Sunday, January 10, 2016

Belated Happy Birthday, Madness!

Mal's birthday story

"You know, Nurse Ratchet, some quality reading material could make both of our lives better."

Rose swam back to consciousness slowly, confused by a man's voice. It was Major Lorne or Colonel Marshall. Where was she? What was going on? Then her surroundings came into focus - white ceiling, machines beeping, gray curtains. She was in the infirmary. Dr. Frasier stood over her. 

"How are you feeling, sergeant?"

There it was, the inevitable penlight in the eyes. Rose frowned and squinted. "Like I was at the bottom of an Unas dog-pile, ma'am."

Dr. Frasier smiled. "Glad you have a sense of humor, sergeant."

It was Major Carter who said, "When you're feeling better, Sergeant Edwards, I think Dr. Jackson wants a detailed report from you about the recreation habits of juvenile Unas."

Dr. Frasier turned. "Major?"

"Sergeant Edwards was stationed at the naquadah mine worked by the Unas and overseen by SG-11," Carter said. "Apparently the Unas are now comfortable enough with a human presence to allow us to interact with their children."

Dr. Frasier blinked. "Oh. So when you said --"

"Juvenile Unas are bigger than a fully-grown adult human," Rose said, "and Major Lorne apparently played football at the Air Force Academy."

From the other side of the privacy curtain, a man said, "Carter, do you have any comics?"

Carter's face lit up before she smoothed her expression into one of patient exasperation. "I'll be with you in one moment, sir."

Oh. Colonel O'Neill was in the other bed. Had SG-1 been off-world? Nothing too terrible could have happened if Dr. Jackson was still alive. "I'm fine," Rose said, "if you need to see to Colonel O'Neill --"

"He's fine," Dr. Frasier said calmly. "Dr. Jackson brought him plenty of reading material."

"Reports are not reading material," O'Neill said.

"They need to be done, sir," Carter said. She started to turn, but Dr. Frasier caught her arm. 

"Sergeant Edwards has been through a lot, tackled by multiple Unas," Dr. Frasier said. "With these fractured ribs and other bruised bones, she's going to be on light duty for a while, and I probably need to run a few more scans about her injuries."

Rose frowned. "What did they tell you about my injuries?"

"Colonel Marshall told me you fell near the mines." Dr. Frasier exchanged a significant look with Carter.

"I did fall near the mines," Rose conceded. "But half a dozen young Unas fell on top of me. Major Lorne evaded tackling, however."

Dr. Frasier raised her voice and cooed, "You poor thing. Unas are terribly fierce. Let's get you back in for some X-rays, and then say, Major Carter, are you busy?"

Carter looked confused, but she said gamely, "Not especially, why?"

"After Sergeant Edwards is done with tests, I think she needs some especial looking after," Dr. Frasier said. "I think Cassie left her copy of Life in my office. We could play a few rounds."

Carter blinked, and Dr. Frasier nodded in the direction of the privacy curtain - and who lay beyond it.

Ah, Carter mouthed. "Sounds good. We haven't had a chance to have some good old girl bonding in a long time."

"Excellent! Now, about those scans..."

An hour later, Rose was back in her hospital bed, and Dr. Fraiser and Major Carter had pulled up the adjoining cot to sit on. A food tray was between them, and Carter was setting up the Life game board. On the other side of the privacy curtain, O'Neill was whistling loudly and rustling his paperwork too much to possibly be getting any work done.

Rose decided to go to college, and Dr. Fraiser and Carter decided on careers right away. Fraiser became a hairdresser and Carter became a teacher while Rose racked up student loans to become...an astrophysicist. Carter giggled when Rose turned over the card, and Frasier cracked up.

O'Neill rustled his paperwork loudly and pointedly.

"Maybe I should have gone to medical school," Frasier muttered.

Carter shook her head. "No, think of all the student loans."

"And that's why I'm in the Air Force," Frasier said. She landed on a marriage square. "Oh hey! I can get married. Again. And not to a jerk. Who should I marry?"

"Daniel," Carter said. "Alien women love him. You've already got an alien daughter. Should work, right?"

"Daniel it is," Fraiser said, and put a little spouse in her car.

There was a sound of wordless outrage from the other side of the curtain. Carter and Frasier exchanged grins.

Rose said, in a low voice, "Isn't that kind of...well...Dr. Jackson –"

"Is a civilian and not subject to regulations regarding fraternization," Fraiser said loftily but just as quietly. "Your turn, Sam."

Carter also landed on the marriage square. "Hah! I also get a spouse. That means a second income. Who should I marry?"

"Teal'c," Rose said instantly. "Your kids would be super tall."

"Done," Carter said, and this time the outrage on the other side of the curtain might have been what the hell? before it was smothered.

And then Rose landed on the marriage square as well. "Me too! I bet we were all bridesmaids for each other."

"Definitely," Fraiser said. "So, who are you going to marry?"

Rose mused for a moment. "Jonas Quinn was pretty cute."

From the other side of the curtain all three ladies heard a muttered, "Fer cryin' out loud."

"Excellent choice." Frasier beamed. "And hey! Kids. I get - ooh, twins. Two boys."

"What are you going to name them?" Sam asked.

Frasier raised her voice deliberately. "Daniel Junior, obviously. And...George, after General Hammond."

Rose nodded. "Very nice. What about you, Major?"

"I haven't gotten any children yet." Carter moved her car a couple of spaces. "But if I did have them...I'd name a boy Jacob Mark, after my father. And I'd name a girl...after myself! Samantha Junior."

"Carter," O'Neill said, "you can't name your daughter after you."

"Sure you can, ma'am," Rose said. "Women did it all the time historically. Elizabeth would be the mother and her daughter would be called Lizzy or Betsy or Beth until she became an adult and married and had a new last name." She cleared her throat and added, "With all due respect, Sir."

The privacy curtain twitched aside. "How come no one wants to marry me or name their kids after me?" O'Neill arched an eyebrow at them.

"Whoa."

Rose turned.

Dr. Jackson stood in the doorway, hands raised in a gesture of surrender. "If this is a bad time, I can come back later."

"On the contrary, Dr. Jackson," Frasier said smoothly, "we were just finishing up. Sergeant Edwards is well enough to be interviewed by you if you like."

Dr. Jackson sidled closer and saw the game board set up between the two cots. "Ah. Now it all makes sense. Who'd you marry, Sergeant?"

"Jonas Quinn," Carter said, "but don't worry, Fraiser married you."

Dr. Jackson raised his eyebrows at Frasier, who grinned and nodded in O'Neill's direction, and a smirk crossed Dr. Jackson's face ever so briefly. "Of course. Although, Jonas Quinn? Really, Sergeant? I'd think Corporal Edwards on SG-13 might have something to say about that."

"Indeed he might." Adam appeared in the doorway. He nodded at the others in the room. "Colonel O'Neill. Major Carter. Dr. Frasier. Dr. Jackson. Sergeant Edwards."

"At ease, Corporal," O'Neill said. "Your wife is fine. She was just colluding with Dr. Frasier and Major Carter to torture me while I'm injured."

Carter looked surprised. Had she not known Rose was married? Frasier knew, of course, since she had access to Rose's medical file and Adam was listed as her next-of-kin.

Fraiser finished boxing up the game and stood up. "Have a seat, Adam. It sounds like Rose has a fun story to tell."

O'Neill pushed aside his paperwork. "Do tell."

Rose sighed. "So, Major Lorne played football at the Air Force Academy..."

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Everyday Dagaz: Chemists

"Well, I'll be."

Michael heard surprise, anger, and a hint of fear in Fiona's voice. He turned, followed her gaze. "What?"

"Keith O'Connor, in the flesh."

Irish name. Michael scanned the crowd. He didn't see anyone who looked like a former IRA compatriot of Fiona's, but she didn't look like a former IRA figther herself. No one looked particularly combat-ready, either. Fiona was always combat ready. Even in bed.

"He hasn't aged a day."

Michael scanned the crowd again. There, at the shaved ice shack, were two teenage boys. One had light brown skin and tightly-curled back hair, a guitar slung over his back. The other hand pale, freckled skin, glossy red hair, and an electric five-string bass slung over his back. He threw his head back, laughed at something the other boy said, and he had classic Irish features, the high cheekbones and thin lips. 

"The wannabe emo rockers?"

Fiona nodded. She reached up, tugged her shades down to perch on her nose to cover her opportunity to stare. "The ginger. I'd know him anywhere."

The kid was slender, wearing a faded punk-rock t-shirt, with the sort of wiriness Michael associated with running or swimming. "What was he?"

"A chemistry student," Fiona said.

Improvised explosives expert, she meant. 

"What's he doing in Miami?"

"I have no idea. Last I checked, he was dead."

The teenage girl at the shaved ice shack handed both boys their treats, and they pocketed their change, turned to go. Fiona had stared too long and too hard. The redhead turned toward them and paused. Recognition crossed his face, and he caught his friend's shoulder, shoved, hurried him toward the sidewalk where a couple of skateboards were propped up against the low wall of a planter.

Michael called out, "Hey Keith, long time no see."

If looks could kill, Keith would have been dead, and his friend would have been a murderer.

But Keith bit his lip and sighed, shook out his shoulders, and started toward them.

"I don't know you, sir, but I do know you." He lifted his chin at Fiona.

"Keith," Fiona said. She looked him up and down, lip curled in disdain. "Still so...juvenile."

Keith winced. "Still so acrimonious."

"No one likes a traitor."

Keith lifted his chin. "Family first, wasn't that our motto? Turned out half of my family was on the other side of the barricade."

"Really," Fiona said, "you haven't aged a day."

"Aye. And neither have you."

Up close, Keith and his friend were definitely teenagers. 

Michael said, "What brings you to Miami?"

Keith tugged on the strap of his electric bass. "Battle of the bands."

"I didn't realize you liked music," Fiona said.

Keith shrugged. "There was a lot we didn't know about each other. I played cello in the school orchestra and me mam was a Prod. You fell in love with an undercover CIA agent."

Michael raised his eyebrows. "I thought you didn't know me."

"Knowing of someone isn't the same as knowing them." Keith shrugged. "So...we have to be at soundcheck. No snitching, ho foul, right?"

"Wrong," Fiona said. "My brother's dead because of you."

"On the contrary - your brother's dead because a British soldier shot him. My own brother is alive because of me - no thanks to you." Keith raised his snow cone in salute. "You had a gun at his head."

"He was a Prod."

"He was eleven," Keith said flatly. He leaned in, his voice low and dangerous. "If you want to play the 'who was worse game', I can defeat you roundly. Believe me." And he said something in rapid, rolling Irish.

Fiona went pale. "I didn't mean to. I was sorry. I didn't know --"

"And I did. You'd have done the same in my place." Keith straightened up. "So...enjoy your stroll along the beach. We're going to win a battle." He turned and walked away, toed his skateboard flat, and hopped on. His friend did the same, and they quickly vanished into the crowd.

"What was that about?" Michael said.

"I was wrong. He's not a teenager anymore." Fiona sighed, tossed her head. "Call Sam. I want mojitos."

Friday, August 29, 2014

Hallelujah - Rufus Wainwright

If Silas had paid more attention in music theory, he'd have figured out how to play the song sooner. The chord progression - at least part of it - was in the first verse, "The fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift". Chords had numbers. Pretty much every song could be broken down into a chord progression. Most pop songs were I-V-vi-IV. And if Silas had listened to Ms. Dempsey and learned which chords corresponded with which numbers, he'd have had the song figured out weeks ago instead of the night before his performance in front of the entire class.

He hated math. He wanted to be an artist and musician because they were the opposite of science, which required math. Lots of math. Math was awful.

And apparently math had invaded his music.

Silas stared at the chart at the back of his mother's dance journal (she was a lawyer and had a freakin' journal for her dance notes) and wondered if she'd taken great pains to memorize the strings of numbers (four-chord pop, five-chord doo-wop, twelve-bar blues). Mom was amazing at memorizing things, which was why she'd survived law school and still made other lawyers cry. But she was a good musician, too. Dad would pick up his bass, Mom would sit at the piano, and she'd just...play the blues. Or a pop song. Or an old-school doo-wop song. She and Dad would switch chords effortlessly, grinning at each other, bobbing to the beat, but keeping in perfect synch. How did Dad know when to switch? How did he know what to switch to? Dad was a scientist. Had he also memorized the numbers?

Silas stared at the various offerings of chord progressions and sheet music that Google had splashed across his tablet screen. Four chords. That was all. If he'd figured out the first chord and listened to the lyrics in the first verse...bam. He'd have figured the song out weeks ago.

Silas sighed and placed his hands on the keys, hoping his tablet would stay propped up against all the books of sheet music Mom left piled on the piano stand. Then he began to play.

Half an hour later, Mom swept in through the front door. Her keys jangled as she tossed them into the basket on the counter just inside the kitchen door. Silas kept playing doggedly, determined not to lose the chord progression (thank heavens it was so repetitive).

Mom began to sing along, but it wasn't a verse Silas had ever heard before. She sang as she roamed the house, performing her daily after-work ritual (shoes kicked under the table in the mini-foyer, purse on the table, jacket hung up), her voice fading and rising as she moved from room to room.

She stepped into the den and paused.

"Oh. I thought you were Dad home from the lab early."

"I need to know this for school tomorrow. It's the recital," Silas said.

Mom patted him on the shoulder. "Good luck."

"Thanks." Silas kept playing, fumbled a chord transition. Sighed. "How did you figure this song out?"

"Dad did it by ear, years ago. We used to sing it together all the time. You could've asked him for help." Mom smiled fondly at the memory.

"It's a four-chord song. Did you have to do the math, too?"

"Math? No." Mom huffed. "We go to law school because we're bad at math. Dad was always better at musical theory than me. I play what sounds good to me. Turns out what sounds good can be expressed mathematically, which is handy when you're doing improv with a group of strangers. But don't think you're stuck with the math." She ruffled Silas's hair and sang another verse.

Even though it all went wrong, I'll stand before The Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but...Hallelujah.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Reflection 1

"As a rule, I can't stand books written in first person. Present tense is a deal-breaker for me." I sipped my tea.

Coby raised her eyebrows. "And yet you read Divergent."

"I wanted to give it a try before the movie. Borrowed it from the library. I heard the third book alternates POVs and they're virtually indistinguishable from each other. Sign of less-than-stellar writing."

"The Fault in our Stars wasn't written in present tense."

I nodded. "I was really hesitant when I flipped to the middle - like I do, to see if I like the style regardless of the hook of the opening line - and it was first person."

"What is it about first person that annoys you so?"

"Usually the person has no personality. I get it - the author wants her young readers to project themselves onto the tabula rasa of the protagonist. Not my thing." I sipped some more tea, winced when it scalded the roof of my mouth. "But I liked the dialogue, so I flipped back to the beginning and, well, the narrator was a person. Had a personality. I cared about her as well as the people she cared about. The voice was alive. If I ran into that girl on the street, I'd know her as soon as she opened her mouth. That's how I like first person writing. And I don't feel like I see it enough. Not to mention, my preferred young adult authors tend to stick to third person limited."

"Did it ever occur to you that you hate first person because you hate writing about yourself?"

"Yes, and I'm working on that."

"Fault in Our Stars. Would you read it again?"

"I would."

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Lake of Fire - Nirvana

Dying on the Third of July was key, or so Lupe had heard. At least, it was key if she had to spend her time in the lake of fire known as purgatory, floating in an endless haze of burning agony. After all, people got to come back on the Fourth of July, watch the fireworks, and saunter heavenward. Rehabilitation complete. Burning for a day or a few hours or a year - a year on earth, if not a year in the lake - was adequate punishment for anything a smart, determined, creative, and gleeful girl could get up to in one lifetime.

So when Lupe stood atop the space needle, Seattle spread out below her, a bowl of glittering starlight shot through with the illuminated arteries of city traffic, she knew that 11:59 PM on the Third of July was a really, really good idea. Just thirty more seconds, she'd step forward, and there.

Only one minute on the lake.

She hadn't accounted for her little sister Maria, tenacious and earnest-faced, scrambling after her.

"Lupe, no, don't do it. A girl like Sylvia? She's not worth it. Spoiled white girl didn't know how good she had it with you." Maria inched across the slippery surface. Her hair and skirt billowed in the wind. Everything was windy so high up. Everything was flowing, moving. Peaceful.

Lupe curled her hands into fists. "What are you doing here? It's dangerous up here."

"You're up here, and you're fine." Maria sat down a safe distance from the edge, knees pulled up to her chest, and gazed at Lupe with wide brown eyes. "You're fine, right?"

Lupe thought of Sylvia, spread out on her red satin sheets, golden blonde hair mussed from passion. Lupe thought of the skinny redheaded girl beside her, one hand curled over her, possessive. Smug.

Fireworks shot skyward beside her, and she started violently. The world beneath her feet swayed. She yelped, arms pinwheeling, and her heart skipped several beats.

But she regained her balance, stepped back. Eased down beside her little sister. "Yeah. I'm fine. Just wanted a good spot to watch the fireworks."

"It's higher here," Maria said, "but not as good a spot as that one table next to the basketball court. There's a snow cone shack there. And a taco truck."

Lupe wrapped her arm around Maria's shoulders. "Yeah. You need to eat all the tacos you can get, or you'll end up a shrimp like me."

Maria laughed and nuzzled against her. "Happy Fourth of July."

Living on the Fourth of July. That was key.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Everyday Dagaz: Linguists

The thing about working in a close-knit community like Stargate Command was that people got to know each other. Jack recognized the faces of the low-level guards who kept an eye on the elevator on the first floor (they had no clearance and no clue what went on so far down below). Jack recognized the marines who came in and out, the scientists and support staff. He recognized them all because he was a nice guy, because he was observant, and because he wanted to be sure there wasn't a foothold situation going down in his base. Given how close-knit Stargate Command was, it wasn't uncommon to run into comrades while out on the streets in Colorado Springs. Admittedly, recognizing the girl in the fluffy white tennis skirt as the sergeant who always brought Jack his paperwork was a little difficult, but Jack learned to smile and wave. He was a commanding officer. It improved troop morale if the lower ranks felt known and recognized by their commanding officer. Jack was pretty sure he'd recognize that little white skirt anywhere.

 So when Jack was standing in line at a Starbucks trying to remember the name of that fruity concoction Sam liked, he wasn't too surprised when someone said, "Hey, surprise seeing you here." 

He turned around, ready with a morale-boosting smile and wave, and then he froze. He was pretty sure the supermodel pretty boy standing in front of him wasn't one of the troops at Stargate Command. In fact, the way he was wearing his platinum-blond hair long and parted down the middle like some throwback to a nineties boyband guaranteed he wasn't from Stargate Command, because that haircut certainly wasn't regulation. Jack liked to think he'd remember someone with such electric blue eyes, too.

 But then Daniel said, "Hey! Dylan! What brings you to Colorado Springs?"

 Dylan shrugged. "On my way to Fashion Week in LA. Just got done in New York. Thought I'd drive myself, take the scenic route." 

Hah. Jack was right. Kid was a supermodel. Or maybe a designer?

 Daniel's face lit up. "That's wonderful. Still modeling, huh?"

"Still working on my dissertation about functional Enochian." Dylan smiled.

 Several women in the vicinity sighed. Jack resisted the urge to sigh for an entirely different reason. "What brings you to Colorado Springs, though?" Dylan looked Daniel up and down. "And what's this - hitting the gym? Military haircut? What happened to the geek I know and love?"

"Working as a civilian contractor with the military, actually. Analyzing artefacts accidentally disturbed during foreign operations," Daniel said, and wow, guy was a smooth liar. Jack narrowed his eyes. Had Daniel lied to him about something in the recent past? Like remembering when he was ascended?

"I heard a crazy rumor that you'd died," Dylan said. 

Daniel ducked his head, blushed. "Just a rumor." And there - he was a terrible liar. Dylan furrowed his brow, and then he stepped closer, said something totally gibberish. Except it wasn't gibberish, because Daniel replied in the same gibberish. Dylan arched an eyebrow and tried another language, which Daniel matched. Jack wasn't much of a linguist, really only had a little Arabic and Spanish to his name, but for the next five minutes, Daniel and Dylan chased each other through at least a dozen different languages. The game finally ended when Dylan gave up on a language Jack strongly suspected Daniel had picked up on an alien planet, and both men laughed.

"You've picked up some new ones since we spoke last," Daniel said.

"So have you." Dylan clapped Daniel on the shoulder. "It's so good to see you again, especially after those horrible rumors. I'm in town for two more nights. We should have dinner. Bring your friend." Dylan turned his dazzling Hollywood smile on Jack.

 Jack raised his eyebrows. "Who, me? Sorry. I'm pretty limited to English."

"We'll speak English just for you," Dylan promised.

"I'd love to," Daniel said, "but I'm probably going out of the country to visit a dig site."

Dylan pouted. The women in the vicinity cooed. "Next time we cross paths, then. Dinner's on me. I know government pay is crap."

"Next time," Daniel agreed. The girl at the cash register called for Jack to place his order, and the prospect of imminent caffeine distracted him from Daniel and his suspiciously pretty friend. By the time Jack had ordered for himself and fumbled through Sam's order - soy milk, caramel - Daniel had ordered his coffee and Dylan was gone.

On the way out to the truck, Jack had to ask. "Who was that guy?"

"Old friend of mine from LA. We did linguistics together. Guy's a natural. Mother was Norwegian, so he grew up bilingual. Gave him a crazy head start over the other kids in the program."

"You were in college together?" Jack called the boy's face back up in his memory. "How old was he?"

"Regular college student age, actually," Daniel said. "It was uncanny. He hasn't aged a day."

"I'll say." Jack fished into his pocket with his pinkie and dragged out his keys. "You drive. Sam'll kill me if I spill her drink."

Daniel nodded. "Sure thing." He accepted the keys and trotted around to the driver's side door. Jack hovered beside the passenger door, waiting for Daniel to unlock it. Daniel had gone to college with a supermodel. Who knew.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Everyday Dagaz: teachers

The new biology teacher, Mr. Basanov, was hopeless. Amelia sat at the front of the classroom and watched him duck his head, avoiding students' gazes while he pretended to rifle through his stack of notes. Amelia was by no means a queen bee, but she was popular for a reason. She was good at reading people. And she heard, loud and clear, the tale told by every twitch of his hands, bunch of his shoulders.

After the bell rang and the door was closed, the students settled down. There were several new teachers this year. Amelia had heard that Mr. O'Neill, the new teacher, was smokin' hot. 

Mr. Basanov lifted his head, cleared his throat. "Good morning. This is ninth grade biology." He paused. "Since none of you have bolted from the room, I presume you are all in the right place."

"Don't you mean assume?" That was Trevor Conley. He walked the fine like between class clown and class bully. "You know what they say about assuming."

Mr. Basanov blinked, taken aback, then averted his gaze. "Let's start with roll call."

He was tentative with the pronunciations but did better than some teachers, accepted nicknames a little too passively. Then he scooped up the stack of syllabi. It was the first of many for Amelia. 

They were blue and photocopied and stapled neatly. Mr. Basanov had worried the edges of the first one with his nervous fidgeting and the sides were curled and creased. 

He thrust the stack at Trevor, who grinned and leaned back, didn't take it. 

"Take one and pass it on, please," Mr. Basanov said. He held the papers out again. 

Trevor reached out. Mr. Basanov tried to hand the papers to him, but Trevor closed his hand into a fist at the last second and the papers hit the floor. Mr. Basanov flinched and knelt, started scooping them up. 

Trevor kicked some papers out of his reach. "You know our names, but we don't know yours. That's not fair."

"I'm Tobias - I mean. You probably shouldn't call me that. I'm Mr. Basanov." He scooped up some more papers. He might have been cute, if Amelia were into skinny, pale men with sharp features, vulpine dark eyes and fluffy, disheveled dark hair. He looked too young to be a teacher. That was probably because he was the same age as actors who played teenagers on TV. 

"Tobias," Trevor said, emphasizing the sibilance of the last syllable. "You were a nerdy, unpopular kid in high school, weren't you?"

Mr. Basanov's response was muffled from below desk level. "I was."

"How did that work out for you?"

"Well --" Mr. Basanov popped up onto his feet, mess of papers in hand. He began straightening them with long, graceful fingers. "One day after school a group of football players attacked me with a baseball bat. Terribly cliché. Put me in the hospital. And then one day after school they were torn apart by a pack of wolves and now here I am, your biology teacher." He handed the stack of syllabi to Trevor, whose mouth was hanging open. "Take one, pass them on."

Trevor obeyed. 

Amelia watched Mr. Basanov for the rest of class, the don't-look-at-me hunch to his shoulders, the don't-notice-me dart of his gaze, the don't-hit-me of his posture, and wondered if there wasn't something else beneath. 

At lunch, she saw him with Mr. O'Neill, supervising the chaos of the cafeteria. Amelia and her friends had staked out the table closest to the teachers' regular post so she could get her fill of looking at Mr. O'Neill. Tall, lean, ice-blond, blue-eyed, with a face Pygmalion would have died to carve and died again to animate, the new art teacher was stunning. 

He was, also, apparently friends with Mr. Basanov. 

"You actually told them that?"

"I told you, I was never meant to be a teacher, or any other authority figure."

"What did they say?"

"Nothing."

"Man, if you get reported on the first day --"

"I won't get reported. It's not like I told them I can turn into a wolf and I took the first chunk out of the running back."

"Good point."