Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Interrogation PT 1

The scone hesitates. It must be hesitating, because it isn’t talking. Maybe it’s collecting its thoughts. Not that scones have minds to keep thoughts in, but biology isn’t an exact science where I’m from. We’ve got a lot of things here that shouldn’t logically exist. It’s what happens when you let a bunch of people who can create anything they can think of create anything they can think of.

It didn’t used to be this way. When my parents were alive, there were rules. Laws. The Justice tribe enforced those laws. But that was back before the war. And the other war. There aren’t very many of my people left. Those that remain are scattered. My brother might be King, but there’s no real authority to his title.

I drink my latte. It’s sweet. Fake maple trying too hard to taste real. I don’t care. Between the sweet and the caffeine, I have to hope one of them can turn the master volume up on the probabilities.

“If we’re just going to stare at that thing,” Maria says, “can I eat half of it?”

Avalon smiles. “Sure.”

Maria smiles, too, because it’s hard not to smile when Avalon smiles at you. She reaches for the scone and it lurches on its plate.

“Back, lassie, or I’ll bite ye fingers off!” It wobbles in a threatening manner. “You cannae be eatin’ me if ye wants to know the truth of who pursues you.”

“No one pursues me,” she says. “They’re after Ethan.”

Avalon shoots her a cautionary glance. Guess he hasn’t worked out that she’s new to all this. He should be able to feel that there’s something Not Right about her. Or not. If he just woke up, he’ll be a little groggy. It would explain why he’s hiding out in Vancouver.

“Aye,” the scone says. “For the wee Twilight laddie has offended my great master.”

That doesn’t narrow it down. I’ve lost track of how many people consider themselves offended by something I’ve done. It’s a long list. Not as long as the list of people my brother’s offended. But he has a talent for saying things that send tempers flaring. Not so much doing things. He sort of stopped with doing and focused more on the saying after something he did do he really upset Avalon.

“How so?” Dante asks as he slides into a chair next to me. Places a muffin before a grateful Maria.

“My master was gobbled up by those accursed lands,” the scone says. “And awoke as something else.”

Dante looks at me. I shrug. Avalon rubs a finger against one of his black marks. All three of us trying to find a way to say what should be obvious: I don’t control the dream fields. My brother can when he bothers to make the effort. He doesn’t bother that often anymore. Mostly the fields roam free and do whatever they please. It keeps them happy. Fine by us. When they’re happy, they’re more likely to let us pass through them unharmed.

There used to be people who tended the fields. Dream herders, we called them. I’ve heard that there are still dream herders, but I’ve never met one. Matt and I do a bit of dream tending at the house. We’ve got a little shed that’s bigger on the inside. More than big enough. After all, the dreams kept in it are little ideas. Out in the fields are the big ones. Old enough to have matured into entire worlds. It takes a different kind of person to master their territory. See to their needs.

“And?” I cross my arms. “What does your ‘great master’ want me to do about it?”

“Your neglect caused this transformation.” The scone spits a shriveled little ball of fruit onto the plate.

“Gross.” Maria makes a face and swallows. “Is that blood?”

“I believe it’s a cranberry,” Avalon says. “Which is equally unpleasant.”

“Don’t you mock me,” The scone warns. “I’ll aim the next one at your throat, traitor.”

His fingers move for the fork, but Dante grabs it first. He’s got sisters. He’s used to pre-empting violence.

“Traitor?” Maria reaches for her mocha to wash down the muffin. “Don’t you think you’re over reacting? Way more people than just him eat things like you.”

The scone declines to answer.

It doesn’t escape my notice that she’s very comfortable referring to Avalon as people. Not because we gave her that talking to about calling Old Ones vampires or fairies or Cthulhu. Wait. Maybe we didn’t. Maybe I just told you. Factoring that in, she probably just wants to make kissy faces with Avalon. Looks like the type who likes older guys. Maria. Not Avalon. He likes older women.

Dante gestures for me to lean closer. Maria shouldn’t complain about us whispering. She’s got Avalon to keep her occupied.

“You know what this means?” Dante asks me.

“Maria might have a crush on Avalon?”

“Ha ha.” He doesn’t actually think it’s funny. “Whoever’s manipulating the scone must have sent the pancake. You said the pancake was the me kind of silent, after all, and only one of my people would call my uncle a traitor.”

“Not really, Andy. There are a lot of my people who share that sentiment.”

He looks puzzled. “But he—”

I shake my head. “But nothing. He came from Over There.”

“My master’s been told all about ye,” the scone continues. “How ye abandoned your family. How ye cannae be trusted.”

“Abandoned my family.” Avalon says it in that slow, thoughtful way that reminds me more of the King of Judgment. Like he’s carefully considering the matter. Deciding which way to rule on it. When he does, it’ll be game over. You don’t argue with the King of Judgment. It’s like arguing with Death. No matter what you say, you’re staying dead.

Unless you’re a zombie. Avalon does not like zombies. He says they make a terrible mess.

“Aye.” The scone spits another cranberry on the plate. Maria’s right. It does look like congealed blood. Definitely unpleasant.

“Master,” Dante whispers to me. “That makes it fairly easy. Not a lot of masters back home.”

He’s calm again. I can hear it in how he’s keeping his accent hidden. Good. I’m cranky. The not-cake is spitting cranberries and insults at Avalon. We need someone who’s able to diffuse the situation. Not really fair it always has to be Dante, but that’s what he gets for being so dependably rational for most of today. Tomorrow someone else can take over.

“Well.” Avalon leans against his chair and crosses his arms. “You haven’t told us a bloody thing we didn’t already know. I don’t see a reason not to eat you.”

He looks at Maria.

“I’m not really hungry anymore,” she says. “That muffin took the edge off.”

Obviously it’s her first time at the interrogation rodeo.

“This is a really good mocha,” she adds. “If it sucked, I’d totally let you dunk that scone thingie in it.”

“Thanks.” Avalon reaches for his tea.

The scone makes a threatening noise. Or as threatening of a noise as a scone can make. It sounds mostly like it’s about to huck another cranberry.

Dante surprises us all when he casually breaks off one of the scone’s corners. I had no idea coffee had that effect on him. Must remember this for later. Caffeine + Dante = Kick-starting the Revolution. Or possibly just violence. Either probability is good to know about.

The scone is so stunned it takes it a few seconds to realize what’s happened. Then it lets out a little war cry and spits a cranberry at Dante. Hits him in the cheek hard enough to leave a mark. Or at least part of the mushy berry.

Maria spears the scone with the fork. Jabs it right into the center of the pastry. The plate rattling and howling stops.

“That was not cool,” she says. “We had a deal. You told us who sent you, and we only ate half of you. You weren’t telling anything we didn’t already know.”

Ok, I take it back. Maria catches on fast. She’ll fit in great with my people.

“Now.” Maria twists the fork a little. “You tell us a name. Or I’m going to start breaking you into bite-size pieces so we can all eat you.”

The scone whimpers in pain.

Avalon meets my gaze. His definitely says bloody hell, Ethan, where did you find this psycho? I shrug. We tend to forget the lesson of those serrated flower petals: Beauty is often hiding something bloodthirsty.

“All right! All right!” The scone somehow looks defeated. It could be the way little pieces are crumbling off its broken end. “I’ll give ye a name: London.”

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