Place: West Little Havana, Miami, Florida
Time: December 10, midmorning
As he hears the old nursery rhyme being sung by the children, Jack becomes paralyzed, staring off into the middle distance. “Jill,” he mutters. “Fell down… Broke… his crown?” His fellows are unable to get any form of response from him; Jack is totally lost in recollection. Unsure what to do with him, but not willing to take him into a potentially dangerous confrontation with one of the Kindly Ones, Jim and the rest of the Brotherhood of the Willow decides to hide Jack under some boxes in an alleyway. (Jack-in-the box! Get it? Har dee har har!)
For a change, Jim the Wildman is temporarily forced into a position of leadership. He walks over by the fence which surrounds the daycare center, hoping to get the lay of the land. As soon as the strangers approach, a large German Shepherd, which until now has been sitting calmly at Samantha‘s feet, dashes over and begins angrily barking at them. Samantha tells the kids it’s time for snacks, and sends them all inside.
Without preamble, Samantha tells them to get out of her neighborhood and away from her kids. Jim says that if she didn’t want trouble, she shouldn’t have attacked Queen Espina. “She was in our turf,” she says simply. “What would you do if one of the Gentry was having lunch on your doorstep? Would you wait for them to do something to you, or would you seize initiative and make the first move?”
Pointing to his cold iron knife, Jim says to her “I killed a Keeper with this knife. You ever fight a True Fae? I have. Blue Jenny doesn’t need to worry about her anymore. We get shit done, by friends and me. And we don’t like it when our friends get jumped by cowards who don’t even fight in the open. I didn’t realize that’s how Summer does stuff nowadays.”
“You pick a place," Jim tells her. "Come out and meet us there. We’ll settle this once and for all.”
After a moment’s consideration, Samantha agrees to Jim’s terms. She tells him that there’s a semi-deserted parking lot a few blocks away. She offers to meet them there in about 20 minutes, after she’s finished a few things around the daycare center. Jim leaves a message for Jack, so he knows where they went when he wakes up. Then they head for the dueling-ground.
The parking lot, just three blocks south, is very sunny and hot, full of so many weeds that it more closely resembles a meadow with abandoned cars than an urban parking lot. There are hazards scattered beneath the cover of the tall grass and ragged flowers: broken bottles, scrap metal, car parts, abandoned children’s toys, and loose chunks of asphalt and cinder-blocks.
Samantha arrives more or less on time, and she’s got the German Shepherd with her, straining at her leash. She says that “Susie” is a rescue dog, and they’re not sure what was done to her before they got her, but the dog really, really doesn’t like men. Jim calls for the two sides to “throw down and settle this”, but as he does, Samantha whistles sharply, and Pearl and Letitia burst from behind an abandoned Buick.
At about the same time as Samantha arrives, Jack wakes up with a pounding headache, and a dim memory of a woman named Jill, whom he’s sure he once knew very well. Then he notices there’s a sign on the wall saying “3 BLOKS THAT WAY →”
“Oh dear,” Jack says, and hurries off to prevent whatever Jim has planned.
Samantha slips her arms around Jim’s torso in a mighty bear-hug, and tries to throw him to the ground, while Pearl lays into Caden and Alexanre, under cover-fire from Letitia to keep the two men from getting too far from Pearl’s cold-iron poker.
A few moments into the fight, Jack arrives. Seeing that it’s gone well beyond talking, he throws himself into the fray. His first move is to try to prevent unneccesary death (and the accompanying Clarity loss) by frightening off the German Shepherd with the fear-inducing power of his staff.
After a few more rounds, Jack, seeing that the Brotherhood of the Willow is outgunned and on unfamiliar turf, screams at the top of his lungs, bringing the fight to a momentary standstill with the shocking, glamour-infused majesty of his voice. “ENOUGH!" he roars, “What were you guys thinking, picking a fight with an unfamiliar motley in their own territory? And you three! Your children are alone and unguarded while you fight strangers in broad daylight!”
Stunned out of the heat of battle, and forced to acknowledge the truth of the Fairest’s words, both motleys agree to simply “call it a draw and walk away”.
Pearl seems genuinely surprised that Jack would offer to walk away, and Alexandre’s suggestion that “We could all end this whole war today.”
Jim is pissed. He didn’t get to kill anything. AGAIN!