July 15, 2016 by Lyn
Reid stepped out of his office Friday evening to see Morgan walking by, on the way, he hoped, to the exit. Her mind was, as always, shielded and blank to his telepathy, but she was smiling.
“Good evening,” he greeted her politely.
“Good evening, Dr. Solomon. Fortuitous, perhaps, that I should encounter you here.”
“Yes?” he asked neutrally. The woman set his teeth on edge. She set everyone’s teeth on edge.
“There are urgent matters to which I must attend personally. I shall be departing Addergoole forthwith. You may, please, convey my farewells to the rest of the staff.”
“Certainly. I do hope everything is well.”
“Oh, quite well indeed.” She smiled broadly, almost intentionally flashing her teeth. “I do believe I have everything I came for, and learned a few things I wasn’t expecting into the bargain.”
Oh, good. “I’m glad your visit was productive…” Reid trailed off as a student’s train of thought almost aggressively intruded on his own.
“…then go burn that thing, and see about getting some real clothes…”
“Most productive, and I’m sure the Council will be quite intrigued by the little operation being run here.” It took Morgan a minute to notice Bowen, from all the way up on her high horse there. When she did, one eyebrow went up in patrician surprise. “Excuse me.”
He nearly collided with her, wrapped up as he was in his thoughts. “Huh, oh, didn’t see you there.”
“And if I had run into you, it wouldn’t matter!”, the boy thought triumphantly. “No one cares anymore!”
Morgan was examining him now though. “Bowen, isn’t it? There’s something different about you.”
Reid could have told her what it was, but he was more than a little bit busy being surprised. How had the boy managed that one?
Of course there’s something different, there’s everything different, there’s… hell, why not tell her?
“I’m out from under that witch’s thumb,” Bowen declared proudly, jutting his chin out.
Well, this will be interesting, Reid thought. Since the kid had already brought it up, he decided that it couldn’t hurt to ask.
“Kailani – you know, the redhead, the bookworm – double-crossed her, or something, I’m not sure of all the details. But she freed me.”
“Interesting,” Reid murmured, taking the details from the boy’s mind and turning to Morgan to suss out her reaction, even as he added a “congratulations. Be sure to go talk to your Mentor” to the boy.
Morgan looked like the cat who ate the canary. “It just keeps getting better,” she murmured. “Well, I’ll be on my way, then. Please give my regards to the Director.”
“Certainly,” Reid answered, less cordially than before. “Have a safe trip.”
“I’m sure I will. Do take care of yourselves down here.”
“Of course,” he answered dryly.
With that, the interloper inclined her head ever-so-slightly, turned on her heel, and headed for the door. Never to be seen again? They should be so lucky, but somehow Reid doubted it. Glad to have her gone, he turned to look at Bowen again. “Some kwxe will help with the fire,” he suggested mildly.
Bowen tried to cover his startlement, and for a moment Reid caught flashes of Professor Fridmar speaking to his student:
“Not to show weakness. When in doubt, attack. Compose body and mind while the other defends.”
“Exchange words as you exchange weapons. Parry and riposte. A fast tongue deters a faster blade.”
“What was that all about?” the boy asked. “Seems like you dislike her even more than the rest of us.” Reid’s comment was sidestepped, and Bowen successfully brought the topic around to something more compelling. It seemed he was taking his Mentor’s words to heart.
Reid smiled tightly. This one was going to bear watching. “It may be I’m less skilled at hiding it than some,” he admitted. “She has her prejudices, and I have mine.”
“But she’s leaving,” the boy pressed. “And it seems like that’s a good thing, except you’re even more tense than before.”
Perceptive, and sharp, too. He hadn’t seemed this bright only a few days ago – but it stood to reason. Agatha wouldn’t have appreciated that. She would want him to be able to read her tiniest cues, though, wouldn’t she?
“But she’s leaving. For now, that’s the part that matters. If you need help with anything – that collar, or anything else – feel free to ask. Dr. Mendosa could probably give you some useful advice as well. Have a good day, Bowen.”
“I certainly will,” Bowen declared. “I have to do some shopping, and then have a long talk with my Mentor.”
His Mentor. Rozen and Baram and Phelen’s Mentor. Reid was sure the boy would; and he’d actually absorb all of the cynical tactician’s advice, too, adding it to the experience he’d had. Oh, yes, this one was certainly going to bear watching.