Sunday, December 18, 2011

Nano 2011~Chapter 6

I tossed and turned for most of the night, finally falling asleep just in time to hear my Leghorn hen gearing up for a rusty hinge style crow. And tapping on the window? Oh ferfucksakes! I pulled my pillow tighter over my head. I needed to sleep!!

When the tapping got louder, and another bird joined in, it was deffo time for me to haul my ass out of bed. I turned on the coffee pot, let the girls out in a roiling tumble of feathery bums.

The two annoying birds were Carl and Colin, a Gold Shafted Flicker, and a Red Bellied Woodpecker, respectively, as they introduced themselves. I tossed some mealworms on the windowsill. They gulped them down, then shimmered into people on the back steps. I was rather getting used to that shape shifting strangeness.

“News flies fast.” The yellow haired man stated.

“We are here to see if you were okay.” the red bearded man said.

“I’m okay, but it would’ve been nice if you had waited until it was a decent hour.”

“We are sorry.” The pair really didn’t look the least bit sorry.

“Bullshit!” I snapped. They both broke up laughing. I handed them more worms for the road. I washed my hands and poured my first cup of the day. I peeked out at the girls. Both woodpeckers were watching them also.

“How is your King?” I asked as we went down the stairs. They looked at each other.

“He was hurt by your mate.” Colin stated, staring at the brick patio.

“That idiot is NOT my mate any longer.” This day was not starting out well. “I divorced him. I have NOTHING to do with him any more.”

“Cora will peck his eyes out.” Eww. Carl nodded in agreement. Not that my ex didn’t DESERVE to have his liver eaten. But I didn’t want any of the People to get sick either.

I needed to see the deer man, to make sure HE was alright. I turned, went back inside, and threw some clothes on. Carl and Colin were obviously waiting. “Where does he go during the day?”, I asked.

“He sleeps in Big Meadow.” Colin informed me. I really wanted to ask if he slept alone, but it wasn’t any of my business. I knew that TRUE deer were crepuscular, feeding at dusk and dawn and active at night. It was a bit after dawn so he should be back in the Big Meadow, so that’s where I’d head first.

The Big Meadow was just like it sounded, a big freaking meadow. There were saplings, thistles, tall grasses, multi-flora roses, and other neat things. I was going to call his name, but I didn’t know it. Dumbass on me. I sent my wakeup callers to go in and find him. It was a couple of acres and there was no way that I could locate him without some help.

They flew away in a search pattern like feathery Coast Guard helicopters. I waited and waited. It wasn’t either of the Woodpecker boys that came back, it was Sy, the Blue Jay girl. She shimmered into person-ness. "I am so glad that found I you. Our Tigernae needs help.”

“But I thought iron didn’t hurt you.” I managed to say, with my throat tightening up.

“He didn't want to worry you.”

Fuck! I was gonna kick his ass when I found him for lying to me!

The Woodpeckers were hanging off a Buckthorn branch, looking down. Sy took me by the hand, dragging me into the brush surrounding the Big Meadow. He was lying curled up halfway between person and deer…any other time I probably woulda been scared shit-less. He looked rather centaur-ish, only with deer legs and antlers, with his man’s torso and arms instead of horse bits. I wasn’t even thinking of looking any closer or at any other parts than I needed. The bandage that had been put on by the paramedic had been soaked through. Hell, he was going to need more than just another band-aid. He was going to hafta have that looked at: he was going to the hospital whether he liked it or not. Somehow or another, three birds and a person were gonna stuff him into a teeny car made of iron, (At least a Fiero was made of plastic)and take him to a vet or to the people hospital to get taken care of. We decided that I would drive to the end of the street, and they’d bring him along the secret path and we’d go...somewhere! I had no idea what kind of ID "The People" would have and asked.

“We have a place where our "normal" papers are kept.” Carl responded.

“Could you get his for me please? We’ll need it for the ER.”

He flew off to get them and was back in a flash of black, white and red. I shoved them in my pocket and ran back to get the car. I was out of breath when I got to the rendezvous spot. I cursed the smallness of the Bug as they shoved him into the car.

Dammit!! I hadn’t given my birds a thought! Shit! “Can one of you stay with the girls? I don’t trust that Larry won’t try and get them.”

The deer man shimmered into full human form and held it for a couple of minutes before he changed to deer and back again, then to half, then to human…I took his hand and he turned his head to look at me with glassy eyes. “You lied to me, you jerk. But we’ll fight about that later. I have to take you to the hospital or at least the vet right now…I have your papers and you should be okay. I can have the bill sent to my house, so don’t worry about that either.”

I stopped quickly at the house to grab my wallet, and check on the girls. Carl, Colin, and Sy were already perched on my chair watching the chickens so I knew they’d be okay. I also dialed the police station informing the watch commander that since last night, the man that had been shot had gotten sick and I was taking him to the hospital. Since it was a gunshot wound, it would be photographed as evidence for my ex’s trial.

It was a short trip, being as the fact that I blew red lights and stop signs and drove like a freaking maniac. I burst through the doors and got some orderlies to help me with getting him out of the car. He was extremely pale and there were now blood smears on the front seats of the rent a bug and on me. Oh boy. I wondered if they could detail that out. They got him into a wheel chair and rolled him inside. I pulled out his papers so that they could check him in. I told the girl at the desk that he had been shot last night and patched up, and the cops knew about it, but obviously something went wrong. They took his vital signs, and typed it into the computer. The check in nurse handed me back his papers. He had his Blood Type listed, the mysterious Cora Crowe as next of kin, and I finally saw his name. My eyes could’ve fallen out!! Pan Stanwood! What an absolutely horrible made up name! Pan was a GOAT man not a DEER man!! I’d hafta talk with him when this was over.

Since I was the one who brought him in, I begged the staff to stay with him, saying that he’d want me to be there. I hoped I wasn't lying.

I had to go over the previous night’s adventure to the ER staff. They plopped him onto a gurney and started an IV. I think I was the only one who caught the hand turning into a hoof for just a second, even though the nurse seemed to stop what she was doing and stare. Dammit! Steel needles, steel bed, all sorts of electronic junk. Oh brother. This was going to be interesting. Iron, iron everywhere, and not a drop of bronze…I think I was getting loopy from lack of sleep and obvious worry. I even thought about asking whether they could find some obsidian knives…

I sat quietly on a stool in the corner. They pumped him full of blood and the usual D5W (I watched Emergency growing up), whatever the dextrose and water solution was called these days. They peeled off the soaked bandage that had been put on the previous night. I felt light-headed like I always did around blood, but determined to see this through. The stitches had pulled open, understandably shape shifting prolly didn’t help hold things together. They swabbed the wound out with something that looked like iodine. Except for some whitening of his lips, he didn’t say a word, but I could tell it stung like Hell.

The nurse dragged over an X-ray machine so that they could see what might be the deal inside. I got booted so that they could do it with out frying everyone’s DNA. I wondered if they could see deer bones or people bones or some of each…They didn’t use film anymore, it was all digital. The bullet could be seen quite clearly even by these non-professional eyeballs. They made a copy of the X-ray for the cops who had now arrived to take their own pictures. It was a steel jacketed hollow point. More fucking iron! Dammit! The cop was explaining that hollow points expanded when they hit the target to cause more damage.

I shivered. "What if it had actually been AIMED at either of us?"

“You’d prolly be dead.” the cop replied. “If he could have aimed correctly. His sights were so off, he’d have been more likely to lose a couple of toes.” I was relieved, sorta.

But I really just wanted the stag man to be okay. A doctor was finally called in and they would be extracting the projectile and saving it for evidence. The cop had his little baggy ready. They put a local anesthetic into "Pan's" upper arm, which got furry and brown for split second because of the damned needle. Couldn’t they have used a sea urchin spine or something? I was the only one watching, thank the Gods. He reached out to me and I took his hand and held it as they worked. It was very close to the humerus and a couple of nerves, but except for a few flinches, grinding his teeth and crushing my phalanges, he was very stoic about their digging around.

When the bullet was washed off, examined, photo’d and dropped into the baggy, we could both relax a bit. At least my ex wouldn’t be getting out any time soon. He was being held in the County lockup. He had no ties to the community and could probably connive someone (cough-my mother-cough) into bailing him out and helping him flee.

The doctor gave him a tetanus shot in addition, then stitched him up very well layer by layer, (I felt more queasy than I thought possible) gave him a prescription for antibiotics, put his arm in a sling, and we walked out with a supply of bandages and more instructions about keeping it clean and dry, how to look for infection, etc. They took him out in a wheelchair, I paid his co-pay with my charge, and a nurse waited until I got the car and brought it around. We got him folded into the Bug and I took off for home.

He shimmered into deer-ness as I waited to make the turn to get onto the main street. I poked his side. A little kid was staring with his mouth open, yanking on his mother’s arm and pointing…My deer man raised a hoof in greeting. I poked him again, HARDER. He shifted into a person. Obviously he couldn’t help it in his weakened state. “But mommy he WAS a deer! And he was in that CAR!!! The lady was driving him and he waved at me!!! MOMMY??!!!” I just KNEW he was gonna be put into time out for lying…even though he was right. Sorry kid!

Carl and Colin were waiting when I pulled up. They wrestled him out of the car, being extremely careful not to touch it themselves. They headed for the backyard. I stopped them. “Wait a second. He’s not going anywhere except straight up to bed.” I pointed them towards the house. I unlocked the door and told them to put him in my bedroom. The second one was sorta messy and I needed to make up the bed, so mine would do for now. There at least was a half bath tucked into the roof line on the second floor so he wouldn’t have to go up and down the stairs if he had to go. Then I wondered if he was house-trained. At least I had Pet Stain remover for when my birds had their infrequent accidents that would help me in that regard.

I was glad that I had gone for a wooden sleigh bed rather than the wrought iron one which had been my other choice. We saw him safely in the bed and I told the Woodpecker boys to keep an eye on him while I went to fill his prescription. There was a phone on the night stand, and the TV remote, a radio, and a bunch of books stacked on the floor. I could pick up the RX in a couple of hours, and maybe hit the market if there was something he wanted, or maybe the pet shop, or the feed store, in case he wanted some wildlife food.

I got back to the house, checked on the girls, and headed upstairs to look at the patient. In sleep, he had gone back to deer form. That must make sleepovers interesting, I thought.

Sy flew onto the window sill and shimmered. “He's very weak. He will heal better this way.”

I hoped so. If I had had any visitors, I’m sure they’d wonder why there was a White Tailed Stag in my bed with his front leg in a sling. It was hot enough that I was thinking of turning on the ac, but I turned on the fan instead. It had plastic blades so that might be okay, I figgered. I faced it so it wouldn’t blow on him, but still could move the air around.

I went downstairs. The birds had all flown away after they saw that their leader was in good hands (What was I, Allstate?). I tried working; I really did, but after an hour, I said fuck it, called in and left a message to tell my boss that I wasn’t feeling well and could I take a couple of days off? I would still check in though.

I grabbed my very late second cup of coffee, and sat out with the girls. They clustered around me and I broke off bits of a stale piece of bread that was going to be toast if I had had time this morning. I HAD really wanted to eat it, but whatever…My Silkie/Cochin rappelled up my leg, snagged the whole thing off my lap and ran for the hills with it. Mayhem or mayHEN, if you’ll pardon the pun, ensued. I laughed so hard at her trying to fend off all comers to her ill-gotten gains that I thought I would pee myself. I heard a clunk from the upstairs window and there was my deer man watching me watching my girls. He obviously had forgotten his lovely rack and whacked the window. He smiled sheepishly and waved. I reciprocated.

I sat for a bit longer, before I went back inside to see what my house guest was up to. I ascended the stairs. He had gotten back into the bed and was resting.

“Are you hungry? Would you like me to make you something to eat? If I don’t have it, I can run out and get it.” REAL deer eat shoots, leaves, and whatever they can filch from your garden. “I have things to make a salad if you’d like…”

“Meat more needs to heal, ponder I.” He probably had that right. So I’d make a run to the grocery story when I picked up his meds. I found some nice tender steak tips marked down, I’d slice em really thin and stir fry them with some oriental veggies. It was close enough for lunch time anyways. It took a while at the pharmacy. I was picking the drugs up for someone else, and they wanted to make sure it was kosher. I had left my home phone and I rather hoped he knew how to use one because they called him. They finally let me pick up the drugs and get on my way.

Once back home, I gave him a dose of the antibiotics. He said that he didn’t need anything for the pain, but would ask for aspirin if he needed it. I didn’t know what a deer’s pain threshold was, or what an NSAID might do to him either. So I’d wait until he needed something. I had baby aspirin in my Chicken First Aid Kit, if it came to that.

I made lunch, the girls came in looking for theirs too, so I gave them some of the veggies. Then shut them into the porch so they couldn’t beg and jump and make pains in the asses of themselves. The dippy Leghorn complained about the ill treatment, not that they didn’t have fans, a radio and a TV of their own…sheesh! Spoiled brat poultry!

I plated the food, then called up the stairs to tell him lunch was ready. I was half way up when he started down. He was back in person form which was good because I had read somewhere that cows could only go UP stairs. I didn’t want to know if it was the same for deer. I only had stainless steel cutlery, but I scrounged up some plastic forks from various fast food places. He smiled approvingly as he settled on the wooden chair. Everything was bite sized so we didn’t have to use knives. I was thinking of him using the arm too much. At least it was his right arm and he seemed to be left handed, like me.

“What this is?” He sniffed at the plate.

“It’s steak tips and veggies stir fried with some teriyaki sauce over rice.”

“Good smells does it.” he commented. I hoped he wasn’t allergic to anything in it as he polished off the serving.

“I have more if you’re still hungry.” I offered.

He held up the plate.“Not eaten this day have I.” He commented as he started in on the second helping.

I sat across the little table from him, trying to stare at him without looking like I actually was.

“Closely looking are you. Sire and Dam tell you not rude is?” My eyes flew to his face. I was busted and blushed enough to make me feel like Rudolph and his red nose. “Care I not. Look wish all you.”

“I hate to think how many people have just stared at you…and it IS rude. I apologize.”

“Friends are we. Fine is it, C’hoar Bihan Durotriges.”

I had done a bit of research. “C’hoar Bihan translated to “Small Sister” or in Breton/Brythonic. I could deal with being called his Little Sister, I guess.

Once lunch was done, I did up the dishes, scraped the few scraps from MY dish into the girls’ bowls and let them back out again. The deer man stood as I finished rinsing the pan. He was taller than I had thought or my ceilings were very low...prolly six of one, half dozen of another.

“Go, must I.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Mated are you to another. Unseemly is it.”

Ferfucksakes!“One more time! I am divorced!! I HAVE NOTHING to do with that asshole who shot you! The matrimonial bonds are broken. I am NOT married anymore!”

I led him into the living room and sat him on the couch.

“Understand this do not I. Mated for life is.”

“Not in the human world these days…Half of all marriages end in divorce.”Or death if you read enough true crime books.

“A shame is that.”

“Some people shouldn’t get married in the first place, others grow apart over the years.”

“Yourself?” he prompted.

“My mother wanted grandchildren and butthead was the likely candidate…”

“Like dam your do not you?” That was a touchy subject.

“Not one bit.” And I found myself pouring out all of the hurt and shame and anger that I had had growing up, including being sent away for a whole summer because I had “issues”. That BITCH was the cause of my whole year‘s worth of magazine subscriptions of “issues”. I was fine being myself, but she wasn’t. Having a “normal” daughter who had a “normal” marriage with a “normal” man would keep her standing with her gossipy old klatch of church going harpies.

He put the non-hurt arm around me and I put my head on his shoulder. It was a wonderful feeling. I had never had such a GIFT given to me. I tried not to break down and cry, but my throat closed and that was ALL I could do. I had never told ANYONE about all that shit. I had thought I’d take it to the grave with me. I was soo embarrassed. I tried to stand, but he wouldn’t let me.

“Release this to needed you. Never Dam yours meet again you.” My deer man was right in that. I would not be speaking to my mother unless it were life or death, and the next time I saw my ex it would be in court, where I hoped he’d be sentenced for a very long time in jail. "Pan" sounded really angry about how I had been treated growing up. Wow! I had told all the professionals the same thing and they had sided with HER…noone had evah sided with ME!

It was getting dark and the girls were straggling in. I had to make sure that they were all present and accounted for. He finally let me up so that I could see to them. Everyone was fine and got their evening lovins. When I turned around he was standing in the doorway to the porch watching. He seemed to do that a lot. Prolly wondering how the other half lived. I must’ve been a curiosity to him as well.

"The People" couldn’t go into a "Natural’s" house unless they were invited. Sorta like Vampyres…the real, blood sucking ones, not the new age, glittery ones. I guess there were lotsa rules. He was able to come into my house without an invite because it had been a special circumstance, I guessed. Other than that, it would’ve been like he had hit a brick wall, or a force field. Carl and Colin had been able to because they were with me and their leader.

He hid a yawn behind his hand. It was still early for me to go to bed, but the day had been a bit of an adventure and I was tired, too. I gave him another antibiotic and sent him on upstairs. I made sure the back door was locked, and the front door too. The windows were okay open.

I didn’t have anything guy-ish for him to wear to bed. He’d have to sleep au naturel. I cleaned off the other bed, and turned down the covers. I shouldn’t have worried. He turned into a deer and settled down on the floor. Guess you couldn’t get too much more au naturel than that. I came in to get something cool to wear for the night because I only had the one fan. “Your room is this? Sleep here must you. Might not insist I?”

“I can take the one just across the way. It’ll be okay.”

“Insist do I.” He stood and shimmered into person-ness. I went quickly into the other bedroom and changed. I returned to my bedroom. He held out his hand, and I took it. He brushed a quick kiss onto my cheek and I climbed into my bed. He shifted back into deer form and laid his head on the mattress next to me. I touched the cool nose, the bristly whiskers and the rough smoothness of his antlers. I turned onto my side so I could get a better view. I noticed a couple of holes in his ears…I ran my fingers over them.

“How’d you get those?” I queried, still running my hands through his somewhat stiff fur.

“Told you captured when?” I nodded. “Tagged was I.” Ouch.

“Did it hurt much?” I kissed my fingers and touched the holes again.

“Pinch like it was. Earrings made I have to fit. From my antlers made.” Neat.I would like to see them sometime. But at least I knew he didn’t have any ickies, like Chronic Wasting Disease, or whatever else deer could get. They tag wild herds to keep track of them too.

“Glad it wasn’t too bad then.”

“Caged was part worse.”

“Again, I’m sorry about that. I guess they were trying to help the deer population and didn’t understand about your People.” He nodded.

I put my arms around his neck and gave him a hug. I must've fell asleep like that. In the morning, I had a human bed partner. Sort of. He was in that half way mode. So the arms that held me were human, and the chest my head was on was human too, all the way down to his waist, but the rest of him was deer. I felt myself tense at the strangeness of having a man in my bed, even if he was a stag, too. He raised his head. “Okay are you? Mind you did not hope I? Comfort needed you. Gave I.” I scratched under his jaw and rubbed his closest ear when he went to full deer. I rolled back over and moved closer to him. I felt safe and warm and just loved and cared for, something I had really never known.

It was quite late when we finally arose. I heard my Leghorn crowing so I knew she was going to be in a bad mood. My night shirt had ridden up and I was glad that I had left my underwear on, but I still could feel the heat of his legs against the back of mine. I reached back and it wasn’t a deer leg I felt, it was a human one! I jumped up and promptly fell onto the floor because I had been tangled up in the sheet. He shimmered into deer-ness and stood in a protective stance on three legs.

“Wrong what is?” he questioned.

“You…you…you were a guy!” I yelped. He looked at me as if I had lost my friggin mind. Maybe I had…it was okay when he was a full deer, or a half a deer but not when he was a full person. What the Hell is wrong with you Elizabeth?! I asked myself.

“That I am also.” He stated calmly. I felt like all my nerves were standing on end. I had to get out of there PDQ!I fled to the kitchen, turned on the coffee and let the girls out. My Leghorn pecked my leg to express her displeasure before she followed her sisters into the yard. I turned around for a second and heard a sharp BaGawk that was soon followed by more! I grabbed the baseball bat.

“You fuck!” I yelled before I was even out the door. I almost stumbled over the phalanx of feathered bodies at the bottom of the stairs. It looked like Larry had brought a friend. Crap! A bunch of chicken loving compadres…a fox, a raccoon and a possum.

“Leader ours is here, heard have we. Keeping for hostage you are? Hurt is he?”

I heard another call and the birds were falling all over themselves to get back in the house. It was Jamaica and Bo along with Colin,Carl,Sy and Cora. I felt that they were friends, or at least interested in keeping things going smoothly. Larry’s bunch, not so much.

“Here am I, Larry.” His words from behind me made me jump out of my skin. “Plotting still see I. Brought rebels more.” He turned his gaze on to each in turn.

“Pete” The fox bowed his head.

“Lola” The raccoon bared her teeth.

“Virgil” The possum immediately flopped over, playing dead. I think I would’ve too, if I had been on the receiving end of that commanding voice.

“Leader weak, needs leader new. Keep to times up.” Lola stated, obviously agreeing with whatever Larry thought. Stupid bitch.

“Kept us safe not have I?” The deer man stated, coming closer to the opposing team. His allies shifted nervously. I still had the bat and I would be damned if anyone would hurt my friends.

“Yourself not.” Larry said. “Cihuatecuhtli killed you almost.”

“Fault hers not.”

“Same. Matters fault not. Did it she did.”

I felt a squeeze on my leg. “Tham!”

“Don't be foolissh. If Larry harms you, it will harm him. Not good.” The Garter Snake said when I picked him up. He coiled around my arm.

This was a fucking Mexican Standoff and I wanted no part of it. It was time that I took back my yard. “Larry, Lola, Pete, and Virgil! Welcome here you are not! Invited you are not! Leave you must!”

All of "The People" looked amazed that I said the words, and in the correct formal way.

“Gasst Ssacre!” Tham swore from my elbow.(I presumed he meant Holy Shit.) The two canids, and the raccoon froze and the possum writhed. All four winked out of sight, like mist in the sun. The deer man’s allies shimmered into people and gathered around me. I was hugged more times than I thought possible. The young birds didn’t know their own strength and I knew I’d have a few bruises, but it was worth it to see the admiration in the stag man’s eyes. I had never realized that reading a crap load of rituals in books would’ve been such a good thing.

He kissed my cheek in front of all the others and I once again felt loved and respected. Tham said something that I didn’t catch. Everyone nodded. The deer man seemed to see me differently for the first time. I didn’t quite know how to interpret the look.

“Your night things still are in you.” I blushed…I hadn’t even thought of anything other than keeping my girls safe. Putting real clothes on hadn’t even crossed my mind.

“Would you all like to come in for breakfast?” I had no idea what I would be serving, but I could figure something out. I had plenty of eggs still, so maybe it was omelettes all around…It was probably late for the birds of prey to be having breakfast, but everyone came into the kitchen.

I seated them at the dining room table and started cooking. I made toast and eggs and brewed another pot of coffee. These were the first guests I had in the house besides the deer man who I had to remind to take his antibiotic. Somehow or another they all had clothing anyways. Naked folks hanging out in my kitchen might’ve really sparked some interest. I sent the girls back out so they wouldn’t beg. I set up plates and plastic silverware.

“Recalled iron, ar keniterv.” Sy said. Ugh...more words for me to look up.

“Ar plach good is she.” the deer man stated fondly, smiling at me.

“Cook good too iss sshe.” Tham stated, patting his stomach. I thanked him with a kiss on his scaly cheek. “I don't think I need to eat for a month.” Colin and Carl looked like they’d never been in a house before. They hadn’t either. They rather talked over one another telling me how they had never remembered being in one even as little boys. I was shocked and I‘m sure it showed on my face. They were children once? Hmm…a mystery to solve. They looked like they were teenagers. Sy looked around that in her late 20‘s. Bo and Jamaica looked a bit older. My house guest might’ve just hit his mid 30’s, near my own age.

I caught the deer man’s warning look out of the corner of my eye. The Woodpecker boys shut up. Interesting that was too…

Sy offered to do the dishes…I didn’t think she had a domestic bone in her body, but it was nice of her to do it. I had another cup of coffee and sat at the table, looking at all the new friends around me: a snake, some birds, and a deer. My mother would have an absolute fucking COW and I was down with that. Sy took my cup and I went upstairs to get dressed. I tossed on an old Tshirt that had a Mountain Lion on it and some old shorts. I would’ve LOVED to have a shower but I had company. I came back down and only the deer man was left. “Thanked again you did they. Reciprocate will to have.”

“That would be nice…” I hedged. I had no problem eating almost anything. I could’ve gone on Fear Factor and chugged the worm shake.

“Tired still am I. Rest more need ponder I.” Prolly was a good idea.

“Okay you go back up and take a nap.”

“Me join you will?” Man, was I tempted. I still had to call into work to check in. I did so, then watched the girls dirt-bathing. It was so peaceful. My birds would be fine if I wanted to join him in bed. There wouldn’t be anything going on. I wouldn’t let it.

I found him in the bed. He had the sheets tucked around his bottom half. I wasn’t going to see if it was deer or human, but he had put his hurt arm back in the sling and that was human all the way up to his chest and face. “Antlers my like do you.” He said, as they shimmered into existence. The tines were bare, but the parts closest to his head were covered in velvet-like skin.

He almost purred as I scratched around the base of them. He pulled me close and once again I felt comforted. “Reason no except like I.” The feeling was mutual: I DID like having someone who I could touch and whom I didn’t mind being held by. He kissed the back of my head and I scooted a little closer, being careful not to be in proximity to his lower half. I didn’t need that to be added into the mix.My deer man, I still couldn’t think of him as Pan Stanwood…sheesh. I kissed his cheek, running my fingers along his antlers before I left. He had gone fully to deer in his sleep.

I checked on the girls. They were in wallows that had to be halfway to China. I left a note on the bedside table. I wanted to get a walk in because the weather was calling for Tstorms in the afternoon.

I suited up, took the rent-a-bug and drove to the Park. It almost seemed like something was missing…well, one of the big draws was sleeping in my bed at the moment. And it looked like I was going to have an escort. The Skunk man was leaning against the Welcome to the Park sign.

“Don't walk too fast.” the skunk begged, as he hugged me.

“I never got to thank you for helping us the other night…”

"It's nothing. You can call me PePe.Like Pepe LePew." I laughed. He shrugged.
We started our walk. It took a while because he kept stopping to rest, but we did alright.

"Is our Tigernae okay? Was he badly hurt?”

“He’ll be fine. The doctors took the bullet out. He just needs to rest and heal.”

I know we got some odd looks, especially when Tham and a Turkey, who told me to call him Mel, joined us. Guess us “Naturals” needed the protection…

"Ar vignoness Dorsset told off Larry.” Tham was telling my companions. “The wordss sshe knew.”

Mel shook his head and set his wattly neck to wobbling. “An enemy she has made.”

“Guys!” I stepped in front of the animal person trio. “I didn’t do it to piss off Larry and his gang. I did it to keep my birds safe from him.”

“How did you know the words?” PePe questioned.

It was my turn to shrug helplessly. “I just did.” There was lots of speculation over that. We had made it all the way back to the start. I thanked them, got into the car and headed home. How DID I know the correct words to say and how to say it so that they just went poof? I must’ve read it somewhere…

I thought back to the Changeling stories in Irish legend and Carl and Colin…was there some truth to that then? I pulled into the driveway, checked on the girls, then went in and sparked up the laptop. Too soon, I was plinking away, reading legends from all over the world. Could my deer man’s "People" really have just stolen all these innocent children? Fuck. I couldn’t help shivering. The poor parents with children that just up and died for no reason…not knowing that their REAL children had been taken away and fostered somewhere/sometime Else.

What the Hell had I brought into my house? Did Mr. Jim know all of this and was okay with it? Fuck fuck fuck I swore, before I burst into tears. I LIKED my deer man.

“C‘hoar Bihan? Okay you are?” He put a hand on my shoulder.

“No…and I don’t think I’ll ever be again…” I sniffled.

He looked over my shoulder at the picture on the screen. It was of a devil stealing a human child and replacing it with one of his own. “Is this what you do? Steal children and replace them with pieces of wood with a Glamour on them? Leave a Faerie child who will die within a few weeks because the parents don’t know how to take care of them?” I was screaming at him. He folded my more than unwilling body into his embrace.

“C‘hoar. Ever not gentle you with?”

“You’re a fucking deer.” I mumbled into his chest. “I’ve never heard of a were-deer.”

He chuckled and I heard the vibration in my heart. Dammit.

He closed the offending window, and took my hand. I didn’t want to go anywhere with him, so I dug in my heels. “Way hard me make this do.” He took me in his arms again. “Eyes please closed.” I didn’t want to do anything he told me. So I kept my eyes open and regretted it. It was almost like going through a StarGate, a WormHole and the scariest roller coaster evah! All at the same time. When we landed he let go of me and I hit the ground. I think I left half my internal organs back at the house. I was woozy and nauseous and dizzy and absolutely awestruck.

It was like the forest where Hansel and Gretel got lost mixed with our Park. He dragged me along the pine needle strewn path. My footfalls were quiet thuds, while his made practically no sound at all. There was birdsong from all around and I could distinguish the different birds’ calls.

I heard a “caw” of a crow from above and a ebony skinned woman shimmered in front of us. “I cannot believe you brought her here.” She scolded.

“Learn must she. No choice did have I.”

“There is always a choice.”

He shook his antlered head. “Time this not.”

“This is the first female you‘ve brought here, Never any other.” The crow woman sighed. “Show her our home, then…”

We continued along. I recognized a couple of "The People" that I had met in the Park. Most of the inhabitants looked shocked speechless. Which was my reaction when I saw his home…if you could call it that…

There was a square lighthouse centred in the middle of an island in a small bay. Around the head lands were some small places made of stone with eyebrow windows. There was also a row of standing stones, a dolmen and a stone circle that looked like it had just been erected. All of the stone had a lovely pink shade to it.

“C‘hoar, my home is this.” I stopped dead as the path coiled along a cliff ending at the moat of a castle that was surrounded by a pentagon shaped wall. The drawbridge was lowered as we approached. The chains that allowed it to fall were of bronze. So obviously iron wasn’t allowed here. There were towers in each of the corners and for some reason it reminded me of what I’ve always pictured Tintagel might’ve looked like and the forest we just walked through would’ve been a pissah place for Lancelot and Guinevere to have met for trysts. Where WAS my mind headed?

I had read more than enough myths to know that if anyone ate or drank at one of the Fae Courts you were up shit’s creek without a paddle. Were they Seelie or Unseelie would be my next question, if I had been able to think at all…I finally stopped dead before I got my feet on the bridge. “I’m sorry, but I can’t go in there…”

The deer man cocked his head. “Why you can not, C‘hoar?”

“If I get trapped in your place, I might not get back home for a thousand years or more. My girls need me and I can’t be gone for all that long because I‘d lose my job too…” What a lame excuse it was. If things were different, I would certainly be happy to poke around…

“Back take you I then.” He put his arms around me and in a flash we were back in the house. “More read, less learn, C‘hoar.” He brought the window back up and pressed me into the seat. “Told tales, right not always. Questions ask can you. Tell will I.” He kissed the top of my head and went back upstairs. He was basically saying go to the horse’s, umm, deer’s mouth, if I had questions to ask.

Was he telling me that most of what I read was bullshit? Hmm. According the clock we had only been gone for a couple of minutes, but it seemed like maybe an hour. Okay, so that was true…would I hafta make a list of the real stuff and the BS stuff? I might hafta or I’d go nuts.I peeked out at the girls…they were still fine, shaking off, creating clouds of dust. My brain hurt and my insides felt scrambled. I called the girls in, added fresh water and some millet sprays for them to enjoy, closed and locked the back door and went back upstairs.

Damned deer man was waiting for me. Fuck. I needed to think things over. If I was involved with ANY of the hidden realms and their denizens, I was in way way WAY over my head. The only protection would be iron or steel. But that would hurt the good guys too.

I got into the bed, tucking the sheet around me like I was a blintz. He kissed the top of my head, shifted into deer mode and he went to sleep. I rested comfortably with him curled around me.

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