Seamus Gets Comfy
At that point Thea had decided eating like a pig ought to be a life-threatening experience thing.
She sat back at the other end of the diner table, sipping grudgingly her third coffee. The waitress came tentatively closer.
-Do you need something else...?-
-Yeah, yeah. Bring it all.-
They both eyed the increasing pile of almost-cleaned plates and empty packets sprawled on the tablecloth. The waitress’s eyebrows steadily climbed up her forehead as a pleased grunt rose from it, and she scampered back to the counter. Thea put down her mug.
-You sure ya don't want to take a break?- She asked to the pile.
Well, not exactly at the pile of course, but at the man behind it, who deigned himself to lift his head from his pancakes plate. Back at the hospital the nurses had found him a pair of fleece pants and a T-shirt almost his size; with that, all thrown over the gaunt shape and various rounds of gauze, the resemblance with a war refugee was remarkable.
The shirt was a Lucky Charms one. Dr. Magnus had laughed his ass off with that.
Thea's only reward was a glare. -Dun' 'alk wid me, coun-th’f!- He munched imperiously, slashing the ketchup bottle at her.
Thea sighed. -Sure. Whatever ya want.-
When she dragged herself back to the A&E to collect her good action, the guy was up and no friendlier than the night before. It had been curiously unsettling. People usually liked her, at least in the way that was not easy to turn into love but was nowhere near disdain; instead the guy had kept throwing her glares and scowls worth of mortal enemies. Thea didn't expect wide smiles, she still kind of nearly killed him, but still. He had however been surprisingly collaborative upon discovering what had been decided. He contented himself with frowning on the bed like a temperamental nine-years-old, growling at the offered wheelchair and letting the doc dragging him out of the ward and to the parking.
The diner had been the obvious next stop. It was the first true rule of her family: if you're angry or messed, go eat and try again. It was a Clan thing, and while he was obviously totally nuts, it didn't mean he wasn't also confused, groggy from painkillers and starving since God knows when.
Of course she had not calculated he would scarf down half of the diner's supplies.
-Look, I just can't get why you decided to come. You clearly dislike me, and it's mutual- Sure, Thea, smooth -so why the Hell did you accept?-
He swallowed a inhuman bite and leaned back on the chair, eyes wide and slightly outraged. It was what she had begun to call the "I Can't Believe You're So Dumb" look.
-I accepted because ye have me coin.- He licked the caramel off his fingers. -If a mortal finds a Leprechaun's coin, or stole it, then the bond is crafted. The Leprechaun cannot disappear nor charm them, not until a wish is granted, nor he could left their side if not commanded.-
-Peachy. So why don't you grant this wish and let's go both on our merry way?-
He looked even more appalled by her density. -Because, as I told already, I've been condemned in mortal form.-
-By a Pooka.-
Thea took a deep breath. There was the second issue with all this grand idea. The guy, Seamus, if it was his true name, had woken up still steadily persuaded to be a fairy. Better, a fairy prince cursed by magic. He had thought fitting to fill her with the whole story on their way to the diner, and all the while Thea had felt the unpleasant feeling of a trapped thing curling in her chest. She had never been comfortable with mental illness. People too aware to be ignored and not enough to follow human grammars? It sounded terrifying. And in plain sunlight, Seamus was insane. Nowhere near perfect either. The nose was hooked and too long, the forehead too bulging, and when annoyed his
She opted for playing along. -If you don't have your, uh, powers anymore, why the coin is still working?-
He let out a sort of bark, wobbling past the plates-tower. -Ah! Lass, the coin has nothing to do with me body. It is gold of dead kings and blood of spirits. It belongs to the earth and to her only he responds. As long as we too belong to her, the coin will be.-
-Well, you don't seem a lot pained right now.-
-I am. And I'll seek vengeance. But right now I'm alive, I'm thirsty and I'm hungry. Therefore, I eat.-
He rose his eyes, eyeing yearningly Thea's side of table. -Ye finish that?-
She waved at her milkshake. -No. Go with it.-
He jumped on it, clawing the poor remains of her dessert and using it to gulp down the last pancake. It reminded her keenly of her cousin at Christmas dinner, except that man was more bottomless than John. And half his size.
-How long have it been since you ate last time?-
-Uhm. 'Dunno. Nu' yar concerns, lass.-
He slammed a fist on the table, the plates clinging like scared birds. -Landlady, bring me ale!-
Thea leapt to smash a hand against his mouth. -Shut the Hell up! I told you, you can't go screamin' things around like that!- She managed to whisper and still sound murderous.
Seamus jerked back, freeing himself.-I'm not screamin' randomly. I'm calling for an ale.-
-Well, it doesn't seem too smart to drink while on pills and at ten in the morning.-
-Ye're an hassie - he punched the table again, shrieking louder. -Girl, I want ale!-
She tried to shut him with another stride, but he backed out of reach with a low growl. The middle-aged couple at the back of the diner shot them a glare. Again.
Thea took back her hand and decided they needed no more attention. She talked through clenched teeth. -Listen, what about another Coke and no more medieval-style shouts?-
Bribery worked wonderfully. Seamus shrugged, forgot to have a functioning but aching shoulder and flinched. He seemed totally unable to move carefully: he fumbled around his long limbs and slammed them around an average of five to seven times at hour. She had actually found someone clumsier than her.
He however got back sucking sugar flakes from his thumb, looking calmer.
-So that is? We’re stuck like this?-
-Aye, coin-thief. Although I can decide to get rid of you.-
-And I can decide not to pay your bill.-
He gave her a puzzled look over the brim of his still-unfinished Coke, and she gestured it away. Threatening him wasn't even satisfying.
The waitress came back, balancing Seamus's third bowl of cereals and a very pre-made smile. She probably saw them as a couple, given it was the standard reaction to a man and a woman linked together, but they still shouldn’t make a lot of sense.
The pre-made pink smile leaned on Thea.
-Here I am, ma’am, sir.-
-You want me to make a bit of space? It’ll be better to eat on…-
-Just put the damn thing on the table.-
Mrs.O’Riley’s Students & Ladies Pension was a little adorable thing made of maroon bricks crouched by the campus entrance like a goblin. The casing had been white a long time ago and among the shiny bright-painted wood of Galway center it looked almost grouchy, but it seemed unmoved by both rainstorms and hurling winds. It had taken less than two days for Thea to call it home.
-Well, here we are. Some basic rules. This is not a one-family place and it is not mine, so you really should try not to…-
It was only when she took out the keys she realized it.
Thea slumped a bit against the door. She evaluated the option to ask Eason for political asylum.
-Okay. Okay, that’s the plan. Come behind me and do it fast and silent, okay?-
-You can’t order me around, coin-thief.-
-Just do it.-
She threw Seamus a rapid glare and he did the exact face of her cat when brought to the veterinary. Satisfied, Thea turned the key in the lock with care. She took a peer through the crack of the door, glimpsing the horrid oil-landscapes hanging from the walls and a stripe of Bordeaux carpeting. All clear.
Pushing the crack a bit wider she slipped an ankle-boot in the hall. Then it was turn of a knee, a hip and half a boob, until she managed to squeeze herself on the other side. Silence around, Ninja mode. She turned back with a grin.
Outside Seamus looked at her with utter distaste.
-C’mhere you.- She gestured wildly at the parlor. The guy humpfed, scowled, and finally deigned her to step in. She rushed him towards her flat corridor. Thea dared a smile. They could do it, they could.
-Oh, Saints preserve us.-
No they couldn’t.
A slippers-shuffling floated from the kitchen door, and with it Mrs.McGoran.
Mrs. Rosy McGoran was Thea’s landlady, and she looked like an Irish mix of Tweetie’s Granny and a wood witch. Thea was not particularly tall, but the good ol’ lady barely reached her shoulders, thin and ruddy as dried cranberries. The impressive collection of pastel-colored jerseys and the coffered gray hair held on the Granny look, but the green eyes twinkling behind her glasses belonged to a girl. A fairly badass girl.
Mrs. McGoran eyed Thea, the door and then Seamus. Everything got registered.
-Oh, Thea me darlin’.- She chirped. -Where have ye been all nigh’? I got worried.-
-Ah, I was, working. Doing things, you know.-
She did a curvy smile to Seamus. -And who’s this young fella?-
-It’s, Seamus Berr. I think. He’ll stay here for some days.-
-I see. Is he your special friend?-
Thea had thought explaining everything would be embarrassing. Oh, girl, so naïve.
-Ah, no, no. He’s my, cousin.-
-He’s staying with me for some health issues.-
Seamus stepped in most unhelpfully.
-She stole my coin after trying to kill me.-
-Oh, nothing. Just some coin I should give him.-
-Not until I grant her my magical powers, however.-
Mrs. O’Riley considered them for a long moment. The concern on her face was somehow even more alarming.
–-Thea me dear, you’re a fair lass. You do not need to turn to certain practices.-
Kill me now.
-Okay, we gotta go, go now. Come, Seamus.-
She half-dragged him towards the corridor, thanking cosmic order her flat was on ground floor. The maroon-walled vaguely potatoes-stinking corridor, no racism intended, it was true, had never looked so moving.
Mrs.McGoran’s voice followed her. -It was not intended as a offense, dear!-
They got at her door in no time. She could almost feel the grin pressing against her head, and what had all the looks of a goofy sneer.
She shoved the keys in the lock, heard them clacking. Home, at last. Couch. Pc. She could think about where to dig her Shame Grave in another moment.
-Here we are. My home. Set yourself.-
Thea pushed the door open with an half-bow. Seamus limped, but in a very noble way, eh, in her hall.
Thea’s house was nothing more than usual student flats, but over them it had two remarkable advantages: no flatmates to please or to hate, and the exquisite adult possibility to scream her head off if someone made too much a mess on the second floor. In the last months she had grown pretty fond of the granny-style curtains at the kitchen’s window, the greenish fluffy rug under the couch and the comforting crappiness of the whole thing. Fresh light gave off on her azure wallpaper. Her leather armchair had arrived from Santa Barbara just a week before, and somehow the couch could be transformed in a decent bed for any guest.
Said guest was standing by the rug, silent. Thea sucked at interpreting silences.
-So? What do you think of it?- Precisely.
Seamus didn’t answer, turning slowly around. He picked up her fancy bunny lamp from its table, eyebrows arched. -Ah! Madness!-
-Ehy, put that down. I paid it eighty bucks.-
The eyebrows skyrocketed. –You pay things in deers?-
-No, I. Never mind.-
She closed the door and slipped out of her coat, watching him. He moved around dramatically, in the perfect interpretation of the Sneaky Guy, looking sharply at his back, muttering words under his breath. He changed expression one hundred times at minute, but his favorites seemed to be the Reproachful and the Grinning. She watched him probing the pile of boxes she had yet to undo, the photos lined in the bookshelves’ spaces. He blocked by the couch. –Ah!-
He hopped on the cushions with a move that was surely meant to be careless, but he landed on the injured arm and squeaked a curse. He recovered fast, however.
-Mh, this is interesting. Bouncy.-
Bouncy? –Uh, sure. Can you take off the shoes however? It’s not mine.-
Back at the hospital no one had found him a suitable pair of shoes, so he was still wearing his boots. They squashed at every step like moving puddles of mud. Irish weather was not the best for drying leather.
Seamus arched an eyebrow even higher, and stretched more.
-Ah, never mind.-
She walked around the coffee table, ruffling free her hair, and plopped on her armchair. It greeted her with a good gneek.
The house felt suddenly very very silent.
Oh no. Here they were, the silence, she hadn’t thought about it but it had arrived, the damn silence. She squirmed, tapping the leather. She was a mess with silence. Always been, since her fourteen-old first date, and the ones after that. She frenziedly scanned topics. Sport. Weather. Work. No, work no. No awkward comments, just no awkward comments. She began to tap faster.
Then Seamus let out a groan. – How do you endure this? This being so needy, and sweaty, and aching, and hungry. It’s miserable.-
-Well, it’s pretty normal. We call it Not Being Superman.-
She laughed a bit, he didn’t. He cringed instead, until his gaze fell on her gilded Coca Cola keychains. He let out a tinkling noise, almost throwing himself off the couch to grab it. -Uh, this is grand. Shiny.-
Seamus shook the keychains, tearing off a nice jingling sound. He smiled and she had no doubt it was a real smile.
Seeing him Thea felt a shift, a surge of something that pushed up in her chest and filled it with warmth. She swallowed. She sat straighter on the armchair, leaning in.
-So. Seamus. I was wondering… You want to know something about me?-
Jingle jingle. –No.-
Jingle jingle jingle.-Why should I?-
-I, I don’t know. I suppose if I was brought at home by a stranger without knowing nearly anything about him I’d feel deeply embarrassed.-
Since when did she sound like a British Granny?
He laughed, a high-pitched, sneering thing that made her cringe. –Ah! I know more than enough about you already, lass. You’re a mortal, you stole me coin-
-I swore you I-
-And, you tried to kill me. It’s more than I know about half of my enemies.-
This is not going well. -No, no. Listen, I’m really sorry about all this mess, okay?- She talked softly. -I can understand that you’re having a bit of a rough time taking in all that, so if there is something, anything that can make you feel better, tell me.-
That seemed to catch his attention. He sobered, adjusting back on the couch, the keychains lowered on his knees. He sat straight and still in front of Thea. Blue eyes considered her solemnly.
-Kill that bloody traitor of a Pooka.-
-…You know what? Think about it.-
She leaned in to pat his hand. Thought better. –Now I’m gonna make some tea.-
She was patting to the kitchen before seeing his face.
Thea got in her open kitchen with no desire for a tea. She went to the kettle and put it on mechanically.
For the first time she took in the total dumbness of her move. Reality was wrinkling back to normal size. She was still Thea Hudson. She had still to write five pages of Anthropological observations to keep up with the April deadline, and there was the laundry, crap, she left there her winter cloak, and the library card to update, and her family and her friends calling tomorrow because they didn’t know anything about car accidents and mad Irish guys. Her life hadn’t stopped. She needed to kill Dr. Magnus.
And in all that, the man in her living room was a man. She could perceive his presence on the other side of the wall, his body shuffling on the tartan of her couch. It was not exactly a sexual thing; it was more of a possibility of things, and it usually operated on Thea like an half-lobotomy. Getting harder to talk, to think straight. It was a problem. How she was supposed to take care of him if she felt so damn girl?
Thea bit her lip and concentrated on the rows of fancy flavored teas in front of her. Yes, a big, noble dumb move.
-Don’t move too fast there. It doesn’t help when you feel dizzy.- She felt the duty to advise. Her only dreadful experience with merry-go-round taught her better.
-Uhm.- More shuffling and bouncing springs.
–What are you trying to do there?-
The bounce got even louder, and then stopped suddenly.
-Coin-thief. It’s not getting better. Ugh.-
Thea froze. It was the exact kind of grunt you got before throwing up the soul out of you.
Oh no. The couch. The umbrella stand.
It was a matter of priorities. Thea turned off the kettle, swirled around and rushed back in time to shriek “the umbrella stand the stand go to the umbrella stand!”