This story owes it's setting and concept to Teri Windling's BorderLand
Anthologies and is also influenced by Glen Cook's "Garret Files" and
Laurell K. Hamilton.
It was originally started as a fan fic, but I'm hopeful that with some editing I can make it a decent original.
The usual warnings apply: yaoi(slash,m/m, however you phrase it), supernatural events, sex and violence,a bit of mystery, run
All that said I hope you like it.
I woke to the sun in my eyes and an insistent pounding on the door. I
pulled the blankets up over my head and waited for the racket to stop. It
I counted to ten then yelled : "Go away!"
I closed my eyes to drift back to sleep.
I opened my eyes.
No sound of footsteps going away. No sound of the outside door slamming.
I turned over and tried to forget it. So what if someone was hanging
around. Let them. I wasn't going to let it interfere with my rest.
Except...who was out there? Or what? The possibilities were close to
endless and most of them weren't good.
I tried to remember if I owed anyone money. Or favors. Had I pissed off
anyone, or more likely, anyone's partner?
I couldn't bear it, I had to find out.
Cursing my overdeveloped curiosity I stumbled to the door. I stood off to
one side and cracked it open. Peering out helped not at all. I saw and
I inched the door open a bit more and observed more nothing. Maybe I was
I finally poked my head out and took a good look around. Or to be more
precise, started to look around. The hand clapped over my eyes interfered
a bit. At least now I knew who was lurking in my hallway.
" Dwyn! What the hell do you want?"
"How did you know it was me?"
"You have the coldest hands of anyone I've ever met, including a couple
of the undead."
He dropped the hand and made a brief bow.
I never know when to take him seriously. Perhaps this really is a
compliment among his people. Who ever they are. Or he might be yanking my
chain. It seems to be one of his favorite hobbies.
I go back inside and start some coffee, leaving the door open for him.
I don't bother to ask again why he is here.
He'll tell me in his own way and time. For him to be out and about this
bright morning tells me it's important. He isn't fond of full sunlight.
I watch him from the corner of my eye as I grind the beans.
He looks same as always. Mop of blond hair cut
asymmetrically to fall gracefully over one eye
and down to brush his shoulder. Intense dark eyes under arched brows
His mouth quirks in a small smile, the full lips gentle and oddly out of place in the strong face.
He has a new piercing.
I swear, he's the only friend I have whose idea of accessorizing is jamming
bits of metal through his face. Personally, I stick to non invasive fashion
He smiles a little more when I hand him the coffee cup. Of coarse he waits
until the cup is in front of his lips.
You almost never see him smile fully. For a long time I thought maybe his
teeth were crooked or bad in some way. I didn't want to ask about
something that might embarrass him so I asked Oisin about it.
They have known each other a lot longer than either of them has known me.
Oisin looked at me in surprise when I made some off hand comment about
"His teeth? What's wrong with his teeth?"
"I assumed they bugged him, he never shows them."
Oisin gave his version of a snort. He managed to make the sound seem
practically refined. The True Blood can pull that kind of thing off. Full
elves seem incapable of truly being crass. It's a curse.
"His teeth are perfect, be glad he doesn't bare them at you."
Which is exactly the kind of cryptic comment I should have expected from
Oisin. I had tried to wheedle something clearer out of him but with no
result. I really hadn't expected him to break down and spill all, but I
always have fun trying.
The next time Dwyn and I went drinking and he stayed at my place I got up
the nerve to check it out.
He was sleeping on the couch and I crept up to peer into his half open
And, yes, for the record, I did feel like an idiot.
His teeth were perfect, neat and white and shiny. And pointed. Every tooth
I saw came to a sharp point. I withdrew as quietly as I could to the
Later I found out he can extend and retract at least the top canines. Saw
him do it in a pub when some jerk wouldn't stop pawing him. Said jerk had
grabbed his chin and was bending in for a kiss. I was close enough to see
his reaction when Dwyn showed him at least one inch fangs while hissing in
his face. He didn't actually cut and run until Dwyn flicked his tongue out
though. Forked tongues are not for the faint of heart.
We sipped coffee in silence for a while. After the second cup he got to
the point of his visit.
"I think someone is looking for me."
"No idea. But I think I am being Hunted."
I can hear the capital in the word. He means a search from over the
Border, never a good prospect from what little I know of such things.
It doesn't happen very often. Usually when one of the fey throws propriety
to the wind to live on the wrong side of the tracks, the human side, his
kith and kin write him off entirely.
"Do you know who might be looking for you?"
He looks uncomfortable at the question and shakes his head.
"Do you want to stay here for a while?"
"Thank you, but I would not wish to draw trouble upon you."
"Don't worry about that, I never have. Besides, I would just be returning
He considers for a moment and then nods.
"Thanks, I'll get a few things and come back later. But that isn't the
main thing I wanted to ask. I want to hire you."
"To find out who is Hunting me and why. I can pay."
I wave the last aside.
"No need for that between friends. And I don't mind trying to help but are
you sure? "
He nods again, not meeting my eyes.
There doesn't seem much more to say and he leaves to get his things a
I wash up and dress while waiting for him to return. I'm not glad of the
circumstances but I am happy that he will stay here. I really do owe him,
I just hope he knows what he's doing hiring me. Once I start poking
around I may uncover things he would rather keep hidden. I don't want to
hurt him. He's my best friend, my first friend here.
I arrived few years back, as close as I can tell. Time moves strangely
this close to the border. It was the classic border town arrival. A 16
year old refugee from the suburbs who was certain that I belonged here, in
the place where magic is alive and mankinds dreams walk the waking world.
The only real difference was that I wasn't interested in swooning over
them, I was looking to kick some sidhe ass.
Luckily, I met Dwyn before I began my grand scheme of adolescent
retribution. This is why I am able to continue some of the hobbies I enjoy
so much, like breathing.
You see, I had followed my mothers steps here. The map she had made of her
journey was one of the few things she left me. I had hidden it after
her death, waiting for the day I would be big enough to come here and find
my father. I obviously hadn't thought it through too well but, hey, I was
16. I presumed I would magically find the pointy eared bastard that had
wrecked her life and hurt him. With any luck, very badly. As I remember,
getting laid also figured pretty heavily in this plan. As I said, I was
16, getting laid figured largely in every plan.
So I had gotten off the bus at the last stop and walked on into the mist. It was a
longer journey than I had expected and I arrived in town tired, dusty and in
no good mood. I had stumbled into one of the market squares and was
scanning the crowd for an elf with red hair and an air of
malevolence when Dwyn had approached me.
"Hey. You play guitar?"
Since I had the case strapped to my back I wasn't too impressed with his
powers of observation.
"No, just carry it around to impress women."
"Better choice than a piano, I guess."
Now, I don't have magic in any traditional sense. I can't sling spells
around like Jin or dream true like Oisin but I can sense things about
people. Not enough to call it power but it can be useful. And I could feel
that Dwyn wasn't human. I could sense the power flowing around him, call it
his aura if you like, and there was nothing human about it. And it was
powerful in a way I couldn't have put into words.
He didn't look powerful, he looked diminutive and cute in a scary way. I
must have been staring at him because he took offense.
"Got a problem,kid?"
His tone had shifted to menacing and I had an urge to get belligerent just
to prove I was not as scared as I felt. But I was tired and a long way
from home so I opted for truth.
"Sorry. I never met anyone like you before."
"Kid, there is no one else like me."
He seemed back in good humor. He looked at me in turn for a long moment
and then nodded as though an agreement had been made.
"Have a place to stay, kid?"
"No, and stop calling me that."
"You never gave me your name."
I hesitated. I mean, I had heard the same stories everyone else had. Among
some supernatural creatures a name is power. To give someone your name may
mean giving them your soul, so to speak.
But then again, I wasn't a full fledged supernatural being anyway. I was
just a half-breed with no magic worth speaking of. And the question had the ring of a challenge.
He gave his little half smile and bowed.
"I'm can room with me until you find your feet. And if you don't
act like an asshole."
I promised to try and we went home.
I waited a while and finally decided to leave a note for Dwyn and go over to Oisin's place. He is the best
informed among us of things on the other side of the border. He and Dwyn
both came over but Dwyn never alludes to this. Oisin says little but will
Also, Oisin may have dreamed something of this.
You have to understand that to the True Blood dreams are a complicated and
To ask an elf what he dreamed last night is considered a whole lot more
intrusive than, say, asking who he slept with last night. Or try sideling
up to some elfin lovely and whispering: "I dream of you." And you'll be
wondering vainly how to escape with your life. To the sidhe to dream of
someone means their fate is inextricably linked with yours. This is
generally taken as a threat. Thus, leading to an attempt to evade the
bonds of fate by way of murder.
This is why I never tell Oisin that I dream about him. Frequently. And,
no, not 'that' kind of dream. Or at least, not always.
Oisin has a slightly different relationship to dreams than most elves. He
dreams true. He may see a disaster before it happens or pick up
information about future possibilities. He will share
this information among friends if he feels it will be helpful but it isn't
easy for him. He struggles with centuries of cultural conditioning that
tells him dreams are strictly private.
But then, he has already dumped tons of cultural garbage to hang around
with halfies like me.
Oisin was the first full blood sidhe I met. Well, I had run into others
but most True Bloods view half bloods as a personal affront. We annoy them
no end. Some of us take a perverse delight in this fact.
In the better sidhe circles, an elf who sleeps with humans is accorded the
same reaction as a human who mates with animals. It is considered very
close to the same thing, bestiality, with the added downside that children
can result. Said children are not warmly welcomed into the fold.
Elves who make their home here inevitably loosen up a bit but most never
get much beyond tolerating us. Oisin is one of the few who seem to accept
us as equals. I don't know why this is but I'm grateful for it.
Dwyn introduced us early in my life here. I think he was trying to get me
beyond my own prejudices. I don't know how the two met but they seem to have
a lot of history between them. It is one of the few things I don't try too
hard to pry out of either of them. I guess on some level I don't want to
know how close they may have been in the past.
Oisin and I got off to a rocky start but after I got over the assumption
that he was a conceited, insufferable elvin lordling with no sense of
humor and once he got over the notion that I was a tactless, juvenile half
breed with a bad attitude we got along fine. Kind of. We haven't killed
each other yet.
Although I think Dwyn still has a pool going.
So now I stand outside of Oisin's building wishing I had changed into
better clothes before making the trip. In general, I could care less about
clothes aside from covering vital bits of my anatomy but around Oisin I
find myself seriously considering fashion. I don't know why because no
matter what I put on it will inevitable look slovenly next to whatever
he is wearing.
Sometimes I think the sidhe rule the faerie lands due to nothing more than
uncanny fashion sense and good hair. Jin is the only one who backs me
on this though and he has issues of his own.
After taking a few more minutes to lament my sartorial shortcomings and
trying to get my hair into some kind of decent state by finger combing it
I give up, square my shoulders and go on in.
After all, I don't have anything to be ashamed of, I may not be
up to sidhe standards but I'm not bad as halvies go.
I'm taller than some, and a little on the rangy side.
My hair is my best feature I think, deep red and kind of wild.
I do try to tame the damn stuff but it seems to have a mind of it's own.
My eyes are one of the give aways of my half blood, amber colored
and slightly slanted they set me apart from humans,
along with my slightly pointed ears.
I used to try to hide the ears under my hair and
my eyes behind dark glasses before I moved here.
It's nice not to be the strangest thing on the block anymore.
The main door is never locked, there are individual spells
scattered around inside and on the apartment doors that make those with
bad intent very, very sorry they ever arrived though. The spells are
courtesy of Jin and he has an evil sense of humor.
Oisin is on the top floor, of course. He and Jin split the floor into
two large suites, one on either side of the hall. It always seems odd to
me that they choose to live in such close proximity. I know they're
friends but they're so different you would think they would grate on each
This view could be sour grapes on my part though. I mean, if Jin had
a sudden kindly urge to trade places with me I could live across the hall
from Oisin and be constantly on hand to impress him with my many
wonderful qualities and sheer animal magnitism.
On the other hand if Oisin changed apartments with me I could accept
Jin's many innuendo laden invitations to spend the night at his place.
I can't do this now because the way my luck goes I would run into Oisin
on the way out in the morning. And he would give me that look of icy
disdain and I would curl up and die. Right there on the floor at his
feet. And he would scarcely notice aside from having to make an extra trip
to the dumpster.
Ah, self pity, always a pleasant way to pass some time.
Oisin opens his door right before I knock. He doesn't seem surprised to
see me and simply opens the door wider and bows me through. There are
biscuits and honey on the table and two cups of coffee poured and gently
Sometimes, he gives me the creeps.
Not a fact that he is above exploiting, or at least enjoying a little.
So of course I sweep in and sit down as though I am perfectly at ease with
the situation and reach for a plate.
He smiles and sits down, watching in what appears to be growing dismay as
I slather a few biscuits with honey. He shakes his head as I generously
offer him some.
"How you can eat that sweet stuff is beyond me."
I attempt a witty rejoinder but it doesn't come off too well what with a
mouthful of biscuit and a tad too much honey. What emerges is closer to a
slurp than actual speech. The affronted look on his face is so cute I do
When I can finally force out some clear words I say:
"It's good! Have you ever even tried it?"
He looks me straight in the eye and shakes his head no.
Right! Just keeps it in the house for the peasants.
Liar! Does he really think I can't tell by now when he is telling the
Of course he can't admit to enjoying something he has just been looking
down his nose at me for liking.
I stick two fingers in the jar of honey, reducing my host to speechless
outrage and while he is still sputtering I thrust the dripping digits in
His eyes cross for a minute examining this offer and I fight to keep a
straight face. Sometimes he is just too cute.
"Come on, I dare you."
That does it, I've said the magic words.
I have no real idea of Oisins age except that he isn't a child. Elves
age so slowly after adolescence that he would look the same at twenty or
two hundred. Maybe two thousand for all I know. You have to go by
behavior more than appearance.
He goes to a lot of trouble to give the impression of unruffled
serenity that would come from age. Which makes me think he isn't all that
old or he wouldn't have to work so hard at it.
And I have found out that among his more child like attributes is the fact
that he can't refuse a dare. Espcially if I am the one challenging him.
He heaves a sigh, closes his eyes and with his face screwed up like a
three year old being dosed with some really vile medicine draws my fingers
into his mouth.
I resist the urge to break into song but I am definitely in heaven.
He has stopped frowning and now wears a look of deep concentration as he
sucks my fingers clean.
I am sliding into terminal bliss when his eyes snap open and our eyes
"Ouch! Shit! Stop!"
In short order I am nursing my smarting fingers in my own mouth and he
is grinning triumphantly.
"Be thankful you didn't try such a trick on Dwyn, you would be bleating for
antivenin about now."
"You didn't have to bite them right off! And you call me an animal!"
"I didn't even break the skin, you big cry baby! And you are an animal.
You're a dog."
We withdraw into our opposite corners to regroup and emerge again to get
down to business.
"Speaking of Dwyn..."
Oisin is suddenly all attention.
"What's happening with Dwyn?"
I explain briefly and he nods. He is looking into his coffee cup as though
he were searching for answers there. For all I know, he is. I know some
mages can scry in water or ink, maybe he can see the future in coffee.
He finally looks up and asks:
"What would you like me to do to help?"
"I know next to nothing about what would cause someone to start a cross
border hunt. I need to have at least some idea of the possibilities."
"How would that help?"
"It might not. But I need some kind of starting place and the more
information I have, the better."
"Can Dwyn give you no information?"
"I haven't asked him for details yet. It seems that if he knew more he
would have told me. Or taken care of this himself."
Now that I've said it, it occurs to me that this has been bothering me.
Dwyn is hardly the type to ask for help unless it's absolutely
must really have spooked him to send him to me. And I feel
more than a little nervous about anything bad enough to spook him.
Oisin is watching me, reading the thoughts on my face.
"He really didn't give me much to go on. Just that he thought someone was
after him from over the border. He didn't know who or why."
Oisin pours more coffee and waits while I mull this over. I don't know
why but it always seems easier to figure things out when he is with me.
"Either he knows or suspects the reason and doesn't want us to know ,or he
really has no idea.I don't like either option."
"Because it implies he may have so many enemies he can't zero in on one
for this, which is scary. Or that he has done something so bad he feels he
can't tell us. Which is also scary."
"You're overlooking another possibility"
"Feel free to jump in anytime."
"He may not remember."
"Seems unlikely. If you piss someone off that badly you would tend to
Oisin nods in agreement but doesn't add anything. He seems to be waiting
for me to stumble onto something here but I can't see what.
"Are you implying that he may have somehow lost this memory? That someone
or something may have tampered with his memories?"
Oisin gives me that look of disappointment reserved for the really slow
students. I can almost see him composing a note to my family: "Once
again,Tristan fails to work to his full potential, could we have a meeting
"Look, could you just spell it out for me?"
"Why is Dwyn here?"
This sudden change of topic confuses me. Some days, of course, it doesn't
take much to confuse me.
"Well, when two whatever the heck kind of beings involved love each other
Oisin shakes his head and laughs.
"Jerk. Not 'here' as in 'in existence'! Here as in, across the border."
"He's never mentioned. But I assumed for the usual reasons anyone
runs away. Family pressure, not fitting in or whatever. He doesn't seem
like the kind of person to blindly follow tradition and I've always
heard your culture is pretty rigid about such things."
"That is an understatement of massive proportions."
Oisin has never said much about why he left home. I have heard all the
general comments, how tradition rules among the fey, how difficult it is
for those who won't conform.
I just can't imagine Dwyn conforming to anyone else's expectations. Or
trying to. He seems to have such a fierce sense of self. It is something
he and Oisin have in common although it is expressed in very different
I have always thought that Oisin and Dwyn left partly for music. While it
is a given that most branches of the fey are known for musical talent it's usually expressed within the boundaries of their culture.
I mean, when I think of sidhe music I always picture the stereotypical elf
maid trilling along with harp accompaniment. Maybe a violin or acoustic
guitar. The kind of dreamy ballads they're known for. Don't get me wrong,
it can be beautiful stuff if you're in the mood for it.
And Oisin looks like a natural for that kind of and on
the tallish side,although shorter than me. He has that air of elegance
that most sidhe are blessed with although I think he got an extra
helping somehow. His hair is long and falls in gentle waves
to the middle of his back, it's the color of autumn leaves and goes well
with his fair skin and green eyes.
I couldn't believe he was a drummer of all things. It seemed so out of
character. And when I actually saw him play it was a was
incredible, strong, fast,precise and seemingly tireless. And happy,
sometimes he gets this huge grin and seems about to burst into laughter
when he plays. It's wonderful to see.
And Dwyn writes and sings. That doesn't sound like much until you've heard
him. He can do things with his voice that defy description. He can go from
hauntingly beautiful to maniacally menacing at the speed of light. While
he is perfectly capable of writing lovely ballads he tends more to the
world of dark dreams and nightmare visions. His intensity is overwhelming.
I can't imagine him fitting in with the traditional school of maidens
strolling out on may mornings.
Oisins' voice pulls me back to the present.
"It's worse. There is little room for differences among my people. I can't
imagine Dwyn had an easy time of it there. But I don't know if he left for
that reason. If that were all there was to it people would probably be
grateful for his absence."
There is an undertone of sadness in his voice and I wonder if he
misses his family, if they had written him off like that. It seems strange
for me to feel so angry with people I have never met.
He smiles at me and I tuck the moment away to enjoy later. It isn't
all that often that I make him smile and I cherish every one.
Which embarrasses me no end. I forge ahead quickly.
"So, he may have left for more dire reasons? Do criminals ever manage to
flee over the border?"
I've never heard of this happening but I have wondered about it.
"I can't say I know from personal is the accepted wisdom
that to cross the border without proper preparation is fatal."
"What if he was thrown out? I've heard of that happening from time to
"He could be in exile. But his memories would remain fairly intact
He frowns, deep in thought.
"For some crimes the penalty is to have your memories taken. It is our
version of the death penalty. You lose yourself and start over."
"I'm assuming this is reserved for serious crimes?"
"Yes. Which is what makes it unlikely. I can see him killing in self
defense but not in cold blood, or committing rape or something of that
"I agree, but couldn't he have been wrongly convicted? That must happen
"It must, but it would be a very rare event."
Oisin has more faith in authority than I do.
"What if it was voluntary?"
Oisin shakes his head.
"No mage would wipe out some ones memories unless it was ordered by the
court. It's too drastic a thing to subject someone to."
"What if someone had undergone a horribly traumatic experience and just
couldn't carry the weight of the memory?"
"It just isn't done."
I drop that line of conjecture. Oisin has some blind spots that just
aren't worth messing with.
My own experience tells me that if something can be done, it probably is
done. And not all mages are that dainty about legality especially if money
is brought into the equation.