The day began as a
routine Saturday time-killer for Troy, Marie and Kurt. Lunch, a
matinee at the theater- typical fare for local teenagers, but as
long as the movies cycled every week they didn't complain.
Besides, Kurt had just one more week on his lease at L. B.
Gould: next Sunday was graduation day. After that, his average
day would change dramatically, even if he still didn't know what
it would look like.
“I feel like such a
third wheel without Kathryn or Kamila here,” he said.
“Kathryn had other
plans,” Troy replied quickly. He didn't bother mentioning Kamila.
She was an official member of the social circle, but had long
been designated that one obnoxious friend that few of them
really liked all that much. The sixth member, Yuki, had
apparently become their cute mascot.
At the end of the
excursion, Troy pulled his mother's sedan up to Kurt's apartment
and killed the motor. “Mind if I use the bathroom?” he said.
“Uh... sure, I guess.
You can't wait?”
“No,” Troy replied, not
Kurt and Troy both
stepped out of the car. Marie followed.
“I'm sure he won't be
that long,” Kurt said, turning around. Not only did Marie not
elaborate, she didn't even reply. She just smiled and followed
(By the way, Troy got
his driver's license in February. In case you were curious. And
no, you don't want the details.)
As soon as Kurt walked
in, Kathryn, Renee and Yuki shouted, “Surprise!”
He stood there, mouth
agape, at the three cute girls in his apartment. Kurt also saw
Molly standing behind them, trying to look inconspicuous.
Donovan was there too, pointing an accusing finger at Kurt.
Neither of those two cheered.
“What the hell?” Kurt
“It's a surprise
graduation party!” Renee exclaimed.
Kurt blinked. “Yeah,
but... in my apartment?”
“Yeah, uh, we were going
to do it in the community center or Renee's place but we
couldn't find a way to get you there without making you
suspicious,” Troy said, pushing his way in.
“It's more of a surprise
this way!” Yuki said.
Knowing he was going to
regret it, Kurt asked. “How the hell did you get in?”
With a devilish smile,
Renee simulated her trigger gesture. Kurt slapped his forehead.
“I should have known.
Okay, you win let's party.”
Kurt entered the party
hall, not that the girls had done a whole lot of decorating. A
few streamers here and there and a banner congratulating Kurt
for surviving high school (granted most of the difficulty was
negated by his good standing with Molly). More importantly, the
place seemed a little cleaner than Kurt had kept it. He quietly
hoped that he hadn't left any dirty underwear lying about the
living room the way he normally did.
With Kurt now securely
inside, Marie now had access to the apartment. She turned to
Troy, puzzled. “So how did they get inside? You never
explained that part to me.”
Troy panicked for a
moment, then realized that panic was probably not the best
response. With a slippery smile, like a cat trying to hide a
live mouse in its cheeks, he shrugged and facetiously replied,
Marie narrowed an
eyebrow. “No, seriously, how did they get in?”
He exhaled. In those
precious few seconds, he had thought up a plausible lie: “They
found his spare key.”
But something else had
drawn Marie's curiosity. “Why is Molly here?”
Troy looked at Molly,
lingering close to Kurt but not actually participating in
conversation. “They're kinda friends, I guess. And Renee bought
“And that Donovan
Donovan was still
glaring and pointing at the entrance. Troy averted his eyes and
said, “I have no idea why Donovan's here.”
Marie shook her head.
“You guys have weird friends,” she said, approaching Kurt. He
and the other girls were in the kitchen area, surveying Renee's
selection of standard party food.
“Great spread, but what
are we doing for dinner?” Kurt asked.
Renee and Kathryn stared
at each other, both baffled. “Um... we have cake!” Renee
Kathryn showed said cake
off. “Yeah, I bought it from Dairy Queen myself.”
“We can order pizza,”
“Uh... we had pizza for
lunch,” Troy said.
“Yeah, and I don't want
to argue about what to get. Lord knows what Donovan likes on his
pizza.” Renee glanced at him. Donovan was still glaring
and pointing at the entrance, despite nobody being there.
“Stand aside,” Marie
said, pushing past Kathryn and Renee and making her way to the
cupboard. “I'm sure we can whip up something with what we
got...” She flung the doors open and saw two cans of soup, three
cans of assorted Chef Boyardee pasta and six packs of ramen
Slowly, Marie closed the
doors, sighed, and turned to Kurt. “You're single.”
Kurt nodded. “That and
my lease is up at the end of the month.”
Molly coughed, getting
everyone's attention. She opened a drawer and magically summoned
a menu. “I believe Rosa's offers carry-out.” She handed the menu
to Marie. Marie trembled, nervously taking the sheet from the
“But...” Marie tried to
“Yes?” Molly said.
This was Marie's first
time speaking to Molly, so forgive her for being a bit
intimidated. “Do we have enough money for that?”
Molly turned away.
“There's a little extra money in the council's coffers that
Claude doesn't want the principal finding out about. Apparently
we're not supposed to be carrying a surplus, so this is a handy
Marie didn't dare
question this, so she wrote down her order and passed the sheet
around and called the order in when everyone was finished.
Naturally, Molly sent
Troy to get the food. Troy sighed, not bothering to protest.
Marie patted him on the shoulder and offered to join him on his
With them gone and
dinner covered, Renee clasped her hands and said, “So what now?”
Kurt rolled his eyes.
“Don't suppose you thought of entertainment either?”
“What, you don't have
any video games or anything?”
“Nope. Not really my
“Well, what's this?”
Renee walked to a table in the corner of the room.
“It's a model race
track.” Indeed it was- a small magnetic track with two
electronically-controlled stock cars on each lane.
Renee, at least, was
impressed. “Ooh, a tri-oval,” she said, picking up a controller
and sending one car for a quick lap.
Kurt shrugged. “That's
about it. Sorry I don't have Guitar Hero,” he grumbled, a bit
annoyed that he was getting blamed for this problem.
After a few more laps,
Renee grew bored, set the controller down and huffed, “Fine,
I'll go get my Wii.” She approached Molly and extended a hand.
Molly narrowed her eyes.
“But how am I supposed
to get home?”
With a mocking smile,
Molly simulated Renee's trigger gesture. Renee got the hint and
“I suppose... ittekimasu!”
she exclaimed as she teleported away.
Everybody looked at that
curiously except for Yuki, who nodded and replied, “Yep, see ya!”
(By the way, Renee gets
her driver's license at the end of the month.)
the volume of the food Troy had to carry back, it was a good
thing Marie had gone with him. And yet, the group devoured it
and made quick work of the cake as well. Renee also arrived with
her Wii, which filled up their itinerary in a hurry. Kurt got
his indoctrination into video games, as he, Yuki and Marie tried
their hands at Brawl. Yuki and Kurt lured a very reluctant Molly
into the fourth controller. Marie wondered if it was proper
etiquette to let Molly win on purpose, but soon found that Molly
hardly needed the charity.
played this before,” Kurt said, amused at Molly's ability to
systematically destroy his character.
twice,” Molly replied, emotionless.
Molly decimated her virtual opponents, getting a challenge only
from Yuki, Renee occupied herself with the tabletop track.
Before long, she found herself racing against Troy. They
effectively simulated the monotonous act of driving around in
circles (or tri-ovals to be precise) until Renee flipped her car
off the table.
just killed Jeff Gordon!” Troy said, slowing his car to honor
some imaginary caution flag.
said 'woo hoo,'” she replied, smiling goofily. Troy chuckled.
were interrupted by a commotion from the TV area. Marie and Kurt
were celebrating a successful double-team on Yuki's Pikachu-
Marie's first kill in the game. They high-fived excitedly.
it's not so bad that you brought her,” Renee said.
a double-take. “Who? Marie?”
originally thought it was going to be MST only.”
Troy said, trying not to take offense. “Well, she's friends with
Kurt too. When Kathryn told her about the plan, she wanted in on
seems to be fitting in,” Renee said, watching Marie cringe as
Yuki exacted her revenge in electrifying fashion. When the
carnage was over, Marie and Yuki laughed.
smiled. Marie seemed to tolerate Yuki better than he did. “Sure.
She's been hanging with Kurt and Kathryn and Yuki all year.
We're all friends. Besides...” He turned to Donovan, sitting in
the corner and glaring at Troy. At least he wasn't pointing.
“...being in the MST doesn't mean anything about getting along
with us. Who invited Donovan anyway?”
Renee said, also looking at Donovan. He continued to do nothing
but glare, deaf to all the fun coming from the TV. Of course she
had invited Donovan. When Kathryn had suggested the party, Renee
had envisioned an affair wishing Kurt the best for whatever
future he had with the MST. Therefore, this event was closely
tied to the MST students. Therefore, Donovan fit in... right?
Troy backpedaled. “I didn't mean that he shouldn't have been
invited, it's just that, uh... well...” He stopped stammering
when Renee giggled.
going on over here?” Marie said, barging into the conversation.
She had inflected it perfectly- playful enough to not threaten
Troy, but loaded enough to make Renee back off. Marie added a
good cursory glance at Renee for good measure.
down his controller. “We're under a red flag while Renee goes
under the table to pick up her car.” Renee smiled.
Well in that case, I'm kinda thirsty.” Marie raised her
eyebrows. Troy recognized this as girlfriend-speak for 'let's do
something else.' He didn't need Lucidrol to understand that.
me too,” he said. Wrapping an arm around her waist, they walked
off to the kitchen area.
watched the exchange in awe. She could never say it to anybody,
but Marie's presence bugged her. She wanted know more about
Troy's girlfriend, but that was only half of it. Renee would
have had no problem talking to Marie and feeling her out if
Marie wouldn't have been so defensive around her. The problem
was that everybody else was so comfortable with the new girl.
Even Molly had rewarded Marie with toleration (as opposed to the
loathing she had for most of the student body). Renee's
magic-using friends sure seemed open to including Marie as part
of the family, as if they had voted her in without consulting
Renee. Or even worse- to replace Renee.
sure look cute together,” said Kathryn, leaning her elbow on
Renee's shoulder. Indeed, Troy and Marie were joined at the hip
in the kitchen, plastic cups in hand.
Renee conceded. “Looks like he's doing well with her.”
whole school year.” Kathryn sighed. “And we're here alone.”
nodded. “Yeah. And either of us could have had him if we
admit it: I'm jealous.”
weight of Kathryn's arm finally getting to her, Renee shrugged
it off and said, “Of her?”
cracked a smile at Renee. “Of both of them. That's one thing I
could never do- make it as long as they have.”
grown up a bit. That's for sure.”
it's our turn now.”
nodded. Kathryn's words would have lingered, would have put some
things into context, and would have prevented Renee from having
disruptive opinions of Marie. But Kathryn was never one for
sentimentality, and her smile crept into something downright
make out?” she asked.
for all that; Renee forgot everything else in the exchange.
Before she could recover and figure out whether Kathryn was
serious, Kathryn had left to reserve a spot in the upcoming game
of Wii Tennis.
was also thirsty, which could be interpreted as Molly-speak for
'get me the hell away from these people.' She barged into the
kitchen, disrupting Troy and Marie's little lovebird moment, and
poured herself a drink. Marie stood up and found a different
corner. Troy followed and Molly was left alone to watch Renee
try to coax Donovan into playing Wii. Donovan followed her to
the TV area, took a controller, and summoned Blaine to do the
actual game playing. Renee considered this a partial victory.
for coming.” In the chaos of watching her sister attempt to
involve Donovan socially, Molly did not hear Kurt approach.
didn't mind. “I felt it appropriate given your service to us.”
snickered. “Guess you could put it that way. I know you're not
big on parties, so it means a lot.” She glanced away. 'Not big
on parties' only scratched the surface. 'Not big on people,'
“Although you sure know how to handle a Wii,” he added.
huffed. “Spare me the innuendo.” It took Kurt a moment to
realize what she meant; he laughed awkwardly when he got it.
dropped the subject immediately. “Oh, hey, I was talking to
Marlowe this week...”
darted toward him, eyes widening. “Did he find you something?”
she asked, eagerness slipping into her voice.
no,” he said, looking away. That put a damper on what he was
about to say, but he said it anyway: “But he says you sent a
letter of recommendation for me.”
turned away, her hand covering the side of her face. She seemed
to have trouble controlling her breathing. Kurt smiled and said,
“Not used to going out of your way to do something nice, huh?”
a matter of professional courtesy,” she said.
his head. “You didn't have to do that. You're way above me in
their food chain. I know it, you know it, Marlowe knows it. I'm
just another guardian-wannabe. You're Molly Pearson. A good word
from you makes a difference.”
don't profess to having any sway with them. If they find me as
special as you seem to believe, they would have found us a field
agent by now.”
nodded. “Too bad I'm not qualified for that. I just hope they
find somebody before I leave.”
it's ridiculous. Without a trained agent, you're the closest
thing we have to support. It's like we're going from temporary
protection to none at all.” She heaved a sigh. She had echoed
this point many times with Uriel, which he seemed to understand.
If there was an ulterior motive to her letter of recommendation,
it was to help get Kurt situated out of town and force Uriel to
take action. As much as she appreciated Kurt's support, there
was no substitute for a trained professional.
sure it'll get taken care of. Still...” Kurt put a hand on her
shoulder. She shirked and shrugged it off. His smile remained.
“Thank you. I'm honored that you'd do something like that for
be entirely sure that I'd still be alive without you around,”
Molly replied. That sort of thing did tend to influence
Forgetting that she had already shirked it off once, he put his
hand on her shoulder again. This time, she stepped aside until
he was out of reach. “I think you guys will be fine. Even if
somebody went after you again, you can handle it. And Troy and
Kathryn are coming along nicely. They're not helpless anymore.”
didn't respond. Molly didn't care whether or not she and her
unit could handle another demonic plot. It was being subjected
to demonic plots in the first place that bothered her.
sighed. He found the lack of a reaction fascinating. “You know,
the world won't end if you decided to take a day off and let
your hair down.”
glanced at him oddly. Her hand felt the back of her head and
what little hair she had there. She had short hair. She always
had short hair. It wasn't budging.
how often do you just try to have fun and enjoy life?” Kurt
asked, giving up on euphemisms.
one for fun,” she said, eyes cast downward. “Bad things happen
when I let my guard down. Fun isn't part of my job. To put it
your way, I am, after all, Molly Pearson.”
see the harm in chilling out for a few hours. You'll feel
faced him again, angry. “How I feel has no bearing on this. I
know my purpose in life, and fun is not included.”
chuckled. “Well, I'm giving you permission tonight. You're
getting really wound up over everything and-”
am seventeen years old. In that time, I have had at least three
demon factions try to either kill me or lure me over. Don't
think a few months of peace means they've given up.”
eyes met. As much as Kurt wanted to dismiss it as paranoia, he
couldn't ignore her history. She had been targeted, she had been
spied on, and apparently some demons had once tried to draw her
to evil. No wonder she turned out like this. Half the student
body was probably convinced Molly had accepted the offers.
exposed enough just being here,” she added.
was a bit much. Being constantly on guard was one thing, but not
even being able to enjoy a little get-together? This wasn't even
that wild a party: were it not for young Yuki necessitating a
certain decorum, Kurt or Kathryn would have almost certainly
gotten someone drunk and/or naked by now.
on, it's just a party, what's the worst that could happen?” he
Congratulations, Kurt, you just said the secret words!
front door flew open and in burst Vincent, still clutching that
magic briefcase. The party froze, its patrons turned to see who
this intruder was, and Kathryn lost control of her Wiimote and
sent it crashing into the TV.
was assured that he had everyone's attention, Vincent grinned.
“Now is this a party or is this a PARTY?!” he yelled, throwing
up the Shocker with his free hand.
Vincent had killed the
party, so signs of life were scarce. A lot of dropped jaws and
awkward glances around the room perhaps, but everybody went
silent. As the apartment's proper tenant, Kurt took it upon
himself to engage the trespasser. Molly started warming up a
nice spell just in case.
“Excuse me, this is a
private engagement,” he said, trying to temper any initial
hostility. So, if you don't mind-”
“This your place?”
“Yes, and I don't-”
“Nice to meet you!
Name's Vincent Wagner.” Vincent extended a hand.
Kurt didn't shake it. He
was trying to figure out the name. “Wincent Vagner?”
“Nope, Vincent Wagner.”
What made this impossible to figure out was that Vincent
pronounced it 'WIN-cent VAH-gner.'
Giving up, Kurt shook
his head. “And who are you?”
“Told you, Vincent
“I meant what are you
doing here?” Kurt asked, cringing. He feared he was somehow
baiting himself to be on the losing end of an Abbott & Costello
Vincent's smile grew and
he patted his briefcase. “Biz... ness.”
Kurt cracked a smile,
finally spotting the chance for a comeback. “Well we're not here
for business. This is a party.”
“I see that. Lotsa girls
here too.” Vincent scoped the room, winking at Renee. “Nice
Dropping her spell,
Molly marched up to Vincent. “What Kurt is failing to imply is
that you are intruding on us and should leave before I get
“Why? What happens when
you get angry?”
The room stirred to life
as everybody prepared for Molly's anger. Troy and Marie ducked,
Kurt backed away from the action to avoid any shrapnel, Kathryn
covered Yuki's eyes. Renee smiled, eager to watch her sister's
Noting the reaction
across the room, Vincent decided he wasn't curious enough to
find out. “Look, I need to see somebody here.”
“Whom?” Molly replied,
just about ready to throw up the glare.
Vincent smiled brightly.
Not the randy grin he came in with, but something proud and
noble. Which is funny given his answer:
With a gasp, Marie
separated herself from Troy and stood up, taking two steps away
from him and staring back with some concern. Yuki and Renee also
looked at Troy, inching closer to him, not sure how to react.
Troy saw the three girls
staring back and blinked. “Why are you all looking at me,” he
said, annoyed. “I know what my dad looks like. It's not him.” He
rolled his eyes. “Thank God.”
Pushing Kurt and Molly
aside, Vincent stepped towards Troy, that oddly parental smirk
still on his face. “Are you sure?”
“Well... I mean I
haven't seen Dad in awhile, but-”
“But you've suddenly
grown curious as to his whereabouts. As if a revelation has
dawned on you... like falling under... a spell?”
Troy's eyes widened.
Could it be that the mystery of his father ran even deeper into
the fog? That the man Troy had spent eleven years calling Dad
was an imitator, or that he had somehow become a completely new
and completely repulsive person in five years?
He could only stare back
as Vincent went for the kill: “Am I right... Donovan?”
Insulted by the mere
thought, Troy grunted, looked away, and pointed in Donovan's
Vincent noticed Donovan
for the first time, glaring back at Vincent just as he did
towards everybody else. Walking to his son, getting plenty of
space from the shocked and bewildered witnesses, he saw the
resemblance immediately. The boy had his dad's hair, eyebrows
and inappropriate sense of ostentation.
“That's more like it.”
Vincent extended his free arm, requesting an embrace. “Son!”
“Kathryn, I'm scared!”
Yuki shouted, hiding behind her friend.
But Donovan was not down
with such a reunion. “I have no father,” he muttered.
“Now, now, when you find
out where I've-”
“No!” Donovan stood
abruptly, pointing at Vincent. “There was no father. There has
never been a father. My mother swears my existence is nothing
shy of immaculate!”
Rather than try to
out-pose Donovan, Vincent chuckled. “Oh that... yeah, we were
both pretty wasted. She probably doesn't remember me. I'm kinda
foggy on the details myself.”
“So then how do you know
Donovan's your son?” Renee asked.
Troy, for his part, was
staying away from the conversation. Not only was he determined
to avoid anything regarding Donovan's origin, but this was not
his idea of a parental reunion. If it had been Frank that had
burst through the door in a similar fashion, Troy wouldn't have
handled it any better.
After a moment of
fleeting angst, he turned back to the mob. Instead, he found
Molly standing right in front of him, glaring. He screamed a
“Get Marie out of here,”
“Huh?” He looked away to
dodge her eyes.
In return, he got a
sight full of Kurt. “He mentioned magic and there's an MST
insignia on his briefcase. You don't want Marie learning
Troy almost screamed
again seeing Kurt, but their points were made. He squeezed past
them and took Marie's hand. “C'mon.”
“What? Why?” Marie
asked, confused. Even without an answer, she didn't argue when
he led her into a different room, shutting the door behind them.
returned to the the drama. Kathryn prevented Kurt from the same.
“What's that about?” she asked.
“Had to get Marie out of
here so she doesn't find out about our little hobby.”
She narrowed her eyes.
“What room is that?”
Kurt paused, blinked,
and opened his mouth a couple times before finally answering,
They both paused. They
both blinked. And Kathryn opened her mouth and cheered. “All
right, Troy!” She and Kurt high-fived.
From out of nowhere,
Vincent threw an arm around both their shoulders, nodding in
approval. “Now that's more like it, am I right?!”
Suddenly disgusted, Kurt
and Kathryn shrugged him off.
“Gross,” Renee said with
a scoff, although her eyes strayed back to that bedroom door.
However Troy had done
it, Marie was out of the picture and everybody had the green
light to be astounded that Vincent Wagner was in the MST. “For
the love of God, don't tell me you're the new field
agent,” Molly said, openly showing her disgust.
“Okay, I won't.” Vincent
shrugged. “That was easy. Doubt I'm on God's good side though.”
“What do you mean?” Kurt
“Heh... let's just say I
can see why the MST wanted to check for any natural heirs I
didn't know about before going about the proceedings. So what,
they're sticking an agent around these parts?”
Molly narrowed her eyes.
“You haven't heard?”
Kurt rattled off the
statistics. “Let's see, four unique demonic incidents, two
factions involved, one full-scale attack and an MST mobilization
to stop it. This town ain't as sleepy as it looks.”
Vincent nodded. “Nice!
And I bet my boy's been right in the mix.”
Both Kurt and Molly
looked away. “He's... made things interesting,” Kurt said.
“But if you didn't know
about all the attacks, why the hell are you here?” Kathryn
Holding up his
briefcase, Vincent smiled at Donovan. “I am here today to pass
on a family treasure. One that we have guarded for generations.
It's time to pass the torch.” With a regal march, he stepped
towards Donovan, who still seemed uninterested in anything his
father was saying.
unlocked the case. “Behold! A legendary book of magic!”
Molly and Kurt did
plenty of scoffing and eye rolling during Vincent's ceremonial
charade. But once that case opened, they became so overwhelmed
by the magic within that they almost fell to their knees too.
Yuki felt it too,
stepping forward to get a glimpse of such intense power. Even
with her strong lineage, she couldn't help but fall under its
spell. Neither could relative newbies Kathryn and Renee.
Although they couldn't put a finger on such an feeling, all they
knew was that it was magical and that it was good.
It was a book. A
decent-sized paperback of a couple hundred pages or so,
somewhere between digest and letter sizes. Light silver trim
livened up an otherwise blank green cover. The pages were a bit
yellowed and dog-eared and the corners had been roughed up, but
it wasn't ancient. Someone completely ignorant to magic wouldn't
give it a second glance in a used bookstore. But since the only
one in the apartment who could fit that category was doing God
knows what with Troy in the other room, by the look on
everyone's faces, Vincent could have been holding a holy relic.
“The Tome of Vincent
Wagner!” proclaimed its bearer, making a big show of passing the
book to Donovan. The son received it with two hands, speechless.
“Whoa, whoa!” Molly
shouted. She couldn't take her eyes off the book, which
diminished but didn't eliminate her ability to yell at Vincent.
“As Donovan's Guardian, I demand to know why you are doing this
now! How can you possibly think he's ready?”
Vincent smirked. “It's
tradition! How was I to know he already got exposed to magic?”
Molly wrinkled her nose.
All recruitments were public record to anyone who bothered
looking. That wasn't what irked her though. “You mean you were
going to give it to him even if he didn't know what it was?”
“Sure! Back in my day,
kids got all sorts of neat stuff before they knew their powers.
Cloaks, jewelry, focus items- nothing like a magic trinket to
get them into the spirit. Kinda wish I hadn't pawned off that
amulet of divine protection I got when I hit sixteen.”
“You sold an amulet of
divine protection?!” Yuki cried.
“Had to get those
Metallica tickets somehow. Tell you what- it was worth it.”
Getting back to the point, Vincent said, “Besides, it's company
policy. Something like that you don't want one person getting
too attached to.”
Yuki's eyed widened, her
head darting back and forth between the book and its former
owner. “You mean... it's on the list?”
Vincent smiled and
nodded dramatically. The list she was referring to contained the
greatest artifacts in the MST's possession. Most were in the
hands of various magi around the worlds: they were made to be
used and didn't do much good collecting dust in a vault. After
several high-profile incidents where agents went mad with power
and skipped off with the loot, the MST mandated that such items
get new owners every few years.
In a hushed voice, Molly
said, “I believe it.” She was looking over Donovan's shoulder as
he flipped through the book. Inside were elaborate circle spells
and complex philosophies that gave Weavers access to powerful
conjuring techniques. Before Molly could read too much into
them, Donovan slammed the book shut and glared at her.
Needless to say, Molly
wasn't comfortable with this thing in his hands. “How can you
leave this with Donovan?” she asked Vincent.
“The tome has always
been kept safely in my family. My father had it, and his father
before him, and his-”
“I get the point,” Molly
spat. “But you can't leave it with a trainee.”
“Relax, there's nobody
after it. I mean, I've had that book for years and except for
that time I left it at a motel in Charlotte, nobody else has
touched it. And the only people that know I'm here are the MST
guys that told me where Donovan was and some guy I asked for
Still, Molly couldn't
accept this. Not when there was something so powerful going to
someone so dense. She didn't have any reason not to believe
Vincent, but he wasn't a portrait of credibility either. While
she herself was unfamiliar with the finer details of the MST's
artifact management, she knew where to look.
“Kurt, do you have a
computer?” she asked.
“Yeah, it's in the
back.” Kurt pointed to a room next to the bedroom which served
as a small office. As Molly soon discovered, he used it more
often to store old magazines, stacks of loose papers, an expired
television and two Goodyear tires.
She turned on the
computer, brushed off the papers stacked on the keyboard and
slammed the door behind her.
later, the door opened and Molly emerged, still pretty peeved.
“Okay, Wince,” she said. “I searched Moogle to verify
“Moogle?” Renee was suddenly interested, her eyebrows raised at
it's a search engine for magi,” Molly explained, not
understanding why Renee had called attention to it.
it's called Moogle??”
rolled her eyes. “Yes. It's a portmanteau of Magic and Google.
It's not that clever.”
was not letting this slide. “But... Moogle? They call it Moogle?”
What's the problem?”
around the room, Renee was bewildered at everybody staring back
at her like she was the crazy one. Apparently Kurt wasn't the
only one who wasn't up on his video games. “Anybody? Anybody?”
She looked across the room at Kathryn, but she was too busy
trying to eavesdrop on Troy and Marie to participate.
Renee pleaded. Surely Yuki had gotten the reference.
Yuki just nodded complacently. “Yeah, it's a good site. I use it
all the time.”
Dismayed, Renee shook her head and slumped down onto the couch.
“I don't know you people.”
shrugged off Renee's outburst and turned to Molly. “What did you
there is nothing in the database known as the Tome of Vincent
Wagner,” Molly said, narrowing her eyes at Vincent Wagner. This
time, she said his name normally, just to piss him off. She
approached the 'tome' and continued, “The MST defines a tome as
a revered hardcover book of magic of at least a thousand pages.”
So that doesn't qualify?” Vincent asked, a little insulted.
snatched the book from Donovan, flipped through it, held it up
and replied, “There are Harry Potter books that are more
qualified than this thing.”
grumbled. “Return the tome to its rightful owner!”
finished.” Her glare was still on Vincent. “What is this and why
isn't it on the record?”
shrugged. “It is. Check the inside cover.”
did- besides an ISBN number and “Copyright 1938, Croatoan
Press,” there weren't any other clues. She returned to the
computer and Moogled the ISBN number.
it.” She came out three minutes later, frowning.
question the tome,” Donovan said, smirking.
not a tome,” Molly insisted. “It's officially known as Grimoire
17. Obviously they don't say whom it's entitled to, but that it
is due to be transferred before the end of the month.”
hummed victoriously and beckoned for his property. Molly wasn't
finished though: “But nothing in there says it needs to go to
Donovan. Furthermore, as a Class A Grimoire, ownership must be
transferred every seven years.” With her own victorious smirk,
she added, “That makes handing it to the next generation awfully
difficult, wouldn't you say?”
merely snickered. Kurt and Yuki looked to the ground gravely.
Shaking their heads, they both muttered, “Heirloom clause.”
upturned, Molly narrowed her eyes at them. “What?”
explained, “Those transfer rules don't apply if an artifact's
recognized as a family heirloom. Or at least they're extended to
make it feasible to pass something on to descendants.”
nodded. “Yeah. Ups it to 21 years. I'm due for some pretty neat
stuff when I turn 20.”
being added to pacify objections from well-off families like
Yuki's, this corollary to the transfer rule gave Molly very
little ground to protest Vincent and Donovan. The exchange had
already taken place, and that whole 'nine-tenths of the law'
thing was hard to dodge. This did not sit well with Molly. Much
of her rise to power at L. B. Gould was thanks to her ability to
find and exploit loopholes in administrative protocol. She would
scour the books harder to find something, of course, but until
she could do so at her leisure, she had no choice but to return
the book to Donovan.
laughed loudly, a mocking chortle normally reserved for movie
supervillains. Molly responded with the glare.
because you have it doesn't mean you can use it. Even if nobody
knows it now, that thing is a demon magnet. Put it away, hide it
in your dark room, and don't let anyone set eyes on it.”
of what sounded like a threat, Donovan nodded. “Indeed. We shall
bide our time and use it as our secret ace when our enemies
least expect it.”
sighed, but turned away, figuring that was close enough. Vincent
gave Donovan the briefcase. Once the book was locked inside it,
its magic aura vanished instantly.
now that that's out of the way, I can go back to work,” Vincent
Earth do you do?” Kurt asked.
Earth? Not much,” Vincent replied. “With the tome I'd go around
to various worlds as a freelance ass-kicker. Now I'm told they
found me a nice job as a super spy infiltrating the Yovoni. Hot
and Yuki groaned. The Yovoni faction specialized in the sex
sweet,” Kurt replied accidentally. Good thing Molly had already
used the glare on Donovan or he would have gotten it
Molly led Vincent to the door. Still, he had to get one last
farewell in. “Take good care of it Donovan. And check out the
page with the seduction spells; there's some fine ladies here
and you'll have to pass that bad boy on someday!”
you, Mr. Wagner,” Molly said loudly and firmly... and
incorrectly. She opened the front door and practically threw him
Vahg-ner,” he replied. She slammed the door in his face.
leaned against the door, exasperated. “Donovan, if you so much
as unsnap that briefcase, I will destroy you.”
wasn't unsnapping it, but he also wasn't listening. Donovan
clutched the case tight and looked at Renee and Yuki warily.
“Jeez...” Kathryn shouted, leaving her post at the bedroom door
and walking up to Kurt. “Will you guys shut up? I can't hear
anything in there.”
stunned looks from Molly, Renee and Yuki, but Kurt was right on
her wavelength. “Did you pick up anything?”
they're not talking. That's encouraging.”
hid her face in one hand. “Oh, jeez...”
didn't let that comment get past her. “Come on, you want to know
what they're doing too.”
just an angry grunt, Molly declared that she didn't. She joined
Renee on the couch and stared at that briefcase.
for a report or not, the bedroom door cracked open and Troy
emerged. His hair was messed up and his shirt was now on
backwards, but the look on his face would have suggested that
someone had beaten the tar out of him. And Marie was not the
making eye contact with him, Kathryn raised her eyebrows.
Hesitantly, she cocked her head, flashed an encouraging smile
and raised her arms to signal a touchdown.
glanced back into the bedroom, turned back to Kathryn and shook
his head. Sheepishly, he gave the signal for a false start on
followed behind him, trying to get her hair back into place. She
wore the same stupefied look on her face. “Let us never speak of
that again,” she mumbled.
“Agreed,” Troy replied immediately.