Dave opened his eyes. He was sitting in his chair again, back to normal. Or had he ever been otherwise? He shook his head, blinking rapidly. Had that just been a dream? It seemed far too real.
Looking down, he saw that Tillianianita was leaning back against his thumb, resting comfortably. She seemed to have recovered, and was singing a soft melody of contentedness.
He shifted in his chair and she glanced up at him, smiling. The song died away. “Thank you, Dave Thompson,” she said honestly. “That was what I needed. I feel much better now.”
He nodded at her. “Tilly, what just happened?” He hesitated, unsure of himself. “Did I really--I mean, did we--?”
“It was not real,” she answered, “nor was it dream. It is difficult to explain the deep illusion. The link between us is stronger than I ever imagined possible. It responded by letting us see and feel what we both wanted.”
“So you didn’t really--really shrink me?” He shuddered involuntarily. In the illusion, he had seemed to accept his small state as normal and natural, but now, it horrified him.
“No, she replied. “Was it so awful, then, being as small as I am?”
“Not at the time, I guess, but now...I wouldn’t like being that way, I don’t think.”
She sighed and gave a little shrug. “It is the only size I know.”
“At least now I know what it’s like for you,” he told her. “You must live in constant fear of us. No wonder your people left the park.”
“As I fear I must,” she replied. “Dave, I would stay with you, if I could, but I see now that it is not to be. You cannot care for me all the time, and I would trust no other.”
He nodded slowly. “Yeah, if I can’t trust my best friend to not take advantage of you, that must say something about the rest of humanity. And I’d hate to think what would happen if you fell into the wrong hands.”
“Then you will release me?”
“Of course,” he replied, though he knew it would be the hardest thing he’d ever done.
“Before that happens, I would see more of the world,” she told him. “You spoke of it as the land of Upstate.”
Dave laughed. “Close enough. Tell you what, I’ll call in sick tomorrow and drive you up there. They can do without me at work for a day--Lord knows I was hardly there today, anyway.”
“That would be wonderful,” Tillianianita agreed.
Chastened, Kyle Morris walked back to his apartment slowly, thinking about what had just happened.
The little fairy had been nice, he thought. For some reason he’d always gotten the impression they were sexless in the legends, though they had a female shape. Perhaps this idea came from watching Fantasia once too often. Regardless, he’d been pleasantly surprised to discover the one Dave had caught was just like a real woman in every way. Except that she had wings and was three inches tall, of course.
Surely Dave had noticed that by now, he thought. Of course he had, he just wanted her to himself! Yet even as this passed through Kyle’s mind, it did not ring true. Dave’s reaction had not been possessive, it had been something else. He considered that for a moment, then realized what it was. It was protective. Dave was protecting her!
Kyle reached his apartment at the end of the hallway. He went inside, still mulling things over, and sat down in front of his TV. He didn’t turn it on, however, but continued to think about the fairy. Dave had even given her a name, he recalled. Tilly, he had called her. Did he just make that up? Or were they talking somehow?
His eyes narrowed as he thought about that. She had not understood a word he’d said, either today or the night before. That much was obvious. Yet, Dave had spoken to her like she could comprehend him. What if they could communicate somehow? Yet how could the two of them talk and leave Kyle out?
What if it were magic?
Kyle laughed aloud. Magic! He had to be going nuts to be thinking about such a thing. But even as he doubted the whole concept, he realized something: Dave had a fairy in his apartment. A real fairy! There was no doubt she was real, either. He had checked that out himself. So if he could believe in a fairy, why not magic, too?
There was more, he realized. Dave had rushed into the apartment like he knew what was going on. He had somehow known Tilly was in danger. How was that possible, without magic? She had called him somehow, and he’d come to her rescue!
Kyle leaned back in the seat, his head swimming. This was no longer just an amusing sideshow. It had become deadly serious. The fairy was obviously influencing Dave with magic! What if she was charming him somehow, forcing him to do her bidding? He had heard her singing the night before, and it had been strangely compelling, though nothing he couldn’t handle. What if Dave had kept her in his room that evening, and she’d cast a spell on him overnight?
Kyle knew he had to do something, but what? If she had indeed charmed him, he had to break it, for Dave’s sake if nothing else. Though Dave had just thrown him out of his place, he was still Kyle’s friend. He had to help him somehow.
Kyle sat in the chair for a while, trying to figure out what to do. He couldn’t just go back over there alone, because Dave wouldn’t let him in, and even if he did, how could he be sure the fairy wouldn’t cast a spell on him next? No, he had to get help. But how?
He couldn’t just call up the police and tell them a fairy had cast a spell on his friend. He knew the response that would get! He thought about the FBI or someone else, but they’d laugh at him just as quickly. The X-Files was just a TV show, after all. Too bad. They’d be the perfect people to call.
He picked up the phone book and started absently flipping through it. He didn’t know what he was looking for--there were no fairy hunters in New York, at least not in the Yellow Pages! Calling the government was completely out, for obvious reasons. So was anyone in authority, really. No one would believe him. He had to find somebody willing to at least listen to his story, and not try to lock him up as some kind of nutcase. Plus, whoever it was had to be motivated to actually come see for themselves. Now who, in all of New York, would bother taking the time to check out a story about a fairy in someone’s apartment?
The answer occurred to him at once, and he picked up the phone, flipping quickly through the book to the page he was looking for.
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