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For the first time in his life, Xero handed his boarding pass to a cheerful and enthusiastic looking woman and boarded a plane. He’d made his way to Boston in a train and everywhere else had been greyhound buses and hitching, or the occasional stolen car. The plane ride was almost fun. Or it would have been, in other circumstances. Instead of really taking notice of the journey, he stared blankly out of the window. The clouds slowly rippled past and Xero sipped his lemonade. His mind wandered and he thought about what he would say when he finally arrived. The thought of it made his stomach turn and for a second he cast his eyes to the little paper sack provided. Taking a few shuddering breaths he readjusted his position in the seat and tried to slow his heart rate. The woman next to him glanced over, warily eying the young man with bloodshot eyes.

Eventually he scrambled in the backpack that rested by his feet and pulled out a notebook. He tore off a handful of pages and pulled down the little tray table to lean on. Xero wrote quickly, with the messy handwriting of a boy who never finished high school.

Dear Kate,

So I guess I’m a coward. Guess you’ll be disappointed, but right now I can’t even care about that. I can’t care about anything. And I don’t care what the rest of the kids will think about me. I’m gonna hand you this note so I don’t have to tell you the story. So I don’t have to say the words that I had to say to Grendel.

Riff died.

They came for me. Knocked me out and dragged me away. They took me back down the Mississippi. I don’t even really know who they were. Crazy Nephandi wannabes I guess, trying to raise my parents. They came to get me, trussed me up on some throne like the prince of the place... I dunno what they wanted. I don’t know what they expected. Anyway, by the time I got rescued and Raven had turned the whole town to nothing and I got back home, Riff was gone.

Took me three days to track him down. They had him in a hospital. The fuckers had kicked him and broken him. They cracked his skull. They had him on life support in this intensive care. I didn’t know what to do. Micky came to help, you know, like he does. They took him up to the Verbena Coven.
They couldn’t fix it.

After he died, I guess I kind of lost the plot. I took an axe to his big old reddish coloured tree they have up there. All the Verbena freaked out. I kinda ran off. I don’t really remember what happened after that. It hurt so bad.

I heard Micky say to someone, you know, that it wasn’t fair. Cause Riff Raff was just a kid, and he hadn’t even really figured out whether he liked girls or boys. That it wasn’t fair that he should die, just a casualty. He was just in the wrong place. In my bed.

They had the funeral today. All the kids were gonna bury him up at Hunter Moon, and then have a wake. You know, like they do. I couldn’t face it. I couldn’t deal with everyone talking to me, hugging me. Micky took me to the Spiritworld. I’ve never been there. Not like that. I saw Riff there. Micky let me talk to him and I said goodbye to him. It didn’t seem real. He wasn’t really him. I don’t know how to explain it. He seemed happy, peaceful, kinda grown up.

So I had to tell Grendel. I thought she would hate me. I basically stole her high school sweetheart off her. I don’t even know what I had with him. He was such a nice kid, and sweet and... she didn’t hate me.

Anyway. It was pretty much vital that I left Boston. I don’t know. I guess I thought maybe you would be someone who would be able to... oh, hell I don’t even know what. I need you Kate. And like I said to Mick, I need to not go to Cloven, who by the way is turning thirty in like four days. I’m weak and I want someone.

I know you know a lot about... well, a lot. And I feel like you’re my guide. I’ve never really lost anyone, not like this. And this is my first big relationship, you know where I feel strong and in control and like I know who I am. We had a good thing going on, and I didn’t have to pretend or do the stuff I used to. So I hope it’s ok that I’m fronting up on your doorstep again. I haven’t seen you since after the whole evil book situation. I hope you’re ok. I can’t say this stuff again. Not now. So I’m gonna hand you this letter and then kinda sit on the couch and wait for you to say something.

Just tell me Kate, does the dull ache go anywhere? Do you ever get over this? I’m kinda past the point of seeking revenge, or trying to think of an elaborate plan to raise him. I did think about it. I did stand outside someone’s house and wonder if I could force his spirit into someone’s body. Fucked up. I know.

That’s it. Plane’s landing. I’ll be in your house in no time. It feels like the house, being with you is a sanctuary. I need it. I’m sorry I’m so pathetic. I got nothing here. You know?

Ok. Well. I’m done. Thanks.

P.S.- A bunch of the kids have hepatitis. How bizarre is that? I so need to learn to heal. I want to be able to fix that stuff, and I want to be able to change me. I want to be in touch with the world. Like you are. Living life while it’s there.


Xero folded the paper and jammed it into his pocket. He walked in a trance off the plane and hailed a cab. The journey to Kate’s house was quiet, punctuated only with the sound of the cheerful music from the driver’s stereo. He climbed out of the cab and looked up at the building.
The doorbell chimed and he adjusted his backpack over his shoulder. Shoving his hand into his pocket he clenched his fingers around the letter.
The man opened the door and smiled at the boy in front of him.
‘Can I help you?’
‘Uhh... Is Kate here?’
The man shook his head and frowned. ‘Uh, I think maybe you have the wrong house?’
Xero sighed heavily. ‘No. This is Kate Merlin’s house. I know it is.’
‘Well, we just moved in here, so maybe you’re looking for the people who used to live here. Sorry. I don’t know where they went.’

Xero walked back out onto the street and leant against a lamp post. He could feel the tears stinging his face. He screwed his eyes up and felt his chest shaking with the strain of holding it together. People walked past him, ignoring him for the most part. Xero started walking. Aimless and alone.

Three hours past and he found himself a bar to sit in. He spent everything he had on drowning his sorrows. By the time they threw him out, he was so drunk he could barely stand. He wandered the streets again, stumbling and falling, somewhere, his backpack had gone missing. He walked into things, bumping people and slurring at them as they passed. He collided with a woman, nearly knocking her down and his vision swam as he tried to focus. Xero dropped his head and stumbled past. He felt someone grab his arm,
He turned and half focused on the blond woman staring at him with one eyebrow raised. He managed to slur out half of her name before passing out on her shoulder.

Bambi pushed open the door to their home, the home she had made, and wandered in. She gestured vaguely to the couch and the lovely young man who had offered her assistance placed her unconscious young friend down.
‘Thanks Rod, you’re such a sweetheart.’ She led him back to the door and yelled, ‘Call me!’ as he left.
Making her way upstairs, Bambi greeted the sun at the wrong end of the day, she was heading to bed, but the love of her life was just sipping her morning tea as the sun rose over San Francisco.
‘Xero’s downstairs. He’s drunk off his ass.’ She crouched beside Kate, resting her head on her shoulder. ‘I found this in his pocket. I guess it’s for you.’ She placed the letter into Kate’s hand. ‘Anyway. I’m going to bed.’
Kissing her lover on the top of the head, sleepy Bambi wound her way back down to the bedroom they shared, leaving Kate to the sun.



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