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Toxic #17: Is There a Vaccine for That?

May 7, 2014

“Human.” And he’d been working for the fairies for eighty-seven years. Which made him… Oh, holy crap. I’d thought a Centenarian was cute. There had to be something icky in that, even if he looked twenty. “How exactly does one go from being human to not human?”

Vincent stared at the dance floor, his eyes somewhere farther away. “In my case? I asked for a favor.”

“No, I mean, how is it possible physically?” Though frankly, I was going to file the favor thing away for later. It must’ve been a doozy. “Vampires I get. There’s a ton of myth around about them biting people and infecting them with a virus or whatever. But fairies? Aren’t we talking an entirely different species?”

“I said I wasn’t human, not that I was a fairy. They’re magical. This whole haven is set up by them, shielding us from humans by a glamour. If they can do that, trust me—they can make someone a little more than human, too.”

“That’s why people can’t see the fur and fangs? A glamour?” I chewed my lip. Monsters were under some fairy spell, or people were. But I could see through it. Maybe I was like those people who were naturally immune to measles and stuff. “That’s a pretty big spell.”

“That’s why there are havens. Go outside an area protected by the fairies and you won’t find any supernaturals.”

“Except Bigfoot?”

It was a joke, and Vincent pulled himself out of his funk long enough to give me a half-assed smile. “Or Nessie, yes. The stories are from supernaturals going outside a protected zone. You can see why it doesn’t happen often.”

What I could see was how little I actually knew. Fairy glamour. Humans turning into non-humans. I’d never worried about that before; don’t get bitten by a werewolf or a vamp and you had nothing to worry about but death, right? But fairies who could change you into something else? That I didn’t need. That I didn’t want to stumble into and try to fumble my way out of. And I would. I always fumbled when it mattered, even if I tried to tell myself I didn’t.

I sighed, hanging my head closer to my puke-damp knees than my nose liked. “Are you sure there’s no way I can pretend I’m normal?”

“Too many haven members already know you’re not.”

“One shiny leprechaun, at your service!” Scott’s voice was too perky considering the bomb Vincent had just dropped on my head.

“Your arse is shinier than anything on me, pup. Show some respect.” Fir tromped over—the only way he was capable of walking, apparently—and hopped up onto the one free cushion. “Has this one talked any sense into that head of yours, girl?”

Vincent tipped his head like he was waiting for my answer. I ignored him, focusing on the barista. “I am having a really crappy night. Can you not be a jerk while I try to process everything?”

Fir snorted like a man with a sinus infection. “The fairies ain’t going to like you one bit. Especially if you are what you say. That means you’re a headache I don’t need, which means you don’t get to see my soft side.”

Vincent unzipped a backpack and pulled out a thick, leather-bound book. “Give her this. I think she’s ready.”

Fir took the book, turning his attention back to me. “Right. Listen here. You know shit, and that means you’ll end up dead. You’ll also get the fairies worked up, and none of us need that. So Vincent here is going to teach you what you need to know. Every day after school, you come to the Dragon. He teaches you. Got it?”

My jaw dropped. “You want me to be home-schooled in monsters? At your bar?” I got up, my head pounding. I hadn’t signed up for this. I’d agreed to tell them what I was—human—and that was it. And okay, maybe I needed help. Training or whatever. But this? “No way. I am not spending my free time hanging out with everything I’ve been avoiding my whole life.”

“Did I tell you there was a choice?” Fir got up on the couch, bringing him almost to eye-level. “This is my town, and my community. We’re not the fecking plague. So get over your whole human superiority thing and get onboard before I lock you in my cellar and let the fairies have at ya. I still have vomit in my ears, and my patience is thin.”

“You wouldn’t.”

“Here’s your first lesson, Miss Smart and Sassy. There are two things you never say to a leprechaun. One: anything about marshmallows and ‘me Lucky Charms.’ Two: that they wouldn’t do something they said they would.” He shoved the book in my hands and gave me a tight-eyed scowl. “The Dragon. Every day. Or I let the fairies take ya.”

“Fine. Whatever.” I was outclassed on the snark and I knew it. “I just don’t get why I can’t do this at my place. Or online. Have you ever heard of the internet?”

“You can’t do this at home because I don’t trust you to read a napkin, let alone this book. And since the fairies will be up my arse if you screw up—and you will—that means you learn how to blend in where I can watch. So are you going to show up willingly, or am I locking you in my cellar?”

Vincent gave me what was probably an encouraging smile, but given my mood, it felt more like a prison guard promising a very cold bath. In a jail cell’s little metal toilet. “I’ll make sure everyone leaves you alone. The Dragon will be safe.”

“Fabulous.” I frowned at the book. The cover was some weird image of a snake eating its tail, stamped into the leather in faded silver. “So what is this, anyway, ‘The North American Field Guide for Monsters’?”

Fir growled in his throat, turning his ire on Scott. “Get her home before I pop her one. And finish the deal. Think you can manage?”

Scott slung his arm around my shoulder, a grin pushing its way onto his cheeks. “You got it. Ready to go, Tiz?”

I tucked the book under my arm and sighed. Monsters sure were a pushy bunch. And I’d complained about my mom forcing me to clean my room.

© A.M. Schilling  2014. All Rights Reserved.

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