“Time out. That was totally a Force Choke. Didn’t you see me lift my hand?” asked Brandon.

“Sorry. I thought you were trying to taunt him or say, ‘Come at me!’ Really didn’t get Force Choke out of that.” I replied.

I wasn’t sure how long we had been dueling now. Since neither Jarod nor Brandon could use magic, I was simulating all of the Force powers.

“How’s Force Lightning coming?” asked Jarod.

I demonstrated my current version on Brandon, who pretended to be getting shocked. Not wanting to actually hurt anyone, I was trying to make a light show that resembled lightning. Of course, I didn’t actually know any way to create lightning with magic yet.

Jarod nodded his head and said, “Not bad at all. The color seems a bit off to me though.”

“Try darkening the blue around the edges slightly, master.” suggested Mila.

I tried it on Jarod, and he jumped backward as if struck by it but rolled as he hit the ground, switching on his lightsaber in one smooth motion.

“Good enough in my book, though you might want to work on its movement a little more.” he told me.

“I thought it was awesome ten minutes ago.” stated Brandon just before lunging at Jarod.

Jarod dodged and brought his lightsaber up into Brandon’s arms. There was no contest between those two fighting. I didn’t do any better fighting Jarod when I kept myself down to his speed. His ability to predict my attacks was spooky. Even moving a little faster than him, he was able to keep me on the defensive most of the time.

“This is why we’ve gotta work on our communication. I don’t stand a chance without Force Powers.” complained Brandon, though he was grinning. “Either of you feeling hungry? I’m working an appetite.”

“Oh. I don’t know if dinner will be ready, but Aaliyah mentioned that her and Cosette were making us a cake.” I told him.

“Master, the cheesecakes aren’t finished yet. They need to set in the refrigerator for at least two hours still, and Marco is out for the night. He did prepare some things for you in advance, but a little work is required. You’ll find his apology along with the instructions sitting on the counter.” explained Mila.

“Whoa. Let’s make sure Marco never skips out on guys’ night again.” stated Brandon.

“I dunno. I wouldn’t mind doing something simple tonight, like.. mac and cheese.” suggested Jarod.

I rolled my eyes. I hoped the twins could sort out his taste buds eventually. I certainly had failed. I still had trouble imagining how he dealt with both of them. Brave, crazy man.

“We can’t disappoint Marco after he’s gone through the effort of cooking for us. Let’s head up, or we won’t even get through one movie tonight.” I told them, heading toward the elevator.

“Hey, you forgot your robe over there.” stated Jarod, motioning with his head as I glanced back.

“No problem. Watch this this.” replied Brandon as he stretched his hand toward his robe.

I obliged him and created a spell to move the robe to his outstretched hand. Seeing him proudly nod at Jarod in a fashion that clearly said, “Yeah… that’s right.”, I started laughing.

“Hey, I don’t get to pretend I can use the Force all the time, so you’ve gotta let me enjoy this.” claimed Brandon.

“I didn’t say a word.” I told him, still smiling.

Jarod looked at me and said, “He’s right though. Neither of us get to act out such cool powers regularly. I’m sometimes amazed that you’re not pulling stunts like this more regularly.”

I shrugged and told him “Things weren’t so easy even a day ago. Even now I’d be too worried about forming a bad habit if I abuse my magic too much. Imagine if I grabbed something with a spell in public without thinking. We don’t need that kind of attention.”

“I think you worry too much, boss. Brenna and I haven’t slipped at all since we were kids, and we use our abilities all the time.” admitted Brandon.

“What happened when you did slip?” asked Jarod.

“Wasn’t a big deal. Brenna had changed her hair color in a store when she was trying to hide from me. Our dad scolded her something fierce when we got out of there, but no one noticed. At least, no one ever said anything.” he explained.

I didn’t think the comparison was that great. Both of their abilities were far more limited than magic. Even if all I could do was telekinetic effects, there were constant applications for such spells. Any time I didn’t want to walk across a room to flip a switch, grab something, or open a door, I could create a spell quite easily.

“Ever see Alma screw up in public?” asked Jarod.

He was reading me yet again. Considering that we had equal time around each other, one might hope that I would be able to read him just as easily. I couldn’t. I spent too much time ignoring my surroundings and was now handicapped in a way. Well, that was only part of the problem. Jarod’s fighting style was… frustrating… to face.

Where most styles had a strong emphasis on defense, there was nothing Jarod did which wouldn’t seriously injure an opponent. He didn’t precisely block ever. Where I might redirect an attack as I counterattacked, Jarod’s redirection or “block” was always a counterattack as well. Every opening I thought I found turned out to be a trap. If I still thought Aaliyah was merely an assassin, I’d believe I understood why she was the deadliest. Her style was incredible, though I couldn’t see myself ever utilizing something so offensive.

“Alma is constantly using magic, even in public. I’m fairly certain the only times I don’t see her using magic are when I’m not paying attention. If she ever gets caught by someone, I fear for their safety.” I told him.

“With how much you worry, I really doubt you’d screw up.” claimed Jarod.

“I’d still rather not take the risk.” I replied.

Arriving in the kitchen, Marco’s letter was almost comical in its sincerity. The man truly loved seeing the fruits of his labor devoured. I would have been fine with less description of the woman he was meeting , but Aaliyah’s encouragement seemed to be the only reason he chose his date over being here to cook.

The instructions were easy enough that I managed to get the finishing touches completed on the food while Jarod beat Brandon at a couple dozen very short duels.

Realizing Marco might disapprove of dueling in his kitchen, I said, “Hey, Mila. Please don’t mention the dueling in here to Marco.”

“As you wish, master.” she replied.

“Don’t worry, boss. Marco’s cool. He wouldn’t care. What’s more manly than fighting over food?” asked Brandon with a smile.

Jarod grinned and said, “I honestly think he might have a problem with us fighting over food, but we’re off to the side. Shouldn’t be a problem. Not like James couldn’t stop us if we got too carried away.”

“Well, we would be the only ones suffering if you two did manage to ruin something. I suppose no one should care too much, not that they’d find out.” I admitted.

“Suffering sounds very ‘manly’, so Brandon would probably enjoy it.” claimed Mila.

“Brandon, you need to stop using the word ‘manly’ for everything before Mila really gets offended.” I warned him.

“What? It’s guys’ night. We’re supposed to be making everything about guys. I’m not complaining about Mila hanging out with us too. I’m just trying to get in the mood.” he replied.

Smiling, I shook my head. Brandon would be true to himself. For kicks, I motioned like I was using the Force as I used a few spells to move the food onto a cart for us. Then we made our way to the theater and started Episode IV.

As we watched, I had to admit to myself that the costumes really did add to the experience, though I had to remove my helmet to eat and drink. Things were off to a good start.

“Want to watch through the credits?” I asked.

“Nah. No real point.” replied Brandon.

“Mind starting the next one, Mila?” asked Jarod.

The lights went out.

“Mila?” I asked.

I heard the sound of lightsabers igniting behind us. When I turned to look, I found that I could see quite well in low-light conditions, and the girls didn’t look pleased. Things just got more interesting.

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