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Jackie and Jill: The New Kid
by Rodford Edmiston
This story is set in the Spring of 2007.
"I didn't mean it!" whined Jill.
"You're telling me that you didn't know that the cup you were drinking your Mountain Dew from was the same type they were using for the urine samples."
"Honest, Momma! I didn't even know what we were in line for!" Jill exclaimed. "An' it's not my fault that teacher freaked when she saw me drinkin' from the cup. I was in th' line to get the pee cups, so I hadn't even filled mine yet!"
"Other Pooka cause chaos and mayhem through deliberate, cunning plans," laughed How. "She does it by accident."
"I don't know why they're giving kids urine tests, anyway!" snapped Tina. "I thought that went out in the early Naughties, after all those lawsuits."
"Lisa says this is the best way to detect that new bug that's goin' 'round," Jill explained with authority. "So it's not like a drug test. It actually does somethin' good."
"My daughter, the Libertarian," said How, grinning.
He grabbed her and pulled her, squealing, in for a hug.
"Stop playing with her when I'm trying to be firm with her!" said Tina, though she couldn't help smiling.
"Hey, she said she was innocent!" How replied, defending his daughter.
"Then why didn't she tell the teachers that?" Tina demanded.
"I tried," said Jill. "I really tried. But they wouldn't listen. They just dragged me off to the nurse's office."
"If you weren't always getting into weird situations they might listen to you some time," said Tina, shaking a scolding finger at the girl.
"Yes, Momma," sighed Jill, still wanting to protest but realizing that would do no good.
"Anyway, since it was an accident I'm not going to punish you," Tina decided.
"Yay!" said Jill, jumping into the air, all seven fluffy white tails waving.
"And I'm going to talk to your teachers," sighed Tina. "Again. This time about not listening to students."
"Well, at least I'm not the only one," said Jill.
"What do you mean?" her Father asked.
"There's a new kid in our homeroom class," Jill explained. "He's a real nerd. Anyway, one of our teachers was trying to show a movie, and the projector was broken..."
"They're still using film and projectors?!" was Tina's startled question.
"Yeah. Anyway, it kept jamming, so the kid - Tony - said he could fix it but Mr. Bailey wouldn't listen to him and kept fiddlin' with it and finally broke the film so he went to get the janitor to fix it, but I don't know why a janitor could fix a projector."
"Breathe, Jill," said How, grinning. "Add some periods."
"Okay. Anyhow, by the time he got back, without the janitor, who told him he didn't know anything about projectors, Tony had the film running."
"And he got in trouble for that?" said Tina.
"No. When Mr. Bailey tried to stop the projector - and I don't know why he did that, since it wasn't finished showing the movie yet and he wanted us to see it - he did somethin' wrong and the projector started smokin' and set off the fire alarm."
"Is this Tony another kitsune?" How asked, only half joking.
"No. So, anyway, Mr. Bailey told the firemen and the principal that Tony was the one who broke the projector, and wouldn't listen when all the kids told them what really happened."
"That's typical," sighed Tina. "When did this happen? I don't remember you telling me about it."
"Uhm, Tuesday," Jill replied.
"I asked you when you got home Tuesday what had happened at school that day, and you said 'Nothin'."
"Oh, you meant that kind of stuff, too," said Jill, in sudden revelation. "I thought you just wanted to know about school stuff. Not the interesting stuff."
"When did I become my Mother?" sighed Tina.
How moved smoothly to her, giving her a reassuring hug.
"Never. Your mother did just want to know about 'school stuff,'" he told her, grinning.
"Anyway, Jackie and I and some of the other kids have been treatin' Tony nice 'cause the teachers have been punishin' him for burning up the projector when he didn't do it and it's the only one the school has left."
"I still want to know why the school is still using films and projectors in this day and age," muttered Tina.
"So when can I have Tony over for dinner?" Jill asked.
"Where did that come from?" Tina exclaimed.
"Well, I told you we're treating him nice," said Jill, in a tone indicating she thought the connection should be obvious.
"Honey, with our schedule right now, it may be a while," sighed Tina.
"If Jackie is helping too why don't you invite him to that party at her parents' place next Sunday?" suggested How.
"Uh, no, that's a bad idea," said Tina. "It's for shapeshifters and their kin, and includes a romp in the woods. On four legs."
"Oh," said How. He grinned. "I wonder if they need another adult?"
"Probably, but what's that got to do with you?" snickered Tina, elbowing him playfully in the ribs. "Besides, that's the day you have that showing in Cincinnati."
"Oh, yeah," sighed How. "My agent will be there, why do I have to go? I mean, if I get a reputation as a recluse that should help my sales."
"Not you," said Tina, smiling. "You're too charming in person."
"So when can I?" Jill repeated.
"I'll have to let you know later," sighed Tina. "Meanwhile, it's time for you to do your homework."
"No, you say 'Yes, Momma,'" said Tina, firmly.
* * *
"Good morning, Jackie!" Jill called out, waving.
"Hi, Jill," the taller girl replied, closing her locker.
She looked... irritated. Which, considering her background, was worrying.
"What's wrong?" Jill asked.
"Have you seen Tony yet?"
"His father grounded him for a month for breaking the projector."
"But..." Jill stopped, confused. "He didn't break the projector."
"Yeah. And he told his dad that. But his Dad believed the principal, and grounded Tony extra for lying."
"That's just not right!" said Jill, firmly.
"Yeah..." sighed Jackie.
"We should do something to make it up to him!"
"Like what?" asked Jackie, half in eager anticipation, half in wariness.
A smile spread slowly across Jill's face.
"Ooh, I bet this is gonna be a good one," said Jackie, cackling melodramatically and rubbing her hands together.
"We'll have to get our parents' permission," said Jill, cocking her head to one side. "And I think your Dad's help."
"Aw, that'll ruin it," muttered Jackie.
"This isn't for us," said Jill, firmly. "It's for Tony."
* * *
Tony was dreaming, his tear-streaked face pressed firmly into his dampened pillow. In his dream he heard a knocking sound, only it wasn't coming from his bedroom door. He got out of bed and went to his window. On the outside ledge perched a strange creature, fox-like, but human in shape, with a mass of tails, and with white fur. It winked at him, and motioned for him to open the window. Even in his dream, Tony hesitated. But while the creature was strange, it seemed harmless. Tony unlatched the window and pushed it up.
"Hi," said the fox creature. "Somebody wants to talk to you. Wanna take a ride on wolfback?"
Tony looked out the window where she pointed. There, looking back at him, was a HUGE HONKING WOLF! He shied back a bit, despite knowing this was a dream, and not a nightmare.
"It's all right," said the fox creature, grinning. "He's already been fed tonight."
The wolf snorted, and the fox girl (for now Tony could tell it was a young female) giggled. Tony couldn't help but smile. He knew he was grounded, and not supposed to leave the house, but this was a dream and didn't count.
The fox girl slipped off the window sill, and Tony climbed out. He walked slowly up to the wolf, and rather timidly patted it on the shoulder. It grinned, wolfishly, at him, and wagged its tail. Tony smiled back... then yelped in surprise as the fox girl boosted him up. The wolf started off, slowly at first but with gathering speed. Tony had expected the fox girl to ride with him - there was certainly enough room - but when he looked around she had changed shape into a pure white fox, with just one tail, and was running alongside.
They soon arrived at the small clearing in the woods by the park near Tony's home. Already there was a gathering of bizarre creatures there, apparently waiting for them. One was another multi-tailed fox creature, only an adult, male and with fewer tails. Also there were a couple of other foxy or wolfy creatures, without tails. But what caught his attention was the woman sitting on a fallen log. She was thin and beautiful, and had pointed ears and eyes so green they seemed to glow.
"Here y'go," said the fox girl, back in her nearly human form. "She wants to talk to ya."
Tony just stared... until the wolf sat with a thump, and the boy slid down his back. It looked around at him, again grinning in that lupine way, tongue hanging from its mouth. Tony gulped, and approached the lady.
"You seem unhappy, Tony," she said, smiling gently and laying a delicate hand on his shoulder. "What troubles you?"
"Nothin'!" blurted Tony. "Uh, Ma'am..."
She laughed a bit at that. Then sobered.
"You can't lie to me, child," she said, in a mild chastising tone. "You still have the marks of tears on your face."
"Ah, well, my Dad is punishing me for something I didn't do," said Tony, reluctantly.
"Does he make a habit of this?"
"Does he beat you? Is he ever intentionally cruel to you?"
Tony shook his head to both questions.
"Too bad," rumbled the wolf, startling the boy. "I don't get to eat him, then."
"Hey!" said Tony, alarmed and defensive.
"You don't want your father eaten, do you?" the lady asked, smiling.
"No, Ma'am!" was Tony's reply.
The lady, leaned back and nodded in satisfaction.
"Do you love your father?"
"Yes, Ma'am," said Tony, firmly.
"Does he love you?"
The boy nodded, just as assuredly.
"Does he keep loving you even when you make mistakes?"
Again, a mute nod, this one a bit ashamed.
"Well, then I think you should accept that he has made a mistake, and keep loving him," said the lady, nodding.
"Yes, Ma'am," said Tony, quietly.
"I think you can go home, now," said the lady, nodding. "Oh, and don't pay any attention to his "eating" remark. He has a rough sense of humor, but is a good sort."
Tony looked doubtfully at the wolf, who promptly flopped over on his back, all four huge paws in the air, and looked at the boy upside down. Tony couldn't help but laugh.
"See?" said the lady, also laughing. "Now, go. You may see some of us again, some time, but this is enough for tonight."
Tony sighed and nodded, then walked over to the wolf. It rolled back to its feet and shook itself, sending leaves, twigs and bits of fur flying. Then it looked at Tony, expectantly. As Tony approached its side the fox girl joined him, and again boosted him onto the creature's high back. He was a bit startled when she jumped on behind him. He was even more startled when she gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.
The wolf took off, and soon Tony was back in bed, sound asleep. Only now he was smiling, instead of crying.
* * *
"If he weren't a little behind in his social development that would never have worked," rumbled Bent-Tail. "He's almost too old for accepting magic without question."
"Well, I think it did work," said Tina, firmly. "And that's what matters."
She looked around at their little group, all back in human form, now, and walking to their vehicles.
"The hard part was keeping him awake enough to participate but still in a dream-like state," sighed How. "If we ever do this again let's invite Lord Teleomier along for that part."
"That sure was fun," sighed Jill, smiling.
"And I'm very proud of the way you acted," said Tina, giving her a quick, rough hug. "In both senses of the word."
"I didn't get to do much, but I had fun, too!" exclaimed Jackie. "I got to be a wolf girl! GRRRR!"
The others laughed as she capered around like a hairy monster.
"Well, I got to be a fairy queen," sighed Joyce. She hugged How. "Thank you. I've never been transformed, before."
"Hey, I could change you," said Jill, helpfully.
"Not without supervision," said Tina, quickly and firmly.
"Yes, Momma," the girl sighed.
They all laughed at that, even Jill joining in.
This story is Copyright 2001 by Rodford Edmiston Smith. Anyone wishing to use this story for anything beyond personal enjoyment must obtain permission from the author, who can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.