Houston, We Have a Problem
CHAPTER TWO: Houston, We Have a Problem
Xander Harris waved his free hand at David. “How are ya,” he said absently, having gotten a better grip on Calvin, who still thrashed trying to escape.
“David Sullivan, and this is my brother Billy,” David said hesitantly, reaching out to shake Willow’s extended hand. Little Billy shook the pretty redhead’s hand firmly, grinning.
“Liz won’t be back ‘til tomorrow, Miz Rosenberg,” he continued, holding out his hands for Cal-the-possum, whom Xander passed over happily, pulling out a handkerchief to dab at his freely-bleeding left hand.
“Xander, you should wash that, a-and put some disinfectant on,” Willow fretted, seeing the blood. “Or I could…” She held her right hand out; it shone with a faint golden light, and David’s eyes tingled as he looked at it. Calvin-the-possum chirped curiously from his arms. And speaking of which…
“If you folks will ‘scuse me for a moment, I need to get my furry little friend back into his bo—er, cage,” David began, starting to back out of the room with Cal in his arms, “Little Billy, will you get these good folks the first-aid kit? And some of that lemonade?”
“Oh, Mr. Sullivan, that’s OK, I can just…” Willow started to say.
“David, please, Miz Rosenberg, and I really will be right back!” He fled.
David thundered up the stairs to his room and dropped the agitated possum on his bed, where it bounced. Seizing the uktena scale firmly in his left hand and the marsupial in his right, he forced the scale between the palm of his hand and the palm of the possum’s paw, thinking as hard as he could about Calvin
A rush of air and a faint warm trickling of blood down his arm from the wound, and he found a slightly confused, but definitely smug-looking Calvin Fargo McIntosh sitting in the middle of his bed, naked as a jaybird.
“Ow!” Cal glared playfully at David, the latter having just smacked the former up the back of the head with his newly-healed left hand as the older boy threw his clothes on from where they lay.
“Jesus Christ in the foothills, Calvin,” David hissed at his friend. “Them scholarship people for Liz are here a day early, and you had to pick today to go messin’ around with shapeshiftin’?”
“I wasn’t messin’ with it,” retorted Calvin, hopping up and fastening the button of his jeans. “I was tryin’
to get you
to lighten up a little! You’ve been frettin’ like an old woman the last three days, Dave.”
Sinking down onto the bed, David sighed deeply, burying his face in his hands as he visibly deflated, his anger draining away into anxiety and regret. “Sorry, man,” he mumbled through his hands. “Just…I think these folks are like us. With the magic and all,” he said.
Calvin nodded. “Oh, that redhead has magic pourin’ off her, bro,” he said seriously. “All white and blue and gold, like a real hot fire, but with a thin li’l thread of black in it…like she was touched by somethin’ powerful and dark, and came out the other side changed.”
David pinched his lower lip between thumb and forefinger, nodding slowly. “Yeah, and what was that she was doin’ with her hand? Looked like healing, like Morwyn did—but she didn’t chant or anything. Just held out her hand and concentrated and there it was.”
The older boy considered for a moment. “Geez, Dave. I—I guess the nearest thing you could call her would be -- a witch.”
The blonde turned pale under his tan. “A…” He swallowed hard, thinking of the sorcerer Snakeeyes, whom Calvin’s tribal Elders had referred to as a witch.
Calvin’s eyes widened. “Oh, shit! No, no, Dave, not that kind of witch! No, the white-magick, Wicca-good and love the Earth and woman-power kind!”
Relief washed over David, and he flopped backward onto his bed with a huge exhalation.
“Thank God for that,” he said with feeling. “I couldn’t handle another one of the other kind right now!”
Calvin clapped his friend on the shoulder, white teeth flashing in a grin. “He’s done defeated, my friend, and not comin’ back ever, thanks to Sandy!”
The sorcerer had met his end when Calvin’s love, Sandy Fairfax, shapeshifted by the uktena scale into Calvin’s form, had simply touched him. The sorcerer had fallen to bits, literally, leaving nothing behind but ash and dust.
Sandy had proven beyond a doubt that it wasn’t the case that women were ‘unclean’ during a certain time of the month. Instead, Sandy’s female power had been such that Snakeeyes had just – ceased to be. Because he was completely and entirely a creature of magic, the old superstition had destroyed him.
“Yeah, she did real good, man,” David grinned, rolling to his feet. “Real good.”
Tucking the tail of his red stooping hawk t-shirt into the waist of his Levi’s, Calvin followed David back down the stairs, where the aroma of fresh, fresh lovely coffee
wafted in from the kitchen.
They entered through the archway to see Willow, Xander and Little Billy sitting around the scrubbed kitchen table. The visitors held fresh cups in front of them on the table. Little Billy had gotten into David’s stash of Chips Ahoy, and a plate stacked high sat in the middle on one of JoAnne Sullivan’s hand-tatted doilies.
Xander Harris was brushing crumbs from the front of his shirt, saying, “C’mon, Wills, it’s never too early for the sugary chocolate goodness of cookies!”
Willow shook her head amusedly at him. “If you say so, Xan,” she grinned. Turning to David and Calvin, she said, “Excuse Xander, guys, he believes in four distinct food groups – Twinkies, donuts, pizza and junk food.” She winked at Xander to take any sting out of her words. He smiled at her, the corner of his visible eye crinkling up.
The boys, including Little Billy, grinned. David, reminded of his manners, quickly made introductions, somehow unsurprised when Willow did not offer to shake hands with Calvin. He reckoned that, with the power level Cal’d seen in the older girl, they’d be blown apart like in the Star Wars
“Who made fresh coffee?” Calvin asked, wandering over and snagging a cup for himself from the enormous assortment that Casa Sullivan boasted. Holding up another empty mug, he asked David via eyebrow if he wanted some; at the blonde’s nod, he filled the Amy Brown fairy mug, smirking as he handed it off to David. Filling the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
mug for himself, Calvin grinned, as he always did, as the dolphins on the side faded out to be replaced with the words, So long, and thanks for all the fish
“Oh, ha, ha,” muttered David as he deduced which cup he was being handed. He plunked into the straightback chair next to Little Billy, the gingham chair pad whooshing a little as he sat.
The redhead cleared her throat gently, reminding the three why she and the dark-haired man were there. “So…David? You said Liz would be here tomorrow?” she began.
He nodded, mouth full of the big sip he’d just taken. Swallowing, he answered aloud, “Yes, that’s right; she’ll be drivin’ up from Gainesville, Miz Rosenberg. Should be here round noontime, she reckoned,” he added.
“Oh, it’s just Willow, please! Okay, looks like we just got our wires a little crossed,” smiled the redhead. “Kind of easy to do, I guess; we’ve crossed five time zones in the last week, so I’m pretty sure parts of my brain still think it’s May,” she giggled. David smiled at the sound; light and musical, it brought to mind images of green leaves and golden sunshine…He shook himself a little, and found that everyone was staring at him.
“You OK, Davy?” Little Billy wanted to know. “You kinda zoned out there for a minute.”
“Uh, yeah, I’m fine, Little Billy,” he said hastily, taking another sip of the truly excellent coffee in his cup. “Who did you say made this, Cal?” he asked, changing the subject quickly.
“I did,” volunteered the tall, dark-haired Xander Harris. “I excel at many things, including, but not limited to, the Fetching of the Donuts, the Royal Ordering of the Pizza, and the Making of the Blessed Coffee, favored beverage of the Goddess Caffeina,” he finished with an ear-to-ear grin, placing his hands together and bowing at the neck.
Little Billy giggled at his silliness.
David looked at Miss Rosenberg -- Willow
-- to find that she was looking intently not at, but around
“Miz – Willow? Is somethin’ wrong with my face?” David asked good-humoredly, leaning forward a little in his chair.
She smiled a little dreamily, her eyes narrowing as she seemed to zero in on something. “You’re a Seer,” she said softly. “It’s all over your aura, big silver swirls…” Her eyes went suddenly wide, then she blinked rapidly. “Oh no, I did it again,” she blurted, looking stricken.
Calvin grinned into his coffee. “Told ya, Dave,” he chuckled. “Witch.”
Willow huffed a relieved breath. “Thank the Goddess I don’t have to explain that away as swamp gas,” she said, fanning herself a little with one hand.
“Witch?” asked Little Billy. “Like Sabrina?” His blue eyes were wide with wonder.
“Kinda,” replied the redhead. “The magick I’m a part of is a little different than what Sabrina has, Billy.”
“Magick,” repeated David. “Real magick? Like spells and potions and that kind of thing?”
“Yes,” she nodded. “And you? Seer? But you weren’t born a Seer…somebody made
you one…the marks are there in your aura,” continued Willow, frowning a little.
Silence. Crickets, even. Calvin swore he saw a tumbleweed roll through the kitchen as David stared, hard, at Willow.
“How could you possibly…” David swallowed hard, trying not to be angry, or afraid, or any of the other dozen or so emotions that were bubbling up in him. “Willow, how could you possibly
know that?”* * *