September 25, 2012 by Lyn
Friday, September 19, 2003, evening
“Come on in, Laurel.” Reid Solomon wasn’t surprised to find Laurel Valerian at his door on a Friday night, any more than he’d been surprised to find Shira Pelletier there five minutes before, or Ginger half an hour before that. He was, as he had always been, the Safe One. The Trustworthy One. He did his best to maintain that illusion for them. “What can I get you? The usual?”
“Yes, please, Reid. You’re a darling.” She flopped down on the couch next to Shira. “They’re an interesting bunch, this year.”
“Aren’t they always?” Shira was on her third drink. She took it personally, when her students were Kept, and when it was by someone like poor Thorburn, who could blame her? Fate and miracles help Agmund or Mike if they showed up tonight.
“All children are interesting. Some are simply terrifyingly more interesting than others.” Ginger Cayenne sipped her drink and looked smug. Was she finally getting up to no good? It had taken her long enough.
“And is that your students this year?”
“Well, I didn’t have the good luck to get this one as a Student, but he is learning French from me.” She nearly purred it. Reid focused on mixing Laurel’s drink and remembering what was under Ginger’s Mask.
“Kheper?” Shira pursed her lips. “Well, he’s a handsome one. His father is something else, I can tell you that.”
“Aren’t they all? He’s not one of Drake’s, is he?”
“No, surprisingly, not. He…”
The sudden pounding on the door was unlikely to be anyone they were expecting. Reid was mortified that he’d jumped, nearly as much as Ginger next to him had. He coughed, and hoped they’d all pretend not to notice.
“Maureen,” he commented, to cover his mortification, “said she couldn’t make it.”
“Lady Maureen has a nicer knock.” Ginger shook her head. “It can’t be that bad, Reid. Agmund, maybe? He always knocks like the porch is on fire.”
It was Shira’s turn to cough, and Laurel’s turn to stare pointedly at the wall. Reid stepped out of that quagmire quickly; even a Nedetakaei at the door might be preferable to the mess Ginger had just stepped in.
No Nedetakaei, just Luke. Glowering, with his wings spread wide. “We have a problem.”
“Do come in, Luke.” Reid stepped out of the way so that the muscular Mara could see what company he had. “Trouble?”
Luke folded his wings enough to make it through the doorway, and waited until Reid had closed the door to keep talking. “You’ve noticed the graffiti.”
“Of course. I thought it might be a perspicacious Sixth Cohort who wanted to cause trouble.”
“Wouldn’t that be nice.” Luke shook his head. “Can’t blame this one on Boom or the Trouble Twins. I just tested the wards – and they’re not exactly holding.”
“The ceiling wards?” Laurel leaned forward in her seat. “I haven’t noticed anything unusual with my students. Shira, Ginger?”
“No.” Luke shook his head slowly, waiting until they were all paying attention. “The basement wards. The illusions are still holding, and the don’t-go-here blocks, but the actual walls…”
Even Ginger looked worried. Reid knew that he didn’t, but he had a great deal of practice not looking worried. “That’s more than a little troublesome. Have you caught anything on camera?”
“Nothing conclusive. I’d like you to take a look at what I’ve found, though, Reid.” He looked around at the gathered hen conclave. “Shira, could you take another look, too? Laurel, I think they might be doing something with the plants. Ms. Cayenne…”
The moment was likely to get awkward. Reid tensed; Ginger could get really unpleasant when she cried.
Luke twitched his wings. “If you could come with me, Ginger? I want your opinion on this graffiti.”
Crisis averted. Reid nodded at his houseguests, and let Luke drag him off to deal with the bigger emergency.
This outtake was written in response to a donation and request for “something involving interaction between the staff.”
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