I Wish Book 5: Chapter 20

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Shannon O'Reilly was bullied and everything his older sister wasn't. When his sister Sarah gives him a chance to change things through a single wish things don't go as planned.

 
 

I Wish: Book 5
Chapter 20
The Night Before Christmas

By
Amethyst
Rebecca rolled her eyes as she cut me off. “Geez, just go get ready for your date, you big sap. You were whining about being apart and missing her the whole time we were in that shitty excuse for a fantasy world.”

 


 
Author's note: Here's chapter 20 of book five of I Wish. It's been a while, but hey, extra-long chapter. Thanks once again to my readers for their support and to the Big Closet staff.

 

Jen, Beth, and the others spent most of the time over the next couple of days with their families while Rebecca got settled in with us. It was for the best since we were going into what was essentially Hell itself to fight the most powerful Demons in existence. I think that we all realized that some of us might not come back from this.

I was tempted to try to order my apprentice and her Familiar to stay behind, but I couldn’t for two reasons. First, like Rebecca, Lisa was just too determined to go and get revenge against Khinara. The second reason was that she was a Witch like me, and while she might not be near as powerful, she didn’t need to purify the magick energy there before using it, like those with Celestial powers would. And where Lisa went, Michelle would follow.

It was Christmas Eve, and last night I had put the strongest wards that I could imagine on the new house as soon as Rebecca, Ellie, and I had returned from our shopping trip. Sarah had cheated and used magick while in her Celestial form to unload the truck and put most of our stuff away while we were gone, after making sure that nobody was watching the house through the gates or something. She and Annie had also decided this morning that before returning the moving truck, they would use it to go get some bedroom furniture and stuff for what would be Rebecca’s room.

Now it was after lunch and Annie was on her way to return the truck while the rest of us were unpacking our bedrooms and trying to get organized. I took one out of Sarah’s book and cheated by using magick. I finished quickly that way and once I was done, I started helping Rebecca with her room. She didn’t have much stuff so it was basically just putting together her bed, vanity, and other bedroom furniture.

It was as we were working on her bed that my cell phone rang. It was Beth! I motioned to Rebecca that I was going to take the call and stepped out into the hall as she rolled her eyes and smirked at me. I had barely hit the icon to accept the call when Ziralin’s melodic voice said, “Hey, Babe, what are you up to?”

“I’m just helping Becca put her bed together,” I replied, smiling at the sound of her voice.

“Do you think you’ll have time to go out for a bit?” she asked hopefully. “Dad’s family is visiting tomorrow so I probably won’t see you until we leave for the cabin, but it’s Christmas Eve and I want to spend some quality time with my girlfriend. It feels like it’s been months since we did anything, just the two of us, and I’ve missed you.”

“It has been months, or close enough while we were in Nhekar,” I replied as my heart fluttered at the thought of us being alone together. “We didn’t really get much of a chance to be alone together during our brief stay with our troupe or while waiting to be ‘rescued’ either. I’ve missed you too. Can you come to pick me up?”

“Sure, I’ll be there soon, you live a lot closer than you used to. See you in a bit, Babe.” With that, she cheerfully disconnected the call and I turned to look back into Rebecca’s room to find her smirking at me.

“I… Beth wants to…” I started to explain.

Rebecca rolled her eyes as she cut me off. “Geez, just go get ready for your date, you big sap. You were whining about being apart and missing her the whole time we were in that shitty excuse for a fantasy world.”

“You’re going to be okay on your own?” I asked in concern. I felt kind of guilty about bailing in her and not thinking about her when I agreed to go out.

“This isn’t that hard to put together, Shannon, and it’s not like I’m alone here. Your sister, her girlfriend, and your cousins are all here too. Just go already,” she insisted.

“Okay, I’ll see you later then, Beks.” I gave her a hug, which she of course tried to squirm out of, and then I ran toward my room to get ready before Beth showed up.

~o~O~o~

I snuggled up next to Beth, enjoying both the heat of her body and the hot cocoa in my hands. We had come to Nathan Phillips Square to do some shopping, take in the big Christmas tree, and just relax for the first time in months. We just finished ice skating for over an hour and now we were sitting down for a well-earned rest and something hot to drink.

“This is nice,” I murmured contentedly into her shoulder as I snuggled closer. We were getting the occasional dirty looks for our public same-sex PDAs but I didn’t care. It was their problem, not ours, and if they didn’t like seeing us showing our love for one another then maybe they should stop staring.

There were other more friendly looks as well and at least nobody recognized us. Beth had placed glamours over both of us before leaving the house so we would be free to enjoy our date without being hounded by the press or people with cameras while in public. Unfortunately, since I wasn’t recognizable as a celebrity, some people seemed more inclined to give us hateful looks or hurl insults and slurs at us for our public shows of affection.

It was Christmas Eve; surely, these people had more important things to worry about than two girls kissing one another. I tried to put it out of my mind and just enjoy my time with my girlfriend. I guess that it was bothering her though too since she replied, “Yeah, I missed you so much while we were in Nhekar; it’s nice to have you to myself again. I could do without the audience though.”

Same here,” I admitted before finishing my hot cocoa as silence fell over us. The silence had stretched several minutes before I finally broke it again. “The shopping and skating were fun, my love, but maybe we should do something else. I’m getting cold anyway.”

“Sure, it’s almost dinner time anyway, Babe. Let’s go get something to eat.” With that decided, Beth stood up and extended a hand to help me to my feet. We both knew that it wasn’t necessary, but it was one of those casual considerate gestures that were just part of who Beth was, and that was something that I had missed.

We disposed of our cardboard cups in a recycling bin that already had several others inside and made our way toward my car to drive to a place that Beth had been wanting to try since before we left for Nhekar. It was an old-fashioned pizza parlor that she had heard good things about and thought might make an interesting place to have a date.

It looked to be quiet too, at least tonight. There were hardly any cars outside, so I dropped the glamour that my fiancée had placed on me and she changed to her Beth glamour so we could both be ourselves again, or at least as close as could be allowed while around non-magical people. Then we stepped out of the car and walked into the pizza parlor while holding hands.

The place had a family atmosphere and it was almost like stepping back in time. It was all wood flooring and brick walls with Italian-themed décor and photos on the walls, cozy booths along the outside, and some larger tables in the center for parties or big families. There was a window into the kitchen where you could watch the cooks tossing pizza dough and near the bathrooms was an old pinball machine and a couple of old arcade games like Pacman.

We headed toward a corner booth that would offer some privacy and since it was Christmas Eve and the place wasn’t very busy, a waitress was there almost immediately to drop off menus and take our drink orders. The waitress, a pretty woman in her late teens or early twenties, was wearing a nametag that identified her as Maria. She looked to be of Italian descent and despite having to work on Christmas Eve, her smile seemed genuine.

We both ordered a Coke and then looked over the menu. There wasn’t too much variety there, but then Beth said that this place was mostly known for its pizza and wings. They may not have much variety, but what they did serve, was supposed to be delicious. Half of the menu consisted of various types of pizzas, some that I had never heard of before. It also showed a wide variety of chicken wing flavors that could come with fries, onion rings, or their signature potato wedges and ranch dressing or other dipping sauces.

Maria returned fairly quickly with a tray bearing our drinks and I was a bit surprised when she deposited an empty chilled glass in front of each of us and a small pitcher filled with Coke and a little ice between us. There wasn’t enough ice to water the drink down, just enough to keep it cold. Once the pitcher and glasses were placed on the table, our server smiled at us and asked, “So, what can I get for you girls tonight?”

We had already decided on sharing and trying to get a good taste of what the place had to offer. “We’ve never been here before, so we’d like to try a few things,” Beth replied as she returned the smile. “Could we get a small deep-dish Classic, and an order of a dozen hot wings with potato wedges?”

“Good choice,” Maria offered with a grin. “Some of the fancier pies are nice once in a while, but nothing beats a classic pepperoni. How hot do you want your wings? We have mild, spicy, and five-alarm. I can always have them put the sauce on the side if you’re not sure if you can handle the heat. And did you want any dipping sauce?”

“Could we get the five-alarm sauce on the side for me and some ranch dressing for her?” I inquired. I knew that Beth didn’t like things too spicy but I wanted to feel the heat.

“Not a problem. I’m a spice girl myself, but not everyone can handle it, it’s nice of you to consider your girlfriend like that. You make a cute couple by the way. Is there anything else I can get you?”

I guess that she recognized me after all, but I appreciated her not making a big deal about it. Beth and I looked at one another for a moment before both shaking our heads, “I think that’ll be enough. Thanks, Maria,” Beth said after a moment.

“It’s my pleasure, it’s been quiet tonight and I needed something to do,” Maria replied with a laugh. “Dad says it keeps me out of trouble. It should be about fifteen minutes, but if you need anything else while you’re waiting, just holler.”

With that, Maria gave a little finger wave and headed back in the direction of the kitchen. Once she was out of hearing range I said, “We are giving her such a big tip. She seems so nice and it’s gotta be rough working on Christmas Eve when you should be with family.”

“Actually, I think this place is family-owned and operated,” Beth offered. “That’s part of the charm; there aren’t many places like that anymore.”

“Well if the food tastes as good as it smells, then I can see why they’re becoming so popular. It’s a nice place, I wouldn’t mind us all coming here together if…” I trailed off, not really sure how to finish that sentence, or if I wanted to.

Beth reached across the table to take my hand in hers. “Shannon, what’s wrong? You’ve been quiet for most of the night and I can feel in the back of my mind that you’re worried about something.”

I looked away and poured some Coke from the pitcher into my glass with my free hand as I mumbled, “I’m trying to enjoy our time together. I’ve missed you and if… what if this is our last date?”

“Shannon, I love you more than anything, we’re going to be together for a long time if I have any say about it.”

My voice was barely loud enough to carry across the table to her as I choked out my next words and tried to hold back my tears. “We’re going to Heil, Beth, and if these other Demon Generals are anywhere near as powerful as Khinara was when we first met, some of us might not be coming back. We barely came back from Nhekar. I thought you died when I couldn’t feel you anymore, and I couldn’t bear it. I… don’t think that I can handle losing you again. I don’t want to lose any of you.”

Beth squeezed my hand hard enough to be uncomfortable, and when I looked up at her, she shook her head. “Stop that, Shannon. We can’t afford to be second-guessing or doubting ourselves, we need to work together, use our heads, and be confident…”

“I’m being a realist,” I interrupted as I wiped at my eyes with the sleeve of my hoodie. “These are powerful Demons and everyone who uses Celestial forms to fight is going to be at a serious disadvantage there. But you can’t afford not to because that’s the only power that will let you have any chance against them. The rest of us won’t have that disadvantage, but Rebecca, Lisa, and Michelle aren’t powerful enough to stand toe to toe with something like that.”

“Yeah, we have a disadvantage there, and the Demons will know that,” she admitted quietly while still gripping my hand in hers. “It will make them overconfident though, and we’ll have those okka crystals that you filled with purified magick energy too. That gives us an ace in the hole that they won’t know about. And didn’t Sarah mention that she was making some sort of emergency escape artifacts for all of us in case things go bad? None of us wants to die, and if things get too hot we’ll run away to fight another day.”

“I know that, I just…”

“You have to believe in and trust us, Shannon. Just like we do you. We’re family and friends, that’s what we’re supposed to do when things are rough,” she insisted.

“I do trust you, and I know that you can handle yourselves in most situations, but this isn’t most situations. Unexpected things could happen. I almost lost Sarah once, and I thought I lost you. Promise me, my love, promise me that if something happens that you can’t handle, that you’ll use your escape artifact, even if you have to leave me behind,” I pleaded silently as I looked into her eyes.

“No.” The reply was simple and left no room for misunderstanding. “I’m your Familiar, Shannon, your partner, and someday I’m going to be your wife. No Demon is going to stand between me and that, I don’t care how strong he is. My place is at your side, it always has been and it always will be. We’re going to face and beat all of this shit together, side by side, because that’s what partners do.”

“I…” the words lodged in my throat and I found myself having to wipe at my eyes and take a sip of my drink to steady myself. She was being foolish, but loyal, and it was one of the most romantic things that she had ever said to me. I shouldn’t have expected anything else from my soulmate, and while it worried me it made me happy in a way as well. Still, I had to try one more time. “Xuriel believed that it’s my destiny to face the Demon King alone.”

Beth still wasn’t having it. “To Hell with that, Shannon. We make our own destinies, and mine is at your side, where I belong.”

I knew that I could have gone to Heil alone and nobody could have stopped me, but I also knew deep down that as much as I wanted to leave them at home where they would be safe, I needed Ziralin, Sarah, and the others with me. Xuriel had failed because she had tried to go alone, without people that she trusted to fight alongside her and I couldn’t repeat her mistake. This was their decision to make too, and I couldn’t take that away from them.

“I guess I’ll have to keep you safe then,” I said with a sigh.

“We’ll keep each other safe, isn’t that part of the whole Witch/Familiar package?” Beth replied with a weak smile and a squeeze of my hand.

“Yeah, it is,” I agreed.

We were quiet for several minutes after that, just holding hands across the table and occasionally sipping at our drinks until Maria arrived with our food. The pizza was very good; not too greasy, wonderfully cheesy with a thick soft crust, and they weren’t stingy with the pepperoni. The sauce had a slightly tangy and spicy taste that I really liked too. The potato wedges and wings were both lightly breaded and crisp on the outside but tender and cooked to perfection inside, and the breading was just spicy enough to add a hint of flavor without taking away from the chicken or potatoes they were coating.

I dipped both my wings and wedges in the five-alarm sauce but after I gave Beth a brief taste with a kiss, she stuck to her ranch dressing. It was too spicy for her. It was almost too spicy for me, and I loved it. I really wanted to come back here with the others when we got back from Heil to celebrate. Beth was right, I had to believe we were going to beat the Demon King and his Generals, all of us together, and that nothing was going to stand in our way.

All too soon, it was time to go home and I left Maria a fifty-dollar tip when we left for the great service and as a bit of a Christmas gift. Then Beth drove me home, where we fogged the windows for a while with our enthusiastic kissing before finally parting. When I finally stepped back into the house after a final kiss and parting declarations of our love, everyone else had seemingly gone to bed early after a long day. Everyone except Sarah, who called me into the kitchen.

“Hey, Sis, how was the date? You look a little less tense,” she casually commented as she poured a mug of mint tea and motioned for me to join her.

“It was good. Is it really that surprising that I’ve been tense after what we’re going through, and what we’re preparing for?” I pointed out defensively.

“No, it’s not,” Sarah agreed, “but you don’t have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. I know that you want to, Shannon, but not even you can protect everyone all of the time. You’ve been watching everyone in the house like you’re memorizing our faces the past few days, and then there’s Rebecca.”

“What about Beks? Is she okay?” I asked in concern.

“That, right there,” my sister replied with a sigh. “You’re hovering around Rebecca whenever you’re at home. I know that you feel responsible for her situation and want to take care of her, but part of being a big sister is knowing when to give them some space and let them make their own mistakes.”

I stayed quiet for a couple of minutes, staring at my tea. “What if those mistakes can get them hurt, or killed?”

“Then you make sure you’re ready if they need you and trust in them to ask for help if they get in too deep. See how it plays out and trust them to take care of it themselves, and if they can’t then you can jump in and protect them. Like I did the night that we fought Vargas.”

“Sarah, you damn near died trying to sacrifice yourself,” I pointed out.

“And I would do it again if I had to, but living to see the woman you’re growing into would be much better. I’m proud of you when I think of how far you’ve come and what you’ve handled, but I’ve been mostly watching you handle these things on your own, and you’ve done admirably,” Sarah told me gently.

I sipped at my tea and stared at the table. “I’m sensing a ‘but’ here.”

She nodded and placed her hand on mine. “When you need me, I’m there for you, but I give you the space you need too. How would you feel if I was always hovering and trying to intervene at the slightest hint of danger? I know that you want to keep everyone safe, but you have to accept that sometimes, that means giving them the tools to do it for themselves and taking a step back until you truly are needed. You’ve given Rebecca those tools, and the rest of us have our own toolboxes. Count on us to use them the best way that we can. If we need you, then we know you’ll be ready to jump in and protect us. Constantly focusing on protecting us when we may not need it is a distraction, and that will only place you in danger. None of us wants that any more than you want it for us.”

I let out a long sigh. She was right, just like Beth had been right about facing things together and protecting each other. “I guess I have a lot to learn about being a big sister… I’ll try to trust you all more too. Just… don’t die on me again.”

“I’ll do my best, Sis,” she promised before leaning over to muss my hair. You’re still pretty new at the big sister role, but I think you’re doing a pretty good job with both Elsaishe and Rebecca.”

“Only because I have the best teacher,” I replied as I forgot my tea for the moment and stood up to go wrap Sarah in a hug.

We stayed there in one another’s embrace for a few minutes before Sarah gave me a quick kiss on the forehead. “I should get some sleep, Shannon. Sweet dreams and don’t stay up too late.”

© 2013-2023 Amethyst Gibbs
All Rights Reserved
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Comments

Thanks Dot

Amethyst's picture

I had a hard time getting this chapter started because I just wasn't feeling that there was enough emotion for what I wanted in it. I dithered a while as I tried to get it right.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3

I've missed this story

Wendy Jean's picture

Thank you for writing it, I get the feeling it was written around Christmas? I will be looking forward to more.

Yup

Amethyst's picture

Most of it was written just before Christmas, appropriate since it matched the time in the story, but I was having issues finishing the chapter in a way that I liked.

*big hugs*

Amethyst

ChibiMaker1.jpg

Don't take me too seriously. I'm just kitten around. :3