Author's Note: Warnings for slash and cursing. Enjoy! Comments and
Not Quite Real
The day was gorgeous. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and
children's laughter could be heard from a bright little cottage settled in
a scenic location at the very heart of a lush forest. Inside a yard wrapped
by a picket fence, two young boys were playing. One had fair head and a
fixed, sunny smile. The other had dark hair and a fixed, sunny smile. They
tossed a ball back and forth in a perfect rhythm.
Darren looked out his window, watching them. Back. Forth. Back. Forth.
Everything in absolute order.
This wasn't right. Perfection was supposed to be impossible. This wasn't
right. Darren shook his head, sending blonde hair tumbling in his face. At
least, the motion should have sent blonde hair tumbling into his face, but
it didn't. His hair was short, styled in a pleasant, average joe style. He
ran a hand through it.
Nothing was right.
The boys tossed the ball. Back. Forth. Never missing, never hesitating,
never stumbling, never pausing. It wasn't right.
"Hey, Babe," a seductive voice murmured, close to his ear.
He turned. It was a woman. She was small, but lovely, elfin in her beauty.
He raven's wing hair tumbled down her back, her dress was pristine white
and small, and her eyes smoldered in a deep crimson color -- but Darren's
eyes fell away from the color. They couldn't be red. His mind rationalized
the red away. They weren't red; they were gray. They were smoky, stormy,
"Hey yourself," Name, name, name. What was the name? She had a name. What
was the name of this woman? Wife. She was his wife. Beautiful wife, mother
of those boys outside, sweet wife, sweet mother of his children because
those children were his too. "Erica."
She smiled, pleased, and coiled herself around him. "We're going for a
picnic today. Just you and me and our boys."
"And Jack. And Gustave. And Dakota. And Puck." What was he saying? They
didn't exist. They -- Those words were nonsense.
"Baby, are you feeling alright?" Erica's cool hand touched Darren's
"Yes. No. Yes." It wasn't right. Why was she here? Who was she? She wasn't
supposed to be here. Where was here? This wasn't home. She wasn't his wife.
Those boys outside? He knew them. He knew them so well. They weren't his
sons. They weren't hers. They weren't even brothers.
Back. Forth. Back. Forth. Then the ball fell. Bounced once, rolled... The
boys didn't see it anymore. They were barely boys anymore. They were
teenagers, exiting the years of adolescence. The blonde was seventeen, the
boy a year, maybe two older. They weren't playing with the ball now; they
"No!" Erica hissed, glaring at them.
Back. Forth. Back Forth. They weren't kissing. Why would they kiss? They
were boys. Brothers.
"Are you ready to go?" Erica chirped. She held out a neat picnic basket.
"I'm ready," Darren answered. He ran his hand through his hair. Still too
short. Still not right.
"Alexander! Byron!" Erica called. "We're leaving now!"
The boys ran up. So youthful, so innocent. The older one, Alexander, with
wide blue eyes and delightfully tousled blonde hair spoke first. "Goody! A
picnic!" Byron, brown eyes and dark hair, spoke next. "To the lake?"
"To the lake, children," Erica agreed, kissing each in turn on the
forehead. "Lead on, my little boys."
They led, Erica and Darren followed. Didn't they? But they were at the lake
so fast! Shoes were still pristine clean, legs not burning because there
was no walk. There was no brilliant fire in the breath, no gleeful wincing
at the power of crisp, cool wind searing the lungs. There was no freedom in
the movement -- or freedom in the boys' play, her eyes, or in his own hair.
No freedom, no love.
"Figuring it out, Love?" Mocking, sarcasm, so out of place. Darren turned
to Erica. It wasn't her low, seductive purr that had uttered those words.
It was another, boyish, teasing voice. But it couldn't exist, so it
couldn't be there.
Hands shaking, Erica laid out the meal. "Eat up, Sweetheart," she said,
sending him a bright smile.
"Eat a bite of food in the fairy world and you'll stay forever," the boyish
voice again, still teasing, but worried now.
Alexander and Byron raised their sandwiches in perfect unison, about to
take a bite. "Stop!" Darren yelped. They paused, and their gazes flickered
up to him questioningly. Why had he yelled? There was nothing wrong with
the food. How could there be? It didn't make sense. "I thought... We
could... Go for a swim before we ate. Because after we eat, we won't be
able to swim. You'll get a cramp. I heard that somewhere."
The boys looked excited. "Yeah! We want to swim now!" they agreed.
Erica looked frustrated. "Darry, dear, that's just an old wives' tale. You
know that. Eat." She pushed the sandwich closer to his mouth.
He pushed it away. "Who are you?" he demanded. "Xan? Ronnie? What going
The two boys stared curiously at him. "I'm Alexander, Daddy. And that's
Byron. We aren't Xan and Ronnie."
"Yes they are. Push through further. Figure it out. You're so close now!"
That voice again! Edging, pulling him further... "Tear through a little
"Are you alright, love?" It was Erica's voice now, sounding not quite sweet
and not quite innocent.
"I'm fine," Darren snapped.
"No you're not." The boyish voice again. A hand brushed Darren's shoulder,
brushed it, touched it, and then held it; the hold tightened to a grip and
Darren found himself spun away from Erica. A boy. The boy. He had a sort of
lopsided smile and an odd gleam in his dark eyes that told Darren that he
had to be the owner of the mysterious not-there voice. Dark hair swept in
his face. It should be immaculate. It should have at least looked pretty.
Everything in this world was pretty. His hair wasn't though. It was sloppy.
It stuck up at awkward angles, didn't look quite right. The boy let go of
Darren's shoulder and stepped a pace backwards. "You're not alright."
Darren was transfixed. Angular face, sprinkling of freckles, jeans that
didn't fit, stain on the shirt, gap between his front teeth, ears that
stuck out. He was Imperfection.
"Who are you?" Erica demanded.
"I'm Anthony," the man answered with his lopsided smile, "and in the real
world, you don't exist."
"Then go back there and leave us in peace," Erica snapped.
Anthony shrugged. "Well, I would if you hadn't kidnapped my family."
Erica turned to Darren. "He's insane. If you ignore him, he'll go away.
Anthony grabbed Darren's shoulders again. "Don't you dare ignore me. I want
you to relax." In Anthony's grip, Darren relaxed. The world around wasn't
quite perfect anymore. There was litter strewn around the picnic area now,
the lake was a pond strewn with duckweed and the picnic basket looked old
and torn and muddy. Familiar, though.
"Holy fuck, Xan!" It was Byron -- Ronnie, staring shocked, confused and
helpless at the mindless little boy named Alexander. "Xan?" He was a
teenager, complete with blue mohawk and eyebrow ring." He turned pleading
eyes to Anthony. "Help him!"
Anthony shook his head. "I will. I'll help him. I promise. Get out of here
now before you get caught in the web again."
"I'm not leaving without Xan," Ronnie answered defiantly.
Anthony looked about to argue, but Ronnie turned and grabbed the bewildered
looking Alexander and kissed him. As he kissed him, Alexander grew into a
teenager, his blonde hair blossoming into shaggy shoulder length tresses.
Xan laughed and pulled away "Positively brill, Ronnie."
Ronnie turned to Anthony. "We'll be back in the real world if you need us."
He shot Anthony a smug look and put his arm around Xan's waist. Both boys
"That couldn't happen. That didn't happen," Erica murmured soothingly.
Right, Darren agreed mentally. Right. That didn't happen. There had been no
boys, so no boys had disappeared. And Anthony? He couldn't exist. He
Erica nodded approvingly as Anthony faded out.
"Just a romantic outing for the two of us," Erica sighed. "No children,
"It's nice," Darren approved. "It's perfect."
"Absolutely perfect," Erica giggled, leaning in to steal a quick kiss.
Darren's stomach twisted as her lips loomed closer, and he backed away
suddenly, repulsed. Erica frowned, but held up the sandwich. Strawberry.
Not a sandwich. There was no sandwich, just this incredibly sexy
strawberry. Darren stared helplessly at it. That wasn't right.
Soft breath on the back of his neck. "She's got you in so deep. I'm trying
my best to pull you out of it!" Anthony cried.
"Absolutely perfect," Erica laughed again, and she pressed the strawberry
to Darren's lips.
"Perfection doesn't exist," Darren said bluntly. "I've never believed in
The world was fading away, fading even farther than the dirty fishpond this
time, fading into a black bliss. Erica was there. Anthony was there. The
strawberry was there.
"It exists," Erica persisted, the strawberry still against his lips. "It
exists and you can have it -- with me. He'll drag you into the real world.
You can't want that, can you? You can't!" The strawberry was a pomegranate
and Erica was a harpy. Perfect? Her legs were scaled bird legs, her arms
covered in dirty feather. A beak protruded from her face, a beak with sharp
teeth stained pink from the blood of coerced souls.
Anthony laughed. "You've really lost now, lady."
Erica disappeared in a furious melting of magma that soaked through the
black void within seconds.
Anthony flicked the hair from his face and gave Darren a sparkling smile
that made the blonde feel as if he were melting into the blackness much the
same way Erica had. "Come on, Dare. Let's split."
Darren stared at Anthony in confusion. "How?"
"You want to leave, don't you?"
"Leave to... where?" Darren's eyes were wide, brown and imploring.
"Dude, she really had you trapped, didn't you?" Anthony looked concerned
and worried, but mostly just puzzled. "First thing's first: Who are you?"
Darren frowned. "I know who I am. I'm Darren." Blonde hair fell in his
face, a bird's nest. He could feel a sunburn scald his cheeks. There were
holes in his clothes, and clunky shoes on his feet. "Definitely Darren." He
Anthony looked incredibly pleased. "Good. Now who am I?"
"You're Anthony." Pause. Then everything clicked and it was as if the world
had righted itself again. "My gorgeous boyfriend."
"Always." Anthony looked even more pleased. "I think you've got it. Who are
Ronnie and Xan?"
"Our kids." Not right. "Sorta, anyways. We took them in because their
parents kicked them out. Because we love them like they really are our kids
and we love each other."
"Right again! If only you could do this well on the Calc exams... Here's a
tough one: Jack, Gustave, Dakota and Puck. Who are they?"
"Our pets. Jack's my Australian terrier with the coolest bandana in the
world, Gustave is your gray cat that kills butterflies, Dakota's Xan's
ferret and Puck is the devil from hell."
Anthony laughed. "You are definitely yourself again."
"That doesn't answer my question though: How do we blow this joint?"
Anthony shrugged. "You just have to want to. You want to, right?"
"Then leave." Definite worry crossed Anthony's face. "And hurry."
"I'm wanting to leave, but I'm not!"
"Hurry!" Anthony's voice was harsher now and he gripped Darren's shoulders
in a vice-like grip. "Hurry up, we have to hurry!"
"What's going on?" Darren demanded.
"We were all in a car accident, remember? Us and Xan and Ronnie. Now you're
in a coma and your stupid family wants to pull the plug on you. Hurry and
get out of here!"
"Get out of here and get back to reality!"
"I can't!" Anthony looked pained. "They're your family and we aren't
married enough to be family."
"Just get out of here, now!"
"I'm trying! I want to go home!"
"The doctor's in the room. He's in the room. Dare, get out of here! You
"I want to go home. I want to go home. I want to go home."
"He's talking about Xan and Ronnie. He's trying to convince your family not
to do this."
"I want to go home. I want to go home. I want to go home."
"Your mom's telling him to get it over with."
"I want to go home. I want to go home. I want to go home."
"Fuck, no. Darren!"
Anthony pulled Darren into a searing, painful, awful, beautiful, grieving
It broke. "Dare, you're dead."
Darren's world became blinding white. He tried to move. Couldn't. But he
was breathing. There was a music in the air; the music of machinery,
beeping and tweeting like mechanical birds. Sobbing. There was Anthony's
Darren opened his eyes.
"Holy shit!" his mother screamed, dropping the unlit cigarette she held
onto Darren's face. "You're supposed to be dead!"
"Talk about a rude awakening," Darren muttered.
Anthony was on top of him, hugging him. "You did it! You rock! You did it!"
"Anthony, sweetheart, get off him," Darren's mother laughed. "Your jumping
on him can't be good for him."
"He did it! I told you he could survive!" Anthony yelled.
Darren's mother hugged him, skillfully wrenching him off Darren. "I know,
and I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." Tears were bubbling over her eyes, making her
thick mascara run. "Can you ever forgive me, Darry? I never thought you
could live and I just wanted the pain to be over." She was all out sobbing
Darren sat up, pulling free of most of the odd wires connected to him.
"Mom, it's okay. I understand. No one's perfect."
He didn't forgive her right now, but she needed his forgiveness right now,
so he gave it to her. She didn't deserve it but, well, after all, no one's
perfect -- mothers most of all.
Author's Note: Finished. Heh. That wasn't the revamp of my previous story
"Perfection" that I'd intended it to be; that was really a new story. The
original story can be found under my pen name. Comments and criticism