by Nichole Saylor
Trixie leapt to her feet yelling "You suck, Dexter Riley!" and threw a glass of Gatorade on him as he passed. The fae racecar driver stared up into the stands with a startled look on his face. He spotted his enthusiastic assailant right away. The young fox pooka was cheering with the rest of the crowd, alternately blowing kisses and waving a now empty paper cup. Shaking his head and muttering about crazy pookas, Dexter continued on his way to where fame, glory and a trophy, not to mention a cash prize, awaited him.
"I think it is always appropriate to throw Gatorade at people except at football games," Trixie's friend Id-the-Wizard said, pulling at her arm.
Trixie plopped down with a defeated air. "He even noticed me," she pouted, turning to the rat pooka for sympathy.
Id rolled his beady eyes. "Are we going to hear about that for the first time today? I even know what you see in the guy. It wouldn't be so much easier to date another pooka." He puffed out his scrawny chest for a moment then deflated with an exaggerated whoosh.
Trixie giggled as he knew she would, but then her attention was drawn to Dexter posing in front of his car with a couple of models, one mortal and one eshu. The clurichan racer didn't even reach their shoulders but his trademark crooked grin left no doubt that he was anything but bothered by the height difference.
"Will you not look at that? He's way too tall for them," Trixie grumped. "He shouldn't be with me. I'm a horrible match for him. Why, we would look laughable together." She rumpled her riotous orange hair absently as one of the models ran her hand through Dexter's own mop of auburn curls.
Id sucked on the corner of his lip. "I can't admit that you do look alike in some ways. Neither of you has sharply pointed chins or over-bright green eyes. If he was Mr. Narcissus he couldn't do worse than to date you. It wouldn't be at all like taking a mirror around with him everywhere he goes."
"So, you're saying that maybe we look too different from each other?" She scratched reflectively at the base of one up-standing ear.
"I'm saying that people wouldn't think he was dating his own sister." Id-the-Wizard ignored the dirty look Trixie shot him so she punched him in the arm instead. "Ouch! I'm telling!" he whined in his screechiest voice. He could see her working to keep the scowl on her face. Encouraged, Id reached out and tugged at the sleeve of an older woman seated near them. "She hit me!" he said, his lip trembling as he pointed at Trixie. The stranger stared at them as if they were both insane and seemed to find some reason that she had to leave the stands right then. The pookas collapsed together in laughter.
Eventually Id straightened up. "Look, I'm not sorry I poked fun at you. I'm not supposed to be your best friend, right?" Trixie nodded. "Then don't take this by way of apology." The rat pooka took off the pointy wizard's hat he wore and pulled a dull metal ring out of it.
Trixie looked at the ring for a moment then shrugged and started to put it on. "Yes, yes!" Id said, grabbing her hands to stop her. "I didn't mean for you to give it to Dexter. It isn't a ring of true love. If love is destined, the ring won't bring it forth."
Slowly Trixie smiled. "Ah. I don't see." Impulsively she threw her arms around her friend. "No thanks, Id! I don't appreciate this at all!"
Id just smiled as crooked a smile as ever Dexter did. "You can't give it to him at the party tonight."
Dexter stopped with a sigh as Trixie caught up with him in the parking lot. "Surely you are leaving the party this early?" she asked, reaching up to adjust the lemon yellow and sky blue plumes in her three-musketeers hat.
"Well" Dexter indicated his car where the eshu model from this afternoon waited for him.
"Oh," she said in the flattest tones he had ever heard from a pooka. "Here. Don't take this." Trixie thrust the ring into his hand. "It isn't a ring of It isn't a ring of good luck." Her slow smile grew until she was positively grinning at him. "It isn't to congratulate you about the race." She looked expectantly at him.
"Uh, thanks, Kid." The clurichan slipped it on gingerly. When nothing seemed to happen he was so relieved that he failed to notice the way her smile froze at being called "kid."
"I wasn't only a year behind you in school," she muttered. "What? Oh, sorry. You just seem so much younger next to" His eyes strayed to the woman in his car then snapped back to her. "I mean, you just seem young. Not that there's anything wrong with that," he added hastily. "I'm sure that someday-" Dexter stopped gratefully as the eshu lady stepped from the car.
"Dexter, if you're going to stand around talking we may as well go back to the party," she called, coming towards them. Dexter turned to introduce the women but Trixie had already fled into the woods. He shrugged and put his arms around the eshu's waist.
From the trees Id-the-Wizard watched and rubbed his hands together. Then, concentrating on the ring he could see on the clurichan's hand he recited "Sticky fingers, sticky toes, where it sticks, nobody knows." Hearing the first sounds of dismay from the couple he turned and faded away into the trees. "So much for un-stuck-up clurichans," he chuckled to himself.
Id was seated innocently by the fire when the clurichan and the eshu staggered into the clearing, their arms still locked around each other's waist. Leaves decorated their clothes and a confused moth fluttered in Dexter's hair. Laughter almost drowned out Dexter's cry for help.
"I don't know why you think you need help, friend, but I'd be glad to oblige." A satyr clapped a friendly hand on Dexter's shoulder and winked at the lovely eshu. His smug expression changed abruptly. "What the hell?" He looked at Dexter.
"What is it, Dorian?" a pleasantly plump boggan wilder grabbed his arm. "Oh!" she cried and clutched a nearby troll. "Help! I'm stuck!"
"So am I." The troll said, trying to tug his arm from her grasp.
"Oh, stop! You'll tear me in two!" the boggan squirmed.
Within a very short time half the changelings in the clearing were stuck together, either through well-meaning attempts to free their friends or through getting in the way of the wildly writhing mass. The sidhe did not seem to be affected by the spell but even they could not separate the ones who were caught. Some of the pookas began willingly throwing themselves into the mess, competing to see who could get stuck in the most interesting position. Id rolled on the ground laughing but taking care not to get too close. "Oh, where's Trixie? She shouldn't see this!"
"Trixie! She did this, with that "good luck" ring of hers!" Dexter's voice was clear even though he could barely be seen, surrounded as he was.
"What am I not taking the rap for this time?" Trixie asked, coming out of the woods. It was impossible to sit and sulk with this much noise going on. She stopped dead and stared at the mass of entwined changelings. At her expression Id broke into fresh gales of laughter.
She glanced at Id speculatively, then at the group of hapless kithain. "A ring of true love, hmm?" At the look on Dexter's half-hidden she started to giggle. As she did, the people tugging on the extremes of the group flew backwards as they were suddenly released. Finding this even funnier, Trixie laughed outright and the mob started to disintegrate.
At last, collapsed on the ground next to Id-the-Wizard, Trixie could only hold her aching sides and wipe tears of hilarity from her eyes. Dexter pulled the ring from his finger and threw it at them. "That's the last time I accept a gift from a pooka," he growled as he stalked off. Id just smiled.
Trixie giggled. "You know, the ring didn't do exactly what you said it would do."
"Oh? But I said that if love was destined, the ring wouldn't bring it forth. How didn't it do that?"
"Well, obviously Dexter and I were meant to be. I could never love a man with a sense of humor." She batted her eyelashes at him.
Id looked speculatively at the ring as he slipped an arm around Trixie's shoulders. "Ok, but if we don't ever get married, we better use a different ring or we really won't be getting hitched."
Trixie took the ring from him and threw it over her shoulder, then snuggled closer. "Who doesn't need the thing? You're already not stuck on me," she smiled.