IV: Heartstrings that Play Soft and Low

I've learned to avoid rooms with beds as much as possible. And chairs and sofas and anything that might look like it would involve really strange sex positions that probably make for really crappy sex, but still.

Beds mean Theo and the more time I spend with him, the more my poor face has to deal with turning unnatural shades of scarlet. I just happen to avoid everything else because I feel like I'm on some constant aphrodisiac from the amount of magic permeating the house. I don't think I've ever spent so much time playing videogames with Marion and David, or studying at the library, or at work.

Seriously. I volunteered to work ten more hours a week to get away from the boarding house. I was willing to spend more time dealing with eleven year olds at the batting cages where I worked than in my own bedroom or anywhere in that house, for that matter.

Boogeymen were not intended to be charming and good looking and warlocks were not meant to emit pheromones. They just weren't.

"Martine, you have to go home eventually," my co-worker Victoria commented wryly, sitting at the cash register and twisting a lock of blonde hair around her finger, her feet propped up on the counter. "You're only getting paid for five hours. And you've already spent another half hour in the cages. Go home and ravish one of those loverly boys at the boarding house."

My nails had steadily been chewed down and looked, quite honestly, like shit. I cursed softly, wishing they were longer so I could chew on them now. "But the one place where I should be safe in that house is constantly invaded by the ex-warlock living under my bed," I complained, wishing that she would take less of an interest in my (non-existent) sex life. "I can't go anywhere else in the house for fear that Josh will be there."

She huffed, rolling her eyes dramatically. She had already gotten the story of how Theo was a boogeyman and everything else; surprisingly, she'd believed every word without questioning it once. Victoria was just one of those girls who had complete and utter faith in the supernatural.

I supposed it had to do with the fact that the one guy she was in love with pretty much hated her. She had to have trust in something, if not her ass of an ex-boyfriend.

"Oh, boohoo," she mocked, trailing a finger from the corner of her eye down her cheek, tracing the path of an imaginary tear. "Poor Martine is being pursued by two hot boys who make her horny. Cry me a river. John won't even look at me anymore and you're complaining about Theo and Josh giving you attention?"

"Caray, Victoria, I don't want the attention!" I argued, voice cracking. Leaning against the wall heavily, I closed my eyes and wished I could just crawl into a hole and die. "I want nothing to do with a boogeyman and, sure, Josh seems sweet and he's hot, but I'm not exactly looking forward to our date tomorrow! I can barely stand to be around him for a few minutes without jumping him. How am I supposed to enjoy a movie date with him when all I'll be able to think about is throwing him onto the ground and getting it on right there in the Tivoli?"

Victoria shrugged, a sly smile on her face. "I don't see what the problem is with that. If you want to jump his bones, then just do it."

I headed towards the door with a disgusted grunt. "You're despicable. First you tell me all about you and John going through the bases and now you're telling me to go have sex? And to think you spent your elementary and junior high career at Our Lady of Peace."

"I told you!" I heard her call cheerily from in the building. "I'm an HAC: half-ass Catholic!"

I loved Victoria. Truly, I did. But sometimes she just overstepped the line of decency, and right now, that really wasn't doing anything for me. I was crabby, I couldn't stay in my house for long periods of time, and I somehow needed to go on a date with a boy who was dripping with magic pheromones.

Please. Put a gun to my head, shoot, and put me out of my misery. Por favor.

By the time I had driven back to the boarding house, I was wishing that I wasn't such a good big sister to stay with Erin and Ricky and that I was selfish and just stayed with Abuela.

I didn't even happen to care that there were faeries in the closet, pixies in the dishwasher, a boogeyman under the bed, or a vampire and/or werewolf stalking the house at all times. At least they didn't want to get in my pants or make me wish they would get in my pants.

And that was when the proverbial donkey's back broke. I needed someone to teach me how to stop this…entirely unwanted urge to hanky panky. I so did not want to become the younger, Cuban version of my mother, whoring myself around and such.

As I dashed up the stairs to the third floor, I barely registered Cameron teaching Ricky some warlocking nonsense in the kitchen, or Erin hanging with her werewolf buddies in the second floor hallway, or Luc flirting with some nymph girl outside her room down the hall from mine on the third floor. I had eyes only for the door next to mine where Hag Lady resided.

I moved to begin pounding on the door, shifting from one foot to the next in reaction to the damn aphrodisiac quality of the magic permeating the building, but I never got the chance. She swung the door open with a toothy grin. "I knew you'd be coming by soon," she said in a stage whisper. "Took your sweet time about it. Could have helped you faster if you'd have come earlier."

My mouth opened and then closed again before I simply shook my head, stepping into her room and standing awkwardly. I might have had magic in my blood, but I would never seriously understand the preternatural.

Like Cameron had said: it was nineteen years worth of knowledge about this stuff that I didn't know.

She closed the door and turned to look at me with a raised brow, foot tapping expectantly, waiting for me to ask my question.

I blanked. I had psyched myself out to the point where I completely blanked on what I was going to ask. "La Chupacabra," I finally blurted out, my face almost immediately blushing.

"Oh, you mean Armando?" Hag Lady inquired, tilting her head curiously. "No need to worry about him. He's more afraid of people than people are of him. He's a lovely pet. Would never harm little Ricardo."

For a moment I wasn't exactly sure what I should say to that. La Chupacabra. Was in this house. Holy crap on a donkey's bottom.

"Now that that 'important' question's been answered," she continued, rubbing her hands together, "let's get down to the nitty-gritty. You want to be able to stay in this house without feeling like you're on a constant aphrodisiac." She grinned at some joke I wasn't privy to. "I was starting to wonder how you were getting any sleep in this place."

My face went from confused to less than amused. "Ha ha. Real funny. Just tell me how to stop it, okay? Okay."

She laughed not unkindly, but instead of just telling me how to stop all the magic pheromones, she pressed her thumb against my forehead. A pale blue light flashed momentarily and when the spots dancing around in my eyes faded, I couldn't feel the aphrodisiac qualities of the magic in the boarding house pressing down on me anymore. "Better?"

I sighed, wondering why the hell I hadn't come and seen this woman sooner. "Much, thank you. Now I can actually go on a respectable date with Josh."

Without warning, Hag Lady frowned, her eyebrows furrowing together and a deep crease folding in her forehead. "I think most of us in the house will agree that we'd rather not see you with that boy," she told me quietly. "There is something very…strange about his magic."

"Oh, caray," I muttered, putting two fingers to my temples, "not you too. There's nothing weird about Josh. No soy idiota. I wouldn't go out on a date with some whack job."

She clucked, as if scolding a young child, "You don't have it figured out yet." Patting me on the shoulder, she shook her head in a combination of sympathy and sadness. "Neither of those boys is up to much good. Josh may be the lesser of two evils now, but you're going to want Theodore in the long run."

My vocal cords refused to work until I managed to croak out, "Excuse me? I hate to tell you this, but Josh isn't the one sentenced to be a boogeyman. That makes him the obvious choice between the two." I held my head a bit higher, nose turned up haughtily. "I'm not stupid enough to get myself involved with a guy who is only making advances because he needs to sleep with a girl in order to go free."

The lie didn't sound half as convincing as I had hoped it would because, let's face it, I liked Theo. He'd shown that he had at least half a brain, he'd pulled on my heartstrings more than once with his whole "I-still-remember-stuff-but-not-my-real-name" thing, and he was most definitely better looking than Josh.

Marion and I had discussed the two in great detail while we sent David out to get food shortly after I had proved the existence of the boogeyman, and we had come to the consensus that Theo was hotter.

But, still. As far as I knew, Josh wasn't looking for a girl simply for the fact that he needed to canoodle with her for his freedom. And that made him better in the long run.


"Dearie, I'm not sure how much clearer I can make it for you. There is something very weird about Joshua Leonetti and his magic and the other boarders and I are not liking the different ways this strangeness might end up manifesting itself." Hag Lady shrugged, a neutral expression thrown onto her face. "And believe me, the last time I guessed this sort of thing, I turned out right. I'm always right."

I scoffed, rolling my eyes. "Sure. Nobody's always right. The universe isn't perfect, and therefore, neither are humans. It's impossible. Es imposible."

Again, she put a thumb to my forehead, but this time it was neon purple light that shone from it. "Fine. I'll show you the hard way," was the last thing I heard for a few minutes as I felt like I was falling into a vat of dizzying darkness.

When the spinning stopped, I rubbed my eyes, a sharp pain resonating at the back of my head where my spinal cord started.

"Aw, that's a load of baloney, Iris!" a vaguely familiar male voice laughed. "Something fishy about Darcie! What a load of chicken shit!"

"Thom, you can't just take this so lightly! You know I wouldn't be telling you something was off about her if there wasn't something strange about her," a female voice argued, sounding pissed off.

I looked up to give the two a cursory glance but ended up doing a double take instead when I realized that one: Hag Lady had sent me to the freaking Twilight Zone because it looked like she had dropped me in the twenties, two: I could hear these peoples' blood songs as clear as day – which I knew couldn't be right because they weren't related to me or anything, and three: the guy who Iris, the girl, had referred to as Thom was known to me as Theo.

Holy fuckola. Hag Lady sent me to what I was guessing was 1923. What the shit. She dropped me off in the effing Twilight Zone! Mierde.

Theo/Thom chuckled again, shoving his hands into the pockets of his khaki colored pants. "Don't worry about me, sis, I'll be fine. Remember? I'm the one getting nominated to the Council tomorrow. I think I can handle myself and my magic." He smiled that nerve-wracking, smug smile of his before turning and pretty much walking right through me.

Well. At least they couldn't see me. That had to be some kind of bonus in this screwed up version of reality.

Iris, obviously Theo's older sister, didn't look too happy at him for brushing her off, but she huffed, stomping after him and calling out, "Thom!" every so often in an annoyed tone.

Standing and a bit dazed, I blinked several times before following them, head turning to look at everything around me; how often would I get sent off backwards in time? This was like a hands-on fieldtrip for my college classes.

Not to mention I was still reeling from the fact that I'd solved not only the question about what Theo's real name was – Thom – but I also knew what his blood song was, for whatever reason. The song sounded familiar, but I couldn't identify any of the words that would have gone with it, or even a name. I'd have to search when I was back in my room at the boarding house.

If I ever got back there.

Oh God. What if Hag Lady never decided to pick me up out of Twilight Zone-1923? I'd be stuck like a ghost forever!

I sucked in a couple asthmatic breaths, trying – and pretty much failing epically – to calm myself down and watch as Theo left the building, leaving an angry Iris at the front door. Shooting her an apologetic look even though she couldn't see it, I continued after him, liking him more and more for the way he walked, the way he waved and called out to people on the street that he knew, the way he fit in so well in his home era.

It was hard to imagine that this was the same guy who was living under my bed back in the present day. Time and his sentencing had, I don't know, changed him. I wasn't sure how he had changed because it was subtle things, like the inflection of his voice.

Maybe he had become more humble? I thought back on it and shook my head decisively. No. He wasn't humble. Probably never would be either. He couldn't remember half of his own life, but he remembered that he was some hotshot warlock in his heyday. He was probably as magically vain as they came.

He turned a corner and I had to jog to keep up with him as he entered a club. Others around him didn't seem to mind that I was running right through them; a few even blinked, looking around as if they had felt the brief flash of me going right through them.

By the time I had decided that while watching the different people and the band and the dancing was great for my major, I had no idea where Theo had run off to and at least half an hour had passed since he came.

I found him a few minutes later standing in front of a tall flapper who was a boyish kind of pretty. I envied the way she was the epitome of beauty in the twenties; blonde bob with spit curls, rosy-red lips, and the boyish-pretty that was desired over the curvy, more feminine ideal.

For the first time, I was actually happy I was born in the current day and age. At least big butts and hips and boobs were liked there. I wouldn't have been to handle it in the twenties. Erin would've, but not me.

Now, normally I wouldn't have found it odd for him to be in front of the flapper given that we were in the twenties, but when there was another guy in front of him with a knife pulled, that was an entirely different story.

A very familiar story that ended with Thom becoming Theo the boogeyman.

The dude with the knife waved it around a bit too carelessly for my liking, slurring, "You mind, buddy? Me 'n Darcie here were having a good time." Great. Caray. He was drunk to boot.

Theo started off on him and the two argued for a bit, neither of them looking to see what Darcie was up to.

But I did.

Darcie was standing behind Theo, a sweetly sinister smile on her face. I almost couldn't believe what my eyes were telling me at first, but after everything I've seen and experienced in the past week, I was willing to bet that seeing was believing in the supernatural business.

And this made me wonder: what the hell was this girl doing? Her boyfriend and her lover were about to go at each other and she was smiling? What the hell? It was as if she had wanted this to happen; she had wanted Theo and her lover to get into a fight. She had wanted all of the chaos to happen.

I won't go into the details about the fight between Theo and Super Drunk. It wasn't that great of a fight, mainly because the dumb drunk couldn't get any hits in at all. Theo dominated the fight and had dodged away from the clumsily aimed knife more than once.

The drunk must have gotten agitated because he full on threw himself at Theo, who wasn't expecting the attack and he raised a glowing orange hand in defense; Super Drunk never had a chance. He was dead as a doornail within seconds.

"Oh, Thom," both of us whipped around to see a stricken Iris. "What did you do? I told you. I told you! I'm always –"

I distantly felt someone poking me in the arm and calling my name, but I ignored them. I mean, shit, this was like a telenovela! I couldn't even hear the end of Iris's sentence; I had to hope my lip-reading skills were working.

"Martine, I swear to God, if you don't get up I'm going to dump a bucket of ice water on your head!"

Oh my God! How was I supposed to listen to these people if there was some idiot trying to dump water on me? Caray.

It didn't apparently matter what I wanted in the long run.

I gasped, jerking awake, drenched and freezing from the threatened ice water. My teeth chattering, I looked to my assailant to find a mildly concerned Theo staring down at me. "You were out like a log, Martine," he explained, sheepishly rubbing the back of his head. "Muttering things in your sleep and twitching and stuff…you usually don't do that. I thought you were having a bad dream or something."

For a few seconds, I wasn't sure if I'd be able to answer him or if I'd just end up launching myself at him for dumping water on me.

Bad dream? Sleeping? How did that happen? Hag Lady sent me off to the Twilight Zone, and yet, I end up asleep in bed having what I would have supposed was a dream. But I was a smarter Martine now. I knew that I couldn't put down things like that as a dream or a figment of my imagination.

Anything that happened to me now was real. Everything was the real McCoy, not some cheap smoke and mirrors crap. This was for real.

I chose not to pay attention to Theo's continued talking and contemplated my trip to the Twilight Zone instead. I had learned that Theo's real name was Thom, I had heard what his blood song had once been, his sister was named Iris, his girlfriend was a blonde flapper named Darcie who had somehow orchestrated the fight, and…caray, what had Iris said before Theo had woken me up? I couldn't remember it, but I knew it was really important.

"Are you even listening to me? No, you're not. You're probably thinking about Joshy-boy."

"Shut it, Theo," I growled, standing and grabbing any random article of clean clothing I could get my hands on, "you're on thin ice already from that less than perfect wake up call. Don't push it."

He opened his mouth to retort, but I beat him to it, bundling together my clean clothes and bathing necessities. "I am going to go take a shower," I said slowly, as if speaking to a small child. "When I get back, I expect you to be somewhere under the bed in boogeyman-land or wherever the hell it is that you go to when you're not annoying me. ¿Comprendes?"

I waited to see him nod, disappointment written all over his face, but when I came back from my shower, he was, indeed, gone. I breathed a sigh of relief, closing my door behind me and got to changing the sheets on my bed because they were soaked from earlier.

When that was done, I crawled back onto my bed, reaching over the side of the bed to pull up the laptop I left plugged into the wall beside my nightstand. I was planning on searching for Theo's blood song out of pure curiosity, but that's when it finally dawned on me that I was pretty much looking for a needle in a haystack because I didn't have an artist or lyrics to match up to the song that kept running through my head.

I groaned, gently placing the laptop back on the ground and flopped backwards so I could stare at the ceiling, eyebrows knitted together in frustration. I couldn't put words to what had once been Theo's blood song, I couldn't figure out why in the world Darcie had planned for her boyfriend to be sentenced and her lover to be killed, and I had no idea what Iris had been going to say before I was rudely awakened.

"I'm always smart? I'm always telling you this nonsense? I'm always scolding you?" I mumbled, trying to fill in the right words to the way her lips had moved when she had said it. "I'm always what?" I'm always right. I bolted up, eyes a bit wider in realization. "I'm always right."

Whenever I thought I had some semblance of understanding about the people in this house I was thrown for another loop.

I rushed to my door, slamming it open and banging heavily on the next door over, impatience rolling off of me in waves. The look on her face when she opened the door told me all I needed to know. She knew I knew.

"Your brother has been living under the beds in this house for eighty-five years," I said breathlessly, swallowing, "but you haven't done a thing about it, Iris?"

I couldn't believe I hadn't seen it earlier. I mean, sure, she had to be at least a hundred and ten years old, her black hair had faded and thinned to a single white braid and her blue eyes had turned watery, but she was still easily recognizable as Theo's older sister.

Iris opened her door a bit wider, gesturing for me to come in before she closed it with a click and took a seat near her window. A dog-sized, spiny olive green lizard-cat-thing crawled out from under her bed and set its head in her lap. I vaguely realized that Armando, the chupacabra, had made an appearance, but I was too focused on what his owner had to say about her brother to care that I had officially seen La Chupacabra.

She sighed softly, rubbing Armando's head affectionately. "It's not so simple as that, Martine. We had no idea where Thom had been sentenced to. No way to find him. I didn't move to this boarding house until several years ago, and, well, he had already taken the deal your step-father had offered him."

I tugged a lock of hair absently. "You couldn't have told him who he was? That you were his sister?" I interrogated, voice growing harsher with each word. "He only remembers bits and pieces of his entire first twenty-three years of life! You could fill in his blanks!"

"Thom is better off as Theo nowadays," Iris shot back calmly. "I know I'm always right. There was something off about Darcie and there's something off about Josh Leonetti. I don't know what it is yet, after eighty-five years of looking for answers, but there's something not right about their magic."

That was when my temper finally blew and I near shouted, "What? What is so off about them? I got the whole 'Darcie-smiling-sadistically-as-her-boyfriend-and-her-lover-fight-to-the-death' thing as being weird, but there's nothing wrong with Josh!"

"Did it ever strike you as odd that even though Josh wasn't even up to strength with your brothers, his magic's pheromones seemed to be far more powerful than they should be?"

I played the open-mouth-close-mouth game for at least a minute before giving a squeaky, "Yes."

Iris nodded, leaning over to kiss Armnado on the forehead before he scampered back under the bed, never giving me even the briefest of glances. "The same kind of thing was happening with Darcie. She gave off much too many pheromones than her magic dictated." She appraised me, pushing herself up and circling me. "She was probably giving off as many as you are now. She would have been greatly embarrassed; to have her pheromones naturally matched by a girl with latent magic."

I hadn't thought about the possibility that I was giving off my own magic pheromones. All I had was, as she had said, useless latent magic. The idea that I was giving off what she had made out to be quite a bit of an aphrodisiac effect made me feel slightly better about the fact that I'd been thrust into the preternatural world.

"There's something not right about a witch or warlock who gives off too many pheromones," she continued. "I've been looking into it for decades, but I've found nothing. Not even the Council will grace my questions with answers. If I had to guess, I'd say they were hiding something that they don't want the general supernatural public to get their hands on. Something big. Stay away from that Leonetti boy, Martine."

I nodded numbly, taking Iris's words as my cue to leave. I passed by my own room, choosing to make my way to the basement and Cameron's room.

He wasn't anywhere around, so I took the opportunity to scroll through the music on his computer, listening to a few snippets of songs here and there, but none of them matched the one that kept running through my head.

None of them were Theo's blood song from when he had still been a warlock.

That was, until I hit one on accident and, lo and behold, the right song began to play. It was a surprise to me, to say the least; while it sounded reminiscent of his original time period, the song itself wasn't written until the late sixties.

"What are you doing in Cameron's room?" an amused voice near my ear queried. "I thought you told me I wasn't allowed in your room because you were going to be in there."

The day had drained me. I'd been at work, I'd been to the Twilight Zone, I'd had ice water thrown on me, I'd seen La Chupacabra in the flesh…scales, and I'd discovered Theo's blood song. I wasn't in the mood to spar with him. "I was looking up a song," was my answer after what felt like an eternity. "I didn't know the title or the words. Just the melody. So I wanted to look through Cameron's list."

"Did you find it?"

I spun the swivel chair around so I was looking at him. "Yeah. I found it. This is the song."

I watched him tilt his head and listen attentively. "The style's close to that of the twenties," he murmured. "Sounds familiar."

He didn't know the half of it. Familiar? This song was him in an essence when he'd still had his magic.


"Yes, Martine?"

I hesitated, chewing on each word carefully before I said it. "If…if you were to make the requirements of your contract-spell and you got your magic back, would your blood song be different from what it was originally?"

He seemed taken aback by my question. I didn't doubt it. "I don't know," he answered honestly, running a hand through his disheveled hair. "It might, but I really don't know. Why?"

Like hell I was going to give him an answer to that one. What was I going to say? Oh, I just hope that if I do hop into bed with you that your song stays this one because I happen to like it now?

Theo took my silence as my answer. He stood, bowing and holding his hand out like a gentleman. "Would you care to dance?"

Mutely, I allowed him to take my hand into his and let his left hand guide my other hand to his shoulder.

And we danced to his blood song.

We danced and we danced and we danced until the song had ended.

And, without letting me go, he whispered in my ear, "Can I just have one more moondance with you?"

Another whisper, a breathy, "Yes," was all we needed.

A/N: Well. It's actually a day later than I had planned, but I couldn't get any writing done during the weekend, one of my friends came in from Minnesota, and I spent an insane amount of time watching a movie I had made for school because it's finally up on youtube, so I was slightly sidetracked. But, hey, I finally figured out what's off about Josh. That makes up for it, right? And, uh, I don't own anything that is mildly recognizable from the world outside my imagination be it a song or whatever.

Spanish Translation:
-Caray: oh jeez/crap/God
-No soy idiota: I'm not an idiot
-Es imposible: It's imposible
-Mierde: shit
-Comprendes: understand?

-fortuneismymuse: Theo is quite amazing...but he's a bad boy. He's up to no good. Thanks for the review xD
-jevanminx: Actually, I didn't really do any research for Theo except for his original time period and various boogeyman myths from different countries. There is something most definitely off about Josh; it just took me forever and a half to actually come up with what was going to be off about him.
-HotaruConohome: Mm, I don't know if the date will be difficult for the same reasonings anymore. But it's coming next chapter xD And I don't know if it's quite so much the Maiko I minded as much as the Kataang. That's just gross.
-Guacomole: She won't be jumping Theo any time soon. He's going to get in some big trouble later on and it's not going to be good for anything that happens between him and Martine.
-Petals of Paranoia: Thanks xD
-little fall of rain: amybaby, I 3 you. But you're obsessive. Every night you check this? Again, I love you and all, but you're crazy. You make up for it though, with the videos on youtube xD
- Lady of Confusion: Thanks xD
-VVastedtime: How does Theo really feel about Martine? Would he stay with her if he became a warlock again? Excellent questions. Too bad I can't answer them yet xD The best I can give you at this point is that Theo and Martine are going to have a complicated relationship as the story goes on; he's doing something bad and she's not going to like what it is. You can't have Theo. He's quickly climbing up the ranks of my favorite characters and is only second to a guy named Frederick. You can have Josh, though. I have my own ;D
-Claudia: Thanks for reviewing xD

Thanks for all the reviews and adds and alerts, guys. They make for a very happy girl.
-extrapolating ideas