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Something Wicked - Independence Day


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Earlier on the Fourth

 

Bey-bey’s hooves beat a steady tempo on the ground as Quinn rode. For once, she was alone, just her and her horse, on her favorite trail. She loved the way the trail switched back and forth, and how there was a steep slide to one side and a softer drop on the other side. Silas had offered to come, but she’d said she needed to focus on refining her pacing. He’d known that it was an excuse to be alone but he’d just smiled and said he’d see her at the celebration. 

 

That was, she reflected as the chestnut Arabian kept up her trot, the best part about Silas. He knew her so well she didn’t always need to tell him what was going on. Which made her wonder why she hadn’t told him about Keith. They hadn’t really had time to just sit and talk, but she could have brought it up. 

 

Honestly, though, she didn’t want to. Quinn could never remember having a subject that she didn’t want to discuss with Silas. There’d been things she’d hadn’t cared enough about to bring up, but nothing she’d actively not wanted to talk about. It was weird, and uncomfortable, and she didn’t like it.

 

A bicycle shot down the hill to her left, zipped across the path as its rider yodeled an alarm, hit a rock to the right of the path, and somersaulted into the trees. Bey-bey neighed in alarm at this strange creature and spooked to the right, nearly throwing Quinn. 

 

“Shit, whoa! Baby, it’s okay, whoa, whoa, it’s okay!” Quinn said soothingly as she kept the horse from bolting for home. Once she had the mare settled, she slid off and hurried to where she’d seen the biker disappear. From her angle on the path, all she could see were wheels and the bottom of someone’s sneakers. “Ohmigawd!” she yelped, pulling her cellphone out. “I’m calling 911!”

 

“No, no, that’s okay.” Keith grunted and his shoes disappeared into the brush. “I just gotta-- Shit! Good news.”

 

“I’m not talking to you,” Quinn said icily. 

 

“Good news, I found a blackberry bramble,” Keith continued, “bad news, I really need help getting out of here, Quinn.”

 

“I should leave you!” she yelled. 

 

“What’d I do?” he protested.

 

“You lied!” 

 

“Did not!”

 

“Did too!” 

 

“Did not!”

 

“Did too!”

 

“Fuck! Owwwww! About what?” Keith yelped.

 

“You said Silas called me stupid!” Quinn barked. “He never would!”

 

“He di-- Look, I’m gonna pass out if I can’t get rightside up, and if I don’t get help, I’m not going to be able to father children cause the seat post is driving a thorn right into my dick!” Keith’s voice had become pleading. “Look, you’re mad, but you’re not a monster!”

 

Quinn rolled her eyes. “I should let the bike geld you--”

 

“Quinn! Yer violating my Geneva Rights!” he yelled. 

 

She blinked. “I… am?”

 

“Aren’t reproductive rights protected by Geneva?” he asked nervously. “Someone protects it, I know it!”

 

“Of course someone male does, since all men protect each other’s dicks,” Quinn mumbled and led Bey-bey to a small tree. She tied the mare there with a lead rope, then eased down the slope. The blackberry bramble was small, as they went, but Keith had landed right in the middle of it. With her pulling on the wheels of the bike and him wiggling, they managed to save Keith’s ability to procreate. He wasn’t able to escape without a number of scratches, and Quinn winced when he finally stood next to her on the path.

 

“You look like you pissed off a million cats at once,” Quinn remarked.

 

“I wouldn’ta hit Silas if he hadn’t called you stupid, Quinn,” Keith said earnestly. “I think you’re the smartest girl I know, and I couldn’t let him say that!”

 

Oh! My! God!” Quinn jabbed a finger in his chest. “I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself. You, Beau-- Y’all need ta back the fuck off because I can handle myself!”

 

“Alright,fine, I got it, so can we say what happened between Silas and I is between us guys, and you and I can stop fighting about it?” Keith asked.

 

“No, you owe me an apology,” Quinn said, folding her arms.

 

Keith narrowed his eyes and Quinn sighed as she realized he had no clue. “I’m sorry,” he said.

 

“For?”

 

“Foooooor,” he drawled, clearly stalling, “telling you that Silas called you stupid?”

 

Quinn untied the horse and mounted back up. “Think on it and try again,” she said. “Maybe ask Jo?” Then she spurred Bey-bey to a gallop. He yelled after her, but she didn’t stop, and she didn’t stop when her text notification chimed either. 

 

Once he was out of sight, she checked the message from Keith. //Are you coming to the 7/4 party tonight? I wanna win you a stuffed bear.

 

Quinn smiled a little, then stuffed her phone in her pocket. Ignoring further texts, she focused on what she came out here to do: improve herself in the sport she loved.



 

That evening

 

Quinn and her family rode into the fair together, parking on the street and opting to walk the short distance. Before they had even fully arrived at the gates, they were met by Marion Parker. She was well-known to them as she headed up 4-H in the area and had been trying to get the Hollins kids involved for years. Hence, none of the Hollins thought much of it when she hurried toward them as they walked. However, instead of launching into a passive aggressive attack on her favorite dead horse, she said, “Quinn, sweetie, oh I’m so sorry!”

 

David and Holly exchanged looks as Quinn wrinkled her nose in confusion. It was Beau who said, “What’s goin’ on now, Mrs. Parker?” 

 

“Oh, I just know how close Quinn and Silas are, and I was just coming to make sure she’s okay,” Mrs. Parker said. 

 

“I think she’s fine, thanks,” David said quickly, unsure what this was about but knowing that in addition to running 4-H, Marion was an incorrigible gossip. There was no telling what she might be about to console his daughter for, and David wanted to head it off.

 

“Oh, are you sure?” Mrs. Parker asked, turning to Quinn. 

 

“Did Silas get hurt?” Quinn asked, trying to figure out exactly what she meant.

 

“Oh, I just meant because he has a,” she paused and added with scanalized delight dripping from her voice, “boyfriend.”

 

Beau snorted. “No way.” His father cleared his throat, and Beau hastily added, “Mrs. Parker.”

 

Quinn had about two seconds to decide how to play it and she went for casual and hoped she’d made the right call. “Yeah, you mean Dylan, right?” Mrs. Parker blinked in shock and Quinn shrugged. “I’m not thrilled but it’s not a big deal.”

 

David and Holly exchanged another unreadable look and then Holly said brightly, “I believe that I finished my chores this morning before you other losers, so I’m owed some cotton candy. Who’s paying?”

 

“We all are,” Beau grumbled, “since you won’t shut up about it.” 

 

Holly backhanded him lightly on the arm and he staggered sideways dramatically, catching himself on the fence. “I think I just heard the Tribute speak up,” David said with a laugh.

 

“Yeah, totally.” Quinn dogpiled eagerly on her brother.

 

The four of them headed for the main drag, staring around at setup. Quinn rolled her eyes at the sight, thinking It’s no wonder Evelyn’s parents got found and killed by bad guys if this fanfare is normal. Might as well mount a glowing sign that says, “Kill me here”. It was excessive and extravagant, and Quinn vowed she’d never go this crazy with magic. 

 

“Hey.” Beau had sidled up to her and leaned down to mutter in her ear. “Is it true?”

 

“What?”

 

“Silas and that trap.”

 

Quinn punched him in the arm, scowling at him. “Don’t talk about Dylan or anyone that way, asshole. Christ, if Mom heard that--”

 

“Mom is hearing cussing, and she’d better stop hearing it,” Holly called over her shoulder with a meaningful glance at her daughter.

 

“Ow!” Beau said, rubbing his bicep. He said it loudly enough for both parents to hear but as usual, they ignored Quinn beating on her brothers. “God, Quinn, that hurt!”

 

“Good!” Quinn caught his arm and stopped him in the crowd, shaking her other finger at him as if he were still five. “I get not liking Dylan, but this is what Silas wants so you’d better not talk like that in front of them! Or I’m gonna tell Mom you’re an asshole and she can deal with you.”

 

“I just… Silas’s never looked at boys that way,” Beau said, batting her finger aside with a push.

 

“That you know,” Quinn said, rolling her eyes. “And why would he tell a hormone-laden Neandetral who talks like a f-- effin’ bigot?”

 

“Hey, I was jo-- Fine, I’m sorry,” he grumbled. One difference between the Hollins kids and their peers were that their parents had both gone to liberal colleges, and had somewhat more left views than their neighbors. “I mean, what’s he see in him?”

 

Quinn rolled her eyes. They must be ‘soulmates’, she thought sarcastically but didn’t say it aloud. “I dunno, he’s pretty I guess, but I couldn’t tell you either.” They started walking again, following their parents’ path toward the sugar. “Just don’t be an asshole about it, okay?”

 

Beau pressed a hand dramatically to his chest and grinned. “Who, me?” She punched him again, in the same spot. “Ow! That hurt. Ya better be nicer or you’re gonna die an old horse lady.”

 

“Yeah,” Quinn said, rolling her eyes at him, “that’s the actual life plan, dummy.” It was Beau’s turn to roll his eyes. “And I mean it. You better stand up for Silas.”

 

“Or what?”

 

“Or I’m gonna get in a lot of fights and Mom and Dad are going to have questions for why you ain’t lookin’ out for me.” Quinn smirked as Beau sighed. “Now, yer gonna buy me a corndog or I’m gonna have a crying fit in front of Dad about the trap thing.”

 

“God, you are the worst,” Beau growled, but he still bought the food for her.

Edited by Dawn OOC
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Hank of course did the job well, even if it was only fifty bucks.  Still, Warren had been good to them so he put his best effort into things.   He found himself thinking about Dani Church, and wondered if he should have let her have her way.  Still, as he tended to do when he was on his own, he erred on the side of caution.  She probably thought him too straight and uptight for it, but it wasn't like everyone didn't know he was a boyscout.   He let out a sigh as he head back home, he needed a good shower before her and his family went out for the day's festivities.
 

His Dad of course participated in the boat parade, and both his sisters went with him.  They came back with the customary sunburn, since they just wouldn't put on sunscreen without their mother present.   Hank got a laugh out of it, and shook his head.  "You know mom's gonna yell at you."  he was looking at his dad and sisters, and it wasn't clear if he was speaking to them, or to their dad, who just shrugged.  
 

"We've Got a number of very comfy couches for a reason son."  He said before going to get ready.
 

Once his mother got home from her halfday shift, technically it was her off day, but she still went in for half a day to make sure things were taken care of.  She showered and got ready, and the Leesford family went together to the park for the yearly festivities.   When Hank saw the spread, he smiled, and nodded.  "Mr. Claiburn pulled out all the stops for this."
 

His mother and father both nodded.  "It's certainly bigger this year than it has been in years past." his father added.   "Looks like he thought of everything.   Are you all getting along with that girl you mentioned, Evelyn?"
 

Hank nodded.  "Yeah we are.  I'm sure she'll be here today, and we'll all meet up I imagine."  it was his roundabout way of asking to be allowed to go hang with his friends after the requisite amount of family time.   
 

"I thought as much, still it's good to make the rounds as a family together, then you can meet up with your friends Hank."     His mom answered, and his sisters frowned.  "he always gets to go off on his own.."  
 

His dad chuckled.  "He's alot older, and will only be alone until he finds one of his friends, which won't take long, I'm sure."

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The Foodland was a nightmare. Jordan despised grocery shopping at the best of times. Besides being used as a mule, being taller and stronger than most full grown men, it felt like she couldn't go two steps without someone asking her to get something off a high shelf, or to put something heavy in someone's cart or to bring to the front for them. Or even bring it to their car! And these weren't the best of times. Because it was the Fourth, the Foodland was only open for a half day and it was crazy packed with people stocking up and looking for last minute supplies for Independence Day cookouts and parties.

But when she saw Meeks Park, all of Jo's irritation was flushed away in excitement, the big girl practically bouncing on her toes and clapping her hands in delight. The only magic she saw in the extravagance was the magic of money and she wanted to ride the rides and play the games - the ones based on skill instead of luck anyway - and win herself one of those big stuffed animals. She didn't need a boyfriend to win her a prize, and she would have been affronted if her supposed boyfriend had offered. The smells coming from the BBQ Pit were delicious - this was most definitely going to be a cheat day.

Jo was sure glad she'd earned herself some pocket money this summer. She was probably going to spend a good chunk of what she made on this one day.

Her parents Grant and Sky went off with her eldest brother Aidan and his petite girlfriend, while she went off her own way to explore and participate, Banner at her side, the twins Craig and Keith following her after sharing a look and a bout of twin telepathy. They wouldn't compete against her in any of the games - unless if was for fun and they didn't mind losing - but they weren't above taking advantage of her athletic prowess to win some side bets, or egging others on to challenge their oversized sister.

The Johanssons had all noticed Keith's state, as though he'd lost a fight with barb wire, but to all inquiries by Jordan, Craig, Aidan, Grant, and Skye, he'd resolutely remained mum, though his face had reddened in embarrassment. Keith was summarily teased mercilessly by his siblings as they conjectured what he'd done.

While Jo and her brothers strode through the fair, Jo trying this game or that, Craig noticed her looking over the crowd with casual intensity, as though looking for someone. Dressed in a pair of Daisy Dukes - Banner's leash threaded through the loops as an impromptu belt - and a white AmazonTM T-shirt that had been a size too small last year when Roach had gotten it for her and now looked like it was about to explode, leaving no doubt as to the colour of the bikini top she wore underneath and a wide swath of hard, deeply incised midriff bare, Jo drew her own fair share of attention.

"If it's Dex you're lookin' for, Jo, he ain't back in town," Craig offered. Jo might tower over him by closing in on a foot, but she was still his little sister.

"What? No! Ah ain't lookin' for nobody!" Jordan protested sharply, tanned cheeks pinking as she turned away from looking for someone wearing a leather jacket despite the heat, to brace the crossbow against her shoulder at the target shoot stall. She glared down at Craig and he thought it was probably a good thing Dex wasn't around with Jo having a weapon - even if it was a Carnival version - in her hands. "'Specially not Dex!"

Past noon, Jo had a giant, stuffed, green - ... she called it a tiger, since it looked like Tigger to her - riding her shoulders, her other prizes dropped off at the Twins' pickup. Her big Kangal Shepherd trotted happily her side, a pink giraffe or dinosaur held in his mouth. He'd destroyed the purple frog in seconds. She won far more than she'd lost and had dominated the High Striker. There'd been a guy there even bigger than her there, but he'd been clumsy with the mallet and she'd hadn't been.

It never even occurred to her that she might have been able to use magic to skew the games even more to her advantage.

Now she was gunning for the BBQ Pit for a lunch break, Keith breaking out from his sullen slouch with the same idea. Craig slumped after them, looking a little green after a milkshake and some corndogs and being whipped around on the Sizzler.

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Darryl was in a good mood for once, though he did his best to not show it. Things were finally looking back up again. Maybe, just maybe, Dad could turn things around and they could get out of this two horse town. Or maybe he wouldn't be so lucky and something else would happen. But hey, at least there were the trails, those were fun with his bike. And the big girl, she had been fun. The dreams... yeah. Things were looking up. Though there was this carnival... fair... whatever it was that they were taking him to. Dad said it was some kind of tradition in these parts, but ugh, what could be so good about it.

 

Boy was Darryl wrong. It turned out to be rather decent, for a small town of course. And they had actual good food. His parents and he avoided most of the games that seemed rigged, instead going for the skill based ones. Darryl managed to get a stuffed monkey from the game where you throw darts at balloons and pop them. All the while he kept his eyes and ears open, scanning the top of the crowd, but nope, nothing, didn't see her.

He frowned to himself and shrugged, looking for his opportunity to ditch his parents and go off on his own. It was isolating not knowing anyone here... but how the hell was he supposed to meet anyone with his -parents- around. Soon he would find his moment.

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