After visiting the Storms, I made a brief trip to Deyanira’s school on her behalf to discuss the merit of excusing her from classes over those few days. Though more resistant to the idea than Iris’ parents, Deyanira’s teachers did cave and approve her absence by the end of the meeting.
Next on my agenda would probably be the most difficult part of the day, given that Portentia was perfectly accustomed to life without sound. She was already waiting in my office when I arrived back home.
“James! Mila said that you wanted me to come here and talk with you about something. What’s up? Do you have a new plan for Maxine!?” she excitedly inquired as I walked around to sit at my desk.
Nodding, I signed and said, “You could say that.”
She stood and leaned on my desk as she asked “What’s the plan?”
“I’ve asked Maxine to design a hearing aid based on her sight technology for you.” I told her, continuing to sign as I spoke.
Portentia looked at me as if she didn’t understand what I was saying. Then she plopped back into her seat before asking “What? Why?”
“Given that we’re going to a concert, I was hoping for you to enjoy it with us. You don’t have to use the technology if she succeeds, but I would like you to at least try it.” I explained. “You very well might come to enjoy music for more than the vibrations.”
“But you can’t really trust Maxine! She’s a villain!” she protested. “She’ll probably sabotage the thing to escape me at some point.”
“Jarod will be working with her on the project, and Mila will surely want to be integrated with it. Between the two of them, I’m sure they’ll catch any nefarious activity Maxine might try.” I replied, though I was certain that Maxine wouldn’t risk upsetting me by such an act. “Besides, you’ll always be able to simply remove the device.”
“Maybe but what’s the point? I’m fine as I am. There’s no reason to do this, and giving Maxine more access to Jarod’s lab asking for trouble. She’s surely making some sort of plan to escape.” she insisted with a frown.
“In any other lab, I might agree with you, but Jarod’s lab gives Mila a tremendous advantage on monitoring Maxine’s activity. She’s integrated with everything down there. Right, Mila?” I asked.
“Of course, master. Mother designed every piece of equipment so that I could use it and help Jarod with his experiments. I assure you, Portentia, that I am more than capable of keeping Maxine out of trouble. I do agree with the master in this case that Maxine won’t try anything. As she pointed out to you, we are very well-equipped to catch her again if she somehow did manage to escape the building, and she doesn’t want to face the repercussions.” explained Mila.
“Can you imagine how quickly Raine would catch her even if we gave Maxine an hour lead and an arsenal? There would be no contest. Maxine can’t get away from us, and I assure you that I have my own ways of catching her nearly as quickly through magic. That being said, will you please consider trying the tech and assisting as needed in its development?” I inquired.
“I can try, but I still don’t know if this is a good idea. I also don’t know how I’m supposed to assist them. I’m still not the best at electronics. Mila’s been helping me when needed.” she replied.
“They’ll probably need you for testing off and on, but this will also give you a chance to help watch Maxine. I must ask that you try not to cause a ruckus by getting in arguments with her. This will be a paid job for you, and I expect you to act as an exemplary friend.” I told her.
Portentia looked at me as if I was crazy. “Why would you pay me to help build something designed for me!?” she asked.
“I feel that asking you to put up with Maxine for free would be far crazier. Besides, I’m the one imposing on you with this request. Please help me here. I would very much like being able to discuss music with you eventually if things go well.” I insisted.
“I will.” she assured me.
“Fair warning: Dani might well try to recruit you for her band when she finds out.” I teased.
Portentia nodded gravely and said, “I’ll be cautious. I’ve heard bands take a lot of time, and I can’t get away from patrolling more than I already do.”
“Not even for occasional dancing once you can hear?” I inquired.
“I wouldn’t want to make your wife jealous.” she replied.
Laughing, I said, “She won’t mind if we dance, though she might take a turn with you as well. I’m certain Dani and Emma would want a turn.”
“Yeah… I’ve never really thought about dancing with other girls.” she told me.
“Girls dance together for fun all over the world. Had you gone to high school, you could have seen it at school dances. I assure you that someone would have asked you to join them.” I insisted.
“I doubt that I would have accepted before knowing you.” she admitted.
“Maybe not, but you’ll have to really work on your excuses to escape dancing at Dani’s birthday party.” I warned her.
She nodded, looking as if she was actually working on excuses already.
“Does a hero really need to escape fun? You won’t be saving anyone if you do.” I stated. Without waiting for a response, I said, “Thank you for talking with me. I’m going to tell Jarod about his new commission.”
“Sorry, master, but Maxine and Jarod have already started their planning. She was quite insistent with him after you asked this of her.” explained Mila.
“Oh. Be sure to schedule Portentia with them as soon as she’s needed then.” I replied. “Care to join me in checking on them?” I inquired to Portentia.
She nodded and followed me out of the room. I was certain she’d appreciate this in the long run. She had countless years ahead of her.