Author's Note: I don't even know how long this took. I had the most sever case of writer's block ever. Just want to finish it after reading it again today.

Pt. 16 - Attached


"As Norm lied there in the ocean breeze, his consciousness ebbed, and in his weary mind's eye he drifted over the edge of the rocky cliff and plunged into the dark water below. He rolled with the waves against the rocks, wishing with all his might that he would wash away over a horizon he couldn't see through the endless blackness. He crawled up on the shore, exhausted, then stood and turned to look back out in the ocean. He wanted so desperately to reach the invisible horizon. He waded back into the water, and found that it was icy cold. He kept going-


The voice was familiar, yet strange to him. He turned around. On the bank- a glowing figure- a face he recognized, but did not. He turned back to the water, wading in deeper though the cold filled his body.

"Where are you going?"

He answered, feeling heavy, not turning around. "I'm going to be free."

"Why?" the voice- the girl- asked.

He stopped, unable to put an answer into words. He was in to his waist, his desperation written on his face. He turned around over his shoulder.

She stood at the edge of the water, but could not enter it. From the trees behind her came a dark figure. As it approached and touched her, she fell to the ground, motionless.

"No!" Norm cried in unexplainable anguish, and fought to go to her rescue. But the water pulled him back, and became as molasses. He struggled to escape from the thick mass, but could not. It pulled him away from the shore. He watched helplessly as two more dark figures materialized and took hold of the white one, pulling her slowly off into the trees. He tried to call out her name, but was cut off as the water sucked him under, pulling all the breath from his body...

He gasped, snapping out of his nightmare and jolting up, eyes wide. "" he found himself repeating once again, hunching over and rubbing his temples. None of this made any sense! Not just the dreams, but the fact that somehow, over the course of a few days, he- an immortal, 50,000-or-so year old genie- had succumbed to the whims of a mortal human girl. Most remarkably, he had come to care about this girl..."

Norm floated up out of his seat, then realized that he was back to his genie mode, lower legs replaced by almost-solid whisps of smoke. He sighed, then raised his hand to snap himself back to his human disguise-

GONG! Two puffs of smoke, one purple and one pink, enveloped him, and he coughed at the sweet, overwhelming smell of flowers.

"Norm!" two sweet voices cried out, and he was knocked backwards with enough force to cause him to float a few feet back. The girls wrapped their arms around his neck from each side, clutching to each arm.

"Ladies!" Norm cried, confounded, as they pulled back. "What are you doing here?" Their date wasn't until the next night.

"Well, we heard you were at a party and we just couldn't stay away," replied the blonde one, holding his hand.

"Doesn't look like much of a party, though," the dark-skinned one observed, hand on hip, looking around at the stillness they had broken.

"Yeah... I wasn't really in the, uh... party mood, y'know?"

They blinked in unison. "Not really."

"Well, I just needed some time to figure this whole, ah, master situation out," he said, putting one hand behind his head and a fist on his hip.

"Oh, poor Norm... stuck with that little, pathetic human..." the dark one cooed.

Her words stung Norm in a way he couldn't understand, but he ignored the twinge of indignance in his chest.

"I've just been thinking," Norm said, pulling on his beard, "this kid... she's not so bad."

At the girls' shocked faces, he went on.

"I mean, she's not as bad as other masters, y'know? She's caring and- and she's sweet, and-"

He cut off, noticing the two girls exchanging looks.


"You care about this little human," the blonde said, eyes wide.

"She's not just some little human, though! She's better than the rest! She actually cares about what I-"

"So she's going to free you, then," the dark one said, both hands on her hips and a brow raised.

"Wha- I mean, well, I don't-"

"Face it Norm, you're losing it," the dark one accused. "We saw what happened at the beach today."

"What about it?" Norm asked defensively.

"You used your magic to help that girl without her making a wish. The surfing? There's no way she could have really pulled that off," the blonde said.

"So I helped the kid out a little. Big deal! She needs something to like about herself after what she's been through!"

"Are you listening to yourself, Norm?" the dark one cried laughing disbelievingly. "'After what she's been through?' Really? What happened to you, Norm? What happened to Mr. Big Shot?" With each eccusation, she poked him in the chest. "What happened to the guy that could get anything he wanted? Because I don't see that guy anywhere around here."

"I'm still the same guy!" Norm cried out angrily, and the girls jumped back.

There was a silence.

"Look..." he rubbed his eyes with one hand and gestured with the other. "The kid's got one wish left. I just need a little more time, and I'm out of here. Free as a bird." He looked them in the eyes, back and forth, with an intense stare.

The women looked at each other doubtfully, but nodded.

"Good," the dark one said quietly. "And Norm... this little pet of yours... don't get too attached to it."

Amanda was right where he had left her when he got back to the house, tucked in under her blanket, moonlight shining on her peaceful face. He watched, leaning up against the door frame, as she let out a breath and turned over.

He frowned and lowered his head with a sigh.

Tomorrow. He would do it tomorrow.