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29 December 2011 @ 09:36 am
FIC: Bonfire Night, 1/1  
Author: Osiris Brackhaus
Story Title: Bonfire Night
Part: 1/1
Rating: PG
Configuration: /
Warnings: /
Word Count: 2.100
Setting: 'Phoenix Empire' verse, see Phoenix Empire Timeline & Index
Characters: Bobby, Wayne
Summary: This year, the Festival of Lights turns out way different than what Bobby had planned...
Feedback: Yes, please!

With a pathetic, little slurping sound, the water swallowed the stone Bobby had thrown. Ripples spread out on the otherwise smooth sea, breaking the moon’s reflection into countless little pieces. But already a few moments later, the ripples ran out, and the sea lay as flat and black as before, as if nothing had ever happened.

With a deep sigh, Bobby leaned back, looking up to the stars.

It was the Festival of Lights, tonight, and like every year, it was miserable.

It was supposed to be a celebration of hope, love and family, of giving gifts and counting one’s blessings. But without a family to speak of, the Festival of Light was just an especially lonely night, perfect to feel miserable for oneself.

Initially, Bobby and Wayne had hoped they would be able to spend tonight at home, but that hope hadn’t survived long. Mum had been drunk since the late morning, yelling and complaining and being even more cruel than usual. In the end, Wayne had stormed out of their tiny flat, red with anger, slamming the door so hard one of the hinges broke out of the wall. In a way, that still improved on a few years ago, when he had first knocked their mother unconscious and then stormed out, only to return three days later with a black eye and bruises all over.

So for the rest of the afternoon, Bobby had tried to rescue as much as possible. Mainly, that consisted of handing his mother an extra large bottle of gin that he had stashed away for such an occasion. Two hours later, she was snoring on the couch, drool dribbling down her chin. Even though his hopes for a nice evening with the family had been thoroughly dashed, it still could have been a calm evening.

But then Bethany, their younger sister, suddenly ‘remembered’ that she had been invited over for dinner by one of her schoolmates. Bobby hadn’t stopped her when she left their place in a rush. Most probably, she wasn’t even lying. She was the one who had some real friends here in town, after all. Real girls from decent families that invited her for sleepovers and birthdays. Not just a few lost kids she hung out with every now and then, like her elder brothers.

Bethany had barely been out of the house when the twins proclaimed they’d rather go to their school’s festival instead of eating at home, alone with Bobby and the fat, smelly pile of drunken woman on the couch. The twins were actually Edward and Richard, Ed and Ricky, respectively. But everyone just called them ‘the twins’, which worked just as well as they were literally inseparable. So with a sinking heart, he had helped them find their parkas and brought them down to the bus station where they hopped onto the next one going for the public school they were enrolled at. Watching the bus disappear around the corner, Bobby decided he didn’t have the heart to spend the night at home. It would have been just too depressing.

So he hadn’t even returned to their two-bedroom community housing flat. Instead, Bobby had just walked down the road, aimless at first. After a while, he had wondered if maybe some of his friends were having miserable evenings as well. Maybe they were at their hideout behind the port, and he could meet them there. Some nights shouldn’t be spent alone, after all.

But when Bobby arrived at their hideaway, he found the place just as deserted as the rest of town. Cold and dark, the bright moonlight casting stark shadows across the emptiness. So he had crawled up between some rocks, looking over the sea that tonight lay flat and black like some sinister mirror, and started throwing stones. It wasn’t the best way to spend this night, but it still beat listening to his mother snoring by a mile.

Next year this time, he’d already be looking for a job, Bobby realized. Come spring, he’d start his last year at school, and he was supposed to get a job directly afterwards. Which, here in Bellingham, either meant working at the stockfish processing plant, or getting very, very lucky.

The thought of a life at the plant scared Bobby more than he would have thought possible.

Looking up to the stars above, Bobby gave a deep sigh that feathered white in the icy air. The Empire was expanding in every direction, and he was supposed to stay here? On this recalcitrant backwater planet that was so desperately clinging to its glorious past? He was young, he was reasonably smart and quite pretty. There had to be other options than a job at the stockfish plant, for heaven’s sake.

Right then, he heard soft steps behind him.

“Bobby?” he heard Mandy’s familiar voice calling out. “Bobby, are you here somewhere?”

“Over here!” he replied, getting up from his little hole among the rocks. “Here.”

“There you are.” Mandy seemed even more wrapped up than usual, a thick knit scarf wrapped around her neck so often it obscured her silhouette almost completely. With a few quick steps, she walked over to Bobby, hugging him tightly. “Radiant Light to you.”

“Radiant Light.” He replied automatically, trying not to show how gloomy he actually felt. But of course, his ‘girlfriend’ looked right through him.

Mandy just gave him a long look from her dark eyes.

“I though you might be here when no one opened the door at your place. Was it very bad this year?”

“It’s been worse.” It wasn’t even a lie, and still the expression felt ridiculous compared to how it had felt. “What are you doing here anyway? Weren’t you supposed to be with your Dad?”

“I was, and it was actually quite sweet.” Mandy smiled indulgently, like so often when she talked about her father. “He started fidgeting even before pudding. You know how he is when he is inspired. So I sent him to the garage, and he took off like a four-year-old. I think this time, he’s welding something huge.”

“You and your Dad,” Bobby said with gentle mocking, still holding Mandy in his arms. “Has he ever sold anything of that weird shit he makes?”

“Hey! That’s no weird shit, that’s art.” Slapping Bobby, Mandy smiled widely. “And he hasn’t made a single milla ever out of that stuff.”

Calmly, Bobby shook his head. Ever since Mandy’s mother had died a few years ago, she had been the voice of reason in their household. Her father was sweet and caring, but a complete airhead and definitely not qualified to run a business, even a small one. If it weren’t for Mandy and a few trustworthy employees, he’d give away all he owned just because someone asked him nicely.

“Oh, before I forget...” Mandy said suddenly, wriggling out of Bobby’s embrace. From the depths of her voluminous jacket, she produced two packs of pleated paper and two small candles. “Here, one is for you.”

“What is this?” Bobby asked, carefully turning the thick paper in his hands.

“Floating paper flowers” she replied, wriggling her eyebrows. “It’s how they celebrate the Festival on Malicorne.”

“We’re on Espen.”

“Oh, shut up, Bobby.” Smiling, Mandy took his hand and pulled him towards the rocks, down to the waterfront. “I think it’s a beautiful idea, and I’ve been waiting for years for a Festival night that wasn’t rainy as fuck.”

Intrigued, Bobby watched as his girlfriend gently opened the paper packs that unfolded into beautiful, many-petaled ivory flowers. Mandy placed a candle into each, struggling ever so slightly lighting them without burning the flowers. Finally, she handed one over to Bobby, nodding solemnly.

“There is a spring to the longest of winters,” she started reciting the old-fashioned prayer of lights. “There is a dawn to the longest of nights. Where ever in darkness I wander, my heart holds the radiant light.”

Looking at Mandy holding her candle in both hands, Bobby realized that she probably hadn’t planned on doing this together with him.

“You wanted to do this with your father, didn’t you?”

Mandy blinked at him, hesitant, and then nodded slowly without looking at Bobby.

“Now we have to put them into the water, so the flowers carry our hopes with them, to shine in the night.”

Seeing how Mandy was so sensitive and so strong at the same time made Bobby smile proudly. Maybe they were only together so people stopped picking on them. But he couldn’t have wished for a better girlfriend even if he had tried.

They put their paper flowers into the silent water of Lough Galyd, watching arm in arm as the two lights drifted out into the open bay.

“This is very beautiful. Thank you for sharing this with me.”

“Even though you were second choice?”

“Even though.” Following the two flowers out on the water, he added: “You think we’ll ever see it in person?”


“The lights on Malicorne. There must be thousands of candles on the water there, it must be gorgeous.”

“That would be wonderful.” she replied, snuggling closer against Bobby. “I’m sure you’ll see it one day.”

“Just me? I want you to be there with me.”

“Maybe I will. But I am at home here.” Now looking at Bobby, she added: “You’ve always been too different for this dump of a place. Your future is out there among the stars.”

She had a point there, Bobby was well aware of that. But it still hurt hearing her say so.

“Don’t say that. I don’t want to leave you.”

Mandy was just about to open her mouth to reply as the unmistakeable sound of a moped cut through the otherwise silent night. The two shared a questioning glance. Usually, this part of the harbour was pretty much deserted, much more so on festival night.

The moped drove with high speed until it reached the fireplace of their little hideaway, where it stopped with wheels scratching across the gravel.


Unmistakeably Wayne’s voice, roaring into the night.

“We’re here!” Bobby replied. “Coming!”

Mandy’s wordless question was replied with an equally wordless shrug by Bobby. They had no idea what his older brother was doing here. Wayne had left school this summer, and had been one of the lucky few not ending up as a trainee in the stockfish factory. He was now working at Oscar’s garage, repairing cars and bikes and the occasional machinery. Oscar was a leering pervert, but he was a fair employer and gave Wayne a proper education on the job. And he had found him the old moped that Wayne was using of late. It was a lousy, rusted thing, but functional, and gave Wayne even more opportunities to act all tough and manly.

So it was little wonder that when Bobby and Mandy came to the fireplace, Wayne was still straddling his moped, with his leather jacket and denims, a cigarette in the corner of this mouth, looking like a very cheap version of the roguish hero of some cheesy romance vid.

“Fuck’s sake, hurry up!” Wayne hollered. “The twins are in trouble!”

“What happened?” Bobby asked instantly.

“Idiots torched their school.” Wayne spat. “Fucking good job, if you ask me. But they shouldn’t have invited all their friends to watch it burn.”

“They what?”

“Invited the whole school. Proper Bonfire Night, they said.”

“By the Emperor...”

Bonfire Night had been the name of the Festival of Lights on Espen before the war. But when the van der Meer took over, they abolished the huge fires and demanded a ‘proper’ Festival. Preferably with electric candles. Fucking idiots, all of them.

“Is the police there already?” Bobby asked.

“Nope. Not yet, anyway. I came here as soon as I heard.” With a lopsided grin, he added: “Figured it’d be better to have you there. You know, someone who can talk to people without beating them up.”

“That’s awfully smart of you, brother. Who’d have thought.” Turning around to Mandy, he asked: “I’ll go with Wayne, will you be okay?”

“Just leave me here all right,” she replied with a wide grin. “I’ll find a way to get to the school on my own. See you there.”

“You’re a hero,” Bobby whispered to her before he gave her a swift parting kiss on the cheek. “Thank you for the lights.”

“Never mind,” she replied, but Bobby was sure it had meant a lot to Mandy as well. “Happy Bonfire Night, you two!”

“Good Lord!” Bobby exclaimed as he climbed onto the moped’s passenger seat, laughing at the sheer craziness of it all. “Happy Bonfire Night!”

Charischarisstoma on December 29th, 2011 11:33 am (UTC)
Am predicting that this is going to change things for Bobby. One way for a smart pretty boy to get off planet is to be sold there as a slave I suppose, payment for damage done by younger siblings.
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on December 29th, 2011 02:32 pm (UTC)
A boy being sold for something he didn't do is exactly what's going to happen. :D

Just not anytime soon.

Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on December 29th, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC)
Hm. Well, on second thought, maybe not exactly. But pretty close.

Edited at 2011-12-29 04:10 pm (UTC)
idolme922idolme922 on December 29th, 2011 04:29 pm (UTC)
Well, I find myself devouring this on my phone again, although this time in a hotel room not the bank!

What a delicious look into Bobby's past before being shot into his future. These ficlets are what make your characters so real and alive, and of course leaving the reader wanting more ... NOW!

Seeing Bobby's difficult youth and how sensitive he is will provide a splendid backdrop for how he evolves as a slave or whatever you have in store for him. Can't wait to see. I squeeee every time you post. *hugs you from afar* (I don't think Beryll will mind)

Alana :D

osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on December 29th, 2011 06:42 pm (UTC)
Hehe. Thanks so much!

I have to admit that we were both a little surprised by the turns Bobby's story is going to take, but I am sure you're going to enjoy it none the less. Probably even more because of it.

HUGS back!
triptyxtriptyx on December 29th, 2011 05:25 pm (UTC)
Bobby and Mandy! I insist they make a perfect team! :)

But I have a feeling that the other readers know what happens to Bobby and who he is when he is older? :S Did I miss something? Gahh I wont be able to wait to know MORE!!! >;) :D

Is he going to be sold as a slave, but Bobby isnt Robert (???), because as far as I understand Robert was born a slave he is so meek and submissive, and thats why I love him? But I cant imagine this Bobby as a slave...and Wayne would do something stupid if his brother gets sold... :S :S :S
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on December 29th, 2011 06:48 pm (UTC)
Yes, Bobby and Mandy were very lucky to find each other. They ARE a pretty perfect team, after all.

And about Bobby's future - have a look at the timeline, dear. ^^

Of course he will tie in with all the others at one point, but that's still far off. And yes, Wayne will do something stupid, but not after the whole sold into slavery thing. ^^

I know I am just feeding you bits and pieces here, but I really can't give away more at this point in time.

All I can say is that Beryll is working diligently on the next 'Robert and Thomar' installment, one that I personally have been very much looking forward to since a very long time. So expect more of your favourite pet soon, probably right after 'Securing Evidence'.

Edited at 2011-12-29 06:48 pm (UTC)
triptyxtriptyx on December 29th, 2011 10:55 pm (UTC)
Gahhh the timeline tells me that Bobby's future is IN THE FUTURE!!! :S :S :S I feel I am missing something!!! ;) :D

I know you cant give me more, but its fun to try to get you to tell us more! >;) :D

YAY!!! I am SOOOOO looking forward to that!! :D :D :D
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on December 30th, 2011 07:59 am (UTC)
No, dear, you're not missing anything. Apart from all the stuff we haven't written down. Yet.
But we're both on holiday and very busy writing. Lots of stuff coming up.
BerthaBlueberthablue on December 29th, 2011 10:15 pm (UTC)
Bobby is so sweet :) I'm glad he at least got to have a few minutes of a nice holiday, despite the chaos that is the rest of his life. I like all these sneaky little spoilery bits in the comments - makes me even more eager for more!
triptyxtriptyx on December 29th, 2011 10:54 pm (UTC)
I like all these sneaky little spoilery bits in the comments - makes me even more eager for more!

Sorry to butt into the conversation, but I am frantically going through all things posted in this universe to see if I missed something! I am all bouncy expecting more! And also expecting more information! ;) :D Do you think we can get them to tell us? ;) :D
BerthaBlueberthablue on December 29th, 2011 11:06 pm (UTC)
No prob, I drop in on comment threads all the time :)

I think a bunch of the story was posted years back, that us noobs aren't privy to ;) Brings back feelings of being a little kid and half-clueless to the entire world around me - so much fun!
triptyxtriptyx on December 30th, 2011 01:48 am (UTC)
Hee thanks! :)

And like a little kid I want to nag the grownups, for MORE, NOW!!! :D :D :D But its really fun! I have all these theories what will happen with Leesha and Wes and now I am REALLY wanting to know what happens to Bobby! ;) :D
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on December 30th, 2011 08:04 am (UTC)
Hmm... You want more hints. So, what can I tell you without giving away to much...?

Alright, here it comes: Bobby's future boyfriend has already been mentioned in one of the other stories.

triptyxtriptyx on December 30th, 2011 06:59 pm (UTC)
Hee now I will be obsessing about who that person is!! :D Yay! ;) :)
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on December 30th, 2011 08:02 am (UTC)
You're right, but I don't think you miss anything from the 'Malachite Guard', because a) most of it has reappeared here already and b) it was a messy behemoth of a story and not really an exiting read (imho).
So stick with us, with (almsot) every story more pieces wil fit together.

And thanks for the image of a half-clueless little kid. I hated that with a passion, but if that's entertaining for you, all the more power to you!
Beryllrynthjan on December 30th, 2011 08:12 am (UTC)
Actually all that is still missing from what was posted years ago is a few chapters abour Eric and Rose, how Leesha gets his second pet (not counting Wesley here since he is more Leesha's PA) and the very start of a plot about another of the Malachite Guard Captains which might get reworked in the distant future. Everything before and past the year 5023 is entirely new.
hab318princess on December 31st, 2011 12:26 pm (UTC)
Bobby is growing on me, looking forward to reading more of his story
osirisbrackhausosirisbrackhaus on December 31st, 2011 02:36 pm (UTC)
Yeah, he'll show up a few times again. ^^
Thanks for reading and commenting!