"Up the airy mountain, down the rushy glen," a little boy chanted tunelessly. He skipped around the clump of mushrooms that grew at the base of the thick tree. "We daren't go a-hunting for fear of little men.
"Wee folk, good folk, trooping all together," the boy shouted and hopped from one foot to the other.
"Green jacket, red cap, and white owl's feather-" the young boy gave a startled yelp when he felt a solid tug on his foot.
"Caley, come away from there right now!" His mother shrieked as she ran to him.
Caley stared at her wide-eyed when she reached him and seized his shoulder in an unforgiving grip. She quickly picked him up and brought him away from the little grove of trees that grew in their backyard.
"I didn't mush them!" The seven-year old said, tears already gathering in his eyes. He looked down at the mushrooms growing sporadically around the thick tree. None of them had been damaged with his slip.
"How many times do I have to tell you not to play in the forest?" Maura asked, she set him down once they were a fair distance away and proceeded to drag him back to their new house. "It's dangerous Caley, you cannot run off alone. Do you understand?"
"I just wanted to play!" Caley said, his voice rising in a whine. "I didn't do anything wrong. It's not even a real forest."
"Caley! No excuses! You know forests are off limits, no matter how big or small. Need I remind you what happened to your father," his mother fumed and shook his arm hard. "He went into a forest and was eaten alive by bears! Big grizzly bears! Do you want to be eaten by bears?"
"No, ma'am," Caley mumbled. His mother was always quick to retell the story of his father's gruesome death. He constantly heard the stories growing up. And though his father died in many various ways (sometimes it was bears, sometimes lightning, and once it had been death by mudslide), the stories all had one common factor. He died in a forest.
"Then stay away from the forest! George and I are almost finished unpacking. Why don't you go play in your new room for a little bit and then we can go out for dinner?"
"Can we get pizza?" Caley asked, skipping ahead of his mother.
Maura smiled at her son's enthusiasm. "If you stay in the house for the rest of the night, we can have pizza."
"Pizza!" Caley cheered and ran inside, letting the screen door slam shut behind him.
Maura paused at the door and turned to look back at the little grouping of trees. Her mouth tightened with a grimace and she quickly followed her energetic son indoors.
Caley was wandering around the yard picking up random twigs and shoving them in to the small, red bucket he was carrying. His mother was no more than fifteen feet away, yanking weeds out of the small patch that she claimed was a garden just waiting to be set free. Though, whether or not it truly wanted to be a garden mattered little. They had never lived in a house that wasn't completely surrounded by his mother's beautiful, bell-shaped flowers.
Spotting a trail of colorful rocks, Caley started collecting them and followed them around the bend of the pathway to the front yard. The rocks sparkled in the sunlight, making them look that much more appealing and vibrant.
"Caley, where are you going?" His mother called out. She stretched from her crouched position and wiped the sweat from her brow, leaving behind streaks of dirt.
"I'm gonna grab the sticks from the front yard," Caley hollered back.
"Alright, come back over here when you're done," She said, already returning to her work.
Caley wandered forward, delighting over his find. He alternated between picking up the dazzling rocks that stood out like gemstones against the soil and the little insects that scurried about the land.
He was so focused on collecting all the rocks and bugs his little bucket could carry, that he didn't see the other boy until he was right in front of him.
Caley jerked up and grinned when he spotted a brown haired boy standing in the road staring at him.
"Hello! Want to help me find rocks?" Caley asked right away.
The boy stared at him blankly for a second and then nodded. "Okay."
Caley motioned for him to come closer. "Alright, only get the colored rocks. I don't want any of the gray or white ones and if you see any bugs grab them too."
The boys set to work collecting their little treasures.
"My name's Caley, what's yours?"
"Satu." The other boy answered while he closely examined a rock, after deeming it worthy he placed it in the bucket.
"That's a funny name," Caley snickered.
"So is yours," Satu said and frowned.
"It is not! Take that back!" Caley's bottom lip jutted out.
"Then go away, you can't be my friend anymore," Caley said. He promptly turned his back on the other boy, ready to give up the friendship as fast as it had started.
Satu stood silently for a minute and Caley began collecting rocks again. He finally walked forward and stopped in front of the fuming boy. He frowned as he said, "I apologize."
Caley ignored him and continued grabbing rocks. The other boy stared at him for a long moment and walked away. Caley grabbed a couple more rocks before giving up the pretense and turning around. "Hey, you don't-"
Satu stood right in front of him, a fisted hand held out for Caley. Caley reached out and a bright blue rock fell into his hands. "I apologize."
Caley stared at the rock for a moment and then looked up with a grin. "Where'd you find a blue one?"
"It kind of looks like a bird when you hold it sideways," Satu said while helping Caley tilt his hand so he could see the weird shape.
"Caley," His mother shouted from the backyard. "Lunchtime!"
"Wanna come eat?" Caley asked. He pocketed the blue rock and headed for the front door.
"Another time, perhaps," Satu said.
"Okay, see you later," Caley called out and waved goodbye.
His mother was already in the kitchen pulling out lunchmeat from the fridge. "Go wash your hands and then help set the table."
Caley walked to the sink and soaked his hands in the running water. He grabbed a couple of napkins and two glasses before returning to the table.
"Have you been having a fun day?" Maura asked while fixing the sandwiches.
"Mmhm!" Caley reached into the fridge and brought out the milk jug.
"I told you moving wouldn't be so bad."
"Yeah, I even made a new friend," said Caley. He tilted the jug and carefully poured the milk into both glasses, managing to do it with only a couple of splashes spilling off the rim.
Maura hesitated as she cut the bread. "A friend? What's his name?"
"It's umm… Well I don't remember now, but he's lots of fun," Caley said, unperturbed by the fact that he couldn't place a name to his new friend. He put the milk back in the fridge and grabbed a rag from the sink to mop up his spill.
"What did this new friend look like?" He's mother probed. She placed the halved sandwiches on plates and brought them to the table.
"I don't know, I can't remember. We were doing stuff that was fun. Not just staring at each other," Caley said and stuffed his sandwich into his mouth.
"What were you two doing?" His mother had yet to touch her own lunch.
"Collecting rocks! They're really cool," Caley said in between mouthfuls.
"Can I see these rocks?"
"Now," she said a little shrilly.
Caley stared at her before leaving the table to retrieve his basket. He brought it back to her and handed it over without even looking inside.
"Caley, can you look up for a second?" His mother's voice was calm once more.
Caley looked up at her.
"Can you look in the basket? Are these the rocks you were talking about?"
"Duh," he said. "That's the basket I put all of them in."
"Just look inside."
Caley looked inside the basket and his brow furrowed. "But they were colored just a moment ago. They were all different colors and some of them were sparkly."
The rocks were all a dull gray color, most of them covered in clumping dirt and Rolly Pollies. Caley shifted through the mess.
"I guess they just looked prettier outside," Caley said staring at the boring rocks.
"Hmm, well go ahead and put that back outside. We don't need those bugs getting loose in the house." Caley's mom smiled at him and turned away.
That night as Caley got ready for bed he found his special bird rock tucked into his pocket. He quickly stashed it into the drawer of his nightstand and rushed to meet his mom for his bath. If she got so upset over a bunch of boring rocks being in the house she probably wouldn't want his special rock in there either. It was safer if he kept it hidden for now.
The next morning Caley woke up to the smell of sizzling bacon and burnt toast. George was already finished with breakfast and was reading the newspaper at the kitchen table when Caley finally came down.
"Good morning, Caley. How was your first night in your new room?" His stepfather asked, peering over the thin newspaper.
"Fine," Caley said simply.
"Morning, sweetheart." His mother set down a plate of pancakes and bacon in front of him. "How are my favorite men today?"
She leaned down to George to steal a quick kiss and turned to ruffle Caley's hair.
"The VP of the company brought me into the office yesterday. He thinks I'd be fit for a managing position. So in a month or two I could be getting a promotion," George said grinning broadly.
"Oh, honey! That's wonderful news and with you just transferring and everything," she said. "It's so exciting."
"Well it's still all up in the air, but I think I have a good chance," George said, a faint blush stealing over his cheeks. He piled the newspaper back together and got up from the table. "So I better be on my way. It wouldn't look good if I was late the first day after he told me."
"No, that wouldn't do at all." Maura smiled. "Have a nice day at work."
"And you two have fun today. Tonight we'll eat out for dinner. I want to check out some of the restaurants downtown." George gave her a kiss goodbye and left to retrieve his suit jacket before heading out the door.
Maura watched as the car drove out of sight and then turned back to Caley.
"I have a present for you," she said. She smiled and held out her open hand. It was a simple necklace, a leather cord with a glass circle at the end. The glass charm was filled with a pale yellow liquid that swished back and forth as Caley dangled it from his own hands.
"Do you like it?" His mother asked.
"Yeah, it's cool," Caley said while watching the necklace swing to and fro.
"Here let me help you put it on." The cord was long enough that it could slip over his head and hang at the top of his chest. "Now this is important, so listen carefully."
Caley looked up at his mom, his gaze finally broken from the new necklace.
"This is a very special present and you must never take it off no matter what, do you understand?"
"Promise me that you'll never take it off." His mother stared at him, her gaze intense.
"Okay, I promise," Caley said, unconcerned with her strict gaze.
"As long as you wear that necklace no monsters can ever get you."
"Not even the ones that hide under the bed?" Caley asked and his little face was stern with the seriousness of the question.
"Not even the ones under the bed."
"Cool!" Caley grasped the glass charm and snuck the necklace under his shirt. "I can't wait to show my friend!"
"The friend that doesn't have a name or a face?" His mom smiled tolerantly.
"He's not imaginary," Caley said quickly.
"I never said that. Why don't you ask him to come in for lunch today?"
"I will and then you can see that you're wrong."
"You smell weird," was the first thing out of Satu's mouth as he approached Caley.
"I do not!" Caley cried out. He dropped the chalk he was scrapping against the pavement and stood to face the other boy.
"It's that thing on your neck. Take it off."
"I can't. I promised my mom that I wouldn't ever take it off."
"Oh," Satu said and his brow furrowed in thought. "How about you only take it off when we're playing. I don't think she'll mind."
"But it keeps the monsters away." Caley frowned at his friend.
"I'll keep the monsters away," Satu said with a determined tilt of his chin.
"I guess if it's only when we're playing." Caley pulled the long cord over his neck and set it down by the front porch. "But if any monsters show up you have to get rid of them by yourself!"
"Want to play Knights and Monsters?" Caley asked, suddenly inspired.
"How do we do that?"
"You get to be the monster and I have to defeat you and save the princess."
"What princess?" Satu's brows furrowed and he took a quick glance around himself as if he was waiting for a princess to appear.
"Not a real princess, she's imaginary," Caley explained. Satu continued to stare at him as if the concept was incomprehensible. Caley sighed and rolled his eyes. He looked around until he spotted a daisy and pulled it out of the ground. "Here this is the princess, now take her and run away. I have to find you and then fight you to get her back."
"That's okay you can have her," Satu said and held out his hand to return the princess.
"No, that's not how the game goes. You're a monster, you have to take her away so the knight can save her," Caley complained.
"Why would I want her?" Satu asked, his little eyebrows furrowing in confusion.
"The monster wants her," Caley clarified.
"Oh," Satu said. "…Why would the monster want her?"
"Maybe he wants to eat her or something, I don't know."
"Now you have to run away." Caley shook his head in exasperation.
"Right," Satu said and dashed across the yard.
"Come back you horrible monster! That's my princess bride!" Caley hollered out and took off after the other boy.
Satu was quick, but Caley had a plan. As soon as Satu ran around the bend of the household Caley took off for the other side, planning to cut him off.
"I have you now!" Caley grinned when Satu came around the side of the house and straight to him.
Satu grinned and swerved. He dodged the other boy and ran further into the backyard. Caley gave a whoop and ran after him, hot on his heels. He slowed down as the tree's edge came closer.
"Hey, we can't go back there." Caley called out and came to a full stop as Satu breached the trees. "Satu, come back!"
Caley hesitated and gave a quick look back at his house. His mother was nowhere to be seen. He ran past the first tree with a new burst of speed and hoped his mother wouldn't find out.
Caley found it hard to think up excuses when his mother questioned him about where he spent his time. His favorite excuse was the neighborhood park which was completely surrounded by houses. But even more important, it was far away from the woods. However, it wasn't one he could use frequently because all his mother had to do was walk up the street and then she'd know he wasn't there. But as long as he made an appearance for lunch and dinner she usually left him alone.
It didn't help that he could not tell his mother who he was playing with since Satu refused to come inside the house and he stayed even farther away from Caley's mom. And whenever Caley tried to reassure his mom that Satu was indeed a real boy he found that he couldn't speak about his friend. His memories would scatter before he could recall what he wanted to tell her. After a while, he just gave up trying to explain.
He had to constantly reassure her that he wasn't feeling lonely and suffered through the occasional play date before she was satisfied. Playing with the other kids wasn't all bad, but it took away from time with Satu and no one was as fun as Satu.
It never mattered what time of day Caley ran out to meet Satu, as soon as he stepped into the grove of trees the other boy was right there waiting to greet him. Caley knew the things that happened in his backyard were odd and had something to do with his friend. Like how there were no more than fifteen trees in his backyard, but as soon as Caley walked past the line of trees with Satu he entered a thick forest. Satu always brushed him off when he asked questions.
However, even Caley couldn't ignore it when he started noticing the weird things that his friend did. They were only little occurrences. Satu would talk to some kind of small creature and it would bob its head in agreement whenever he finished a statement. The way small, flying insects had a habit of trailing after his friend, lazily drifting behind him until they formed a small swarm. How Satu never seemed to actually go home, as if he didn't have one. But whenever Caley started to ask questions about any of it Satu would interrupt and distract him with something else. If he couldn't distract Caley from his questions then he would become silent. If the questions still didn't stop he would run off, disappearing for hours at a time. The one time that happened he was gone for over four hours and Caley stopped asking questions for a week. Nevertheless, as always, he resumed the questioning.
"Where's your mom?" Caley yelped as a twig swung back and almost caught him in the face.
"At home," Satu said. He continued trekking through the trees, not even glancing back as Caley yanked and pulled the offending twig off the tree with a loud snap.
"Yeah, but where's your home?" Caley brandished the limb like a long sword, ready to block any branches that might try to take a swipe at him.
"Further in the woods." Satu stepped into the small clearing he often took Caley to and headed for the little stream.
"You live in the forest?" Caley, safe from swinging branches for the moment, let his sword drag behind him and followed after Satu.
"How come I can't see your house? You always come to mine," Caley complained. He settled down next to Satu and let his muddy feet dangle into the pond.
"That's how it is." Satu stared up at the clear blue sky, his eyes unfocused as he slowly relaxed to a reclined position.
Caley sighed and closed his eyes, knowing he wouldn't get a comprehensible answer out of Satu for the rest of the afternoon. He left his feet in the water and lay down on the bank, pillowing his head with his arms. When he finally looked back at his friend there were a little under a dozen moths floating about Satu's head.
"Satu you've got moths trailing behind you again."
Satu swiped his hand through the air and the moths drifted away. "No, I don't."
"Well, now you don't," Caley conceded.
"Caley, my mother is leaving home for a few days. If you wish you can visit in her absence."
Caley stared in shock. "We're going to your house?"
"Yes!" Caley gave a shout and swung around in a wide circle. "I can see your room and meet your pets. You do have pets, right?"
"It's not going to be like that," Satu said. "You know I'm not exactly normal."
"That's okay. I like you anyway," Caley said with a smile. "Are we going now?"
"Alright, but you have to do exactly as I say, and no running off by yourself. You cannot speak to anyone. You cannot eat or drink anything, and don't even think about touching anything! You are never to try getting there by yourself. It's dangerous and the only way you can get there safely is if you're with me," Satu ordered. He stomped through the forest, leaving a trail of crushed flowers in his wake.
"…what exactly are you?"
"Faerie," Satu grumbled. His scowl deepened as Caley giggled.
"You're a faerie?" He held up his fingers, keeping them an inch apart. "Aren't you supposed to be this big?"
"But that's what all the stories say."
"Well that's only when we're in the Realm. And when you're in there, you'll be that small too. So, no, I'm not an inch tall."
They went deeper into the forest than they'd ever been before. The sun could barely break through the thick undergrowth and the forest started to grow darker the longer they walked. Caley had thought all his fears of the forest had vanished once he became friends with Satu, but he was proven wrong as anxiety began to sink its teeth into his chest while he watched the ever fading light of the forest finally die.
"Satu, I don't think the forest actually goes this deep. We can usually see straight through to the houses in the other neighborhood."
"Well, of course it doesn't go this deep. Not unless you know where you're going."
There wasn't anything to mark the transition between the two realms. No poof of smoke or magical shrinking. One second they're walking towards a tree and the next they were at the roots and the little sapling of a tree had grown two hundred feet.
The silent forest was suddenly filled with joyous laughter and numerous twinkling orbs were suspended in mid-air. There were bodies swinging in every direction and some without their feet on the ground. A couple of the faeries hovered over the swarming mass of dancing people and spun in circles as they giggled in delight.
The fast paced tune of a fiddle conducted them all and gradually sped up until it became a thrumming, wicked beat. The music was immediately addictive and Caley began to feel it seep into his bones as he started spinning. Then there were hands pulling, grabbing, and twirling him round and round. The shrieks were loud and saturated the night air. Everything became a blur.
Caley abandoned all thought as the tempo of the fiddle sped up and he began to giggle as he danced in the spinning circles. Hands gripped his arms and the circle started to move faster. Another hand grabbed the back of his shirt and he was jerked away from the swarming mass of dancing bodies.
Satu turned him around and softly rapped the back of Caley's head with his knuckles. "Stay behind me!"
He kept a firm grasp on Caley's wrist and dragged the other boy after him. Caley stared after the dancing people and gasped in delight as he realized that most of them had colorful wings attached.
"Satu! Do you have wings?" Caley's cheeks were bright with excitement.
"No." Satu stopped in front of a tunnel and lifted away the soft webbing from the entrance and ushered Caley inside.
"Why not? You're a faerie, so where are your wings?" Caley sighed as the beautiful faeries finally disappeared from view.
"I won't get them until I'm older."
"Can I see them when you do?"
The other boy shrugged and Caley stopped pestering him so that he could look around. The tunnels went off in every direction and were made from the same cobweb-like material as the entrance. Caley let his hand drag against the wall as he followed Satu. It felt silky and didn't break away when he pulled on it. There were fewer faeries in the tunnels and every time they passed one Satu ducked his head and tugged Caley closer to him. There was no difference between one tunnel and the next, but Satu finally stopped and when he parted the webbing of a new entryway it led to a bedroom.
"Oh, cool!" Caley immediately bounded into the room. Every inch of it was packed with different types of odds and ends. From small toy boats to brightly painted kites with knotted strings. There were handheld games with broken screens, well-loved stuffed animals with their stitches coming undone, and deflated basketballs.
"Is all this yours?" Caley asked and began digging through the piles.
"It's for you," Satu said. "Do you like it?"
"Yeah, it's great! Where'd you get all of this stuff?"
"I found it."
Caley stared down at the plastic jet fighter he had just picked up. "You mean all of this belongs to other kids?"
"No! It was left behind. I found it, so it's mine and now I'm giving it to you."
"Oh, well I guess that's okay. As long as it was left behind."
Caley crowed when he found the water guns and immediately handed them to Satu for safekeeping. His best find were the walkie-talkies, a little scuffed and missing the batteries, but they were perfect.
"We can play cops!"
"We'll play in here."
"No, we have to play outside. We can be the cops and everyone else can be criminals, come on let's go!" Caley darted out into the tunnels. He stuffed his water gun into the waist of his pants and took off running.
Satu raced after him, his face set in panic. "Caley! Get back here! We can't play out there!"
Caley laughed and brought his walkie-talkie up to his mouth as he raced down a new path. "Tchhh chhh," Caley said, mimicking static. "Sorry Agent S, I did not copy. Do you have your radio on?"
"Caley it's not a game!" Satu was gaining on the other boy when the floor bottomed out and he watched as Caley went sliding down to the underground tunnels, whooping the whole way. His stomach clenched in dread. They were getting too close to the court rooms.
Caley had a bigger lead after he got off the sliding tunnel and he giggled when he saw Satu scrambling down the tunnel after him. "Sorry Agent S, I still can't hear you!"
"Stop! Agent C, stop!" Satu shouted into his walkie-talkie.
"Roger that, Agent S!" Caley laughed and came to a full stop.
Satu grabbed hold of him as soon as he got close and sent them both tumbling to the ground.
"Rogue cop!" Caley shouted and wrestled out his gun, he pressed it to Satu's stomach. "Bam!"
"Satu?" The boys looked up and a small white haired man stared back at them. Caley was transfixed on the blue wings that sprouted from his back.
Satu scrambled to stand and pulled Caley up with him. He shot Caley a quick glare and bowed his head. The younger boy followed his lead and stared at the ground.
"Who is this?" The old man asked.
"Caley, sir. He arrived yesterday with one of the western court ambassadors."
"I presume that he brought the human toys in here." He hesitated on the word human and let his lip curl in distaste.
"They are quite an unconventional group. I do hope you are teaching your new western friend some of our own traditions during his stay."
"Of course, sir. I had planned on having him attend lessons with me."
"A wonderful idea and I shall not keep you any longer. I will inform Moriel that you both will be with him shortly."
"Thank you." Satu bowed his head once more and quickly turned to walk away.
The boy grimaced and turned back around. The old man held out his hands.
"I'll take those."
Satu quickly handed over the toys and Caley relinquished his own with a painful sigh.
"Have a nice evening." The old man walked off and Caley found it unnatural for someone with such beautiful wings to be so mean.
"I don't like him."
"He's the queen's advisor. You're not supposed to like him."
"Shouldn't faerie school be more fun?" Caley asked as they walked out of the line of trees.
"Why would it be fun? You are meant to learn, not have fun."
"Well, yeah. But, you're learning about faeries! It should be interesting and instead they just talk about dead people and all the mistakes they made." Caley frowned. "Why not talk about when you get wings and how do you fly, and maybe they have special wings made for humans to use. Then I could fly, too! I would have liked faerie school better if they talked about that stuff. Maybe you can ask them to change it?"
"Maybe," Satu said dubiously.
"Tomorrow's Sunday, so I'll be here as soon as breakfast is done."
"I shall be waiting."
"Can we go back to your house tomorrow?"
"It would be best if we didn't. I wouldn't want to chance it again, maybe another time."
"Alright. I'll bring my water guns and we can have a real water fight tomorrow and no stupid old man will bug us."
"That sounds acceptable," Satu grinned. "Before I go there's something I need you to get."
"What is it?"
"It's a small blue rock. It should be somewhere in your room."
"Yeah, I know where it is," Caley said, thinking of the rock that had been lying in his nightstand drawer for the past two months.
"I need you to put it in a bowl of vinegar overnight and then throw it out in the morning."
"I gave it to you to keep you from talking about anything that happened while you were with me. That way you didn't accidentally slip up and say something to give me away. However, now that you know about me, I think you know what things you're supposed to keep quiet about."
"But you gave that to me when we first met."
"I always knew you were going to be mine and I didn't want anything to mess it up."
"You're my best friend, too," Caley stated loudly.
"I am glad," Satu said with a soft smile.
The rock had faded from a brilliant blue to a pearl white by the time the sun rose. Caley didn't even wait to change out of his pajamas and he quickly ran downstairs to throw it out the backdoor.
His mother was already awake and she watched him with an amused smile. "What was that?"
"Just a boring old rock," Caley said.
His mom opened her mouth and then closed it again and her mouth turned down at the ends.
"Caley, why aren't you wearing your necklace?"
"Oh, Satu doesn't like it. He says it smells funny so I take it off when I play with him. But I keep it on the rest of the time."
"Satu is…" she started to ask and her voice broke before she could finish.
"My friend, the one I hang out with all the time." Caley grinned, oblivious to his mother's distress. He loved being able to say that without his words getting lost on the way out.
"The one you met when we moved here," she said quietly.
"Go upstairs and pack your things. I need to call George, we'll have to move. Maybe somewhere warm this time. Would you like to live near the beach? I think the beach would be nice." Caley's mother said all of this calmly and continued to put away the leftovers.
"What are you talking about? We can't leave. It's the middle of a school year."
"I'll need to call the moving company tomorrow morning. Perhaps we can take the essentials with us in the car and just have them bring along the rest. Yes, that will work."
"I'm not going anywhere!" Caley finally shouted.
"You listen to me, Caley! I am your mother and when I say pack, you pack!" she hollered back at him. "Now get your butt upstairs and start packing!"
Caley glared at her and finally stomped his way up the steps. "You're the worst mom ever!"
That night Caley sat in his room by his door and cracked it open. The yelling had already started.
"Maura, you're overreacting. Why don't you take a few days to calm down and think about this sensibly? If you still want to move then we can talk about it, but right now you're just being rash."
"No, we don't have time to wait! They're here. They're going to take him away!"
"No one is following you, there's no one after you or Caley. You've been running your whole life for no reason. I understood when we got married that I would have to put up with your tendencies, but I'm not going to drop my whole life and run off because you think some nonexistent thing is after you."
"Then we'll have to leave without you."
"You can't be serious."
"I can't wait around here until you finally believe me. They're here and if we don't leave now they're going to take Caley away forever."
"You do what you need to, but if you leave it's only going to be the two of you. I'm not uprooting my whole life again just because you jump at every shadow."
"If that's the way you feel then so be it."
"If that's the way I feel?" George said incredulously. "I've been married to you for three years and since I married you I've moved four times! Why can't you do things my way just this once?"
"I won't put Caley in that kind of danger."
"God Maura, listen to yourself! What danger is Caley in? You never say what you're running from! Do you even know what it is? How is that sane?"
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you."
"Isn't that a sign? Maybe you're being irrational. Why can't you just think it through for a moment?"
"We're leaving tonight, I won't wait for morning. I'm packing the car right now. You can have whatever we don't take. I won't need it."
"Maura, please just think about this." George was starting to sound less angry and more miserable.
"I've said all that I can."
"Leave then. Obviously I'm not enough to keep you tied to one place for any measurable amount of time."
"George you know it's not like that. I love you more than I can say. But I have to protect Caley."
"Maura it's not real, none of it is real."
"I'm not trying to convince you to believe me."
"If you ever…"
"I'll be waiting."
Caley silently said goodbye to husband number three.
If his mother planned to leave tonight then this would be his last chance to see Satu. He quickly ran to the window and heaved against it bringing it up far enough that he could slip through and on to the ground outside. As soon as he had made it out he darted to the edge of the forest.
"Satu? Satu are you out here?" Caley whispered into the darkening grove. This late at night it truly did look like the stuff of nightmares. Caley could easily imagine some great big bear lumbering throughout the thick trees.
A small dark figure came rushing out of the darkness. "Caley what are you doing out so late?"
"Satu, I don't want to leave you!" Caley cried out.
"Leave me? What are you blubbering about?" Satu stared at him in confusion.
"Mom says we're leaving tonight! I don't want to go. I wanna stay here with you!" Caley sobbed and grabbed hold of Satu, as if sheer will would keep them together.
"There's something we can do, something that will make it so we're never really apart," Satu said, his little face serious. "But it lasts forever, so if we're going to do it you have to mean it. Do you understand?"
Caley nodded quickly. "I wanna do it."
"Let me see your hand," Satu said. He held out his own hand for Caley to grasp.
Caley placed his hand in the warm grasp, while still wiping away the tears that continued to fall down his cheeks.
"This will sting." Was the only warning Satu gave him before he slashed Caley's palm with his nail, Caley winced and watched as Satu did his own hand before grasping him once more. "Now repeat after me.
"I claim the Faeries as mine own," Satu whispered, leaning close so that his chin rested on Caley's shoulder. Caley mumbled the words back to the other boy, his voice soft.
"With you I follow, pixie-led," Satu paused and waited for Caley to echo his words, then continued. "To use this gift for only good. A magical path to Faerie tread."
Caley stumbled over the longer sentence and then pulled away to look at Satu when he finished. Satu gripped their hands and brought them up to his face, he kissed the joined palms murmuring, "Blessed be."
He held out the palms to Caley and the boy let his lips drop softly on the flesh before repeating the words, "Blessed be."
"All done," Satu said and grinned at the smaller boy. "Now, no matter where you are, I'll always be able to find you."
Caley pulled their hands apart and stared at the red blemish that lay where he had only just been cut. "And I can find you too, right?"
"It doesn't really work like that, but I'll always come for you. Even if it does take awhile."
Caley frowned. "How come I can't find you?"
"Yours does something else. As long as that is pink," Satu said pointing at the mark on Caley's hand. "It means that I belong to you and nothing can keep us apart. If you hold onto that spot and say my name I'll be able to hear you and will come as soon as I'm able."
"What if it disappears?"
"It won't disappear," Satu retorted.
"Yeah, but if it does?" Caley mumbled insistently.
"Then the bond has been broken."