Note: Um. I don't think 'sorry' cuts it for a three month absence, so: Please spare me from the angry torrent of tomatoes and/or pumpernickel bread for my lateness. I'm hoping, but not promising, to keep this story updating faster. I hate leaving things in limbo, you know? I feel like I'm dangling my characters (well, not mine, but you get it) over a cliff and then ignoring them as I handle other fics. Which, uh, isn't cool. So here's chapter six, a few months later!
Chapter Six: Rainrainrain
It was dry, at the very least, in Timmy's little shelter. "It's not that amazing," he apologized in advance as I stumbled inside, but I had already collapsed on the sleeping bag in delirious glee. "Uh, we've got some food—"
"Food?" My enthusiasm quickly plummeted when I saw my husband's findings: raw fish. "Timmy, there's a good chance that will kill you."
"It's something, though." He shrugged and sat down beside me. "Don't you remember when you survived in the Omega Dimension? Pretend it's like that."
"But I was trying to save the world," I reminded him. "I had motive."
"You're trying to live. Isn't that motive enough?"
Outsmarted, I tentatively took a bite and held it down. Immediately a shudder rippled through my spine as I gagged. "O-oh, that's despicably nasty."
"Try your cooking sometime," Timmy teased, and I shoved him lightly. "Aw, c'mon. It's true, Tec!"
I ignored the validity of his statement and snuggled deeper into the sleeping bag. My eyelids felt like lead, my body lifeless. "Aren't you exhausted?" I accused, and Timmy laughed.
"This is nothing compared to training at Red Fountain. I'm fine. But I'm guessing even Alfea didn't prepare you for sleeping outside in the rain and then fighting a monster off. Alone."
"I'm not even sure that's what's bothering me," I admitted quietly. My fingers tightened on the pillow below my head, and I continued, "I used my Enchantix, and now…I can feel how it drained me. And then there's…something…"
"Something?" Timmy prodded as I broke off.
"Nothing. It's just a feeling."
I left it at that and buried my head into the pillow, rainwater dripping down the nape of my neck. "Want me to tuck you in?" Timmy joked, and I laughed to myself.
"Sure. Why not."
I trembled pleasantly at the touch of his hands against my bare shoulders and curled my toes at the warmth of the bag's cover. Timmy paused overhead and opened his mouth before closing it and patting me on the head. "Well." A cough. "Good night."
"Night," I murmured. I heard footsteps receding behind me as the light dimmed (Light? Where had he found light?) and a thought struck me. "Timmy?" Sitting up and squinted to make him out on the floor. "Timmy, didn't you have a sleeping bag, too?"
A long silence greeted me. "Tec, we're away from the camp. I kind of had to get this one from the emergency compartment on the levabike."
"They have emergency compartments now?"
"Well, I modified ours. Had a free weekend some weeks ago, you know."
"Huh." I bit my lip. Oh, dear. No one can enjoy cozy goodness when they're being haunted by guilt, can they? Unless they're Icy and company, which I wasn't, or a psycho bent on conquering the world, which I also was not. Oh, wait. Those two are the same things basically, aren't they? My mind is not what it used to be…
"Don't worry about me," Timmy answered my unspoken thoughts. "I've dealt with worse at Red Fountain, promise."
"No buts. Sleep."
Well, with an order like that and a day like mine, who was I to say no?
I dream in numbers. Don't laugh. I really, honestly do—every dream I've ever had has involved them in some way. Whether it's a nightmare of everything becoming a fatal error, or a dream of Timmy and I floating in a city filled with equations in the sky, I dream of math.
It's sad on a number of levels. I think that Freud person Bloom sometimes mentions would have a field day with my brain.
Anyway, that night, I was dreaming I was in Alfea. Ms. Faragonda was watching over me as I wrote on a chalkboard a long, sprawling equation that in real life I'd label complete nonsense. "Well, Tecna," my past mentor commented, "you've got the equation done except for two things. You have failed to enter all the variables, and you have failed to choose a result."
"But variables determine the result, don't they?"
"Precisely why you must factor them in," she replied. "And once you see all the options ahead of you, perhaps then you can choose the product most fitting to your purpose, hm?"
I think on some level it could have been a very telling dream, were it not for the fact that Ms. Faragonda was dancing to Musa's latest CD in sweats on her desk. So, naturally, that image made me wake up screaming in the middle of the night, and, naturally, it woke up Timmy from his warm spot of floor.
"What? What is it?" my husband called out with his sword at the ready. "Monsters?!"
"Worse," I gasped. "Ms. F in baggy sweatpants!"
If I were to describe myself in three words, right then, they'd probably be these: Unidentified Flying Object. Upon waking, I managed to completely side-step the "leaving" question and joke with Timmy over a breakfast of herbs instead. To be honest, I didn't want to leave. Being angry makes you tired. And when you're tired in your own blown-down shelter, there's no sleeping bag to sleep the weariness off. Or sanity to consider serious life questions.
So when Timmy asked me, point-blank, "Are we sticking together, then?" I figured, why not? Yesterday was over. The past two weeks were over. The rain had stopped, escape from foliage was in sight, and Timmy and I weren't at each other's throats. Currently, anyway.
"First order of business, then," Timmy announced, "is that thing that attacked me." He pointed to a drawing he had made with a stick in the sand, and continued, "It's strange. The creatures here in the Resort Realm are peaceful. Someone must have irked it."
"Indeed." I nodded. "Now, who would do that, though?"
"Well, Icy, Darcy, and Stormy, certainly, but I think they were at that colony, weren't they? And we've erased all threat from Lord Darkar and…I can't remember his name, he had long hair and eye make-up…Palladium?"
"...That was the name of one of my professors, Timmy."
"Oh, you know who I'm talking about," he sighed. "That one. You know. Tried to take over the world."
I laughed. "Timmy, that's everyone we've ever fought. You mean Baltor, right?"
He pounded his hand on the ground in victory. "Yes, him! He's gone, too. So, we're either facing a new enemy, or—"
"Or someone old has learned new tricks," I mumbled to myself. "Taking over monsters…summoning monsters…hm." The gears in my head turned, and I wished, not for the first time, that my stupid phone wasn't out of range. With technology these days, you could find any information with a click of a button, and normally, I could do that easily.
The Resort Realm could be so inhospitable.
"It's definitely got Darcy's stamp on it," I thought aloud. "What I can't figure, though, is why such a creature would be sent here, of all places. I mean, there's nothing here but tourists and that building dedicated to Alfea. There's nothing to corner and hunt."
We both let the words sink in and frowned. "Th-that's silly," I protested finally. "I mean, no one knows we're here—"
"—aside from Flora and Musa and whomever they told. Oh, and Bloom."
"But they wouldn't put us in danger," I insisted. "Anyone who wanted us for revenge, or—or for tapping into Sparx wouldn't be told a word about our whereabouts! I trust the Winx Club. I always have."
We stared each other down before Timmy's eyes softened and he stood up. "I know. I just—it seems so coincidental that it just can't be a coincidence, do you understand?" He hesitated. "I…I'm worried. What do you think is going on, outside this place? Has anyone broken free from prison, or has one of your friends been—?"
"Point taken. Let's explore and get ourselves out of this place."
Timmy smiled. "Right."
Our hug was strictly congratulatory…or so I told myself as I stubbornly denied any desire to kiss him. Because even if I wanted to, and even if I was starting to come to terms with my conflicting feelings, my marriage would just have to wait for saving the world from villainous foes.
You know, priorities and all that.
Timmy and I had been walking for an agonizing five hours. Flying really spoils a fairy, I'm sorry to say. I endured a total of sixteen stomach cramps and threw up twice thanks to my husband's pace. Luckily for me, he slowed down once he saw I couldn't keep up, and I managed to hold my pain in.
Of course, by then Timmy had to run on ahead and see what direction was clear to follow, so I took the opportunity to enjoy a few moments of peace sitting on the ground. It would have been lovely except for this buzzing in my ear…wait. That wasn't buzzing, that was—!
"Tecna! Tecna, Tecna, Tecna!"
Digit gasped and huffed as she attacked me from behind. Groaning at her impact, I raised an eyebrow. "Digit, what has gotten into you—?"
"I did it!" she moaned, stuffing two little cellphones into my hand. "Now…in…range. Oh, those long hours…my back is cramping…I need a chiropractor…"
"Digit did her best!" Amore piped up, following my pixie from behind. "She loves you, and she wanted to help somehow."
"Help is an understatement," I breathed. Cellphones. Oh, what goodness was instilled in these two beacons of technology, what a wondrous miracle had blessed us with their functioning!
"They're almost dead, though."
"Timmy!" I screamed, and lo and behold, my specialist came sprinting towards me, alert.
"What is it—? Oh." He blinked owlishly as he took in the sight of my companions. "Uh, Digit...and Amore…didn't know you were here, too. Small world."
"You have no idea," I replied. "Listen, Digit fixed the phones!"
Immediately his expression brightened. "That's great!"
"They're almost dead, though."
"Oh. That's bad."
I shoved his into his hand and began to dial as I had never dialed before. "I need to call Musa first," I insisted as I rushed. "I need to know if anyone's—oh." I paused as a box appeared on my screen. "She's left me a video message."
Three heads crowded by mine as we watched the screen brighten to reveal my couch. Not one voice, but several reached our ears as the screen jumped and blurred.
"Did you turn it on—?"
"Of course it's on, you moron! The film is rolling!"
"Oh, crap…" The picture shook as the camerawoman cleared her throat. "Greetings, Tecna. Timmy. So good to talk to you again—no, wait. It isn't. See, you're not home, and I don't like looking for people, you understand?"
"Doesn't she sound familiar?" Timmy commented, but I shushed him.
"Now, I need something from you two nerds. I think you know what I need, don't you? Passage into Sparx. It's that simple. Give me and my minions entry, and I'll make it worth your while. If you don't…"
The camera swiveled to a fairy I knew far too well encased in a block of ice, her arms held out as if to fire at an enemy. "Musa—!" I gasped, eyes wide. Oh, no. Not Musa. Not my best friend. A low growl crept from my throat, and Timmy flinched, surprised.
"Just in case you forgot, my girls are still as powerful as we've always been." A pale face filled the screen with a patronizing grin, her eyes encased in blue make-up. "Breaking out of that colony was a snap. Imagine how badly I could break her. Meet us at Cloud Tower, stat, or your precious little popstar will freeze to death. I know where you aaare,"she finished in a sing-song voice. "Don't make me fetch you, geeks."
And that was it. It ended, just like that. "Icy broke free from the colony," I whispered, dumbstruck.
"She wants to attack Sparx," Timmy breathed.
"She has Musa," Digit added.
"And now Timmy and Tecna will never get together!" Amore moaned. Timmy cast me a look, and I employed the ever useful "smile-and-shrug" plan. There was no time to unfold my heart's ridiculous discrepancies. Musa, my dearest Musa, was in the clutches of our oldest foe, and by Magix, I had to do something! I…I couldn't just hang around this place, could I?
Everyone paced about desperately, ideas being thrown out like paper.
"What if we—? Couldn't we—? Why not—?"
Finally, we all let out a heavy sigh and sat down. "We need to get out of here," Timmy announced.
"No, we can walk," he insisted.
Infuriated, I stood up. "Musa's life is on the line, and you want to walk?! This is not the time for roughing the outdoors, you idiot! Conserving my winx is the least of our worries!" I frowned and crossed my arms. My winx was acting up with all this rage, and it took every shred of will to hold back my instinct and keep my feet planted on the ground. "We can't afford to go slowly."
The voice was deeper than Timmy's and I jumped, startled. "Um, thank you?" I squeaked. "Who…who am I thanking, exactly?" The pixies huddled closer and Timmy drew his sword.
"Who's there?" he barked. "Show yourself!"
"Geez, Timster, relax."
Two shadows emerged from the thicket of the forest. The first was definitely female, her dark skin a shining caramel in the sunlight. Beside her stood a tall man with a scowl we knew far too well. The girl flicked back her long curly locks and asked, 'Well, Tecna? Any reason you and Timmy are here instead of at home?"
"Yeah, Timmy," the man growled, "any reason you left Musa alone?"
It struck me in a moment, and I breathed, "Layla? Riven? What are you doing here—?"
"I'll tell you one thing," Riven snarled. "We're sure as hell not doing nothing. Now pull out your wings and fly out of here, or we'll make you. We've been looking too long for you to back out now."
"We'll explain how we got here later, okay?" Layla sighed. "Just trust us. We have to go, now."
When Layla, or Riven, tells you to go, you don't question them: you shut your mouth and you go.
End Note: Don't kill me for shortness! –cringe- I know the last section sounded rushed, and maybe it was, but I need material for next the chappie. I promise everything will be smoothed out then. Really. And I promise it will be faster coming, haha.