Before the ugly comments start: I just write down what I’m shown. I can tinker around the edges but, as I’ve said, it’s like being given a new house with the rough carpentry complete… I can pick the paint, carpets, appliances, but am stuck with working within what I am given.
Saying all that to say this: NO, I did not see this coming. I did anticipate a gentle resolution based upon Tay’s and Pavel’s words to one another (honestly, I thought they would become a couple) and my writer’s hackles were coming up when a very junior Machine, with a history of mental illness, began to press the most dangerous person on earth. And Reina, having her ass metaphorically handed to her by Gary’s sister, I thought could think her way out of anything. Shows what I get for thinking.
Thanks to everyone for following along. As this was generated from nothing more than an offhand comment on an out-of-the-way social media platform, the level of detail called for from me was a bit of a surprise. Unlike my current MS project, which is still something of a chore, this was tremendous fun and I hope to do it again, soon.
“Paul,” Pavel reflected, noting that Tay was looking back and forth between the two, riveted by their words, “was the Apostle to the Gentiles. I was a lost, insane mind who experimented on children. But, they are now either healed…”
He looked over his shoulder at his friend.
“Or have become a new form of human evolution. Faustina, for example.”
When Reina clenched her fists in anger, the metal sheeting surrounding the pool area rattled and swayed in protest.
“So,” he continued, having gotten the most dangerous Machine off-balance, “what is to be done? You have a claim, sorry, a stake, as do I, with Tay. What did you call her?”
Time was odd in a Machine’s construct. Gary wondered if an hour passed before she answered.
“The Barrett tribe, now the Rigós and Hartmanns,” Pavel ignore Reina baring her teeth, “have made us older about family.”
He lifted Tay’s hand with his.
“She needs a mother. Not just a father.”
Past them, Gary saw Dorina’s jaw drop.
“I agree,” Reina said with no tone. She took Tay’s other hand. “Until she leaves us, you are my husband.”
“You are my wife,” Pavel said with some formality. “Let us love our daughter.”
“We shall,” Reina agreed. “We go.”
“What do you mean? Tay is in no condition to move in the Void…” Pavel began.
“Did you just contradict me, Cousin?” she snarked.
“The term you should use is ‘husband,’ and yes, I did,” he replied, not backing down. “We must consult with Dorina about the safest way to move – ”
“You forget who you are and who I am. Husband.”
“You think because you lord it over a human empire…!”
“Hey!” Gary shouted at them both. Pavel looked surprised but the two women’s looks could have killed him. “You just held up my family as an example, my friend. So here’s a little advice: parents do not argue in front of their children!”
Pavel immediately turned to Tay.
“Did we make you sad?” he asked.
“Y… yes. And scared. Will you and my new mother leave me?” she cried.
“No.” He again took her into his arms. “And I am sorry. I am young at this. Please tell me when I upset you.”
Pavel looked at Reina. Who, Gary thought, looks as if she just swallowed a bug. Not able to bring herself to hug them, she placed a hand on both of their shoulders.
“I…” her voice caught. She tried again. “I shall be older. I, too, am sorry.”
Dorina fainted dead away at that admission.
“Well, now,” Gary said, walking around the new family, giving them plenty of room, “Since you said you cannot move without Dorina’s help, why not take down these metal shutters…”
He hefted the addled loligoth up into a white plastic deck chair. When he touched her, he perceived her True Form: a carnival.
“…and teach Tay how to swim? You taught me, Friend Pavel, all those years ago, so I know you are an excellent coach.”
“You will not flee,” Reina said to her new daughter. It was a command, not a question.
“I will not.”
With a deafening tear of rending metal, the natatorium’s defense was gone. The ochre light of the Tohsaka construct streamed in.
“Let’s get changed,” Pavel announced. “Can you swim, Wife Reina?”
“No. And I do not…” She paused to look into Tay’s shimmering eyes. “Hell. Fine.”
Sometime later, with those three in the shallow end, Dorina gave a great sigh and sat up, taking in the miracle before her.
“What just happened?” she asked.