The problem of thinking about Alma, even in the negative light of her likely being a serial killer, was that I had tremendous difficulty stopping once started. I truly was leaving all sanity behind. What type of person would get caught up thinking about intense violet eyes, well-formed lips, and other… attributes… when two exceedingly beautiful girls were paying for my company, especially when said attributes were part of someone who might very well kill me someday. At this rate, she would ask if I had any final words, and I would ask for her number or simply say, “Well.. umm.. I want you to know that you’re… uh… the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.” I let out a shout as tea scalded my leg. “That’s a bit much, don’t you think?” I asked Mai, who had been pouring. “You never told me when to stop,” said Mai with a look of complete innocence that I didn’t believe for a moment. “I’m terribly sorry that I’ve been a bit off since the mall, but you truly don’t have to pour tea on me. In fact, I would have been quite happy to pour tea for the both of you.”
The twins glanced at one another before exclaiming together “And risk you pouring tea on us!?” Ai, seeming indignant, continued “He probably is just trying again to get us in the bath again.” Mai let out a sigh and said, “You’re such a pervert, James!” I couldn’t help feeling that the twins were merely attempting to get my mind more focused on them, and I had to admit to myself it was working to some extent. Thoughts of those two bathing, especially with Alma in the mix, was not at all what I needed while on a job, even for friends. After we had finished shopping, the twins insisted that I stayed for tea and a movie. Luckily for me, my teachers had been assigning less homework this month, probably well aware of how little students paid attention with the prospect of a break this close, especially the seniors like me who were to be graduating. “Though I’m no less prone than the next guy to enjoy the sight of a beautiful girl, I must say that I’m a bit offended you two would suggest I’d do such a thing as risk staining your clothing, especially after the lengths we went through to acquire such a splendid selection!” Watching two girls twist up their lips and roll their eyes in such perfect unison was still amazing to me, despite spending a considerable amount of time with these two.
Mai set down the teapot and resumed sitting to my right on their sofa. Then she leaned against my right arm as her sister did the same to my left, and they whispered “Speaking of staining, I suppose we’ll have to get your pants off to clean immediately.” I was undoubtedly blushing, but I told them that I would have to just ask my secretary to bill them for a new pair if I couldn’t get them clean. “Ugh… Mai, can you believe James would take advantage of us in such a way?” Ai shook her head as she said, “No, Ai. I never dreamed he would do something like that to us.” I almost jumped when they both put a hand on my leg, fearing for my pants, but then I was more intrigued than anything as the tea floated out of my pants and off to the kitchen. “Wow. You two really should teach me how to do that.” As I looked at each, they were smiling in such a way that I was feeling more than a bit trapped. “We already did.” stated Mai. Ai followed by saying, “Not our fault if you weren’t paying attention, James, but I guess I could take a turn spilling tea on you if you want another demonstration. You certainly can’t charge us if you ask for it though.” Perhaps these two were actually the cause for my diminished sanity. I did believe in magic after all, but I supposed that was Emma’s fault.
“Ok, so what do I need to do if I want you to teach me how to draw stains out of clothing like that?” I was far too aware of how they were pressing against me, so I couldn’t help noticing when they pressed tighter. I felt the air on my ears as they both said, “You have boxers, right? We’ll only be a moment getting our swimsuits again.” I didn’t even get a word out before they stood and started walking to their room. “They’re not made for that! I’ve heard boxers can stain tubs, and since you’re renting this place…” Neither of them even paused for a moment. They just walked around the corner, leaving me, now standing, alone in the living room. My argument did seem a bit weak, knowing that I had asked to learn how to magically remove stains, but I wasn’t remotely prepared for this. I could just leave or refuse to participate in their game, but I truly wanted to learn all I could about magic. The possible patterns strung together to form various three-dimensional figures of magical energies seemed endless. I doubted they would try anything. They seemed more keen on embarrassing me than anything else. Neither of them tried surprising me with a kiss like Regina or Emma at very least.
To avoid having them watch me, I stripped down to my boxers in the bathing room and hurried into the water as I heard them approach. I kept telling myself this wasn’t really any different than being in a swimsuit, but keeping myself calm as I watched them get into the water was difficult at best. I focused on the residual energy in the air and took deep, calming breaths to help myself relax with some success. There was far more energy here than I was accustomed to seeing. “Why is there so much energy in here?” The girls both shrugged, and Mai explained that they had a tendency to use magic regularly. I felt completely envious of their ability to draw residual energy into the world. I was a bit shocked when two fish made entirely of water started swimming through the air. I didn’t see any patterns formed to cause the effect, even though I was seeing the residual energy in the air perfectly clearly. “What’s wrong, James? You wanted to see how water’s moved, and we’re showing you.” They had spoken in unison and were now smiling, perfectly pleased with themselves. I was going to stand, but I had second thoughts with their eyes on me. “Umm… Isn’t there a way to do move water which I could actually attempt?”
“Of course, but this will be a bit difficult for you,” said Mai. The twins seemed to do all magic with no apparent effort. I was guessing they were descended from some sort of water fey though, since I couldn’t see what they did any better than I could see Regina cheating odds or Emma manipulate plants. “I’d rather give it a try than sit here, envying your fish with no hope of duplicating the feat.” I grew more uncomfortable as the twins came to sit by me, leaning against me as they took turns explaining what each symbol in an intricate pattern one of them had made before me meant. The shape of the fish took a large number of symbols by itself. The movement took even more. Beyond their obvious expertise, I was impressed by their control. I had gradually learned that even after a pattern was formed, holding it in place became more and more taxing on my mind. Eventually, I interrupted Mai and asked “Which of you is holding the magic, and how can you do it at such length?” The twins merely smiled at me as I looked back and forth between them. Eventually the reason dawned on me. “Oh. You’re doing it together, aren’t you.” Ai leaned forward to look past me at her sister as she said, “He’s good. Shall we tell him more?”
The energy was released and another watery fish started swimming in the air. As I stared up at it, I realized that the energy around the first two was becoming depleted. Even though the twins hadn’t formed them with residual energy, they were still using the energy to maintain their form and movement. “You may not have noticed this.” started Mai. “This isn’t the most obvious thing in the world for some.” continued Ai. “But we’re twins!” they pronounced with the utmost enthusiasm. “Oh really. You’re right. I never would have guessed that. Now that I’m looking, there does seem to be a faint family resemblance.” I told them as sarcastically as I could manage. I doubted there were two more identical twins anywhere in the world. They continued speaking in unison as they said, “We’re glad we told you, since this difficult fact was obviously eluding you. Even less obvious to some are the benefits for us in particular. Most people are capable of working magic together, but such things take practice. We have been using magic together practically since birth, and are much stronger when we do so than even those in our family who have practiced doing a particular spell together for years.” That last part was news to me.
“I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad when you’re casually putting me to shame then, especially since I’m new to all this.” Mai was shaking her head as Ai said, “Actually, that just means we expect you to work twice as hard as us at it. No more slacking. After tonight, you will be able to make a sphere of water do loops in the air. To help you learn future things more quickly, we expect you to practice seeing residual energy at all times. If you want to be a part of this world, you can’t risk missing when someone’s using up the magic around you. This could be the difference between life and death.” By the end of Ai’s little speech, both of them had grown very serious. I knew they were right. I had thought about practicing like that before, but I hadn’t managed to convince myself to focus that much. They kissed my cheeks and said, “We have the perfect way for you to practice!” They taught me a way to redirect small spheres of water, and then had me practice deflecting them as the twins sent the spheres at my head from different directions. To make matters more difficult, they took to tickling me, kissing my cheeks more, and running their fingertips along my arms in ways that made me feel extremely nervous. By the end, they started cheating and undoing my spells as I formed them, but I truly felt I had improved a great deal by the time they allowed me to leave. Progress was good, even at the cost of composure.