“What’s up, man-slave?” inquired Emma as she stepped into my office, glancing around. “This looks incredible.”
My parents had left shortly after mother finished her painting. Surprisingly, they accepted a ride from Mila, who also drove father’s car back for him.
“Mila certainly knows how to choose interesting landscape.” I replied with a smile. Mila contained an incredible amount of information from my travels. “Please, take a seat.”
“Is something wrong?” inquired Emma, nervously poking what appeared to be a rock with a chair carved into it.
Nodding, I said, “Yes, Emma. Doom is upon us. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to save this world. You must cross the inescapable labyrinth, attain the heart of the world, feed it to the nearest creature you find, and then do five jumping jacks while singing Never Gonna Give You Up.”
“Man-slave, you suck.” she replied, crossing her arms and plopping into the chair she had been poking.
I laughed and told her “Sorry. I couldn’t resist.”
“So do I have some incredibly awkward job coming?” she asked, lounging backward.
“Oh. No. I just wanted to give you a warning.” I replied with a shrug.
Sitting up in surprise, she inquired “Like a formal ‘don’t do it again’ job warning?”
“No. This isn’t precisely work related. I wanted to warn you not to get too attached to Dani.” I explained. Seeing her slump, I quickly told her “I’m not saying you can’t date her if you really want or anything of the sort. I’m concerned that she might hurt you on accident. Dani is from a very, very different culture, one that doesn’t practice monogamy… or the idea of personal space, for that matter. She’ll follow her emotions wherever they go if her good sense doesn’t catch her in time.”
Emma frowned, not looking particularly convinced as she watched the little fairy napping on my desk.
“I know this isn’t the easiest thing to hear, but please trust me enough to guard yourself for a while. Make observations and come to your own conclusions. I’ll be taking Dani into the forest soon, and I would very much like for you to join us if you’re willing.” I told her.
“Are you nervous?” she asked.
“Of course. I don’t want you to get hurt.” I told her.
“You don’t really seem nervous. Something’s changed about you.” she told me.
“Marriage can have strange effects on people” I replied with a smile.
She nodded and asked “What do you think will happen with Dani in the forest?”
“She’s going to be swept up in the emotions of the fey. You know how overwhelming they can be for people. Imagine getting a double dose of their emotions. Dani’s empathic abilities are an inborn magical trait that she cannot shut off. If she gets too caught up in what the fey are feeling, she might start projecting her own emotions on them as well. Things could get out of hand very, very quick.” I insisted.
“Can’t you do anything to stop it?” inquired Emma. “I know you’re way ahead of me in magical knowledge these days.”
I shrugged and said, “I’m capable of dampening what she feels or even cutting off her sense entirely with spells, but I promised not to do that to her again. She was quite clear that it’s far worse than being blinded or deafened to her.”
“Really?” asked Emma, seeming dubious.
“She connects with others through their emotions and is accustomed to that just being part of her.” I insisted.
“I mean, the idea makes sense. I can kinda empathize, given how I feel when communicating as the fey do, but I’ve never wanted that feeling all the time.” she replied.
“If you’ll join us, I’d suggest using that ability on Dani while we’re in the forest. You’ll see.” I assured her.
“Sure, man-slave. I’ll join you. First, I’ve gotta ask how Dani convinced Alma to let her wear that outfit.” she insisted.
“That’s modest by her people’s tastes, though I’m sure my parents will be asking me about it and others later. You can just ask Alma yourself.” I replied.
“Will your wifey be joining us?” inquired Emma with a grin.
I laughed, pointed to the doorway where Alma stood, and said, “Really, just ask.”
Emma jumped and looked.
Rolling her eyes, Alma told me “James, you’re terrible. Let’s be off. Dani is already out back.”
I shrugged and followed her with Emma in tow. When we arrived outside, Cosette and Dani were doing tricks on the zoomies that would make the average human feel alarmed.
“You’re not trying to lure my daughter away for a bite, are you?” I teased.
“What’s wrong with a bite in the moonlight?” inquired Cosette, grinning at me with elongated fangs.
“I would very much appreciate having Dani intact when she first meets the rest of the fey.” stated Alma.
“But I can have a bite afterward?” teased Cosette.
At the same time, Dani asked “Where’s my little friend?”
“She’ll be along soon, I’m sure. Are you joining us, Cosette?” I inquired.
“Of course. I’m intrigued.” she insisted.
I nodded and led the way with Dani and Cosette flying circles around us. We were nearly there before my little fairy friend caught up with us, complaining that I didn’t carry her with me.
“Let’s leave the zoomies out here.” I stated.
Dani sighed dramatically before saying, “Yes, daddy.”
“What happened with Kayla?” inquired Alma.
“Jemal came to get her. She apparently hadn’t finished her homework today.” explained Dani. “He’s really umm…” she started, moving her hands all over while wiggling her fingers.
“Fidgety?” suggested Alma.
“Yes! Fidgety. He seemed to like me though.” she replied, casually hugging Emma after stepping off the zoomie.
Emma grinned at first, but the grin faded as she looked at me. Cosette came around to Emma’s other side and draped her arm over Emma’s shoulders as she leaned into her.
Spotting some of the fey already lurking near the edge for the forest, I said, “Well, here we go.”
Stepping into the forest, I heard Dani gasp. Her planet was filled with residual energy, but not like this. They used far too much of it and produced far less per person.
“Emma, is that you!?” exclaimed Dani.
Emma nodded, smiling as Dani hugged her.
“That’s so cool! I knew mom could do it, but I didn’t realize you could too!” exclaimed Dani.
Dani’s grin widened as she stared around. Numerous fey were coming to greet us. Flying, tunneling, rolling, and skipping, they were eager as ever.
“What’s wrong?” asked Dani, practically bouncing as she watched Emma stiffen slightly.
“Nothing. I just need a moment. Wasn’t quite ready for all of them.” claimed Emma before glancing at me.
I hugged my wife as the fey surrounded us. Dani, however, was already engulfed in their glee, chasing after one who looked like a small, rolling stone. As the minutes ticked by, her energy only seemed to grow. I quickly retrieved her when one of the fey started kissing her hand.
“Daddy, why!?” exclaimed Dani when I set her down a ways out from the forest. “They’re so… so…”
“Passionate?” I inquired.
“Maybe!” exclaimed Dani, obviously not understanding the word.
Alma was quick to join us, and Dani started calming down.
“That was interesting.” commented Cosette as she came towards us with Emma. “I never expected to see anyone receive half as much attention from them as you, James.”
“Dani has a way with people.” I told her.
“Magical way?” she suggested.
“More chemical, though I suspect her magic plays a part.” replied Alma as she hugged our daughter.
“Chemical!?” inquired Emma.
“Potent pheromones.” I explained. “She exudes a large variety.”
Dani stuck her tongue at me. “I hate that explanation. Can’t I just be likable?”
I laughed and said, “Sorry, but many here have inquiring minds.”
Cosette, who was nodding, obviously did. I wondered if she actually felt any of the effects from my daughter. I would guess not, given her biology, but there was always a chance.
“Let’s go see if Jarod’s in his lab. We need to get Dani’s enhancement suit started, and my wife will surely want to help debate the style.” I announced.
I already knew he would be, since Mila had shown me a little of his latest experiment. Jarod, Mila, and Aurora were building a sort of flying vehicle. Mila had seen enough on other planets that she could easily give numerous pointers, but I doubted she would be too forthcoming with alien technology. Dani, however, might get a bit enthusiastic.