"You're beautiful, absolutely beautiful," Ashley crooned softly as she brushed her cat. She loved the time this gave her with her beloved Isis, and the cat mit was the only thing she would tolerate. It was a leather mit that went over Ashley's right hand. There were four rows of soft rubber spikes down where the fingers and palm would be and a thumb shaped row. It reminded her of a winter mitten with spikes.
She sighed contentedly as she ran the mit down the Siamese cat's back and felt her head rub against her left foot. She was sitting with Isis in between her bent legs. She was sitting in a modified butterfly position with her feet facing each other, but not touching. Isis didn't like feeling closed in, and as soon as her lovely one did, she turned mean and would get up and leave.
Ashley moved the mit in long easy strokes down Isis's back and sides. She carefully curled around the cat's tail all the while crooning softly and lovingly to her most prised companion. "You're the loveliest girl in the world. I love you so much. You're my precious one." Her eyes went all dreamy and unfocused when Isis looked right at her. Ashley had the uncanniest notion that Isis knew and understood everything she was telling her.
Ashley often had long conversations with her cat. She truly felt that she could speak with Isis, no matter how crazy everyone else thought she was. She and Isis were a pair, ever since Ashley had been thrown out on her behind by her bitch of a mother nearly because she loved a black man, she had felt that way. She had found Isis two years ago along the side of the road, a frightened kitten barely old enough to walk.
Isis was now purring sounding very much like a well oiled engine and making Ashly grin with delight. Isis rubbed her head against Ashlys right foot as the girl moved to the cat's left side. Isis squirmed delightedly under Ashleys gentle ministrations and sighed.
Ashley brushed, and stroked and petted. She sighed again, deciding that there was no better way to spend an afternoon. Just her and Isis, perfict, just absolutely, blissfully perfict.
Brendin Quin was a singer as well as a truly exquisite piper. He poured all he had into his music. Tonight would be no different, he knew, even though he was back home in Cork, and Kendle McKensey sat somewhere in the crowd. He had managed to convince the little man's parents, as had the little man himself, that a week in Ireland with no homework whatever would be a good thing for him. The parents had heved and sighed like accordion bellows, but had finally agreed to let him come. Now it was Brendin's turn to make sure that the little man wasn't disappointed. Brendin took a deep, steadying breath, and began:
"By a lonely prison wall, I heard a young girl calling…"
Kendle sucked in a breath at the chills that began at his head and didn't stop until they reached his feet. rumors were fact. Brendin didn't just sing…he really sang! He sang from his gut, from his heart, from his soul. Kendle felt the emotions in the song as if they were his. He truly knew what it ment to climb into music that night. He was Mary, he was Michael. He felt her sadness, his pride, her longing. Brendin's piping at the beginning, in the middle and at the end had tears swimming in Kendle's eyes. Brendin's resonant baritone, with its soaring fluidity, turned "Fields of Athenry" into a stirring, heart wrenching musical feast. He felt as if he had been givin a new and wonderful gift. It sounded so much like what he imagined a phoenix would sound like that he began to cry. He didn't care if Brendin saw him. The "male angel" that someone said he was didn't do his voice justice. It went beyond Brendin's being half scott, and that some of the words had that quality to them that only Brendin had. That made it all the better. Kendle knew he could never again hear that song the same way. No one else could rivle his friend's performance. No one else could tel him that this or that singer could sing "Athenry." None would do it the justice Brendin had just done it.
Brendin watched Kendle as he performed and saw the first tear slide down the little man's cheek. His heart lept. He had done it. Brendin could see it in the eyes. Perhaps they couldn't see the world physically, but they could see it through the heart, through the spirit. He knew when kendle completely let go and didn't care who was watching him. Brendin knew that this song would never be the same for his little friend, that no one would ever again be able to tell him that someone could sing "Fields of Athenry." Brendin ended his performance letting the last note die away as if the singer were moving off into the distance.
He left the stage, leaving room for the next performer, and went to sit by the still weeping Kendle
Brendin Quin was a singer as well as a truly exquisite piper. He poured all he had into his music. Tonight would be no different, he knew, even though he was back home in Cork, and Kendle McKensey sat somewhere in the crowd. He had managed to convince the little man's parents, as had the little man himself, that a week in Ireland with no homework whatever would be a good thing for him. The parents had heaved and sighed like accordion bellows, but had finally agreed to let him come. Now it was Brendin's turn to make sure that the little man wasn't disappointed. Brendin took a deep, steadying breath, and began:
"By a lonely prison wall, I heard a young girl calling…"
Kendle sucked in a breath at the chills that began at his head and didn't stop until they reached his feet. rumors were fact. Brendin didn't just sing…he really sang! He sang from his gut, from his heart, from his soul. Kendle felt the emotions in the song as if they were his. He truly knew what it meant to climb into music that night. He was Mary, he was Michael. He felt her sadness, his pride, her longing. When Brendin reached the line about Mary raising their child with dignity, Kendle knew Brendin didn't just sing the song because it belong to his heritage, he sang it because he loved it. Kendle also knew why that line hit Brendin so deeply. Mirinda was the reason. The one child he wished to raise for reasons Kendle had yet to untangle. Brendin's piping at the beginning, in the middle and at the end had tears swimming in Kendle's eyes. Brendin's resonant baritone, with its soaring fluidity, turned "Fields of Athenry" into a stirring, heart wrenching musical feast. He felt as if he had been given a new and wondrous gift. It felt so much like what he imagined a phoenix's gift would feel like that he began to cry. He didn't care if Brendin saw him. The "male angel" that someone said he was didn't do his voice justice. It went beyond Brendin's being half scott, and that some of the words had that quality to them that only Brendin had. That made it all the better. Kendle knew he could never again hear that song the same way. No one else could rival his friend's performance. No one else could tel him that this or that singer could sing "Athenry." None would do it the justice Brendin had just done it.
Kendle couldn't exactly sigh through the tears, but he did smile. He seemed to feel Brendin's eyes on him as he finished the performance. When Brendin sat, Kentle reached across the table, found Brendin's hand and just held it for several long moments before letting go.
Mirinda Cried. She lay on her bed, her brown curls mussed and her eyes just beginning to go red rimmed. She cried silently because she didn't want Brendin to know she was crying. She had heard about he and Kendle's trip to Ireland. Rather than being jealous of Kendle, she was happy for him. The trip wasn't the reason she was crying. The memmory of last night's unintentional eavesdrop came back to her. She had now been a guest in Brendin's house for going on three weeks, and she knew he was working on getting her out of the care of her dear mother. The last thing she wanted to do was cause problems, which, by the tone of last night's conversation, was exactly what she felt she was doing. She knew he had family in Ireland, but since he had yet to mention them, she had yet to know just who they were. In fact he rarely spoke of his family. She wondered why that was. This conversation, she supposed, was with one of those family members.
Brendin had been on the phone with a man, who Mirinda thought was his brother, and maybe he was, but she still couldn't be sure.
"No Aidon, I can't do this, there's been a development over here, and I'm going to have to dip into the savings. Not that I mind, this particular development is rather … well spirited. It just means that I can't bring you over as soon as I had hoped to. You'll have to endure that hell they call a boarding school for another few months. I'm hoping to have everything ironed out by then." Mirinda never failed to be fascinated by brendin's half Irish half Scottish voice. She never ceased to marvel at the way he seemed to slip so effortlessly into either Irish or Scottish Gaelic without a hitch. Code switching seemed to be the rule where he was concerned and words that incorporated both dialects were a predilection for her friend
Bringing someone over. She knew he wanted to bring someone over, but if she had known that she was going to cause him to dip into that fund, she would have insisted on staying where she was. It wasn't like she couldn't handle her mother. Hell she'd done it for the last fourteen years, hadn't she? She didn't count this year, as she had just turned fifteen not too long ago, and for most of that year she had been living with Brendin. She had run from her house two days after the fight over the bagpipe lessons, freshly made welts covering her back and arms. She ran to Brendin who had taken her in without so much as an eye blink or a look of surprise. It was almost as if he had been expecting her action, and anticipating her arrival. That frightened her a little because even she hadn't been aware of where she had been heading. Her feet had just taken her to the only place they knew of their own accord.
Brendin had been the one person she could trust innately with anything. She could complain to him, be angry at him, not with him, and he would listen until she ran herself out. He never judged, never criticized, but he would sometimes sort things out for her when she was confused on why things happened the way they did. One quiet word, one sentence, and he would set her thinking. She liked that about him, his quiet strength, his quiet way of disciplining her. He didn't need to raise his voice. One look, one movement sent chills up and down her spine and would have her thinking twice before doing anything that would snap that rather formidable temper of his.
Now, though, she was in the room he had given her, crying silently. She didn't want to be the one who destroyed families, hers was bad enough. She didn't want to think about the fact that it was her being there that kept this Aidon from being able to come over here for another three or so months. If Aidon was Brendin's younger brother, then there should be a way to get him over here. There would have to be some way for all of them, she included, to be together. Maybe Kirisa and Kendle could help her. She wanted to get Aidon over here. She would get Aidon over here…even if it meant she gave up her beloved pipe lessons for some little time.
"So what do you think?" Mirinda's question to her older sister Kirisa was a little interesting considering. They were sitting outside at an open air restaurant. Kirisa and Kendle had agreed to meet Mirinda for lunch to discuss a plan she had formulated. Kirisa had no idea how truly bold Mirinda's plan really was.
"I think your crazy, sis. Here you want to learn the pipes so bad you scream and scream, yet now you're willing to drop them for someone you don't even know is family to Brendin? Have you asked him about Aidon? Do you even know how old Aidon is?"
"He doesn't even know I know about Aidon, Kirisa. I overheard that bit of conversation on accident on my way back from my bathroom. How do I bring something up in conversation that I'm not supposed to know about? I know why he didn't want me to hear that. He was right to keep that away from me. I feel guilty enough as it is thinking that I'm the one who could be keeping a family from coming together."
Kendle sighed, "We told you that you aren't the one keeping them apart. If you were, it would be different. Brendin knew what he was doing when he took you under him, Mirinda. He's protecting you, he doesn't mean you harm."
"That's just it. He doesn't mean me harm, but how can I not help but feel hurt when I know there's someone else in the same situation I just escaped from? How can I not feel as if I'm keeping someone else from escaping a situation they feel trapped in? I want to help that one escape, and if it means giving up something I love on a semi-permanent basis, so be it. At least I'll know I made my soon to be guardian and someone he cares deeply for happy. It's the only thing I want, you two. I want Brendin happy. I want Aidon happy, even though I don't know him."
Kirisa and Kendle sat back and considered what Mirinda had said. Both he and Kirisa had become really close in the past weeks, and Kendle's blindness really never came up except for when it was necessary. Kirisa admired his determination and dedication to whatever he did. His grades were ace, his running excellent, and his personality made most of the others Kirisa hung out with seem cranky in comparison. Best of all his mind was quick, clever, and razor sharp. The boy didn't miss a trick, and that sometimes made Kirisa Nervous because it seemed that Kendle was very nearly psychic. Mirinda, her sister and Kendle's admitted best friend was one of the reasons Kirisa had been able to need him in the first place. Now that the three of them had struck up, Kirisa couldn't help but wonder if it was coincidence, or the Divine that had brought them together. She sighed now as the three of them sat outside enjoying the summer air. The Italian restaurant at which they chose to have their lunch had a live entertainer who was busy enthralling the crowd with his rather good voice. Kirisa had heard worse out of a singer, and she decided that this one wasn't half bad.
"How do you know this plan is going to work?" Kendle's question brought Kirisa snapping out of the spell the music had put her in.
"I don't, Kendle. That's why I'm running it by the two of you. I figure if anyone can work out kinks and bugs, it's the two of you. There's no one else I can trust to keep this under wraps. There's no one else who has the business end and the problem solving skills that the both of you have. I want this to work, and I don't want it to fall horribly flat." What she didn't tell either of them was that she was afraid it would do just that, and that she was so damn nervous it was a wonder her hands weren't shaking with it.
The umbrella over their little round table flapped in the sudden gust of wind that sprang up. Mirinda, Kendle and Kirisa grabbed at their paper plates and cups to keep them from blowing away. That distraction was just what Mirinda needed to calm her nerves. She concentrated on finding everyone else's plates and making sure they had stayed where they were supposed to be.
She had come to the right people, Kendle thought, there wasn't anyone else that could find potential flaws in plans like he could. There wasn't anyone else who could help sort out how they would find a way to get Aidon over here quite like Kirisa could. Her contacts in the travel agencies made his head spin. He never did figure out how she managed to rise so fast so young and not have a serious ego problem. Kirisa was still just as down to earth as she had always been even after four promotions in as many years. Kendle had seen her off and on, had spoken to her briefly once or twice over the years, but he hadn't really begun to become friends with her until a few weeks ago. He didn't really get to know the real Kirisa until about three days ago. He sighed, "I don't see any flaws in it, the only thing I see is that you're throwing away the very reason you ran to be with him in the first place."
"Yes and I'm also staying whether or not this pans out. There ain't no way in hell I'm setting foot in that house again. I never want to see that bitch again, not ever."
Kirisa grimaced, "Mouth, Mirinda, please!"
"She hurt me again, Kirisa. That's why I ran."
Kendle drew in a breath, let it out. He knew she didn't mean rape, but it still didn't make it any easier to hear his other best friend say she had been hurt by someone who was supposed to help protect and nurture her.
Kirisa sighed. She supposed she would let Mirinda's language slip slide this time since she could clearly see the evidence of that hurting along the top of Mirindas shoulders where the shirt didn't quite reach. "If you're set on this, I don't see any reason why I can't pull this off, Mirinda. I just hope you know what the hell you're doing."
"Oh I wouldn't change any of this for the world. Yes, Kirisa, I know what the hell I'm doing."
Brendin wondered how long it would take the three of them to return from their lunch. Aidon, his younger brother needed out. He needed out nearly as much as Mirinda had. He was afraid to tell them, though. He didn't want to frighten Mirinda away, and there really wasn't much they could do for him anyway.
"We're home, Brendin! I hope you didn't miss us too much." Mirinda walked in the door followed by Kirisa and Kendle. The former sighted guiding the latter.
"I missed you terribly, ye ken I always do when you leave."
Mirinda smiled. She loved it when he slid words like that into his speech. It didn't happen very often anymore, but when it did, it always made her smile. The teasing they did about them missing each other, made her feel like she actually belonged somewhere for once, a feeling she rather enjoyed. She never really felt like she belong in her mother's house. She always felt like an unwanted thing.
"How was lunch," Brendin asked the three of them as they took seats around his kitchen table. They had come in the back door which lead straight into the brightly lit well furnished room.
:It was good, and the singer there wasn't half bad." Mirinda replied.
Brendin relaxed a bit, allowing himself to lean back a bit in his chair as some of the tension went out of him. His prematurely silver hair went to his shoulders, and his sea green eyes held just a hint of the worry he felt for his seventeen year old brother. Poor Aidon, he didn't understand why nothing was being done about that damned boarding school. If Aidon was the fourth boy that had been taken to hospital, there had to be something wrong there. Brendin's grandparents were just blowing it off like nothing was wrong, but Brendin knew better. Brendin knew too much, and he knew it.
"You're awful quiet, Brendin," Kendle said, "What's wrong?"
Damn it! That kid knew him too well already. Too damn well He sighed, :Nothing I can't handle, Kendle. It's just Aidon…"
"Aidon? Who's he," Mirinda's question made brendin realize how much he hadn't told her about his family. It made him sad to realize that a potential permanent resident sat right there in front of him, and she truly had no idea as to how extensive his family really was. "He's my seventeen-year-old brother who's still over in Ireland. He wants to come over here, but I have no way of getting him here."
"Died when I was seventeen in a car accident. I ran over hear at eighteen, and the will they made said that when I was old enough to take care of him, and stable enough that the grandparents had to release guardianship of Aidon to me. I'm twenty-eight now, and it still hasn't happened. I've been old enough and responsible enough for three years now, and they refuse to send him over here saying that he's very well adjusted to where he is and won't want to move. They're not even asking what he wants to do."
"And if you could get him over here?" Mirinda asked the question so casually that Brendin never even knew that they had just put a plan into action. Mirinda and Kirisa exchanged knowing glances, and Kendle signaled the two of them with his feet. Brendin was unaware of the foot signals, but caught the girls' glances.
"If I could get him over here, he would be your sister. He you and I would live here, and I would be guardian to the both of you."
"Could you do that, and do it without hardship to you," Kirisa's question was fair, fair enough to have him thinking for several long moments. "Yes, I could. I make enough to support the both of them, and Aidon will be eighteen next year, and then he'll be able to pull his own."
Mirinda sighed. She wouldn't have enough to keep the lessons and do this, too. It was one thing to say she could give up the pipes, It was another entirely knowing that she would need to. She wavered for half a minute. She wondered of Kendle and Kirisa could pull it off without her money. She wondered until she turned her head and her hazel eyes met Brendin's sea green ones. The look in them sent all thoughts of pulling out straight out of her mind. She would do this, she would make Brendin happy, she would take her money, pool it with the money the other two had saved, and by the goddess, she would bring her brother, yes, her brother over here, come hell or high water.
Mirinda's eyes said it all, Kirisa knew, and when Mirinda signaled Kendle with her feet, so did she. Let the games begin, thought Kirisa … let the games begin
OK so there are actually four here with the revised version of one of these pieces, but have fun. Comment if you wish with criticism. I really think I packed too much into this last and longest piece, but I'm not sure...so yeah. This is cross posted to thepheenixeyri which is my personal LJ.
The Rowan/the Phoenix