“Oh my… James, is she really…?” asked Jemal.
“Good morning, Aaliyah.” I told her.
“Good morning, boss-man, sir! Hi, Jemal! Oooh… Kayla! What’s that!?” she exclaimed.
“Just my laptop.” replied Kayla. “Jemal bought it for me a couple years ago.”
“Dad helped.” stated Jemal, smiling at her.
Grinning, Aaliyah told her “I love the color.”
The startling shade of pink was definitely up Aaliyah’s alley, as were the sparkles everywhere.
“Sorry. I know this is probably weird and all, but… but can I get your autograph?” asked Jemal.
“Okay.” replied Aaliyah, not even looking up.
Raine was suddenly there, her eyes wide as she stood behind Jemal while holding a box for Ancient Tribes of Earth.
“What? You still hadn’t asked her?” I inquired in shock.
Raine shrugged sheepishly. She obviously wasn’t comfortable with Jemal yet, given how she stood a yard behind him, but I couldn’t say he was comfortable with her either. When we were testing out Jarod’s flying machines, Alma and I had caught most everyone with spells before they had fallen all the way off their board, but Jemal had a rather spectacular spill while trying to chase after Kayla. Raine had caught him. Seeing the small girl holding him easily over her head was comical for the rest of us, but Jemal seemed spooked. Maybe he had caught a glimpse of her other form or simply felt it.
Aaliyah pulled out a pen from her backpack and signed a picture of Jemal’s character, Destiny. Then she cocked her head and stared up at Raine.
“Au-auto-graph. P-please.” stated Raine as she held out the box.
“Sure!” exclaimed Aaliyah, happily taking it. “You should have asked sooner! You do see me frequently.”
“I-I know, b-but… w-well… Y-you’re my… m-my hero.” mumbled Raine as she blushed.
“Aww… We’re all friends here.” stated Aaliyah as she hugged Raine.
Jemal whispered to me “How long’s she worked here?”
“Since November.” I told him.
“J-James!” exclaimed Raine before vanishing.
As her clothes fell, I realized Raine must’ve changed into a kitten in embarrassment, so I walked over there, waited for her to peek out, and apologized.
“She’s a cat!?” exclaimed Jemal.
“Werecat.” I replied.
“Kayla! Back up!” he exclaimed.
“What’s wrong? Didn’t you notice her yesterday before she saved you?” I asked.
“What? No. Kayla’s allergic to cats!” he exclaimed.
“Ah…” I said as I started working through what to do.
“But she’s so cute, Jemal…” complained Kayla, sneezing at the end. She was already starting to look red.
Raine ran, not that I saw her. All of her belongings were simply gone.
“Where’d she go!?” exclaimed Jemal, looking around.
“She ran.” I told him.
“S-sorry. I didn’t mean to make her run away, but I didn’t think there’d be cats here.” he stated.
“Found it!” exclaimed Aaliyah, who had been rummaging through her backpack.
“Found what?” I inquired.
“Kayla’s new allergy medicine.” she replied.
“What!? Her doctor needs to approve new medicine.” stated Jemal.
I stepped over to him, placed my hand on his shoulder, and said, “I know this is all a great deal to take in, but Aaliyah has more doctorates than anyone else on the planet. I’d trust her. If you want a quick second opinion, Alma happens to be an M.D. as well. If you want a third opinion, Aaliyah’s aunt might be considered this planet’s authority on everything medical, having over a thousand years of practice.”
“Too late. Already took it.” stated Kayla.
Jemal ducked to my side as he asked “You what!?”
She opened her mouth and stuck out her tongue as if to show the medicine was swallowed.
“James! This serious. She has other allergies as well.” stated Jemal.
“I have her complete medical records on file, Jemal.” stated Mila. “Yours as well. There really is no need to be alarmed. Everything was transferred as stated in the contract of employment you signed.”
Jemal still looked worried.
I sighed and said, “Aaliyah, would you mind giving a very, very brief explanation of what Kayla just took.”
“Brief?” questioned Aaliyah, now pouting.
“Yes, please.” I told her.
“How brief?” she asked.
“Under twenty words.” I told her.
Aaliyah sighed and said, “Kayla took the first stage of a therapy which will cure her of all allergies. Two stages are left.” She had been counting words on her fingers as she talked and wiped her brow afterward.
“What? Is that even possible?” he asked.
“Jemal, I’m feeling better already.” insisted Kayla.
“You’re the one who wanted her autograph. She’s a genius.” I stated. Then, slightly louder, I called “Raine, you can come back now. Everything’s fine.”
“Master, Raine’s in her room, mumbling about ruining something and looks rather distraught.” stated Mila.
The girl was still so scared.
“Aaliyah, how long till Kayla will start benefitting from that therapy?” I asked.
“She already is. Look at her. She’ll be perfectly fine by the time you walk down the hall with them.” she replied. “Auntie’s medicines are magically delicious.”
“Really was!” exclaimed Kayla.
I was surprised that the concoction wasn’t her own, but I nodded and thanked her. Then I asked Jemal if he and Kayla would mind coming with me to calm Raine down.
“Sorry. Sure. I guess this is my fault for overreacting.” he replied.
“I can really pet kitties now!?” asked Kayla, staring at Aaliyah.
“Of course! We can’t let our best friends suffer from allergies.” explained Aaliyah. “Raine has a little kitty named Pufflewink!”
“Jemal, I can pet kitties!” exclaimed Kayla.
“Has this stuff been tested?” he questioned, looking between me and Aaliyah.
“You can relax, Jemal. Everything will be fine.” I assured him.
He nodded and followed as we went toward Raine’s room. As we walked, I talked to Raine, trying to reassure her that Kayla was fine.
“How is she supposed to hear you?” asked Jemal. “Is Mila telling her or something?”
“I can hear across a hallway just fine. Raine’s hearing is vastly better.” I told him.
“Maybe this is a bad question, but I gotta know… are you human?” he asked.
I laughed and said, “Yes, with a few perks of my own.”
“Like… what?” he questioned.
“One you’ve been feeling for a while. You want to trust me and generally like me. That’s due to an magical field I emanate. Unfortunately, I cannot suppress it.” I told him.
“What? You’re using magic on us and can’t help it!?” he exclaimed.
“Correct. I’ve been assured a number of times not to worry about it, but the idea still bothers me. I also can move far faster than an average human and am considerably stronger. Lifting a car, for example, is easy.” I added.
“And you call that human!?” asked Jemal.
“I think it sounds amazing!” exclaimed Kayla.
“I also have considerable aptitude with a type of magic, using what we call residual energy. Through its use, I can manipulate energy in numerous ways, such as lifting things at a distance as you can do.” I explained.
“So you’re like a superhero? You sound like the strongest person ever!” exclaimed Kayla.
I laughed and said, “No. Calamity’s this city’s superhero. I’m just a businessman. Raine, by the way, is far stronger and faster than me. She’s far more than an average werecat and equally wonderful as a person.”
“This is a bit much to take in.” stated Jemal.
“But it’s so cool!” exclaimed Kayla.
“There will be an acclimation period, but I have faith that you’ll get there. I know you haven’t met Cosette yet, given how her schedule hasn’t lined up well for meeting her yet, but she’s our resident vampire. Fair warning, she might play a prank on you.” I cautioned.
“Like what sort of prank?” he asked.
I shrugged and said, “I wouldn’t put slitting Portentia’s throat and drinking her blood in front of you past her.”
“She’d what!?” he exclaimed.
“Portentia can’t be killed and has abnormally beneficial blood for vampires, so the two have an interesting relationship.” I explained.
Kayla’s eyes were wide with excitement as she stared up at me, but Jemal looked disturbed.
“Ask Portentia about her experiences if you wish. She’s been stabbed, shot, blown up, decapitated, and many other things without sign of injury a moment later.” I assured him.
“I-I don’t think my sister should be hearing all this.” he told me.
“Oh. Sorry. I figured she’d have seen as much in video games.” I admitted.
“Well, maybe, but still…” he argued.
Arriving at Raine’s door, I knocked and said, “Raine, we’d like to speak with you.”
The door opened. Raine was curled up in a corner, holding Pufflewink.
“Have I mentioned that Raine speaks cat?” I asked.
“Cats have a language?” inquired Jemal.
“Cool!” exclaimed Kayla.
“I don’t know about a language precisely, but she can communicate with them.” I replied. “How would you describe it Raine?”
“I-I…. S-sorry.” she muttered.
“No-no. I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean to make you run. I just got a bit worked up worrying about my sister is all.” he assured her.
“Can I see your kitty!?” exclaimed Kayla. “I won’t sneeze or anything! Aaliyah told me!”
“I-I heard…” mumbled Raine. She looked up at Jemal and said, “I-I d-didn’t… k-know. S-sorry. I-I’d never h-hurt… K-Kayla.”
“Really, don’t worry. Look at her. I can’t even worry when I see her smiling like that.” he insisted.
Raine still looked nervous, but she smiled a little as she watched Kayla pet Pufflewink.
I knew they’d be fine.