A/N: I meant to post this over the weekend, but unfortunately, managed to upend a cup of peppermint tea over my keyboard. Whoops. Thankfully, I haven’t lost work and I still have my trusty laptop, but it was more of a scare than I needed. Enjoy the short installment! I’m having fun writing these three. I can’t wait to get into more of the story.
I knelt on the floor by the window and pried up the metal grating on the air vent in the floor. “Vince, you there?” I called down, softly.
There was a rustle and crackle, before a distorted voice floated up to me. “And all was clear on the western front,” Vince intoned. “Six and four blackbirds baked into a pie”
“It’s four and twenty blackbirds, you dunce,” I threw back. “Come up here, would you?”
There was a dark chuckle in answer, before the rustling and crackling grew louder.
I backed away from the vent, warily, because Vince could be theatrical at his best and downright stuck-up at his worst. He was also the sneakiest kid I’d ever known.
A moment later, the wind weasel slithered into my room, a filmy white shape in the actual form of a weasel, gradually growing larger. Eventually, it morphed into the shape of a gangly teenager—Vince Lepaule, who happened to be three and a half inches taller than me.
“Hey,” he rasped, rubbing his throat.
“You too?” I asked, stepping back to sit on the bed. Standing up always made me feel too short. Sitting down meant that Vince was polite enough to take the cue and seat himself.
Almost at once, he flopped on the floor, sitting cross-legged, arms braced on the floor behind him. His neck, thin and white, showed angry red handprints.
Huh. She’d grabbed him at least twice, if the twin handprints were anything to go by. But trying to choke the people you’d be stuck living with for the next couple of weeks seemed pretty strange—even to me.
“I would’ve warned you,” he said, smirking. “But-“
“But that would have required the actual reality of you being a decent human being,” Allen snarked. He stepped out from the mirror, the liquid silver clinging to him. He brushed it off, directing the silvery wisps back to the mirror. “Sorry, I meant, if you were an honest Abnormal, which you aren’t.”
“Did Maddie visit you too?”
“Not yet,” Allen opted to sit on the end of the dresser, floating up to the right height to make it possible. “Where did she come from?”
“Big Momma’s got problems,” Vince fiddled with his hands in the hem of his oversized button-up shirt. “She had to take in more boarders, you know that.”
“Boarders are good, Abnormals aren’t,” Allen said, bluntly. “You know she doesn’t get paid to take us in.”
“Yeah, but we earn our keep,” I interrupted. “Or we try to, anyway,” I faltered beneath Allen’s silvery glare.
His gift was stranger than mine or Vince’s and he rarely ever spoke about it. I’d simply learned not to stare in mirrors too long—it had scared me senseless the first time I’d seen him mirror walk.
“You mean you hid,” Vince leered. “Nice one, Allen.”
“At least I wasn’t spying on her from the moment she set foot in the house. You know she probably sensed you.”
Vince blanched. “I wasn’t—I didn’t,” he spluttered.
I rolled my eyes. “Guys, that’s not what I wanted to ask you I just—Allen!” I glared at him until he stopped picking on Vince. How they’d managed to get along before I’d arrived was an absolute mystery.
They were in the middle of all-out-war, when Big Momma had shown up, carrying me in her arms, both of us drenched from the worst storm our quadrant had seen in over fifty years.
She’d wrapped me in blankets with a cup of milk tea and parked me between the two of them in front of the virtual fireplace. We’d settled, quietly, half-fearful and half-exhausted from the activities of the day.
When I woke up in the morning, I hadn’t known they were anything other than friends. Our odd friendship had started up from that day and somehow continued onwards.
Now, I guessed I was the neutral party.
“What is it?” Allen asked, at last.
I pointed to my neck. “Healed it. Still itches. Feels like it didn’t even—work.”
Allen exchanged a glance with Vince, then slid off of the dresser. He came over, flicking my chin to get a better look at my neck. His brows furrowed into neat rows. “Vince.”
(c) Sara Harricharan