Apparently a great deal, Kallima realized a week later.
The day, which had shown a promising start when Kallima and Mateja met for breakfast, quickly deteriorated into utter chaos in the mortal realm. The chubby, dark boy constantly fidgeted with his suit jacket as Kallima attempted to introduce him to her skeptical father.
“You got another boyfriend?” the aging groom thundered.
Kallima rolled her eyes and said, “Matt is my date, Da. He’s not my boyfriend.”
“I’d like to be her boyfriend, Sir,” Mateja said, wringing his hands. “B-but if you don’t approve, I’ll keep away, Sir.”
“Well, at least I get to meet you. Never saw the other little wanker,” Havard said. “And you’ve got good manners.”
“‘Wanker?’” Mateja asked quietly.
“It’s an insult,” Kallima told him. “Do you need my help, Da?”
“I need to gather up the boys. Evan’s refusing to get dressed up, and Jack won’t surrender the phone. I don’t know if Eve needs anything. She’s holed up in the bedroom with her bride’s maids, and they won’t let me in. Bad luck.”
Kallima chuckled, “It’s a machine that lets you talk to people who aren’t nearby. Jack made a friend, then?”
“Yes. You’ll meet him at the ceremony. I’ll go get Evan, then, and you peek in on Eve. Matt, was it? Yes, you have a seat here, and we’ll leave for the church shortly.”
Kallima bounded up the stairs and knocked on the master bedroom door. After assuring the bridal party that Havard was away, Kallima managed to wiggle her way inside. She gasped and clasped her hands over her mouth.
“Oh, Eve, you look lovely!” she squealed.
Evelyn chuckled and twirled for the girl, showing off her flowing white gown and its floral lace.
“Innit? Ah got da empire waist ta hide da baby. She ain’t real big yet, but jus’ ta be safe,” she said.
“Oh, it looks brilliant on you,” Kallima assured her, rushing to hug the dark woman. “And I’m sorry for how I acted over break. It’s just… With Mum gone, Da’s the only family I’ve got. I felt left out.”
“Oh, dovey, Ah’d never steal ‘im away from you,” Evelyn said. “Cor, girls, go start da jam. Ah need ta talk ta dis one alone.”
The three women left the room to allow Evelyn and her soon-to-be step-daughter. Evelyn sat on the bed and took Kallima’s hands in hers.
“Havard an’ Ah was talkin’ abat names fer da babe. We fink, if ya don’t mind, we wan’ ta call a girl Satina.”
Kallima blinked silently, and Evelyn sighed.
“She meant a lot ta Havard. Ah wan’ed ta name a girl Katrina, fer me grandmum, so we combined ‘em. But Ah don’t wan’ ya ta feel insulted, either, wiv us usin’ yer mum’s name, know what Ah mean?”
“No! No, I don’t mind. It’s sweet. Er, I think it’s a nice name, Eve. What are- um, what if it’s a boy?”
“Well, Ah fink it’s a twist, but if it’s a Rob, we’re gon’ name ‘im Havard Junior. Since it’s ‘is first kid.” Kallima turned away, and Evelyn continued, “Oh, of co’se, ‘e told me. We ain’t got secrets between us, an’ Ah understand now. Jack’s okay. He’s young, an’ ‘e’s bounced right back, innit. He’ll be fine. Now, if ya touch any of me kids again, Ah’ll never let ya back in dis Mickey, nuff said?”
“Y- yes, ma’am.”
“A’right, let’s git on wiv da weddin’.”
Kallima chuckled softly and helped the dark-skinned woman adjust her veil.
The redhead placed her hand on Mateja’s as he trembled in the backseat, wedged between her and Evan. Jack sat up front, playing a handheld game of some sort.
“This isn’t right,” Mateja whispered to the other fae. “It’s not natural.”
“I know, but humans are always trying to advance. They need to do everything the easy way, even it sacrifices value,” Kallima told him.
“It’s easier to make a machine than take care of a horse?”
“Please tell me that you’re going to put that away before the ceremony, Jack,” Havard said over the duo.
“Ov co’se, Mistah Portah.”
“Yes, Hava’d,” Jack said, back-peddling. “Ah’ll leave it in ‘ere.”
Evan piped in here, saying, “‘E’s marrying Mum, Jack. We kin call ‘im Da now, roit?”
“Only if you want to, Evan. If Jack’s more comfortable calling me Havard, that’s fine, too.”
“Are you and Mum gon’ ‘ave mo’ kids, Da?” Evan asked.
Havard choked and coughed, Jack shot him a sideways glance, and Kallima laughed softly.
“Do you want another brother or sister, Evan?” she asked.
“Ya bet Ah would! Ah wan’ a be a big one loik Jack!”
“Don’ talk loik dat, Ev,” Jack scolded. “No one knows wot yer sayin’.”
“But dat’s how Mum rabbits!”
“OI!” Jack shouted. “Yer English. Speak English!”
“Ah’m sorry,” the small boy whimpered.
Havard glanced at Jack in the silence that followed. Mateja resumed his fidgeting as the car pulled up to the church. The child in the front seat snapped his game off and reached for his seatbelt, but Havard grabbed his wrist.
“You three head on inside,” he instructed. “I need a word with Jack.”
Evan, Kallima, and Mateja quickly exited the car and dashed up the church steps. The redhead looked back once to see her father wave a stern finger at Jack.
Mateja pulled her arm and asked, “Do I want to know what just happened?”
“Bloody Hell, I don’t even know,” Kallima admitted, watching Havard’s eyes ease from stern to sad.
“Jack’s actin’ odd,” Evan piped. “He don’t loik how Mum an’ Ah talk no more. ‘e says it makes us soun’ loik po’ garden.”
“Sorry, what?” Mateja scoffed.
“He finks we’re trash now. Jus’ ‘cause we don’ talk da same as pay-ple ‘ere!”
“Because you have to say everything twice, maybe?” the thick teen suggested.
Kallima boxed her date’s ear for the remark, saying, “Oi! You watch it. I got to say things twice around you lot all the time.”
Havard, who had finally gotten out of the car, pushed the teens into the wooden church.
“Eve’s here. We don’t want to ruin the big surprise.”
“She looks brilliant, Da. You’ll love it.”
“Oh, I’m sure you’re right. In, in!”
Once inside, Jack was grabbed and noogied by a massive blonde boy around his age.
“About time you showed up, little Cockney runt,” the boy joked.
Jack snickered and slithered out of his peer’s arms, saying, “Skylar, cut it out! It took me ages ta git mah hair fixed up.”
“Shut it! Your hair always looks great,” Skylar said.
Jack chuckled and flattened his hair again. Kallima ducked quickly behind Havard before Skylar could see her.
“So when do I get to meet your new sister?” the blonde asked.
“She’s roit- where’d she go?”
“Kali,” Havard sighed.
“Da,” Kallima whined, “that kid used to pick on Jack. When did they get to be friends?”
“A few weeks after Halloween, maybe?”
“Oh, God, Da, I gave him a nightmare…”
“You did what?” Havard snapped, twisting around to glare at her.
“Well, I was hungry!” Kallima shouted back, standing up to her full, almost two meter height and throwing out her arms.
Skylar shrieked and fell backwards onto his hands and bum. He scampered backwards on his elbows, staring at Kallima in horror.
“Oh, shut up, or I’ll tell everyone about the bed,” Kallima said.
Jack’s eyes darted back and forth between Kallima and Skylar, and Evan clung fearfully to Havard. The aged man groaned.
“You three,” he said, pointing to the bible study room, “go sort it out.”
“I’m not going anywhere with that thing!” Skylar screamed.
“Really, Skylar,” Kallima scoffed, rolling her eyes, “I didn’t hurt you. I made your life better, actually! I convinced you to be less of a bully, and now you have a real friend.”
Havard shook his head and dragged Evan and Mateja out of the parlor as a few bride’s maids scoped the entrance. Jack pushed Skylar into a corner.
“Oh, is that so?” Skylar said.
“That is so. You’re nice to Jack because of me.”
The two bickering teens turned to Jack, who stared at them with a hurt and scared expression.
“Is dat why ya stopped pickin’ on me?” he asked.
“I- Yeah, but-!”
“It don’t matter,” Jack nodded. “But it’s not da only reason we’re friends, right?”
“You know it’s not.”
“Okay, den.” Jack pulled a deep breath, huffed, and nodded, “Ah’m ready ta tell ‘em.”
“What, today?” Skylar gasped. “You don’t think that’ll ruin her wedding?”
“Naw. Ah’ll wait ‘til da reception. ‘Sides, Mum always says she loves me, no mattah what. She’ll be okay wiv dis.”
“Um, I’m leaving. Before reception,” Kallima told Jack.
The boy sighed, “Well, it’s not fair, innut? If Ah tell ya firs’?”
“You two aren’t dating, are you?”
Both boys denied the accusation, though they blubbered and blushed over it.
“I mean, there was that one time-,” Skylar started.
“We ain’t datin’, dough.”
“No, no, we aren’t dating.”
Kallima held up her hands and said, “Hey, you both know by now that I’m not human. As it turns out, my people are pretty… laidback? Accepting? I’m getting used to being around it.”
Jack scratched his neck and said, “Danks.”
“Not at all.”
“Ah wouldn’t say no, by-da-by. Ta datin’.”
Skylar shuffled nervously and mumbled that he was not ready to tell his parents yet. Jack nodded. Kallima rubbed her own neck and excused herself, promising to let Jack tell Evelyn and Havard himself.
“Danks, Kali. Jus’... don’t mess wiv our dreams agin, deal?”
“Of course not! I’m trying to limit myself to one dream per person,” the fae said, smiling.
“Is… Is she joking?” Skylar asked as she left.
“Cor, Ah hope so.”
“Want to, er, go make out in the bathroom?”
Kallima chuckled to herself and, making her way down the nave, found Mateja and Evan close to the alter. She quickly plopped between the two.
“Is Jack all roit?” Evan asked.
“Jack is just fine, Evan. He and Skylar are just… They’ll be back soon.”
“They seem…,” Mateja stammered. “They seem cute together.”
Kallima smirked at the shadow fae’s perception and pressed a finger to her lips, shushing him. The boy seemed confused, but he nodded. The tall girl chuckled.
“Micah and Jun are cuter, if we’re going to talk about boys,” she said.
“Well,” Mateja said, blushing. “I’d say this just got awkward, but…”
“It’s been a bit odd, hasn’t it?”
Other than the tension between her and Mateja, the glares of her adopted father’s older brother, and Evan’s fidgeting, the wedding itself was rather painless. At one point, Evan fell asleep against her shoulder, and she had to fight the urge to invade his dream for energy. Evelyn had made it very clear that she would not hesitate to lock the redhead outside over the summer.
He woke up quickly, though, when Kallima shook a bag of rice in his ear. Instead of waiting, though, he opened the bag and threw the entire thing up in the air in the middle of the church. The almost full sack landed on Jack’s head and spilled rice over his head and shoulders like a grain wave. The teen growled and brushed the rice out of his hair as Evan apologized. Skylar grinned mischievously, opened his own bag, and poured it on Jack’s head.
“Oh, ya gotta be bloody kiddin’ me!” the teen shrieked.
Kallima laughed and took Mateja’s hand, saying, “Well, good luck, Jackie.”
“Jackie. I like it,” Skylar smiled.
“Don’ call me dat. Yugh.”
“And you be a good boy for Mum and Da, okay, Evan?”
“If Ah am, will Ah git ta be a big one?” he asked.
“You know, I think that is a possibility,” Kallima said with a wink.
“Ah’ll be so good, Santa’ll ‘ave to git me a bruvver o’ sistah!”
“Matt and I are going back to school now. I’ll see you over break. And tell Da I love him, okay?”
The human trio waved goodbye to the fae as they walked to a quiet part of the church. Kallima put her energy into making a door back to the Fairy Realm, opened it to one of the spare study rooms in the library, and beckoned Mateja in behind her.
Kallima dismissed the magic on the door as she turned to Mateja. The dense boy sighed, bowing his head.
“I don't think we should do this again. Ever.”
Kallima smiled sadly and agreed, “It was rather miserable.”
“Worst first date of my life. It's just... We're too different.”
“I'd never seen you so skittish, though.”
“Especially once that boy started freaking out. I thought he was going to piss himself.”
“Did last time. Still,” Kallima laughed, “I think you're right. Friends?”
Kallima offered her hand, and Mateja took it with a grin.
“Friends,” the boy agreed. “See you in class, Kali.”
Mateja and Kallima shook, and the shadow fae sauntered away. Kallima sighed and pulled at her dress, eager to change back into street clothes. A flash of gold in the back of the library, though, drew her focus off her garb and towards the hiding senior. The younger teen sat across the table from him as he scribbled notes down on a pad of paper.
“Hey, Iggy,” she asked, “are you busy?”
“I'm making a lesson plan. I have to grade these tests. I'm behind in Political Strategy. Anderson needs a written statement professing my dad's innocence, and I don't remember what I told her in my official deposition. But I can make time for you, too.”
“Never mind. It's not important,” Kallima said.
Ignatius, though, set down his pen, wove his fingers together, and rested his chin on his hands. His eyes watched the redhead intently, gluing her to her seat. She stared back, wondering at the familiarity of his gaze.
“Did- Did your da ever talk about marrying again?” she asked, blushing. “Wi- with your Mum gone and all?”
“Never. He was eccentric, daughter of Satu. I'm amazed he and Mom even had me.”
“What do you mean?”
“See, Dad's... He's not... promiscuous.”
“Yeah. So, no. He used to call her his 'Only.' Not that you would get the reference.”
“What’s the reference?”
Ignatius lowered his head and whispered, “Keep quiet about it, but... Dad follows dragon codes. And one of those is 'The Only.' When you find the person you're meant to be with, you know it. And once you've... been with them?”
“Y-yeah, they becomes your life-mate, or Only. Well, in the native, it would be Einaga. Either way, Dad always thought she was his life-mate. So he never even considered another girl once they became a couple.”
“That's so sad. He's been alone all this time?”
“He keeps looking for her. She's not coming back. I don-”
“You said she died,” Kallima interrupted, eyes narrowing accusingly at the senior.
“I- ah... Shit.”
“She's not dead, then? You lied to us?”
“Shit shit shit,” Ignatius gasped and tugged his ears. “I forgot. I'm sorry! I was scared.”
“So Shay was right all along? She's not dead.”
“No, she's dead... probably.”
“She's probably dead?”
Ignatius pulled hard on his ears and growled deeply, “I don't know, okay? She left us!”
The senior gasped at his own ferocity, dug his fingers into his hair, and dropped his head until his brow touched the table. Kallima bit her lip nervously. He trembled like a child at the memory, assuring his red-haired pupil that he was still young after all.
“Iggy, I’m sor-.”
“Go away,” he rasped. “Go away and don’t ever talk to me again.”
Kallima shook her head with a roll of her eyes. She brushed her fingers quickly over the boy’s hair, making him flinch.
“I’ll see you at dinner,” she said, rising.Not that she would eat much, she told herself, pressing her fingers to her lips. As sad as it was for her to see Ignatius so terrified, his terror certainly was delicious.