Here come the woman
With the look in her eye
Raised on leather
With flesh on her mind
Words as weapons sharper than knives
Makes you wonder how the other half die
Other half die


"Wait, please, miss! Hold a moment!"

Despite these heart-wrenching, desperate pleas, I stormed my little pissed-off self out of the coffee house, muffin clutched in one hand victoriously. I had what I came for, and I was going to go home before I had to listen to any more crap.

"I didn't mean to offend you, miss, but if you'd please wait--" his hand clamped down on my arm, yanking me to a stop, "--then I can explain!"

Leveling a glare of disgust up at him, I told him, "If you think you can give any rational explanation to something as absolutely retarded as faeries, then I think I may have hit you too hard." After his dramatic statement back in the cafe, I had jerked my hand from his grip, hauled back, then smashed my fist to the side of that enchanting face of his. There was already a bruise blooming along his cheek, tinged red and gray.

While I didn't mean to hit him that hard, it was so very satisfying to do such good work.

"Will you please listen for one moment without adding your snarky, unneeded comments?" While he spoke calmly, his gray eyes flashed with anger. "I understand that I did not open that conversation well."

"No, I love it when people tell me my friend's going to be killed!" He shot me a silencing look.

"Your friend has been put into danger because of that boy. It is my duty to stop him, but I require your help. As your friend is involved, and you seemed to care about her, I thought you would only too willingly help. I now see you are nothing but a selfish, bad-tempered brat who is too willing to believe what is safe, not what is right." I tried to pull my wrist from his grip, but he yanked me closer.

"You're being selfish to put your friend's life on the line like this."

"You're delusional for thinking I'd believe your fanciful nonsense!"

He was insulting me, but his tone was still mild, though I could still see glimmers of anger in his eyes. A surprisingly gentle hand brushed against my temple, and he leaned towards my face. I could smell bitter coffee. "The idea of faeries is hard to accept for one so skeptical. Please reconsider, and contact me if you change your mind."

For one heart-stopping moment, he was close enough to bite off my face. I was scared he'd try to get revenge for the punch I gave him.

Instead, he let go of me, smirking when I jumped away. Mercuric bastard. "I am called Darryl."

"In Britain, they'd call you a bloody git." Without another look, I started home.

"Will you not give me your name?"

"Not satisfied with your own?" I heard him chuckle.

"Least I got a free muffin out of it," I murmured. Then I noticed something odd; it no longer felt that I had a muffin in hand. I brought my hand up. Muffinless.

"That... that slimy bastard!" was my mildest curse out of my whole rant. When he stood near me, he had switched the muffin for his empty coffee cup. Written on the side was his name and phone number.

I was tempted to turn around and hurl the cup at him, but at the last moment I decided a much bigger revenge was necessary. I was going to give his number out as a phone sex hotline.


Before that conversation, I never had any reason to think about faeries. I know they don't exist, but now my mind was on overdrive, straining to catch any mention of those mythical creatures. It made going to school the next day absolute hell.

"I really wanted to get those faerie wings tattooed on my back--"

"--and he just stood there crying like a little faerie!"

"My sister actually wants me to dress up like a faerie princess with her for Halloween! I'm too manly to do that anymore! ...Stop laughing!"

"Oooh, that's such a cute faerie drawing! She almost looks like a real one. Who was your model?" That... sounded pretty odd, honestly. I looked over in the corner where a girl gushed over a boy in all black. I couldn't see her face, but from the looks of her neon purple and green t-shirt, I knew she was Shana Whitting.

It made sense that she'd say something about faeries like they actually existed, because she seemed to believe all sorts of nonsense. Often she'd interrupt history class stating that the textbooks were wrong, that Al Capone was such a ruthless gangster because of his dealings with redcaps, that the Lindbergh baby had been switched with a changeling before the kidnapping and the real Lindbergh baby wasn't dead, that Edgar Allen Poe died of a pixie dust overdose.

The urge to run was strong when she turned around and saw me staring. She bared all of her teeth in a bright grin, snagged a piece of paper from the boy's desk, and skipped over to me.

"Kayden! Look at this totally cool faerie drawing!" I was expecting a stereotypical depiction; a short little mischievous cherub-like figure. But the paper showed what might as well have been a regular person with strap-on wings and a dramatic fashion sense.

The limbs were skinny, almost twig-like, and the body shape was long, languid, and graceful. The fingers, curled around what appeared to be a cup in the shape of a flower blossom, had an extra joint. Almost translucent wings sprouted beside the faerie's shoulder blades, flaring out down by the knees. The almond shaped eyes seemed to be filled with mischief and shame. I'd be ashamed too, if I wore such a skimpy leather outfit.

Although the sketch was captivating, I couldn't believe that it was a faerie. It was too normal, too commonplace. Anyone like that walking down the street would only receive a second glance at the most.

There was no way that if there were real faeries -- which there aren't, this is purely hypothetical, only brought up because of the delusional request of a stupid boy -- if there were faeries, I certainly couldn't imagine Feival appearing that way. Impossible, to disguise wings like that, or those kinds of ears...

A sing-song of "Kaaaaydie-pie" cut through my thoughts. I stared incredulously at the tall girl in front of me. She grinned back, but seemed a bit worried. "You mumble to yourself when you're distracted, did you know? If you're not careful, you might say something you don't mean for other's ears. The wall don't have ears, but the walls hold eavesdroppers." She wiggled her fingers at me and made what I'm sure she thought were ominous noises as she backed away to the other side of the room.

She was back shortly to grab her friend's drawing, but this time before she left, she told me, "You said that the picture looked nothing like 'him'. Whoever 'he' is, if you're trying to compare him to faeries, you've got a problem on your hands." She shot a glance over to the door as our teacher was just rushing in. "Meet me in the Commons after school." With that, she rolled, yes, literally rolled across the room, back to her seat.

I had no intentions whatsoever of meeting her. After school, I would happily skirt past the Commons, to the bus lot. And I would ride home, leaving Shana to stand around alone until she got distracted or bored.

This was the plan. This was the plan that did not work.

Some how, some way -- I think that Shana has some sick, twisted influence over the school officials -- I was called down to the bookkeeping office to pay a leftover fine from last year's track team. My sixth period teacher let me out of class five minutes before the final bell.

Unluckily, I soon learned that Shana had one of those teachers that let their students out of class early.

"Kaydie! You're so eager for our meeting that you're early!" She dragged me away from the office and past the bus lot, out to the transit bus stop. There was a constant stream of chatter coming from her, and her grip was almost bruisingly strong. Belatedly, I remembered the difference between she and I.

Shana : five feet, eleven inches of pure, basketball-created muscle.

Kayden : five feet, five inches of track-created muscle.

The difference between muscle built in either basketball or track? I have leg muscle from all the running I do, but warm-ups have done little for upper body strength, because for me, it's not needed. Basketball, on the other hand, creates Amazonian powerhouses that could just as easily step on you as they could pick you up and squish your spine like an accordion.

How did this affect the current situation? She was dragging me along with enough force that I heard my wrist and elbow pop, my feet were dragging along the ground and leaving white scuff marks from the friction of rubber soles against concrete, and I was fairly certain I'd lose use of my left arm for several minutes at the least.

As I was considering gnawing her hand off at the wrist to make her let go, she suddenly dropped my arm and whirled around to face me. "Oh gosh, I'm sorry! I just assumed that you wanted to come, didn't I? You must have some other more important event, don't you? I'm sorry for taking up your time like this!"

As she babbled apologies to me, I watched my bus home drive by behind her. By this time, Elspeth would be on her way to suck face with Feival, who went to the high school across town. Annie was at work, and would be until eight tonight. I didn't have a bus pass or any money, so I couldn't ride the bus. It was too far to walk home.

"Shana, do you have money on you?" I asked, impatiently cutting her off mid-ramble. She blinked at me, then nodded. "Can I borrow bus fare?"

"So you are coming with me! I'm sorry to launch all those needless apologies at you, but sometimes I just make assumptions, and then nothing can stop me from prattling on like a brainless moron--"

"So you'll be upset if the bus I take happens to be going the opposite direction of yours?"

"...Oh. So... so you do have something else to do. I understand, I was still doing that assumption thing again." She reached into her bag and pulled out a wallet, looking utterly downtrodden.

No. No guilt. Kayden, you do not feel guilty for this! She may look depressed, and she may overreact and do something just a bit crazy and impractical, since she's always like that. She may try to throw herself in front of the bus... and...

"Do you have enough to pay for me going wherever you're taking me then back home?" I tried to make my smile happy and not disturbing as she gave me the needed money, telling me not to worry as I promised to pay her back.

"The only payback I need is knowing you're going to learn something about faerie folk." She practically danced her way to the bus stop, bouncing in place as she watched the old vehicle sputter its way towards us from the far end of the street.

"Is that thing safe?"

"Kaydie-pie, if you trust me, you will trust in the bus." I didn't trust her. Nor did I like the nickname she gave me.

With a shudder, the bus halted at the stop, thrusting its squeaky doors open wide with a whoosh of air, to welcome in whoever was unfortunate enough to not have an alternate means of transportation.

Like me. A girl without car or license, who for reasons unknown even to myself, was going to follow this strange, normal-looking girl with an odd tendency to talk about things nobody understood. Who also had no car.

From the glee she seemed to contract from the very idea of an oncoming bus ride, I could imagine her riding the bus for the rest of her life and enjoying it.

We climbed on and took our seats, and the bus once again shuddered into reluctant life, rolling down the street. It wasn't until then that I realize the tall girl had successfully manipulated me into this.

As Shana dug into her bag, I hoped she was one of those people who stuck in their earbuds and wouldn't respond until the ride was over. I forgot, however, that Luck left my side a long time ago, and instead liked to videotape what her absence causes me.

"I'm kinda surprised you agreed to this at all." Pulling a red box from her bag, she pulled open the top and offered the chocolate covered sticks to me before selecting one of her one. As she sucked on it, she added, "You've never seemed the type to believe what I'm sure you'd call 'fanciful nonsense'."

"I don't believe it," I replied shortly, annoyed that she'd used the phrase I'd tossed at Darryl.

If she kept slurping at her snack like that, I just might toss her out the window.

She stared at me for a long moment, causing me to wonder if I was voicing thoughts out loud again, before crunching down on the chocolate stick.

"You've gotta believe it a little bit, or at least want to believe. Elsewise you wouldn't be here." Happily, she fell silent after that.

The silence was interrupted all too shortly as the bus shuddered to a halt and Shana leapt out of her seat. 'It's dying,' I thought, watching the bus sputter off. 'Each time it stops, the shudders are longer, drawn out, more frequent, until it finally can't stop anymore. A final death rattle. And then it stops.'

These thoughts were not my own, I decided with a frown. They came from being with a crazy normal girl.

I wouldn't mention this to the crazy normal girl who was currently pulling a brick out of the wall with her bare hands. Nor would I mention how desperately I wanted to run the miles home as she triumphantly held up a key, knuckles scraped, one slightly bloody. She shoved the brick back into the wall and led me into the building, up the stairs, to a room on the second floor at the end of the hall.

"I know that's not a really safe place for a key," Shana mentioned casually as she jammed her newly acquired key into the doorknob, "but I needed a safe spot. All my stuff started disappearing a couple months ago, and I didn't want this precious little baby to go away."

Memories of that time came to mind. Shana desperately rifling through her bag, for some item or another. Concealed smirks of the cruel popular girls, the ones Elspeth disapproved of but pretended to like, for the sake of peace. I remember smirking a bit to myself when Shana tried to strangle one of her friends, shrieking at him to stop pissing off the gnomes that stole from her.

With a manic grin at me, the crazy tall girl opened the apartment door with a flourish, imitating a honking bam-ba-da-da! of fanfare. "May I present our local faerie guru, knower of all things magical, regulator of relations with our relatives straight outta faerie tales, the talented, lovely, fantabulous Miiiiiiss Geri Riggs!"

Silence met her extravagant introduction. Confusion passed over her face and she poked her head inside. "Miiiiiiss Geri Riggs? Geri? Geri-chuu!" She took a few steps into the apartment before retreating, holding a white square of paper. Giving me a sheepish look, she helpfully related, "She's not here."

Oh my gosh, really?

I think I should run while I still have a chance.

Here come the man
With the look in his eye
Fed on nothing
But full of pride
Look at them go
Look at them kick
Makes you wonder how the other half live

Song is 'Devil Inside' by INXS. I freakin' love them. The old them; while the new lead singer is okay, I will still always love the good ol' boys.

I know that most sources say redcaps are an English faerie myth, but it works for the story, so the redcaps hopped a boat over to the states. Or something.

Also... I don't like the whole section where Shana is introduced, and I can't really pinpoint why I don't like it, specifically, except that I don't think it flows well, and it's just kind of... blah. But I disliked leaving this so long unposted, just to try working on something I've rewritten seven times that doesn't work any time. So if y'all have advice on how to fix it, I'd be much obliged.

Busy with Twelfth Night, busy with school... busy busy busy. I'll try to have the next chapter by the end of the month.