As the doors to my home opened, party favors exploded, sending confetti and streamers everywhere. Jarod was using his custom party gun again. The “welcome home” died partly after “welcome” though as people realized we had an extra guest.
“Maxine?” asked Jarod.
“You brought her here?” inquired Mai.
“Do we get to keep her?” asked Ai with a wicked grin.
“Have you and Portentia been hanging out, Ai? That’s precisely what she had asked.” I stated.
“You’re Ai? You said you were Mai!” complained Deyanira, who apparently had shown up for the party.
“Never trust the twins.” muttered Brandon.
“She obviously just had me confused with my sister.” replied Ai.
Grabbing her sister’s hand, Mai then pouted and said, “I can’t believe you were hanging out with Portentia and not telling me.”
“Who’s Maxine?” asked Kayla.
“Her, obviously.” stated Jemal as he nodded toward Maxine.
“Yes, but who is she!?” exclaimed Kayla with a grin.
“What does she… like to eat?” inquired Marco.
“Who’s she?” asked Portentia, pointing to Iris.
“Hi! I’m Iris.” replied Iris with a wave. “I started part-time here while you were away.”
I raised my hands and motioned for everyone to be quiet. “Due to unfortunate circumstances, Maxine will be staying with us indefinitely, so there will be plenty of time for questions later. Let’s just get on with the party for now.” I suggested.
Aaliyah was smiling at me excitedly. Breaking the momentary quiet, she said, “Boss-man, sir, we should have Maxine sign her tenant’s agreement before the party.”
“I don’t sign anything without my lawyer.” stated Maxine warily.
Placing her hand on Maxine’s shoulder, Alma said, “I’ll go over the terms with you if you wish, but I can already assure you that there won’t be room for debate.”
“Fine, but I want to go through every detail.” insisted Maxine.
Seeing Aaliyah’s grin widen, I said, “No, you really don’t. That would probably take years.” I almost stopped mid-sentence when I felt magic off to my left, but my little fairy friend simply removed the spell concealing her.
I heard Maxine gasp as my little friend started showing us what I had missed in her day. What was this like for her? I doubted her tech had allowed her vision to match that of my little friend, and now she got to see a vibrant world with all the wonder of a fairy. I managed to cut my little friend off at the point she entered the house, uncertain of how much I wanted Maxine to see.
“Boss-man, sir! She hadn’t gotten to finding the cake yet!” complained Aaliyah.
“Yes, well, we don’t need spoilers.” I argued.
“But it’d be like eating cake without the calories.” insisted Aaliyah.
“I like the sound of that.” agreed Brenna.
Nodding, Deyanira said, “Me too. Marco, your cooking’s too good. I had to start working out more since I started dating Brandon.”
“Brandon has a girlfriend?” asked Maxine incredulously.
“You know me?” he inquired. “Wait. Were you interested?”
“Hey now!” exclaimed Deyanira as she grabbed his arm.
I sighed as Emma started encouraging my little fairy friend to relay what she was seeing to Maxine.
“Maxine does not need help.” I stated.
Maxine sounded curious as she said, “I’m not opposed. There was something different in the image that time. How are you doing this? What is it I’m seeing?”
“You don’t know?” teased Portentia.
“I wanted to see if you could have a seeing-eye fairy!” exclaimed Emma.
“A what?” she asked.
Emma projected what she was seeing into all of our heads as she watched the little fairy. Then she said, “I’m getting better, but I can’t keep this up for too long.”
“Sight through magic? Camila would be most interested in learning that as well.” commented Maxine.
“I love your hair. It’s so fluffy!” exclaimed Kayla, who had wondered closer to Maxine.
I was trying to decide how to warn Jemal that Kayla probably shouldn’t spend time with Maxine when Kayla was suddenly repositioned back by her brother.
“Sh-she’s… d-dangerous.” warned Raine, who was standing by them now.
“Wow!” exclaimed Kayla. “Can we do that again?”
“Dangerous!?” exclaimed Jemal, eyeing Maxine as he hugged Kayla. “How so?”
“I’m not surprised. Everyone here is dangerous.” stated Dejon.
“But when has Raine ever called someone dangerous?” argued Jemal.
“Fair point.” he agreed.
I quickly told them “Maxine has a nefarious background, so you should be wary of her motives, but I doubt she’d try to harm anyone here. She’s like Portentia in that she heals instantly, but she can’t utilize any sort of magic.” Looking to Portentia, I then asked “Can she fight?”
Portentia grinned and said, “Not really. She needs her gizmos.”
“Do I get extra meals?” teased Cosette, who had been quietly observing everyone.
“No!” exclaimed Portentia. “There’s something weird about how she heals.”
“No. You’re the weird one.” argued Maxine. “Don’t think I missed the strange shadows that follow you.”
“Sh-she’s like… l-like… Ariadne’s m-magic.” muttered Raine. “I feel it.”
“Really?” inquired Alma. “What do you feel from Portentia then?”
“M-myself.” replied Raine.
“Oh!” I exclaimed as realization hit me. “Raine, would you mind doing a few hundred laps around the city for me?”
She shrugged as Mila opened the doors behind me. Raine was gone too quick for even my eyes, and I confirmed my suspicions. For a while now, I had felt something from Portentia, not just when she healed. I never knew what I was feeling till now. When Raine moved, some sort of energy inside Portentia moved as well. Perhaps, the energy just moved more than normal. The difference was very faint, but I could tell if I was focusing on it.
“B-back.” stated Raine, stopping by me.
Sighing, Maxine said, “Ha ha. Trying to prank the blind girl?”
“No. Raine is that fast.” stated Alma. “Let’s be off and take care of your tenant agreement before I’m late for the party.”
“If we must.” replied Maxine.
“Oh, we must! I’m not missing the cake twice in one day!” insisted Aaliyah.
Seeming to sense Aaliyah’s plight, the little fairy projected her experience when stealing some cake earlier. The taste was exquisite as expected when Marco was involved.
“James, can we talk for a bit?” asked Jarod.
I nodded and followed him out, down a hall, and into one of the side rooms. “What’s up?” I asked when we arrived.
“Are you sure having Maxine here is a good idea?” he inquired.
Shrugging, I said, “No, but I don’t want to cover her in iron and bury her somewhere either. I doubt a jail would survive her even if they tried keeping her in solitary confinement. Here, Mila will keep tabs on her, and plenty of us can easily overpower her physically if necessary, though I very much doubt she could get around Mila.”
“I understand that, but… I suppose you’re right.” he admitted, obviously thinking things through.
“You might even enjoy chatting with her, given her expertise.” I suggested.
“Yes, I’m sure Ai and Mai will love that idea. I will admit that Maxine’s brilliant. I’m surprised you’re okay with this.” he told me.
Shrugging, I said, “I assure you that I’ll be considering other options and will gladly take any from you as well. Portentia didn’t give us warning before bringing Maxine home, but I can understand why when she didn’t feel comfortable leaving Maxine to the police.”
“James, there’s a supervillain in your home.” stated Jarod with a straight face that quickly became an ear-to-ear grin.
I nodded. “Crazy to think how much has changed in a year. I keep thinking about it and still find myself amazed.” I admitted.
“I know. Dude, I’m married already! You’re going to be married soon. We haven’t even been out of high school for a year. We could have kids in another year. Ever think about that? Some little baby with superhuman powers wanting your attention. How do you even go out with kids like we could have? Imagine one throwing a tantrum in public. Did you know they might not have their parents’ abilities?” he asked, rambling away.
“Hold on. What’s that about their abilities?” I asked.
“So the Slayer family has some crazy lore, but Duncan can control air while Ai and Mai control water. That’s not because of their parents, it’s apparently random. The twins showed me some books discussing the abilities from different lines of the family.” he explained.
“I wonder what the limits are. Alma seemed interested in Jamal, Kayla, and Dejon’s abilities.” I commented.
“Yeah, but those are from fey magic. People descended from the Slayer family and fey typically get one or the other for magic, not both, but having that fey ancestry gives a high probability for the magic to reoccur.” he replied.
“Lovely. I wonder if my magic can be passed along.” I pondered, hoping for my children to be protected.
“No idea, but having a kid who’s impervious to magic might be a bit of a pain if he or she also has Alma’s knack for magic.” warned Jarod as if he was reading my mind.
“I can’t imagine that I’ll have kids for quite some time yet, so I’ll worry more about it after I see yours.” I told him.
“Ever talk with Alma about it?” he questioned.
“Well, no, but I don’t really think we need to yet.” I replied.
“If you start thinking about something, you probably should start discussing it. Seriously, man. Better to find out if they’re ready to discuss something than to make assumptions and have it bite you.” he insisted, rubbing his arm.
I nodded and smiled, wondering what Jarod had gotten himself into this time. Things with Alma would probably progress more slowly on the kid front, but we would get there eventually. What if she already had started planning baby names? There was only one sure way to find out.