Faerie Folk - A Dissertation
The word fairy is derived from the old French word faerie. In medieval times, the word was used to describe a supernatural creature of unknown origin with mysterious powers. Little was known of these mystical beings as few had ever been seen, and accounts varied wildly. Some of these earlier tales described ugly beasts, roughly human sized, devious and malicious. Others described tiny beings of gossamer and feathers. For many centuries, the faerie were thought to be the stuff of myth and legend, nothing more than make believe and fairy tales, if you will.
Today, we know that fairies do indeed exist, and are often found in the company of satyrs, another species only recently brought to light. Documented sightings, undisputed photographic evidence and even video of both fairies and satyrs in their natural habitats have become almost common place.
While scientific studies are rare due to the elusive nature of the fae, the few that have been captured have taught us much. Unfortunately, the faerie don’t seem to live long in captivity, the longest study on record having only lasted six months before the demise of the final of the four captured fairies.
Jared slams the book shut, an angry growl rumbling in his throat. Keeping fairies in captivity? Of course they died. What the fuck did those so-called scientists imagine would happen? The thought of scientific studies being done on his fairy friends; on courageous Misha, dainty Felicia, shy Alona, and especially on curious, compassionate Jensen, makes him sick. No, not sick, it makes him furious.
Besides, there’s nothing scientific about fairies, nothing that can be studied in a cold, clinical trial. Fairies are pure magic. They are light, they are the essence of happiness, they are the embodiment of mirth. Okay, he’s being a little cheesy. Doesn’t make it any less true.
Everything Jared knows about fairies he has learned from Jensen and his friends. He knows that fairies are placed into groups of four - called quadrals - from birth, that they are given over to a guardian, usually a satyr because of their steadfast and protective natures, to be watched over and kept safe.
Fairies don’t eat or drink. Instead, they gain sustenance through the touch of others. That’s why it’s so important for fairies to stay in close-knit groups. Touch starvation can come upon a fairy with little warning. Jared has seen first hand what happens when a fairy has gone too long without a nourishing touch.
Fairy magic is whimsical and capricious. Jared still isn’t quite clear on how it works. The four fairies he knows are very vague when he asks questions about it, almost as though they don’t really understand it themselves. They don’t know how they do the things they do, they just do them. Mostly, their magic seems to center around the forces of nature. Jensen claims he can talk to the rain as well as plants and animals. He says he doesn’t control them or force them to do his bidding, it’s more like he gives them a gentle nudge, a polite entreaty.
The tree outside their burrow, a birch tree from what Jared can tell, regularly produces fruit at Jensen’s request. Each time Jensen comes to visit, he brings a different fruit as a present. Jared has lost track of all the types of fruit he’s been gifted in the past three months. From apples to pomegranates, they’ve all been delicious.
Fairies impact the human world without most humans ever being aware of their influence. The dust produced by their wings - fairy dust or pixie dust, as it’s sometimes called - swirls through the air, carried far and wide by the breeze, and everywhere it goes, burdens seem a little lighter, days get a little brighter, happiness sparks a little easier. In most cases, humans aren’t even cognizant of the outside force that has just made them feel better, attributing it to a simple mood change.
On the other, darker side of the coin, every time a fairy dies, the world loses a little bit of joy.
Jared counts himself as the luckiest person on the planet because not only does he know how important and precious fairies are, but he can claim four of them as his friends, with one of them being a very special friend. Very special.
Sighing, Jared stands up from his kitchen table, walks over to his Keurig, and turns the machine on to make himself another cup of coffee. He’s addicted to the stuff, but there’s nothing to be done about it. Med school and his residency program saw to that, and there’s no end in sight what with the long hours he works as Lexington General’s primary pediatric surgeon.
He’d been hoping to glean a few new insights into fairies from the book he’d gotten from the library. Jensen will be here tomorrow - Jared is going to go get him to keep the whole quadral from having to make the journey - and it would have been nice to surprise him with a few newly-discovered fairy facts. Jensen’s take on what human’s think of as ‘facts about fairies’ is always amusing. It’s pretty clear, though, that he isn’t going to learn anything interesting from Faerie Folk - A Dissertation.
His visits with Jensen are always the highlight of his week. Sometimes, Jared goes to visit Jensen and the others in their meadow. Those visits only last a couple hours because there isn’t anywhere for Jared to sit except on the ground, and what with the late winter weather they’ve been having, the ground isn’t the most comfortable place to sit. Spring is almost here, but the weather over the last three months has been downright chilly.
More often, Jensen comes to Jared’s house. The tiny, green-winged fairy is fascinated by all things ‘human’, especially the electronics. Jared’s iPad is a constant source of amazement for him. Their times together are frequented by exclamations of absolute delight. Jared loves finding ways to astonish Jensen, just to hear his trills of excitement.
This visit is to be different though. They have received Christian’s approval, grudging though it may be, for Jensen to stay an entire week instead of just the usual overnight visit. Christian, Jensen’s satyr guardian, isn’t exactly thrilled with the notion, but after much wheedling on Jensen’s part, he has agreed.
Not that Jensen needs permission exactly. It’s not as if Jensen is a child, incapable of making his own decisions. He’s not. He’s a full-grown - well, as fully grown as fairies ever get - adult with very mature ideas and a healthy sense of self. It’s just his inquisitive nature and inexperience with all things ‘human’ that makes him seem childlike in his enthusiasm, and probably evokes Christian’s protectiveness. Plus, Christian’s job, his entire purpose in life, is to keep Jensen and the other fairies in his charge safe. And Jensen respects Christian much too much to just take off without his blessing. Not after he hell he put his friends through last time, anyway.
So, he finally got Christian to agree to what Jensen has started referring to as his Odyssey Into the Human World, but there are rules. Of course, there are rules.
In fact, Jared has been told the rules so many times and in such seriousness that he kind of feels like he’s the proud new owner of a mogwai, the adorable creature from the movie that turns into a gremlin if you don’t follow all the rules to the letter.
All joking aside though, he understands why Christian is so protective of Jensen and the other fairies under his care. And the rules are much more common sense than the horror movie’s ‘no letting them eat after midnight’ or ‘no getting them wet’, rules.
Rule number one - Jared has to keep both eyes on Jensen at all times. This is not something Jared needed to be told, it’s just a given. Especially since they will be going on excursions to places where Jensen could easily get lost. Not to mention there will be other people around, people who aren’t used to seeing one of the fae among them. And, without a doubt, Jensen will want to interact with each and every one of them.
Rule number two - Jared must make sure Jensen is touched often. When he’s with his quadral, he’s touched frequently by the other fairies, just as he touches them. It’s the whole purpose of the quadral, to keep each other nourished at all times. Without the other fairies nearby to provide sustenance, Jensen’s entire well being will be Jared’s responsibility and his alone.
Rule number three - Don’t let Jensen do anything dangerous, like stick his whole arm into an electrical outlet. Yep, that almost happened. The thing is, Jensen has never been around humans, not before he met Jared, and he doesn’t know what’s dangerous and what’s not. It’s on Jared to teach him. Good thing Jensen learns quickly.
Rules number four though twenty are basically just reiterations of the first three rules. That doesn’t stop Christian from explaining each and every one of them over and over again.
Rubbing his eyes with the heal of the hand not holding the coffee mug, Jared stifles a yawn. It’s been a very long week. He’s been pulling double shifts at the hospital to make sure all his patients are taken care of before his vacation starts. His work is hard and sometimes heartbreaking, but ultimately very rewarding. As grueling as it sometimes is, there’s no other career he can think of that is half as satisfying as improving the lives of his young patients.
The youngest of his current patients is a two year old little girl named Keesha. She has big, brown eyes, a wide smile, and a malformed trachea that makes it difficult for her to breath. Despite this, she is sweet tempered and endlessly curious, reminding him of Jensen in some ways. The intricate surgery to repair her airway went extremely well. She’ll be going home with her parents in only a few days.
Performing delicate surgery on the smallest of patients is Jared’s specialty and may be why he was so invested in saving Jensen’s life from the moment he saw him, tiny, helpless and near death, lying on his kitchen counter three months ago. He’s so glad he was successful. He can’t imagine going back to his life before having met Jensen.
Jared smiles to himself as he takes a large gulp of coffee, barely noticing the searing heat of the liquid as it burns its way down his throat. The burn is as expected and welcome as the air he breathes.
He’s looking forward to Jensen’s visit. He hasn’t decided on exactly what they’ll do. There are a few places he thinks Jensen will enjoy seeing, museums and zoos that are easy day trips from his house, but ultimately he’ll let Jensen make the decisions on where they go. This is his Odyssey, after all.
Felicia’s foot is in his armpit and Misha has an arm wrapped around his upper thigh. Alona is underneath him; he thinks his head is on her shoulder. It’s not an unusual way for him to wake up. Sleeping in a puppy pile curled around each other inside their burrow nest is normal as normal can be.
As soon as he awakens, his heart begins a rapid flutter-thump flutter-thump flutter-thump.
Today is the day!
Today is the start of his Grand, Super-Awesome, Fantastical Odyssey Into the Human World!
Even though his wings are still folded tightly against his back, they start to vibrate with his mounting excitement.
“Jensen,” Felicia grumbles sleepily, “Go back to sleep. It is not yet morning. The sun has not even breached the horizon.”
She’s right. The sky is still the velvet black of deep night, the moon having set ages ago. “I am sorry to have woken you. Do not mind me,” he whispers back. Now that he is awake though, there is little chance of him getting any more sleep. The excitement will not allow it. Thinking about all the adventures the coming days will bring, a fine quivering begins in his hands, traveling quickly up his arms and into his shoulders.
Felicia sighs and, as she sits up, digs her toes into the vulnerable flesh of his armpit.
“Gah,” he says, shifting away from her evil assault on one of his most sensitive areas.
Misha groans, moves around until his head is in Jensen’s crotch, and then promptly falls back asleep. Jensen puts a hand on Misha’s cheek to sooth him, opening his other arm to Felicia for her to snuggle into. She comes willing, and they both relax back against Alona, who still has not so much as stirred.
The night sky above them is awash in starlight, a myriad of bright pinpricks in an endless sea. As he watches, a single star goes shooting across the expanse. In its wake, it leaves a brilliant trail, reminding him of Jared’s nickname for him. Comet. He has to admit, the nickname fits.
“Will you really leave us for seven whole days?” Felicia asks, her muted voice unusually somber.
Jensen knows she does not understand his desire to learn more about humans, none of the other fairies do. And although they all like Jared, they cannot fathom the depth of feeling Jensen has for him. “Yes, but do not fret, for when I return I will have tales the likes of which you have never heard before.” He cannot keep the thrill from his voice. Seven whole days with Jared in the human world!
At his words, his pillow sits up abruptly, making him question whether Alona has been feigning sleep all this time. She wraps her delicate arms around him, holding tight, and says, “Please do not go, Jensen. We shall miss you so!”
Fairies are not meant to be sad, and it breaks his heart to think his actions may be hurting his friends.
Misha’s head pops up. He surveys the situation for only a moment before he too sits and wraps his arms around the other three. “Come now. There is no need for sorrow. Although we will miss him, this adventure is Jensen’s greatest desire. He will be able to share his joy with all the humans he meets. Will that not be a wonderful thing?”
Alona sniffles, eyes swimming, but she nods just the same. “I am sorry, Jensen. I did not mean to ruin your big adventure. Of course, you must go.”
“And bring back lots of presents,” Felicia giggles, bell-like.
Presents! That reminds him. He mustn’t forget to give the strawberries to Jared. The tree outside their burrow has been working on them for the past day and a half. They should be perfect by the time Jared arrives to get him, which will be very soon if the smudge he sees on the horizon is anything to go by.
His view of the distant horizon is blotted out by a shadowed head, two horns curling out from on top.
“Awake already I see, little ones.” The Guardian’s voice, gruff yet fond at the same time, greets them.
The nest erupts in a flurry of wings as four fairies extricate themselves from their huddle and launch into the air. Jensen flies in a series of loop-de-loops around the Guardian’s waist.
“It is finally here! My Grand, Super-Awesome, Fantastical Odyssey Into the Human World begins today! Isn’t it marvelous, Guardian?” The excitement bubbles up in his chest such that he thinks he might burst and fly apart like dandelion fluff in a tornado.
Jensen tucks his wings in close to his body and dives straight down, unfurling them at the last minute to swoop back upwards. He does this again and again, each time getting closer to the ground before pulling up, the air slip-streaming past his body like he is an arrow zipping towards a target. The frenzy of motion actually helps calm the nervous anticipation pooling in his belly. Soon the other fairies are all doing the same.
The Guardian chuckles. “I think you may have added a few extra adjectives to your Odyssey since last night when you went to bed.
“Yes, that is true,” he agrees, coming to a stop, and hovering in front of the satyr. “Last night it was my Grand Odyssey Into the Human World and today it is my Grand, Super-Awesome, Fantastical Odyssey Into the Human World. I can only guess it is because the things Jared and I will do keep getting bigger and bigger in my mind. Only one adjective was not enough to contain it all.” He looks off to the tree line on the far side of the meadow. “Do you think Jared will be here soon?”
A little crease forms on the Guardians’s forehead. “Yes, I suppose he will. I will talk to him before he leaves with you. A few more things have come to mind, things I need to ask him.”
The Guardian gets that forehead crease much more often than Jensen thinks is proper. Their guardian takes his duties very seriously, and Jensen is grateful, but the world is too wondrous a place to spend all your time worrying. One of Jensen’s favorite pursuits is getting the Guardian to forget his responsibilities for a time and have fun with him.
“Guardian, will you play for us? A song or two so that we may dance before Jared arrives, and it is time for me to depart?” Jensen schools his expression into what Jared calls his ‘puppy dog eyes’.
“Oh yes, Guardian, please. That would be ever so lovely,” Alona chimes in.
The Guardian readily agrees and retrieves his pipes from the cave where he keeps such things as he needs. Before long, the flute’s song fills the meadow with a merry melody. Jensen twirls Alona as they move to the lively cadence. They know each other well, have danced this very dance together many times, and their movements are flawless. Misha and Felicia are quick to join in, easily catching up to match the steps in the elaborate dance of the sylph.
One song leads to the next. It’s a good diversion for them all - for Jensen, to forestall his bursting from excitement and for the others, to keep them from dwelling on how much they will miss him.
The music can be heard long before he reaches the meadow. Ethereal and beautiful beyond anything Jared has ever heard before, there’s no doubt this music belongs to the fae. The way the sound drifts tantalizingly around him, snatches of it seeming to beckon him forward, he would think the sweet strains an attempt to enchant him, if he didn’t know better. He does know better though. There is no malice here, only light-hearted fairy fun.
Sure enough, as soon as he comes within viewing distance of the tree near their burrow, he can make out Christian’s decidedly satyr form. Typical of most satyr, he wears his hair long, just brushing his shoulders. His horns come out from the front of his forehead and curl just slightly toward the back of his head. He wears a pair of tan buckskin breeches that cover most of his tawny, fur-covered haunches and legs, but his upper torso and arms are bare of both fur and clothing, the well-developed musculature there on full display. His legs end in the cloven hooves of a goat. He is intimidating in the extreme.
Now though, he appears to be...prancing...in time to the music.
Jared has never seen Christian act in any way other than stiffly formal. To see him dancing is fucking hilarious. And yeah, that’s what he’s doing; he’s dancing. Jared quickens his pace. He’s got to get a closer look before Christian spots him because he’ll certainly stop as soon as he does.
The music emanates from a pipe flute like the one Pan is usually depicted playing in the old myths. Christian is playing and stomping his hooves in time with the music, really getting into it. He truly looks like the pictures Jared has seen of Pan during one of his revelries, minus the flask of wine.
The closer he gets, the more details he can pick out from the scene before him, until he sees them - the fairies. At first they are just a whirl of color and motion; purple, yellow, green, and red, twisting and twining, coming together and pushing apart like a kaleidoscope. But once he gets near enough to see what they are doing, the sight stops him dead in his tracks. It’s breathtaking.
As graceful as butterflies waltzing in perfect synchronization, the fairies twirl and glide, swoop and pirouette. They are quite literally dancing on air. And Jared can’t look away, feels almost like crying from how beautiful they are, breath caught in his throat.
When the song ends, Jared is finally able to breathe normally again. The fairies begin laughing and tackling each other mid-air. Christian watches them, an indulgent smile on his face.
“That was amazing!” Jared says as he jogs over to join them.
Jensen darts toward him, smiling happily. “Did you truly like it, Jared?” His iridescent, emerald wings beat the air so quickly that they are nothing more than a green blur to Jared’s eyes. He resembles a small, perfectly-formed, naked man, hovering in the air before him. It’s amazing how he can hold so still with his wings beating that rapidly behind him. He makes it look effortless.
“Hey there, Comet. Yeah, I loved it.” Jared sees the other fairies have stopped their playful rough-housing and are watching from afar. “You all were awesome,” he calls to them, causing Alona to blush bright pink, while Felicia and Misha link arms and spin around so quickly a mini-vortex forms around them.
Jensen’s smile becomes radiant. He does a somersault, and then flits closer, wrapping both arms around Jared’s neck as far as they will go. “I am glad you got here in time to see it.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it. It was...what kind of dance was it anyway?” Without waiting for a reply, Jared rounds on Christian who has put down the pipe flute and is donning a simple leather vest. “And the music! Dude! I didn’t know that kind of music could come from an instrument made out of reeds.”
Christian finishes shrugging into his vest, apparently having decided that Jared’s arrival merits more clothing than when it’s just him and the fairies. “That’s because it doesn’t. Not by itself anyway. The fairies were augmenting it.”
The fairies, unlike their satyr guardian, feel no such compunction to wear any clothing at all no matter the occasion. They are all, each and every one of them, completely, bare-ass naked. Jared is used to it by now, and is able to ignore it for the most part.
“Augmenting it? How?”
“With our wings,” Jensen chirps brightly. A final squeeze of Jared’s neck, which passes as a hug from the small fairy, and Jensen settles on his shoulder.
“With your wings? But how?” Jared asks, still mystified. He reaches up to stoke a finger over Jensen’s wings where they are folded against his back, causing him to shiver in delight. He loves being touched in any way. Jared needs to remember to do it often during the next week. Might as well start now.
“We asked the wind to take the vibrations from our wings and intersperse it with the music of the Guardian’s flute. The wind was very accommodating.” Jensen shrugs as if it’s only that easy, as if it’s nothing special, and he doesn’t understand why Jared is making such a big deal about it. “Oh, before we go, I have something for you!”
“And I need to talk to you, also,” Christian says, one eyebrow raised.
“Yeah, of course.” Jared knows what’s coming on both counts.
Jensen zips over to the birch tree nearest their burrow, as Jared knew he would. Jensen’s gifts are always so sweet. He wonders what kind of fruit the fairy has asked the tree to produce this time. The bananas from last week were -
Christian scuffs one hoof into the ground and clears his throat.
Jared stops thinking about bananas and takes a closer look at the satyr. He’s nervous, Jared realizes. Of course, he is. This can’t be easy for him.
“What are your plans for this...Odyssey?” Christian asks.
Jared stuffs his hands in the front pockets of his jeans, hunches his shoulders. “Honestly, I’m not sure yet. I’ve got a couple ideas I thought I’d run past Jensen. See what interests him most.”
Christian nods, expression pensive. “Will you...will you leave a note at your house as to where you’re going. Once you decide? Just in case.”
Just in case he has to come looking for us. Just in case he has to come looking for Jensen, because I don’t bring him back. It isn’t difficult for Jared to follow the trail of Christian’s thoughts.
“I was thinking along the lines of a couple day trips, but yeah, sure. We can do that. We’ll leave a note taped to the back door with a list of places we’re going each day. Just in case.”
Christian swallows hard, the muscles in his throat working. “And you’ll be vigilante at all times? Make sure nothing happens to him?”
“I will, man. I promise.” Jared locks eyes with Christian, instilling every ounce of sincerity he can muster in his voice.
“Okay then.” The satyr nods once, sharply. “Okay.”
Over Christian’s left shoulder, Jared can see Jensen and the other three fairies on their way back from the tree, a large basket carried between them. It looks heavy, with all four fairies straining to keep it aloft and moving forward.
Loping over to help, he asks, “What have you got there?”
“Strawberries!” Jensen exclaims, chest puffed out as though he couldn’t be any prouder. “They are for you, Jared. I asked the tree to make a large quantity, that way we can take them on our Grand, Super-Awesome, Fantastical Odyssey Into the Human World and you will not have to worry about going hungry.”
Jared can’t help it, he throws back his head and laughs. Jensen is so excited he’s actually quivering, and it’s so friggin’ adorable, Jared can’t even. “Our what now?”
“Our Grand, Super-Awesome, Fantastical Odyssey Into the Human World!”
“Oh, no pressure then.” Jared wipes at his eyes which have teared up from laughing so hard.
Jensen grins back at him, eyes crinkling at the corners. “No pressure whatsoever.”
The basket is filled to overflowing with plump, ruby-red strawberries. There must be at least a quart of them. Jared reaches out to relieve the fairies of their burden. “Thank you so much. They look amazing.”
“Try one,” Jensen says.
“Try one,” the other fairies chorus, obviously caught up in Jensen’s excitement.
Jared takes one and bites down. Berry juice explodes in his mouth; some even dribbles down his chin. The berry is sun-warmed despite the lingering chill in the air. The taste is exquisite, rich and tangy, nothing like the strawberries from the grocery store. Those are tasteless in comparison. “Mmmmm, oh my god,” he groans, rolling his eyes heavenward.
“It is good, then?” Jensen asks.
“Better than good. It’s orgasmic.” Jared pulls off the leafy crown and pops what’s left of the strawberry into his mouth.
“Oh my, that is good.” Jensen smirks.
The look on Jensen’s face and his suggestive tone make Jared wonder, not for the first time, just how experienced Jensen is as far as sex and orgasms go. Frequent touching is necessary for fairy survival. It’s more about nourishment than it is about arousal or achieving sexual climax. At least, that’s the way it seems to Jared.
Three months ago, after he’d nursed Jensen back to health by holding him and giving him skin-on-skin contact nonstop for several days, Jensen had offered to return the favor by using his magic to make Jared feel good. He’d accepted the offer only to put an end to it before it got much further than taking off his pants. Somehow, it just hadn’t felt right, like he was taking advantage of someone who didn’t really understand what having a sexual relationship (with a human) was all about.
Jensen had seemed mildly curious, but not disappointed when Jared waved him off and pulled his pants back up. They hadn’t talked about it back then, and Jared hasn’t had the nerve to bring it up since.
“What about the basket? Do you like it?” Felicia flits closer to ask, cutting off his musings.
The basket is made of long, slender leaves like palm fronds, woven into shape by - Jared would guess - clever little hands.
Jared makes a show of admiring the basket. “It’s beautiful. I like it very much. Did you make it, Felicia?”
The small red-winged fairy bobs her head, tiny hands clasped demurely in front of her.
“I helped,” Alona says. A breeze blows her blond hair in front of her face, a breeze that strangely doesn’t affect anything else.
Misha, his vibrant purple wings scintillating in the early morning sunshine, puts his hands on his hips. “We all helped.” He sounds affronted at being left out.
“Well, you all did a great job,” Jared says. “Thank you. It’s a wonderful present.”
Looking pleased, Alona, Felicia, and Misha fly curlicue patterns over to where Christian stands waiting.
Jared makes a mental note to find gifts for them all at some point during the next week. They seem to enjoy the idea of presents.
Jensen gives him an expectant look, arms wrapped tightly around his own mid-riff. It’s a gesture Jared is coming to recognize as I’m-so-excited-I’m-about-to-burst. Apparently, they need to get this show on the road ASAP before a certain little fairy is no longer able to contain himself.
Taking pity on him, Jared asks. “Are you ready to start your odyssey?”
“Our Grand, Super-Awesome, Fantastical Odyssey Into the Human World,” Jensen corrects him, smile as bright as sunbeams.
“Right, forgive me. Are you ready to start Our Grand, Super-Awesome, Fantastical Odyssey Into the Human World?”
“Most assuredly.” Jensen spins once, then alights on his shoulder. “I will sit here while you walk back to your house. It will be easier for us to talk this way. Do you not agree?”
Touching, always touching. Jensen doesn’t say it, but Jared knows that’s another important reason for them to travel this way, the skin-on-skin contact. “I do. It’s perfect.”
Jensen sighs happily and snuggles in closer to his neck, feet dangling off his shoulder.
Basket full of strawberries held in one hand, Jared turns and raises his other hand in farewell to Christian, Misha, Alona, and Felicia. “Goodbye and thanks again for the basket.”
“Goodbye, Jared.” “Have fun, Jensen.” “Enjoy your Odyssey.” Little voices call after them, all at the same time such that Jared can’t tell which fairy said what. Christian doesn’t say anything, just stands there with his arms crossed, looking like he wants nothing more than to rush over, punch Jared, and snatch Jensen away from him.
In fact, none of the fairies look like their normal cheery selves, and Jared is compelled to add, “I’ll have him back to you in a week.”
“On the morning of the seventh day,” Christian says.
“Right, on the morning of the seventh day,” Jared repeats, feeling like he’s just stepped into a Lord of the Rings movie and taken a sacred oath.
Jensen makes a distressed sound, so soft Jared wouldn’t have heard it if the little fairy hadn’t been sitting right next to his ear. Then, he’s off like a...well, like a comet, leaving a trail of dust behind him, back to his quadral mates and guardian. He hugs them each fiercely. Jared has a fleeting thought that the Odyssey has been canceled, but in the next moment, Jensen is back. He nestles in again at the juncture of Jared’s neck and shoulder.
“They’re going to miss you.” Jared turns and starts the trek back across the meadow to the forested area and the path beyond that leads to his house.
“They will,” Jensen sighs.
Hating to hear the sadness in Jensen’s voice, Jared tries for a distraction. “Have you thought about what you want to do this week?”
The distraction works. Jensen perks up immediately. It’s hard for fairies to stay sad for any appreciable length of time. Joyous is their natural state of being. “Oh indeed!” he chirps. “I have given it much thought.”
“Okay, let’s hear it.”
“I wish to meet all manner of humans. I wish to meet young humans because they will know the very best games to play. I wish to meet the oldest and wisest humans because they will have the very best stories to tell. I wish to see what humans do for fun, and I wish to go to the places humans enjoy. Above all, I wish to learn what it means to be human.”
Throughout Jensen’s chipper rambling, Jared matches the fairy’s wishlist with places that might fit the bill. He already has some places and activities in mind, and Jensen has just confirmed a couple of them. For example, places humans enjoy could be a sporting event or an amusement park.
He’d given brief consideration to a zoo, but given Jensen’s empathy for animals and his ability to speak with them, that might not be the best idea. He doesn’t want Jensen getting the notion that all the zoo animals need to be freed from their cages. A petting zoo, on the other hand, might be a good place for him to encounter animals that are happy to be human companions, or possibly an animal shelter.
Although Jensen hasn’t mentioned anything about wanting to meet animals, they do play a large roll in human’s lives, and he doubts Jensen has come across many animals other that the ones that live in his meadow.
Some of the other items on Jensen’s wishlist might take a little more planning. As they walk along, Jared comes up with a list of phone calls to make when they get home. In the meantime though, a couple questions pop into his head. “Jensen, how old are you?”
“I have lived through one hundred and four seasons.”
At first Jared thinks Jensen means he’s one hundred and four years old, but even though he doesn’t know what the normal lifespan of a fairy is, one hundred and four just doesn’t seem right. “Seasons? Do you mean like spring, summer, fall, and winter? That kind of season?”
“Yes,” Jensen says, drumming his small, bare feet against Jared’s collarbone. What with the long-sleeved shirt and the jacket Jared is wearing, he only feels a light tapping.
Some quick math gives Jared the answer in human terms. “Um, so that makes you twenty six years old.”
A particularly thick growth of vegetation blocks their path, and he has to push his way through, angling his body sideways to shield Jensen from getting whipped across the face by twigs and foliage.
Jensen hums noncommittally which leaves Jared in doubt as to whether the little fairy knows what a year is or not. He gets the feeling that Jensen doesn’t much care. It’s interesting the things that spark his curiosity and the things he couldn’t care less about. Age and time seem to fall in the latter category.
Jensen’s feet begin drumming faster. “It is early yet. What will we do for the remainder of the day? It is the first day of our Grand, Super-Awesome, Fantastical Odyssey Into the Human World. I can’t wait to hear what we will do first.”
“Well, that’s for you to decide. I’ll tell you what kinds of things might meet your requirements, and you tell me which ones sound interesting to you.”
With Jensen’s loquacious personality enhanced by his excitement, they spend the rest of the trek talking over the possibilities. By the time they get back to Jared’s house, they have a rough plan for the next seven days all lined out, and Jensen’s enthusiasm has rubbed off big time.
Jared finds himself grinning in anticipation, a light, buoyancy in his steps.
This is going to be so much fun!