Faerie Tale ROMANSU
By: Nabiki GMYW
Brief summary: A mother-daughter team of wannabe witches is out to bag the perfect husband… and they got Puck instead.
Disclaimer: I don't own Gargoyles, I'm poor. Rub it in my face, why don't you? E-mail me at: email@example.com 'cause I love comments. Mature minds, 'cause I love risqué. It's not much, but it'll knock you out of your seat in the end of the fanfic. (I hope) You've been duly warned. (Historian's note: Puck has his magic back, the stone fist is gone. Just thought you'd like to know.) J
Mr. Robert Harrison was a 27-year-old business graduate with gifted intelligence and good looks to match. Robert, Robert, Robert, of the blue eyes and starry sight, was the only person in NY that one knew of that would actually help a little old lady cross the street. He read and wrote poetry. He volunteered for any charity drive anytime, anywhere. Because he was Robert, the guy in the office with the blue eyes and the starry sight.
Men admired him, and said, "Now there's a fine young man. If there were more people like him, the world wouldn't be as screwed up as it is now." He had no enemies, anyone who said something about him ended up regretting it later, saying, "Oh, he deserves better than that…"
Though they didn't tell it out-loud, all his male friends would wonder just what was his secret for the fairer sex. Robert would enter the room, and all the girls would sigh deeply. And what they found even more surprising, was that he was totally oblivious to the women's affections. He had a cute dopiness around women, treated them like best friends, and that was all. Maybe girls found dopiness 'cute'.
Every woman that met him ended up thinking the same thing, "Now there's a real man. If there were more people like him, the world wouldn't be as screwed up as it is now…" For he had a spark in his eyes, that when he looked at you, it was almost childlike and seemed to say, "You are my world." And every single one of them, at least the ones who were always near Robert of the blue eyes and starry sight, fell asleep with the same lullaby, Robert, Robert someday, somehow, you will be mine, mine, mine, mine…
~ The cigarette lighter ~
Around 9 pm
It had all started well enough.
Her dream, I mean. The dream she had every single night.
It was always a sunny Fourth of July at the backyard of her big two-story house, complete with the white picket fence, the dog, and the two children. The house decorated with Martha Stewart curtains straight out of K-Mart, was one of those in the suburbia similar to the one in "Leave it to Beaver".
Her husband, Robert, with an apron spelling 'Kiss the cook', cried out, "Honey, lunch is ready!"
"Thank you honey!" she replied. "Children, wash your hands now!"
"Yes, mommy," they replied, and they ran inside the house.
"Oh, honey," said Robert, perky, "I hope you made that potato salad I love so much."
"You know I did!"
"There's my widdle teddy bear!"
"And you are my wouddle smuckums!"
After lunch, they raised an American flag and started singing, "Oh, say can you see…"
* * *
What is she doing…?Lydia Watkins asked herself, watching her daughter sing the Star-Spangled Banner.
"…what so proudly we hail…da, da, da, da…"
"Maggie, wake up." She barked, then shook her awake.
"Ma," she whined, "I was having that dream again. The one where I'm married to Robert, and we had this big house, and these two kids, and we were having a barbecue for the 4 of July---"
"This is it, my girl." The fifty-year-old woman interrupted and took out a little object. "Just mark him with it, and he's all yours."
The younger woman scoffed with disdain, looking at the stupid thing her mother held in her hands, which looked like those little cylinder things cars had to light cigarettes. "You woke me up from my most perfect dream to show me that? Ma, for the love of God…"
The old woman, not so old once you got a good look at her, frowned. She lay back in her chair, her 50-something face darkening. "At this rate, you'll never catch a husband…" she mumbled.
"Ma!" whined the twenty-seven year old, a pretty young woman with brownish hair.
It was a Thursday night, and Maggie Watkins wasn't amused. It was supposedly the first day of her week-break, and what was she doing? Staying home with her mother, because that bum of a boyfriend, make that ex-boyfriend, felt he needed 'space'. Space my ass. The bastard chickened out the second he heard the M-word. Just how low can you get before it gets any better?
Maggie's apartment at first sight seemed frightfully small. But it was all the junk they had around what made it diminutive. It was obvious that the owners weren't really all go for organization.
It is said that one could learn a lot about people's personality by observing their homes. Judging from the pantyhose on the floor, the Vogue, the Martha Stewart mags thrown around, and the bottles of nail polish on the dinning table, not many men waltzed in there.
In a corner, a potted plant that hadn't seen the light of day in months. In the other corner, a computer. At each side of the main family room, two bedrooms. One was painted in pink, and lots of teddy bears and dolls were positioned on a table. In the other bedroom, there was a shelf full of books, what looked like rocks and Voodoo dolls, and a huge poster of Fabio hanging on the door.
Her mother, proud Lydia Watkins, had the energy of twenty soccer moms and the attitude of Mike Tyson when it came down to her only daughter's love life. And sometimes that made Maggie extremely annoyed. Sometimes. Lot's of times. Constantly, in fact.
Dismissing her mother's comment and ugly glances, she retorted, "Ma, what makes you think that crap will work anyway?"
"Just so happens I got the spell from a trusty source. He says that according to legend, if you mark your man with an hot iron rod and say the magic words, he'll be yours forever."
"That's like marking a cow, isn't it?" the younger woman replied sarcastically.
"Yeah, only that the cow will be your future husband."
She perked up when she heard that. "He ain't some lowly pig!"
"Not a pig? I mean, he's still a man, isn't he?"
"Ma! Let me get a good look at that thing!" she tried to snatched it from her mother's hand, but she hid it.
"Oh, no. You don't believe it, you have no right to see it."
"Ma, give it to me." she replied sternly. Her mother did her best to avoid letting her daughter lay a hand on her little thing, but she managed to snatch it anyway.
Next thing I know, it'll be those car cigarette lighters…She finally yanked it off her mother's hand and took a good look at it. "I don't believe it! It is one of those lighter-things in the cars!"
"The spell required an iron rod to mark the man, what did you want me to do? Go to a farm and steal one? I had to improvise."
"Let me get one thing straight here. I condemn any use of sorcery to get a man. And there is nothing, nothing that will ever change my mind." She said emphatically, "We've tried using spells before, and they didn't work."
"Because you don't really believe in magic." Her mom said defensively.
"Ma, I don't care about magic. All I care about is having a nice home, a good husband, and two kids. Is that too much to ask? And what do I get? A mother who thinks she's a witch and a bunch of losers for boyfriends?"
"Oh, please. You think they're losers because you're saving yourself for Robert, aren't you?" mom replied with sarcasm.
"Don't start ma, he's the reason I actually believe in magic." she barked back and sighed. "He is the most perfect man on the face of the planet. Prince Charming in disguise. He is the only reason I believe in the first place."
"Well, there you go. More reason to use a magic spell on him. A charming little spell for a charming little prince, just like the fairy tales. After all, love is just one big fairy tale." Her mother replied, then she suddenly remembered something, "Didn't you say he's returning from a vacation trip? It's perfect. We simply go to the airport, sneak up behind him and burn him with the cigarette lighter. An itty-bitty test. He won't even feel it!"
"Ma, how can you not feel a burn mark?" she snapped, "Forget it. Give me one good, really good reason and I'll let you use it."
The mother stared at her daughter thoughtfully and decided to play her last card. "If it works, he'll be your sex slave."
Around 9 pm
"Thank you for accompanying me, Mr. Harrison."
"It's really nothing, sir."
With a carry all suit case in one hand and plane tickets in another, Owen tried to make his way around the Kennedy Airport, all the while a little voice muttered, Damn. You leave for a little decade, and they change the whole place… The airport was jammed packed with people from all over the globe, from a family speaking Italian, to a Japanese group tour.
His flight was supposed to leave at 6 pm, an hour from now, and he was still wondering around lost. He finally spotted a giant electronic board listing all the flights coming in. Apparently, everything was right on schedule, which was really bad because he wanted to buy some time while he figured things out…
"Upstairs, sir." Said Mr. Harrison.
Owen snapped out of his daydream and faced him. "Excuse me?"
"Upstairs. That's where you want to go, don't you? Departures?"
Mr. Robert Harrison smiled contently at his superior's surprise. "Of course. It was a good thing I brought you along after all."
His destination was San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico. He didn't speak much Spanish but the 16th century one, so he'd probably sound like as if he were straight out of Old Spain using the Spanish equivalent of 'thou' and 'thee'. But it would have to do.
…it was his vacation.
It had knocked Xanatos out of the chair the first time he heard it. "Why?" was the first thing he had asked.
"Why not? Time away will do me good."
"Are you sure you want to do this?" Xanatos had inquired, as he gazed at his assistant, Owen Burnett, as the latter finished closing a bag.
"One week, you say?"
"Yes, sir. Only one week."
"If it's ok for you, its ok for me." the millionaire had said, "But really…" he added with some concern and surprise. "A vacation?"
First one in twenty years, actually. He'd never really wanted a vacation before. What was the point? But the last few months, the prospect of some time away was tempting. Very tempting. He deserved it, did he not? After all, twenty years, well, fifteen to be more exact, is a long time. He thought about it long and hard. It'll be fun…said a little voice over and over until it convinced him. Besides, he needed to break away from routine every once in a while. One week would be just enough.
After asking him for some free time, Xanatos had acceded; however, he wasn't content. He tried to hide his complains but commented things like, "Oh, I wish you'd be here for this or that meeting. You would have loved it." Or, "What am I going to do now, oh, it'll be tough without you."
Owen couldn't do anything about the meetings he 'would have loved', but since Xanatos concern for the lack of help seemed logical, he took steps to correct it.
"Sir, the last thing that's missing is your help once I'm gone."
"Don't worry. I'll consider it a learning experience. After all, you've never been gone for more than a day or two. It'll be fun to deal with things on my own."
"Actually, I've already found a temp job."
Xanatos had looked at him as if the idea was blasphemous. "Who? It's not like I could have anyone running around the castle, you know that."
"Sir, did you honestly planned to do spend the next week on your own?"
"Well, yeah, what's wrong with that?"
Owen gave him a funny look Xanatos didn't appreciate. "Sir, out of morbid curiosity, what was the last time you were without someone reminding you what to do?"
"Actually---" he stopped himself to think, and there was an unusual silence. "………"
"I thought so. Don't worry. He's a suitable replacement. A clever man with a friendly personality."
"Hey, I'm not some kid that needs a babysitter." Xanatos said with wounded pride.
"Of course, sir. I'm sure you're perfectly capable of taking care of yourself." Replied Owen, the same way he might say, 'There's a good doggie, jump Davie, jump!'.
"Are you implying that I can't live without you?"
"I didn't say that, you did."
"Just get on the stupid plane, Owen."
The replacement turned out to be Robert, whom Owen thought to be one of the most efficient young men he had hired in a long while. Always well dressed, always saying the right things at the right times, he was on his way up.
He was currently manager of marketing and research, but Owen knew that he could be so much more. The boy had potential. He had wits, he had friends in high places, he had power.
And it didn't hurt that he was shamelessly sucking up to him.
"Let me get that chair for you, Mr. Burnett."
"That won't be necessary, Robert." Replied Owen before he could kick out someone from a chair and give it to him. "This is all really unnecessary. A young man like you should spend Friday night on a date, not with his boss."
"Consider it a favor." Robert replied.
Normally, when some employee tried to suck up to him, he'd give them a cold shoulder and turn away. Those were only trying to gain political power they didn't deserve, and they had over-inflated images of themselves Owen made sure to break down. That was the first impression he got from Robert, from the second he was hired.
But unlike the other ones, Robert didn't chase him like paparazzi nor screwed up like the others. He helped Owen as if he really meant it. And even if he didn't mean it, it felt good to have the illusion that he did. Wherever he was the real thing, or he was a hell of an actor, either way, what did it matter? The end result was the same.
Though he seemed too good to be real, Owen had to admit that Robert brought down his defenses. He was one of the few humans that he could act a bit more freely around. Not much, of course, but still…
"Are you hungry, Mr. Burnett? There are a few cafeterias somewhere. Airplane food is awful."
Owen was still unused to actually 'liking' someone else around, so he simply said, "No, thank you. I'm not hungry." Feeling he needed to say something else, he added, "I'm very thankful for your help, but I think you can go home now."
"Are you sure, sir?"
"Of course. I thank you for showing me around. I really enjoyed having you around today. I'm sure Mr. Xanatos will admire you too."
"Thank you, sir. But it's just a favor. I know some people in Puerto Rico, you can give me a call and I can help you."
For the sake of saying something else, Owen asked, "What's your phone number?"
Robert eagerly took out a small piece of paper and jotted down his phone. "You can call me anytime, night or day, 7 days a week if you need me." Flattered by all the attention he was receiving, Owen simply took the paper and stuffed it in his wallet. "You know," Robert added, "When you come back, I was wondering if maybe you'd like to have a few drinks with me or something…"
The question struck Owen odd, but he figured he was just being nice to him, so he answered, "I'll see what I can do when I get back."
* * *
Meanwhile, from behind a potted plant, a womanly voice exclaimed, "He's leaving. Let's go, Maggie. Maggie?"
"Oh, what was that again?" she replied. "Sorry, I fell asleep. What happened?"
"That friend of his already left. It's now or never."
"Are you sure that was him?"
The old woman, after a paused, said, "Yeah."
I mean…Who else would it be?
* * *
Owen calmly walked through the airport's huge halls and made his way to the electric stairs. Absentminded to what was happening around him, all he was thinking was, I wonder if there's an opening in security for Robert. I'd love to have someone competent for a change in the castle's security upgrades…
So absentminded he was, he almost didn't feel a poke in the back, making him turn his head and see an old woman regarding him with curiosity. "Are you him?" she asked.
"Him who?" was the answer.
"Hey, Maggie, there's your man," she said to a younger woman.
He stared at both of them at lost. He looked from the old woman, to the younger, to the older one again, who this time had a vicious look in her eyes.
Next thing he knew, the old woman burned his back with the lighter. Startled and full of pain, he lost his balance and clumsily tried to grab a hold to something. He tried to grasp the railing, but lost it again when the younger woman yelled, "Shit, ma! That's not Robert!" and scared him, so he staggered backwards till he finally fell unceremoniously off the electric staircase…
* * *
Everyone sounded far away from him, and he could've sworn that it had only been a dream, that was still on his bed, trying to wake up, because today he was going to Puerto Rico, because it was his vacation, because that god-awful episode in the electric staircase never happened…
He opened one eye and saw the familiar surroundings of an airport… then he drifted off again… then he woke up again, and decided to face reality after all. "Are you all right, sir?" asked a security guard.
The only thing Owen could feel was a sharp pain in the back of his neck. "What happened?"
"Well, these ladies," he pointed to two women sitting there, "burned you with a cigarette lighter, you tripped over the railing of the stairs and bumped yourself real hard. We were about to call an ambulance. Do you wish to press charges?"
"No. I just wish to leave." He replied icily. The guard nodded and went to the front desk to do God-knows-what.
Meanwhile, Owen could still feel the burn marked of what appeared to be one of those little things cars have to light cigarettes. Of all the stupid things…for the love of God, a cigarette lighter? The two women in the room walked up to him and asked, "Are you all right, sir?"
"Who are you?" he asked.
The two women exchanged glances and the younger said, "Hi… I'm Maggie Watkins, this is my mother, Lydia Watkins, and we…" the old woman sighed, "We're the one's who put the cigarette lighter down your shirt."
"It was an accident!" interrupted Maggie's mother. "We mixed you up with someone else."
Owen simply shot them a cold look. "I could press charges against you two, but I really have no time for this, we'll just let it go for now." He was about to stand up, when a soft, "Um…" stopped him. "Yes, Miss Watkins?" he asked annoyed to the younger one.
"Are you in love with me yet?" she asked.
Owen snorted annoyed. "You are not my favorite person right now." He said with a cold look that could've been mistaken for the winds of the Arctic tundra.
"You aren't?" asked the elder Watkins. "Damn."
"Excuse me." interrupted Owen. "I think I better leave now."
"You can't!" said Mrs. Watkins. "I have to find out what went wrong."
"Mother, please. Let's not bother him anymore. Let's just go, please." Maggie said pleadingly, trying to restrain her anger.
"No!" Mrs. Watkins cried out, "I spent 50 bucks on that curse, I demand to know what went wrong!"
A curse? What are they talking about?The two women began to quarrel as the security guard came back to Owen. "Sir, you're free to go, but your flight is already gone."
"It departed five minutes ago."
"What about my luggage?"
"Sorry. It was already boarded. The plane will come back tomorrow at eight am, but chances are we'll loose it meanwhile."
Owen groaned slightly. "Now what am I to do?" As he saw the duo that attacked him walk away, he asked "Where are you going?"
The duo looked back surprised. "The guard told us that we were free to go." Answered Mrs. Watkins.
"What about me?"
"What about you?" retorted Maggie.
"I've lost my flight, my luggage, and many possessions. Do you expect to simply walk away without giving me some retribution?"
"Sorry, no. I'm poor." Maggie replied.
"The least you can do is give me a ride back to my place. The one who brought me here is probably gone, so---"
"Why should I?" asked Maggie irritated.
Owen answered annoyed, "You owe me."
"Ma'am," said the security guard, who had been listening in all the while, "He could easily press charges if he wants to. It would be good if you at least gave him a ride."
Maggie and her mother exchanged glances. "Fine," she said defeated.
* * *
What a miserable day…echoed a little voice inside him. I can't believe I missed my plane… He rubbed his neck, where the burn mark still hurt. All because two insane women went on a killer spree and I was it. What was he going to do now?
It was late now; the sun was setting. He had lost much time submitting a file report for his missing luggage. He was considerably grouchy, but it was with good reason. I mean, he lost his luggage, missed his plane, and he had to beg for help from the two whom attacked him in the first place, damn, this has got to be the worst day of his life.
The trio walked down the parking lot, looking for the car, with an uncomfortable silence. "So, where are we going?" asked Mrs. Watkins, dying to say something. "Where do you live, Mister…?"
"Burnett. Owen Burnett. And you can drop me off at the Eerie Building."
"The Eerie Building? The one that's owned by that wacko, David Xanatos? Who's always on tv with that weird blond guy with the stone fist?" Maggie commented, "Why do you want to go there?"
"Because David Xanatos is my boss…" he replied with a dark undertone, "And I'm the weird blond guy."
Maggie got a good look at him, and realized she just screwed up. "Oops. Sorry. I didn't know. Heh, heh…You look so much taller on tv. Heh…"
"Ooh, can I see the hand?" asked Mrs. Watkins, anxious.
"Its back to normal now; there's nothing to see." He replied dryly. "Can we go now?"
"Are you mad with my daughter?" asked Mrs. Watkins.
Owen tried to be polite about it. "I'm upset, if that's what you mean. After all, not only did she caused this, she planned to run out on me too."
"Hey!" exclaimed Maggie, "So just happens I'm a busy woman."
"Oh, never mind her, Mr. Burnett. She can be such a bitch sometimes. Specially when any plan to bag Robert backfires on her."
"Mother! Please don't talk about me in front of strangers…!"
"Robert Harrison? The one who drove me here? You confused me for him, didn't you? I'm curious…" Commented Owen, "what was it that you planned to do in the first place? And what was that about a curse?"
"Oh, it was just a little--"
"Nothing. It was nothing." Interjected Maggie, while her mother seemed annoyed. "Nothing that would interest you anyway."
An alarm went off in his mind. "What was the curse about, Ma'am?" he said, meaning business. "It is of vital importance that I know about it. You have no idea what it could mean to us." He said seriously.
Maggie simply shrugged away his warning. "What is it to you?"
He frowned and replied, "And what about Robert? What if you did it to him? Wouldn't he have a right to know what's going on?" he asked, out to annoy the woman.
"You are no Robert."
"Thank God. I'd hate to have a woman like you out to burn my back."
Maggie, resentful, said, "You sure have a lot of questions you've no right to ask."
Owen gave her a look and said, "You have no idea how much it really is my right."
No matter what he said, Maggie wouldn't budge about revealing her secret, and wouldn't let her mother answer. Maybe it's nothing…
* * *
After a while, they reached Wyvern, and their good-byes weren't really good-byes, more like 'I've finally gotten rid of you', since Owen kept pushing the subject of their plans forward, while Maggie tried to bury it.
God, he's such a snob,was all Maggie could think of. Why is he so interested in magic, anyway?
"You're not going to tell me about that spell, are you?" he told the women as he stepped out of the car.
"Why do you need to know?" questioned Maggie, "Does a grown man like you believes in magic and fairies?"
Owen gave her a look that she couldn't make out. "Are you sure you don't want to tell me? Or you don't know its effects? Where can I contact you if something happens?"
He's so insistent…, she thought. "Believe me, you worry over nothing. And if you need to know…" she sighed, "No, I don't know it's effects. Are you happy now?"
He simply nodded and said, "Goodnight to both of you."
Creepy guy…she told herself as he walked away, then something got her worried. "Ma… just what was the spell supposed to do?"
"Well, you had to curse a hot iron and if you marked on one of the opposite sex, he'd fall in love with you." The mother replied, "It obviously doesn't work, considering Mr. Burnett didn't even like you."
"I guess so."
She turned, started the car and turned on the radio. A loud Spice Girls' song blasted through the air waves, the one about 'Viva Forever' or some crap. Maggie thought those girls were sluts, but she liked that song. But this time, they sounded even more out of synch than ever.
She switched stations to Barry White to Madonna to the Beatles, but there was a loud pinch in every one of them. "Ma, is the radio broken? I keep hearing this loud pinch."
"No, it's ok to me---Maggie, look out!"
She hadn't noticed her car had crossed over to the right lane, where a truck was in her way. She barely had time to get back on the left lane. Immediately, she pulled out of the way before something else happened.
"Honey, are you ok?" her mom said, but she sounded far away. "Maggie?"
"It's the pinch, ma… I can't even think…" she answered as red spots covered her vision and she ran out of breath.
For a moment, Maggie thought she was going to die, as she lost feeling on her legs and hands. Miraculously, the symptoms began to fade away as running steps came closer and closer.
Both of them looked out the window to see Mr. Burnett run toward their car. "You feel it too, don't you!?" Maggie nodded, feeling well again. "Ladies," said Owen trying to catch his breath, "We may have a problem."
* * *
At first sight, The Watkins' apartment seemed like a smaller version of Elisa's. The lady cop's was decorated with gray and smartly organized, but this one was decorated with yellows and oranges, and it was a mess.
It was curious, for one thing, with lots of girly things tossed all around the apartment, from magazines to nail polish, to bras.
Maggie cleared away the clutter on the couch, and the dinning room. While she ran around, Owen slumped in an old green couch facing the tv and the window, positioned not so differently from Elisa's.
"So this is how the gates of hell look like…" Owen muttered in a most un-Owen like way Maggie had ever heard him.
Maggie came back, and both she and Owen both faced Mrs. Watkins. "So, it really works, doesn't it?" the old woman asked, beaming. "I'm a real witch! I'm so proud…!"
"That depends. What was the spell supposed to do in the first place?" replied Owen.
"Ma, just what is this all about?" asked Maggie, "What did you do to that cigarette lighter in the first place?"
"And why can't we be apart for more than 3 meters?" continued Owen.
Mrs. Watkins sighed. "I guess it's time for me to 'fess up, isn't it? All right, it's like this. When my poor Richard died, I didn't take it very well. I was so bored and had so much energy to offer, I decided to take a hobby. Seeing how Maggie had such a lousy love life, I looked up ways to help her, from Vogue mags to something a little more surreptitious--"
"Like sorcery?" Owen interrupted.
"Like sorcery." Affirmed Mrs. Watkins. "It was a joke, really. We tried out a few things, Maggie and I, like making it rain, but nothing big. But one day, I was surfing through this nice little webpage--"
"Webpage?" Maggie repeated, incredulous.
Mrs. Watkins ignored that comment, "Ran by a Haitian---"
"A Haitian?" Owen echoed, amused.
"---and he gave me this love spell---"
"Wait a minute, ma." Interjected Maggie, "Since when do Haitians have webpages?"
"Well, why not? So you know, he was all very organized. Voodoo spells in one section, Doll-cursing in another. Says he's a professional guru."
"You didn't fall for that, did you, ma?" added Maggie.
"Not at first. But then I sent him an e-mail, and he came through." Maggie groaned in frustration, but Mrs. Watkins ignored it. "I asked him about love spells and stuff like that. He sent me a recipe. It was really simple. You had to take one of those hot iron things that farmers use on cattle, then mark the man you loved, and he'd love you back."
"A binding spell." Interrupted Owen.
"Yes, that's what he called it." Replied Mrs. Watkins. "It was guaranteed to work. Owen was supposed to fall in love with Maggie." She looked for a printed paper and handed it to Owen.
While Owen read, Maggie asked, "But why a cigarette lighter?"
"It was the best I could come up with… besides, I never smoke. It was just adorning my dashboard…"
Owen read the printed document thoroughly with a worried face. "I'm afraid this has a catch." He said, and suddenly looked saddened. "It only works on humans."
"So?" replied Maggie. Owen looked at her with guilty-looking eyes. "Because you are human, aren't you?" she added.
He didn't answer. Maggie and her mother took a few steps away from him. "What are you, anyway?"
He sighed. With a deep breath, he seemed to be taking his time measuring his words. "According to this, this isn't an exclusive love spell. It's a binding spell with different reactions on different beings. It works as a love spell for humans and a slave spell for gargoyles… and fairies."
Owen took a deep breath, and then he was no more.
In a blink of an eye, a bright light blinded mother and daughter and when they opened their eyes, they saw a young man with pointy ears, long, white hair, and colorful clothes stare back at them.
Lydia Watkins rolled her eyes and swooned.
Her daughter joined her soon after.
And as the young man stared at the fainted duo, he muttered something like; "I hate it when this happens…"
~ Robert, the moron ~
Still on Friday
Very, very late at night
He stooped down next to the fainted Maggie. Guess it was too much for her, he thought. He grabbed one of the pillows on the couch and slipped it under her head as much as he could.
What the hell am I to do now…?This is so typical. He plans to do something nice for himself, and look what happens! He's magically tied with a stranger for the weekend, probably for the rest of his life. It just doesn't get any worst than this…
He stared down at Maggie, who fainted the moment he laid eyes on him. Typical response…
…though she looked kind of innocent, sleeping there with her eyes closed…
What are you talking about? She wanted to leave you stranded in the airport!He was suddenly tempted to pop a giant alarm out of nowhere and let it ring in her ear, but he opted to wake her up slowly, calmly, saying, "Wake up, little one…"
… then she opened her eyes, yelled, and slapped the young man who woke her up. "Get away from me, you creep!"
"Why did you do that for!?" snapped the white-haired boy. "I was only trying to wake you up, you ungrateful bitch!"
Maggie got herself up from the floor and stared at the guy, thinking long and hard at just what happened here. Meanwhile, Mrs. Watkins got up from the floor and joined Maggie in her surprise.
First of all, he looked nothing like Burnett. Not only was he shorter and had different hair, his whole face was different, and his clothes, they were so different… Only the blue eyes were Owen's, those same pupil-less clear eyes…
After a few uncomfortable moments of staring, he said, "They call me Puck with this body." casually, trying to break the ice.
"Puck? As in hockey?" asked Mrs. Watkins, staring at him curious.
"More like Puck as in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', but yes, I guess it can be hockey too."
Maggie examined him carefully, trying to assimilate the information. "You are him. And he is you. And both of you are fairy."
"The correct term is Child of Oberon."
"But you are still a fairy?"
"Yeah," he sighed, "I'm still a fairy."
* * *
"Let me get this straight." Said Lydia Watkins as she adjusted her glasses. "You are a fey---or Child of Oberon, right?"
"And Owen… he's your alter-ego of sorts?"
"But both of you are fairy?"
"Oooohhh… Aaaahhh…" Exclaimed mother and daughter in comprehension.
After a long hour of explaining to the Watkins just who he was and what the hell was going on, they were finally beginning to understand.
"Well, isn't this ironic?" said Mrs. Watkins. "We were out for a fairy tale prince and we got the fairy instead."
"That's nice." Commented Maggie absentmindedly. "What do we do now?"
"First of all, you've got to realize I'm tied up to Maggie and have to follow her wherever she goes."
"You're a fairy. Can't you break the spell?" asked Maggie.
"Alas, no. This is done by human magic, and it's not so easy. I can't break it. Let's just say it'll be my most interesting vacation…"
"What? Wait a minute! Let me get this straight." Said Maggie to the white-haired fey in her apartment, "I have to spend the next week with you!?"
"Actually," Puck retorted, "You have to spend the rest of your lifetime with me. But since both of us have a week break, let's use it trying to rid ourselves of this, ok?"
"What if we don't!?"
"Well," commented Puck, "We'd have to live together. Forever."
"I don't want to live with you!"
"I'm not jumping in joy neither. According to the rules, we can't stay apart for more than 3 meters. What are we going to do?"
Maggie gave him a harsh look. "First of all, we're gonna set some rules. First of all, you won't sleep with me. That's the golden rule. You got that?"
Meanwhile, Mrs. Watkins went to her room and brought back a few sheets. "You two are gonna have to sleep together."
"Ma!" exclaimed Maggie, "He can sleep in the couch!"
"The couch is more than 3 meters away from your room. Way too much. So he'll bunk in with you."
Puck and Maggie exchanged looks. "We just agreed we weren't."
Mrs. Watkins yawned. "Let's just go to sleep. That's all we can do. We'll deal with it in the morning."
"Ma, I don't wanna sleep with him."
"Jeez, it's just sleep, not sex." She replied, then added with a tease, "Or perhaps you think you're not strong enough to fight the impulse to do naughty things?"
Maggie fumed and marched to her room, grabbing Puck by an arm and barking, "Let's go."
Around 9 am
She woke up, again, with a loud yawn. After stretching, yawning and doing everything to warm up her body, she stood up and---
"Hey! Don't step on me! Dammit!" complained Puck, as she unconsciously stepped on his chest.
"Oh! I'm so sorry! I---wait. It's you. I guess it's ok."
He shot daggers with his eyes. "How well did you sleep last night, oh lovely one?"
"Well," she said sweetly, "I dreamt of you."
Puck suddenly brightened up and replied, "Really?"
"---Then I woke up screaming."
His mood quickly un-brightened and he replied, "I won't dignify that with an answer. Let's just say I've had the most wonderful sleep right here on the cold, hard floor."
"Glad you like it, 'cause that's where you'll be sleeping from now on…"
Mrs. Watkins called out from the kitchen, "Are you awake? Breakfast is ready."
"No room service? I hate this already."
"Sorry we're not the 5 star hotel you expected, but whatdja gonna do?" Maggie replied off handed.
He scoffed and stood up. He momentarily wondered in what body should he spend the day, but opted to stay as is, since he lost all of Owen's clothes in the airport.
Puck followed Maggie to the kitchen, like a good little doggie, to find Mrs. Watkins slaving in front of the stove with a pack of Aunt Jemima's instant pancake mix. It had been a long time since he had eaten something like that. His idea of breakfast was cold leftover pizza or nothing at all.
"So what will you have?" asked Maggie.
"I don't know. The pancakes are ok."
"Maggie, give him your pancakes, dear." Said Mrs. Watkins.
She looked horrified. "Why mine?"
"Because we're all out of Aunt Jemima." Her mother replied. "I'll fry you an egg or something."
Meanwhile, Puck grabbed the whole plate of pancakes and started to pour down the bottle of syrup. He was done with that bottle, then opened the other one. "You know," he said casually, "I'm not greedy. Want some?"
Maggie looked disgusted at the soup of syrup and pancakes he offered and turned him down with a, "No, thank you."
He looked at her with curiosity, as if wondering why she didn't want pancakes anymore. He shrugged it off and said, "Hey, Mrs. Watkins, I'm gonna have to take a look at that webpage of yours. We have to break this spell."
"Oh, I'm afraid that won't be possible. The modem's broken. I've been meaning to get that fixed."
Puck thought about it momentarily. "Don't you have any neighbors with the Internet? We could ask them for help."
"Not that I know of." Answered Maggie for her mother.
"Damn." He muttered. "I could go to Wyvern, ask for a few books. But then my vacation would be over. Not that it's much anyway. I guess I don't have much choice."
"Go right ahead," said Maggie, "The sooner we can get rid of this, the better."
* * *
The rest of the morning was rather slow. The only thing he could enjoy of this so-called vacation was total domain over the remote control. And even that didn't last forever.
As for Xanatos, he wasn't particularly thrilled about calling him. It was around 9 am. Chances are he was snoozing or plotting revenge against someone. But Puck was leaning to the first option. Wait till he gets a load of this, he thought, he'll laugh till he chokes.
"Hey, fairy." He heard Maggie call him. "Get off that couch and help me."
"Help you what?" he said, somewhat resentful, for getting called 'fairy' was extremely insulting.
"I know this is supposed to be your 'vacation', but can you help me clean up a bit. Or at least fold a few sheets."
He arched an amused, if not slightly insulted eyebrow. "Why should I?"
"Well… seeing how you're coming with me, wherever you like it or not, I hope the charitable side of you would help me. But Owen's off-line, isn't he? Can you, like, switch?"
"I'm no light bulb, not that Owen would be much help either."
"Please," She said, and threw a bundle of sheets on his lap. "Please help me. If there's a shred on decency inside you, please help."
He frowned, but then lighted up. He guessed that it wouldn't kill him to help around a little. And she truly looked defenseless. "All right. What do you wish me to do?"
* * *
I can't believe her nerve,he thought, Me! Serving that…that…woman!
It hadn't been what he expected. After she made him fold sheets; she made him do the dishes, swipe the floors, clean the stove and do her laundry, and he though that maybe, maybe, maybe, he'd been had.
"Puck, take these clothes and put 'em on my bed. Now. And when I say now, I mean yesterday!"
He groaned and yelled, "Yes, my czarina…" then muttered, "Dumbbitchhowdareshetreatmelike…"
Vowing revenge with every step, he headed to Maggie's room and threw the clothes on the bed with a bad attitude. A knock in the door interrupted him, and Mrs. Watkins asked, "Can I come in?"
He muttered something like a yes, and she entered. "Oh," she said when she lay eyes on him, "What are you doing?"
"Your laundry." He said through clenched teeth. "Your daughter is making me do her laundry."
Catching his tone, as wise old women usually did, she asked, "She bothers you, doesn't she?"
"What do you mean?" he replied. "She's wonderful, when she doesn't boss me around."
"I know my daughter can be a bit…difficult…"
"All right, so sometimes she's a pain in the ass! Takes it after her father, may he rest in hell, 'cause God knows he had it coming. Her main problem is that she doesn't trust strangers. I mean, who wouldn't? We live in NY, for goodness' sake. She just needs to get comfortable with you."
"She better." Puck replied. "We might end up living together for the rest of eternity."
"Don't worry." Mrs. Watkins said, "I've been doing my homework. I haven't turned up anything, but soon…" she sighed. "You know, the best thing you can do right now is play along."
"Share activities! Talk!" she burst out. But then a more devious thought crossed her mind. "What if…"
* * *
He knocked shyly on the door, muttering, "This is so stupid…"
"Oh, come on. Just talk to her." Cheered Mrs. Watkins.
"Hey, ma…" came the reply as she opened the door, oblivious to the fact that Puck was the one there. "Guess what? I've been tricking this idiot into doing all my chores! Isn't that great---" she suddenly stopped, and turned away embarrassed.
"Yeah. Just peachy." He said, as he made his way inside her room, uninvited, while Mrs. Watkins covered her head with her hands and moaned.
He flopped on the bed and asked, "I'm on strike." She gave him a curious and slightly appalled look, then looked at her mother. "What's going on?" she asked.
"You little creep. I'm charging you for house-keeping expenses." Puck replied.
"The lad and me were talking about you making him do all the chores." Interjected Mrs. Watkins.
She groaned and turned to Puck, "Where's the 'charitable' you?"
"He's having the time of his life in Puerto Rico. He sends his greetings." Puck replied with a sarcastic gleam.
"As long as you live under my roof, you'll obey my rules, fairy!"
"I'm not your servant. I'm on strike!" he crossed his arms challengingly.
"Oh, my!" interjected Mrs. Watkins, "Look at the time! Oprah's on in 5 minutes! Let's go Meg…" she tried to grab her daughter by the arm, but she pulled away forcefully.
"Listen up, fairy! You maybe king of the universe back at Wyvern, but right now, you're my guest!"
"Oh, that's it! I'm calling Xanatos and getting the hell out of here. All I have to do is call Robert, have him tell Mr. Xanatos I've got a problem and---"
An alarm went off in Maggie's mind. "Did you say Robert?"
Still annoyed he was cut short on his speech, Puck gave her an unsure look. "Yes. Why?"
"Robert Harrison? The one who was with you in the Kennedy?"
"What is he of you? A driver or something? Why did he drive you to the airport?"
"Well," Puck replied, taking it easy. "First of all, he's not my driver. He happens to be the manager of marketing and research. I've been thinking of promoting him soon. That stint at the airport was just to get on my good side…"
"So…" replied Maggie, something devious crossing her mind, "If you asked him to do something, he'd probably do it, right?"
Puck debated with himself if he should lie or not. He didn't, out of morbid curiosity to know what she was thinking. "The dude would probably jump off a building if I asked him to."
"So if you asked him to, I don't know, go on a blind date with this girl you know, he'd probably do it, right."
"Sure." He said casually, then realized the weight of those words. "Why?" he asked tentatively, "Should I make him bring me one of my books?"
"Actually, I was thinking of something else…"
* * *
"No. Absolutely, positively, no." he said, crossing his arms.
"Why the hell not!?" she barked back.
"I respect him too much to set him up with a woman like you."
"Please!" she whined. "Don't you see, this is fate! Fate sent you on my way so that I could have Robert."
Puck gave him a funny look, bordering on the I-don't-believe-this. "Life is not a fairy tale. And that's a fairy talking. Besides, it's ridiculous. I won't drag such a hapless young man down here just so he can date you."
"Why not? He obviously wants to be your friend. We could use that pretense so that he gets to know Maggie better." Said Mrs. Watkins.
"I don't wanna be his 'friend'." Replied Puck, stressing on the word 'friend'. "I've got a reputation to keep."
"Of what? Ice King?" retorted Maggie.
"And damn proud of it." Puck exclaimed. "Just the fact that I tolerate him is proof enough I'm getting soft."
"Why is that so important to you?" asked Mrs. Watkins.
Puck grinned and replied, "There is no greater pleasure for me to walk in a room and have all the employees recoil in fear of getting fired."
"Ah, so you're sadistic too?" added Maggie.
"You betcha!" Maggie rolled her eyes and ignored it. "But seriously, not only would I not call him and beg for him to come, what makes you think he'll fall for you?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean he's odd. I mean… He likes charity. He cares about animal rights. He helps out at an old folk's home downtown. He's a totally decent human being. He's… odd. Not exactly NY material."
"He's just innocent, that's all." Maggie replied with stars in her eyes.
"Innocence? In Avalon, we call that imbecility."
"Robert's a god!"
"Robert's a moron!" he barked, "Out of a 100 men in a live nude show, he might be the one wondering wherever the stripper will get a cold from exposure!"
"He'll make a wonderful father for my children…"
"Yeah, if you want your kids to be stupid…"
"Don't be cocky, fairy." Maggie replied, with the confidence of a woman in charge. "I own you for two weeks, maybe even a lifetime. I command you to call Robert and set up a date for me." then she added with a darker tone, "Or I'll be force to take some drastic measures…"
"I can take anything you can dish out, human."
"We'll see about that, fairy."
That same Saturday night (fever)
Around 9 or 10 pm.
"This is so humiliating…" Owen thought to himself as he covered his face by burring it in his jacket.
The dark discotheque roared with cheesy 70's music, Macho Man currently playing, as a line of four men, dressed up like a fireman, a policeman, a marine and a cowboy…
… took their clothes off piece by piece.
"Macho, macho man, hey, hey, hey, I wanna be a macho man… sing along, Owen!" said Maggie as she moved rhythmically in her chair, along with every other woman at 'Missy's Ladies Night', a male strip joint snuggled quietly downtown, nervously near Central Park.
"I'd rather have a cold iron rod hit me and leave me bloody on the floor a thousand times." He replied, face still in the jacket, but with a tone that would've made a brave man walk away.
And Maggie dismissed it with a shrug. "You know, ma and me have been coming over here for over a year now. We practically know every guy who works here." She suddenly paused as a young man, with a body that looked as if it were about to burst out of his shirt, passed by. "Hey, Tyrone! How are you doing?"
"Maggie, baby, we missed you! You didn't come yesterday, what happened?"
"Oh, I had an unexpected visitor." She replied as she shot a look at Owen, whose face was still in his jacket.
"Friend of yours?"
"I guess you could say that." Maggie replied, not taking her eyes off Owen for a second. "You see, he might be staying around for a while… maybe even a lifetime."
Owen took a peek outside, just enough to let her know she was dead meat.
"Really?" Tyrone replied.
"It's my fondest wish that granted all the time we'll be together…" Maggie continued as she stressed on 'time' and 'together'. "That my dearest Owen should get to know better all my friends in the bar I go to every single day of my unmarried life." She stressed on 'every single day' and 'unmarried' just to make Owen squirm. "But in the meantime, I think I'll have a martini."
"Coming right up," replied Tyrone as he walked away.
Maggie turned to Owen with an incredible smug look. "You know, if I were you, I'd get a part time here. Thousands of women will be pawing you all night long. Must be a dream job for men. And think, a guy coming to a male strip show every single day? It'll look funny…"
"Don't go there." He replied, sternly. "I am a businessman and a wise businessman knows when he's defeated. Let's talk deal."
"That's it! We got it!" burst Maggie out of her room, with a piece of paper at hand. "This is what you should say."
She handled Puck a piece of paper that read like a movie scrip. "What the hell's this?"
"What you should say."
"You know. Like, if Robert says that he wants to do something and you don't know what to say. It's all explained on page 39…"
"Page thirty--? This is bullshit! You guys do a script every time you date!?"
"Not always." Replied Mrs. Watkins. "Sometimes we do short stories…"
Puck shot her a look and said, "Forget it, I'll improvise!"
He grabbed the phone fuming and dialed before either woman could say a word. One, two, three rings. Then jackpot.
"Robert Harrison speaking. Who is it?"
Puck looked at the Watkins to let them know he was speaking, and mother and daughter tried their best to hide cheers of joy. As for him, he cleared his throat and said, with his perfect Owen voice. "Hi, it's Mr. Burnett. How are you doing?"
He heard a small gasp of recognition over the line. "Good afternoon, sir! I wasn't expecting your call…! How's your vacation?"
"Actually," Puck replied, letting some of his mannerisms shine through his alter-ego's voice, "That's a very interesting and slightly creepy story. I'm not in Puerto Rico after all."
Puck gazed at the Watkins from the corner of his eye. "Two insolent women made me miss my flight." The duo mouthed him silent insults that he ignored.
"Will you be coming back, sir?"
"No, I decided to spent my vacation with a few… friends."
"Should I inform Mr. Xanatos?"
"No, not at all. This is my vacation. Mr. Xanatos is to know nothing about me still being here. And since I have much free time, how about we go take those few drinks you promised me?" The two women mouthed, 'Yessss!'
"Of course! When?"
Puck thought about it for a moment and looked at Maggie for guidance. "Tonight,", she wrote in a paper. "How 'bout tonight?" he said.
Puck didn't know where, but the two ladies jotted down an address of a pub called "Marty's" he quickly passed on. "All right. Tomorrow. I'll be there." After saying their good-byes, Puck hanged up to face the duo. "Mission accomplished. Now what?"
"Oh, this is so exciting! My daughter finally got her man!"
"But what am I gonna wear? I don't have clothes for tonight!"
"Why is that so important?" Puck interrupted, "We're going to a pub, aren't we?"
"Yes, but that's no reason to dismiss personal appearance." Said Maggie. "Ladies and gentlemen… and Puck… let's go shopping!"
"Oh, shit! I knew I should've kept the strip joint!"
* * *
That was the conclusion Maggie had come up with after walking half the store looking for something decent and cheap to wear. No such luck.
"Well, what will it be?" asked Owen, ready to call it quits. "Are you ready to pay?"
Maggie took a good look at the clothes in her shopping cart. "I can't wear this! God, what was I thinking? I'm on my date with my dream man, and I go to K-Mart?"
"Meaning…?" Owen asked, tentatively.
"We're gonna have to go somewhere else."
"What? I spent three hours watching you try clothes, and you buy nothing? That's not fair." He replied, letting Puck shine through.
"Quit bitching. Let's go to the CD section."
"Wait a minute!" Owen retorted, "I demand you buy something! A skirt here is a skirt anywhere!"
"No, K-Mart makes me feel cheap. Let's just go to the CDs and leave."
Maggie dumped the shopping cart somewhere and continued walking, while Owen followed with an unfriendly pace. "If you hate K-Mart, why did you came here in the first place?" Maggie opened her wallet and took out a small receipt for an ATM machine. "I see… " he hesitated, "You're broke, aren't you?"
"It all comes into focus…" he replied, "No respectable New Yorker would shop for clothes in K-Mart."
She didn't appreciate his tone, but said, "Yeah. At least I can indulge on music. Let's go to the CD section."
Both of them kept walking till they found the corner where posters of artists were hanged. Maggie looked like those Jewel-Celine Dion fans, soft-music sort of girl. But instead, she grabbed a CD with an Italian on the cover and another one with a Japanese cartoon.
"What's that?" he asked, curious.
"An Italian named Nek and the soundtrack for Lum*Urusei Yatsura."
"Yeah…" she replied, "I dated a guy who loved that cartoon. That kinda rubbed on to me… the same with Nek. Pierre, that was his name, made me hear all kinds of international music. I've no idea what they're singing about, but it's fun to hear." Then she added irreverently, "That girl Lum reminds me of you---she's also an annoying all powerful being from which there's no escape."
Owen opened his mouth to say something, but then he thought, What's the point…?
She put the two CDs back in the shelf. "But it'll have to be another time. I'm still broke."
Her disappointed look didn't escape Owen. After debating to himself what to do now, he replied, "I'll buy them for you."
She gave him a shocked look, "Why?"
"Because it's a noble hobby." He replied, "It's good to learn about the world's music. Even if it's just a cartoon. Plus, I know a little shop near the Eerie Building. Nice clothes. Reasonable prices. The Xanatos' shop there all the time."
"You don't have to." She said, slightly embarrassed.
"But I want to." He replied, "All I ask in return is to have pancakes every morning. That's it."
She thought about it with an embarrassed, cautious, amused look. "All right. It's a deal."
That same Sunday
5 pm, more or less in the afternoon
"Behind you, dammit, behind you, stupid blonde!" Puck pleaded the big-chested, low IQ babysitter as she tried to make it toward the final credits in one of those so-called 'scary movies'.
"Is anyone out there?" the girl asked to the gripping darkness.
"No, just us rats and serial killers…" Puck replied to the tv set as he globbed down another handful of Cheetos.
Next act, the girl dies a horrible, horrible sadistic death at the hands of the freak in the mask. "Oh, well. She had it coming. Morons like that shouldn't be allowed to live." He stopped the VCR and took out the video. "I should be watching more high class stuff… Ooh!" he said in delight, "Chucky!"
While Puck watched the exploits of an evil doll on a rampage, Maggie was in her room with her mother, making crucial life-or-death decisions.
"Ma, should I wear my hair up or down?"
Mrs. Watkins, sitting in the middle of a pile of clothes, replied, "Down looks good. But never mind hair, we need clothes!"
Maggie stared down at the pile where her mother was sitting, and said, "I told you! The Japanese one!"
"I've got two things against that dress: one, it doesn't look like Japanese, it looks like that golden dress Tina Turner wears; two, you look like a slut."
"It does not look like Tina Turner's!" she defended herself. "And it's not slutty…! It's fun."
"We'll get a man's opinion… but since we don't have men, we'll use Puck."
Two minutes later, she quickly dressed up in the Japanese-Tina Turner get up. "Puck, we need your opinion." Said Mrs. Watkins, "How does Maggie look?"
Puck froze the VCR the moment some woman was about to be gutted to death; Maggie came out and he almost choked on a pretzel. Damn. Was she supposed to be dressed, or was that just yellow-tinted transparent fabric?
"How do I look?" she modeled.
The dress was short, yellow, damn-near-not-there transparent, and it was tight, so tight, he began to notice she had a hell of a body. It was all the sex appeal you could get in a gift tied off with a bow. Like a present from Santa for naughty little boys. "Come on, tell me. How do I look?"
He stared blankly for a second then said, "Like a desperate woman."
"Now, Maggie," said Mrs. Watkins, "You know how I hate saying I told you so, but… I told you so, didn't I?"
"Shut up, ma…" she muttered defeated.
"Put some clothes on. But I gotta admit, you look cute as Tina Turner." Puck commented.
"This is not the Tina Turner dress! It's Japanese, dammit!"
"I thought Japanese women had a fashion sense." He said innocently.
"It has plenty of fashion sense!" she barked. "It'll make Robert look at me."
"Are you that desperate, Maggie? He'll only look at your body." Puck replied, "That's not exactly wife material. Besides, what's it for? A costume party?"
"Don't tell me you forgot!" she exclaimed, but Puck looked clueless. "You were supposed to call Robert today to invite him to dinner!"
"I was?" he suddenly snapped his fingers, "That's right! K-mart!"
He took another good look at Maggie's dress. "That doesn't look like something you buy at K-Mart."
Maggie growled at that, while her mother commented, "Come to think of it, that dress is kind of cute. Perhaps if you wore a coat…"
"A very large coat." Puck interjected.
"Or some kind of scarf…" continued Mrs. Watkins.
"How 'bout a Martha Stewart curtain?"
"Oh, shut up, fey!" blasted Maggie to Puck, "Can't you keep quiet!?"
"Well, exsqueeze me, mortal, but I feel I'm being treated unfairly by you!"
"You're my slave, you have no rights!"
He shot a menacing look, "Don't get capricious. So it happens that I'm your only contact to Robert, and if you get annoying, I just might go on strike!"
Maggie and the immortal soon started to exchange insults, while Mrs. Watkins looked worried. Some love spell…they hate each other…!
* * *
As Maggie made herself all pretty for Robert, Owen was busy picking up something to wear and mentally brace himself for the date. Life's not a fairie tale…I should know… To bag Prince Charming was impossible, because there was no such thing. Nevertheless, he continued playing the game, though he had better and by far more interesting and urgent things to do, like getting rid of the spell that tied him to Maggie. Why do I do these things to myself…?
It was all Fox's fault, really. Every time some kind of big party was on the horizon, Fox would drag Xanatos and Alex, and consequently Owen, down to the little shop near Wyvern. As for the clothing, he didn't know what Maggie would like, so he suggested things Fox would probably wear.
The shopping spree didn't included himself, but Maggie had insisted that he would wear something besides the same clothes he had on at the airport. He had unconsciously wore the same clothes from Saturday, only he didn't notice because he had spent all the time as Puck, and Puck always wore the purple toga since forever. Anyway, the point was that he didn't have any clothing, so he had to spend some money on himself. 'Himselves' actually, buying a few things of lesser sizes for his other body, considering that he would look ridiculous if Puck decided to have a night on the town.
And they said women had trouble shopping. Owen was partially embarrassed by his low IQ on street clothes, at the same time he came to realization that he had no life. And try shopping for a fey with pointy ears and white hair. Trouble was that since he had never shopped for his alter ego, he didn't know what to buy. No wonder he always used the Avalon clothing.
In all, shopping was a traumatizing experience he wished never to do again, which made him look at some ugly truths about himself, his body and his life.
At least Maggie had fun.
"Let's go, Owen. Robert's waiting for us." Maggie said as she took her purse.
Meanwhile, Owen took a good look at himself in the mirror, and sighed. "Does it look casual?" Maggie noticed the mirror too and began to fix her hair and model a very chic black ensemble of a mini-skirt and a tube top with a jacket. It had taken him long hours to bring her to her senses that Tina Turner is a big no-no; and convinced her to wear those clothes they had bought recently.
"We look perfect." She said, "Let's go."
She almost dragged him down the stairs to the cab waiting for them. "We should take the subway." Commented Owen. She shrugged the comment saying that it didn't make much difference how they got there.
As it turned out, they should've taken the subway after all. The streets were packed tonight, and they found themselves bored to death. Owen found himself wanting to end the silence. However, he wasn't the mage on conversation, and the best way he knew to start a chat was, "So, how did you meet Robert? Spilled coffee all over him?"
She groaned. "Do you really wish to know?"
"Well, so you know, I work at Eerie too. You've never seen me, of course, I work on Finances, 49th floor, where you big, all-powerful men of business never set foot. The point is that my friends and I have been mooning over him for awhile now. So far, he's dated all the secretaries. I really don't know why he hasn't married yet---Mary, my best bud, refuses even to talk about when they went out. Then again… she is married, maybe she felt bad…"
"He's nice." Owen admitted. "But that doesn't make him perfect."
"Well," he continued, "I've found that perfect people always seem to hide something… I wonder what Robert is hiding…"
That same night.
"Marty's" as it turned out, was a nice little Irish bar Owen had seen before, but never bothered to enter. Owen could see why Maggie chose it. It was pleasant and elegant, but not extremely expensive. Kind of small and cozy too. Like the bar from "Cheers", a little voice commented, and Owen found himself agreeing. Only more modern…
The people, he found, were twenty-year-olds out looking for a date and rather young businessmen talking. Why hadn't he come here before? It was such a pleasant place. 'Cause you're always working, you dummy…He shushed the annoying little voice and faced Maggie, who while held on to his arm, was turning her head wildly, was out looking for her oh-so-cute Robert.
"There he is!" she exclaimed with a forced whisper.
Robert was sitting in the far end of the establishment, and seemed a bit anxious. He had a drink, fixed his hair, had a drink again.
"What now?" he asked.
"Well, now we go over him and talk," she replied as if that were the only thing you could do.
"Maggie, there's something I need to tell you… I'm not great a socializing," he said, instead of 'I have no social skills' as he intended.
"You'll do fine." She replied, and pushed him forward. "Just don't be yourself."
He was about to shoot back with some kind of witty comment, when from the corner of the bar, Robert called out, "Mr. Burnett, over here!"
Owen made his way to Robert's table, took a deep breath and replied with his best 'sociable' tone (which wasn't much in the first place) and said, "Robert, glad to see you again!" with Maggie still grabbing his arm.
The first thing Robert noticed was the girl, with a surprised look he didn't hide very well, "Who's your friend?"
Owen took that his surprise as a good sign and replied, "This is Maggie Watkins. Robert, Maggie… Maggie, Robert."
"How do you do?" she said, shaking hands with her.
"I hope you don't mind I brought her. We've been… inseparable… these last few days."
"No, not at all. Please, sit down." Robert gallantly pulled up a chair for Maggie.
All three sat down; then the real conversation began. "I'm kinda curious, Mr. Burnett. Why didn't you leave?"
He looked at Maggie with a puckish grin and said, "Two women with no life and no respect for other people made me miss my flight." She looked offended at Owen, "But this wonderful lady and her mother…" Maggie looked pleased again, "Who bear an incredible resemblance to the culprits…" she didn't make a face again, she just buried her high heel in his foot, "Decided to take me in…"
Owen tried to hide a painful grunt as Robert replied, "Why didn't you call me or Mr. Xanatos? I'm sure he could've booked you another flight."
"I decided that there's no place like home to discover, so now I'm staying at dear Maggie's." then for the sake of getting the show on the road, he added, "Maggie works at Wyvern too."
"Finances. 49th floor." She said, charming.
"Really?" replied Robert, interested, "Why, I've seen you before! It's hard to miss such a lovely lady."
God, don't let her giggle stupidly just because he said that… He thought, as Maggie replied, "And it's hard to miss such a handsome man like you…" And don't let her act like a slut either…
"You know," commented Owen, "Maggie simply adores charities, just like you, isn't that a coincidence?"
"Uh, that's right." She quickly added, "Specially at Christmas. I love serving the homeless." Chances were she just stayed on her couch watching 'It's a wonderful life' for the ten thousandth time, but Owen didn't say anything.
"I really enjoy that too. How come I've never seen you before?"
"Because she works uptown, don't you?" quickly interjected Owen, "And you work downtown, right?"
"You know, we really should get together next Christmas. I'd love to have company like yours."
"Really?" she replied with stars in her eyes while Owen rolled his eyes.
"Yeah," he said, "I believe one has the duty to serve and protect mankind, to help for its betterment, to break down the barriers of hate of racists and to promote goodness and love. The Lord doesn't care for skin color or sexual orientation."
"That," Maggie replied with a lovesick sigh, "is the sweetest thing I've ever heard…"
Betterment of mankind? In NY? He'll be dead in 5 years…Owen thought as he fought down a smirk caused by the little voice.
"I really admire a person with my ideals…" said Robert sweetly, his two blue eyes posed on Maggie.
"Me too…" she replied stupidly, while a little voice inside Owen's mind made gagging noises.
* * *
She danced around the bedroom as she got ready for bed, waltzing to the closet, to grab her pajamas; hopping to the mirror, to fix her hair; floating to the bathroom, because Puck was in the room, and she didn't want him peeking.
Puck watched the whole ritual with an arched eyebrow. "Don't you think you're over doing this just a bit?"
"Over-doing what?" she asked from the bathroom, with a singsong voice.
"So he tolerates you. Big deal."
"This is a big deal!" she replied, as she got out of the bathroom, pajamas on. "This is it! This is the most important moment in my life! Robert is all I expected and more!"
"That's because you lied about the charity deal. If I hadn't brought it up, he would've ignored you."
"Details, details…" she said as she stood in front her mirror, brushing her hair. "You know what we're gonna do tomorrow? Ask him out for dinner. A real dinner. I know this lovely restaurant not far from here and… Are you listening to me?"
"You sure have a lot of CDs… " commented Puck absentminded, as he rummaged through a brown box Maggie had in a corner.
She approached him as he began to dig out CDs and name them out loud. "The Beatles… Goo-goo dolls… The Wallflowers… Ah, Here we are… " he let out a pleased sigh as he dug deeper. "Eros Ramazzoti… Selena… Ricky Martin…" he pronounced the last one with considerable strain, "El Grand Combo?"
"Gran," she repeated. "El Gran Combo."
He dug out another CD. "The Kama Sutra soundtrack? Oooh, kinky!"
"That was a gift." She added quickly.
"I'm sure it was." Puck replied with a note of soft sarcasm, "And the rest is either Italian, Latin American, or anime. Very nice. Do you understand what they sing about?"
"As I said before, I don't. It's more fun this way."
"I think it would be better if you actually understood." He said. "I don't know much Japanese, but I can help you with the Spanish ones. I'm a good translator."
"Sure, one of these days. I'll pay you with pancakes." She said with a smirk, then added, "You think Robert likes that kind of music?"
"I don't know, maybe. He must, since he adores all people of all credos so much…" he replied, making no effort to hide his sarcasm.
She let that one slide and asked, "You think I've got a chance with Robert?"
He thought about it for awhile and ended up replying, "If someone as fat as Roseanne can get married, I'm sure you can too."
She shot him a look and said dryly. "I hate you too."
~ Just like on TV~
Monday morning, 8:29 am.
The weekend was over and Puck had spent 3 days at the Watkins already; he was beginning to feel right at home. Or so Mrs. Watkins assumed, as a giddy Puck grabbed a bottle of syrup and made a happy face on his pancakes.
Mrs. Watkins turned to her daughter and asked, "So, how did it go with Robert, dear?"
"Perfect! We're gonna meet him again on Wednesday. He has to do something with Xanatos today, he's been covering for Owen-type so you know, but Wednesday, we could ask him to that restaurant we go to sometimes."
"That's perfect! Oh, yes, before I forget… Puck?" The fey looked up with his mouth stuffed with pancake. "As it turns out, Maggie's Aunt Esther happens to know a bit of magic. She might help you."
He grunted excited, which sounded like a 'Really?'
"Yes, the only problem is that she lives in Syracuse. And that she lives with a son, and I don't have that phone number…"
"No boblem. I'l ust book a blane--"
"Eat first!" barked Maggie.
"I said that I'll book a flight today and be back on Tuesday night." Puck said, coherently now.
"But today's Monday. It's not even 9 yet." Added Maggie, "Think we can make it?"
"I don't know." He said truthfully, "Commercial planes are slow. Maybe if we got on one of Xanatos' jets, but I don't want him to find out I'm still in NY." Then the proverbial light bulb lighted up, "Wait a minute, yes we can! Joey!"
"Joey?" asked Mrs. Watkins, "Joey who?"
"Joey Jones." Replied Puck, "He's not from Xancorp, but he's a friend of mine. He's the husband, or at least, ex-husband of one of my cousins."
"But I thought all your cousins were fairies."
"I know." He replied with a gleam. "That's why I said ex. She had to leave to Avalon for the Gathering. The point is that he has a little plane he uses for special occasions, and if well-paid, could take us to Syracuse."
"So…" asked Maggie, "When can we leave?"
Puck didn't even think about it. "We could leave right now."
Somewhere over the boring part of NY.
"My apologies for calling you so soon." Yelled Owen over the loud motor of the cheap, four-seat plane. "It was unexpected."
"Don't worry about it." Yelled back Mr. Joey Jones, a nice 50 year old man with graying hair, who wore a pair of shorts and a Hard Rock T-shirt. "I live for the unexpected. That's why I married your cousin now, didn't I?" he gave hearty laugh. "How is she?"
"Don't know." Owen said, "They haven't let me talk to anyone on Avalon."
"So you did it, didn't you?" asked Mr. Jones, "You're still working with that Xanatos guy."
"It's better than the alternative," he replied, his mood diminishing considerably.
"And what's the deal with her?" asked the old man, as he pointed to the backseat.
There she was, poor Maggie, with a white bag over her mouth and gagging considerably. "Are we there yet? Why is this moving so much?" she mumbled, white as a sheet of paper, so much Owen thought he was about to faint.
"Don't worry. She's a rock." He said to Mr. Jones, then turned back. "Hey, Maggie, tell me where's your aunt's house. Do we need a rental and a map, or should we take a cab?"
"You don't need a map. We're going to drop by my cousin's first, she has Ester's address. I'll guide you." She mumbled, then grabbed the white bag.
Meanwhile, Mr. Jones opened up a dashboard and said, "Give her these pills. If she messes up the seat, you're paying."
The pills seemed to calm her down after a while, and she was finally able to follow the two men's conversation. ---"So he stripped me of my magic and now I'm here on Earth forever---"
"Who stripped you of what?" Maggie interjected.
Owen was caught off guard by the question. If Maggie didn't know better, she saw Owen look saddened for a moment, but he regained his composure in a second. "Nothing, Miss Watkins."
But Owen had stopped calling her 'Miss Watkins' since Saturday. And it didn't take a genius to figure that meant he didn't felt like talking.
Leaving Syracuse airport.
A few hours later.
Aunt Ester's house was somewhere inside the big and terribly boring Syracuse suburbia. He never knew the common people could be so common. From high in the air, he could see all the pretty houses lined up perfectly and a few baseball diamonds adorning the panorama. It really is like on tv… he remembered thinking.
He felt as if he'd just walked into a black and white tv show, where everyone still had good old American values. The streets were clean, the traffic was clear and the people were kind. How he missed Manhattan and those NY drivers already. And he had only spent an hour here.
And the cab drivers! They spoke English! And they helped you with the luggage too! While Owen admired the overall cleanness of the cab, Maggie told the driver about Aunt Ester's address, and they got going.
"Don't you just love it here?" Maggie wondered out loud. "The peace, the quiet… When I marry, I want to live here."
"Why?" he asked, puzzled.
She looked at him, and found he was really puzzled. Maggie found it surprising, "What'd you mean, 'why?' To raise a family. To drive the kids to soccer practice. To have 4 of July barbecues. To drive a mini-van!"
"But that's so… uninteresting…" he commented. "It's boring. You simply work from 9 to 5, raise a few ungrateful children, and die. I don't see what's attractive of this life."
"Well, there's always Christmas. With the trees and the multicolored lights. Don't you remember that when you were a child, and you opened up your Christmas gifts and…" she stopped herself, "I guess you wouldn't, would you?"
"I'm afraid not." He replied dryly.
Maggie recalled their semi-conversation in the plane, and she couldn't help but wonder and say, "Who stripped you of what?"
"In the plane…" Maggie continued, "Something about Avalon and some kind of gathering. What's that?"
"It's just my birthplace, Miss Watkins. Nothing else."
There he goes with the 'Miss' again…was the last thing she thought, before realizing they were already at Aunt Ester's house.
It was all Owen came to expect from the description he got from Maggie. A nice suburban two story house, smack-dab in the middle of a sea of concrete clones. If he didn't knew better, he would've swore this was the same house they used on the movie 'Pleasantville'.
Maggie excitedly ran up the stairs and rang the doorbell, while Owen stayed behind as farthest as he could go, 3 meters at most. A woman older than Maggie that looked too young to be Aunt Ester opened the door. "Maggie!" she said, and she hugged her with a sisterly warmness. "What a surprise! It's been so long!"
"Linda! How are you! How's Mike!"
The two women started chatting rapidly, and Owen suddenly wished he were somewhere else. He turned to see a few kids running bicycles, a trio of 10-year-olds walking down the street, a jogger with a dog, and some guy mowing the lawn next door. Just like on tv…he thought again.
"---and this is Owen Burnett." He perked up when he heard his name. "Come over here. I'd like you to meet Linda, my cousin."
"Come on in, Mr. Burnett." Replied Linda, "I'll make some limonade."
* * *
Inside, it was as pleasant as outside. To the right, the living room, light and airy, dressed up with soft pastels and watercolors. A full furniture set over here, a grandfather clock over there, elegant drapes everywhere. The Nike sneakers and the N64 hooked to the tv in the living room told him a boy, possibly twelve, lived here.
To the left, the dinning room, with an oak dinner table, which was practical but still had a quiet elegance. The child-size jacket and a baby doll told him a little girl, probably six or seven lived here.
And at the far end of the living room, the stairs, with a pair of socks and a skateboard scattered, made him realize someone could get killed here.
"I've told those kids not to leave all these things around." Linda picked up a few things and tossed them far from Owen's view, then she moved over to the staircase and called, "Alan! Janice! You're aunt's here! Mike, come down here too!"
A little girl ran down stairs, while the boy walked slower, more reluctant. The father, Mike, he guessed; came from the backyard. "Auntie! Auntie!" said the little girl as she hopped to get raised by Maggie.
"How are you, princess!"
"Look what I made!" said the little girl, Janice, as she handled her a paper with stick figures.
"It's beautiful!" Maggie replied, as Owen really, really wished to be somewhere else.
"Hey, Aunt Meg. How's it hanging?" said the boy, Alan. "Did the little squirt jump you again?" he told the little girl, who stuck out her tongue to her.
"Poo-poo head! You're just jealous I got to her first." Maggie let down Janice while she engaged in a war of words with her brother.
"Well, what a pleasant surprise!" said Mike, "We really didn't expected you."
"Sorry about that." Replied Maggie, "It was unexpected. We came to see aunt Ester and we decided to drop by around here first."
" 'We'?" echoed Mike, as he noticed Owen for the first time, "Who's your friend?"
Owen introduced himself before Maggie could say anything, "Owen Burnett. How do you do?"
They shook hands and Mike commented, "New boyfriend?"
"He's just a friend," quickly interjected Maggie.
Mike gave a devious smirk while Linda poked him with her elbow. "Excuse my husband, he's an idiot. Anyway," she continued, "why are you looking for aunt Ester?"
"Uh… that's kind of hard to explain. A secret in fact. One I'll tell you later." Said Maggie with a nervous giggle. "But never mind aunt Ester," she quickly changed the subject, "How about you?"
They spent the next hour simply talking. Though they decided to drop the Aunt Ester subject, they kept asking about Owen and how did they met, and what do you mean he's a friend? Is he a friend or a friendly 'friend'?
"We're friends," Owen had the imprudence of commenting, "We just live together." he got funny looks from Linda and her husband, "…in the same building…"
"My reverend says that's living in sin." Said the little Janice.
"Don't be stupid." Said Alan, "Sex is not a sin in NY."
"Upstairs!" barked the embarrassed mother, and that was the end of the subject.
Later, at night
"Well," said Maggie, as she and Owen embarked on a journey upstairs, "How did you enjoy a day in the lives of the Little People?"
"It was… interesting."
More than interesting, it was just plain weird, but in a good way. All through the dinner, he had to wage war against Mike, whose sick little mind was thinking thoughts he shouldn't have; Alan, who inherited Mike's deviousness and commented things he shouldn't have; and Linda, who insisted he have second servings of everything that he shouldn't have.
Linda had insisted that they stay the night, while Mike insisted that they sleep in the same room, because, quote Mike, 'The other room is…uh…unavailable.' But it was a gratifying experience. And in a sick sort of way, just like tv.
The room assigned was at the end of the hall, and it was rather small. Apparently, lots of relatives dropped by to stay the night, so they had set up a nice guestroom. As for Aunt Ester, it would have to wait until morning, and it would have to be a daylong visit, since Owen had already told Joey Jones they would leave at 4 in the afternoon sharp.
Right now, Maggie stood in front of the vanity mirror, brushing her hair as she spoke, "You have to excuse Mike. He's always setting me up with guys. Honestly, he loves parties and would love to get drunk at my wedding, since I'm the only one unmarried in the family."
"That's all right." He replied, as he made his little bed on the floor, as usual. "He's well intentioned. But that little boy, Alan---"
"Is a little pervert just like his dad."
He could still hear him ask, Wow! I bet you guys have sex all the time! He didn't know what was more amusing; Alan with the questions or Mike encouraging him.
"Owen," she asked, "Tell me about your family."
He was frozen for a second, but the replied, "There's not much to say, Miss Watkins."
"Oh, really?" she said, "Or is it you don't want to tell me?"
"What do you mean?"
"You called me Miss." She answered. "You turn serious when I mentioned that, don't you?"
She stared at him serious and he was forced to reply, "Yes. But there really is nothing to say. All your fairy tales: Lady of the Lake, the witches' of Shakespeare's MacBeth, Anansi, Merlin… they are all Oberon's Children."
"His real children, or just a title?"
"Mostly a title."
"Mostly? Is he your father?"
He was silenced for a moment. "I don't know. I've heard rumors. People say he cheated on Titania with a now-dead fey woman, people say he had a certain child he treated like a servant, people say a lot of things."
"What about the Gathering?"
"That…" he explained calmly, "was a meeting of all Avalon. We had spent the last 1,000 years on Earth, and it was time to go home and stay. Forever."
He sighed. "So I failed to attend."
"And…?" she continued, pressing on the subject.
"And Oberon stripped me of magic and banished me from Avalon."
"But why didn't you return?"
He thought about it for a moment, then took off his shirt. Maggie was startled for a moment, then he said, pointing at his back blindly, "See here? In the middle? There should be a few marks." Awkwardly, she looked and did see something, a thin, almost invisible set of lines. "It was a bad day; I admit it, I should've known better… Charged into his private chambers… saw a few things I shouldn't… Caught him in a very ill mood… I gave him an excuse from that moment on… There were many bad days after that…" He said, painfully matter-of-factly, as he put on back the shirt. "I try to make them disappear, but they're always there. No matter which body I take."
"Oh." Was all she could think of.
"I enjoy life on Earth and with Xanatos to ever go back." He said, simply, as simple as anything.
"I see." Was the last thing she said about the subject.
9 am, bright and early
After saying their good-byes to Linda and Mike, getting the address of Aunt Ester's, dismissing Mike's naughty imagination, (and that little creep he called 'son', too), the couple was free to head to Aunt Ester's.
According to Maggie, she lived with a son; a divorced son called John, at the other side of town. They had moved over there recently, and that explained why Maggie couldn't phone ahead or go there directly. The thing is that John didn't have a life, so he cared for his elderly mother.
Maggie said that though her family was quite large, gossip seemed to flow freely and ended in the nether regions of the Earth. He scoffed that at first, but when he saw a banner reading "Congratulations to Maggie and her new fiancé!", he knew it was all too true.
"Guess what?" Maggie told Owen, her voice overlapping with the rumba sounds thundering from the speakers, "Mike phoned ahead. Guess they had a phone after all…"
"Oh!" squealed an old woman coming their way; rather short and round, with all her gray tied in a ponytail. "Maggie! You're a sight for sore eyes!" then she hugged her.
"Aunt Edna!" Maggie hugged back.
The elder then pulled away as she questioned, "And you must be her fiancé! You're such a lucky guy, I tell you!"
Owen shifted uncomfortably. "There's been a misunderstanding. I am not her fiancé."
"She's a lovely woman, I tell you…"
"But I'm not her fiancé---"
"And I'm sure you'll have lots of children…"
"Are you listening to me, I am not her fiancé…"
Maggie pulled him away and whispered, "Forget it. She obliviously didn't take her pills this morning…"
He took a deep breath to regain composure, and followed her in the hunt for Aunt Ester. Every person who came along gave them congratulations for their 'impending wedding'. Reasoning with these people was useless, so he just quit altogether.
Aunt Ester was sitting in the balcony, watching the blue sky as the couple approached her. "Maggie!" she said the instant she saw her figure. "It's been so long! I heard about your wedding! Congratulations, my dear."
"I am not her fiancé," Owen said, but he was ignored.
"Actually, auntie, we have a little problem…"
* * *
"The Haitian? Yeah, I know him." Said Aunt Ester as she sipped a bit of coffee. She was a bit of a thing, with elfish features and a spark in her eye that was nervously aware of her surroundings. He found himself admiring the 70-year-old woman and wondered how did she still have so much energy. "He has a website at Geocities, don't he?"
How come every one knows this sorcerer but me…?echoed a bitter little voice. Away from the prying eyes of the rest of the family, Owen and Maggie updated aunt Ester, who to causality of causalities, also happened to come by the Haitian's webpage. "I assume you've traded spells with this sorcerer?"
"Yes, you assume correctly, Mr. Burnett. We used to chat a lot on ICQ. What a nice young man he was." She said, contently, but then sighed, "But I haven't talked to him since last week. I'm afraid we won't able to ask him about that spell anytime soon."
"How come?" asked Owen, slightly alarmed, "Surely your modem works fine, does it?"
"The modem's not the problem. It's the Haitian who's unavailable. He took a surfboard and tried to make it to Florida. Haven't heard from him since."
"Oh." Was his answer, with a disappointed and slightly bewildered tone.
"But aunt," retorted Maggie, desperate, "There's gotta be something you could do!"
"I don't know. I'm sure there's a solution somewhere, the problem is figuring out where to start. I've got people who know people, but it's going to take time. And as I heard it, you'll be leaving today."
"That's right." Owen commented, "Today at four."
"There's really nothing I can do right now. Your option is going back to Manhattan while I figure out what to do, and I'll call you back."
Owen tried to hide his disappointment while Maggie sighed. "What do we do now?" he asked her.
"Well," she replied, "There's a party out there in our honor. Might as well have some cake."
* * *
Party they did for the rest of the day, or at least, Maggie's family partied; all Owen wanted to do was sit in a corner and wait it out. But, alas, the spell forced him to be with Maggie wherever she went, Owen spent several hours following her like a dog on a leash while she said hello to half a town.
It wasn't like tv anymore. In a sick way, it was better. He never knew this life could be… so help me…interesting. Like a soap opera. They had everything, from gossip to affairs with their sister's husbands. But somehow, it all worked out.
And something else the Watkins found enticing was gossiping about Maggie's 'future husband'. It didn't help he was following her around all the time.
Man, oh, man, this people have a sick imagination…he thought as a few relatives discreetly looked at him. Maggie, however, was spaced out talking to one of her uncles, Joe she called him. This is kind of fun…like Xanatos' party but without the dress code…and the etiquette… and the hypocrisy…and the fear of making a fool of yourself… Owen wasn't sure about the last one. This was an uncomfortable situation, since everyone wanted to 'get to know better the fiancé', and he didn't know what to say. They probably thought he was a jerk for ignoring them. That's 'cause you are being a jerk! Live a little! Go mingle! Get drunk! Get naked and dance on a table! Owen had a tough time exorcising the little voice until it dropped out sight after yelling, Screw you! I'm out of here! The next thing Owen heard were loud angry, footsteps walking away and a door slamming shut.
Maggie was still busy talking to the old uncle. He sighed and took a quick glance at his watch, only 1 pm. He sighed again. He took a white plastic fork and started balancing it on the index finger, turn it around, flex it, use it like a drumstick…
"… so are you gonna do it?" He turned to Maggie, right up his face, with a excited smirk. "Come on! It'll be fun!"
"Uh… sure." He replied, not really understanding what's going on.
She giggled ecstatic and turned to Uncle Joe, saying, "He'll do it! He'll do it!"
"Do what?" Owen asked, but he was ignored.
Uncle Joe, the old man with the beard, who Owen had heard had served in Vietnam, suddenly grabbed the kareoke microphone, stood up in the middle of a table. Everyone dropped what they were doing and paid attention. Owen too, now seriously disturbed.
"People, people, pipe down now… as we all know, we're all gathered here to meet the future new member of our merry little family---Owen!" They all clapped and Owen found himself blushing ever so slightly in embarrassment. "But as we all know it ain't easy to marry a Watkins woman without The Test."
"What… test?" he muttered to Maggie, but she didn't listen or pretended not to listen.
The old man answered for him as he yelled, "KAREOKE! 'I've got you babe', by Sunny and Cher!"
All color flushed from his face. BWAHAHAHA! Serves you right, you stick in the mud!
Maggie dragged him ---literally--- to the stage, and Owen saw just how big was Maggie's family. If he had had a mirror on his hands, he would've seen that face of terror he had.
She, on the other hand, was truly enjoying this. She must have thought she was a diva or something, because she moved with such grace and confidence as if she were born to do this. "Hey, ready to do this, Owen?" she asked.
"No." he answered, expecting some last minute clemency.
The music started, and Owen glued his eyes to the screen of that state of the art kareoke machine, because it was easier to see the screen and pretend that 200 hundred people aren't there, and this is just the shower.
Maggie: (confident) They say we're young and we don't know…We won't find out until we grow…
Owen: (muttering quickly, looking down) WellIdon'tknowifallthat'strue'Causeyougotme,andbabyIgotyou… Babe…
BOTH: (out of synch) I got you babe…! I got you babe…!
Maggie: (glowing) They say our love won't pay the rent, Before it's earned, our money's all been spent.
Owen: (looks red, tries to try) I guess that's so, we don't have a pot But at least I'm sure of all the things we got. Babe!
BOTH: I got you babe! I got you babe!
Owen: (less shy, but cowed by Uncle 'What's-His-Name' with the family camcorder) I got flowers in the spring, I got you to wear my ring…
Maggie: (actually thinks she's Madonna) And when I'm sad, you're a clown! And if I get scared, you're always around! So let them say your hair's too long! 'Cause I don't care, with you I can't go wrong…
Owen: (tries to think happy thoughts, wants to break the video of this) Then put your little hand in mine… There ain't no hill or mountain we can't climb… Babe…!
BOTH: I got you babe! I got you babe!
Him: I got you to hold my hand…(he reaches out and grabs her hand)
Her: I got you to understand… (doesn't know what to make of this)
Him: I got you to walk with me… (holds it tight)
Her: I got you to talk with me! I got you to kiss goodnight. I got you to hold me tight!
I got you, I won't let go! I got you to love me so! (she smiles, and Owen actually cracks a smile)
BOTH: I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you babe
That same Tuesday, back in NY, 5 pm
Back in good old Manhattan, where cab drivers spoke some unintelligible dialect, both Maggie and Owen stared out absently through the window. Maggie was glowing in happiness because she saw her family again, but Owen didn't really have anything on his mind.
"So." Maggie said, looking for conversation.
"So?" he asked back, not really wanting any.
"Did you like it? My family, I mean. I know you think the kareoke gig sucked, but what of everything else."
"Frankly," he started, "I thought small towns were boring. But this has been most interesting." Then he added with curiosity, "Are they always like that? So… close?"
"Yeah, pretty much." She replied, "Just like the Brady Bunch. Most of the families I know are like that."
"Like on tv?" he asked.
"Yeah," she replied, "Just like on tv. But you know what?" she added with a conspiracy tone, "Real life is better." Then she smiled a mischievous smile.
Heaven forgive me for saying this,a little voice echoed, I wish I had something like the Brady Bunch…
~ All dressed up with nowhere to go ~
"Puck, honey, wake up!" he heard Maggie's far away voice calling him. "Time for breakfast."
The pancakes were actually brought to bed by Maggie. Now that was a disturbing sight. Maggie was actually being nice to him. Her mother wondered what was she up to now.
"Here. Have more pancakes!" Maggie said as she laid down a stack next to another one already there.
He giggled excitedly and continued wolfing down. He said something that sounded like, "Y'know thi ar really good…why r you doin' this?"
"Why, a host must make her guest welcome." She replied with a voice that sounded like bells and a grand, beautiful smile.
However, someone once told Puck a charming little maxim, 'The bigger the smile, the sharper the knife,' and he realized she was buttering up to him for some reason. "So…" he said as he lowered his fork. "Would you like to talk about it?"
Busted, she quickly confessed, "I was thinking of inviting Robert tonight for dinner tonight at this lovely Japanese restaurant nearby. It's just like Japan, they make you take off your shoes and sit on the floor and stuff. So I thought that maybe you could call him. Maybe?" she said with sad puppy eyes.
He groaned and burst out, saying, "I ain't calling him! You've already dated him, what's the point of dating him again!"
"Well, that's called, 'getting-to-know-someone'. I don't know how they do it on your planet, but over here, humans like to communicate. Do you know what 'communication' means?"
"As long as she's in the bed with me, what's the point of talking?"
She growled and barked, "Typical male! They're all the same! Every single one of 'em! Is chivalry dead!?"
"Yep. With the beginning of birth control."
She could've slapped him, but better sense reeled her in. "Whatever. Just, please, call Robert? Please?"
"May…be?" she repeated, trying to choke the bitterness out of her tone. "You want me to grovel? Is that it? Fine. I'm groveling and throwing myself at your mercy. Say what you want, and I'll do it. Just call Robert."
That brought a smile to Puck's lips. "All right… I'll call him. But…gimme those pancakes over there. And you must accompany me for a day out tomorrow. The entire day. This is my vacation, and I'm supposed to have fun, and I demand to have fun. Understood?"
"Yes, sir." She said through bitter, clenched teeth.
"Oh, and you're paying."
She almost slapped him, but then she thought, Later, Maggie. You shall have revenge later…
The same glorious Wednesday
Late but not so late, 6 pm.
Right in front of the restaurant, Maggie paced back and forth, every once in a while asking, "Do you think he'll make it?"
For the ten thousandth time, Owen answered annoyed, "Yes, he will." He wasn't particularly thrilled about waiting outside for Robert to show up, but said nothing about it. "Calm down. He'll be here any moment now. Just be calm."
"How can I be calm? My future happiness is at stake here!"
"Pacing won't help." He replied, "Chances are he won't even notice you. He's too…" he was about to say 'stupid', but that wasn't the word. "…Absentminded. He walks on the clouds."
"I'm barely dressed. He's bound to notice." She said.
That was too true. It wasn't the Tina Turner dress, but it had a remarkable resemblance. The good news was that this dress wasn't see-through, just amazingly tight and short. It was black too, so it wasn't as nearly as flashy as the first. Far more serious and elegant.
As for him, he wore a variant of the same clothes he always wore, only a bit more casual and with cream colors. Anyway, he didn't have to worry about looking good; he was a man, what did he care about fashion? And he asked to Maggie, "Why do you put up with this? How can you walk with those high heels?"
"How else am I gonna get his attention? He's in this because you asked him to come. He still doesn't care about me."
He replied, with a slight touch of resentment, "I don't understand why you seem so interested in him when you can do better."
"Like who?" she snapped, "You?"
He frowned and tried to come up with something to hit her back, but then noticed a yellow cab stop in front of them, "Robert is here. Quick Miss Watkins, restrain yourself of jumping for joy."
She chose to let that comment slide. Snob. Maggie then made a vow to simply flirt with Robert and ignore Owen for the rest of the evening.
Meanwhile, Robert came to them with a pleased smile. "Owen, Maggie! Hi there!" He shook hands with Owen and gave a bear hug to Maggie. "How are guys doing? Cool dress, Maggie."
"Really?" she replied, glowing.
And it starts…mumbled Puck's far away voice. At least I'll have dinner…
It was a quite beautiful restaurant, as Maggie had described it. True to the Japanese heritage, they had to leave the shoes at the door and sit on the floor. A sumo stood at the door, next to a round object Owen didn't get a good look of, since he was entertained looking at the decoration of dainty flowers and delicate paper walls. One could have never guessed this was really NY. Again, another restaurant he had never bothered to enter.
But we had a good reason, didn't we?Muttered a puckish voice, But what was it…? It was something about the scenery… He looked around, but he simply couldn't remember. They were seated near the entrance and a little alarm told him this wasn't a good place. Again, he could not remember.
At the far end of the restaurant, all they ever did was mindless chatter. The dress, the very tight dress, that showed off her every curve with every step she took… how to say it?… 'disturbed' him every time she moved and shifted. Something inside him stirred every time he looked at her.
As for Robert, to the shock and disgust of some, he shot Maggie a few compliments and that was pretty much it. Either he was being a gentleman or he was on drugs.
Robert was all but focused on Owen. "I love your tie."---"Where'd you get it?" All those questions were making him uncomfortable. Again, all the attention he was receiving was overwhelming and made him loose focus on the task; get Robert to 'like' Maggie.
Maggie wasn't too thrilled about getting ignored. What do I have to do!? Get naked and dance!? Not only that, she didn't like the fact that Owen looked at her a lot.
"---so the bartender says, that's not a horse! That's my wife!" Owen heard Robert finish some lousy joke the second he snapped back from dreamland.
Maggie must have found it funny because she laughed, but Owen was at lost here. "I get it! A horse! Very clever!"
"What about you, Owen?" asked Robert.
He didn't know what he was talking about but nevertheless replied, "Good, but have you heard the one where God calls Fidel Castro, Bill Clinton and Bill Gates?"
He didn't have a chance to tell it, for a waitress wearing an authentic kimono brought them their dinner. Three sushis and something else he didn't know what could be. The little alarm was on again, but he reasoned, It can't be the food, we've eaten here before…Slowly, he was beginning to remember. This was an old restaurant. He remembered being here in the early 60's and also remembered he vowed never to step in again. But why?
While Owen reminisced with the restaurant, Maggie took the opportunity to take charge of the conversation, "So, Robert, why is such a great guy like you still single?"
"Oh, I had someone." He replied, suddenly saddened, "Left me some time ago. I've been dateless ever since."
Aww, he is sooo sweet! She thought, "Don't worry. I'm sure you'll find someone. Maybe closer that you think."
"I sure hope so." He said with a starry sight. Part of her screamed that she was the one, but alas she knew better. He was definitely talking about someone else. No matter, she thought, I'll crush her like a bug. "You'll have to excuse me for a second. I have to go to the little boys' room, I'll be right back."
She was left wondering about who could be that new woman in his life. Meanwhile, Owen poked his sushi oblivious to the rest of the Earth. "What are you doing?" she asked, irked.
"I've just remembered something about this restaurant. There was a reason why I never---"
"I'm not talking about the restaurant, I'm talking about you!" she barked. "I'd appreciate it if you stopped trying to look down my dress!"
"What?" Where he any other man, he would've blushed, but instead he said, "I'm not looking at you. I'm looking at the restaurant."
"Yeah, right." She scoffed, "You were looking at my legs all the time. I feel like a bug under the microscope, so stop it."
"I was not!" he said, piqued. She twisted her face into an angry scowl. "I wasn't." he defended himself, Not all the time…she gave him an arrogant look and turned away. There was no reasoning with that woman, so he changed the subject. "As I was saying, I've been to this restaurant before."
"And that means what to me?"
"It means something bad happened and I can't remember. I've passed out for a reason, but it escapes me." She mumbled something back, but she obviously didn't care. "Never mind." he muttered.
By the time they were done, Robert came back from the men's room and sat back with them, "Where was I?" he asked.
"Your ex-lover." Maggie replied eager to get out a name. Owen, now consciously aware, couldn't help but wonder what they were talking about. "Why did you break off?"
"It was our families. It was their entire fault. We loved each other. But when our families found out about it, they made our lives a living hell. My father is a reverend in New Jersey. Strong morals, a manly-man. He demanded me to marry someone of his liking. When he found out about me and my lover, he freaked. Made everything in his power to destroy me. So I moved to NY to start anew. But me and my ex… we never saw each other again… " for a moment, his voice seemed to crack, but then he regained his composure, "Oh, that's water over the dam." He said, with a slight smile.
"But that's awful." Complained Maggie, "Who could possibly do that to their own child?"
"And you haven't fallen in love ever since?"
"Actually," he seemed to blush wildly when he began to speak. "There's this person…"
That last statement struck a cord with both Maggie and Owen, the latter inquiring, "Who? Tell us."
Robert looked at him, really looked at him, and asked with anxiety and nervousness, "Do you really want to know?"
Owen didn't know how to interpret that look, but he was anxious as Robert, and asked, "Who?"
Robert's eyes lighted up, "It's---"
The name was never heard because at that same moment, the gong at the entrance was struck with such force that made the restaurant jump. The sound of the gong, pinched loudly because that was it the gong was iron and dang did it hurt feeling a cold shiver go down his spine…
Next act, Owen stood up from the table, ran toward the entrance, and yelled, "CAN'T YOU KEEP THAT THING QUIET, DAMMIT!"
Robert, Maggie and the sumo that ran the gong stared wide-eyed at Owen, along with everyone else in the restaurant. Owen got a grip on himself and muttered very softly, "…because it hurts my ear…" Maggie groaned and hid her face with her palms, while Robert looked around lost. He turned around to face the patrons of the restaurant, mumbled something that sounded like a 'sorry', and quietly left the restaurant.
Maggie, still cowering behind Robert, felt the thug on their magic bond, and reluctantly charged after him, before cursing loudly, "Damn bastard!"
Robert alone was left in the table. The rest of the patrons looked at him with wonder and awe.
That same not-so-glorious-anymore Wednesday
Later, 9 pm
"I told you there was something about that restaurant, but noooo…" said Puck, while opening a bag of Doritos, " 'Don't look at me', she says. 'Don't lie to me', she says…" He gave her a vicious look and said, "Serves you right for not believing me…"
Maggie, changed now in her pajamas and brushing her hair angrily, didn't even bother to face him while she replied, "I've never been so embarrassed in my life…"
"It's not my fault I'm weak to iron and iron bells…or gongs in this case." He said, "The loud ring of an iron bell can kill a fey, so you know."
"Good! Then next time I'll drag you to the top a church's bell tower! See I like the view!" She threw the brush in the table, "You could've warned me, dammit. How was I supposed to know?"
"I forgot!" he pleaded.
"How can you 'forget' something that could destroy you?"
"I don't know!" he said exasperated, "I just forgot!"
She gave him an angry scowl. "Damn you, is that an excuse? I never knew about the iron business in the first place! I'm supposed to know these things!"
"What gives you the right to know!?" he snapped back.
"The one you'll probably spend the rest of your life with!"
He snapped, "Bitch!"
"Lucky for you she is!" he barked, "It serves you right for humiliating me with the singing the other night! And hitting on Robert like a drunken prom date. Not that Mr. Idiot noticed anyway."
"Well, you certainly made up for Mr. Idiot, didn't you?" she replied, "You couldn't take your pretty eyes away from me."
"Don't flatter yourself."
" 'Looking at the restaurant', you said. You'd think you'd learned to lie in these last few centuries…"
"And you'd think you'd have a husband already. Don't you feel the biological clock tickling?" She hurled him her brush, which ended shattering a lamp. "Missed me, you feminist's worst nightmare!"
She threw herself in the bed, turning away from him; he threw himself in the floor away from her. They said nothing for a few awkward moments of silence, waiting for each other to bark something. Waiting until sleep claimed them.
Maggie woke up with a yawn. For a moment she thought it was morning, but then she gazed out the window, where it was still dark, and then to a clock, which read 12:44 pm.
Much to her surprise, Puck was already awake. With his back turned to her, he was staring out the window quietly, and didn't notice she was up. She cleared her throat rather loudly, making him jump. "Maggie!" said Puck from the floor. "What are you doing awake?"
"I suppose I could ask you the same question." she replied, curiosity boiling.
"Oh." Was all he could muster right now."…did I wake you?"
"Not really." She replied, and sat on the floor with him.
The two stared out the window quietly. It was pretty a night, not a cloud in sight. "So…" she said, as if to break the silence, "What bothered you so much that it woke you in the middle of the night?"
He thought about it, seemed to want to say one thing, but changed his mind. "I'm hungry. Let's go get something to eat."
"The kitchen, I presume." She replied, not able to contain herself, "I can't take you anywhere without embarrassing myself."
"My, aren't we a rancorous little thing?" he commented. "Does that mean I'm off your Christmas list?"
It was a rather small kitchen but Puck managed to find bread and an army of stuff to put in the middle. Maggie assumed he never really had the opportunity to stuff himself with food at midnight, since he grabbed ketchup, lettuce, mustard and any condiment he could find, along with the three cheeses and four hams he found.
"You know, I've always wanted to do this." He said, "I've always wanted to have a midnight snack."
That struck her odd. "Why? You can't do that at Wyvern?"
"Technically, I can. That it looks bad is another matter entirely."
"Ah, the secret fantasy of Owen Burnett… eat like a pig in the middle of the night." She walked around, inspecting the four-story sandwich. "You don't have much fun in the castle, do you?"
"Oh, don't get me wrong. Life with Xanatos is anything but boring. A certain crazed half-human, half-gargess with an inferiority complex takes care of that. She amuses me."
"Then why does something as stupid as sandwiches and pancakes delight you so much?" she inquired.
He looked at her with amusement in those eyes of his. "You have to realize, Maggie, that I'm not exactly the guy next door. I'm a fey, my lord has banished me from my home, and I'm currently employed with a man that just a few years ago was bent on taking over the world. No time to do 'human things'. An example of viewing the world from different perspectives, and no perspective is the 'true' perspective."
"What does that mean?"
"I don't know. But it sounded good, didn't it? You don't expect an explanation, do you?"
She couldn't help but laugh. "An explanation? From you? Why?" she commented, "You're only human."
" 'Human meets human and becomes human.' Lina Inverse, Slayers, from one of those CDs you have in that box."
"You promised me a translation. I'm still waiting."
"I'm gonna have to clear my schedule. Hellish week, I tell you. Between cable tv and Robert, I barely have time."
Maggie chuckled. "So…" she said, "I already know most of the most nagging aspects of yourself… but what about now. I mean, don't you have a fairy girlfriend or something?"
"No time for love." He replied, then chuckled, "But every time there's a party and I get drunk, I always end up with someone." He chuckled mischievously, somewhere in the clouds, "Or more. Last time, there were these two twins that I spent all night having---" he halted when he saw Maggie's 'you-pervert' expression. "Coffee. Uh… yeah. Harmless coffee…" He stopped himself before he buried himself further.
" 'No time for love', he says…" muttered Maggie sarcastically. "Has there ever been someone that stays over your place a bit longer than a night…?"
"Um…" he started saying, knowing very well Maggie's hot gaze over him. "There's been a few…"
"So… not exactly a saint, are we?" she said.
"It's not that I'm just looking for self-gratification!" he defended himself. "First kisses are always special."
"Oh really?" her curiosity piqued. "Do tell."
He thought back to that lovely summer back when he was a child. He was the human equivalent of 8. He remembered Little Cobweb, his 'bestest friend in the whole wide Avalon'. How they were fishing for worms in the mud that day… How they started to talk about boyfriend and girlfriends… How Cobweb, that tomboy Cobweb, was acting strangely that day… How, all of the sudden, she fluttered her eyes… How he thought it was allergies…How, in the second he let his guard down, she kissed him on the mouth, her breath tasting like honey…
… and how he ran away, screaming like an idiot and everyone laughed at him for weeks…
"You know," he said, coming back to reality, "I really don't seem to recall right now. Heh, heh…" and chuckled nervously. He got a grip on himself and asked, "But what about you? Who was your first kiss?"
"Ricky Matthews." She said, "My prom date. He had been my crush the entire year. He was a babe, but no girls would go after him. I wondered why, but I really didn't care. We went to the prom, had fun, yadda-yadda… As it turns out, he already had a pregnant girlfriend around, which I didn't know anything about… But it was good while it lasted…Besides, all who came after him were pretty much human, and pretty much boring." Then she added, "I bet human women are boring for you."
"Not really. You're exciting."
She arched an eyebrow. "Because I dress like Tina Turner and really turn you on?"
"There she goes again! Can't you drop the subject?" he exclaimed bewildered.
"You don't have to deny it, after all, I am quite a sight…" she responded. "Don't say you weren't looking, I know you were. Anything you say will bury you further."
"I don't have to admit anything…"
Feeling challenged and empowered, she said, "That bothers you, doesn't it? You just can't admit I am beautiful."
"I wouldn't go that far, Miss Modesty." She gazed at him with a smirk. "But if it makes you feel better and smarter if I say that you are not that bad after all, I'll say it. You're cute…" she beamed, "…In that sluttish way you have…" she un-beamed.
"No wonder you have no wife. No woman would stand you."
"… and I love you too!"
* * *
Attracted perhaps by the noise, or maybe the smell of the sandwich, Mrs. Watkins got up from bed. She heard her daughter and the fey conversing, and tiptoed to the door as not to let her presence felt.
They seemed very interested in each other. They were talking, laughing, having midnight snacks. What thought crossed her mind, only God knew. But had been anyone watching, they would have seen Mrs. Watkins smile and look away, as if leaving their fates on their own hands.
~ A day out and other disasters ~
"Wake up, Puck… it's morning… time for breakfast…" The fey opened on eye. "Very good! Now open the other one…" He did as commanded. "That wasn't so bad, was it?" He suddenly closed them, and drifted away again. Dammit. She quitted being polite and yanked his sheet off, grabbing him by the arms and shaking him, saying, "Wake up!"
"Fine…!" he replied with a yawn as he tried to get on his feet. "Would've killed you to grant me 5 more minutes…?"
"No, you would've been the one killed. Get up."
Muttering some curses, he let himself get dragged to the kitchen, as Mrs. Watkins did her morning chores. "You know," said Mrs. Watkins, "I found a message on Owen-type's beeper this morning. It didn't beeped out-loud, so I've just found out."
"Really?" Maggie perked up.
"Don't be so excited." Scoffed Puck, "It's my beeper. He didn't call you." Mrs. Watkins handed him the little thing, and the fey read so everyone could hear, " 'Hi. Wanted to know what happened? Are you ok? Call me. Robert.'… "
"Was that it?"
"No, wait there's more… 'Are you ok? Did you receive my message? Call me, Robert.'… 'If you are in trouble, don't hesitate to ask.'… 'Call me the second you read this message.'…" he noticed there were at least 3 more messages after those. "Gee… you think he's worried?"
"Call him." Maggie commanded him.
"Now? It's 8 am. You think he's awake?"
"Oh, I bet my best bra he's waiting for your call." Said Mrs. Watkins. "Couldn't hurt to try."
"What am I gonna tell him!?"
"You're the expert. Lie." Replied Maggie.
He muttered softly and grabbed the phone with a bad attitude. He switched voices and by the time Robert picked up the phone, 'Owen' said, "Good morning. I hope I'm not bothering you."
"Mr. Burnett! Are you alright? I've been trying to reach you all night."
"I know." He said, and tried to think fast, "I… forgot to take my pills. Yes. My pills."
"Pills?" Robert asked from over the line.
"Yes, I've got… um… leukemia … but never mind that." He quickly changed the subject. "The point is that I'm fine."
"You have no idea how worried I was!" said Robert. "I tried to reach you and Maggie… and I couldn't… I was so worried! Why don't we go out today again, talk about it?"
"Go out?" repeated Puck, and Maggie suddenly looked excited. "Sorry, no, I've got other plans." What!? Mouthed Maggie. That didn't escape Puck, who explained to Robert, "Maggie had promised me to take me out. Sorry. I'll talk to you later. Bye."
"Don't hang up, you bastard!" cried Maggie but it was too late.
"Ah, ah, ah!" scolded Puck. "A deal is a deal is a deal! Don't forget that! You begged me to call Robert. Now I expect payment."
"You ruined the date!"
"Details, details… "
She growled and snarled, "Fine," defeated but with a sly smile. "I've got just the place. Central Park."
"Central Park!? Of all the lame places…" Puck exclaimed. "Meeeeg!" he whined, "We're supposed to have fun!"
"Well, stop and consider your options. There's the Empire State and the Chrysler Building to go to, but you've probably seen then already. There's the Statue of Liberty, but that's an endless line of endless stairs just to see water. There's the Eerie Building, but you work there, so what's the point? There are other things, but you know you've seen them already, so what's the point of seeing and paying money again. If I'm gonna be dragged to see a burnt-out attraction, might as well go to Central Park. Nice. Big. Cheap. No big loss of money, just time."
Puck muttered some curse, then said out-loud, "Fine! Fine! Be that way. Let's go to Central Park. At least it's something."
* * *
In all, it was a very pleasant day. The sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Lot's of merry couples with kids were there too. And Puck, wearing a deep blue t-shirt, a pair of jeans, and a baseball cap to conceal his ears and part of the hair, looked like a 17-year-old human. Maggie looked somewhat his age too, with faded jeans and a red tube top.
In the rustic stage in front of them, one magician was doing tricks for the kiddies, making stuff disappear and reappear. He even had a colorful box for that trick when one person steps and suddenly vanishes. Some thirty-something mother entered and the magician closed the box. He spun it around and when he opened it again, and the woman was gone. A little boy, her son he guessed, started crying, "Mommy, mommy!"
"Don't worry, son." Said the magician, as he closed and spun around the box one more, "Your mommy's right here!"
The woman stepped out and everyone clapped enthusiastically. "Amateur", Puck said.
Maggie shot Puck an amused look, "You think he's no good?"
"Think? I know." He replied. "I mean, just look at him. He's an insult to magic users everywhere."
"Oh, I see. This is some fey pride thing, I respect that." She said, "Just how good are you at magic, anyway?"
"Well, I'm only second to Oberon and Titania. Or used to be at least. You see, I've got my magic back. Oberon had stripped it off, but three sorcerers gave it back."
"What three sorcerers?"
"Hmm… I'd rather not talk about it." He replied. "It wasn't by brightest moment. A very miserable stage of my life."
"There you go again…" she sighed.
"You don't want to tell me this things." She replied, "I almost had to twist your arm to get you to talk about Oberon. Now you don't want to talk about this."
He turned to her offended. "Did it ever occur to you that it hurts to talk about it?" he snapped.
She didn't know what to answer and said, "Sorry. I've no reason to pry in your personal life."
"Damn right." He said molested. Maggie quieted down, and Puck suddenly regretted snapping out at her. "Let's just say… I was very screwed up by it… and did some stuff I'm not proud of… I'll tell you later about it… let's just see the show…"
That same Thursday
They spent the entire day going here to there all around the whereabouts of Central Park. Up to at least 3 in the afternoon, she was paying for everything, as accorded in their contract. But Puck must have had a conscience attack, and he ended up paying for everything else.
They were now sitting on the edge of a nearby lake; watching the last rays of sunlight reflect on the still water. "The gargoyles must be waking up just about now."
"Gargoyles?" questioned Maggie, intrigued.
"You know those so-called monsters hanging around? Those are the gargoyles. Nice people once you get over your fear."
" 'People?' " she questioned.
"Yeah. People. The younger one's getting married soon."
"Oh. I guess that's what people do." She found it odd that he referred to them so casually. "They're like your family, right?"
He shrugged. "We just live in the castle. That's all."
"But they must mean something to you."
"Yeah," he replied, "Guinea pigs. Let's go somewhere else."
They walked a nice, long way to "Marty's", the Irish pub they had taken Robert before. It wasn't empty, but it wasn't exactly full. The patrons were all young couples dancing to an old jukebox in the corner of the pub.
Maggie and Puck sat on a table right next to the jukebox, which was now playing, 'I'll always love you'. A pretty waitress took their order, she chose a martini, but he went straight to the vodka.
"Isn't that strong?"
"Nonsense. I'm a bottomless pit. It's not impossible for me to get drunk, but it's unlikely." He had replied as he took it down with one drink. "So tell me, since why haven't you married yet?"
"I'm looking for Mr. Perfect."
"Yep, that's pretty much it. Not that I need a husband. I just want someone to love, cherish, and take alimony from if I divorce."
"You go girl!" he replied. "Typical woman. Career, money, power. And they call you the 'weaker sex'." Then added, "But I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but Robert ain't perfect."
"Well, I can't debunk that because I don't know him well." Maggie said, "But he sure looks like it."
"But just because he's 'perfect', it doesn't mean he's The One. What about the other guys?"
"They're all jerks." She said, so matter-of-factly, he arched his eyebrow.
"How did you come by that generalization?"
"Dating, living, dumping. They're all in it for sex."
"But not Robert…?"
"At least he hides it well." She told him.
He grunted amused. "Good luck. For all we know, he could be a serial killer or rapist."
"It's a possibility." He said, "Your friends who dated him, they don't talk about it… maybe they're too traumatized. Even I don't know a lot about him."
"I don't know a lot about you, and I know you're not a sadistic monster."
"How do you know that?" he asked, suddenly morbid and with a threatening look.
"Because I've been a pain in the ass for you, and I ain't dead yet."
He paused. "Good point." Then added, "But I could be pacing myself." He said with a playful look. The music of the jukebox had stopped awhile ago, but when another couple started the machine, Puck got the impulse to ask, "Wanna dance?"
She looked at him dubiously, then he grabbed her by the arm. Next thing she knew, he had his harms around her waist and was holding her tight. "You can dance, can't you?"
"Uh… yeah… I guess so…" she replied, and took an unconscious step forward.
"Oww, you stepped on my foot!" he cried out.
"Oh, sorry! Sorry! Its been awhile…" She then started to look to the floor, trying to watch her step, but that only made her clumsier.
"I outta teach you how to dance-- Oww!"
"No, I'm not! You are!"
"Nonsense. I don't get drunk that easily." He replied. "If you are not drunk, then just follow me." he said, then began to move rhythmically from right to left, forward, back, while chanting, "One, two, three, four…one, two, three, four… have you ever danced before?"
"My prom… and that's about it…" she replied all the while she stepped on, missed a cue, or did something to throw them out of synch.
"It shows." He said, his voice overlapping with some ballad playing on the jukebox.
Eventually, they got their act together, and danced like the other couples. One could've almost sworn they were one of them, one of those lovebirds dancing. But he could remember of a time not so long ago, when he also danced closely with another woman.
Maggie's head was resting comfortably on his shoulder. The ballad seemed like a lullaby that made them sleepy. He pulled her even closer to him. The jukebox now played, Sarah McLachlan's 'Angel', and the other couples left or were replaced by others. It was at that moment, perhaps accentuated by the vodka, though he wasn't drunk, no siree-bob, he was almost drunk, there's a big difference, he declared, "I tried to kill myself."
"What?" she asked, suddenly clear-minded.
"I tried to kill myself. The three sorcerers, they gave me the magic back. I didn't know how to use it. It's all… very foggy. My powers were out of control. So I really hadn't many options. The trio left me very screwed up. I felt lonely."
For a moment she looked at him, really looked at him. "What about the gargoyles?"
"Useless bastards, the whole lot of 'em."
"When did that happen?"
"Lots of psychiatric sessions ago."
"You went to a psychiatrist?"
"Doctor Johnson. Nice guy."
She hesitated. "Why are you telling me this?"
"You asked me about the magic. So I answered." He said, "You always say you want to know more about me, so there you go. I didn't scare you, did I?"
"No, of course not!" she replied, then she suddenly didn't know what to say.
He pulled her even closer to him. The jukebox now played, 'Further on up the road', and the other couples left or were replaced by others. "You know," he said, "You want a perfect husband, but what if the one you love isn't perfect?"
"Then I'd have to accept it as is." She replied. "Not that it wouldn't make any difference wherever he's perfect or not."
"Wise answer. Life is no fairy tale. And I should know. " He replied as he broke the dance and pulled away from her. "It's something I'd rather not dwell on. I need a drink."
He sat down at the bar and ordered another vodka, six to one. She followed him and watched as he took it all down with a gulp, and he ordered more. "Are you sure you don't get drunk easily?"
"Positive." He replied.
* * *
"99 bottles o' beer on the wall, 99 bottles o' beer, take one-a down pass it 'round, 99 bottles of beer on the wall…uh… what comesss aftrr ninennie, Maggiee?"
Maggie muttered a curse. Grabbing him anyway she could, she attempted to drag him to their room, because he was falling-down-drunk. 'I don't get drunk', he said…Maggie thought as she continued dragging him.
She opened her bedroom's door, and in an incredible fit of strength, managed to toss him in the bed.
"C'mon, wha comess aftr nineenie?" he asked again, or rather, slurred from the bed.
"You've sung with 99 the whole evening, why change now?" she answered with a palpable bitterness in her voice that didn't escape Puck, though he was near unconsciousness.
"Feisty, eh?" he said with a giggle. " 'S ok. I like feisty women, oh, yes." He giggled again.
"You smug bastard. You are so dead when you wake up." She told him.
He giggled incoherently again. "Oh, yez, I like feisty!"
"What am I gonna do with you!?" she snapped. "I can't take you anywhere! Now you're drunk! And in my bed!" she thought over the last sentence. "Get out of my bed!"
"No floor… no floor…!"
"Get out or I'll push out!"
Alarmed, he grabbed onto the mattress and the sheets and yelled, "No way!" Enraged, she grabbed him by the blue t-shirt and tried to pull him off. The harder she pulled, the stronger he held to the mattress.
"YOU…WILL…GET…OFF!" she said as she pulled.
The blue t-shirt sliced in half. Impulse by her own pulling attempt, she staggered and fell backwards, landing on her ass, while Puck laughed hysterically. "Stupid woman!" he said between laughs.
She grabbed one of the pillows that fell next to her, and tossed it right in his face. "I hate you!" she cried out.
"Oh, shucks, everyone hates me…" he muttered, then began chanting in a sing song voice, "Nobody likes me/everyone hates me/I think I'm gonna eat a little wooooor-myyyyy…"
"Damn right." She muttered as she sat down next to him in the bed.
He quickly decided to use her lap as a pillow, and her first impulse was to shove him off. Nevertheless, a part of her extended some mercy to the drunk fey that was about to fall in an alcohol coma. "Don't fall asleep on me, you hear?"
It was at that moment, perhaps accentuated by the vodka, though he wasn't drunk, no siree-bob, he was almost drunk, there's a big difference, he declared, "You're pretty."
She arched an eyebrow and couldn't think of anything to say but "You're drunk."
"You're gorgeous. I love the Tina Turner dress. You're smart. I like smart. You fight me. That's fun."
"Um…that's nice." She replied, slightly embarrassed.
"The more you beat me, I will fawn on you," he said, "Use me but as your spaniel, spurn me, strike me, neglect me, lose me; only give me leave, unworthy as I am, to follow you. What worst place can I beg in your love---and yet a place of high respect with me---than to be used as you use a dog?"
"That's very… nice." She stuttered, though she didn't understood half of it.
"There's no one I'd rather spent eternity than with you."
He hurried up and kissed her, and that she understood. He kissed like any other human, and in that part she was a bit disappointed. She found herself kissing back, though, and human or not, it didn't make any difference after all.
A thousand reasons passed through her head to why she should stop this right here, right now. Perhaps she was a bit drunk herself, for she allowed him to play with her bra. That's it. She was just drunk. So whatever happened next, was under the viable excuse that it didn't matter much.
She allowed herself to giggle incoherently as he fooled around her top and dismissed it away. She found herself actually encouraging him to go on. It had been too long. Too damn long. And he was experienced, she could tell.
He had kissed like a human, but then his kisses turned supernatural as they continued. And she found herself admitting that it didn't matter much. At least she could indulge herself just tonight and enjoy the pleasure, then regret in the morning, as usual.
"Ohh, dear…" she mumbled. Now this is a pickle. What had she been thinking…? It had been insane. It had been stupid. (It had been good too, though she wasn't ready to admit that just yet.)
It was time for regrets now. For a moment, she thought it had all been a dream, but the light snoring next to her didn't agree. Oh, God, with the fairie! She thought with horror. He was supposed to leave on Sunday. And it was Friday now!? She'd have him for three more days, and that was it? Or wasn't it? After all, the spell was still working, chances are she'll be stuck with him for the rest of her life.
Then what about Robert?Teased a little voice. Regrets, regrets, regrets. Robert was the logical choice. He was nice. He was handsome. He was human. Puck was the 'other guy'. The ones that Mom warned you to stay away from. He wasn't even human. He was sometimes nice, so help me, maybe even handsome when he dressed up. But he wasn't human. Nor was he her ideal of a perfect guy.
Damn her, why hadn't she thought of the consequences first?
She stopped and considered her situation for a moment. It was only three more days. If she didn't find a counter-spell by Sunday, then that was that with Robert. If not and the spell broke off, that was that with Owen. After all, it would never work out. He was a maniacal, obnoxious, inhuman double-personality man, and he'd only be trouble.
At least, that's what she tried to convince herself of.
* * *
"Where…? Where…?" he mumbled softly. For some mysterious reason, he was laying somewhere soft, a bed he guessed; though he hadn't bothered to open his eyes. He opened them, and the sunlight triggered a horrible migraine. Grunting, he tried to stand up, but he felt nausea. "I'm never drinking again…" he muttered.
But then he noticed something odd. Like he was naked and his clothes were lying all around the room. By adding piece by piece the jigsaw puzzle, he noticed he had gotten one step too drunk last night.
My gods!,he thought with disgust, With the human!? He quickly pulled himself together, got dressed and tried to escape out the window, but his binding spell ---and in some less degree his conscience--- didn't let him leave. I'm screwed…he thought, as if doomsday were near.
"Hey, breakfast is ready!" said Mrs. Watkins all of the sudden, and he must have jumped and almost hit the roof.
"I didn't do anything! I didn't do anything! I didn't do anything! I swear, I didn't mean it!" he said alarmed.
"What, that lamp you knocked over yesterday? You liar. Maggie saw you!" the old woman replied.
"Oh… yeah…heh, heh, sorry… morning got me a bit confused… sorry…" he replied, chuckling nervously.
The old woman grunted something and repeated, "Breakfast is served. Your pancakes are getting cold."
He nodded and she left him alone, wondering what to do now. He had begun to remember more clearly the night. He couldn't recall the 'gory details', but it had been… something else he dared not describe.
He debated what to do now. In the first place, he didn't know wherever she loved him and wanted to stay, or she was drunk as he was and that was just a mistake. More importantly, he couldn't tell wherever he wanted her or not. He just wasn't sure.
Gods, why did he do these things to himself…? So many choices, so many options, so many 'whatevers'.
What if she does want me?That was simple. After all, he was still under the spell, so he had no choice but to stay. They could be a real couple. That would be nice. That would be very nice.
But what if she doesn't…? And we're still on the spell?Torture each other for eternity. Sounds charming.
A third question popped. What if we broke the spell…then what would happen…? That was the real question, and the only one he couldn't answer.
* * *
He didn't know how to do this at first. There she was, Maggie, already eating something, reading a Vogue magazine. He didn't want to act like some insensible jerk and pretend nothing had happened, nor could he push the subject forward and say, "I slept with Maggie," to her mom.
For better or worse, he opted to follow Maggie's cue. He guessed Mrs. Watkins didn't have a clue, so he guessed Maggie didn't want her mother to have a clue, so he left it like that. If it ain't broken…
"Sleeping beauty awakes." Commented Mrs. Watkins. "Sit down. Eat, eat, eat!"
He did as ordered. Maggie finally looked away from her magazine and greeted him with a, "Hey. G' morning." He simply nodded. They looked at each other with eyes full of conspiracy. At least, that's what he saw. Maybe that conspiracy in her eyes was something else, maybe even gratitude or pleasure or something. Was he reading too much or not enough?
"So, how did it go? Y' know. Central Park?" asked Mrs. Watkins.
He froze in place and waited for Maggie to say something. She in turn waited for him to say something. Great. We're both lost.
"Fine, ma." She spoke up. "We saw a magic show, we went to a bar and…" Puck waited for her to add something. "…and that was pretty much it."
For one thing, Maggie was taking it extremely well. Either that or she was a hell of an actress. She was obviously embarrassed about it, so of course she wouldn't talk about it in front of ma. She gave him a quick look and continued to read her magazine.
He couldn't make out that look. But he guessed that meant he was ok. That they would be together. And that was ok by him too. They could get married, (they were going to be together, so might as well make if official) and kids and family, just like on tv. Yes. It would be difficult to work it out. But it's workable.
* * *
It knocked him out of the seat. "What!? What'd you mean no?" He began pacing around Maggie's room. It was inconceivable! It was stupid! "Why not!? You're still hung up on Robert?!"
"He is the logical choice." She replied. "He's…normal."
Puck shot her an insulted look, "And I'm not normal!?"
"In fact is that we would never work out. I'm a human, you're a fae, and what you are proposing is difficult as is."
"The gargoyle leader has a human girlfriend, and they are all right." He snapped. "We could work it out. It's workable! We just have to try!" then he added, "Besides, you have no choice."
"The spell?" she deduced. Maggie knew that was a problem, but she refused to even think about it. "Fine." She admitted. "Here's what we do. You leave by Sunday. If the spell isn't broken by then, I'll forget about Robert. If the spell is broken, we part our separate ways. That's what you want, right?"
He had to think about it. It wasn't exactly what he wished. In a dark corner of his mind, he wanted to stay even if there was no spell. She can't be serious, he reasoned, she wasn't drunk in the first place! She loves me but doesn't want to admit it…! "Fine." He replied. "I accept." But then he added the bonus question. "What about love? Do you love me?"
He expected her to crumb down and admit he was her prince charming, but she replied, "That depends. Do you love me? Or is it some macho-possession thing?" Now that he could not answer. Because he wasn't sure. "Well, I guess we'll leave that open for discussion."
She walked away and Puck wondered wherever he made a mistake.
The rest of the morning had been particularly boring. Maggie was cleaning her room while Puck tried to get lost. It wasn't much, considering he had to be fairly close to her. Nevertheless, he watched tv, Days of Our Lives, no less. So, I've finally sunk this deep…soap operas.
He suddenly felt something vibrate on one of his pockets. The beeper. He didn't know why he had planned to take in on his vacation, but it turned out quite useful. It was a single message. "Please call me. We need to talk. Robert." Puck was about to call Maggie, but changed his mind. I won't give her the pleasure…However, he felt the curiosity to call Robert. The problem, how to do so without getting caught, was easy to resolve.
Maggie was in her room; Mrs. Watkins was in the kitchen. The phone was right next to him. Perfect. He began muttering quietly, "Lovely mortals/look away/let your servant/make his day…"
There was no fancy flash of light or anything that would give him away. Nevertheless, he could feel the force field in place.
Without wasting a second, he dialed the number, and one excited Robert answered, "Sorry you haven't heard from me… but I had to gather all my strength just to call you," said Robert. "I tried to reach you and Maggie… and I couldn't… It made me realized that I need to speak with you urgently."
That reaction got to Puck's curiosity, "About what?"
He could almost hear Robert sweating, "About Maggie…"
Now that had Puck's complete, full attention. "What about her?"
Robert sighed. "I can't say it over the phone. Can you meet me for lunch? But you can't bring her. It's a man-to-man thing."
"Oh!… uh… sure. I'll meet you."
After exchanging some details, he hanged up, with a serious look of doubt in his face. Now how was he supposed to pull that off? He checked on mother and daughter, the spell was holding on.
His binding spell ordered him to stay close to Maggie at all times. But if only he could have a break. An hour or two. He couldn't break it; it was some sort of bizarre force field between Maggie and him. That took a lot of energy. The bigger it was, the more energy it would take, and the more energy it would borrow from both their bodies, knocking them down.
But if Maggie would be the only energy donor, I'd be off the hook for awhile…and that can be easily accomplished…
Owen Burnett tapped his fingers on the table and wondered why he acceded. He was in the appointed place, the balcony of a restaurant right in front of Central Perk. It was a particularly beautiful day, great to spend outside.
He felt cheap that he had to knock out Maggie and leave her unconscious and all alone on her bed. He had to use her energy so that the force field could expand. But she wouldn't last forever. One hour, tops, Robert was nowhere around, and the clock was tickling.
"Mr. Burnett," he heard Robert call him, "I'm glad you could make it." The young man sat in front of him.
"So…" said Owen, suddenly with the task of starting a conversation. "I must warn you, I'm short of time. I leave in an hour, if not before."
"It's just that… it's just that…" Robert seemed that he was about to cry, "I didn't know you had leukemia! Does it mean you're going to… die?"
Owen Burnett was shocked. And it took a lot to shock him. "Who told you that?" Yourself, stupid. The pills, the restaurant, does it ring any BELLS to you? "You must have misunderstood… I said…" he tried to think fast.
"Cancer? Tumors? AIDS?" Robert tried to help.
"AIDS?" repeated Owen, "Good gracious, no! I said a cold, I had a cold."
"But you look healthy." Robert replied.
Aren't you a curious little thing…a voice echoed sarcastically. "Yes," Owen replied, trying to put an end to this. "But I'm all better now." He'd be great at security, nothing passes through him…
"Oh," replied Robert, "That's a relief."
Owen couldn't think of any employee that didn't wish for his death, so this was shocking. "That's why you called me? To check on me? I truly appreciate it, Robert." But I really wish you hadn't, you see, I've just left Maggie unconscious and I need to go to her…! He added silently.
"It's not only that… " replied Robert, "Can I speak freely?"
"Of course," Owen replied intrigued.
"It's you and Maggie! It drives me crazy to see you together. In the restaurant… how you looked at her…" No, I wasn't. I was looking at the restaurant, the restaurant! "I can't stand it!"
"I'm not in love with her…" He tried to defend himself, but he wasn't convincing to Robert nor himself.
"I've never felt this way about anyone in the world! To see you together drives me insanely jealous!"
"It… does…?" stuttered Owen. He loves her! And I'm making him jealous… he seems like such a dope sometimes… he…loves her and she loves him back…
"I try to ignore it, but you pay such attention to her… I can't stand it!" he got up from the seat, "I'm sorry sir, I must seem like such a fool to you… You're a wonderful guy… why should you care about someone like me…?"
Robert charged out of there, and he was crying his heart out. Oh, goodness!… He's crying…! Owen tried to follow him, but suddenly felt weak, The spell is wearing out…He's heart went out to Robert, crying pathetically over Maggie.
He didn't know wherever feel sorry or angry with Robert. He was such a goody-two shoes that it made Puck sick. But at the same time, it made Owen feel sorry for the man. Such an angel deserved a princess.
Instead trying to hold on to Maggie, we should make her happy… We don't have a chance against Robert…we're destined to spend eternity alone…
Puck cried for revenge while Owen tried to be the bigger man. Nevertheless, both of them knew they had no other choice.
After that strange blackout she had at lunch, all her energies had been restored in five minutes. She concluded that maybe she had drifted off to sleep while cleaning, and left it like that.
She had, however, stayed in her room. Puck was watching tv, and she didn't want to face him, not now. Not ever.
I turned him down for an illusion!She mourned, He hates me…! I'm such an idiot…But he couldn't leave. He was tied to her by a spell. He was hers forever. But does he want to be with me…? Alone, she tried to choke down some naughty tears, that unchecked, would turn into waterfalls.
Meanwhile, her mother charged in with a whole mountain of clean laundry ready to be shorted out and classified. She entered blabbering instructions, but when she saw Maggie's face of doom, she stopped and asked, "Maggie, dearest, what's wrong?"
"Nothing, ma. Just… nothing."
'Nothing' meant 'something' in mother's vocabulary, and she immediately let down the laundry and sat next to her, all ears. "C'mon, talk to me. What's wrong?"
Maggie crumbled down in a second. She grabbed a hold of her mother as if she were a lifeboat and began to say between sobs, "I love him, ma! And I turned him down! I'm such a moron!"
"Who?" the old woman asked.
"Puck, who else!?" she said between sobs.
Mrs. Watkins smiled and said with sensibility, "I suspected as much."
Maggie looked up to her mother and asked, "How?"
"Oh, please. I'm no fool. He's everything you never knew you always wanted in a man. He fights back, he says what he thinks, he loves you back…"
"He loves me…?"
"Of course!" she replied. "He's been moody the entire day, because of you! He loves you. I know."
"What do I do?"
"Nothing. I'll talk to him." The old woman replied, then added with a chuckle, "I'll be the only grandma with pointy-ears grandsons!"
That brought a smile to Maggie, who hesitated then exploded in full laughter, along with her mother, who thought, My, we were after the fairy tale prince and ended with the fairy instead…that's the way the world turns I guess…
* * *
She caught him on the phone, just finishing a conversation. He hanged up and looked spaced out, he didn't even notice Mrs. Watkins was there. She cleared her throat softly, and he almost jumped back.
"Hey," said the old woman, "I didn't mean to bother you."
"Um… hello. How are you doing Mrs. Watkins?"
The old lady gave him a sly smile. "Cut the shadow dancing. You know why I'm here, don't you?"
He looked surprised for the briefest moment, then calmed down. "Smart lady. I always figured you as such."
"Why don't you tell her?"
"I wanted to. She turned me down… she loves Robert. Not me."
"Oh, don't be so sure about that." Replied Mrs. Watkins.
"Don't worry. I'll give her the ultimate prove of my love tomorrow at lunch time…" he said, without facing Mrs. Watkins, "You can keep a secret, right?"
A proposition!? Wondered Mrs. Watkins. "You got it! Tomorrow it is!"
It wasn't fair. He was sure of that. Robert would never appreciate her like he did. He could give her anything she wanted. He was going to give her anything she wanted. A house, a dog, all the useless whatevers she found so fascinating. Heaven help him, even children if she wanted. He could take care of her easily.
And he was going to give her all she wanted.
By any means necessary.
Saturday, around 10 am
"What is he up to?" Maggie wondered as she Owen grabbed her by the hand and charged through the Park.
He had woken her up rather late today, and made her dress up and everything. Her mother told her to play along, so that's what she did. She was wearing a nice, good girl dress, (which wasn't all that 'good girl' after all, considering her tastes) He was wearing the same business clothes he had seen him wear times before in the office.
They stopped near a gray water fountain and sat down on a bench. She played with her hands, which suddenly felt clumsy and useless. "I have something to tell you…" she started.
"Don't say anything, please." He stopped her. "Please, don't… not until you hear me out." He took a deep breath then said, "I'm sorry for being such a pain these last few days. You know that night I woke you at midnight. I wanted to tell you I'm sorry for ruining your date with Robert. I'm truly sorry."
"Hush. Please. Know that I only want you to be happy." He replied, with those wonderful blue eyes of him.
"Hey, Mr. Burnett! I'm so glad you called me here…" said Robert coming straight at them, who halted when he saw Maggie too. "Um… what's going on?"
She was about to ask him Owen the same thing, but it all clicked together easily. "You're setting me up?!" she asked, "Why?"
"He loves you, Maggie." He replied, "And he'll be able to give you your house and your kids and those ridiculous mini-vans! I don't want to be second best in your life! So there. I hope you're happy together…"
She went speechless and numb. He's doing it for me! He thinks I don't love him! "You idiot! I love you!" she didn't even thought about it, she just kissed him with all her might.
Dummy, dummy, dummy… couldn't he see they were meant to be together? That fate, for some strange reason or something, placed her in his way. Like a romance of fairy tales? A fairy tale love story?
Robert stared wide-eyed at the spectacle. "Hey!" he snapped, "Get away from him, you hussy!"
If that were a movie, the violins would screech to a stop right about now. "How could you!?" Robert snapped at Owen.
"I'm sorry, Robert. I didn't mean to steal your girlfriend… but it just happened… You have to understand, I know you feel cheated right now and I promise I'll---"
"But I love YOU!" He pointed straight at Owen, not a bit to the right, not a bit to the left, just Owen.
"What?" asked Maggie.
"What!?" snapped Owen.
"Don't you see I've loved you ever since I laid eyes on you!?" continued Robert. "You're perfect! You're a god! You're the most perfect man in the entire planet!"
Owen's world crumbled apart piece by piece. He went numb. Time lost all meaning. Like chips of dominos placed in line, one thing knocked over the other, and the other, and the other… It wasn't like reality lost all meaning…rather the meaning of reality was redefined…
…He didn't like girls…
…he liked charity…
…he ignored Maggie though she was half-naked…
"You look just like my ex-boyfriend, Vogel…" Robert replied dreamily. "Only you're blond and have cuter glasses…"
"VOGEL!?" he snapped back.
Everything spun wildly. Owen's fate on humanity was no longer.
~ A very interesting and slightly creepy story ~
"I've never been so humiliated in my entire life!" said Puck as he globbed down food desperately, sitting in front of the fridge.
"Do you always pig out right after big double-whammy's like that?" Mrs. Watkins asked casually, while she and her daughter watched.
"I'm so depressed I could eat the whole fridge…" he replied, and he munched down cold chicken. "Food makes me feel good…"
"But, really…you had no clue he was coming on to you!?" asked Maggie. "You must have noticed something!"
"Well, neither did you!" he replied. "I thought he was being nice!"
"There really is no perfect man… women, yes, but men…" commented the old lady. "And life's not a fairy tale, that's for sure…"
"Damn right." Puck replied, "I've been saying that since the beginning!"
"Well, did he have to spell it out to you guys!? Honestly…" said Mrs. Watkins.
"Yes, he did!" replied Puck, "I know there's a law about not telling if you want to, but it's surprising!"
"Actually," said Maggie, "I think we were the only one's that didn't know…Think about it. All the girls that 'dated' him refused to talk about it. Because…"
"Because he's so nice, they don't want to ruin his reputation." Finished Puck, "It's no secret, he doesn't keep it a secret, but they think it is a secret, so they don't talk to keep him out of trouble… I bet everyone knows and everyone thinks that no one knows." Then he added, "Weird. But stranger things have happened."
"Forget about Robert," commented Maggie, "What about us?" Puck looked away from the cold chicken to face her. "We have to get rid of the spell."
"Oh, don't worry." Puck replied, "There's no rush. I'm sure Mr. Xanatos will think of something."
"How can you be so sure?" Maggie questioned.
"Simple!" he replied, "I leave for a week and come back with a girlfriend who can't part my side, oh, he'll make up 'something', believe me."
"You consider me your girlfriend…?" Maggie replied, with stars in her eyes.
"Of course." he replied sweetly.
"Then we'll have to start thinking of our marriage!"
The violins stopped and everything froze for Puck. He looked at Maggie with horror and stuttered, "Ma…rriage?"
* * *
Mr. Robert Harrison was a 27-year-old business graduate with gifted intelligence and good looks to match. Robert, Robert, Robert, of the blue eyes and starry sight, was the only person in NY that one knew of that would actually help a little old lady cross the street. He read and wrote poetry. He volunteered for any charity drive anytime, anywhere. Because he was Robert, the guy in the office with the blue eyes and the starry sight.
Oh, well. Can't have it all, can't we? Not that anyone has anything against Robert, mind you, it's just one of those little things nobody talks about and no one wants to say to that secretary mooning over him at the 65th floor. It would break her heart.
Robert's fine, by the way. Met someone. He's name is Michael. Don't know much about him. But Robert's ok, and that's the important part.
In this sick little fairy tale, he got his own Prince Charming, and everyone ended up with their own princes or princess or members of the royal family, just like on fairy tales. Which, some might argue, is really ironic, for life's not a fairy tale and there is no such thing as a Prince Charming.
or they all lived happily ever after…
Author's note: I don't know if you can tell, but I really like stupid stuff. I know some things might seem far-fetched, (I know you think so), but the last thing I wanted for Owen's girlfriend was another Mary Sue for the arsenal. I hope I at least achieved that. If I was going to jump into the let's-marry-Owen bandwagon, I was going to do it in style, baby! I found this fanfic to be really, really amusing, I hope you think so too. Special thank-you to Ordeysia, who edited my fanfic. Blame her for any spelling mistakes.
Moral: There is no fairy-tale love. Real life is weirder. J
(June 23, 1999)