This bridges to the last installment of Part 2.  All that’s left is Gary’s visit with Robert, escalating to a meeting of some/several of the Council, and whatever political fallout there is of that.

Then they all go to Mass on Sunday.  Henge has a seizure and Part 2 ends.  After the resolution of the seizure; I’m an ass but not that big of one.

Fussy was putting a plate with an egg and some bacon before her brother while Henge rooted about for her next meal, finding it about the same time she set out an empty plate for her new ‘sister.’

Henge set what looked like a shrink-wrapped block of tofu onto the plate and hesitated.

“Need a fork?” Faustina called from the kitchen.

“I just don’t know if I should open these outside… just in case…” Gary barely heard her say as she unwrapped it. “Yes, please, Faustina!”

Gary detected something cheese-like but not repulsive. He watched her cut a slice with her fork and toss it to the back of her mouth.

“Not… bad, I guess,” she concluded.

May we try some?! His sister asked with excitement at something novel.

It would likely tear up your GI tract and provoke a cholera-like response, Dorina tells me, so no.

The creak of stairs heralded their mother coming down to join them. Gary saw she had already showered and dressed.

“Father MacDonald told me to bring you by first thing, Henge, around eight or eight thirty,” she looked at her watch, “and it’s seven fifteen right now… Did you want to shower before you go? I thought we could also do some shopping for some clothes for you, too.”

“Yes, ma’am! Please let me finish my morning meal,” she blinked, “called breakfast, first.”

“Your first shower? Faustina could help – ” Gary began.

“No,” Henge corrected him, “my first was yesterday after I had a little accident coming home with your father. I really don’t recall much of what was done to me… Mrs. Hartmann? May I shower with Gary so that he can show me how to do it properly?”

“I seriously doubt that’s what Big Bro would be showing you!” his sis laughed so hard she was crying. “Finish whatever that is and meet me upstairs. I’ll find something for you to wear and walk you through getting cleaned up properly! Can’t have a Hartmann looking slovenly, can we!”

“Fank,” Henge swallowed first. “Thank you for making me older and taking care of me.”

Faustina stopped at the foot of the stairs and spoke without turning.

“I think what you did is wrong, Henge. But you are family; I will kill and die for you.”

She ran on up the steps.

“Such drama!” their mother sighed. “Did she make the chicory coffee, too? Thanks be to God!”

“With both of you up there, I know the water heater will be empty,” Gary observed around a piece of bacon. “I’ll just rinse off in the backyard with the hose.”

Henge was about to protest but noted his mother seemed fine with that, so she said nothing and finished her breakfast.

“Thank you for the meal,” she said while standing and placing her palms together, as if in prayer, provoking laughter from Callie for some reason. She kissed Gary’s cheek. “See you in a bit!”

“That’s right… toothbrush,” Gary heard his mother say as she set down her mug to start a list. “We’re going to need quite a few things… Our budget for this month is going to be a disaster!”

“Made worse in a few more months once my little brother is here,” Gary frumped. “I really should get a job.”

He was headed for the deck when his mother yelled at him.

“Gary Hartmann!” He turned. She seemed genuinely angry. “Right now you are responsible for a life that has never before been seen on God’s green Earth! Priorities! Get your head screwed on straight and stop moping, mister!”

Chastised, he nodded.

“Yes, mother.”


Callie glanced in the rear view mirror at the lovebirds in the tiny back seat. That they abruptly starting talking a few hundred feet away from home confirmed what she suspected when they were getting Henge dressed: it was cooler and none of Fussy’s blouses would fit her. With a series of glances and tiny hand motions Gary had gone to his room and returned with an old long-sleeved shirt and jeans. She, too, speaks mind-to-mind.

“After the church visit, mother,” Gary spoke up, “can you drop me off at Robert’s? You know how I feel about shopping.”

“And how is that?” Henge asked, turned sideways under her seatbelt so she could focus on him completely.

“I loath it.”

“Ah!” Henge smiled. “That’s why your clothes are so patched and ratty!”

Callie was still laughing when they pulled into the empty parking lot. She explained as they walked in that the priest told her to meet them there rather than the Rectory. “But I’m not sure where he is…”

Henge stopped and gave a small tilt of her head to the right.

“He’s in an office,” she pointed right. “Just that way.”

“Th… thank you. Gary? Do as you please and we’ll be back in a bit!”

“Thank you, mother. I shall pray for my Intended’s soul.” He walked ahead a few pews and sat, pulled a kneeler down, and lowered his head.

Gone for only about ten minutes they returned, led by Father MacDonald. Gary stood to give a polite bow as they passed him on their way to the Baptismal Font. That’s right… just in case what happened in their home was invalid. Gary knelt again but watched the small ceremony. Following that he watched him anoint her head. Normally only a bishop could Confirm someone outside of unusual circumstances. With their bishop miles away in Chattanooga and Henge a new life form, this fell under the rubric of ‘unusual.’

Gary stood again as they came back. He took the priest’s offered hand.

“I bet this has been a momentous few days for you, Gary!” he said with a smile. From his Reconciliations, Gary knew that MacDonald understood completely what he felt for Henge. “When’s the blessed day?”

“Ah!” Henge cried from next to his mother.

“Years, yet. However, my father has indicated that,” he beckoned her with a thought; she slid into his right as if she belonged there, “if we can present a compelling argument, perhaps sooner.”

With a sidelong glance at his mother, the priest smiled at them both.

“Just know that you are surrounded by people who are praying for you!”

“Thank you, Father.” He tightened his arm about Henge. “We go.”

“See everyone at Mass on Sunday!” MacDonald cried.

Squeezing back into the car Henge noted Gary’s silence.

“Beloved?” she asked.

“Politics,” he breathed. “I do not like politics.”

“You might not be interested in politics…” his mother began.

“Yes, yes, I know, mother. I must do what I can to protect all of us… demi-humans.”

“Hmmm,” Henge mused, turning his head to give him a kiss. “Should I be offended by that?”

“Faustina would call it a compliment, so I don’t know. The red brick house on the left, mother.”

“Thank you, Gary,” she said slowing and stopping. “It has been awhile!”

He kissed Henge back and opened the door, pulling a printout from his back pocket as he did. Most of the city’s core has signal; stay in touch!

You too! Love you!

He turned toward the front door as they silently drove off.

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