Dawn in San Francisco

After the hospital

Wendy sat in front of the TV in Kevin’s basement, trying hard to keep her eyes open. The bright light of the screen flickered in the edge of her vision. She didn’t want to sleep. She was afraid of falling asleep again and being trapped, or of this life turning out not to be true. Even though she knew that she had been under a spell, a part of her remembered this… other life. And she didn’t want to go back to it, because it hadn’t been very happy. Not dangerous like this current moment seemed to be, but not good either. She remembered the fights with Marco when they had dated, of losing her other best friend to a stupid argument, of hating the things she loved in this reality. It was a scary glimpse into what could have been.

She could feel herself slumping against Kevin’s shoulder. He was still awake, although his eyes were shut. The voices in the background burbled. They had been watching… a cooking programme? Or maybe one of those ones about redecorating houses. She liked those. It had just been something to try and take away the day they had. Part of her hadn’t wanted to, because doing something normal reminded her too much of the dream, but at the same time they had needed to get away from the weird and terrifying shit that came with associating with they queens. She still didn’t know what had happened while they were asleep. She hoped nothing had happened. She hoped that nobody would come back for him.

Maybe the people behind the disappearances and the weird hospital had just attacked them for the tablet. They had lost that during the kidnapping, so perhaps that would be it. Maybe they hadn’t known that Kevin set off the tablet. It might be OK.

She could still remember the other life. It was fading now. She’d had… a lot of boyfriends? But she hadn’t really liked any of them after while. They had all been missing something. She could feel her eyes shutting and she couldn’t stop them any more. Her head drooped on Kevin’s shoulder.

It should have been you, you know.

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An undesireable truth

Wendy turned in horror as the redcaps grabbed Kevin. She reached to the work bench behind her, to grab anything that would get them off him. A wrench? Damn it, she had been hoping for something sharper, or hotter. A screwdriver maybe, or a blowtorch. It would have to do, as she lunged at them.

It proved fruitless. Wendy was by no means weak or unskilled, but the things she usually hit or carved up didn’t tend to fight back. Her aim was clouded by fear and rage and she could only hit ineffectually. They shrugged off her blows. Kevin hung unconscious between their burly arms. She wasn’t sure how it had happened, she hadn’t seen them hit him. And then the world tore as the redcaps opened a portal.

It had been something of a joke at first. They’d been typical teenagers, thoughtless, immature and more than a little culturally insensitive. It was a coping mechanism of sorts, to pretend that the fey queens wouldn’t really need something serious from them. And then they had activated the tablet, and it had burned Kevin and suddenly everything seemed a lot darker and more real. She wouldn’t have minded so much if it had been someone else. But the idea that somebody was hunting Kevin… it made her sick and afraid. They didn’t know what had happened to the missing people, but these things rarely ended well. As long as they could avoid spreading it around and keep Kevin out of sight, he would be safe.

How had they found him? The only people that knew besides the four of them were the wizard, because he had activated the tablet, and Queen Willow because Kevin had a terrible poker face and couldn’t keep his mouth shut. Could they have been betrayed? Or was it just dumb luck on the hunters’ part?

The redcaps dragged the unconscious Kevin through the portal. Wendy saw the huge figure of the troll lunge past her after them. She didn’t even have think about it. They had taken Kevin. Nobody could take Kevin from her.

Wendy plunged through the portal.

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Chosen

“…less apocalyptical…unless something changed…adventure…”
Could he have jinxed it any harder? He could have slapped Mab in the face and still be in less trouble than he was now.

“Jew fairies”. It had been so much easier to be light-hearted and goofy about it when he wasn’t one of them – the mysterious fae bloodline that were for some unknown reason being hunted by fae nazis.
Now it was serious. The psychos who hunted them now hunted him. They had hunted him before he found out too, of course, but you can’t fear what you don’t know. Now he knew, so now he could fear.
But also, because he knew, he could prepare. He had the advantage of knowing that he was hunted, whereas his hunters didn’t know he was their prey. The tablet only triggered within very close proximity of him, so they would have to be near him to find him. So he could hide. He could make weapons. He could start being nicer to the Summer Court Knight-Commander Troll that he recently started hanging out with (for starters, no more accusing her of being a serial killer).

The group stepped through his portal, into Kevin’s basement. Home. They were safe here, for now. Time to get out, and get to work with…
…why is the door locked?
The basement door was never locked.
Great. Now he would have to break the lock or unhinge the door or something, which would cost them valuable time. He started fidgeting with the lock, when the spirits that frequented his workspace started acting up again.
“This day just cannot get any worse.” he mumbled to himself.
At that exact moment, all hell broke lose.
Stupid brain! Need to stop jinxing things! Need to get out of here! Need to break free from these two guys! Need to-

Something hit Kevin in the head, and everything went black.

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Constants and changes

Kevin was unsure what to think. A year or so had passed since he’d last had anything to do with the Arcadian royalty, and not being expendable and/or in lethal danger was definitely great – but yet, ever since then he had felt a restlessness in the back of his mind.

At first he had thought it was fear, of vengeful villains and their henchmen. He had even made himself a weapon, a sword fasioned out of a pocket knife he had found in his workshop-slash-basement, which had turned out pretty great (except that he couldn’t get the shape of the blade quite right, no matter how many times he reforged it).
But it hadn’t helped. While he was making the sword, the restlessness had disappeared, but once he was done it had returned again.
As time went on Kevin had to reluctantly admit to himself that he in some way missed the world-saving business.

So when he and Wendy were called to the dean’s office, and the clocks had started to spin backwards, he had been both worried and excited.

The group had changed though. Marco had spent the past couple of months out of town, and the Marco that returned was very different from the one that left.
Jay had disappeared as well, no one seemed to know whereto, so for the new quest the queens had decided to replace her with some other, somewhat grumpier woman. Kevin was not too impressed with her thus far, but she had a dragon, which was totally awesome, so he would give her a chance.
Luckily he still had Wendy at least. She would always have his back.

As fore the mission itself – well, the good news was that it seemed less apocalyptic than the last one. Unless (who am I kidding – Until) that changed, it was an adventure! Sweet!

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Marco's Realisation

Marco had only managed to see Hazel once during the weeks after Aurora had been thwarted. The first time had been while the Queens had been thanking them and he didn’t even get chance to talk to her. With Willow taking Hazel back to Arcadia to resume her lessons there had been little opportunity for them to meet. He had gone to see her but been turned away at the gates. But Marco did not know how to give up. He returned daily and every day they told him the same thing. “Lady Hazel will not be seeing anybody for the foreseeable future and will not be taking any messages”. But he persisted until one day they promised to tell her that he had come to see her. When he returned the next day they told him that she had informed then to let him know that she would get in touch when they could meet.

In this time Marco returned to his home farm and waited. After a couple of weeks of arguing with his parents over why he wasn’t at school and what he was doing with his life Marco finally got a message back from her. A small butterfly perched on his windowsill and spoke in the gritty tone he had come to expect from these message systems. It told him that she had been allowed more freedom and could take visitors.

In the following weeks they met almost daily. Hazel told him how she had started to become friends with Wendy and how her mother had been taking weekly personal lessons with her to teach her the proper ways of a Lady because “Obviously her previous teachers had done an abominable job of it”. These visits became the highlight of Marco’s days but soon they grew shorter and longer between. Hazel insisted that her mother had her working longer and it just happened to coincide with his visits.

Soon their last visit came (albeit unknowingly to them) in which they talked about Hazel’s studies and what Marco had been doing. Once Hazel became aware that he had left school, gone home and wasting weeks away she suggested that he “Maybe have a think about what he wanted to do now”. That night Marco lay awake in his bed thinking about their conversations. Obviously Hazel was starting to think about her future and was deciding if he was going to be in it. Obviously she needed to concentrate on her work right now. Obviously she wanted a man who knew what he wanted and not a boy who had no idea. And so obviously there was only one thing for Marco to do. He spent the next morning making an agreement with his parents and packing his things. He then sent Inkahhhh to Hazel to inform her that he was leaving and set off to find himself

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A new beginning

Wendy sat in Kevin’s basement watching him leaf through the books. She had tried a quick skim, but her head just wasn’t in the right place. It had been over a year since the events of the summer solstice. She had been on tenterhooks for months, waiting for someone from Aurora’s camp to come and get revenge or from the queens asking for another ‘favour you can’t refuse’. But they hadn’t. It had been quiet, and as the months passed she had begun to relax. Clearly it had been a one-off, the queens had realised how foolish it was to ask for help from teenage changelings with no political or magical power to speak of.

She had hoped to make some more friends. Peril has a tendency to break the ice. But then Marco had gone home, ostensibly to ‘patch things up’ with his parents, and simply disappeared. She didn’t know how to be friends with Jay, they were just… different. And so things had drifted back to the way they were. She spent a lot of time with Kevin, and a lot of time by herself. She started making furniture, small pieces, and selling them at craft fairs. Once she was done with making something, she always lost interest in it. Having it sit around her loft, with the one flaw that only she could see just glaring at her was too annoying. And she could use the money to get more supplies.

The one thing that had changed was Hazel. Wendy had never really had female friends before. Her parents would invite other girls over to play when she was little, but the only friend that had ever stuck was Kevin. But she felt a certain awkward kinship to Hazel. She spent a lot of time visiting Hazel in her confinement, instead of visiting the library. It was strange at first. But the two had more than a little in common. Wendy knew that Hazel hadn’t – nor would unlikely ever have – another friend who just wanted to be her friend, instead of wanting something from her. It was sad how grateful the other girl seemed to be. The two girls grew quite close, especially after Marco disappeared. Hazel spent a lot of time over the next few months crying, and Wendy a lot of time comforting. At one point Kevin even commented on it. Wendy wondered if he was jealous that she had another friend. But that was a mean thought. Nobody was a better friend than Kevin.

And then the queens came back. Wendy had behaved childishly in the office. She had known, same as Kevin, that something supernatural was happening, but she hadn’t wanted to admit it. They were too young and inexperienced to be dragged into fairy politics. She just wanted to hang out with her friends and make beautiful things. She guessed that was what happened when you grew up in a creative household – you could see the beauty that both worlds could create, but the politics of fey also became more pronounced and unwelcome. Humans could create wonder too.

And then Marco was back, looking greasy and dishevelled and constantly changing his story about what he had been doing and why he broke up with Hazel. She didn’t know what to make of the troll, although the shop was cool. It was too much. She had thought they might leave her alone after she did their favour. She should have guessed that once they had got a foot in the door, they would keep asking.

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People are heavy

Wendy yanked as hard as she could at the little piece of cloth. A small part of her winced the entire time it unravelled, watching all that hard work be undone. It was a nocker thing.

And then the statue (which she had totally guessed was Lily anyway) suddenly wasn’t rock anymore, it was human and the girl was crumpling towards the floor. Wendy lunged forward to catch her, staggering under the weight. For a skinny teenager, Lily sure seemed to weigh a lot.

“Got her guys, go, get out!” Wendy yelled it as loudly as she could, struggling to hold Lily up. She opened the portal so fast that it was more of a tear than the usual neat hole. The other girl groaned weakly. Shit, this was no use. Wendy clung tightly to Lily and flung herself forward through the gap. She hoped that the others had heard her. They couldn’t exactly win in a fight against these guys after all.

The portal closed behind them. Wendy lay panting on the floor, still holding onto Lily. The other girl seemed dazed and was crying a little, although she didn’t seem aware of it. It took a moment for Wendy to realise that they were alone. Of course the others wouldn’t arrive here, they’d turn up where their portals took them. Which meant, since she had Lily and thus the mantle, that Aurora would probably burst through with her minions at any second and Wendy wouldn’t have any backup.

“Shit, shit shit…” Wendy hauled herself up and began to drag the heavy and somewhat useless Lily out of the attic and down the stairs. They had to get outside, away from the room, away from where Wendy had portaled. A powerful magic user would surely be able to follow such things and end up right here. If Aurora smashed any of her stuff, Wendy would hit her with the iron pipe she had in her backpack.

Wendy really hoped her parents weren’t home. She began to scream.

“Titania! Mab! TITANIA!”

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Between Marco and a hard place

Marco just lay face down on the floor. He closed his eyes and concentrated on slowing his rapid uneven breaths. He was sure everyone had gotten out. They must have. It all happened so fast that he could hardly remember. “Okay, think” he thought. Wendy shouted that she’d got Lilly and we should leave so she presumably left. Then I saw Jay leave through her portal and when I ran back to get Hazel I didn’t see Kevin so he must have got out too because he was distracting Aurora and she had turned her attention to me. Yes they all got out. They had to have.

After these thoughts had finished swimming around his head and his breathing has returned to normal the pain hit Marco. The winter knight had taken one hell of a swing at him. He should have just left when Wendy had called but he was stupid and now he was paying for his stupidity. Well at least this pain covered up the pain caused by him hitting himself, another thing that would have been prevented if he’d thought instead of acting on instinct.

Thinking over the events Marco did feel quite bad about hitting the guy from school with the hammer. Sure he was trying to destroy the world and stuff but still, that must have hurt a hell of a lot. At least they were all safe for now. But the questions started to flash through his mind. What do we do now? Did everyone actually get out? What will Aurora do now? Are we safe here? Why am I a different colour?

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The Best Laid Plans of Fae and Men

It was supposed to be a simple mission. Go in, get the girl, get out. Unsuspected and undetected.
But, as they really should have realised, that would have been a direct violation of Murphy’s Law. So instead the would-be simple spy-infiltration-grab&run turned into a screamy, bloody mess.

If somebody had asked Kevin a week ago whether he had ever been stabbed, he would have answered that when he was younger and was just starting with metalwork, he had accidentally got a nail through the palm of his hand (and then proudly shown the scar, and jokingly referred to it as half a stigmata).
Now however, with an actual knife still sticking out of his shoulder, he had to admit that the nail incident really didn’t compare. This hurt like MAD.

Kevin carefully removed the knife, biting a towel to keep from screaming, and then proceeded to bandage the wound as best as he could with what he had available – so some cloth and duct tape.
It’s not pretty, and I really ought to let a doctor take a look at it at some point, but at least it’s not making a mess on the carpets. Would hate having to explain that to mom and dad.

They had managed to get the girl in the end – he was like… 95 percent sure of it. Wendy had said that she had her, and to get out, so unless something had happened before she managed to escape-
NO. She was fine. She has to be.
Kevin decided that he should head over to her just to make sure – and besides, if everyone did make it out ok it could be just a matter of time before Aurora counter-attacked.

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A hefty kick

Wendy stood in the glade as the wolf-Marco slowly gnawed his sister free. She tried fruitlessly to wipe away the mud on leaves, the grass, anything. It was just everywhere.

She hadn’t been panicking about the confined space for once. It didn’t really feel like a confined space after all, there were no visible walls. She’d been panicking about being slowly crushed to death by earth. That had been reasonable enough. She supposed it would have been a very ironic way to die if she had been a sculptor in clay. Clearly the bad guys didn’t have much thought about ironic deaths. She supposed she should be thankful for that.

Of course it was Lady Summer. That one had been obvious all along, she just hadn’t been able to figure out why. Thank goodness for evil monologues. And Lady autumn, seen that one coming too. Next time pick someone who is a good liar to help with your plans, Aurora. Or not, hopefully there wouldn’t be a next time. The others had been a little… random, but then she didn’t expect to recognise all of them. Villains needed henchmen, right? And the winter night had been a surprise. But it’s hard to see if someone is lying when it’s dark.

Wendy resolved that next time, the queens could solve their own problem. Or possibly pay her a shit-ton of real, human money and give her immediate access to all their resources, instead of handing things out in scraps. She bet that their reward if they actually won this would just be ‘our eternal gratitude’, or something crap.

She was really hungry right now. It felt like it had been days since their pizza party. She could go for a burger.

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