Saturday, October 31, 2015
He pointed to the rocking chair, and for a second she thought about refusing, her head running the possibility of changing the subject. But the look on his face told her there'd be no getting around this discussion, so she sank into the cushions with a sigh.
Beckett pulled one of the wooden chairs from the table, and flipping it around, sat directly in front of her, interrogation style. "Spill it. All of it. I want to know how the hell you could understand that freaking spider, among other things. What happened to that promise that we not keep secrets from one another? Seems to me you were the one that insisted on complete honesty."
"I wasn't keeping anything secret on purpose, Ted. It's just...well...I wasn't sure how to tell you.
How you'd react. And now...well... you're the Ridre Dubh, and you have the sword and this big quest, and I didn't want to distract you with anymore...complications."
He narrowed his eyes and laughed, though his tone was chilly. "That's bullshit, Mrs. Beckett, and we both know it. You didn't tell me because you knew I'd disapprove. Now, out with it. The whole story."
She was quiet for a moment, her eyes searching the room, ears straining for sound in the silence that blanketed them. Satisfied they were alone, she folded her hands in her lap and began speaking. "Do you remember when She Who Was All explained to us all that Kevin and I were descended from royal Fay blood? Some of the last of the line?"
He nodded his recall, and she continued. "Well, it seems it's her bloodline, She Who Was All. Her own personal genealogy. My great, great grandfather Liam Callahan and Maeve...that's her given name...well...they were...were intimate. Lovers." She caught the look on his face, part fascination, part revulsion. "Okay, don't ask me for the details, but apparently it's possible, I guess that's where all those legends and myths come from. Anyway, their union produced a child, a son. Again, not impossible, but very, very rare. The boy...his name was Raegan...was more Fay than human in every way except his soul, and despite all the attention of his mother, he was miserable living with her. When he came of age, he demanded his freedom, and she had little choice but to let him go."
Maureen leaned back in the rocker, letting it move her back and forth as she continued her story. "So Raegan showed up in our human world at the age of fourteen, much to the shock of his father who knew nothing of his existence. At first, Liam refused to believe the boy was his offspring, but except for Raegan's red hair, the young man's face was a mirror image to his own, and so denying his parentage was futile. Fearing retribution from Maeve, who had now become Queen, Liam had little choice but to take the boy in and raise him as family, but life as a bastard son wasn't a picnic either, and by the time he was seventeen, he'd left his father's farm to make his own way."
"And so you're telling me that you and Kevin, the two of you, are She Who Was All's great grandchildren? Do you have any idea how difficult this is to believe, babe? What about your brothers, or their children? Why aren't they talking to beastly spiders?"
"I was just getting to that part." She bit her bottom lip, and asked, "Do you think I might get a glass of wine or something? Maybe a brandy."
Her husband nodded, and made his way across the suite to a large antique armoire that opened up to a small wet bar. He poured a few fingers of French brandy into two Waterford tumblers, and handing one to his wife, settled himself back in the chair. "Go on. I need to know how this all affects us...you and me."
Maureen took a sip, letting the warmth of the expensive brandy run down her throat. "Raegan went off and married a local woman, made a life of his own, and pretty much turned his back on his Fay bloodline. He wanted nothing to do with his mother, and fought against any interference in his life." She swirled the brandy in the glass, and a look of sadness worked its way across her face. "Can you imagine how she felt, Ted? Her son. Her only child. Gone from her life. She could barely talk about it. So sad. I know how she feels. We both do. Losing a child...it's a giant hole in your heart."
They were both silent a moment, each lost in their own recollection of grief. "Anyway, although he led a very long life according to human standards, Reagan was still mortal, and eventually he passed on, though not before leaving behind a huge family. He had seven children, four girls and three boys, all who had children of their own. The Fay bloodline passed on through a number of them, but like any genetic lottery, it was stronger in some than others. While Reagan was alive, Maeve was prevented from having contact with her grandchildren, and without any knowledge of their background, they grow up not knowing anything about their true family history. With each subsequent generation, the bloodline became more and more diluted, the connection more and more distant. And that's how it went...until my Granny was born."
At the mention of his wife's grandmother, Beckett looked up, glass paused at his lips. "Your father's mother?"
"Yup. Granny O'Brien, who was actually a Callahan." She grabbed the purse that was on the floor next to the chair, and rummaged through it, pulling out a wallet and finding a worn photograph tucked into one of the pockets. She handed it to her husband, who peered at the photo in his hand.
"That's you and Kevin, and your grandmother I suppose?"
"Yes. That was taken when I was six and Kevin was ten. My Granny must have been in her sixties when this picture was taken, but you can still see the resemblance. I've seen old photos my dad had of when she was a young girl. We look very much alike. And of course, Kevin and I resemble each other as well."
She was correct. The woman in the faded photograph was a much older version of his wife. Though her face was etched with the lines of living, her cat like green eyes were very much alive with the same vitality as the woman currently sitting across from him. "So you're saying that your grandmother was aware of her Fay background?"
"Granny was the family historian. She kept all the old photos, the letters, the birth and death certificates belonging to the Callahans. When we would visit, she'd pull things out and show us, explain our family tree. Often she'd tell us these wonderful stories about how special our people were. Stories about magic and the Fay, and the old ways from Ireland. We would sit for hours, me and Kevin, and listen to her in total rapture . She was the one who taught us the Gaelic we know, and we read the old tales in her mother tongue. But as we got older, we spent less time with her, and when it was obvious that Kevin might have a calling for the priesthood, she stopped telling him the stories all together. But she never stopped with me."
Maureen raised the glass to her lips, and swallowed the last of the brandy. She peered out the dark window, a far away look in her eyes. "I remember this one time, when I was about eight. I was spending the whole weekend with Granny by myself, a real treat for me. We were sitting out back in her yard, near twilight on a warm summer night. She had the most beautiful garden, flowers and plants of every color and scent. Just like you'd imagine a fairy garden to be. I was watching the fire flies twinkle and dance, not interested in catching them, only watching. My eyes felt drowsy, and at one point I thought I might have dozed off. Suddenly, I felt fingers on my head, long and cool running themselves through the curls piled on the top of my head. I opened my eyes and there was this tiny lady, all shimmering in shades of blues and greens, fluttering next to me on transparent wings, fireflies surrounding her in a circle. She was the one who was touching my head, and when she saw my eyes were open, she laughed and closed them, then kissed each eye lid. When I awoke the next morning, I was in Granny's bed, and I thought I had dreamt the whole thing. It was only recently that I discovered it wasn't a dream."
Beckett wasn't sure how to respond. Even after all that had happened, the impossible more than real before his eyes, the concept that his wife, the woman who slept beside him each night, who had conceived his child and owned his heart, might be "other-worldly". This idea that she was connected to things of unbelievable nature was a difficult reality to accept. "So what does this all mean, Maureen? Why make this known to you now? How involved ARE you"
"We, Kevin and I, are the last issue of her line, the strongest since Reagan's own children. The Fay bloodline has not shown itself in any of the other Callahan families, not in the strength it appeared first in Granny, and then in the two of us. Kevin's vocation has ended one branch, at least as much as Maeve is willing to concede. I'm all she has left, and she's desperate for her bloodline to continue. If I...we...you and I...don't conceive another child with the Fay connection, then Maeve's family line dies with me, lost forever."
"And the sword? The quest? Is this all tied together?"
"I think in a sense... yes. Owen's bloodline is also royal, though she didn't say from whom he is actually descended. His goal to produce stem cells of a powerful magical nature, in the sterile coldness of a laboratory, is a horror to the Fay, an absolute abomination to the power and plans of our Creator. Even with her own personal agenda, Maeve wouldn't think to bend or break the structure of all that is natural. Yes, she's bent on us producing a child, and though she is not above manipulating the situation in a variety of creative ways, I don't believe she'd ever do anything that interrupts the overall plans of her...our...Creator." She paused, and then taking a deep breath, continued. "She's made herself a powerful force in my life, Ted. I am family to her. Kevin too, to a lesser extent. We're not going to be able to shut her out."
He made a face. "So you're telling me 'Great Grandma Fairy Queen' is going to be part of every aspect of our life? For like..always?"
Maureen's eyes went wide, and she blanched a shade paler. "Shhh...she might hear you!"
"I don't give a rat's ass if she hears me, especially as she's eavesdropping on a private conversation."
Whispering in a low voice, she continued. "You don't understand. She doesn't cotton to the whole 'Grandma' thing. Says it makes her sound ancient. Crone like. I don't know if you've noticed, but she's pretty vain about her appearance and such. She asked me to call her 'Godmother'."
"Like in... 'Fairy Godmother'?"
"I know...it sounds ridiculous when you say it out loud. But I really do think she means well, even if she is a bit demanding. She's been teaching me things. Helping me find my Fay side. You have no idea how...well...liberating that feels. For years, I've felt as if something was missing. That I was weird in someway. I saw and felt things other people didn't see. When Kevin was younger, I could share that stuff with him, but after he started high school, it was different between us. He was answering a different call. I kinda like discovering this side of me. I hope you can understand that...accept it... even if it does mean I can talk to giant hairy spiders."
They were high enough up that the tree tops were less full, allowing some rays of moonlight to filter in through the suite's tall window. The beam fell exactly on his wife's bare back, making her pale skin seem almost iridescent, the freckles like a smattering of ruby dust over fine silk. Her chest rose and fell with each regular breath, and in its rhythm, he could tell she was asleep. Carefully shifting positions so his movement wouldn't wake her, the back of his hand brushed the headboard, coming in contact with the garland of dried lavender that was hanging there. He couldn't remember if it was there when they first came up to the room, or if it had been somehow added later, though he was pretty sure it was there as some kind of natural call to fertility.
Maybe it was the brandy, or maybe Fay magic. Or maybe he had completely lost any ability for logical reasoning. His cabin get away had become a fortress of sorts, guarded by a giant spider and a magical sword, his very bedroom a romantic bower for a real fairy princess. One floor down, the closest thing he had to family rested below him; man dedicated to a God he was sure he didn't believe in, a woman broken like himself, both inside and out, and a displaced soul who was out of his rightful time and place, and content to leave it as such all in the name of love. A strange group and a stranger story, and as hard as he tried, he couldn't seem to string one cohesive thought after another. He fought to shake off the growing mantle of dreaminess, and found he could not. His eyelids grew heavier and heavier, and with little fight left, he fell fast asleep, the scent of lavender the last thing he remembered.
Copyright Victoria T. Rocus 2015
All Rights Reserved