The look on Lao Lao’s face was an image Kallan hasn’t seen in a long time. She remembers Lao Lao looking this way when a being asks about the future. Lao Lao’s face becomes devoid of all emotion. And the being that is in front of Kallan is no longer her Lao Lao. Instead, it is an entity that has existed before time and will continue to exist after everything is gone. To say Kallan wasn’t tempted was a lie. She wanted to know or at least know enough to know for sure if the explosion had been an accident or something more sinister. She swallows.
“It’s okay Lao Lao. Thank you but no thank you. I’ll figure it out.”
Then in an instant Lao Lao looked like herself. There was a quiet pride on her face.
“Yes, you will.”
With a light smile on her face, she hands Kal a spool and returns to her spinning. Kallan takes the beginning of the thread in a finished basket and beginnings to twirl the tread on. They both sit contently working on the thread. As Oria takes a nap in a basket of Lao Lao’s softest yarn.
The wind is cool, it has a slight bite when it blows around but the sky is clear and blue as the sun shines brightly in the sky. Kallan sits on a bench in the garden as she watches Oria scamper through the different parts. Getting any leftover dew on to her feathers, scales, and fur. Kallan takes another sip of tea and she starts feeding the garden again. She has already cleaned the apartment, even though Jim has seen it in every state possible.
She leans back against the wall and takes another sip. Then she hears it, or rather her magic allows her to hear it. The footsteps and then the lower door opening. And the enviable footsteps climbing up the stairs. Oria stops and her ears flick as her eyes stare towards the stairs. She quickly flings herself towards the tall grass and crouches down, ready. Kallan keeps a straight face.
“Dammit Kal why do you have to live in a place with so many stairs!”
Jim muttered under his breath. Knowing that it would carry to Kallan and hears her chuckle at him as her answer.
He walks down the winding footpath of the garden as Kallan has a mug blocking the lower bottom of her face. Then Jim realizes something is wrong but has no time to react. As 20 pounds worth blur attacks his side. Jim falls and ends of sitting on an unusually soft patch of clovers with a lap full of Oria, looking rather happy with herself.
All he could do is pat her on the head and sigh.
“You know I am a healer right? Not target practice?”
Kallan walks up to them and plops down on the soft ground next to Jim and hands him a mug of tea of his own. Which Jim readily takes and Oria stretches her body and uses both of their laps. He looks down at her with a mock of disdain.
“Now I’m furniture.”
He says while stroking Oria’s back. Causing her to stretch out even more.
“You sure like to grumble for someone who enjoys this.”
Kallan answers as she scratches under Oria’s chin.
“And what makes you think I enjoy this.”
She rolls her eyes at him. Jim smiles and shrugs as he returns to petting Oria.
“I don’t know? Maybe, because the last time someone tried to pounce on you like that. You smashed their face into the floor and tranquilized them at the same time.”
Smiles, remembering it like a fond memory before letting out an exasperated sigh.
“And if I remember correctly, it was your incident and then I got wrapped in. Why am I friends with you?”
Kallan gives him her best cheeky smile.
“Maybe it’s because I make sure when you fell you wouldn’t get a bruise on your butt.”
It’s Jim’s turn to roll his eyes.
“My ass thanks you. And damn that idiot was heavy.”
Kallan can only nod in agreement.
“I should know I helped you drag his carcass onto one of the beds. I thought I strained my back.”
“No, I’m pretty sure it was your ribs from laughing like a lunatic the whole time. Me tranqing that doofus was not that entertaining. I thought I had to give you a sedative.”
“It was hilarious and it is saved in the memory bank.”
Kallan chuckles as she drinks her tea. Jim can’t help but chuckle at the incident also, that was a ridiculous day for the both of them. He drinks the rest of the tea down. It’s a green tea and mint mixture, lightly sweetened with honey.
“You like mint in nearly everything. You even put in your coffee.”
Jim simply comments. But the look Kallan gives is one of wanting to slap him upside the head. She points to Oria who is comfortably asleep.
“Hey, it’s good and not too loud. She doesn’t like it when I have too much coffee. I swear she can smell my caffeine levels.”
They both look down to watch the napping Oria. And they do the only logical thing. They sit and wait until Oria wakes up from her nap. They both take a sip from their mugs.
Jim looks around the garden and a frown starts to appear on his face.
“Kal how much magic are you feeding this garden.”
She doesn’t answer and receives the patented. My name is Jim and you will tell me everything! Kall lets out a large sigh.
“Not that much.”
“But enough to make it feel like memory foam when I fell and to have tailored microclimates for each different type of plant.”
Jim lets out a pained sigh.
“Kal you know you have to be careful with that. I’m not trying to boss you around. I’m worried some asshat will try to write you up for it. Even if you are within your rights to do what you want on your property. But you know how some people are.”
The mood is somber with the truth. Kallan knows Jim is right. That she needs to be careful. Some people are eager to throw the book her. She takes a long drink of tea. Then Oria lets a chuffed sneeze and quickly settles to sleep again. Kal strokes her head and Oria snuggles into both of laps even more so.
“Looks like it might be a while but that’s what the weekends are for. To relax and drink bourbon.”
Jim smiles back.
“I’ll attest to that.”
They clink their mugs and watch as a rainstorm pours onto one part of the garden as a drought happens to another.
Kallan is at her desk trying to fill out paperwork. She feels a little dizzy. They overdid it during the weekend and it is coming back with a vengeance. It had felt good going down and it allowed her to forget her troubles and worries. Even if it is only for a moment of time. She has not drunk like that in a while now and she regrets it most ardently.
She wonders if Jim is any better? He woke up to a case of bed head that looked like he had never owned a comb much less seen one in his life. And he only started to form words after a few painkillers and a cup of the strongest tea she had. Which he sipped and cradled like it was life itself. Yup, definitely a rough Monday.
Signing she continues to fill out the case files. They are ordinary and mundane, which is something Kal can really appreciate. It has been quite in the explosion case. Enough time has passed where it looks like it is an accident. A number of unforeseen errors and coincidences, that had caused an incident to happen. And that is just fine with Kallan she is ready to rule it as an accidental incident. But she can’t help thinking and linger on the rings on the floor. If only it the rings had not been there.
She grabs her cup and takes a large gulp of the mint tea. No doubt Jim is drinking it by the gallons right now like she is. All Kallan knows is that she is getting too old for Monday morning hangovers with a pre-dawn wake-up time.
Focusing again on her work she feels better and the tea is helping. The Kallan feels like she has been struck and feels strangely faint. It’s not the dizziness from before where the world has tilted to the wrong side. Instead, the colors in her vision turn black and white and everything is fading into a pinprick of light. Kallan wills herself to expand the circle of light until it fills her vision again and everything comes back. She no longer feels her hangover but there is a taste of bile in her mouth. She thinks of one word.