Chapter Twenty One - Firebird

On New France

Priam was sitting in the Sunset;

"I feel," he shares, "invigorated by the beauty, as if it flows into me, cleans my spirit."

That's pretty poetic.

I lean to kiss him, but he is not into sex or love. He rises, moves towards the River, into the darkening.

Oh yes, there are many many dark corners in Priam and I will not push into them.
There has been a withdrawing. I feel it. The trust he had for me when he said:

---
"I can not promise how long it will last,
but right now I want to be here, with you.
I like what you do. I like how you do it,
and I want to be part of it. Part of you."

---

has ebbed and I need to get it back.

I turn away, go into the house, phone my mother. She wants to know about Superboy.
tell her I'll bring him for a visit tomorrow.

I move to the veranda, peer into the night. The Sun has set. It is dark. Priam is
somewhere in that dark. Should I put on the lights which illuminate the water?
Or should I leave him in the darkness, the darkness he has chosen?

I sit, Jeannie brings me a glass of wine. I savour it, wondering if I should stay here,
waiting, or go inside. It is a marvellous evening. I once had a name for such times.

When I was a child who did not wish to go to bed. I would run into the darkness,
hoping my parents wouldn't find me, hoping to hold the warm friendly night a little longer

.But I am not a child, stealing extra minutes of the night, I am a grown woman.
I finish my wine, enter the house, and bed. If he comes to me, that is one set
of variables. If he does not, I will take no conclusion from it.

Priam is not a man from St. Regis or Baudelaire who has lived a life not unlike
my own. Priam is from somewhere of such unknowable nature I can not begin
to assume. So I give him space.

In the morning I wake alone, find him in the pool. I kneel beside him,

"You wish to meet my mother?"

"Yes."

"She expects us in three hours," (it should take him three hours to prepare).

He hoists himself from the pool. My eyes watch his naked body go into the house.

I recall a poem;
---
Beauty is that instant when
the mortal sees the divine

---
Yeah.

I stop by the liquor cabinet before I go to my room, take a stiff drink. I need to
be calm and in control. My mind skips back to the question he had asked
concerning how I was able to get him into the ship.

---- "How?"- --

Nothing behind it, nothing connected to it, just a rational explanation as to
how one can be looking at Ahmet one moment, standing in a forcefield the
next, without connecting tissue.

It's simple, of course.
Electrical impulses are interrupted.
No memories can be formed.
There is no record in his mind of walking to the ship.

The device is so tiny I wear it on a headband, and as it is calibrated to me,
it won't work properly, if at all, if another attempts to use it.

I'm not afraid Priam will use it against me, I'm afraid that Priam will try.
That is why I didn't tell him about it. I take another drink.

Stop it! I shout at myself. He is a Superboy, and they never bond with
non-Supers. Take what you get from him. Take smooth skin, delicious
kisses and pack it into memory.

I go into my room, strip, bathe, take extra time, find a really nice outfit
my mother would like, lay it out, then before I dress, go to check on Priam.

As I enter he hands me a bottle of oil. I begin to rub it on him.

"Rub it hard..."

"Lie down.." I order.

He goes to the bed, then back into the bathroom, takes a large towel to place
across the bed. He is very neat, Priam is.

I massage the oil into his back, moving down his legs, he turns over, I start at
shoulders, down, down, he wants his entire body covered, then I should use
a sponge to polish the oil into his flesh.

"Priam, we have to go, it's a long drive, just hop into your things, and you can
groom yourself in the car."

He rises from the bed, selects black silk pants, and a vest. A kind of imitation Superboy outfit.

"You are not wearing those pants without underwear. You're going to see my mother."

Adam now knows he is naked, thanks to Firebird.

The look on his face, the innocence; if I don't move, I'll have him naked on the bed and my mother will be waiting in vain. I find a long tunic, a soft beige, also silk. "Put that on, and keep your clothes on, Priam."

"Have I behaved unsophisticated?" he asks.

Jean will murder me if I agree, "No, but here, on Newfrance, it is only in your
house when there is no one around that you stroll about naked."

"But you and your housekeeper are around."

"That's different, we are part of the house." I try to sound logical.

Apparently, it makes sense to him, so he nods. I wonder about the behaviour on
their worlds. Do they walk to the market naked?

I go back into my room, pull on my outfit, style my hair. I'm ready in five minutes.
He is still in front of the mirror dealing with every lock of hair.

"In the car, Priam." I say, "My mother will be offended if we are late."

I finally get him into the car, I take us up, he is rubbernecking and I know that
he comes from some world which is either stone or sand.

"Do your parents speak French?" He asks.

"Yes, but also English, so you can understand them. They have a large farm, a lot
of crops, horses. I began aquatecture in their backyard, but the river is a bit too far
to give them the movement I have."

"Would you teach me how to do that?" he asks.

"Sure I will." I say.

And I start trusting him again.

It will take sometime to teach him aquatecture and it has nothing to do with mind
control. So maybe he had just asked "how?" as he'd ask, "How did you get the water to....?"

I'm too suspicious.
Well, maybe.

I put the car on auto. There is no traffic. My parents live in a remote section of
the planet. More remote than me. Being a Bounty Hunter means one is not popular.

Priam was fascinated by all he saw. Hills and animals, and rivers, the usual
flora/fauna of a temperate/sub tropical region. He pointed to trees which had
pink leaves, and those which dripped with fruit.

Whatever Sagir was, I did not want to see it.

Meeting the Folks

Finally we arrived at my parents home. Their house was larger than mine, done in
a mock gothic castle style and the gardens were riots of flowers.

My mother and father waited, smiling, as we got out. For a second I could see their
faces wrinkle at Priam, then, they pasted the pleasantness back on.

"Mom, Dad, this is Priam, Priam, this is my mother, Yvonne Firebird, and my father,
John Firebird."

My parents changed their usual French greetings to English, and Priam nodded, not
shaking hands, or knowing what he was to say.

My father welcomed him into the house, led him before us, as my mother jerked my
arm, "He is very dark, Antoinnette."

My mother only calls me by my full name when she is not pleased.

"Yes Mama, he is dark, and he is beautiful. Does he look familiar to you?"

Her blue eyes narrow, she shakes her head, little words tumble out of her mouth,
disclaimers. But then, then there is a moment when she realises the time to which I refer.

She exclaims in French, a bit too loud, my father and Priam turn to face her. Her hands are at her throat, her eyes wide.

And Priam says; "Do you remember the name of the prisoner that was killed? The one
whose last moments you made comforting?"

My mother seemed about to faint, my father gripped her, took her away.

"Blurting is good." I toss, moving to the piano.

"Did I speak prematurely? But she recognised me, I think."

"Do you play?" I ask, tapping a few notes.

"Will she return?" he asks.

"She will, in a time, or my father will, and he will be able to answer your question."

"My name is PriamTalVanZal. My father was TalVanZalPriam."

"You are working yourself into a frenzy. You don't know for sure if that prisoner was
your father. We haven't even judged the year this happened. Come, drink this, it is
a natural fruit and I will take you into the garden, and you will ratchet yourself down
to a minor hysteria."

Before we could step, my father's avatar entered,

"I'm sorry, you'll have to leave now," and gestured with his left arm.

I read the signal for danger, so taking Priam's arm, began to lead him back to the car.

"Why are we leaving?" he asks.

"I'll tell you in the car," I reply.

He looked around the room as if not willing to leave, at the avatar, clearly not
comprehending what had happened, nor did I, save gestures with the left arm
meant danger. That was one of the signals we used.

Inside the car, to divert, I was about to inquire; "Why have you never asked my name?"
But didn't. Instead I babbled about never asking a question in anyone's house without permission, as if it were one of those cultural rituals.

He nodded, accepting the error. I pointed out features of the land as we moved, he
asked if we would be invited back.

"Yes, but we have to wait. I'll take a couple of cases, go to Smudge, we'll come back
and it'll be as if nothing happened."

Yes, I am a liar of the first order.

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