. 3. “You know” She piped up, as if reading his thoughts “We don’t have to have a wedding to get married. I mean...I really could care less about making a huge deal with the white dress. Even if we were having a wedding I’d just want it to be family, and you and I are a both a bit short on that at the moment.” David caught on quickly “So we should just get married the two of us, with the family that we do have, you and me and...” He touched her stomach gently. “Yeah exactly.”
  4. 4. “So why don’t we just get married right here?” “Here? You know what...why not? We’ve got flowers, we’ve even got a band.” She gestured at the group that was just finishing up their song as their park audience applauded lightly and rooted around in their pockets for donations. “Ok then” David grinned at her, suddenly very cheered by the fact he was marrying such an easy going girl “Hey, do you think they take requests?” He nodded towards the group now tuning their instruments “I think it might depend on how much spare change you have in your pockets.”
  5. 5. “Ok, folks, we’re going to do an old classic by request now. I’m sure you all know it... Kirk can I get a beat on this...” The lead singer arched an eyebrow at her band mate who nodded, quickly raising his drum sticks and tapping them rhythmically. “One two three four!” “Can't buy me love, love Can't buy me love”
  6. 6. Tara laughed in spite of herself as the band broke into song, squeezing her soon to be husband’s hand in hers as he produced a ring “So this is our song huh?” David smiled at her “Well...I didn’t plan on getting married today, I didn’t write any vows. I figure it can say everything I want to a lot better than I can.” “I'll buy you a diamond ring my friend if it makes you feel alright I'll get you anything my friend if it makes you feel alright 'Cause I don't care too much for money, money can't buy me love” “Point Taken” Tara smiled as the pair lapsed into silence and she allowed David to slip a ring on her finger.
  7. 7. I'll give you all I got to give if you say you love me too I may not have a lot to give but what I got I'll give to you I don't care too much for money, money can't buy me love
  8. 8. Can't buy me love, everybody tells me so Can't buy me love, no no no, no
  9. 9. Say you don't need no diamond ring and I'll be satisfied Tell me that you want the kind of thing that money just can't buy
  10. 10. “I don't care too much for money, money can't buy me love...” “Thanks folks! Thanks for coming out! That’s all from us for today and don’t let the song fool you, give generously if you can and have a great day!”
  11. 11. It wasn’t long after their very private wedding ceremony that Tara began to show and the reality that they were actually about to bring a very real new person into the world began to settle in for David and Tara.
  12. 12. David got a job working in “shipping and receiving” and while Tara made it very clear she didn’t trust any job that had him working from two in the morning until dawn, they both knew they had bills to pay, and as her middle got bigger and bigger with the baby growing, Tara was put on maternity leave from her job working in an ecology lab, and seemed to find herself spending most of her time sleeping or eating or having her midsection have extended one way conversations with her excited husband. Though to be honest she actually found pregnancy a great deal easier than she had expected to. She was beginning to wonder what all the fuss was about to be honest.
  13. 13. As it turned out, she found out towards the end what all the fuss was about as she found herself stopped very abruptly in her tracks one morning by very sharp pains in her abdomen. For the first time she was very grateful her husband didn’t work the usual nine to five, because it meant that when she screamed “DAVID! I THINK THE BABY’S COMING!” He was there to come running.
  14. 14. He appeared instantly, literally running through the bedroom door, and looking far calmer than she felt. “It’s ok hon. Just breathe. It’ll all be over soon!” He spoke with a calm he didn’t feel, her figured at least one of them needed to be, and besides, there wasn’t a whole lot he could do by the looks of things. So he made calming noises as Tara screamed bloody murder.
  15. 15. As it turned out, she was loud enough to wake the whole building literally. The paper girl was the first to rush in “I heard shouting! I thought I should come see if you wanted me to call 911 and oh-” Her gaze fell uncertainly on Tara. “Everything’s fine here thanks.” David reassured the paper girl his eyes never leaving Tara. “I really don’t need an audience for this!” Tara grinded out between clench teeth.
  16. 16. However an audience was exactly what Tara got, an by the time Tara had delivered the child, the sound of the screaming, the door left wide open by their paper girl and unchecked curiosity and unawareness of personal boundaries had attracted several of their neighbours as well. Tara cradled her new baby close as she looked around “This is very...nice of all of you and all, but I’m going to have to ask you to get the heck out of our living room. Now.”
  17. 17. With a small amount of coercing from the new father they eventually ushered the small crowd out and locked the door securely behind them, finally leaving the little family alone. “It’s a girl.” Tara told David, beaming, “And check it out, she’s just like a little mini me. A bald mini me, but she’s got my hair and my eyes. Hi mini me.” She bounced the baby a little. “I don’t think we can name a baby Mini me...” David grinned, scooping up the baby as carefully as his shaking hands would allow. “How about Madeleine?” “Why, not, hi Maddie, welcome to the family.”
  18. 18. “Sorry Maddie, you’re going to have to share your nursery with the office for the time being ok? But I promise one day when we have lots of money we’re going to get you a room all to yourself, you can even have a whole bunch of rooms, one just for your toys if you want. Does that sound good to you?” Madeleine Doran gurgled spit bubbles happily as her father put her in her crib next to the computer to tell him exactly what she thought about that.
  19. 19. The next few days every spare moment David and Tara didn’t spend at work, or shuffling around their work schedules to make sure someone was always at home with the baby, were spent doting on Maddie. Or almost every moment, there were those very rare occasions in which they managed to find themselves both at home at the same time with Maddie fast asleep that were spent catching up on quality couple time.
  20. 20. A few days later David, playing around with a pottery wheel Tara had found at thrift store idly, heard the noise of retching from the bathroom. “You ok sweetheart?” He asked, wiping clay from his hands as he straightened. “Not sure.” Tara replied pale faced as she raised her head from the toilet “Half hoping I’m sick, half hoping I’m not...mostly pretty sure I know what this is...”
  21. 21. “David what are we going to do?” “Mmm” David looked up from where he was happily rubbing Tara’s newly swollen belly a few days later as she flicked his ear. “We’re already short on room as it is, where are we going to put a new baby? In the closet?” “We’ll figure something out.” David smiled reassuringly.
  22. 22. “You keep saying that” Tara laughed “You can’t just keep saying it and make it true.” “It is, we always do figure something out. And I promise things are going to get easier soon. I do.” “I believe you.” Tara quirked him a smile “Maybe we can devise some crib bunk beds or something...” “There you go, see! We’re solving problems already.”
  23. 23. Because of Tara’s pregnancy tiring her out and the fact that they lived in an apartments with thin walls they decided to just buy a cake for Maddie from the bakery on the corner and have a quiet little night in to celebrate. Tara helped her blow out her candles as David cheered them on happily.
  24. 24. And in the blink of an eye there was a new toddler in the Doran house. Tara might have called Maddie Mini me when she was born, but as it turned out she took most strongly after her father, everything from the delicately pointed ears to fine high bone structure was inherited from David, though it was clear very quickly she had taken the most wilful and stubborn from both her parents side of the family and combined it in the form of a very head strong little girl.
  25. 25. “Tickles Mommy!” Maddie demanded, using a full twenty percent of the words she had learned since her birthday the night before, “Now!” “Well...mommy needs to go lie down a bit because the baby is playing keep mommy up all night by moving her tummy, but if you really want the tickle monster...” Maddie screamed in delight as her mother obligingly tickled her all over her tiny arms and legs. “And now, mommy and the tickle monster really need a lie down” “Baby monster!” Maddie declared, bringing her vocabulary count up to twelve.
  26. 26. Fortunately for Maddie and for mommy and the impending baby monster Daddy was more than happy to take up the relay of tickles games and story time until a thoroughly exhausted Madeleine consented to be put into bed, or decided some alone time with her favourite toy xylophone was in order.
  27. 27. Tara and David became so deeply entrenched in their rhythm of family and work it was almost a surprise for them to find themselves actually going out and socializing with other adults. But after managing to alter a dress to fit her ever growing stomach and unprying Maddie’s fingers from them for long enough to leave her with one of their neighbours for a few hours, they were present at Justin and Gabriella’s wedding.
  28. 28. The wedding was small and classic, Gabriella wore a simple gown and let her hair sit in it’s normal jagged cut and contented herself with getting Justin into a nice suit. They exchanged vows and their guests applauded as they kissed below the arch before beginning to mingle.
  29. 29. “Oh dear plumbbob it’s an epidemic.” Aileen eyed Tara’s pregnant shape critically “I didn’t even want one of these and yet somehow here I am, on pregnancy leave. I didn’t ask for this, I have skyscrapers to build you know. If you two aren’t careful you’ll be next.” She pointed warningly at Ginger and Gabriella as Tara laughed. “Yeah, I’ve got no plans to start turning into a baby factory just yet” Gabriella said flippantly. “Speak for yourself,” Ginger smiled a little ruefully...
  30. 30. “I’ve got three of these at home with the nanny. Virginia is my eldest, and then we just had twins, Freddie and Roger, and there’s a reason I’m not drinking at this wedding...”
  31. 31. “You’re all insane! I’m going to go find my boyfriend and ask him if it’s too late to put this one in an orphanage. Tara you’ll back me up when he comes and asks about Orphanages being much nicer places to be raised than actual real family homes.” “I’ll tell him that the Orphanage Mistresses are usually less psychotic than you are if that’ll help your cause at all.” “Good Good.” Aileen nodded seriously and waddled off as elegantly as she could manage, Ginger in toe.
  32. 32. Tara and Gabriella turned around to follow only to find themselves cornered by Marisa Cleveland who was eyeing Tara’s shape with pitying disapproval “Ah, Tara, it has been quite a while. Though I had heard you’d gotten yourself into a bit of a delicate situation.” Tara raised one eyebrow at her over her glasses “I wasn’t aware being married and having my second child qualified as delicate Mrs. Cleveland.” “Mmmm...I suppose...”
  33. 33. “I must admit after hearing about how strongly your father disapproved over the match I was surprised that you didn’t...reconsider. And I suppose now it is a little late. Ah laid plans of mice and men. You’ve broken you poor father’s heart you know my dear.” Tara winced a little and failed to notice the satisfied tone of the other woman’s voice “How is my Dad?” she asked carefully. “Oh what do I know” She waved a hand airily “I have been busy getting to know my new daughter in law here.” The last words were said through clenched teeth as Gabriella managed to look singularly unperturbed by the woman’s belittling presence.
  34. 34. “Good lord you are lucky you don’t have a mother in law.” Gabriella laughed when they finally escaped Marisa, patting Tara’s baby bump absently. “She’s driving me nuts.” “She’s never taken people standing up to her very well.” Tara confided. “She’s was a good enough reason for me not to marry Justin any day if you ask me. But I’m happy for you if you can put up with her.” “Thanks, and I’m happy for you.” “And I really need to find my own husband and go home before I give birth right here.”
  35. 35. Thankfully Tara managed to wait until the next morning before going into labour, just after waking up. “Ok, this officially doesn’t ever get any easier!” She screamed as her husband watched her trying to keep his cool. “At least this time the door’s locked right?”
  36. 36. After a bit more shouting Tara delivered a pale, dark haired and dark eyed baby girl, who they agreed to name Alice. Of all of them Maddie was arguably the most excited to meet her new sister. After some unsuccessful craning to see the new addition to the family her mother scooped her up for an introduction. Alice stared at Maddie. Maddie stared at Alice. “Not the smallest one anymore.” Maddie pronounced finally “You are baby monster.” After which she promptly lost interest and managed a surprise child like dive squirm from her mother’s arms to return to the land of the floor full of her toys.
  37. 37. “I really hate to do this to you guys” David sighed passing his newest daughter back to his wife “But I have to go to work.” “Now?” Tara looked at him surprised as she carefully took Alice. “Yeah, I know, I’m sorry.” The smile in his voice and looked up at him suspiciously. “You’re hiding something from me.”
  38. 38. “Yes I am.” David admitted freely “But if I told you what that was it wouldn’t be a surprise anymore would it.” “Fine, I’ll let you off the hook this time.” Tara conceded as David stole a quick kiss before waving goodbye to Alice. “Bye Alice, you’re not going to give mommy a hard time now are you. And you’ll make her tell you a bedtime story since daddy isn’t here.” “I can handle our daughters.” Tara laughed. “Don’t worry, everything will be fine.”
  39. 39. “And that is the story of how the princess stopped being a princess and spent her afternoon moving cribs and desks around, much much happier than if she hadn’t married the poor brave knight. And that little missy is the very complicated reason that you have to share your room with Alice the baby monster tonight ok?” “More stories!” Madeleine demanded happily. “Nope, we agreed on one story didn’t we. And you asked why you had to share with Alice, and that was the story. So no pulling the selective short memory thing on me young Lady.”
  40. 40. “Now good night my little angels...” “Sleep Tight...”
  41. 41. “Don’t let the bedbugs bite.”
  42. 42. “I feel like we enjoy this moment Samantha, our last before we become omnipotent. Before we take every drop of life force of soul of....power that we will ever need. Before we need to decide if we should conquer the whole world or just make humans pay for all those terrible witch hunts and murders of our kind over the past centuries... If you were even close to sane I know you would be agreeing with me right now... So come...”
  43. 43. “Let’s go become gods.”
  44. 44. “Ooooh look how sweet and tiny they are!” Samantha crooned as they materialized in the nursery “We haven’t tasted meat this young in a very long time have we sister dear.” “Hush Sam, you’ll wake them.” But it was too late Maddie was already beginning to stir in her crib.
  45. 45. “Oh no need to worry about her” Sam declared cheerfully, waving her wand in a quick motion that cut the rising whine on the tiny girl’s lips to mute silence. “Excellent” Kimberly chuckled softly “Just for that Sam darling I think you ought to have first pick. Which will it be for you to feast on tonight, the veal or the calf?” Sam smiled happily “I’ll take the tiny one please! Her soul is brimming with freshness!” “As you wish.”
  46. 46. “That leaves you all for me my precious pretty little thing! Now tell me do you prefer your essence consumed whole or piece by piece? Oh wait, of course you can’t tell me.” Kimberly fairly cackled as Madeleine felt her eyes brimming with tears, finding herself unable to scream for her mommy.
  47. 47. While Kimberly was busy gloating over a helpless toddler Samantha Cordial was smiling blissfully at her own tiny meal, cooing over Alice quietly as she reached into the crib and lifted her into her arms. “Oh aren’t you a sweet little things, I wonder if you will taste as sweet. What do you think my little one? You smell very sweet indeed. I can smell all the gifts buried in your blood from here little one! All the possibilities of things that could be for you. You must understand they are terribly wasted on you. You’ll be able to touch one, if any, in your whole life. And then you’ll go ruin it by dying so very young like all humans. It’s better this way you see.”
  48. 48. “I will make you sleep and dream and in your dreams little Alice you can be whoever you want.” Sam pulled the baby close to her chest as she began to mutter the words of the spell, she could feel the power building invisibly around the child in her arms until the spell reached it’s crescendo and the infant was primed. Pressing her lips to the child’s soft skin, Samantha took her first sip.
  49. 49. The rush hit Samantha’s mind with the force of a battering ram and the sudden unpleasant feeling of her brain being doused in icy water. “No.” She felt it happening and knew she couldn’t stop it. “NO!” Vaguely she heard her sister call out her name, felt the baby begin to fall from her fingers. “NO!” But it was too late.
  50. 50. A sleeping Alice halted midway to what would inevitably have been a deadly fall to the floor by Kimberly’s magic even as Samantha staggered backwards, breathing hard, smashing into the crib in her hurry to get away from the but.
  51. 51. “Bloody Hell Sam, try to be more careful with these things, they’re fragile at this age, and a dead infant does us no good at all.” Kimberly chastised her sister as she carefully levitated Alice back into her crib before turning and looking properly at her sister.
  52. 52. “Sam?” The other woman was clutching her pain making noises of intense agony. “Sam...” Kimberly placed once concerned hand on her sister’s arm “Samantha?” “It’s in my head! It’s in my head! What did I do! What’s happening to me!” Samantha was weeping now and in her pain and distress her spell on Maddie slipped and the little girl decided that would be as good a time as any to start screaming again. “MOMMMMMMMMYYYYYY!”
  53. 53. Kimberly swore violently under her breath but wasted no more time as she heard the distinct sound of approaching footsteps echoing through the tiny apartment. “MOMMMMMMMMYYYYYY!” Madeleine screamed again as Kimberly grabbed her sister’s still trembling wrist and began the teleportation spell.
  55. 55. “Maddie sweetie what’s wrong! Are you hurt!” Tara stopped and took in the scene of her toddler screaming in wordless tears at the empty room as if hell itself were opening up around her crib. “MOMMMY!” She sobbed as Tara rushed to her side.
  56. 56. “Mommy!” Maddie snuffled into her mother’s shoulder a few times before clenching her arms around her shirt “There were evil witchessses!” “Oh sweetie.” Tara smoothed her daughter’s hair back from her brow comfortingly “It was just a dream.” “NO! It was real!” Madeleine protested. “Well...if you say so.” Tara smiled at her daughter “But mommy’s here now. I won’t let anything happen to you. Not ever. Now what do you say we go play some games until you get sleepy again. Hmmm? I’d suggest a story, but maybe we’ll go easy on those for a bit if you’re going to have bad dreams.”
  57. 57. Ultimately David managed to make it home before Madeleine was overcome by another wave of tiredness “Daddy!” the tiny red head declared jubilantly punctuating her happiness with a particularly forceful bash of the xylophone. “You two are still up!” He exclaimed patting Maddie on the head. “We had a little bit of trouble sleeping because of some nightmares.” She confided in him “What about you, you’re home already?” Tara smiled at him as she pushed herself to her feet “How was work?”
  58. 58. “That good huh?” She laughed as he swept her into a firm embrace “So go on what’s the surprise I’ve been hearing so much about?” “It’s easier if I show you. In the morning.” “You’re going to keep me in suspense then.” “Only until morning.” “Gee I wonder what we could possibly do to keep ourselves busy between now and then.”
  59. 59. “Sam! Samantha! Say something Sammy! Are you all right? Are you hurt? What’s the matter.” Kimberly reached out a tentative hand to her sister as she sat cradling herself on the ground. “Samantha say something! Are you ok?”
  60. 60. “I’m fine.” Samantha finally looked up at her sister and what Kimberly saw in her face made her step back. She looked exactly the same yet completely different. There was no more hazy cloud over her expression, no childish grin on her face, no too wide eyes staring up at her without understanding her. “Really I’m fine.” She said in a flat voice slowly beginning to push herself to her feet. “For the first time in eight hundred years I feel good.”
  61. 61. Kimberly stared at her sister “What’s wrong with you. This isn’t’re not behaving like yourself. What did that cursed child do to you?” “She fixed me...” Kimberly inspected her hands curiously “I was broken I’ve been broken all these years... And she fixed me. Somewhere in that elf DNA of theirs lies infinite possibilities...waiting to manifest, I obviously tasted the right one when I began to drink from her...I must have taped into something...some sort of self healing ability...or something psychic perhaps... I don’t know, I don’t care. I just feel so normal.”
  62. 62. “You have no idea what it’s like Kimberly. Seeing the whole world as if from inside a dream, as if you’re one step away from it in a haze that clouds up your mind and makes you unable to think or see or understand. It’s been terrible. And all these years...” A pained expression passed over Sam’s face “You’ve done nothing to help me. And right now...” Sam turned a disgusted look onto her sister “I don’t think I can even look at you.”
  63. 63. She took a step to leave but, Kimberly was faster than her waving her wand quickly Sam stopped short as the fire erupted in her path, coming so close to her it singed her dress. “I knew there was a reason I always hated you sane.” Kimberly arched an eyebrow at Samantha as she turned to face her. “Do no t kid yourself by believing you can leave Samantha, you are far too weak without me. In fact I’m astonished you’ve managed to go all of five minutes without going insane again. All it took the first time was one dead mother and a few children we killed. Now...eight hundred years worth of thousands of dead infants swirling around in your mind...doesn’t it just make you want to snap”
  64. 64. Sam’s wand moved too quickly for Kimberly to see as the fire she had created, erupted into violent bursts that licked at the walls for a moment, encircling the other woman, giving her no where to go, before extinguishing themselves as quickly as they had appeared. Sam quirked an eyebrow at her sister in amusement, even as she patted a flamed on her own dress “No, I think it would give you far too much pleasure if weak little me were to snap all over again. So I refuse to...sister dear”
  65. 65. Kimberly Cordial only glared. “Careful dear, at that rate you’ll use up you magic so fast you’ll need to feed again in a matter of years. And wouldn’t that be inconvenient for poor righteous little you?” “Kimberly I am warning you...this was not the way we were raised, not to hurt innocent children for our own gain...that was all dark side nonsense and you know mother never had any part in that. We must stop this.” “Ah yes...dear mother, always so good, and look where that ended her up. Burnt alive before she even reached half a century.”
  66. 66. “We chose a different path when we killed the children of her executioners and here we are still all these centuries later. What do you think the moral of this story is Sammy?” “Kimberly I am not wasting my sanity on discussing the past with you. I am talking about the future and offering you a choice. You can stop with me, or I can leave here forever and, next time you try to steal a soul I will be there, but this time not to help you.”
  67. 67. The two women stared at each other from across the room for a moment, before Kimberly turned away, “Then I guess you’d better get the hell out of my house sister dear. Delicate sensibilities like yours won’t like the dark things that happen in the night here.” Samantha Cordial quirked a smile at her sister’s back as she stared out the window at the growing light of day “Well’s a good thing it’s almost dawn.”
  68. 68. “This can’t be what I actually think it is. I mean it’s a house. It’s clearly a house. A very nice house in the most expensive district in the city. Which is why you can’t possibly mean that it’s our house.” “It’s our house.” “Ok, so it is what I think it is.”
  69. 69. “David...” Tara was feeling a little light headed by the whole experience “How can we afford this?” He quirked a smile at her “It actually wasn’t as expensive as it looks. It needs some furnishing still, and a lot of the rooms could use redecorating. And I was promoted yesterday and you didn’t look into our bills but when you were pregnant with Alice your job paid you six times your normal salary as part of their ‘family friendly’ initiative. In the last week we’ve doubled the money we had in the bank. And I know I should’ve consulted you first before buying a house, but I heard about this place coming on sale and I just sort of jumped. What do you think?”
  70. 70. “House.” Maddie piped up to fill her mother’s speechlessness “Our house.” “Yep, but only if mommy agrees.” David told Madeleine gravely. “Oh mommy definitely agrees.” Tara laughed bouncing the toddler on her hip “David this is amazing.” He grinned at her “I knew you’d love it. Come on, I haven’t even shown you the best part.”
  71. 71. “This little miss Alice is your nursery and you’re lucky there’s no computer or desk in sight. Everything in here is just for you.” “Where’s my sleep!” Maddie asked curiously as her father set her sister down in the spot she had assumed was intended for her.
  72. 72. “Right over here Maddie. You get your own room. Just like I promised you when you were very little. Your own room full of toys!” As her mother stared Maddie let out a tiny squeak of delight and squirmed out of her arms in order to explore.
  73. 73. As soon as her arms were toddler free Tara knew exactly where they should go. “Have I told you that I love you lately?” She asked David seriously. “Not that I can recall.” “Ok...because I do.” “I love you too.”
  74. 74. “Hi, sorry I know this is none of my business” Samantha started at the sound of the voice and it took her a moment to realize the man next to her on the bench was in fact addressing her “But..if you’ve just been in a fire you should really go to a hospital for smoke inhalation.” Sam opened her mouth to ask how he knew she’d been near fire when she remembered the scorch marks across her once white dress. “I know this sounds weird by the way. I’m not trying to be creepy or anything...just I’m a doctor and I know the long term damage it can do to you if you don’t get checked out right away.” Samantha nodded vaguely “Oh...all right...thank you...that’s very...kind...”
  75. 75. They sat for a moment of silence longer before Samantha piped up this time “How exactly does this work? The buses I mean...I’ve been sitting here for a while trying to understand it and so far I’m drawing a blank.” “You’ve never taken public transportation before?” The Dark haired man looked at her curiously. “No, usually I fly, but I left the house in such a rush I left my broomstick at home.” Sam realized what she’d just said too late, but thankfully for her the man was laughing, as if she were joking.
  76. 76. “ depends on where you’re trying to get to.” “Ah...yes, it would probably help to have a destination in mind wouldn’t it.” Sam chewed her lip helplessly as the man looked at her sideways. “Uh...look...I know this is none of my business but...are you all right. Do you have somewhere to live?” “Not as of this morning no. My sister and I had a fairly colossal fight. Not the kind that you make up afterwards either...” “Yeah I know what that’s like actually...”
  77. 77. “My old roommate... Chastity, she and I had one of those huge fights a while back. We used to be really close, and then it got complicated between us. And then she got obsessed with this kid in college for like all of five minutes, and then after him she was obsessed with the next guy, then the next, then the one after that. It was kind of ridiculous. suddenly it was as if she couldn’t keep her focus on any one person, including me. After that we discovered we wanted really different things and so...slamming doors ensued.” “Ah...sorry about that.” The man smiled ruefully “Hey, it’s not your fault.”
  78. 78. Samantha decided to let him believe that, even though in all likelihood it was somewhat her fault, if not entirely. She remembered the girl, Chastity Gere. The spell they had cast on her was one that acted in two halves, a half belonging to each target of the love spell. The half that had been cast on the elf boy however had failed, it had rolled off him and left Chastity with half of a broken spell on her back, having failed in uniting her with the target of the other half. Which meant one half of a spell was attached to her still seeking out the non existent other half of the spell. So her half would simply keep seeking out targets until it fulfilled its purpose. Which of course it never could, it had no other half. Samantha made a mental note to seek out the Chastity girl and see what she could do about that. She might not be able to give all those children back their souls but she could at least fix this.
  79. 79. “It was probably for the best.” The man was saying “The only issue is that I now need a new room mate. Being a Doctor doesn’t pay as well as you would think, and I can’t handle rent on my own.” “ know...If you have an extra room...I seem to be a little short of a place to live at the moment...and I do have some money stored away,” Samantha lied on that last count, already making plans to procure the ingredients for alchemy. “Really? That would be...perfect actually.” The man smiled at her, a warm generous smile.
  80. 80. “And it doesn’t weird you out to live with some potentially crazy person you met at a bus stop?” “ seem nice. And while I’m sure those are what you would call “famous last words” I have faith this will work out. I’m Sam by the way...Samantha, but my sis- friends, my friends call me Sam. And it would be a good idea for us to be friends if we’re going to live together, wouldn’t it Mr....?” “Oh, Gabriel, Gabriel Green” The brown haired man supplied with a smile “And I think I’m going to like having you as a friend. Just friends this time of course.” He pulled a face laughing “More famous last words right there.”
  81. 81. That evening Tara and David threw a joint house warming and birthday party in their still only half furnished house. However no one seemed to mind as they came to help usher little Alice Doran into toddler hood.
  82. 82. Where Madeleine took so strongly after her father there was no denying that Alice was her mother’s daughter, with the same rounded cheeks and diminutive button nose. Madeleine took charge of her immediately.
  83. 83. “And see...see aaaaaaaaalllll this....” She waved one chubby arm over the mess of the activity table “Mommy and Daddy say not to put it in your mouth but I don’t care because I pretend like it’s candy and then it tastes yummy! Because it’s delish! See!” She stuck a crayon in her mouth to demonstrate, as Alice hurried to follow suit and begin chewing on a block. “Nom Nom.” She agreed happily “Good Baby monster!” Madeleine beamed gleefully at her dark haired little sister who happily beamed back.
  84. 84. The girl’s time as toddlers together was short lived however, Maddie’s birthday came soon after Alice’s. “Do you want a party too Maddie bear? With cake and guests and lots of people.” “No! Don’t be silly daddy!” Madeleine Doran shook her head gleefully “I just want cake! No people, ‘cept you and mommy and baby Monster.”
  85. 85. So naturally the family complied and provided the cake and nothing else for Maddie’s birthday, and she happily blew out her candles as her mother cheered her on before transitioning into a child, and immediately deciding the situation called for a change of clothes.
  86. 86. Alice didn’t even blink at the fact that her favourite and only playmate and sister had transitioned into a larger person when they settled down to their games again this afternoon and it was in the middle of a very elaborate colouring and story time session that their father found them several hours later.
  87. 87. “What’re my favourite girls up to?” “Lots of stuff! Lots and lots!” Maddie replied vaguely, simultaneously covering her drawing of a bird as secretively as she could.
  88. 88. “Ok, well Daddy has to head to work, you two be good for mommy tonight ok?” “Bye Daddy!” Alice waved a chubby arm distractedly as he hugged first Maddie before picking up his squirming youngest and cuddling her close.
  89. 89. At which point David turned, walked straight into a wall, and staggered back from the unexpected impact.
  90. 90. “Ow!” He rubbed his nose as the girls giggled. “Nice move Daddy!” Maddie grinned. “Funny Daddy!” Alice clapped “Do it again!”
  91. 91. Tentatively David reached out a hand and touched the wall. His palms pressed against the wall paper and refused to go any further, it remained completely solid and impenetrable below his touch. David frowned “That’s weird.”
  92. 92. “Lost your power? That’s ridiculous, you can’t just lose something like that, it’s not like it’s a set of keys or a favourite jacket, it’s part of you!” David frowned, more concerned that he was letting on “I’s strange. I kind of hate it.” “There must be a logical explanation, I could be anything...a weird planetary alignment, something you ate, stress...maybe it’s just temporary..maybe it’s psychological!”
  93. 93. “Think fast.” Tara chucked the teddy bear at her husband and watched as it bounced off his chest. David blinked at her “What was that for?” “I dunno...I wanted to see if maybe you weren’t thinking so hard about it the bear might just...go right through you. But clearly you really seem to be short on powers at the moment. They really are just...gone.”
  94. 94. “And...actually that might explain some of it...” David turned to follow Tara’s gaze just in time to catch Alice strolling casually straight through the tiny activity table. “What the-”
  95. 95. “Alice did you take daddy’s powers?” Alice smiled blankly up at her father, not understanding “Did you see what I did daddy?” She asked proudly. David quirked an eyebrow at her “Yeah, I did...listen...Daddy has to go to work now, he’s already late...but when I come back we’re going to sort this out ok. Even if I have to tickle my powers back out of you.” “EEE! No tickles” Alice laughed as he set her back down.
  96. 96. “Use the door sweetie.” Tara instructed patiently as David walked straight into a wall again. “Right, habit.” He rubbed his nose, grinning a little in spite of himself. “You should really keep a close eye on Alice by the way...” “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure there’s no escape made to the middle of the street. Not that she can get hit by a car if she can just let them pass right through her...” “I really don’t want to run that experiment.” “Agreed.”
  97. 97. After David left for work Tara spent a curious evening watching Alice run back and forth straight through things, always making sure she was stopped before she could make an escape through a wall. Maddie sat down next to her, apparently completely unperturbed by the strange happenings. “It’s ‘cause of the witches.” She explained rationally, “They tried to cast a spell on her.” “Mmm...I’m sure it is.” Tara agreed smiling.
  98. 98. It was sometime after midnight, when Maddie had finally been put to bed, and an excitable Alice showed no sign of slowing down long enough to sleep, that she ran smack dab into a wall. She blinked for a moment as she sat down hard and then began to cry loudly.
  99. 99. “Awwww, sweetie.” Tara scooped up the bawling toddler and held her close “What happened baby? Did you bump your head?” “OWWWWYYYYY! MOMMY BOOBOO ON MY HEAD!” Alice sobbed. “Shhhhh, shhhh, it’s ok sweetheart, I’ve got you, I’ll kiss it and make it all better ok.” Tara murmured reassurances until Alice’s crying turned into hiccupping sobs and then subsided entirely, as her mother considered the implications of the strange events.
  100. 100. “Temporary?” David asked experimentally pacing through the dining room table “She took my powers...temporarily?” “That’s the way it looks. I mean, I’m sure she didn’t do it on purpose or anything, put maybe all it takes is you being around her for it to happen.” “I picked her up before I left...but I do that all the time!”
  101. 101. “So maybe it doesn’t happen all the time.” Tara shrugged “We’re just going to have to be careful around her I guess, in case she can accidentally absorb other stuff from people.” “You mean like other talents?” “Who saw how good Alice is at playing that little xylophone when she’s around Maddie and Maddie has that instrument perfected to a T.”
  102. 102. “Well...let’s just cross our fingers and hope the next one is less complicated right!” “ one?” Tara bit her lip “Did I forget to mention I was pregnant again?” “You did.” “Eh...well...I figured you would’ve worked it out eventually what with the fact that I’m about to blow up like a balloon again any day.” “Fair enough.”
  103. 103. True enough Tara had soon began to show again, just as Maddie started school and life settled into a normal pace of work, and homework and for Alice, play time, who was totally perplexed at the sudden limited time her elder sister seemed able to spend in the nursery with her. In spite of the excitement of the first Day Maddie was quick to discover school was not really her thing, she too would much rather have stayed at home and played with Alice.
  104. 104. “School will be sooooo much better after tonight Alice! ‘cause it’s your birthday and then you’ll be big and you’ll be at school with me and we can have fun together!” “School! Birthday!” Alice exclaimed happily. From the bottom of the stairs Tara’s voice drifted up into the bedroom “Maddie! It’s time to get ready for the bus!” “Awesome, more school” Maddie rolled her eyes as she got to her feet reluctantly. But sarcasm was lost on a toddler. “Yay! School!” Alice replied again, cheery as ever.
  105. 105. “Moooom you don’t need to watch me to make sure I get on the school bus. It’s embarrassing.” “Well tough sweetie I’m not taking any chances after the attempted escape yesterday.” “Fine.” Maddie sighed, visibly dragging her feet towards the big yellow bus. “Oh don’t make that face. School can be fun! And it’ll be over before you know it, and then you can come home and have cake for Alice’s birthday.” This seemed to cheer Maddie somewhat and she picked up her pace a little.
  106. 106. She’d nearly made it to the school bus when she caught sight of a figure walking down the street. A figure that was far too familiar but that she’d almost managed to convince herself only inhabited her nightmares. Maddie stopped. Maddie stared. And then Maddie Screamed and bolted.
  107. 107. “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” “So close and yet so far.” Tara shook he head ruefully as her daughter dashed back up the steps towards her and away from the yellow bus. “Mommy! Mommy! It’s the witch!” “What?”
  108. 108. “There! The lady!” She flung herself into her mother’s arms “She’s the witch.” “Oh sweetie don’t be ridiculous. That’s just Miss Cordial.” Tara said recognizing the slightly odd twin sister of her father’s girlfriend she had met once or twice. From the sidewalk Samantha waved a little awkwardly “Hi...sorry I didn’t mean to scare anyone.” Sighing Tara guided her eldest daughter down to the sidewalk.
  109. 109. “Maddie, this is miss Cordial, can you do me a favour and apologize to her for calling her a witch?” “But Mooooom, she is a witch!” “Maddie” Tara gave her first born a warning look and little girl sighed. “Sorry Miss Cordial.” “Good girl. Now go to school” Tara ushered a still reluctant looking Madeleine up into the school bus as she seemingly tried to decide what was worse school or evil witches. Witches won out. Just barely.
  110. 110. “Sorry about her” Tara shrugged as the school bus pulled away, “She has a bit of an active imagination.” “No harm done.” Samantha nodded politely, inwardly breathing a sigh of relief. A moment of awkward silence passed as Tara wondered what to say to the woman she had frankly always thought was a little weird, which was saying something by her standards, and as Samantha wondered what modern etiquette dictated one say to someone whose daughters you had once attempted to devour the souls of.
  111. 111. “So...what are you doing in our neck of the woods?” Tara settled on finally. “Oh...well...” I was attempting to subtly ward your children so they might be safe from my sister in the future, Samantha might be a little out of touch with modern reality, but she at least had the sense not to say that out loud “I was...just strolling.” She lied lamely “Looking around the neighbourhood...not that this is my neighbourhood...we’re further really I was just...strolling.” Fortunately Tara did not question the explanation. “So, how are you sister and my Dad doing? Are they still seeing each other? I know that’s sort of a weird question to ask but...I don’t really speak to my Dad anymore, so I thought...maybe you knew how he was?”
  112. 112. “I’m sorry, I’m not really on speaking terms with my sister anymore either.” “Oh...fair enough.” Tara hid her disappointment and then because she could only stand in the middle of the street in her pyjamas for so long she asked “Do you want to come in and have some coffee? I have a sleeping toddler on my hands who’s not great for conversation. I could use some adult company while my husband is at work.” Samantha blinked at her “That’s very ...kind of you.” Tara couldn’t help but notice the way she said it suggested a deep mistrust of kindness, or at least the fact that she was completely unused to it. “Very well.” Samantha agreed finally, albeit a little hesitantly.
  113. 113. It didn’t take Tara long to get used to the somewhat strange or nonsensical comments that Samantha Cordial occasionally let drop, and by the time they were finishing their coffee and an extremely pleasant conversation Tara was beginning to think that maybe her teenage mind had simply exaggerated the oddness of this woman she had barely known. “I should probably get dressed.” Tara found herself saying it with reluctance to leave the conversation as she finished the last dregs of coffee. “I should be going as well.” Samantha smiled brightly “Can I use your bathroom before I go?” “Oh sure, it’s up the stairs middle door on your right.”
  114. 114. Out of Tara’s sight it was the easiest thing in the world to find the nursery where Alice was happily playing with a toy rocket , she waved a chubby arm at Samantha as she entered “Hello!” Sam felt a sudden odd craving, like one of someone beginning a diet and being faced with a dish she had sampled before and enjoyed so very much...but she pulled herself together rapidly and produced her want from where it was concealed muttering the words to the protection spell over the child as quickly as she could. “Sparklies!” Alice grinned happily as she allowed the spell to settle itself around her.
  115. 115. “So listen” Tara said as she was seeing Samantha off “we’re having a little party for Alice’s birthday tonight. We’d love you to come by if you wanted to. You can even bring your room mate if you want.” Samantha smiled warmly “I would like that very much. Thank you.”
  116. 116. That evening as promised, Samantha and Gabriel, along with the usual suspects were in attendance to see Alice Doran, become a child. Even Maddie seemed to temporarily forget her terror of Samantha Cordial in all the excitement, and fortunate neither she nor anyone else noticed the witch quietly casting a protection spell over her like she had her sister that morning.
  117. 117. Alice eagerly leaned over her cake and allowed herself to be assisted a little begrudgingly in blowing out her candles before transitioning in a shower of sparkles to a cute child who immediately grabbed her cake and ran off to find a change of clothes.
  118. 118. Once she was changed Alice wasted no time in getting to know her guests “You’re the sparkly Lady!” she said bluntly butting into a conversation between Gabriel and Samantha. “You were here this morning.” “Ummm...yes I was.” Samantha said, carefully avoiding the mention of the “sparklies”. “Who are you?” She turned to Gabriel now. “Oh- I’m Gabriel. I like with Samantha. Hello, it’s nice to meet you young lady.”
  119. 119. “Yeah yeah, but what are you!” Alice demanded. “Well...I’m a doctor, in paediatrics, so I look after kids like you and-” “No I mean what are you! Are you her boyfriend or her husband! Geez, the question is not that hard mister!” Samantha and Gabriel traded a look, the former flushing a little “Oh no dear, we’re just friends.” “Friends...who live together...” Alice turned the idea around before boldly declaring “That’s stupid. You should just get married, ‘specially if you live together already.” That opinion expressed, she dashed off, leaving a slightly awkward pair of roommates in silence, staring after her.
  120. 120. “That was actually a lot of fun.” Gabriel declared as the pair returned to their house further down town later that night. “And you know I actually think I know Tara’s father, he’s a frequent donor to the hospital, especially for all the research around the kids with the sleeping sickness.” Sam smiled “I was worried you would find a child’s birthday party boring.” “No, I love kids. I mean, I guess that’s obvious I’m a paediatric doctor but, I really do love kids. They say the funniest things sometimes too. Like Alice just telling us to get married.”
  121. 121. “I mean...not that that’s such a completely stupid notion” Gabriel added quickly “I mean, if we were dating I’d marry you in a second...if we were dating that is...which we don’t want to do, because we’re living together, and that would complicate things...” “I’m getting the impression you are trying to drive at something and I’m afraid I have no idea what it is...” Samantha stared at him blankly.
  122. 122. “Sam would you like to go out on date with me?” Gabriel asked so quickly the words were tripping over each other to get out there. Samantha felt a smile draw at her lips “Won’t that...complicate things?” “I’m afraid so.” Gabriel nodded gravely “But the whole living together with me having a giant boyish crush on you is already complicating things so I’m afraid this is our only way.” “Then yes, I would love to go out on a date with you.”
  123. 123. The morning after Alice’s birthday it was a somewhat less reluctant Maddie that was ushered onto the bus with her excited sister leaving their parents to lounge around unfairly in their pyjamas, for the first time without children. Which did not last long. “Umm...hon...I think you’re going to have to let those pancakes get cold. I could use a little bit of help over her.” Tara managed through clenched teeth as she felt the familiar pains of contractions.
  124. 124. David stood up straight through his chair in shock “Oh. Ok...right. Now? Good. Just remember to breathe and...other things. You know what you’ve done this before you’ll be fine.”
  125. 125. Naturally Tara was fine, and a few moments of screaming later she was holding a new born little girl in her arms. Like Maddie she had her mother’s red hair and brown eyes, which blinked widely up at her parents. David and Tara traded a silent smile “Eloise?” “Eloise it is. Welcome to the family sweetheart.”
  126. 126. That is the end of Part 4 and normally I would just end the chapter at...the end of the chapter. But this time around we have children and since I didn’t put their stats in the chapter itself right here seems like a good place to lay them out for you, so: Madeleine Doran: Virgo 10/1/9/10/1 Alice Doran: Scorpio 7/7/8/3/3 Eloise Doran: Capricorn 10/7/3/6/9 I will see you next time with more from these three girls! Hope you enjoyed 