Riposte. Chapter 7

by D'Artagnon

Higher Prices

I don't really remember how I got to Kenny's house. I can't honestly say. I do know that I was never alone through all of it. A lot of the time, Cody and Nick were with me. I know because they are heavy in wolf form and they would just lay in my lap or lean on me. I know that Mitch talked to me a few times, that he asked if I wanted to talk to the police yet. I know that there were times when I just could not help but break down and cry like a child.

Juan and Bethy came over as well, crying with me. Kenny was there, of course, but he seemed to be more into protecting me, talking to the police, covering things for us all. It's part of his job, as my Lord Chamberlain, to restrict access to me, but for the first time, he was putting off mundane authorities and giving me time to grieve.

The image kept replaying in my mind. The solid harshness of it. The fact that I'd only seen the result and not what actually had happened. It was like a bad dream coming back in to invade my sleep time and time again. I felt sick, and weak, and I trembled like a leaf in the wind while the thunderstorm beat down around me.

The official police report, at least at this early juncture, said that the accident was a result of slick roads from the storm, fast driving, and an unknown vehicle that came close to my parents' car several times, based on the fresh skid marks they found for about three miles down the road. They also credit part of it as a rogue lighting strike near the highway that must have freaked one or both drivers. The end result was that my Dad somehow slammed his car into a smaller boulder beside the road, causing it to flip end for end through the long axis, and smash up against the rocky wall beside the highway, crushing the cabin and causing an explosion in the gas tank. The car then flipped back onto what was left of its tires. The police don't think they had much of a chance to burn to death, not with the injuries they assessed inside the vehicle. By the time the emergency crews had gotten there, the other vehicle had already left the scene. And my parents didn't stand much of a chance.

And if you fuckin' believe that's what really happened to kill them, then you obviously haven't been reading!

It was my fault. They had gotten up in the middle of the night to run to my aid. They had chased along behind me, unprepared for whatever really happened. My dual existence, my changeling royalty life, my vain sense that everything revolved around me and my needs, that's what set them up to get killed.

I remember having Bethy hold me, just hugging, just there with me. I remember how they boys and Mitch left the room, I can only guess to talk about something. I remember how sometime before dawn Kenny and the wolves came back in, how Juan and Bethy said they'd be by in the morning to see me. I remember how Kenny took me to the bathroom, helped me climb into the bathtub, how he stayed with me while music played. I remember that the music was a Pink Floyd CD all the way through, Wish You Were Here, I believe. We didn't talk. We didn't kiss. We didn't do anything. He washed me, superficially, and just let me soak.

I remember laying in the waterbed, Kenny laying beside me, Nick and Cody laying there with us, in their human forms this time, just resting with us, saddened as I was. Later, I was to learn how Cody had become as dead to his parents. That parallel is a bond between us, and as profoundly painful. But at least his parents were still alive.

I woke up late the next day, well after noon. I felt rigid. Cold. Cody lay beside me, in wolf form, his head resting on my arm, trapping my elbow, his paws pressed against the wall like he was ready to go for a long run perpendicular to gravity. I didn't see Nick or my Kay anywhere about. I rolled free of Cody and curled up, crying. Cody barked once, then shifted form.


"Hey," I replied, sniffing back tears.

"Kenny and Nick and Mr. Tannagord went to go get some Chinese food. They should be back soon."

"Who else is here?"

"Juan is upstairs, Bethy should be here soon. Joey…he asked if you needed anything."

"Nothing he can give," I replied. I sat up, feeling my face with both hands. I felt so numb, just all over lacking any feeling. Light seemed to be sucked away from me, dulling the colors around me. Even the tingle of Glamour in the Tear around my neck felt weak and stifled. Now I knew why it was called the Tear of Cerulean. It wasn't just because of the shape of the cut crystal, but because of the pain of loss that it was connected to. The old powers given absence by the gulf of time and the effect of powerful emotions, the distilled essence of the lost path home, how could it be named anything but a Tear? It is the ultimate expression of our loss stretched across eons and the Dreaming itself.

I started to cry. Not weep, not moan and shout and shiver and fall apart. Just cry. I cried until I couldn't feel tears leave my eyes anymore. I cried thinking about how in my final words to them, I'd ordered my parents about. How the day of their death I'd argued with them and ran from them like a spoiled brat. Always the little general, always the chief changeling in charge. They never knew the truth about me and Kay. They never had the chance to be happy for me, for finding my eternal love while we both have time to love. They never got to see whatever great destiny they came back in time to see me achieve was. There were so many questions I never got to ask them. About my grandparents, about the future they came from. So much wasted time.

"Robby, is there something you're not telling us?" Those were his last words to me. And I threw them back at him with a command, to my own father.

Through all my crying, Cody was there with me. He sat beside me, rubbed my back, even gave me his shoulder a few times when I really broke down. At one point, Juan came to stand in front of me and he put his hand on my head, drawing me to his chest. He had tried to kill me once before. Now it seemed that his father had somehow orchestrated the death of my parents. I can't figure how fate chooses to shuffle the deck, but it's like some fucking Greek epic tragedy. I wonder if at some point in my immortal existence I was at Troy.

When Kenny came downstairs into his bedroom with food, I barely ate. My heart simply wasn't in it. Kenny tried to force feed me, but it wasn't working. It all lacked flavor. I even turned down orange juice. I got up from the couch and went back down to the waterbed. So little made sense to me anymore. I just wanted to curl up in the corner of the bed, wrap myself in blankets til they smothered me and fade from existence.

The police came by and insisted on talking to me. I was the only member of my family left. I had no aunts and uncles in this time and no relatives that I could even make a tenuous connection to. There was simply no one other than me to go down to the county morgue and identify my parents' bodies. I rode with them, Mitch and Kenny with me, Cody and Nick having a pow wow with Juan and Bethy while we went to go take care of the important legal crap.

They were laid out on tables in a very cold, overly bright room. The smell was antiseptic and sterile, like bleach. I didn't like it at all. My nose was a bit stuffy from all the crying I'd been doing, but it cleared up with the sharp smell of that room. I was led to each table and told "this is only a formality, son," by a kind looking police sergeant. He lifted the sheets over their faces one at a time, carefully making sure that only from their necks up showed. I could tell that the parts below weren't in what might be considered a natural position. I could only guess how mangled they were beneath those sheets. Part of me didn't want to know.

Mom looked so calm. So still. Her skin had always been fair with freckles, probably where I get mine from. But now it was like, ice princess skin. So white, so clean, so pure, so smooth, like new porcelain. I don't know how else to describe it. She was beautiful. I had a hard time remembering her voice, suddenly. I was so used to her talking all the time, to hearing her biting, acerbic wit while we watched the news at night. To see her so still had my lip quivering.

Dad also looked so calm, almost like he was sleeping. His mouth was slightly open, but he often did that while sleeping. He snored, loudly. He still looked like he needed a shave. There were marks around his eyes where his reading glasses used to rest, and a cut that looked like they had sewn together, up under his eyebrow. His eyes were closed in a way that struck me as odd, until I realized that the shape of his eyes was wrong. When I asked about it, they told me that at the point of impact his eyes had been pierced by windshield glass.

Seeing them there, like that, was just…unsettling. But in some weird reversal of emotions, instead of me turning into a weepy sap and collapsing, I got this just deep sensation of utter denial. They couldn't be dead. I brought Kay back from the dead, I could bring them back, too. I'd beaten death once already, I was in a mood to let death know it was still my bitch!

"Mitch, can I say goodbye, alone?"

"We have some things for you to sign, Mr. Tannagord. It should just take a moment," the cop sergeant said.

"Okay. Kenny, stay with him, okay? Just a few minutes."

"Okay, Poppa," Kenny replied. Mitch and the sergeant left, giving me and Kenny the room alone, just the two of us and the corpses.

I pulled the Tear out of my shirt, laying it against my chest. Kenny looked at me with his eyes wide. "What are you doing?"

"I'm bringing them back."

"Robby, no. This isn't a good idea."

"I brought you back, I can bring them back too!"

"Robby, when you brought me back, I was still near. But your parents…Robby, they're only human. They're gone."

"No!" I shouted, feeling so upset. "They're not dead! I can bring them back!" I felt the Tear starting to glow as I moved to my mother's table. "I can do it!"

"Robyn," Kay said, and I could physically perceive Kay Neth the Steel Eyed before me now, not Kenny. He had enacted the Wyrd and become his fae mein in reality. "Robyn, if you honor them, then let them go. Bringing mortals back doesn't work."

"You don't know!" I screamed, tears streaming down my face. "I am the most powerful changeling of all time with this thing!" I shouted, holding the Tear of Cerulean up. "I can stop rivers, I can walk on water, I can bring dragons to their knees and make things indestructible, and I can, and I will bring my parents back to life! I swear it!"

And overhead, a loud burst of thunder shook the entire Dreaming. People half a world away felt that shuddering and woke up, startled, with that falling feeling. I'm told that several people near by complained of tremendous headaches and even bloody noses when I made that oath. An oath that the Dreaming ought right rejected! The sound of rain pounding on the roof of the building permeated everything.

"Robby," Kenny said, his voice taking on that calm quality. He had reverted to his human self, his eyes locking on mine. He stepped to me and gently pried the Tear out of my hands, the glow fading back to normal. He turned me to face my mother, his arms wrapping me from behind.

"She's gone, Robby. Say it with me."

"No! I need her back!"

"Robby, she's gone. They both are."

"Don't you think I know that?" I said, struggling out of his grasp. I never would have believed, had someone told me, that I'd on purpose reject Kenny's touch. Never. Yet here I was, getting angry at my boyfriend and throwing his hands off of me. "It's my fault they're dead!"

His eyes softened. "Robby, you didn't kill them. Korbesh did."

"But I ordered them to follow us. I put them into danger."

"Robby, don't you understand? They loved you so much they'd have done anything for you."

"Just like you do?"


"Then maybe you should just go away as well!" Part of me was screaming inside to take it back. But I just didn't feel like having anyone close to me, much less someone telling me what I didn't want to hear. I was in that cold mode, where my emotions turned off, vanished. All that was left was a small boy full of undirected rage and unreasoning determination.

"You don't mean that," Kenny said, shaking his head. "You're still hurting."

"I don't fuckin' need you to tell me how I fuckin' feel!" I screamed. He moved in to touch my arm and I shoved his hand aside. "No! Leave me alone!" I screamed. I turned and ran from the room, leaving him in my dust. He tried to follow me, but I was so pissed off that I poured my anger into my Glamour and managed to use a cantrip of Wayfare called Quicksilver. My body burst into a blur as I ran, shooting out of the building, far faster than the eye could follow, out of the downtown area. I ran until I reached my house, only to see it was roped off with yellow tape. I was so pissed at that that I ran right into the house, right up to my parents' room and (just like a little brat) hopped into Mom and Dad's bed.

It all had to be a bad dream. Like the Dragon. All of it was just a bad dream, and I'd wake up any second now, snuggled down in bed, totally safe, with Mom and Dad okay, and my computer waiting for me in the next room. All of this Glamour and changeling stuff was just an elaborate dream. I so wanted it all to just go away and give me back my life.

The bed still smelled like them. It's hard to put anything solid to how I knew that. I'd never been one to take notice of the more subtle body odors before. At least not on my parents. Stinky or clean was usually enough for how I perceived them, or if they had that perfumed and cologned scent that fairly drifted through the house when they went to big social events for Dad's clients. But while I was huddling under their comforter, alone in a dark house, with all the electricity, Glamour and light gone, all I had left of them was a smell.

Mom's pillows had a faint rosewater smell to them, tinged with sandalwood. I think that her favorite perfume smelled like that. I could also smell the bit of faint dust that books usually attract. She is…was a librarian after all. I guess such is to be expected. Dad's pillow held a different scent, but just as subtle. Old Spice. I remembered watching him shave once, I guess I was only 8 or so. He finished off with a splash of Old Spice from the white bottle, and then dabbed some behind my ears. He told me, "Go hug your mother and let her smell that!" with this big grin on his face.

All the tears started to flow out of me now. We'd had so many good times in this house. It was the only home I'd ever known. They were the only family I ever had. And it was all over now. No parents, no home, soon enough I wouldn't even be able to remember what they sounded like, how Dad would grin when he looked at me when he thought I was sleeping. How Mom was always there to scold me just enough to motivate me, and love me just enough to make sure I knew it enough to be embarrassed.

My life, as I knew it, had ended.

I stood up and left the bed, dragging my parents' bed comforter with me. I went right down the stairs, remember how Mom's feet sounded on them as she would come down. Thinking of my Dad's tiny work station just at the bottom of the stairs, near the kitchen. I walked right into the kitchen area and remembered the first time in this lifetime that I'd truly seen Kay for who he was, and seen the world for it's true existence as well. We'd been happy then. Alive, all of us, playful. Joy and Light. And now all I could feel was crippling sadness and darkness coming over me.

That's about when I decided to reach out with one of Mom's really big kitchen knives and stab myself through the heart.

That is when I stopped. I stood there, right where the kitchen, the stairs and Dad's desk all met, draped in my parents' comforter, holding a butcher knife, point up, right near my zigphoid process (the little flexible spot under the bottom most tip of your breastbone, don't press it too hard or it'll break off!). Rain pelting the house was the only sound in the house. The only light came from streetlights shining in the windows and the occasional flash of lightning.

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