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Chapter 2.40 – Rainbowland

Note: drug use/influence

Still no word.

Wyatt thought his mother would be back by now, but he was part-relieved that she wasn’t as he wasn’t exactly following the recipe she’d left for him. Nor the checklist.

It had been a long time since Wyatt had had company, besides his mother, during his store shifts. The last girl who’d worked here, like all those before her, had been a witch and she had left the previous autumn to go to university. There weren’t any other witches currently looking for casual flower shop work, but Sage was extremely resistant to Wyatt’s suggestion to hire a human replacement.

He was so glad she’d eventually found one. Man, he hated listening to old people moan about their creaky joints; especially as he could help them with the right spell and wasn’t allowed to.

It made sense that Sage wanted only witches in the vicinity. Magic was so second nature to her that she sometimes forgot how to ‘mortal’. Plus, there was the whole ‘Wyatt-could-click-his-fingers-the-wrong-way-and-start-another-monsoon’ thing, which they never let him forget, but he didn’t understand why she was so wary of Thor.

The guy was really quiet, kept to himself. He was a bit weird, but Wyatt was used to weird. Most witches were bordering on insanity, after all. It was, like, a defining trait.

Thor was capable of using the catalogue under the counter to identify what he was selling, could use the cash register and the old ladies really liked him. So, after showing him where everything was and giving him a botany book to browse in the quiet spells, Wyatt had spent most of the day in the basement, brewing, only popping up to cover rest breaks and offer drinks.

 “One cup of tea. ‘Whatever’ flavour, as requested. No honey,” Wyatt announced, jolting his new colleague from his seemingly heavy contemplation of a wooden leaf carving.

“Um, thank you,” Thor mumbled.

“You bored yet?” Wyatt asked, but Thor only shrugged in response.

Wyatt handed over one of the mugs he was carrying. “So, Thor. Now you’ve settled in a bit, wanna tell me about yourself?”

Thor bit his lip, shuffled back slightly and shrugged again. “What is there to say?”

“I dunno, you tell me,” Wyatt grinned. “Got any crazy hobbies? Into any weird stuff?” Thor shook his head at both questions, looking into his tea. Wyatt clicked his tongue. “OK… how about music? What music do you like?”

Mother Earth. Was this guy a robot? Wyatt tried again. “Bad habits? Unspent convictions? Cool scars? Anything? Throw me a bone here, dude.”

“No… not really.”

“Do you have any family? Any friends? A girlfriend? A hamster? Ever been to Willow Creek? Ever seen a duck?”

“Right,” Wyatt conceded, taking a sip of his own tea. He wondered if it was simply the repellent making Thor so evasive or whether he really was this boring. Still, only a few more hours to go and then he could send him away and go hang out with fun humans.

Huh. He thought, licking the fruity film from his front teeth, that’s odd. He thought he’d brewed the raspberry infusion, but this was definitely not raspberry. It tasted like… rhubarb?

Wyatt laughed. It must be a side-effect of the repellent. It couldn’t be rhubarb. The only time he’d ever brewed up a rhubarb batch, it was for Hoggy and he’d added shedloads of…

Oh, shit!

Faith had spent the day stubbornly conscious as she’d lain with Seth, on the floor of the cave, watching the multi-coloured blades of light shoot through the seemingly endless darkness. First, subtle flashes captured from the soft moonlight, then the bright, almost retina burning, refraction of sunlight from the plethora of crystal structures embedded in the cave walls.

She had still spent the whole time teasing his interior design skill and calling him a troll, but he could tell she’d enjoyed this, although that could simply be the physical closeness it afforded. Faith certainly had her own interests and expectations and she wasn’t quiet about them.

Her demands grated on his patience, but not as much as his defiance was grating on hers.

Far from falling into a vampiric slumber or heavy daze as most fledglings would during daylight hours, she was only growing more restless as the afternoon came, thwarting his efforts to read her and further grinding his gears. He shrugged her off, ignoring her exaggerated pout, and helped her to her feet. 

“What shall we do tonight?” he asked, watching as her eyes lit up. “Last night was my choice, so in the interest of fairness, tonight should be yours. Do try to think beyond the limits of your undergarments, Faith.”

Faith smirked. “I’m not wearing any ‘undergarments’…”

“What would a typical Friday night entail?” he tried again. “Devil help me if you suggest oral escapades in a toilet cubicle, Fledgling.”

She eyed him warily, no doubt wondering how he knew that information, but she didn’t question it. “If I wasn’t working, which I usually was, on Fridays I’d usually hang out at Mel’s. Or watch a movie and eat pizza at April’s, if her butler could come get us. We might go to the arcade. At some point I would probably bail and go to a bar though.”

“Arcade it is. That should be… interesting.”

“Let’s just go to a bar,” Faith suggested. “There’s one in Willow Creek that was supposed to be a vampire hangout. Now it actually can be.”

“Hurrah,” Seth murmured, sarcastically. “A night of watching you launch yourself at drunken strangers. We’ll go to the arcade. Lesser of two evils.”

“Someone will definitely recognise me and you can hardly go brain-wiping an arcade full of kids,” Faith laughed, pausing to look at Seth’s face, which he realised had slipped past nonchalance into irritation. “Wow, OK, maybe you can. But either way, I don’t have any money and token machines don’t accept ‘oral escapades’ as payment,” Faith scoffed. “Plus, I can’t take you into the arcade wearing that.”

“Ah, the human world. All about money and the correct attire. I can resolve both those issues, with the right prey,” Seth said flippantly. “I’ll take you home first.”

Faith glanced up to where the single shaft of sunlight was still shining through the narrow opening in the roof of the cave. “I can’t go back yet; the sun’s still up. I’ll have burnt to death by the time we reach the boat.”

“Probably,” Seth laughed. “Let’s see.”

“Are you winding me up?” she hissed. “I’m not going outside now! Are you trying to get me killed?”

“Yes and no. Give me your hand.”

“Fuck off!” she spat, pulling her arm away. “I’m not having you carrying me over your shoulder like a sack of potatoes while you run to the boat, either.”

“I won’t. Hand,” he demanded.

Tentatively, Faith allowed him to take her hand and rolled her eyes. “What now?”

“Now you stay silent and look straight at me – nowhere else – until I say. Fledgling,” he growled as she opened her mouth. “Don’t antagonise me.”

He could see her biting the inside of her cheek in her effort not to speak, but she focused on him, as he’d commanded.

“I’ve never found colours so… colourful,” Thor whispered as he spun in slow circle. “The flowers are a kaleidoscope, Wyatt. Holy hell, I think my brain is vomiting in at least eighty shades.” He stamped his feet firmly into the rug beneath him, but his body continued its slow turn. “Standing doesn’t work,” he whispered. “Everything is so different here in Rainbowland.”

“Dude, I’m so sorry,” Wyatt groaned. How was this kid still tripping? It had been hours and he’d had one sip.

Thor wandered around the store, touching things and marvelling at everything. “Pretty. Soft. Ouch, prickly,” he murmured.

Wyatt followed him, shaking his head, anxiously glancing towards the door where his mother could walk in at any minute. “Come on, Thor. Snap out of it or Mum is gonna kill me.”

“Nah, Sage is nice. Nice lady. Lots of green. Green blouse, green eyes, green lips. Do you think her blood is green?”

“Uh, I don’t know. She is very green, though,” Wyatt muttered, wondering again if he could keep an eye on Thor, on the store and mix up a swift antidote at the same time before Sage got back.

“It’s nice. That you have a green mum. I don’t.”

“You don’t have a mum or you don’t have a green mum?” There was probably a spell he could cast to dispel the effects, but what was worse? Sage finding her new employee accidentally tripping his nuts off, or Wyatt being caught deliberately casting?

Thor shook his head and slowly tilted it backwards. “I don’t have anyone. Green or otherwise. Woah! Is that an elk?”

Wyatt didn’t even blink let alone follow Thor’s gaze. “You don’t have anyone?”

“I’ve got Mr. Elk,” Thor said again, laughing. “And you! No one else makes me tea or wants to be around me.” He spread his arms wide as if inviting a hug, but then seemed to change his mind, his arms dropping to his sides. “Y’know Wy. When I first got here, I thought you were repulsive. You had this whole air of vulgarity.”

“Um, thanks,” Wyatt muttered.

“You really stank. I was wondering what the heck was wrong with you. I didn’t want to be in the same room as you.”

“Yeah, it was for the best, apparently.”

“I thought I was gonna be sick but now… not so much.”

Wyatt brightened. “Wait a second. Does this mean you don’t think I’m repulsive anymore?”

Thor blinked. “A little bit? And your shirt is… all the bright! I think I can handle being this close, though,” he took a step closer to demonstrate his point, but then recoiled. “Maybe not. It’s so strange! You’re weirdly off-putting. You are pretty fun though, from a distance. Do you always put mushrooms in the tea?”

“No,” Wyatt groaned. “That was a special blend, for my friend.”

“So, I’m special? Or… woah. I’m your friend? Are you the good kind of friend? Or are you like my other friend; trying to steal my wife.”

Wyatt tilted his head and examined the young guy standing across the store. He was grinning from ear to ear, thoroughly enjoying this lapse of reality but… man. Was this a weird hallucination or what? There was so much under the surface here.

“What are you doing after work, Thor?”

Thor shrugged, his cheerful tone belying his words. “Nothing, probably. Just getting in the way, as per usual. Hey, can I take some of the tea? Then I can go lie in the river behind the house. I bet the water is amazing in Rainbowland. I’ll fill my lungs with it. Liquid damnation,” he said, sweeping his fingertips, brusquely, forwards and back through the alstroemeria, causing a number of blooms to fall.

Wyatt grabbed Thor’s wrist, to stop him inflicting any further damage to the display. The boy blinked in astonishment. “You’re touching me,” he said, surprised.

“Sorry. I know, I’m gross, but don’t destroy the merch, Thor,” Wyatt said, letting go and stepping back. “Look, I can’t just give you the tea if you’re gonna go drown in the river with it,” Wyatt sighed.

“I’m not going to drown.

“You might. Dude, I get it. Life really sucks sometimes. But if you don’t have anything better to do and need a night of escapism, I’m heading to a friend’s house tonight,” Wyatt hesitated, this felt like a bad idea, but Thor really sounded like he needed a buddy. “It’s sort of a party, but a casual one, a nice crowd. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. You can come along, if you want?”

“…I can?”

“Marvellous!” Seth exclaimed, joyfully as the fog lifted. “You may look away, Faith. You can even speak, if you have anything worthwhile to say.”

Faith blinked at the increased light levels that were assaulting her eyes, shrugged off the unusual awareness she suddenly had of the density of her form. It took a moment to realise where she was, what had happened.

“This isn’t the cave,” she stated dumbly, looking around the familiar space. “How did we—? How did you—? Fucking hell. You teleported us, didn’t you? You can fucking teleport?! Is there anything you can’t do?”

“We misted,” he clarified. “And there is. But all in good time…”

He scanned over Faith’s form carefully, drinking in every detail as his intense gaze glided from the top of her head, slowly, slowly down to her dirty, bare feet. She shivered. “Appears that it worked effectively this time,” he mused.

“This time?” she asked dreamily, not registering his words at all.

He smirked. “Last few times I practiced with other parties, they re-materialised missing various components. Usually minor; a patch of hair, an item of clothing or perhaps a finger. One lost his head, but that was his own foolish fault for not following my instructions. Ah, humans and their weak composition. Naturally, I was always fine.”

“Are you being fucking serious?” Faith screeched, her brain finally catching up. “You teleport— misted with me even though you knew I might end up missing pieces?! I could have died!”

“Only if you neglected to follow my instructions. The other option was to take you out in the afternoon sun, in that barely-there belt of a garment, which would have been certain death,” he smiled and headed towards the door. “I’ll be back at nightfall, or thereabouts.”

“Where are you going?” Faith asked.

“Where do you think I’m going? Money and an outfit that blends in, that’s what you requested, yes? Besides, I’d hardly be in prime form to humiliate you if I’m fighting the urge to drain everyone at the arcade.”

“Humiliate me?” Faith scoffed. “Oh, you naïve little man. I have the high score on every machine in that place. Besides, now we’re back here you can just borrow one of Caleb’s shirts—”

“Ha! No, I don’t think so.”

Faith pouted. “Well, it’s only a couple of hours until nightfall. Can’t you just wait and then I… I can come with you?”

Seth sighed and turned to face her. “We’ve already had this discussion and concluded that I need to hunt alone.”

“True…” Faith muttered. “But, I mean, I need to feed too before we go, right? So, we might as well save time and go together.”

“… To save time. Interesting.”

“And practical, too. Look at you, you clearly have no sense of style. If I don’t go with you, you’ll only pick some badly-dressed townie to strip. I don’t know what’s worse; the thought of you rocking up in your pirate garb, or you turning up in only pink wellies and a luchador mask.”

“Pink wellington boots and a luchador mask?” he repeated, amused. “I’d be wearing almost as much clothing as you.”

Faith rolled her eyes. “You love my outfits, really. I see the way you stare at my ass when you think I’m not looking.”

“It’s hard not to when it’s so brazenly displayed,” he scoffed. “I concede. I’ll linger until dark and then you’ll be joining me to hunt, both for time-saving purposes and to pick out a suitable outfit. Should be quite the night.”

“Quite the night,” Faith repeated, chewing her lip, suddenly unsure. “In the meantime, maybe I’ll let you help me pick out a suitable outfit…” she winked, reaching around to undo the zipper on her dress.

Seth raised an eyebrow. “Joyous day,” he said drily. “And which all-black, clingy, polyester ensemble will you be donning for my ocular satisfaction this evening?”

“That depends,” Faith purred, trying not to let him know that she was already regretting her decision. “Would you recommend something ‘wipe-clean’?”

“Yes,” he growled. “That might be beneficial.”

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