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[personal profile] gifted_hands
One song, hm?

Drought - Vienna Teng

Rather an odd song to be listening to on one's birthday, isn't it?

I've been listening to it off and on for weeks, now. I couldn't say why, for certain, but I was listening to it earlier today when I felt four familiar people cross my wards and walk up to my home in Santa Barbara. My two older brothers, Anraí and Rory ... I'd been expecting them ever since Anraí called a few weeks ago with a determined note in his voice. But my father and my younger sister Caitlín ... I hadn't realized they'd come as well. But when I opened the door, I wasn't surprised to see a cake box in Cait's hands. If Mohammed wouldn't come to the birthday celebration, apparently the birthday celebration would come to Mohammed. Not that my birthday was the only reason for the get-together.

Rory and I have worried the entire family it seems. Ever since ... ever since last August. And now the family is determined to do something about it.

I hope they can. I'm terrified they can't.

Date: 2009-03-01 06:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Happy birthday, Tadhg...


I am...I don't suppose 'sorry' even comes close to expressing what I feel here but I don't have any other words for it either. I'm sorry for any and everything that has caused upset in your life as a result of...well, my overwhelming stupidity for lack of anything else to call it. And I apologize, too for causing your family to worry--for there being cause for them to worry. About you, about Ro...

I...I've been selfish and rather willfully ignorant, I know. I hadn't realized either one of you...I'm so sorry.

Date: 2009-03-01 07:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you, Pippa. It's good to hear from you.


Oh no, lass, don't ... what happened was not your fault. You've no need to apologize for the simple, basic instinct to trust.

If anyone's been stupid here ... well. I should have spoken to my father ages ago. Or my grandparents.

Date: 2009-03-01 08:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I should probably make more of an effort to keep in touch with people--I've been completely wrapped up what I'm working on, if it weren't for it being his studio, I wouldn't even see much of Alessandro these days.


Still, I am sorry that you managed to be dragged into a mess of my own making. As for talking, I'm starting to think that more than one person has been quite idiotic for not speaking up about things.

Date: 2009-03-01 07:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I hope I get the chance to see your work some day.


I think it's too easy a pattern to fall into when something so massive happens. Everyone assumes that everyone else already has more than enough to deal with ...

Date: 2009-03-01 07:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You have, Tadhg, even if you don't realize it. You were in my apartment on Staten Island and I know you've been to Last Call.


That's not exactly why I wasn't talking to Ro but you're right.

Date: 2009-03-01 06:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Chantal knew it was his birthday and she knew she should have made an effort to stop by earlier in the day but well, it was on her way home and she had been busy and then there was the fact that she did have a present for him. That would soften the blow that her birthday wishes were coming when there were but a few short hours left to the twenty-eighth of February, right? Right.

She parked on the street, at the curb just before Tadhg's drive and spent a few minutes readjusting the bow holding his gift together. The bookseller had gotten a bit creative with both the gift and the wrapping--such as it was, and thought that the overall effect was pretty and more importantly, suited the man it was intended for. Instead of paper or a bag filled with tissue, Chantal had taken a few sprigs of greenery and a handful of budding blooms and attached them with a wide ribbon, binding them to the old artist's sketchbook she was giving her friend. She had found the tome ( some time ago in an antique shop and thought of him, now she had an excuse to gift the artist with something other than the usual pint of ice cream or pet care during his out of town travels.

Smiling to herself, Chantal made the short walk to his door and instead of ringing the bell and waiting for an answer, she knocked twice and let herself in. "Hey, Tigger...where are you?"

She was actually looking around more concerned for the whereabouts of the trio for ferrets, not wanting them to make a break for the open front door.

Date: 2009-03-01 08:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The ferrets were actually behaving themselves in their cage for once, though probably not for long. The MacEibhir clan were seated around Tadhg's dining room table with cream cheese frosted slices of spice cake and cups of tea. Since he was being subjected to a mystical once-over by Da, Tadhg didn't seem to hear the knock at his door. Cait peeked into the living room just in time to see the woman's entry and hear her cheerful call.

She had to be a friend. For one thing she could walk in through Tadhg's wards as easily as a family member, and for another ... Tigger?

Cait couldn't keep her lips from quirking at the nickname. "Hullo!" she said cheerfully. "He's in here." Glancing back toward the table, she saw Tadhg blinking and looking in her direction. "You have a guest, big brother."

Date: 2009-03-01 08:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
", ah...hi?" Chantal stiffened then forced herself to relax, obviously caught off-guard at there being someone else, no make that someones else in the house besides Tadhg. As she racked her brain trying to recall if he'd mentioned expecting company or having plans for his birthday, the brunette made her way into the living room proper but didn't even attempt to enter the dining area with Cait standing in the doorway.

Holding the book up in both hands, Chantal offered Tadhg a smile, "I won't stay, I didn't realize you had company. Just wanted to drop this off for you." She hated feeling awkward and out of place (as always happened when meeting new people outside the real of bookstore customers), and the curious smiling woman with an accent to compliment Tadhg's was certainly enough to make Chantal give off an internal flail, the fact that she could see several other unfamiliar faces only made her want to cut this visit that much shorter.

"I see you Switzer, I'm not staying long enough to let you out." Chantal shifted her attention to the bird cage (and the wolf-whistle that came form the Cockatoo within) in the corner of the living room. "Horrible bird."

Date: 2009-03-01 09:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Chantal?" Tadhg's query-slash-greeting blended with Switzer's hopeful croon. Not particularly regretting the interruption to the family ... well, interrogation might be a little harsh, but it wasn't far off ... Tadhg left the table to go greet his friend.

He smiled when he accepted the book from her hands, breathing deeply of the pungent juniper aroma. He felt the age of the book in his fingertips. "It's beautiful. Thank you so much, a chara."

Tadhg fancied he could feel four sets of curious púca eyes boring into his back. Without touching Chantal, he turned and stepped to stand next to her, facing the dining room. He didn't urge her to move within handshake distance.

"Before you go, let me introduce my family. You may have heard me mention them a time or two ... my father Ruairí, my older brothers, Anraí and Rory, my younger sister Caitlín." Each MacEibhir responded with a nod and a friendly smile. "Everyone, this is Chantal Weller. She owns a bookstore in town, and she's the one who adopted Titania."

Cocking his head inquiringly, he turned back to Chantal. "Sure I can't interest you in a piece of cake? Cait's a superb baker."

Date: 2009-03-02 01:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Chantal waved a hand as he introduced his family, the names familiar enough to her and at least the woman's accent fit. There were also similarities and likenesses between all of them, Chantal could see a familiar smile here and an identical tilt of the head there. Yes, these people were all related to Tadhg but none of them gave off quite the same odd vibe that the artist did. She had decided it was his being fey that explained it but now she wasn't so sure.

"Mmm...I don't want to intrude on family time." Her refusal of cake wasn't very adamant, Chantal could tell that Tadhg wasn't exactly enjoying whatever she walked in on. Maybe she should stay a bit, give him a breather. Her tone turned to something that said maybe she could be bribed, "How good is this cake?"

And of course, there was also Switzer in the corner of the room. Now the large bird was bouncing on his perch, crest of feathers making a pretty display along the top of his head. Chantal maneuvered around Tadhg and towards the cage, obviously at home in this space. "Oh, all right, you flirt."

She lifted her hand to open the cage before bothering to turn back to Tadhg, "There aren't any open windows I should know about, are there?" She wasn't going through that fiasco again. Horrible bird.

Date: 2009-03-02 03:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Three layers of spice cake with cream cheese frosting," Tadhg elaborated. "It's delicious." Cait blew him a little thank-you kiss. "And you're certainly not intruding. Everyone will be here for a while yet." Until we've done what needs doing had been his father's rather ominous phrasing.

He chuckled, both at Switzer's attention-demanding antics and the slightly oh no expression creeping over Anraí's face. "No, no open windows. You can take him out safely." Well, safely for Switzer, anyway.

As Chantal went about getting the cockatoo out of his cage, Tadhg reached up to press his ward against his chest. Speaking silently to his siblings and father through their wards, he told them to avoid touching Chantal in any manner, and he'd ... well, he wouldn't explain later, but he'd give them what information he could.

Date: 2009-03-02 03:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Oh, all right..." As if she were doing the birthday boy a favor by eating his cake. There was the added bonus that she wouldn't need to worry about dinner when she got home and the fact of the matter was, Tadhg had yet to ever lead her astray where dessert foods were concerned. If he said it was good...

"Here's my pretty boy," Chantal was murmuring softly to the bird as he walked up the length of her arm until he felt satisfied with his living perch. Switzer gave her another pretty caw and ruffled his feathers a bit, showing off or preparing to groom himself, she wasn't quite sure. "Well you don't get any cake, no."

But she did know where the birdseed treats were. Chantal gave the quartet in the dining room another smile as she walked to the kitchen pantry and found the container she wanted. Of course, the container wasn't where she'd have placed it but Chantal wasn't about to chastised Tadhg for his lack of organization in front of his family. Whistling softly to get Switzer's attention, she held out a small bell-shaped object made mostly of seed. "Nummy. You want this? Hey...bird. Hello?"

Switzer's attention was elsewhere despite the whistles and the waving of the treat well within his line of sight. "Okay, I know it's not cake but come on...I'd eat this. Maybe." She wasn't so sure she wanted to snack on Cockatoo treats that had a funky vitamin smell to them but she'd eaten odder. "Your bird has gone full retard here, Tigger."

She was referencing Tropic Thunder and the last movie night they'd had. Apparently, or so Chantal thought, she'd insulted the avian diva because he took flight and found himself a new place to sit within the dining room. The top of the curtain rod directly above one of Tadhg's brothers. Nonplussed by the bird's fickle behavior she simply went about getting a a plate a fork out of the kitchen for herself. She wasn't in any hurry to join the party in the dining room, though had she been aware of Tadhg's gentle warning to his family, she might have hesitated a bit less before finally making her way into the room.

"You baked this?" She was looking at Cait, a bit surprised at the professional icing job on the sweet dessert.

Date: 2009-03-02 05:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Tadhg didn't miss the twitch of Rory's lips at Chantal's nickname for him. His older brother started to hum, very nearly under his breath, but púca hearing was sharp enough to pick it up. The wonderful thing about Tiggers is Tiggers are wonderful things ... Da quashed any more overt teasing with a look, though amusement sparkled in his own dark eyes. Fortunately Cait was too busy slicing the cake and Anraí was too preoccupied keeping a wary eye on Switzer to contribute.

Tadhg's dining room table was large enough to seat eight comfortably, so they had no trouble making room for one more. Cait placed a piece of cake on Chantal's plate while Tadhg poured her a cup of tea. His sister nodded cheerily in response to his friend's question. "I did. I make most of the birthday cakes in this family." In addition to swirls on the sides and crosshatching on the top, Cait had sprinkled the confection with candied violets.

Collecting the cream and sugar and setting them next to her cup, Tadhg gave Chantal a deliberately bland smile. "You'll have to forgive Switzer," he said with calm gravity. "He seems to have fixated on a certain someone." He nodded at his oldest brother, who was giving the bird a don't you dare look while Switzer sized up his shoulder as a possible landing pad.

"I can't think why," Anraí sighed. "I certainly don't encourage him." At the sound of his voice, Switzer keened and dropped down to perch on him.

Date: 2009-03-02 05:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Looks like true love to me," Chantal couldn't keep from laughing at the bird's antics as he tried to nuzzle against the side of the man's neck. She did have an older sister and wasn't immune to the urge to tease people, something Tadhg well knew from personal experience. "It could always be worse, those ferrets seem to have this bizarre fascination with stealing my car keys."

With that she gave Tadhg a grin. "Too bad for them, I've started leaving the keys in the car." This was the solution she came up with for that particular issue the last time she was on house sitting/pet caring duty for the púca. "Thank you."

She fixed her tea and curled herself into something close to the lotus position as she sat in one of the chairs, another creative solution to inadvertent problems. A full table meant there stood a good chance of a knee bump or a foot brush from someone and Chantal was always careful about minimizing such risks. Taking a bite of the cake, she again addressed Cait, "This is amazing. really. I'm not going to ask what you put in it, I'm sure I'm better off not knowing."

Vegetarian, she was still willing to turn a blind eye to some things as long as she could claim some sort of ignorance.

Date: 2009-05-09 07:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Switzer started to ever-so-delicately nibble on Anraí's ear, triggering an amusing (for Tadhg anyway) what are you like, bird?! look, leaving Rory to chuckle at her description of the ferrets' antics. "I'll have to keep your solution in mind. The little thieves filched my wallet last time I was here -- now come on, Switzer ..." The tallest MacEibhir was trying to help out his older brother by coaxing the cockatoo onto his own arm. Switzer was having none of it, pressing himself up against the side of Anraí's head.

Smiling at the contest of wills, Tadhg forestalled Cait's look of concern at his friend's comment about cake ingredients. "Chantal's a vegetarian, Cait."

"Ah." Judging by her expression, little sister had picked up on the corollary of so we'll politely not discuss the eggs, honey and butter then. She already knows about the cream cheese, anyway. "I'm glad you like it, Chantal. Next time I bake for big brother, I'll keep that in mind."

Date: 2009-05-09 08:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Oh, bird. Chantal laughed and tried to look apologetic as she watched Anrai and Switzer. "I wouldn't have let him out if I'd known..." A quick glance at Tadhg, "Maybe."

And she waved her fork back and forth at Cait's comment, "Oh, it's all right. PETA might string me up for eating this but they're not here so." She took another bite of cake and enjoyed it for what it was. "Tigg--Tadhg didn't mention anything about having a family celebration, not a planned birthday visit?"

Of course, he hadn't said a whole lot of anything to her lately, as incommunicado as he'd been." She also scraped a lot of the frosting off her cake and piled the forkfuls onto her somewhat moody friend's plate. "I don't need to be bouncing off the walls later."

Date: 2009-05-09 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Tadhg responded to Chantal's quick look with a cheerfully naughty grin. "I would." And had, when it came to letting Switzer annoy his oldest brother. Anraí's arched eyebrow and snort confirmed this, at least until the look gave way to a relieved/amused smile when Rory finally persuaded the reluctant cockatoo to perch on him for a while.

Ruairí gave his son's friend an easy smile as he answered her question. "It was rather last minute, yes." And clandestine, though Tadhg couldn't truly say he'd been surprised. "It's difficult for all of us to fit a trip into our schedule at the same time, so when we found a gap of a few days ... well, it's been a while since we were all in Santa Barbara together."

Tadhg arched his eyebrows at the wads of frosting appearing on his plate, a look that said and I do? But he still smiled and ate some. Puca/sugar = OTP.

Date: 2009-05-09 11:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Perfect time of year to enjoy the city, in before the tourists are crawling everywhere." Not that she didn't appreciate the business they bring but she didn't really care for the change in the feel to some of her favorite haunts when they're buzzing with out-of-towners. Plus, it's just that many more people to avoid, physically.

Tadhg and his frosting got a knowing smirk from her as did his comment about turd-bird. "So, what's with Switzer thinking you're his girlfriend?" She had to ask Anrai, even if the answer was somehow tied up in Tadhg's oft-odd sense of humor and way with animals. She really wouldn't put it past him, after all, to instigate the matter.

As it stood, she wasn't so sure he didn't have anything to do with the ferrets harassing her.

Date: 2009-05-09 11:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Chantal has brought him presents and ice cream, adopted his snake and cleaned some highly questionable things out of his refrigerator. Surely she didn't believe that Tadhg would repay all that by setting his ferrets on her?

Anraí and Switzer ... well, there he might need to take the fifth. He filled his mouth with another bite, oozing innocence.

"I wish I knew," Anraí replied. "I personally think little brother should set the featherball up with a real girlfriend, but Tadhg tells me that even that might not break the bird of his ... preoccupation." Biggest brother's narrowed eyes showed that he might harbor a few suspicions about Tadhg's veracity there.

Date: 2009-05-10 12:13 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Brought him presents because she likes him, cleaned things out of the fridge because they scared her, adopted the snake because she wanted a companion she could didn't preclude his possible guilt in mostly harmless hijinks.

As she sipped her tea, she gave Switzer a thoughtful look as he sat on Rory's shoulder. "If he's that much of a pest, birdie boy can always come chill at the bookstore while you're here." Anytime you're here, really. Chantal really didn't mind Tadhg's menagerie.

And speaking of her livelihood, Chantal turned her attention to Cait again, "Owner and operator of Bound By Interest, bookstore downtown." A bit of explanation as her eyes lit up with more than friendly interest, "Tigger's outed your pen name and I do happen to have a handful of your books on my shelves. I won't ask you to come in, you're here for family and not business plus your agent would likely want my head on a pike for not going about things in the proper channels." Oh, how her tone denoted her opinions of red tape and nonsense, "Buuuuuuuuuut...if I bring a few copies of your latest over, do you think you could sign them?"

Date: 2009-05-10 02:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Since the two-leggeds were obviously talking about him-- because really, why shouldn't they be? --Switzer spread his wings and lifted his crest in proud display, throwing in a wolf-whistle for good measure. He then bobbed his head in Anraí's direction several times.

Once the laughter from that died down, Cait turned her smile on Chantal. "I'd be happy to sign those books for you, Chantal. But really, I'm sure I could fit in a visit to your store with no problem. I love bookstores, especially independent ones, and we're certainly not going to spend the entire trip cooped up in the house." They'd need some breaks from sorting out her brothers' emotional bits and bobs, or they'd all go stark raving.

"And as for my agent ..." Her smile shifted to something decidedly minxish before it disappeared behind her teacup. "... what he doesn't know won't elevate his stomach acid."

Date: 2009-05-10 02:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Oh, that case." She grins and lifts her cup in mock salute. "And no, I wouldn't suggest staying here specifically." She gave Tadhg a sharp look before smiling at Cait again. "He's been home alone too long, I'm sure he's managed to just about undo every attempt I made at organizing his messes since the last time he took off for parts unknown."

Not that Tadhg was a total slob, he just seemed to have a system of organization that defied any form of logic Chantal could identify. "Sorry to rag on you on your birthday, Tigger."

But not sorry for ragging on him in general.

"And if you want to flee all this testosterone, you're more than welcome drop by either the shop or my house. Make him give you directions." Touch me not didn't equate to anti-social after all and Tadhg's sister seemed like someone she'd like to get to know.

Date: 2009-05-10 04:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Not a problem, I'm used to it." The long-suffering look on Tadhg's face was enough to inspire Cait to ball up her napkin and pitch it at him. Really, did he think he was Anraí of a sudden?

"And we will definitely get him out of the house as much as possible," she declared in tones that said It Would Be So. "He gets to be entirely too much of a recluse with his projects." The addendum even when he's in a good mood went unspoken. "And by all means we should have a just-girls visit ... perhaps for lunch?"

Date: 2009-05-12 01:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
"Oh, boo-hoo." The extent of Chantal's sympathy on this particular issue. She didn't throw anything at him, however.

"I'm not so much worried about him and his hermit ways, I do the same thing. It would be a shame for you all to miss taking advantage of such a mild winter and the beach. Not that I'd get in the water this time of year even with a wetsuit. I'm not insane." She looked at Tadhg as if to imply that he was possibly certifiable for this activity. "And a girl's night in sounds good. My sister is off in the wilds of South America somewhere taking pictures of pygmies so I'm pathetically without girl talk."

If they were all going to keep up pretenses, Chantal wasn't even going to allow herself to wonder if Irish fey folk engaged in girl talk or not.

Date: 2009-05-12 11:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Girl talk was in fact one of Cait's favorite things, seeing as she got not so much of it growing up with three older brothers. Tadhg smiled to see her brighten at the prospect. "How about we pay that visit to Bound By Interest a couple of hours before closing, and you two can spend some time at Chantal's after that?"

And perhaps he, Da and his brothers could work through a few of the nastiest aspects of what they had to deal with while little sister was away. He knew he'd best not drop even a hint of that motivation around Cait, though. She had what amounted to an allergy for being protected or shielded by the older MacEibhirs in any way.

Date: 2009-06-19 05:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's probably a good thing Chantal was very much in the dark about what Tadhg's actual problem was. She'd not take too kindly to the idea of 'protecting the women' from ugly thoughts. After all, she'd seen and experienced some of the ugliest things human beings are capable of...she's likely risk a premonition for the opportunity to smack each and every one of the male MacEibhirs for that line of thinking.

Smiling at Cait she nodded, "I might keep her." After all, Chantal's only real source of girl talk was her sister who, off on assignment somewhere in the wilds of South America, was quite difficult to reach by either phone or mail. "Sandra's gone and I'm starved for attention and real conversation."

Besides, if she played her cards right, maybe little sister will spill a bean or two about her big brother.
Edited Date: 2009-07-02 05:45 am (UTC)

Date: 2009-07-11 08:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Tadhg would insist that it was Cait's age, not her gender, that made her brothers so protective of her. Having a mother like Máire NiStandún MacEibhir and a grandmother like Gaoth didn't usually lead to sexism. But given that Cait was a few months away from turning 55, the MacEibhir boys were probably overdue for getting over the age difference as well.

Cait certainly thought so, but she was too intrigued by Chantal and Big Brother's vagueness about her to worry about ulterior motives. "Real conversation you shall have, m'dear," she said cheerfully. Chantal wasn't the only one who would be digging for more information concerning Tadhg, though Cait's questions focused more on the present.

Tadhg, blissfully unaware of his upcoming dissection by discussion, had instead focused for the moment on playing host. "More tea anyone? I can put together another pot."

Date: 2009-07-19 11:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Chantal turned to look at her oft-odd friend with a thoughtful look. Stay and continue his reprieve from whatever she walked in on or make her apologies and retreat? Curiosity about his family had the woman opting to stay a while longer...well, that and the tea. Tigger certainly knew how to brew a good pot.

"To the kitchen with you, that way we can talk about you behind your back and you can pretend you don't hear us." Joking, mostly, though the look she traded with Cait said that she would absolutely do such things to the Irishman once he was truly out of earshot.

And then there was Switzer eyeballing Anrai again. "Bird, someday some one is going to use you to stuff a pillow."


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