Author’s Note: What? Feeling confused because you thought you already read Chapter 3 under a different name? Well, then you probably already did. I rearranged some scenes so a half of this is a new chapter and what was taken out of this will appear in a later chapter. You can check HERE for more info. I’m very sorry about the inconvenience! 😦
It took two whole nights and a day before Amelia was quite convinced that she had got everything in her mind back in order. Sure, she hadn’t got much sleep, and there was still a young man who was really the Grim Reaper living downstairs. And yes, it still scared her. So. Much. But she could turn it into a more benign kind of fear, like what she had about death in general. Amelia Sprigg was not built for being cripplingly afraid. At least that’s what she had kept telling herself when she had quite expertly built walls of denial around her mind. And maybe because she had had all this time to to think about things, or maybe because Tad was again Tad, the big-eyed puppy-person who rescued fish – although later Amelia realised what said rescue had really meant – it was easier for her to forget what she had seen and to actually think rationally, or more like appropriately surreally, about the whole situation. And to just sink into said denial, detachment from everything she knew. So by the time it was morning again, she had settled quite comfortably into a state where she could just accept things as one accepts dreams.
When she had been little, she had loved fairytales, and she still spent a good chunk of her free hours in the Spriggs’ library. She had many times dreamed of stepping into the pages of some of her favourite books, into a magical adventure. But they were the kind of dreams she had known to be impossible, and she was okay with that. But now… this was getting quite close to fairytale territory. Except this was perhaps not quite as whimsical as she had hoped. Not yet, at least. But a small part of her couldn’t help being excited, although even that part wished her new tenant had been anything other than the anthropomorphic personification of Death. Something like Love would have been nicer, in her opinion.
As a side note, Amelia had actually been quite lucky that it hadn’t been Love on her doorstep. Love was a very difficult roommate, the kind that didn’t remember all the rules, left the toilet seat up, and sometimes messed up everyone’s relationships – although that last part was usually just people who did that without any help from Love, to be fair.
In any case, this was what she was stuck with, and Amelia was good at turning difficult situations into something she could smile at.
She stood in front of one of her big windows, her old stuffed teddy named Elise under her arm. After Amelia had grown up, Elise had mostly been just sitting around looking pretty in her own charmingly clunky way, but there were some things Amelia didn’t want to sort out without something beloved from her childhood as her support. Just being able to block out her fear and confusion better didn’t make it that much easier to actually face it. And even though she had reached her more surreal worldview, it was still missing quite a few pieces. She had a lot of questions Tad needed to answer. Questions that were just too burning to pass up.
And that was why she had to face him. And she would. She could.
Well, not the best pep talk I’ve ever given myself. But it will do.
She gently put Elise back down on the floor and then marched to her wardrobe to change. She would get her answers right away.
Larry Anderson lingered in his mind, like they all did. This one felt different, because he had used his human disguise for a part of the reaping. He had thought that keeping an aspect of him away from his job and in human form would cause no problems, but the problems had started almost a week after he had moved in to Miss Sprigg’s house. He had been slipping away from his purpose. Memories had fluttered and trickled away like a lazy bunch of liquid butterflies. It was an interesting realisation, though not a completely unexpected one. Death needed to be working. All of him needed to work at some point. He couldn’t just seal himself into a human case and hope it would stay sane without work.
The fish whose last moments he had heard at the river a couple of days ago had made things better, and the jobs after that had left him feeling fully like himself again. Too bad that Miss Sprigg had seen him take care of Larry Anderson, though. That had been surprising. People usually didn’t see him. He’d have to remember to take care of that the next time he used his human form to catch a wayward soul and lead it onwards. Of course, he had planned to tell Miss Sprigg everything that mattered… eventually. She was his mortal contact, after all, one that would hopefully help him even outside of letting him stay in her house. But then she had got curious, and Tad had been too absorbed by his work to notice until it was too late. Now he just had to wait for the right moment to explain himself, and hope that Miss Sprigg wouldn’t just decide to throw him out. Perhaps being Death was against the rules they had agreed on? Tad didn’t remember any rules about that, but perhaps it had been between the lines. Humans were usually good at things between the lines. He would have to ask her once she had calmed down.
He stared at the ceiling and lay on the bed he had created mostly for show. Except he was also in so many other places. He had got used to it a long time ago, and it didn’t really bother him at all, even though he was always where something was dying. And even though he felt their dying moments like someone sitting in a 6D film theatre.
He was someone lying in the snow, feeling lost from the body, feather-light snowflakes puffing above, scattered by one last foggy breath. He was a bunch of fish, caught in a net, small stomachs exploding from the sudden shift in pressure. He was old, sick, and shot.
He was a star burning out its last light and engulfing dark matter in a fierce final spectacle. It could have been traumatising, but Tad had seen it all. The saddest part about the little pains was that he knew that those who were dying felt everything so much worse. He was just stealing a little bit of that away, living in the moment, in a manner of speaking. Then he took their souls somewhere better, or at least somewhere else, helping them be on their way. It was a job, just like any other. Well, except without unions, lunch breaks, or retirement benefits. In fact, there was no retirement at all.
Someone hit his door with their fist.
“Tad?” Miss Sprigg’s voice sounded strange. Scared? The screech in the alley had definitely been scared, so perhaps that was a good guess.
“The door is not locked,” Tad said out loud and sat up, again almost fully back in his human body, concluding that he was in full working order again and that 6D films would be a terrible idea for mortals.
Amelia stood at the door, tense and clearly not knowing what to do. It was odd to Tad, because he had got the impression that very few things could shake Amelia Sprigg. Well, there was the death of her father, of course. Tad had been there – of course he had – and remembered seeing a glimpse of her tear-stained face. But it was clear that she was dealing with even that very well. Though he supposed that finding out that they had rented out a room to the Grim Reaper was perhaps something that would catch most people off-guard. He didn’t have a lot of experience with situations like that, though, so he could only guess. He’d only done it once before, and that had been a Leisure Day to remember. It had scared him from trying it again. Until now.
Tad stood, and he and Amelia looked at each other for a long, silent moment. People didn’t like awkward silences, though Tad was not sure what counted as awkward. Not usually, at least.
“Are you alright?” Tad said.
Amelia let out a small squeak.
“Good morning!” she said automatically, “Okay, I got this… what is going on here?!”
She took a deep breath.
“No, I’m sorry,” she said, a bit calmer, “I meant to say… what is going on here?!”
“I understand that you are upset,” Tad said quickly, raising his hands in what he knew people usually found a calming gesture, “I can explain.”
“You’d better!” Amelia clapped her hands over her mouth, “Ugh! I had planned to react better than this! I just… I should just go…”
“No! Wait!” Tad said, raising his voice properly for the first time in his human form. It hit his vocal cords interestingly, but he didn’t have time to think about it now, “I mean no harm. To anyone.”
Amelia took a few deep breaths.
“You… you are the… the Grim Reaper?” she whispered, wincing as if actually saying those words hurt her reality.
“That is what many of you call me nowadays, yes.”
“But… How? Why? What?”
Tad put his hands together.
“First of all, I really am sorry for lying to you. I needed a place… and a friend. As you can probably guess, I do not live in Moonlight Falls. I am definitely not twenty two years old. And I do not have a family, nor am I here to study or look for work. And I also do not know if the kitchenette works because I have not dared to use it. The stove is… intimidating.”
“But I… wait, the stove? Seriously? It’s actually very modern and safe despite its retro look.”
Tad nodded solemnly.
“I have heard many other people say those words before. But to answer your questions, as for how, it is what I have always been. As for why, I am here because something was stolen from me, and I cannot find it. As for what… I am not sure if I understand what you want to know.”
Amelia stared, trying her best to process what she was hearing. This was just getting further into the unbelievable.
“Something was… stolen from you?” she asked, “How?”
“Ah, yes… that is a bit embarrassing, is it not?”
Amelia tried to add this new cube of information to the block pyramid of reality her mind had managed to reassemble during the last couple of nights. It was a bit easier now that everything already had a new place, and a somewhat steady firewall. She took a deep breath and let it out.
“I think you should explain this all from the beginning,” she said.
“From the beginning?” Tad asked, “That is going to take a while.”
“I meant from the beginning of this… theft, I suppose.”
“Oh. I can do that.”
“Come on, let’s sit down somewhere. The dining room is the closest.”
And Tad did start from the beginning of the theft, and even a little before that. Since he was already busted, he saw no reason to make it worse by trying to somehow keep up the charade. And while it did make him more reasonable than almost any character in any of the sitcoms they had watched together, it also meant that Amelia Sprigg became a secret keeper, something that she would occasionally regret after she allowed all of this to finally sink in.
There are a couple of things one had to know before finding out about one of the greatest or at least one of the most idiotic heists ever pulled. The first thing to know, of course, was that Death had a realm of his own.
It was mostly an enormous garden, one meant as a place of rest for those souls who hadn’t quite found the way or the courage to step into the world beyond.
It was a place only a few mortals had ever visited while they had been alive, and while one could call it fantastical and beautiful, one could also call it rather confusing. That had a lot to do with the fact that while Death was very interested in gardening and indeed loved plants, he had no grasp on logical landscaping or things like picking a style. Or clear paths that actually led somewhere.
But the important thing was that it was there, and that Death – or Tad – loved his home.
There was also a house there, but it was mostly just for storing some things that Death liked to keep around, such as books and handshakes.
The other things he stored there were, of course, things that he deemed better to be kept out of reach of mortals, and of other less responsible immortal beings as well.
These items were few, since Death quite liked to let living beings do their own thing with him only being there for the end.
One of these things was a gemstone created for hiding someone from Death.
Tad had taken it upon himself to keep it safe once it had ended up into his possession. Its last owner had willingly given it to him after a very rough four centuries of living. Of course, the problem with giving a gemstone designed to hide from Death to Death was… well, that it was very easy for Death to forget that he actually had it. And accidentally misplacing it was definitely a nuisance.
That was also why it took Tad a while to notice that someone had actually broken into his home and taken it.
“It was definitely surprising,” Tad said with a sigh, “It is very rare that anyone can even make it to my realm. Not to mention how they hid from me in my own home. I could only trace some of the magic they used to this town.”
Amelia had listened to Tad’s explanation with a mix of wonder and disbelief. She leaned forward with worry in her eyes and mind.
“Is it dangerous? That stone?”
Tad smiled softly.
“No. Of course, immortality can make people reckless, but I doubt the one who has it wants to do anything too terrible to attract the attention of me or… less friendly powers.”
He looked outside and directed his smile at the morning wind playing in the grass. The wind didn’t shrink away from him, or even decide it was time for a more dramatic breeze. It usually tended to do that around him, and it was a bit tiresome.
“In the meantime, I am planning to find it the… mortal way?” he said the last bit uncertainly, “This way I can talk to people easier without them becoming… awkward or scared. It tends to happen when I am around in the more conventional form. Not that this form helps that much. My communication skills outside of my job are… rather lacking.”
It was almost a good explanation. Almost. If one thought about it in the aforementioned surreal way. Amelia let out a quiet hum, possibly of confusion or contemplation. Or both.
“And the reason you rented a room was… what exactly?” she asked.
Tad shrugged his shoulders.
“It helps me get in character. And I have to admit that I was… curious to try it out. Life, I mean. It has been a long time since I have walked in any of the mortal worlds without solely focusing on my work. This seemed like a good opportunity.”
He looked at Amelia again, apologies on his face.
“So are we alright?” he asked, “Despite all this?”
Amelia tried to find the right words and forget about her fear. Tad hadn’t changed at all, yet he had changed in every way as well. A little bit of thinking and detachment weren’t really enough to sort this all out. In the end, Amelia went with the automatic answer, against her better judgement:
“I… I guess. I don’t like staying angry at people. But this all is just a bit much to handle.”
“I understand,” Tad said, “But after you have thought of it some more, would you also consider whether you are willing to help me with this… search. Blending in, mostly.”
Amelia raised her brows. For a long moment, she didn’t speak. Tad didn’t either. He just looked at her expectantly. Then Amelia smiled her warmest smile.
“Sure, I can help you. As much as I can.”
“What? Just like that? You can think it over if you wish.”
“No need,” said Amelia, leaning forward on the table again, “I may have to take some time to wrap my head around this all, but if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that I like being nice and helping people. That and the sun coming up in the morning. And everything turning out fine despite all this.”
There was also the thing that the quicker Tad found this… thief, the quicker he would be gone. It was not a nice thought, but at the moment, Amelia really had to admit that she just honestly didn’t want to spend a whole lot of time in Tad’s presence.
Tad nodded slowly.
“I see that I made a very lucky choice when I moved here. I had been planning on taking care of the first step in finding the gemstone as soon as I had a chance to talk to you. So… are you really ready to help me search, even if that takes us to some places that might seem strange to you?”
“I already said yes, didn’t I?”
“Very well. Then how would you like to meet a sorceress?”
Still suspended in that nice, floating denial, Amelia just shrugged.
“How about tomorrow?”
Or perhaps compared to meeting the anthropomorphic personification of death, a sorceress didn’t seem like a big deal. A small voice of… something kept whispering in the back of her mind, though.
What are you getting yourself into?!
The search for the thief didn’t start with anything too exciting. It was just a walk in some of the idyllic suburbs of Riverview, with Tad weaving through twists and turns like he had always lived there. Then again, he had been everywhere, and navigating millions of places at once had helped him develop an excellent sense of direction.
“So you were not aware of any sorceresses living in your hometown?” he asked.
“No,” Amelia said. Before this she hadn’t even been aware that magic existed outside of stories.
“Ah, yes… the gift of ignoring what is hard to explain,” Tad nodded, “It has created this natural sort of segregation in many places. Usually what you call supernatural beings gather together to certain towns, but practically every place has its small occult side.”
“Which one is Riverview? A gathering place or just a town with an occult side?”
“Occult side. If you stumble upon gathering places, you will most likely recognise them.”
Amelia looked around, trying to catch a glimpse of the occult side of Riverview. There were none, and the town looked the same it had when she had been growing up. To be fair, she hadn’t really expected much else. Riverview was too normal in her eyes.
“Should I be prepared?” Amelia asked warily, “Is this… occult side even accepting of people who’ve been out of the loop?”
Tad shrugged his shoulders.
“I have come to the conclusion that beings with high awareness usually tend to form prejudices against groups they are not a part of, for some reason. But I doubt anyone can be too hostile towards nice people like you.”
“That’s uh… sweet of you to say.”
“And about the sorceress,” Tad went on, “I have met her before, and I can tell you that she might be a little… how do you say… slightly self-absorbed and not afraid to speak her mind. But I am sure you will get along passably. Besides, we are here just to get information.”
Tad had explained to Amelia that the reason they were going to see this sorceress – whose name was Vanja Leifsdóttir – was that the magical trace Tad had picked up on the scene of the crime at his home had come from her little shop in Riverview. Amelia hadn’t known that there was a little shop ran by a sorceress in the midst of the old, pretty houses and the roads she had biked through during her childhood. One learned new things every day.
The house Vanja Leifsdóttir lived in didn’t look any different from the rest of the houses in the suburb. Well, except for the old-fashioned sign that hung near the front door that said: The Remedies of Nature. Something clicked in Amelia’s mind. She recognised the small shop now.
“Oh, you were talking about this place,” she said, “But… this isn’t a secret magic shop. It’s a lady who sells herbs and other natural medicine and tonics. I’ve seen an ad in the paper.”
“Yes, her array of customers is quite a wide one. One has to expand in a not very supernatural town.”
He stepped inside, and a small bell clinked above the door.
The inside of the shop was a mix of order and cosy, chaotic mystique. It was filled with shelves that were stocked with bottles of all kinds of colours and aromas. Cinnamon incense drowned out the mixed scents drifting from the bottles – or at least tried to, with debatable success. The shop was a small room, with a door behind the counter that probably led to Vanja Leifsdóttir’s home. Besides the two new customers, Vanja herself was the only other living thing there at the moment. Her back was straight even when she was leaning against the counter. She looked way too neatly dressed and groomed to fit into the popular stereotype about organic shops like this – though Amelia didn’t believe in stereotypes anyway. Vanja looked at them over her glasses and stood up straight.
“Oh, hello,” she said, and her voice was surprisingly sweet even though there was a certain coldness in her eyes, “Welcome to The Remedies of Nature. How can I help you?”
“Hello, Miss Leifsdóttir. I am sorry about this disturbance, but I need to ask you a couple of questions regarding your… other merchandise.”
Miss Leifsdóttir raised an elegantly arched brow.
“Oh? And what questions are those? I haven’t seen you around before.”
“Actually, you have,” Tad said as if in passing – and Amelia noted with slight wonder that Tad seemed to lose almost all of his shyness and awkwardness when he needed to talk business, “So you must understand that I am not asking this just to harass you. Some of your magic has been used… rather inappropriately.”
“What?” Miss Leifsdóttir said sternly, “Who has?”
“That is what I am here to find out. I was hoping you would enlighten me.”
This time the elegant eyebrows twisted into a frown.
“Wait, are you suspecting me of something? Who the hell do you even think you-?”
Tad crossed his arms and gave Miss Leifsdóttir a very serene look. This time she gasped, and all of her cool but somewhat inviting demeanour changed in a heartbeat.
“Oh… Shit. It’s you! What the- why the hell do you look like that? And what are you even… are you here on business? I thought we had a deal! I figured out that recipe fair and square! Or wait! Did someone croak on my backyard again? Because I swear that wasn’t my fault! Just because I grow a couple of carnivorous plants doesn’t make me guilty whenever someone’s dumb enough to venture too close to them. I mean, they look like cows with teeth! That just screams ‘Danger! Stay away’!”
Tad raised his gloved hand in a calming gesture.
“Miss Leifsdóttir, that is not why I am here at all. I am here on because of an important… issue.”
Clearly, it didn’t work.
“Issue? What issue? I haven’t pissed you off in some way, have I? And wait, who’s she? Is she one of your friends?”
The agitated woman’s glare found Amelia so abruptly that Amelia let out a small gasp. Tad’s calm expression didn’t change, though.
“This is Amelia Sprigg,” she said, “My landlady. Miss Sprigg, this is Vanja Leifsdóttir, but you already guessed that, I suppose.”
“Landlady?” Miss Leifsdóttir repeated, her eyebrows rising very quickly, “So what’s she? The keeper of time? Fate?”
“No, she’s an insurance person.”
Something dawned in Vanja Leifsdóttir’s eyes, and her shoulders tensed until she looked almost like a stone statue.
“I need to speak with you,” she said to Tad, “At the back.”
“What the hell is going on?”
“I am going to tell you, but you should calm down first.”
“She’s a mortal!”
“As are you.”
“But she… does she know? How much does she know? About me? You? Everything!”
“She doesn’t know anything about you. Except for your name. And your magical nature. And where you live.”
“Oh, great! Fantastic! Of course she does! She’s in my house! Does she know who… what you are?”
“Yes. She does. And she is taking this exceptionally well.”
“So she knows that I’m someone who’s familiar with Death? Fantastic! And she’s here! Now! Too close to my lab!”
Tad glanced at the direction of the house’s bedroom.
“I do not think she needs to go into your lab.”
“And she’s your… what?”
“Yeah! What’s up with that?”
Tad took a deep breath, mostly out of common courtesy. It was apparently rather creepy when he forgot to breathe.
“If you would just let me explain…”
And Tad explained, though it tells something about his trust in Amelia that he told much less to Miss Leifsdóttir than to Amelia. He told the important things, of course, like the theft, his human guise, and the… well, that was actually it.
After he was done, Miss Leifsdóttir looked very thoughtful.
“Oh, so that’s what’s been messing up everything. The energies are off, the readings in my crystal ball are going haywire…”
“Isn’t that just a… leed lamp?”
“LED. An LED lamp. And yes. But my electricity has been going haywire. That’s what I meant.”
“Or then it just might be the fact that someone misplaced my bills,” she huffed at the mere thought of something not being organised, “Can you believe that? I filed a complaint two days ago! Someone should already have done something! I’ve been paying diligently so far, and a couple of days’ lapse because of a mail mishap and whoosh! Power off for five seconds just to send me a message! During the most delicate stage of my experiment, no less! And then you show up at my door, and…”
Miss Leifsdóttir trailed off, her mind suddenly catching up to the entire situation.
“Wait, so why did you need to talk to me again?”
“Like I told you, someone used magic created by you to break into my home and steal from me. I would like to know who it was.”
“Well, it certainly wasn’t me,” Vanja said condescendingly, “I would never use my magic for something as heinous as stealing. Although… I have to admit that I am impressed. Breaking into your realm is quite a feat. Of course, with my magic to back them up, it’s no wonder they pulled it off.”
“Yes, it is impressive. And no, I doubt you would do this,” said Tad, “I know you have other more scientific ways through which you are planning to subvert me. So would you kindly tell me who has been buying magic from you, now? Something that could be used to… this.”
Vanja pursed her lips in annoyance.
“You must know that I don’t just give my customer information to anyone. Confidentiality and all that.”
Tad raised a brow.
“But you aren’t just anyone of course,” Vanja added hastily, “And by the way, those death experiments are purely academic.”
She cleared her throat nervously.
There was a knock on the door that led to the shop.
“Tad?” asked Amelia, “Are you still in there? Is this door soundproof?”
Miss Leifsdóttir glanced back at Tad.
“So she’s a part of this?”
“Are you sure that’s wise? She seems to be in deep denial about the seriousness of the situation.”
Tad crossed his arms.
“Are you sure you should be questioning me?”
She wasn’t. She yanked the door open.
“Yes, it is soundproof,” she said, “But only the ways I want it to. Now I don’t know how much Mr… Reaper-“
“Dustpine,” Tad corrected helpfully, “My name is Thanatos Dustpine, but you can call me Tad.”
Miss Leifsdóttir snorted.
“Very well. I don’t know how much Tad has told about me, but my name is Vanja Leifsdóttir, and even though it’s pronounced like ‘Vanya’ it’s spelled V-A-N-J-A. Don’t even think about it wrong, because you locals slip easily if you do. And try to remember the accent on the ‘o’ in my surname. You got it, Emily?”
“Vanja. I got it. And uh… it’s Amelia, actually,” she said.
“Oh, right,” VanJa LeifsdÓttir turned back to Tad and crossed her arms, “Anyway, the magic you speak of has to be my homemade, powerful cloaking spell. And an advanced teleportation spell. Not enough to both transport the user to your home and hide them there, but combined with some pixie dust and applied during a complex ritual… with a combination of some other tricky spells, it could be possible.”
“Yes,” said Tad, “I gathered. So has somebody bought the concealment and teleportation lately?”
Vanja disappeared through a door that led further into the house and came back after a while with a pile meticulously kept folders.
She set them on her small dining table, picked up the least full folder from the pile and flipped through the papers. Finally she stopped at a page and snapped her fingers triumphantly.
“I thought I remembered something like this,” she said, “It was an order through my web page, but it came from people who never order online from me.”
She looked back up at them.
“Now, before I tell you more, I want your word that you’ll tell me once you actually find the bastard who dared to use my esteemed research for petty thievery.”
“Of course,” said Tad at once.
“You aren’t going to hurt them, right?” Amelia asked. She hazily knew that she had lost grasp of reality a while ago, but she still had her morals, and she’d be damned if she let go of those.
Tad looked at her reassuringly. Or with a look he clearly hoped was reassuring.
“Of course not. This will be solved in a civilised manner.”
“Very well. I’ll take your word for it,” she adjusted her glasses, “So, the order came from Brigitte Hewitt. You know, the leader of that local supernatural commune. The… Ley Line Nexus, I think they call it.”
Tad nodded knowingly. Amelia stared. Vanja didn’t seem to notice or care about Amelia’s discomfort, and simply went on as if they were talking about the weather:
“I highly doubt it was them, though. None of them are sophisticated enough for this level of magic. And like I said, they always come here to do their shopping. Well, it was full moon when the order was made, so that would explain Brigitte’s reluctance to show her face, but even then she always sends someone. The only sorcerer there is that child, who also couldn’t have done this because he can barely tell the tip of the wand from the handle.”
She stood up and eagerly leaned forward.
“So I think there is even more foul play than just thievery involved,” she said, with the excited air of someone who had read too many detective stories and wanted to be a part of one, “Of course, if a thief is smart enough to steal from you, then I doubt they would be stupid enough to order some of the equipment in a way that is easy to trace.”
“Indeed,” said Tad, “Thank you, Miss Leifsdóttir. We will keep this in mind and go check Miss Hewitt’s side of the story. And we will inform you when we find something out.”
“I was glad to help out,” Vanja smiled a little bit too sweetly. Like she was talking to a supervisor she really didn’t want to piss off, “Well, I’ll be hearing from you. And your… landlady, I guess.”
She cast Amelia one more bewildered look as they were leaving, and Amelia wasn’t sure if it had something to do with her or just the fact that Death needed – or more like wanted – a landlady. Then again, Amelia still wondered about that herself. Reality knocked against the firewalls of her mind again.
Author’s Note: Whew, I’m so happy I finally had time to do something about this story! I’ve had an insane amount of work at school and work and extracurricular stuff, and agh! I’m pretty spent and now I just want to sit at my apartment and write SimLit. Which I did all day yesterday, so yay! Anyway, the next chapter should be up really quickly, since I just need to do the final edits to it. Again, I’m so sorry about the inconvenience of me rearranging events.