No one’s POV
Erin had come back from her honeymoon just earlier that day. Apparently the week she’d been gone had been enough for the whole place to go upside down. And that was only looking at Xavier and his family.
Maxwell was having problems, some clients of hers were panicking for nothing because of her absence, and the man she had entrusted the green cat to had left a message saying that on the bright side, he had information on it, but on the bad side it had somehow escaped and he had no idea where it was.
And now Edmund had called her late at night in a panic, breaking down on the phone about robots and spells.
It took a while to get everyone’s stories straight. There were a lot of erratic explanations, but with Tyzel’s help she made sense of what had happened.
Xavier had lost patience and cast a morally questionable spell in a morally questionable manner, and had gotten caught. He’d panicked and cast a sleeping spell on the kids, and then had gotten knocked out by a robot – that part still wasn’t clear. The robot in question had called James, who’d come over and ‘snatched’ Xavier away. Edmund had tried to convince him otherwise, but the vampire had quickly left with Xavier to who knew where.
Erin sighed and looked around. “Where’s Nikolas?”
“Not far. The spell would’ve prevented him from leaving the house. And that’s a problem, with dad gone Niko’s stuck with the spell.” Nikita said. “There’s no one to take it off.”
Erin crossed her arms. She doubted it was an impossible task. There was usually always more than one way to fix things.
“He went upstairs with the robot.” Tyzel said. “My guess is on the balcony.”
“Where do you think he took Xav?” Edmund cut in, worriedly.
“He’s with his dad, I’m sure he’s fine.” Erin said.
“Pa,” Nikita said. “Maybe you should go lay down. It’s been a stressful few hours.”
“While you do that,” Erin began. “I’ll go check on Nikolas.”
“He probably wants to be left alone.” Nikita said, but her comment went ignored.
“I’ll come too.” Tyzel added. “If that’s alright with you.”
After the spell had worn off and Xavier had disappeared with his father, Nikolas had retreated to his room. His pa and his sister had been hard at work discussing the events, agreeing that Xavier had taken it way too far – but also trying to understand why. It’s when they started coming up with ways to help his dad get through the panic attack he was clearly forcing through, that Nikolas decided he had no want or play in the conversation. He got dressed – the sun had already begun to rise by the time they’d woken up – and then he and Oscar escaped to the rooftop balcony.
With the added knowledge that Nikolas couldn’t even leave the house to go into his own backyard without the spell acting up, Nikolas wanted one thing and one thing only – and that was to get rid of it as soon as possible.
The only way he knew how to counter a spell was with another spell. Sure, his dad was the most powerful witch in the world and made Nikolas look like less than a natural, but the fact didn’t change that he was his son and quite possibly in the top five powerful witches currently. It was still worth a try!
“It’s still not working. Not even making a dent.” Oscar said.
Even if the results were still non-existent.
“Try waving your wand MORE erratically.” Oscar added.
“Well since you know how to cast magic so much better, how about you give it a try?” Nikolas said, tossing him his wand.
Oscar caught it with a click. “Watch these rusty parts cast magic.”
“I’m watching.” Nikolas said as Oscar began to erratically wave his wand around.
Little to no magic, unsurprisingly came out of the wand. “At least I’m good at arm waving right? Your father didn’t know what hit him.” Oscar chuckled a series of clangs.
His mechanical eyes noticed the slow droop of Nikolas’ shoulders at the mention of his father.
He was trying not to let it bring him down. He was trying not to think about it. It wasn’t that big of a deal. His dad was tired and at a loss of what to do. Everyone makes mistakes. And could Niko blame him? He hadn’t been the easiest kid for him had he? It didn’t matter how much Niko had tried to behave, it had all blown up anyway and it all somehow ended up being his fault. Caging up wild animals, that’s the logical thing to do right?
If it was so justified, why did Nikolas feel so betrayed?
Because he didn’t view himself as a wild animal? Because his father had abandoned on communication? And had gone behind his back to put handcuffs on him?
Because he didn’t feel like his son anymore?
Nikolas wasn’t sure what made him sadder. The fact that his dad had given up on him to such an extent that he was being treated like a disobedient pet. Or the fact that he was glad that James had taken Xavier away.
Nikolas didn’t know how he would’ve managed being stuck in place by a spell, with his father to circle him and do his best to keep him in control. He felt shame in admitting he was appreciating the small rest his father’s absence was giving him.
He was pretty sure that wasn’t how a father-son relationship was supposed to go.
Nikolas was snapped out of his involuntary stupor as a burst of purple magic came out of his wand.
“Niko! Niko! Did you see!? Did you see!? These rusty metal pipes do have magic!” Oscar exclaimed.
Both Nikolas and Oscar froze, the robot dropping the wand, as someone came up on the balcony calling out for Niko.
“THIS IS NOT WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE.” Oscar exclaimed, his jaw clacking. “A ROBOT CAN’T CAST MAGIC. Wait who are you?”
“Hi aunt Erin,” Nikolas said, as he bent down to pick up the rolling wand. “What are you doing here?”
“Oh, I just came by to see how everyone was faring at 6 in the morning.” Erin said with a shrug. “It’s not like Edmund called me stuttering about some big tragedy.”
“A robot that can cast magic?” Tyzel muttered to himself in the background. “Now that’s unheard of.”
“How are you faring Niko?”
“Oh you know, not bad. Got plenty of sleep last night. I made a new friend.” Nikolas said, gesturing at Oscar. Said robot flinched and swatted as Nato got up from his resting spot to smell his gears. “I also learned a little more how to help someone in emotional pain. Oh, and did I mention I got kidnapped and saw a dead body? Yup, you know pretty normal stuff. What about you? How was your honeymoon?”
“Oh you know, it was all wonderful and honeymooney. I thought everything was fine when I left, but apparently I left the stove on, cause I get back and two minutes later I find out the apartment caught fire while I was gone. I learn my best friend went off the deep end and my nephew got the worst of it. To the point where his very ‘relax’ grand-father felt the need to step in. So it’s all been pretty nice. I like getting frantic panic calls from Edmund so early in the morning.” Erin replied with the same sarcasm.
“But wait…” Tyzel thought out loud. “If the robot can cast magic, and you can and Nikita can as well…”
“Exactly what I was thinking! Maybe we could join forces and take care of this spell.” Nikolas chipped in.
“I think I could manage it just myself.” Oscar declared proudly. “I think my magic is the same magic from the tattoo Niko. And I managed to get rid of your dad’s spells before. I bet I could do it again on you.”
“Oh yeah, that’s right!”
“Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s get to it!” Erin clapped.
“Pa, dad knocked us out you know. That was all him. He’s never cast a spell on us before.” Nikita voiced as she sat with her father, who’d just taken his pills.
“Your dad’s just been really stressed lately with-”
“Niko yes I know. But not me and Tyzel. We haven’t done anything and he still made us sleep.”
“Xavier panicked-” Edmund began again.
“Yes I know, but why? If dad did it in the middle of the night, all secretive, and panicked when we caught him, it means he knows it was a bad idea. And he did it anyways.”
“We’re running out of choices with Nikolas.” Edmund admitted with a sigh.
“It’s not like dad was anymore well-behaved when he was younger from what he tells us.” Nikita scoffed.
“That’s different. The troubles Xavier got into happened to him, he didn’t go looking for them. Nikolas is only 16. Xav knows how traumatizing these kinds of things can be. He wants to avoid that for Nikolas.” Edmund justified.
Nikita licked her lips. “Yeah well, he can add this on the list of traumatizing things Niko’s living in his childhood. He looked more shaken up about this, than anything else really.”
As she spoke of the devil he came stumbling down the stairs from excitement, Nato at his heels.
“It worked!” He exclaimed, waving his arms around as remnants of purple magic fell off of him and dispersed in the air. “Oscar did a thing and the spell is gone! If you’re looking for me, I’m going to jog like three times around town, okay bye!”
Nikita and Edmund heard Nikolas run out and shut the door. Moments later, a loud clanging came down the stairs.
“Niko! Wait up! My legs don’t have a running option!” Oscar called out, his gears squeaking in protest.
“See that?” Nikita asked. “Did you see that grin?”
“The event didn’t traumatize him like you said.” Edmund nodded. Niki shook her head.
“That’s not it.” Nikita sighed, and rested her head in her hands. “That’s not it at all.”
Niki mentally crossed her fingers that her grandpa would be able to talk some sense into her dad. They didn’t need this kind of unnecessary drama in the house. Not when things had been going so well.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Xavier snorted. He was tired – exhausted – and needed to be home with his family. He needed to be there with them to deal with what had happened and help them understand why he’d needed to do it. And to apologize for panicking and putting them to sleep.
But instead he was in Stonebridge, HOURS away from home. He’d woken up in a car with his father. He thought it was for something important. James hadn’t signed a single word the whole ride over.
Turns out James had spent the car ride trying to figure out how to teach his son a lesson.
James grinned at his son.
Oh he was very serious. He didn’t have time to play dad with his 40 year old son. He’d left Assaria’s corpse with the Dragons and he had Gretel to find. But there was no way he was letting Xavier roam in Ridgevalley with those decision making skills of his.
James might not be one to talk, but for what it was worth, he had always made it a note to never use his power on his family members. Especially not his own children.
James trusted Xavier could learn this valuable lesson – by bringing life back to his yard.
“I don’t know if you’re aware, but I do have a life. I have work and a family to take care of. I can’t spend it here trying to make your dirt yard green again.” Xavier argued.
‘Think of it as a vacation.’ James signed.
“I know what you’re trying to do dad, but don’t. This isn’t your problem to fix.”
‘It is when a robot calls me to tell me my son cast a prison spell on my grandson.’
“I’m going home.” Xavier declared.
James’ gaze snapped to his son. ‘Don’t test my patience. I can always show you how Nikolas felt.’
Xavier grimaced. “It’s not the same thing.” He muttered under his breath.
‘Consider this a much needed vacation.’ James stated, only half-convincing Xavier.
A much needed vacation, for both father and son.
“Ahhhh feel that fresh air. You can smell summer, it’s just about here.” Nikolas said, letting himself sink into the grass.
“What was your dad planning to do? Keep you inside for the entire summer? That’s horrible! It’s very good that he’s gone now.”
Niko took in a deep breath. “Oscar, you’ve tried two times now to bring me ‘far’ away – without my…approval. You can’t…do that.”
“I had to try. It was the best option!” Oscar’s joints creaked as he bent down. “Don’t you see now that your dad can’t be trusted?”
Nikolas shook his head. “That’s not what this is about. You were trying to get me to run away. You can’t run from your problems Oscar. You have to face them or they’re always going to be there.”
“I don’t understand. You want to stay there and keep being pushed around by your dad?” Oscar asked.
Nikolas sat up straighter. “Ok, what if you’d convinced me? And I ran away from home. Well first off, I wouldn’t even know where to go. And then, what, am I supposed to never come back home? I’m butting heads with my dad, not pa and Niki. I don’t want to completely cut myself off!” He explained. “And running away…that’s a weak move don’t you think? It’s not even trying is it? It’s like…giving up your turf! You lost before even fighting back.”
“I don’t think it makes you weak. Isn’t there a saying? You have to pick your battles?” Oscar offered. “It would actually be a wise move to avoid facing your dad head-on again. And didn’t you already try!? Like a lot? I tried too.”
“I didn’t try hard enough. Or things wouldn’t have gone this way! Dad didn’t know what else to do.” Nikolas repeated the words he’d been told.
“Nothing. There was nothing your dad needed to do! You haven’t done anything wrong Nikolas.” Oscar reminded him.
“Agh! I know! In facts, the worst I’ve done is….well break into a police station. That’s kind of bad I guess, but I really didn’t have a choice on that. And it’s not like anybody got hurt.” Nikolas said. “I don’t listen a lot to my dad’s stay still orders.”
“Like most kids I’m sure. How does that warrant being robbed of your free will?”
“Plus it wasn’t for bad things! It was to go help your friends and things like that. Those are good things. What does your dad get out of you sitting still anyway?” Oscar creaked.
“Peace of mind. Especially since Dealer’s avenue. It’s like he thinks I’m going to go kill myself every time I leave the house.” Nikolas rolled his eyes. Nato rubbed his snout against his master’s leg. “He doesn’t trust me anymore. Actually, I don’t think he ever trusted me at all.”
“I’ve said it before, but I’m going to say it again. Your dad is a control freak. He needs to keep you in line to breathe. But you don’t need to deal with that! At all! There aren’t enough years in a life to waste it like that.” Oscar said. “And I mean, you know, you could just leave and stuff, and not deal with that. We could go far far far away…”
“What if…” Nikolas began slowly. “I left. Do you really think my dad would let things be? With all the power he has and that he’s willing to use, would he really let me leave?”
Oscar cleared his pipes. “Well uh…”
“He could find me anywhere I went. He can put me to sleep at will. Find a way to restrict me, and he’d have a spell for that.” Nikolas voiced. “I bet there’s even some kind of brainwashing spell. At this point, I’m pretty sure everything’s acceptable.”
“But I’d be with you. I can get rid of your dad’s spells!”
“And then what? Dad’ll just cast a spell on you.” Nikolas shook his head. “Running away simply wouldn’t work.”
“What if, we just, accidently pushed your dad into the river.” Oscar proposed. “We could frame the dog.”
“What if…instead of it being me leaving, it was dad who got the idea?” Nikolas began, his eyes widening as the thought developed.
“I don’t follow.”
“Yes, yes, I have an idea!” Nikolas said, suddenly shooting to his feet.
It didn’t take two seconds for him to sprint off towards the bridge. Nato was quick to follow suit.
“Oh not running again! These are bad joints for running!”