I really liked my new roommate.
But not as much as I loved my picture of Sunflower.
I went so long being the only one who knew about him…but now my roommate and his friend knew about him too. Sunflower was real, and he was waiting for me.
After I kept asking, he invited his friend over and introduced us.
“This is…Gal. Galatea, sorry. She’s my, uh, fae contact.” Even though he was talking to me, he wouldn’t look away from her.
She was the same actress from Lyanna’s work, the one with the pretty hair she liked. “Fae contact, huh?” She turned away from him–and her eyes went wide. “Whoa–what the fuck is that thing?”
“Sunflower gave it to me,” I said. “My sister can’t see it. Wanna see the picture of Sunflower again?”
“…I’ve already seen it, but sure.”
I dragged her into the Sunflower room, but not too hard, because Bas (he told me to call him that since were roommates now) said I have a “death grip” and I didn’t want to kill her. “If me and Sunflower get married, that means you and me will be like sisters.”
She sat down right under Sunflower’s picture, so I sat across from her (mostly so I could keep looking at it). “Yeahhh,” she said. “I don’t think that’s how family trees work, but okay.”
Bas sat down next me, but I think he was disappointed he wasn’t right next to his fae contact instead. He was always looking at her like he wanted to gross things to her.
“We have to save him,” I said. “Will you help?”
“Kinda hard to help a guy trapped in a dream,” Bas said.
“I mean, I guess,” Galatea said. “I’m unemployed now, so it’s not like I have anything better to do, and maybe it’d make my mom happy for once.”
“Look,” Bas said, “I want to help the guy as much as anybody–well, maybe not as much as you–but how do we know where to start?”
I’d thought about that a lot, looking at Sunflower’s picture. I still had my weird dreams, and my weird memories. “I think…I think we start where it all started,” I said slowly. “The dreams, the place I first saw Sunflower, back when I was a kid…Fangs Island.”
“My parents have a vacation home there,” Galatea said. “Well, one of them does, anyway. We could stay there and dick around. Maybe you can grab him by the wing or whatever you want to do.”
“I’ll punch him in the balls until he wakes up,” I said.
“…Uh, maybe you can think of a gentler way of waking a guy up before we get there?” Bas suggested with a wince.
Then I asked for Galatea to give me a little alone time with Sunflower. She sat right next to Bas instead.
And I gave him gross kisses goodbye…
Galatea snorted. “…Does she do that a lot?”
“All the damn time,” Bas said. “Sometimes I have to pull her away so I can watch TV in peace.”
“I can’t believe you live together,” she said. “Small world.”
“Yeah, uh–as strictly roommates-slash-investigator-client types. We’re not, you know, uh…anything else.”
“No shit. She’s not your type. Speaking of–how many times have you rubbed one out to my poster?”
“Haaah…that was a gift from Daze–I couldn’t throw it out.”
“Twenty-seven times,” I said. “Twenty-eight after you leave, probably.”
“…She’s joking,” Bas said.
“I have vampiric hearing, remember?” I said. “I can hear all the gross stuff you do, even when the shower’s running.”
“Wow, you really are a perv,” Galatea said. But she sounded pretty happy about it.
Bas coughed. “Okay, uh, why don’t we make some travel plans…”
But thanks to Bas’s fae contact, we got to where we needed to go. I wasn’t gonna be staying in her summer house or whatever, but I didn’t wanna ask my mom to have guests over so soon after Uncle Lysander died.
Galatea and Bas would be staying there instead. I could see my house in the distance.
“You sure you don’t want to stay with us?” Galatea said. “The place could probably use a few repairs at this point, but there’s plenty of room.”
I hadn’t realized how much I missed Fangs Island until I was right back here. The water, all the green…memories of Sunflower before he became Sunflower. And my parents too. The last time I saw them was at Uncle Lysander’s funeral…
“Nah,” I said. “I’m gonna stay with my mom and dad.” Only part of the reason was because Mom always kept plasma-fruit banana cones hidden in the freezer for when I visited.
“We’ll, uh, be here if you need us,” Bas said. “We can start the full investigation tomorrow, after everybody’s settled in, yeah?”
I knew what he wanted to investigate. (Gross stuff with Galatea.) I think she liked him too, but it was kinda hard to tell. If I got to be that close to somebody I liked, I’d make sure he always knew…
At least there was nothing like a mom’s hug, even if that hug felt sadder than I remembered.
“Hey Mom,” I said. (Dad was kind of busy with Fozzie.) “Are you okay?” I had to remind myself that even if I was in danger of losing Sunflower, she just lost a brother. I couldn’t imagine losing Lyanna…except I had, back when I was little.
“It’s been tough,” Mom admitted. “I lost so many years with him when I was a kid…and then I didn’t exactly make up for lost time. I shouldn’t have tried to hide from your Aunt Bianca so much…”
“Hey, kiddo,” Dad said, like Mom hadn’t said all that sad crap. “Say hi to your brother yet?”
Mom sighed. “Your bed’s got fresh sheets–I’ll let you get unpacked. Ice cream’s in its usual hiding spot.”
My room was exactly like I left it, even though I thought Dad would’ve given it to Fozzie while I was gone. It made me happy, like it was waiting for me this whole time.
But I had to move Mr. Bearbones off his usual spot to make room for something I brought with me…hopefully he’d understand. Bas thought it was a good idea to bring it along, and I trusted him.
My bed felt the same too, even if my butt was older.
“Mind if your dad joins you?” Dad called as he flip-flopped into the room.
Dad climbed up on the bed (it took him a couple tries, but at least he’s a vampire and can’t break his neck) and sat down next to me. For a little while, he didn’t say anything. “…Am I doing it wrong, Dru?”
“Doing what wrong?” Mom said that Dad did stuff wrong all the time, but he never minded before.
He hesitated. “…Death. I’m a vampire, you know? I’m not used to people dying. I don’t know how to talk to your mom or Bianca. I don’t know how to make things okay again. And Lysander was one of my top three favorite butlers, and now he’s…” He shook his head. “When I think about Penny or Lyanna leaving me forever…”
I didn’t want to think about losing Mom or Lyanna, not ever. I looked out the window and thought I saw my twin, even though it was probably a weird-shaped rock. Mom hadn’t said anything about Lyanna visiting.
“It’ll be okay, Dad,” I said, even though I knew it’d never be okay if Mom or Lyanna disappeared. “Mom and Aunt Bianca still have you, right?”
It probably wasn’t the perfect thing to say, but maybe there wasn’t a perfect thing to say to somebody who’d just lost a brother or a husband either. And Dad seemed happy just to be able to talk about this stuff with another vampire…
We talked all the way until it got dark, and then I was by myself again. What if Sunflower is next? a small voice whispered in my mind. What if he dies before you can find him?
“I’ll find him,” I declared. “No matter what.”
I was eager to get to bed, because maybe I’d see him again. I was in the same exact bed I was in back when I first saw the creepy blue guy with wings in my dreams…
It was still dark when I woke up to a strange sound and rolled out of bed to investigate.
And my flower was glowing with a pulsing light…
I caught one, and then they all disappeared.
But there were more outside my room…
And more downstairs…
And then I saw the old tree that had been there even before any houses on the island were built, according to Mr. Landon. (He’d warned me and Lyanna about carving anything into the trunk or climbing it when we were kids.)
It was like the tree was alive…
“What in summer’s name are you doing here?” Mr. Landon demanded. Where’d he even come from? I didn’t really care, because there were lots of butterflies and other weird bugs.
“I dunno,” I said. “My flower was glowing and I followed some butterflies.”
“Your flower was glowing,” he repeated incredulously.
“Look at all these butterflies…” Was this what it was like to be Lyanna?
Mr. Landon sighed. “You have absolutely no idea as to the significance of this place, do you?”
I shrugged. “It’s a butterfly tree, I guess.”
“Hey,” Galatea interrupted. I hadn’t noticed her sneak up either–maybe it was a fae thing. “I thought we weren’t supposed to start shit until tomorrow.”
“The fresh hell is this place?” Bas said. “It itches.”
“It’s fae,” Mr. Landon muttered.
“Fae,” I repeated. “Fae. I think…I think Sunflower wanted me to come here. I think that’s why he gave me the flower…”
I laid my hand against the bark of the tree and closed my eyes.
And then the tree opened up, like magic.
“How–” Mr. Landon sputtered.
But I didn’t care how. All I cared about was saving Sunflower. So I went inside…
“Dru!” someone yelled, someone who almost never yelled. Lyanna?
But it was too late.
I couldn’t turn back, not until I had Sunflower in my arms–or punched him in the balls.