“What the hell was that?” Fred confronted the genie. He rubbed his head, scrunching up his face. It still felt like he’d just woken up from a dream. As if he had simply been there, like a puppet, playing his part and watching everything unfold. During all these interactions with the genie’s grotesque interpretation of Charity, Fred had seen and done and said everything himself, yes. He had wanted to act the way he did, so he did. Yet, there was a nagging feeling that he couldn’t have done otherwise even if he’d decided to. That he couldn’t have not wanted to act the way he did... Ugh. Too much. This was too confusing to think about right now.
Right now he was absolutely, positively, kind of sure that it had not been a dream. It had not been a dream and he'd just left his mother with a blue baby.
“Your wish,” she stated with a congenial smile. “It’s all in how you phrase it.”
“But… I didn’t… a baby?!”
Her grin grew broader. “Hey buddy, at least it wasn’t twins this time!”
Furrowing his brows, Fred continued this line of questioning. “Is he… is he real?”
“As real as you or me.”
“And he is mine? I have to take care of him?”
“Unless you wish not to.” Her smile faded. “I can make him disappear again, if that is what you want.”
Fred gasped, “No, I don’t want that!” She had said the baby was real, after all. And even if he was blue, the little boy was still just as much Freddie’s child as the twins were. He was a father yet again. Fred bit his lip, feeling the realization sink in for a moment. What was he going to do? Oh, if only his own dad was still here!
The genie sighed. “Or I could bring your father back,” she said.
“You can do that?!” Fred was so shocked at this revelation that he didn’t even notice that the genie had apparently just replied to his thoughts.
“Yes, master, if that is your wish…” She sighed once again. “I guess that’s another couple of millennia in the lamp for me then…”
“Wait, what?” Freddie was confused. This was only going to be his second wish! She had said he had three! He was about to tell her this when she held up three fingers and spoke.
“Your time with Charity again, check,” she folded in one finger and continued, “Hot dogs, check—“
“Waitwaitwait,” Fred interrupted, aghast. “The hot dogs?! But that was—“
She raised one eyebrow. “I got you those hot dogs, didn’t I?”
“And you ate them, didn’t you?”
“‘Be careful what you wish for’ - ever heard that one? It’s what this wishing business is all about - doesn’t anyone know anything anymore?!” Noticing Freddie’s despondent look, she softened. “Look, I don’t make the rules. I’m sorry. You have one wish left and I can give you whatever you want. So, what will it be, master?”
Fred considered for a moment before answering, “I’m going to free you.”
“What? Really?” She was in shock. She had seen countless masters and many of them had proclaimed they’d free her in the end, only to change their minds at the last minute. There was always one more thing, one more stupid, superfluous, materialistic thing that these humans needed. What did it matter to them if a Djinn remained bound in servitude for another couple of centuries? So over time, Raya had begun taking a grim pleasure in twisting and turning every single wish, always pushing and testing how far she could stretch the boundaries of the uttered words. She had been particularly proud of her performance this time around - although she had to admit that it had almost been too easy with this guy. And now, even after all this, he still meant to free her? A sharp pang of guilt compelled her to ask, “Are you sure?”
Fred nodded gravely. "I promised, after all." And then, with a smile, he said, “I wish to free you, genie.”
She stared at him in incredulity for one more moment, before doubling over in pain. There was a feeling of intense agony, like something that had been anchored deep inside was being ripped out of her.
Both her wrists burned white hot as the magical shackles that bound her became tangible and began to swell. The glowing metal expanded, constricting flesh and bone and just when she thought she couldn’t take it any more, it was over. The cuffs had burst into a million little pieces and were gone. She was free.
Freddie had been looking on in dismay, terrified that he’d done something wrong. But now she seemed at ease again. Serene, even.
“Thank you,” she breathed, and blew him a kiss.
Before he could reply, she had vanished.
“Why is he blue?” - Evelyn had asked her son the obvious question as he placed the infant in her arms. It was a simple question, really, but all she’d gotten in return was gibberish. “Genie,” he’d said and walked off as if in a daze, disappearing into Francis’ old room. Evelyn sighed.
She had thought Fred had been making progress. As his daughters grew more mature, so did he. Evelyn had begun to get her hopes up that he'd become a responsible adult after all - but now there was this. Another child left at their doorstep, and this time no one even knew who the mother could be. There had been no girlfriend, no mention that Fred was even dating again. Now there was another infant to take care of, and no Rémy to help. He was gone. Evelyn fought to hold in the tears and willed herself to shift her thoughts towards something else.
Genie… she wondered. A name, perhaps? Jeannie? Could that be the mother's name? ... Or had he meant Eugene?
“Are you our little Eugene?” She tickled the baby boy’s belly and he gurgled in response. “Gene, then,” she said. And so it was.