Written to Kuro-Neko’s commissioned continuation of Survival, of Fae Apoc, sometime in late 2011/early 2012.
Three, two… “Are you saying…” Ross Wetherschilde spoke slowly, as if not quite wanting to get to the end of his sentence. “…that there is a ‘fae’ onboard this life raft?”
“Of course that’s what she’s freaking saying, you freaking nincompoop!” Tanya Jones spoke fast enough for three Ross Wetherschildes. “The question is, how does she know! And who?”
“I think it’s obvious, don’t you?” Yonrit thought she knew every voice on the raft, but this one made her open her eyes: small, sardonic, and very quiet. Aah, the slender woman who had barely spoken since the crash, of course. “There’s one way to know for certain that someone is fae.”
She met Yonrit’s eyes; Yonrit didn’t look away. Around them, the conversation seemed to roil and bubble.
“…stab ‘em with rowan, that’s how!”
“Iron, you hang a horseshoe on your doorway.”
“We don’t have any horseshoes and we don’t have any doorways. Or rowan.”
“You spill rice, don’t you?”
“No, that’s vampires. Hey, do you think vampires are real, too?”
“Taylor, you’ve asked that at least seventeen times since we ended up here. Nobody knows.”
“Except maybe the fae on the boat.”
It kept going, people talking over each other, people shouting and swearing and repeating themselves. Yonrit kept her eyes on the other woman. After this many days on a lifeboat, she looked as unwashed as the rest of them; like Yonrit, her clothes were already beginning to hang loose on her body.
“So, who is it?” In the end, it was Tanya Jones who asked Yonrit. “If there’s a fae here, and you know who – who is it?”
“You still haven’t answered my question.” Yonrit swallowed around her nerves and repeated herself. “Would you rather die or be helped by a fae?”
“That wasn’t the question,” the slender woman pointed out. “The question was, would we rather die or be on a boat with a fae?”
“They’re both important questions.” Yonrit could feel every eye in the boat on her. She tried not to shrink in on herself.
“So,” Tanya Jones tried, “we have to answer the question, and then you’ll tell us?”
Yonrit nodded mutely. What was she going to do if they said die? What was she going to do if some of them said die?
“Well, I’ll go first.” Tanya Jones leaned forward in her seat. “Look, if it was Poseidon or the dick who called himself Hades or that cadre of bitches that ruined his town in Illinois or someone like that, yeah, I’d die trying to kill them. But what was the news saying just before we went overboard? Hundreds of thousands of fae have been living here on earth forever? I mean, that’s what some of the awful ones have said, too. ‘We were born on Earth.’“ Her voice dropped down to a deep super-hero imitation. “‘We want to defend Earth.’ While they’re ripping up buildings. I guess what I mean is, if it’s a fae saving my life, well, my life is still saved, isn’t it?”
She nodded to the man next to her. “What about you?”
“I’d die. I don’t want any of those filthy creatures touching me.”
And so it went.
Yonrit struggled to keep her face calm, to not show fear or anger or even hope. She struggled to not look like she agreed with anyone. For the most part, it was wasted effort — the whole lifeboat was watching whoever was talking at the moment. Everyone but the thin girl, who had not yet stopped staring at Yonrit.
Finally, they were back to her. Tanya looked down at her fingers. “That’s fourteen people saying ‘please save my life’ and seven saying ‘screw everything fae, even if I die.’ And you.”
Yonrit took a deep breath. “Okay. Okay, Tonya, Miss Jones, since you took the vote, I’m saying you’re in charge. Anyone argue?”
One large, obnoxious guy looked like he wanted to argue, but in the face of a boat full of nodding, he only got out half a sound.
“All right. Okay, remember what you all said.”
“Are you going to tell us who the fae is now?” The woman was still staring at Yonrit. Her eyes were drilling through her, and her voice held an unpleasant urgency.
“I don’t think that’s really the necessary part.” They might kill her. They were going to die either way, she was likely to die either way. It was that or start eating each other. “All right.” She closed her eyes and cupped her hands in front of her. “Meentik Huamu delta αβοκάντο.”
She heard the gasps. She heard the swearing. She heard nothing at all from the thin woman. More importantly, she felt the thud of four avocados in her hands.
“Now.” Yonrit’s voice was very quiet, but it didn’t need to be any louder. “It’s up to every one of you if you eat what I provide or not. It has its limits — if I do too much, I’ll pass out — but I believe I can make enough food to keep us alive until we’re rescued.” She set the avocados down in front of her. “These first, because they’re easy to eat and more calorie-dense than, say, an orange. And then some beans, I think. That is…” Yonrit swallowed hard and looked around the lifeboat. “That is, if you’re not going to kill me.”
Everyone squirmed. Everyone but the thin woman, who was looking at Yonrit now with mostly confusion. Finally, one woman spoke up. She had been the most vocal about hating fae; one of the returned gods had killed her husband.
“They say that the fae can’t lie. That if they promise to tell the truth, they have to. Is that true?”
Yonrit nodded slowly. “That’s true.”
“Can you… can you swear that you’re not one of those fae who’s been causing all those problems? Because so far, you’ve only acted like a normal person. No pointy ears, no blowing ships up. And I haven’t seen any of these ‘gods’ raining down avocados.”
That was relatively easy. Yonrit nodded, a little less slowly this time. “I can promise you that I have never, through action or inaction, caused a human death. That’s, that’s why I spoke up.” She hugged herself. “Because it would kill you all if I didn’t say anything.”
She shared a look with the slender woman, who looked away, frowning. The widow was speaking again, just as slowly.
“Then I can’t see any reason to punish you for risking yourself to save us. Can you make enough without straining yourself?”
“It won’t be haute cuisine. And it won’t be enough to gorge ourselves. But yeah, yeah, I think I can.” Yonrit might still be stuck in a lifeboat, but for the first time in weeks, for the first time since the gods had returned, she felt like she was on solid ground again.
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