"Who the Hell are you people?"
A simple question, The Bard thought, but with a very complex answer. He thought about his answer carefully as he limped on a wounded leg on one side of the kid while Sarah Connor pulled him along by his other arm. They attracted stares both curious and frightened from the normal people in the mall food court around them.
"Well..." the Bard said, "Ever eat too much meat and cheese and bread right before goin' to sleep, and you can't quite get to sleep, but you can't really wake up either, so you toss and turn and hallucinate really bizzarre repetitive dreams all night that you can't really control, so you just hope for some rest before the sun rises?"
The kid squinted at him. "Yeah..."
"That's our life. Welcome to Hell."
Link chimed in. "Their guards use psycho-kinetic shielding that seems to be vulnerable to basic electric discharges. If we can short out their shields, we can hit them with ranged weaponry."
The Bard squinted. "You mean all we need is to shock them?"
Link looked at him curiously. "Yeah. Why?"
The Bard smiled, and unslung his Shadow-Axe. "Stand back. The Maestro is about to conduct."
Anakin sensed much fear in Harry. Harry said, "Feel free to have an idea, guys."
Paul kept his crysknife at ready stance as he eyed the other guards with predatory focus. "Yeah, we're working on that."
"Silence." The Obsidian Guard jostled Harry, making him flinch a little. The noose tightened as six more Obsidan Guard closed in around Anakin, Aang, and Paul. "Surrender now."
And then, Anakin heard the strangest sound he had heard in a long time: it was a tiny little male voice, singing.
"...branch on the tree and tree in the hole and the hole in the bog..."
And it was getting closer.
"...In the bog down in the valley-oh! Rare ho the rattlin' bog, the bog down in the valley-oh..."
A little man, approximately a foot and a half tall, wearing a gray toga and carrying several metal rods, walked into the middle of the fray, and, in an Irish accent, said, "Here, hold this, boyo." He handed one of the rods to the first Obsidian Guard. "You too...and one for you..."
Each guard took a rod and examined it curiously. Paul and Aang glanced at each other in trepidatious curiousity. Anakin just watched the little creature.
"Everybody gets one...There we are!" The little homonculus raised one hand--
Anakin gasped--which really hurt through a robotic respirator. Lightening shot out from the creature's hand into each of the iron rods held by the Obsidian Guard. As one, they shuddered--and Harry with his captor--before falling to the floor in a smokey heap.
Paul nodded. "Okayyyyy... I don't think any of us were expecting that."
Harry groaned. He coughed a puff of smoke and wheezed. "I hate you all."
The sounds of an electric guitar drifted to them, and a bright light appeared under the little lightening-creature. He vanished in a magical glow. Link ran in, followed by a limping Bard, Ms. Connor, and...
"Ooooh. The Force is strong with that one." Whhhhhhh pahhhhhh...
Aang grinned. "Is that him?"
Ms. Connor checked the fallen Obsidian Guards with the muzzle of her shotgun. "That's him. Let's go!"
Aang's face clouded. "Appa's wounded! We have to help him!"
Link handed Harry a bottle of red liquid. "Take a swig."
Harry did not question. He pulled the cork and turned the bottom up.
His eyes went wide, and he coughed. "Oh my god!"
"Yeah, I know." He took the bottle back and handed it to the bard. "You too."
The Bard squinted suspiciously. "Yeah, after he nearly choked like that? I wanna see if it works first!"
Harry gingerly stood up, then nodded. "Yeah...yeah, it works." He took a few experimental steps, and then relaxed.
The Bard sighed. "Well, not like I haven't drunk bad booze in my time. Up the rebels." He took a swig.
He looked studious for a moment, then shrugged. "Tastes like cherry vomit."
The boy looked around at them, horified. "Who ARE you people?!"
Paul put one hand on his shoulder. "You know that person you never notice who cleans up the mess when the children spill paint all over everything, and has to fix the toilet when the child tries to flush a live trout and then took a dump afterward? And he still does it, day after day after day?"
"That's us. Welcome to the suck."
The boy just nodded.
Ms. Connor stepped up. "We can't stay here! Let's go!"
Harry pulled out a cell phone. "Hold on. I know a guy. We can hide out at his place."
Link tilted his head curiously. "Who?"
"One of us." the phone began to ring.
Paula giggled. Ness loved it when she giggled. He kissed her some more, braced himself up on the dusty couch, and smiled down at her.
"Should I take the hat off?" He smiled, fiddling with the brim of his red Onett Orioles baseball cap. An ocean breeze blew in the still-missing back wall of his house, carrying with it the sound of waves. All was peaceful, and all was right with his world.
She giggled again. "No. I think it makes you look heroic."
Now that was an answer he liked. He bent down to kiss her again.
The phone rang.
Ness and Paula both sighed angrily. Ness reached for it, telekinetically calling it to his hand. "I really hope that's not Dad again..." He hit the talk button. "Hello?"
A familiar London accent said, "Allo, mate."
Ness blinked. "Harry? Is that you?"
"Yeah! We're all here! Link, Annie, Paul, Ms. Connor's here instead of John, he's busy now--"
Ness beamed. "Yeah, I saw the movie! He's doing alright, huh?! Kickin' Skynet's butt!"
"Yeah! And there's a few new faces here, too." Ness thought he picked up a cautious tone to Harry's voice. He was talking just a liiiiitle fast. "Hey, Ness, I got a favor to ask."
Ness smiled. "What's up?"
"Can we, er, crash at your place?"
"Well..." He looked around at the old dilapidated house with the missing back wall as Paula buttoned up her dress again, watching him curiously. "I don't have that much room but--"
Something hit the ground outside. "Oh crap. Look I'll talk to you later I got a thing--" He hung up and reached for the baseball bat mounted on the wall, telekinetically calling it to his hand. Paula reached toward the kitchen, summoning a 14 inch Lodge cast-iron skillet.
The doorbell rang.
Ness and Paula squinted at each other suspiciously. He could feel the air get cold as she readied a freeze spell, a habit from that year, and one he hoped she would one day let go of.
But today, it seemed appropriate. He took a deep breath and reached for the door, opening it.
Paul smiled. "Crisis-gram!"
Ness could clearly see the others, tattered and worn, armed for bear, and clearly protecting a kid who looked Like Ness imagined himself looking ten years ago.
Paula jumped up, alarmed. "Oh heck no! Are you all saving the world again?!"
Harry led them in. "I'm sorry, Ness. I didn't know where else to go."
Anakin looked around. Whhhhhhh pahhhhhhh... "Nice house. I love the rustic look."
A young bald teenager with a blue arrow tatooed on his head ran in. "Wow! Nice view!"
"No." Paula shook her head. "No no no no no, Harry, it's been ten years! We've been on the wagon for ten years! Do you know what that means?!"
Ness looked at Paul, a little older, a little less hard in the bright blue eyes. He still wore that desert stillsuit and carried his weaponry. Ness looked him honestly in the eye. "What's up, man?"
Paul guided the young American kid and a very worried woman who was obviously his mother to the forefront. "We got a new one. It's bad. They're coming for him and he doesn't know anything."
The kid was just about hyperventilating, with his mother doing everything a mother can to keep him steady. "A new what!"
Ness knelt to see the kid's eyes. He smiled a little. Over his shoulder he said to Paula, "Call Mach Pizza. Tell 'em we need three large."
"No!" Ness felt the air get colder. Paula brandished her skillet with a fiery look in her eyes. "We're not doing it again, Harry, and you shouldn't be either! Now get out!"
Harry squared off with her. "We're trying to help him!"
Ness felt the air get bitter cold. Paula's eyes narrowed. "I'm going to count three."
Harry looked to Ness. Ness sighed, and stood up. "Paula."
She ignored him. "One."
Harry drew his wand. "Paula, don't force me."
The kid turned to his mother and Ms. Connor. "What's she gonna do?!"
"Nothing." Harry stood ready.
frost began to form on the metal surfaces, and Anakin's helmet. He wiped his eyes. Whhhhhhh pahhhhh "Paula, please--"
"Three." Paula's eyes glowed as she thrust the skillet forward. "PK THUNDER!" Lightening arcked out of the iron implement.
"Protegio!" It bounced off Harry's shield and right back for her.
Wide-eyed, she shouted, "PK SHIELD!" The lightening bounced off her and caromed out the back toward the ocean.
"Expeliarmus." With a flick of his wand, her skillet went flying, but not very far as she telekinetically called it back and leveled it again, her eyes still glowing fiercely.
Ness knelt next to the boy. "Watch carefully. Who are you betting on?"
The boy's breath calmed a little. "Harry Potter."
"I've read the books and I know what he can do."
Ness patted his shoulder and smiled. "Just watch."
Harry and Paula circled into the living-room, her testing him with quick feints that left doplar images of herself, and him eyeing her coolly, not going for the feints. Finally, as she pulled back, he flicked his wand.
The magic bolt bounced back and hit Harry squarely in the chest. He flew back, laughing uncontrollably.
"PK FREEZE!" There was a flash. Harry's body froze solid.
Paula charged in, skillet raised above her head for a killing blow. She roared in fear, in pain, in some darkness left over from a dark battle ten years ago. Ness stood up and gestured with his bat, telekinetically catching her.
Ness stepped in and grabbed her shoulders. "Easy..." He glanced back to see the young monk using some psychokinetic powers of his own to thaw Harry out, as Link poured some red potion into his mouth.
The boy looked to Ness. "Who are you people."
Ness kept both hands on Paula's shoulders as she came down from her PK high. When she started to sob, he pulled her in close. To the boy he said, "What did you learn from watching that duel?"
"You're all afraid for me." A tear came to the boy's eyes. "You're all super heroes and you're all afraid for me. You're afraid you can't help me."
The boy studied him for a moment. "No. You're not afraid of anything."
Ness pulled back and looked Paula in the eye as he spoke next, both to her and to the boy. "Because our world is saved. We did our job."
Paula stared back, eyes full of tears, and nodded. Ness smiled at her. He let go of her and turned back to the boy. "So are all of theirs. It was a hard battle for each of them. Some of them didn't do so well."
Anakin bowed his head. Paul looked away.
Ness knelt next to the boy. "It's a hard road. But we're the ones who have walked it. We know what's on it, and we're going to teach you how to do it better than we did."
The boy nodded.
Harry sat up. Ness flashed him a smile. To the boy, he said, "That's who we are. Welcome, Chosen One." He offered his hand.
The boy sighed in relief, and even smiled a little. He took Ness's hand.
The Bard walked over to Harry, being tended by Aang and Link. Paula sat down against the wall next to him. "Harry, I am so sorry."
Harry coughed and sat up with help. "No hard feelin's, Paula." He offered his hand. "You still hit harder than Voldemort ever did."
The Bard sat down with them. He offered his hand. "Hi, I'm The Bard, and I'm a chosen one."
She clasped hands with him. "Hi Bard. I'm Paula. I'm a chosen one." She wiped her eyes. "It's been ten years since I last saved the world..." She sighed. "And...I'm terrified again. Seeing you all...that boy...brought it all back..."
The Bard nodded. "Yeah. It does that to us, dunnit?"
Paula gestured over to Ness, showing the boy a few martial arts tricks with a baseball bat while his mother, Ms. Connor, Paul, and Anakin looked on. "he's so young!"
Harry looked grave. "That's what's got you."
Sbe looked at him.
Harry nodded. "He's the same age you and Ness were."
"Yeah..." She nodded. "Harry, we can't go with you. It's been ten years. We have a life now. He plays for the Orioles. I'm a teacher. He doesn't know I know but he bought a ring."
"I know. I won't ask it. We just need a place to hide out tonight."
She nodded. "We can do that."
The Bard watched as Ness played with the young hero. Slowly, it seemed, the boy forgot why they were there, and just started playing. Soon, he was laughing.
Paula smiled. "There's hope for him."
The Bard looked away as Ness rubbed the top of the boy's head, neither showing any sign that the world was any different for them, one a seasoned hero, the other still yet to face his destiny--but it was the seasoned hero who had the Bard's attention. Ness looked happy.
The Bard said, "Maybe there's hope for all of us."