"Oi Elly, this is th' thing yeh called me about, roit?" Maeve called into the shop, having come across a very beaten-up wooden chest toward the back of Kiruto's antique store. She set her toolbox on the ground, bending over to examine it a bit more closely. It looked like a classic pirate's treasure chest, if said chest had managed to survive being shot by a cannon maybe a dozen times. She ran a hand over the lid, wincing as she almost instantly got a palm full of splinters.
"It's goin' t' be one o' those days, innit?" she whined quietly, quickly digging the splinters out of her hand before Elation could make fun of her. <I don't suppose "look, don't touch" means anything to you, does it Maeve?> Aine quipped. She could practically feel the Fae's smirk.
"Hm, yeah that's the one." Elation came in from another room in the shop. Since her boss was off visiting his daughter for the holidays and decided to stay over a little longer, she was in charge of the shop til he returned. One of the things on the list that needed to be repaired was this old chest that he claimed was from the 1900s or something. He had commented that he wanted it restored for sells purposes. When she asked where he had gotten it, he mumbled something about M-Bay or something.
Seeing as she only knew one person that could help with it, she called in Maeve- of course with pay.
"I know it's a bit of a mess, but my boss would really love it if it's restored just a bit." Elation couldn't really see what Maeve was doing by the chest but turned her head to look for the key rack, "I'm certain he left the key to this thing somewhere...?"
"'A bit'f a mess', she says..." Maeve muttered, plopping onto the ground in front of the chest. She reached into her toolbox and pulled out a pair of leather gloves, pulling them on before she started examining the chest again. This thing was a bloody disaster! Well, if nothing else, it'd be a good challenge. She grinned to herself, pulling out some sanding paper and getting to work buffing out the worst of the splintering wood.
"If yeh can't foind th' key, I can always ask Kiko t' try an' pop th' lock fer us."
Elation examined all the keys on the rack. She made a face, "I think you might have to. I don't see it here." With a sigh, she looked out front, "Oh, lovely, customer. I'll be right back Maeve- there's a mini fridge back here somewhere so help yourself, ok?" She moved to the front with a cheery "Welcome to Starlite Antiques!"
Maeve rolled her eyes. Of course there wasn't a key... Ugh, and Kamiko was so busy she could barely leave her own shop... Then again, it'd be a pain in the ass to move this thing to her store... Maybe she could try her own hand at it? She looked at the lock. It didn't exactly look all that complicated... She dug through her toolbox, finding the smallest screwdrivers she had, which were maybe a couple of millimeters thicker than your standard lockpick, and went to work.
"Ugh, c'mon yeh stupid bloody..." Wait! She reached down to where her braid rested on the floor, the bow Teruko had made for her attacked to the bottom where her hair poked out from the cloth sheath. She smiled, pulling it from the blue fabric and pulling open the safety pin that kept it in place. "Now this ought t' work!" She stuck the pin in the lock, fiddling around for a moment. WIth a soft click, the ancient lock opened. She pumped a fist in the air in triumph.
"Elly! I think I got it!"
"You did? Great! I'll be there in a second!" Elation called from the other room.
It took her a few minutes but finally she was free of her customer and went into the back again, "That was quick." Maeve grinned.
"Guess I picked up a bit from watchin' Kiko practice on me stuff." She shrugged. "Or it runs in th' fam'ly, who th' fock knows." She sat back, contemplating the chest again, before grinning up at Elation. "So, yeh want t' do th' honor?"
Elation knelt by her, "Sure, why not? Who knows, we might find actual gold or maybe some neat things from the early 1900s?" With a grin that matched Maeve's, Elation could barely contain herself, "Alrighty, Chest, what sort of booty do you have for us?"
Elation lifted the lid, finding it a bit hard but managed to open it all the way. The dust, though, was a bit much, and made her sneeze a few times. "Wha..Ah-CHOO! Frack." She blinked a bit once her eyes deemed to not water again and looked down inside the chest.
At the bottom sat a simple, if a bit elegantly carved, dirty empty cup. Nothing else.
"Well..that was..kinda interesting?"
"Are yeh serious?! Tha's it?! That's a-ah-ah-CHOO!!" The force of Maeve's sneeze literally knocked her off balance, leaving her sprawled on her back. "Tá sé seo amhlaidh amaideach..." She muttered, not even bothering to sit upright again until her own sneezing attack had passed. She looked back into the chest, covering her mouth and nose with her sleeve so as not to make an even bigger idiot of herself.
"Shit, it looks even worse on th' inside than outsoide, if tha's even possible..." She looked over at Elation, shaking her head. "I'll do me best, but I dunnae how much I'll be able t' restore it. Sorry luv."
(A few hours later)
Maeve brushed off her jacket for what felt like the hundredth time, but somehow, bits of sawdust still managed to fly free from her person. She had managed to restore the chest somewhat, although it still needed a LOT of TLC. But, she had more than a few bruises, scrapes, and what felt like endless amounts of sawdust to show for her work. She probably smelled like a workshop from the stuff, as well... With a sigh, she pushed open the door to the studio, where the rest of the band had already filed in. Elation followed behind her, still absently trying to clean that cup from the chest.
"Sorry I'm late, girls. Fixin' tha' bloody chest took a lot longer than I thought it would." Bell grinned, striding over and putting the short girl in a headlock.
"Aww look at little Maevie trying to be all responsible! It's adorable!" She sniffed the top of her head then sneezed. "Sheesh did you roll around in a pile of wood shavings or something?" Maeve shot off a series of Gaelic curses, trying to wiggle free from Bellatrix's grasp.
"Do yeh have t' do this every time I'm late, Bell?!" Finally, she managed to worm her way out of Bell's hold, staggering backward and nearly crashing into Alexis as he walked in, drinks in hand. "Oh, hallo Lex! Wot're yeh doin' here?" The Russian man shrugged, setting the drinks down on a nearby table.
"Al said you guys were rehearsing today, and why the hell would I miss a free concert?" He grinned lazily, picking up a cooler full of drinks, both alcoholic and non. "Plus, I figured I'd at least contribute something." Maeve laughed, opening up her violin case and pulling out the worn instrument.
"Well thank yeh! Yer welcome t' jus' sit back an' watch!" She turned to the others. "So... Le's jus' go ovah 'Dream's End' again, then go through th' setlist so far, yeh?"
Elation found her own place to sit to watch them rehearse. She smirked, a bit and looked over at Alex, "Hey, be a sweetheart and pass me one please?"
"Sure." He tossed her one, "What's with the cup?"
"The reason for Maeve being covered in sawdust." Elation snorted a bit and blew on it, "It was in the chest. Haven't the faintest idea what it's for." She passed it to him, "It's older than the chest, that's for sure."
"Hm..you're right about that." Alex agreed, "Though, I can't be a hundred percent on it, it looks Grecian."
"I kind of figured but it's good to have it confirmed." Elation looked at the band as Alex set the cup on the floor and opened his own beer.
"Alroit, five six seven eight!" Maeve conducted with the bow of her violin for the first few measures, then raised it to the instrument and played when it was her turn. The song went smoothly, just a few hiccups here and there from Bell and Kath. Maeve waved the bow, calling a halt.
"Bettah, but Bell, hun, yeh've GOT t' stop tryin' t' show off loike tha'! I know yer brilliant, but yeh keep missin' yer cues!" She turned to the German girl, smiling gently. "An' Kath, remembah we changed it from EDAE t' EDEA, t' make it easeah fer yeh? I know yer tryin' but if yer strugglin' still I can change yer notes again. Th' rest o' yeh, brill as always. Roit, on t' Siren's Call!" She grinned, replacing the bow on the strings and teasing a series of haunting notes from the cold wire. She looked over at Alexis. "Lex, bettah hold on t' yer drink, cos this'll blow yeh away!"
Alex grinned at that while Elation rolled her eyes with a half smile and a sip of beer. Still, she had to admit as they started up again, they were really getting better. Though no expert on music, she could hear the difference the change made. In moments like this she felt her own pang of regret. Wasting her entire youth on that when she could've done something fun like this.
"What I wouldn't give to be that young again." Elation muttered to herself.
"What?" Alex glanced at her from the band. "Did you say something?"
She downed the rest of the beer and got up, "No, nothing! Hey, I'm going to go pick up some food for everyone."
"Need any help?"
"Nah. It'll be fine." Elation told him and walked out to get her coat. Though, all missed the cup's dim glow and one of the figures drawn on it turned from an adult to a child.
"Thanks Elation!" The band chorused in four-part harmony. Alexis stopped mid-sip, raising an eyebrow.
"Do you guys always do that?" Amelia nodded, shrugging.
"Hey, it's good practice. What's next, Mae?" Maeve shrugged, shifting from one foot to the other as she thought.
"Up t' yeh all. We can either do "Storytime" t' "Scaretale", or we can--" A curious sensation trickled over her body, and she noticed she had to look up even more to meet Amelia's eyes. "Wot--" Then, the cup flashed, blinding them all. When their vision cleared...
"WOT TH' FOCK?!" Maeve squeaked, her voice now that of a child. Everyone in the room had shrunk, their forms now those of a six year old. "WOT HAPPENED?!?"
A sixteen-year-old Elation rushed back, with two platters of food and chips, to the rehearal. She wanted to whine about how ill-fitted her bra was now. Though she still had no idea how this happened. Maybe the others could help?
"Guys-!" She stopped in her tracks. Apparently she wasn't the only one that's been bespelled. "Holy Sh-er.. SHOOT, you're kids!"
A rather tearful-looking Katharina waddled over to Elation, her still long brown hair constantly flopping into her eyes.
"Elaaatioooon, please make them stooooop..." She whined, a tiny hand gripping Elation's pant leg. Behind her, Mini Bellatrix and Algieba were busy taking the room apart in order to have a "fort war", while Maeve and Amelia ran around helping both sides and demanding that Katharina join in on the action, otherwise she'd be "it". Alexis and Teruko found themselves a small corner away from all the craziness, Alexis watching with sheer glee in his young face while Teruko looked extremely uncertain about the whole thing. Maeve noticed Elation had re-entered and rushed over to her, nearly losing her balance before finally crash-landing into Elation's other leg.
"Yay yer back!! Did yeh bring th' snacks?!" She hopped up and down, trying to reach the platters of food in the still-older girl's arms.
"I.. oh..uh.." She closed her mouth after gaping for a moment then shook her head, "Ok ok.. Hey everyone! Snack time! Who want's to eat?" Maybe if she could get them to sit and eat she might figure out what the heck happened. Though, it was easier said than done. "Mae-Maeve! Do me a favor and watch Kath for me? If you do, you get a reward." Elation tried to move to the table. Ok, she can do this. She can totally take care of a bunch of kids. She's done this before. Yup. Her head bowed briefly, "I also had like.. a bunch of others to help too."
Turning, Elation had to convince Bella, Al and Amelia that eating is better than trying to destroy the world and to coax Teruko over because the girl didn't look like she wanted to be anywhere near the craziness that was Bell, Al, and Amelia. At least Alex was managable...By Managable, he wanted to talk. A lot.
"Didja' know that the dinosaurs were killed by a Me-te-o-rite?" Alex asked her. "And and that their bones are in these BIG things call tar?" He was even gesturing as she tried to fix the plates. " And and that's where gas for cars comes from!"
Maeve's face brightened at the word "reward". She took Kath by the hand, then pulled her over until she took Teruko's hand as well.
"Th' two o' yeh can sit next t' me if yeh want!" She chirped, pulling them both back to the table. With a happy grin, she looked up at Elation, as though to say "See? I'm watching them! So what do I get?"
"I don't think I like this game..." Teruko murmured, looking over at Bell and Al as the two of them ran away from Elation, who by now had a firm grip on Amelia's arm to keep her from running off again.
"Awww it'll be okay Ter-rie!" Maeve let go of her hand, slinging her arm around Teruko's shoulders and giving her a hug. Kath trembled, inching away from Alexis who, after seeing that Elation was busy, had turned to her to be the new receiver of his wisdom.
"And stay here or no dessert!" sixteen year old Elation threatened the three wild children of the group. "And you won't buy me with that puppy look either." With that, she finally was able to give them their food- a bit in smaller portions and cut up and some water. The only moment she had to herself while they ate, she went to look at the cup. There was nothing else she could think of that could do this..except the cup. Even as she looked at it, she couldn't figure out what it was.
"Alex did confirm that it was from greece, at least.." She muttered before hearing something going on at the table. "Please..no.. This is like that cartoon 'Recess with the Kindergarteners."
"Give it BACK!" Maeve shrieked, having jumped out of her seat and latched on to Alexis' back, struggling to grab the cookie he'd stolen from her plate.
"EEEEEW NOW I HAVE COOTIES!!!" He tried to shake her off, but even as a little kid, Maeve was still quite strong. Bell, Al, and Amelia all roared with laughter, while Teruko and Kath huddled together in terror.
"Gimme back me cookie!!" Maeve pounded a fist on his head, as if that would help matters at all.
"OW! Stop it you harpy!!"
"WOT'D YEH CALL ME?!? ... Wot's a harpy?"
“Hey! Stop that!" Elation ordered with a hand on her hip. "What's going on here? Maeve, get off of Alex right this second or.. or.." Quick thinking..quick thinking, this should be fast. "I'll call your moms! And you know Moms' are scary when they're really mad! And Alex, why do you have her cookie? Don't you have one?"
The entire table went quiet.
"Meep!!" Maeve instantly let go and hurriedly climbed back into her seat, eyes wide with terror. "I'll be good, ma'am!! I promise! Jus' don' call Mam!" Alexis pouted, putting Maeve's cookie back on her plate.
"It looked good and she wasn't eating it..." He mumbled. Bell looked over at Kath, who was trying to finish her meal in piece, then picked up a spoon, grinning wickedly. She loaded a cherry tomato onto it, and waited for Elation to turn her back before launching it at the German girl, who jumped a mile and knocked Teruko's plate into the air in her panic.
"Well, stealing is wrong and that's what bad people do." Elation gave him, what she hoped was an intimadating look, "Are you a bad person?" At the shake of his head, she nodded, "Good. No more taking things without permission."
Now with that settled, she turned around to go get more food when she heard the commotion again," What the- Good gods, what's going on now?" Under her breath she muttered, "I'm never having kids! Ever~"
Teruko stared as her plate fell to the floor, tears forming in the corners of her eyes,
"But I wasn't done..." She whimpered. Kath apologized profusely, but the words came out in German. Bell and Al tried to suppress their giggles as best they could, while Amelia continued eating contently. Maeve looked over, frowning at her plate, before sighing and scooting it toward Teruko.
"Yeh can have some o' mine, if yeh want?" Teruko nodded.
"Thank you." She started eating, though still looked thoroughly depressed. Maeve looked over at Elation, then scooted out of her chair and plopped to the ground, waddling over to the teen.
"Do yeh need help?" She reached up, as though to take the tray that was at least a couple of feet over her head. "Mam always says we need t' help out a' home."
Elation just sighed but it sort of seemed that the situation resolved itself. Sort of, she still had to clean the floor. Though glancing over at Maeve, she smiled a little. "Ah.. See if you can find a dust pan somewhere- and be careful. Gotta clean this up."
Maybe it wasn't too horrible?
Elation went over to the table and set the weird cup down before grabbing some napkins to clean up, "If everyone is good- we'll watch LOTS of movies!"
Because kids like..cartoons right? Wait, what if they're sleepy? She looked around but could only see the big coats that were left. Well, they would do for blankets or something..right? Right.
Maeve beamed and went off to do as she was told, saying something about an "adventure through the woods". The others all perked up at the word "movie", and soon Elation was swarmed by the group of children, all (well, most. Kath still remained soft-spoken) shouting out which film they wanted to watch. Amelia and Alexis soon got into a heated argument over which Disney film was better, while Bell and Al tried to sneak off to find the movies. Kath hoisted herself up to the keyboard, trying to keep herself content by reading through the book of sheet music resting on the stand. Teruko remained by Elation's side, seemingly uncertain on which group she wanted to follow. A few minutes later, Maeve returned with a dust pan and brush in hand, grinning triumphantly.
"Miss Elly! Miss Elly! I found it!" She paused and turned, as though listening to someone who wasn't there, then giggled. "Well, Aine is th' one tha' found it, but still! Here it is!" She blinked, listening again, then set down the brush and pan, then fiddled with a chain that was around her waist. She took it off, the familiar green-and-gold pendant that was her adult-self's transformation item hanging from the chain, then held it out to Elation. "An' she said fer me t' give yeh this, so yeh can see her too!"
"Ack! um, guys, calm down?" Where's an adult when you need one? Still Elation wasn't sure what to do now and lightly pats Teruko's back, "Hey, it's ok. Why don't you sit over by Kath until the movie starts, ok?"
With a nod from Teruko, Elation breathed out and turned to Maeve, "Thanks, kid'o." Though she was really puzzled by what she said until it dawned on her. Aine? Oh THAT one! Wow, how could she ever forget that?
Which brought her to the realization that if this didn't get fixed soon, they're definitely going to have a Neverland thing. Still she took the necklace from her, "So um, how about helping me keep an eye on the others for a second until I get the movie set up?"
"Poop-head!" Was the argument she heard brewing between Amelia and Alex which went from disney to ..this.
"Im-be-cel!" Alex shouted back.
"Eater of DIRT!"
Elation wondered how the heck did he know what 'imbecile' was, but held on to the transformation item that Maeve gave her and tried to make short work of the mess. She had a plan, but with these crazy kids, she doubt it'd work too well.. maybe?
Maeve giggled, flying across the room until she crashed into Bell and Al, sending all three of them sprawling into a giggling heap on the ground.
"Tag, yer it!" Maeve suddenly yelled, then started dashing away, with the two (much taller) girls in hot pursuit. Kath and Teruko were managing to keep themselves amused with the piano, plinking out light, vaguely familiar melodies-- extremely simplified versions of the Siren's setlist. Elation looped Maeve's pendant around her wrist as she tried to break up the argument between Alexis and Amelia.
~"You know, you're doing surprisingly well with this, all things considered."~Aine's voice whispered through her mind. When she looked up, she saw a younger version of the Fae, maybe around 16 or so, leaning against the wall, smiling in amusement. She wasn't in her sailor fuku; instead, she wore a leafy green dress, the hem of the skirt reaching her mid-thigh. Her hair was out of it's normal braid, instead cascading in ginger waves down her to her lower back. ~"If I didn't know better, I'd say you dealt with this sort of enchantment all the time."~
"I wouldn't know." Elation huffed trying to calm these two. If she didn't know better, neither seemed to have any problem with getting into a fight themselves. "Alright you two, you better knock this off or no movie for you and..No dessert either! Or.. Or Cookies! I'll give you all veggies."
"You you wouldn't!" The look of horror was enough. No sweets? only veggies? Not even fruit?!
Aine laughed, walking over to where Elation stood with the now suitably cowed duo.
~"Now that was effective. Although I would have told them no food at all, but maybe that is just me."~She looked over, smirking. ~"And you don't have to speak out loud for me to hear you, since you're holding my pendant."~ Maeve came barreling through, crashing full force into Elation's legs as she swerved to avoid Aine. Bell and Al soon followed suit, although they ran through Aine as though she wasn't even there.
"Wha-?" Elation began but whatever else she was going to say was lost because she fell over from just the sheer force of Maeve slamming into her. "Gods F-er. FUDGE!"
She sat up, really annoyed now, not that it was the kids fault, but she just didn't have the patience for all of them. Also, censoring herself was hard.
"Alright! Everyone gather up, I'll go start the movie and if anyone leaves the group without my say so, I'll turn it off, ok?" She huffed, but got back up, "Alright there, Mae?" ~"This is insane! How am I going to get us back to normal if I have to watch them? It's like looking after Bebe's Kids!"~
~"Perhaps you should show them one of your horror films, to scare them into obedience while you do research?" ~Aine suggested, clearly amused by the entire situation. Maeve managed to squirm her way out from under the dog pile that had formed when Alexis and Amelia decided to join in on the fun. She whimpered, holding out a scraped palm that had started bleeding slightly.
"Owie..." Kath wandered over, avoiding the pile like the plague, while Teruko looked around. She grabbed a napkin, then strode over to Maeve, gently wrapping it around her hand.
"You need to be more careful, Mae Mae!" She scolded gently. Aine outright laughed at this.
~"Look at that, they're practically toddlers and yet there's still some seeds of affection!"~
~"I guess so..."~ "Ok, just stay put. " Elation backed away and went to get the roll out tv. Whatever else this place was, it had a nice collection of movies on it's laptop. Or rather, someone left it and didn't put a password on it. Whatever the case was, Elation hooked it up to the tv and found The Princess and Frog, and let it go from there. She also found the First aid kit while she was at it and called Maeve over to clean it properly and put a band aide on it before sending her off to watch with the others. Finally, she got all their coats and passed them out to them, just in case they wanted to take a nap. Though quickly reassured Bell that 'no, you don't have to nap. Just watch the movies.' By the time she did all that, Elation wanted to pass out and take a friggin nap herself.
"I.. am never..having kids. Ever. Ever. Ever!"
But maybe now she could do some research?
Teruko, Kath, and Amelia almost immediately snuggled up in their respective coats and fell asleep, the excitement of the day apparently too much for them, leaving the others awake and-- so far-- enraptured by the movie, although Maeve was starting to nod off as well.
Aine laughed at Elation's last comment, draping her arms around the girl's shoulders and squeezing gently. She could feel the faint pressure coming from the gesture, along with a strange warmth emanating from the ghostly Fae's skin.
~"As I said, you've managed yourself well so far. So, what do we have here?"~She looked curiously at the cup.
Elation only nodded a bit, hell she felt like taking a nap with the kids too. Though for a second she couldn't remember what Aine was talking about until she looked at the cup. ~"Eh? That? That's..the cup Maeve and I found in the chest. It looks Greek...I think it might be responsible for everything but I'm not sure how."~
Aine reached out with one hand, tracing the cup's outline with a finger.
~"There is a lot of magic here. Ancient magic."~ She murmured, more to herself than anything. She rested her chin in the crook of Elation's neck as she thought. ~"I am not too familiar with Greek folklore, but I would assume this is the cause of the transformation. Turn the cup so I can see the figures better, if you'd be so kind?"~
Nodding, Elation turned the cup for her, sneaking a peek at the sleepy headed ones before looking back at Aine. ~"What do you think?"~
~"If I had to guess, I would say it's a spell for Eternal Youth that someone managed to trigger somehow. But it didn't trigger fully-- hence why it turned all of that lot into little children, and only you into an age more conducive to your desires, I suppose."~ Aine shrugged. ~"I'm not entirely sure how one would reverse it, though. Especially given that the spell's entire effect did not take hold."~ She looked over at Elation, chuckling as the girl suppressed a yawn. Her arms dropped to around Elation's waist.
~"But you look absolutely exhausted. Why don't you follow their example and take a quick power nap. I can keep an eye on things for you."~
Elation's eyes kept closing, "But...?" She mumbled something incoherent. Eventually though she really just gave in and nodded, "M'kay..just a nap.."
Aine smiled, gesturing for her to take one of the available coats, and found a corner built up with squishy-- and ideally comfortable-- sound proofing material.
~"Sweet dreams, Elation."~ Once the girl had fallen asleep, Aine grinned. Now the fun could begin! She walked over to where the children had all fallen asleep, then poked Maeve's shoulder. ~"Hey Maeve, wake up!"~ The Irish girl slowly woke, blinking blearily.
"Wot is it, Aine?" She mumbled.
~"Do you want to play a fun little game with me?"~ Maeve brightened at the word, waking up fully.
"Sure! Wot game?"
~"Keep away. Round everyone up, and we'll head out to the Playground. Just make sure you bring that cup over there with you, okay?"~ Maeve nodded, and proceeded slamming into everyone to wake them. After explaining Aine's idea, the group took off for the playground, Al, Bell, and Maeve of course taking the lead, with Amelia dragging an extremely reluctant Kath behind her.