The introductions were half-hearted and rushed, Q clearly expecting the group to do most of the work themselves during classes. Dova saw Law raise an exasperated look at the heavens, so at least this was par for the course.
The only one to have been late that morning was Autumn, coming in a whole three minutes after the eight o clock chimes. One of the group tutted, but she didn’t even look his way as she took a place beside Q, standing as if she was in the military. Dova ignored the introduction beyond her name, instead distracted by the tight fitting athletic gear on her long body.
Fury nudged him none too sharply, offered an apologetic smile for his interruption, and Dova sighed internally before refocusing on the discussion.
I straight up missed my usual deadline without even noticing. Sorry!
“We’re going to the East. The County of Angus, to be exact.”
“Never been there,” Dova grunted.
“Shocker,” Korra muttered.
“I have a country house near a small wee village called Bridge of Craigisla. It’s right on the edge of thousands of hectares of forestry, which has been leased from the Forestry Commission. You’ll be doing various fieldcraft exercises in there.”
“Hey, can you stop and let me out? I’m having second thoughts, specifically about this exercise stuff?”
Towards the end of Q’s story, both Risa and Fury were struggling to stay awake. The cousins knew the highlights, but having all the gaps filled in made sense of their history. Half the puzzle had been missing, leaving the cousins mystified and more than a little blase about the threat. Now it was filled in the picture became clearer, and far more threatening.
“You cannot talk back to a teacher like that, Korra!”
Korra blew out a breath and rested her chin on her fist. Her mother stood over her with a deep frown, the expression so common that even when the grimace was gone the skin was still wrinkled with its shadow.
“He can’t teach for shit.”
“For poop, then. Whatever.”
Q wakes from the nap to see the sky is bright again, shining its brilliance through the large windows still coated in raindrops. They wind their way down ever so slowly, twisting in strange ways, joining with other tracks of water, and glistening under the sunlight. Raindrops had fascinated him as a child. How little they cared for gravity. How leisurely was their trickling descent. He had often wished to be one – fresh and often reborn, ubiquitous but unnoticed, accommodating yet able to shape all elements. He has always believed water to be the champion of elements. It could carve earth and douse fire. It was more necessary than anything else for life. Perhaps this was why his power had manifested in water.
Whatever Law wanted to think, Seeing was magic, plain and simple. There could be no scientific explanation for how Q could stare into still water until images broke the surface, just like there was no explaining how Shanna could dream of death and disappearances, or the other Seers could summon their power in tea leaves or whatever it was they did. Everyone was different, and Q was the best. That was how it was.
Once the car had stopped, they got out and walked. Once they couldn’t walk anymore – feet blistered and stomach on less than empty – they found a house.
“Must be a holiday home,” Dustin said, flicking on lights and looking around. “Hasn’t been touched in months.”
Shanna said nothing, even when he put a fresh glass of water out in front of her. It wasn’t until she’d finished sipping from the glass that she gained the courage to speak up.
“What if Q can’t find us? What if they do?”
Kian had told her to take it an hour at a time, and Isabelle had, and she was struck by how that had taken her up to this moment. Somehow the hours had piled up into days, into weeks, months, years. And here she was, resting her head on Kian’s shoulder, curled around him and breathing him in, surrounded by family (yes, she thought, that still hurt).
Three years on. How was it three years? She’d gone back to school, got her grades even though she had no direction in life, fell into an easy routine with Kian and then gave up the pretence of sleeping in her own room. Three years! She was nineteen, she had an admin job for the town hall, and she was watching her silly, ridiculous brother toast to Cara’s pregnancy.