A Virga Mystery: BALANCING ACT
ACT 3d: OF LYCANS AND PROPHECIES
At first, Amy and I simply sat near each other on the motel bed.
“Reality bites, huh?” I offered at last, when Amy didn’t say anything. Amy laughed weakly at that. “Yeah, if it’s not my own internet success tripping me up, it’s having my childhood dreams of genies torn apart.”
My face fell. “I’m sorry. I just meant about the magic school thing being beyond you.”
She made a dismissive gesture with her hand. “Bah, don’t look at me that way, James, I’m being melodramatic. I must confess though, part of the reason I went along with your parents to meet you that first day was because, deep down, I’d hoped their casual dismissal of a ‘supernatural detective agency’ wasn’t necessarily something to be dismissed.” She brought her hand back to rub at her neck. “Of course, your work wasn’t at ALL what I’d expected it to be.”
I tried to smile. “I’d love to say I’ll stick around to help you through it, but… uh…”
“It’s not going to work out between us.” Amy’s tone was as matter-of-fact as Melissa’s, but her expression was anything but neutral. “Because I can’t deal with this stuff like you, and I think you’ve missed having the magic around. Or Melissa. Or maybe they’re one and the same in your mind?”
I coughed. I hadn’t thought of things that way. “I’m sorry if I kept talking about her.”
Amy shook her head. “Don’t be. I’m sorry I ignored the signals.”
“I guess I did too.” I edged a bit closer. Amy was still my friend (I hoped), and she looked so sad that I wanted to hug her. But I worried that it would give off the wrong signals.
“Live and learn,” she concluded.
Perhaps sensing my awkwardness, Amy bridged the distance then, and the two of us met in an embrace. She buried her face for a moment in my shoulder, and when she pulled back, her eyes were misty but her expression overall seemed more composed.
“Just be careful out there, okay James? It really doesn’t seem safe. At the least, it certainly puts my concerns over internet criticism in perspective.” She pursed her lips. “And, can I be honest with you?”
I nodded. “Please do. Friends should be honest with each other.”
Amy chuckled, accepting the label. “Okay then. Thing is… I’m not sure that Melissa’s the best choice for keeping you emotionally stable. I don’t mean she’s a bad person, but in particular if there are people – or beings or whatever – out there after her… but look, I grant that I haven’t known her for as long as you have, so there is that too.”
“Yeah, well, Melissa’s…” I fumbled for a word. “Unique.”
“Everyone is,” she reminded me. “You are too. Make sure she realizes that, and that she doesn’t take advantage of your good nature. She may not even do it intentionally.”
“Uh… yeah, okay.”
Amy shook her finger at me. “I mean it, James. As one friend to another. Make sure that you’re happier with Melissa than you are without her, before you commit yourself long term. Yes?”
I shifted on the bed. “Okay.”
We hugged again, quickly, and then Amy got out of the bed, insisting I at least get some sleep there, despite my protests. I passed out shortly thereafter, discovering in the morning that Amy had apparently done the same at some point, while sitting slumped over the desk, next to her lamp.
We were asked the next day by the motel management whether we had heard anything during the night, with respect to vandalism at their pool. I hedged, saying I’d heard something around midnight, and pointing out that my car window had also been smashed. They simply responded how they weren’t responsible for damage done on their property, as per the agreement I’d signed.
So, as far as I’m concerned, this can be an unsolved mystery for them. Particularly given the fact that Trixie told me Melissa answered “Lycan” when they’d asked the same question of her, and they dismissed her as a crazy person.
The rest of Saturday was a bit of a blur.
I got Amy back to our hometown, and then dropped in to see my parents, to let them know that I’d made my decision as far as returning to Melissa. You really don’t want me to bother transcribing that, mostly just my Mom asking whether I was REALLY sure, along with my Dad’s resigned acceptance, provided that I made sure this was something I could make a living at.
He suggested adding my name to Melissa’s agency. More on that later.
I then headed out with a lot of my essential items, bringing them back to Melissa’s apartment. Or rather, back to what felt more like my home, as I’d stayed there right through University.
Remember, if this return to living with her seems rushed, I had dinner with the Virgas on my schedule now, and I kind of wanted to be moved back in by then.
I was brought up short upon my arrival though, discovering that Trixie had, in fact, fully moved in over the past couple weeks, taking over my old room. We still had an hour before meeting up with her parents, so Melissa gave me the whole story.
Apparently the (at present) nineteen year old techno-witch had decided that schooling had nothing more to teach her after her high school graduation, and had subsequently spent more than a year doing mad science in her room while generally driving her parents crazy.
As such, Trixie’s parents had been only too keen to pawn her off on Melissa when she’d called up for technical advice with Amy’s stalker. Meaning for the moment, Trixie didn’t have anywhere else to go.
“Two weeks ago, I thought having a technical consultant in house would be a good plan,” Melissa admitted. “At the time, I didn’t realize she’d be such a pain in the ass, and it’ll take some time before we can get rid of her.”
“It’s fine,” I assured Melissa. “Besides, she was helpful in terms of the garlic and vampyre, so she can’t be as bad as all that.”
“Helpful, but a little last minute in terms of the deduction,” Melissa countered.
“To be fair, we didn’t see a connection either.”
Melissa crossed her arms. “Okay, but maybe she’d have figured it out sooner if she wasn’t busy trying to seduce all our other prospective clients.”
I frowned. “I’m not sure those things are connected. Also, she what?”
“I’m talking about that thing Trixie does with getting guys to look at her huge rack, despite dressing like she’s too young to have it. She told me she showed you that pose, yes?”
I tried to think of a good way to answer that, and decided to be evasive. “I think I know what you mean. But not all our former clients were male, and how many have you even had in the past two weeks for Trixie to pull this on?”
Melissa sniffed. “Like, two. Maybe three. Only one case was actually supernatural. Look, James, clients aside, I’m not blind to the fact that Trixie’s personality is quirky like mine, except she’s funnier, and prettier than me. I’m just saying, if you and her try to run off and start a rival Agency, she’ll be a problem for you, so I wouldn’t.”
I peered at Melissa a bit closer. “Hold on. Mel, are you being evasive too?”
Melissa’s cheeks went a bit pink. “Yes. Yes, okay, fine. What I’m saying is don’t have sex with Trixie, despite her being available in your old room. Okay, James?”
“Whoa.” I coughed. “Are you saying that in a ‘hands off my young cousin’ way or in the sense that you think me and her–”
“Trixie’s not a virgin, she’s only a couple years younger – despite how she dresses – and I think she’s into you,” Melissa clarified. “Though, while we’re on the subject, the fact that she’s my cousin makes a threesome out of the question.”
I had to look away from her serious expression, rubbing my forehead for cover. “Oy. Mel, remember, Trixie has hit me multiple times. I don’t think she’s keen on me.”
“James, you’re being your wonderfully naive self,” Melissa insisted. “In smacking you, Trixie was taking the time to clue you in, rather than tune you out. You don’t help someone if you hate them. I think maybe I was singing your praises too much this past week too, which helped make her interested.”
“Okay, well, even if you’re right–” Composing myself, I fully turned back. “Mel, your cousin is not the one I’ve fallen in love with. That’s you. You don’t have anything to worry about, no matter how much your cousin might want to develop a love-hate relationship with me.”
I smiled, hoping that sounded as sincere as I felt. I worried that my earlier facial expression resembled that of your stereotypical guy in the movies who’s been blindsided with the old ‘were you looking at that woman?’ schtick.
“Right. Okay.” Melissa bobbed her head in agreement, then scrunched her face up a bit as she shook her head instead. “But while intellectually, that makes sense to me, being away from you seems to have made me insecure in new ways. I mean, I thought I’d properly planned for your departure, yet despite that… it didn’t turn out right.”
“No? What, the Agency accounts got messed up?”
“Then did you run into technical issues? Because Trixie seems to have the tech-fu, or whatever you want to call it, more than either of us.”
“It wasn’t a tech problem.”
“Is was personal? Did you miss the… um, er…”
“Sex? No. Well, maybe a bit. Thing is, James, it was more I liked having someone to bounce ideas off of. Because talking to Trixie professionally just makes her get defensive, and talking to her about personal stuff… well, I mostly didn’t. I don’t want to give her ammunition. But I couldn’t shun her entirely, because I didn’t want to run this place alone.”
“So, you missed me,” I summarized.
“Nngh. Yeah,” Melissa forced out. “In fact, about a minute ago, I guess I should have simply said I love you back. If this is love I feel. I’m sorry?”
I smiled. “It’s fine, Mel. I know you. Hug?”
I moved in to give her a hug, and she hugged back, drawing in a deep breath.
“Okay,” Melissa said at last. “Dinner with my parents is in under half an hour. Might as well just put your stuff in my room for now. I mean, Trixie’s not here to complain about your return, so screw her. Not literally.”
I pulled back a bit. “Where is your cousin, dare I ask?”
Melissa made a face. “She’s been gone most of today ‘thinking’. I bet because our whole lycan-containment-fail happened, when it theoretically should have worked. She’s stupidly smart, to use an oxymoron, but that doesn’t translate to work out in the field. I can’t believe I allowed it.”
“Mel, don’t get too harsh. Trixie’s still young. We all make mistakes in our youth, as we learn.”
“She’s not that young,” Melissa sniffed. “But what, you don’t want her to move out then? You want to check out her chest a bit more?”
Having opened my mouth to respond to the first question, I paused momentarily at the second. “Uh, well, I don’t want to barge back in and kick Trixie out if she has nowhere else. But my motive is not to check out her body.”
“How could you not though,” Melissa muttered, only to pull right back from me. “Sorry. Let’s drop it, I think this parents thing is messing with me a bit tonight too. I haven’t spoken to them in months, aside from the dinner invitation, so I’m on edge.”
I had questions about that, but I suspected that asking any meant we’d run out of time for me to get my stuff inside. Or the conversation would somehow loop back to Trixie.
So I simply agreed with Melissa, and put my stuff in my no-longer-ex-girlfriend’s room. When I was finished, I moved up behind her at the desk in the main area, where she was staring at a snow globe.
“Mmm. What time is it?” she said, as my shadow fell on her.
“It’s 3 o’clock,” I responded, noting that the clock in the room still didn’t have batteries. Melissa turned in surprise.
I pulled back and gestured towards the offending timepiece. “No, that was a joke. It’s a ten to seven.”
“Oh. I knew that,” she lied.
Truly, I should have known better than to make a time joke with someone who doesn’t register the passage of time.
“Anyway, let’s go. Doesn’t matter if we’re a bit early,” Melissa decided. “I should probably help chop vegetables or something.”
Melissa reached under her desk, grabbing a handbag. Which for the record, I was pretty sure contained magical artifacts, rather than beauty products.
“Anything I should know first though?” I asked. “Because you’ve, uhm, never actually spoken to me about your family. Like, at all.”
“Huh. Guess I never thought it was relevant. Well, my mom is a pixie and my dad is a dwarf, so I knew from a young age that I’d have height issues.”
I searched her face. “Now you’re joking.” It almost came out as a question.
“Yes. My mom’s name is Marissa Virga, she’s a witch like me, and my dad’s name is Wayne Black, he manages a general store and does alchemy on the side.”
I let out a breath of relief. “Well, okay then. You know, you’re definitely getting better at deadpan humour.”
“Thanks,” Melissa said with a grin, before gesturing towards the kitchen. “Shall we have you learn more about them by simply talking to them now?”