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M J

Abstract Comedy Others


4.8  

M J

Abstract Comedy Others


Inherited Love Is Called Fate

Inherited Love Is Called Fate

32 mins 70 32 mins 70

 “Danny said it is my turn to use the brain cell!” Cole screamed barging into his and Lee's dorm room.

 

”I said no such thing,” Danny refuted as she came in behind him. She sat down on top of Lee’s desk and sipped her Starbucks. She studied the room, messy as it was. A suitcase was laying on Lee’s bed, it was filled with too many clothes to be theirs.

 

”Who are you and what have you done to Lee?” asked Danny in a mock-serious tone. ”The real Lee would have packed only books.”

 

Lee rolled their eyes, ”Very funny, Danny.” She finally turned to look at the blonde girl sitting at the desk. Vintage rose eyes bore into blue ones, ” If you need know, all my books are in my hand luggage. I don't need that many because my aunt’s manner has this giant ass library.”

 

”Hey, Lee,” Cole interrupted the conversation, ”Have you seen my-”

 

”I packed your manga and games with my books.”

 

”Thanks, ” he said and went back to packing.

 

Lee sat down in the desk chair and sipped the coffee they had brought them. There was a comfortable silence as they watched Cole run around the room. Packing everything last minute, as expected. ” You know, ” Danny broke the silence, ” I still can't believe you didn't invite me along to your rich aunt’s mansion.”

 

”You and my aunt have hated each other ever since you two got on a fight. And over Orochimaru in your first conversation ever, ” deadpanned Lee.

 

”Well of course, ” exclaimed Danny. ” We all know Orochimaru should have paid for their crimes, but your aunt said they were the best parent. She literally said, ’Snake mum is the best mum.’ Orochimaru built those kids like they were Pinocchio.”

 

”She has a point, ” said butting into the conversation once again, ” We all know Bruno Bucciarati is the best mom.”

 

”No one has time for your Jojo’s reference, Cole!” clamored Danny.

 

Lee watched as they continued bickering. ”Yare are daze, ” they muttered. At that, they turned to look at them. Cole with a shit-eating grin, Danny, on the other hand, with a betrayed look on her face.

 

***

 

When Cole finished packing they headed out to the cafeteria. The place was full of hungry, caffeine-addicted young adults. Sliding into the usual booth after getting their food, they dug in.

 

Cole grabbed some pizza, while Danny served herself some salad. Lee sipped their coffee as the other two carried out most of the conversation. Their mind kept wandering to their dear aunt Aeron. She was quite a peculiar fella.

 

She remembers having met her once before when she was but a child. The woman had pale skin and wore a red so dark one would mistake it for black. The only similarity she had to their mother was the chestnut hair and eyes. They were distantly related, or so their mother had said.

 

”Earth to Lee, ” her eyes focused on the waving hand before them. Danny and Cole were looking at them with worry in their eyes. For some reason, they felt guilty.

 

As if sensing her guilt, Danny flicked her forehead and said, ” Jesus, Lee. Don't get lost in that head of yours, we might never get you back.”

 

”Sorry, Sasuke, ” Cole started with his mock Itachi voice, ” Maybe next time.”

 

”You hate Naruto, ” Lee said in an amused tone.

 

”Yeah! Because it's a shit anime.” And then they started fighting over whether Naruto could have been a masterpiece or not. Lee watched them as they finally started eating the burger.

 

The discussion was interrupted by Professor Yamamoto arriving at the dining hall. She was a small woman in her early thirties. She had ebony hair and eyes like the night sky. Why describe them like that? They always had a certain shine in them.

 

”Mr. Cyrus. Ms. Williams. Mx. Stevens.” she greeted. She turned to Lee, ” I heard you and Mr. Cyrus were traveling to the UK to stay with Ms. Lauren for the summer.”

 

”We are.”

 

”Well I hope you two have a safe trip.” She gave a kind smile, ” You know, I met your aunt once before.”

 

The group’s curiosity spiked at that.” Is that so?”

 

”Oh yes. I was working alongside her fiance in a project I can barely remember. Quite a sophisticated woman. Really pretty too.”

 

Another student called the professor over. There went their chance on interrogating her further. They stayed in silence, mussing over the information. At least until Danny broke the silence, ” Professor Yamamoto has the hots for your aunt!”

 

Lee could only groan as the conversation restarted. This time about the professor's love life. And their aunt’s for that matter. Lee wanted the earth to swallow them. Desperately.

 

***

 

The next morning was an experience, to say the least. Neither Lee nor Cole had gotten much sleep the prior night. Both were extremely anxious, Cole because he was scared of heights. Lee, on the other hand, because they didn't know the kind of person their aunt is.

 

She must be accepting if she's inviting me over, they mused as sleep evaded them once again. Recalling Professor Yamamoto’s brief description of her aunt didn't calm her worries. Sophisticated and pretty, sounds like the average rich person in a TV show, they thought.

 

Knowing they wouldn't get much sleep, they pulled their favorite book out of their handbag. One could tell it had been well-loved. There were sticky notes were peeking out from between pages and one corner had a coffee stain. Inside, the book was filled with notes– on both the sticky notes and the book’s pages– and phrases underlined.

 

They opened the book and started to read. There was once a beautiful maiden. She had hair as dark as the night and eyes like the abyss. She wore a flower crown and a pendant with the most beautiful opal in the world. But she was much more than her beauty, she had a mission and everyone who stood on her way was to be slain by her sword.

 

They had fallen asleep reading about a beautiful and deadly person. A rose whose thorns cut everyone who tried to cut it. They woke up minutes before their alarm to the sunlight streaming from the window. The birds were chirping and the sky was full of color, yet it annoyed Lee. It's too early for this, they thought as they got up to get ready for the day.

 

In the end, they made it to the airport with only a few minutes to spare due to Cole never being ready. There were more than a few tears shed, most by Danny– who had driven them– and Cole. Lee almost shed a tear or two when Danny gave them a bone-crushing hug. Damn, I had forgotten she does CrossFit, lamented Lee as their soul started to leave their body.

 

”Danny, ” Cole said, saving Lee, ” I think you might kill them.”

 

”Oh Gosh, sorry.” Danny apologized.

 

. “It’s fine,” Lee mumbled, finally in taking the air.

 

After the small, tiny incident, Danny started to fret over them. She'd ask if they brought everything. If they had gum. She even asked if they had eaten well as if she had not eaten breakfast with them. Lee knew she was worried, but damn did they not feel annoyed.

 

***

 

A couple of hours later they boarded the airplane. It was quite a trip to say the least, not that either noticed. A baby a couple of seats over wouldn't stop crying and a kid was kicking their seats. Yet, they did not flinch for they were fast asleep for most of the flight.

 

Once in the UK, there was a black car waiting for them. The driver was a short man with eyes a golden color. He dressed quite fancy in a white dress shirt and pants, an emerald green tie, and a black coat. The drive was eerily quiet.

 

Cole, who, unlike Lee was staring out the car window, said, ” This is quite a crazy, noisy-”

 

”Finish that Jojo’s reference, ” Lee threatened, ” And I am gonna chidori you.”

 

”Maa, Lee you could use to be less uptight.” Lee rolled their eyes.

 

They came to a stop in front of an old mansion. But it was not unwell kept if anything it looked like it came straight from the late 1800s. The garden was beautifully kept. It was filled with white and red carnations, white lilies, purple and white gladiolus, and white and pink chrysanthemums.

 

”You seem to have taken quite a liking to the flowers. ” There she is the woman of the century, the person everyone was waiting for; Aeron Lauren. She turned to the man at her side, presumably her butler, ” Edward, please arrange for the tea to be served at the garden.”

 

With that, the man, Edward, left. Lee started to study Aeron. She had chestnut-colored hair, her skin tone lighter than hers. She was wearing a black, sleeveless blouse and pants a red so dark the could pass as black.

 

She ushered them inside the estate and called for their luggage to be taken to their rooms. The back garden was somehow even more beautiful than the front one. Fairy lights were hung from tree branches. The terrace was ample and made of dark wood.

 

Edward came back with a trolley cart with cheesecake and a tea set. The fine china was from Japan, apparently. He also gave a long explanation of why he chose this tea; black tea and creamy desserts go quite well, supposedly.

 

” It’s great to finally meet you, Mr. Cyrus,” said Aeron.” I believe phone calls and fleeting small talk doesn't do a person justice when it comes to their character. I hope I get to know you both well." Then she proceeded to talk about how it's been ages since she had last since Lee in person and how much they've grown. The average "distant family member who you are 'reunited' with" conversation.

 

But the small lecture was interrupted when Edward entered the room once again. He wore a blank expression, but you could see something in his eyes. He whispered something to my aunt's ear, her expression turned into an annoyed one. She murmured something in return before eating another spoonful of her pastry.

 

"Is something wrong?" Lee asked.

 

"It's nothing, " she sighed, "Mr. Knox being his usual, annoying self."

 

"Has he been bothering you, ma'am?" Cole questioned, one could hear a small bit of worry in his tone.

 

"Not that much, " Ms. Lauren answered truthfully. " He shows up uninvited and asks me to give him, or at the very least sell him, my great grandfather's eyes. It is annoying, but nothing I can't deal with."

 

"Come again, " said Cole with his eyes wide. Lee was grateful he asked, they couldn't find their voice.

 

"Oh, it's nothing. He seems to have an obsession with my great-grandfather."

 

"So he just, " started Lee after regaining their voice, " Asks for his eyes? Is that something people who are obsessed with someone do around here?"

 

"Don't be silly dear, " Aeron started with an amused tone. " Everyone knows pinkies are way more romantic."

 

Thankfully, Ms. Lauren was called away for a meeting so they did not need to think of an answer. They spent the next couple of minutes trying to make sense of the whole situation. Cole looked pale and his eyes were about to bug out of his skull. Lee wasn't fairing much better, their eyes were unfocused and they were biting their lip hard. They were snapped out by the metallic taste of blood.

 

"What have I gotten us into, " they whispered.

 

"You did not know." Cole started, before attempting to smile. " At least we will have an interesting summer to talk about."

 

It became silent once more. "We are going to help, right?"

 

"You want to help?" Lee asked, shock evident in her tone, " There is some crazy man who collects eyes and you want to help?"

 

" Well, yeah." He said. "You are studying to be either a detective or a private investigator, right? Why not solve a crime? Plus, I am studying medicine, knowing about body parts will help me."

 

"You are insane."

 

"What if he has a person kidnapped in his basement or something and we save them? Maybe they'll be hurt and I'll help them recover! It might get me some extra credit."

 

***

 

They had discussed their plan before they were called to supper. Lee was going to ask their aunt for a map of the town so they could get around by themselves. Cole would ask about the neighborhood, who lived where and what they worked as. From the calls, Aeron must have gathered that he was curious by nature.

 

Edward was serving some sparkling wine when they came in. He was engaged in a quiet conversation with Ms. Lauren. Dinner was roast pork with potatoes and roasted vegetables.

 

"I know neither of you drinks, so I thought some sparkling wine would be nice, " she paused as if to see their reaction. " If either of you wants anything else feel free to ask for it."

 

She was more than happy to answer all of their questions over dinner. Apparently, Mr. Knox lived on the other side of town and he comes from old money.

 

"His family is a political empire around here. He is the only one that didn't become mayor." She said in an almost mocking tone." Supposedly, a witch cursed his family to never have an heir worthy of being mayor again."

 

"A witch?" Cole questioned.

 

"Yes, but that has not been confirmed, though. " she said off-handedly, " I had asked Haylie back when we were younger. She said she had never heard about it."

 

"Who's Haylie?" Lee asked.

 

"Haylie is an old friend, " Aeron said, but she had a soft look in her eyes. Edward also had a look in his eyes, but his we're cold and hardened. "Perhaps I should invite her over for tea sometime."

 

The room had quietened down. Aeron seemed to be musing something, while Lee and Cole looked at her with slight worry. But neither of them was brave enough to bring her attention back to the oh-so-called real life. It all came back to normal when Edward brought the dessert.

 

It consisted of some cake and jellies. There were also some fruits and citrus ice. Coffee and tea were brought by a maid who hides her face behind a dark veil.

 

Dessert was a less quiet affair. Aeron kept asking about what they wanted to see in town. If they had a bucket list. She then apologized if she could not accompany them all the time. She is quite busy with having, just a few months prior, taken over the family businesses.

 

"It's fine, " Lee was quick to put her worries at rest. " I think we'd actually like to get to know the town by ourselves before you show us all the cool spots. Right, Cole?"

 

"Yeah!" He agreed, " I, at least, would love to walk around getting to know the streets before I go venturing in and out of a bunch of places."

 

"Is that so?" Ms. Lauren smiled.

 

"Could you give us a map of the town, please? " Lee solicited, " I would rather not get the reputation of the girl that got lost."

 

"Of course, " Aeron agreed, " Edward shall give you one before you leave. Please be back at around five pm. My fiance is excited to meet you and is coming over for supper tomorrow." With that, they were dismissed to get some rest.

 

The next day they woke up earlier than they normally would. But seemingly not early enough to eat breakfast with Aeron.

 

"The mistress wakes up early when she has meetings, " Edward explained as he guided them to the dining room. "She likes to get the most out of the day."

 

Breakfast consisted of fruits, scones, some bacon, eggs, and jelly. Lee chose to drink strong black coffee, while Cole decided to drink some tea. Throughout the whole breakfast, Lee could feel Edward's eyes on them.

 

After breakfast, they finished getting ready. Edward Stewart met up with them by the entrance. He held a tray with a map placed on it. Lee took the map and was already halfway out the door when they saw it. He gave them a smirk as he closed the door behind them.

 

Cole took the map off their hands once they were on the porch. There was an 'x' on top of a big spot on the map. Knox's house was written in neat cursive on top of the mark. Both of them blinked at the map.

 

"Were we, " Cole began, " Were we that obvious?"

 

"Seems like we were."

 

Lee grabbed Cole's sleeve and dragged him away. They knew that if it were up to him, they would not do anything until he managed to convince Aeron they weren't up to something. He has always been a perfectionist.

 

As they passed through town they couldn't help but stop whenever they saw something unusual. They saw a man get arrested because, apparently, not a month ago a law was passed making all aquatic creatures illegal. They also saw a weird wing creature with many eyes soaring above them in the sky. They spent nearly an hour watching it soar.

 

The creature dropped low. Before either could react, it was looming over them. Lee could see the eyes from where they stood. The eyes came in different shapes and sizes. Some changed color, others glowed. One thing was consistent, though, no eye was like the other.

 

“Hello,” It said, voice indescribable.

 

“Hey,” Cole greeted, voice unsure. All eyes were trained on him.

 

“Are you two new around here?”

 

“Yeah, we are. I’m--” Lee started before being interrupted by the creature. It kept them there for around two hours talking nonsense. At times it was nothing but gibberish. They had tried to end the conversation plenty of times, but the being wasn’t about to let them go so easily.

 

***

 

"Why does your aunt live so far out of town?" Cole complained.

 

By the time they made it to the center of town, it was almost midday. They took a small break to eat at a small family-owned cafe. Lee ordered some soup while Cole ordered a sandwich with a side of chips and a cake for dessert.

 

"Where do you keep all the food you eat?" Lee asked, their disgust clear on their face.

 

"You know damn well I'm a Dhampir, " Cole rolled his eyes, " I need more food than you mortals."

 

"Oh, pardon me, my Lord. How should I atone my mistake?" Lee mocked, " I am but a court jester."

 

They kept up with the light banger until the waitress came to ask if they wanted anything else. Lee was quick to ask for the check before Cole could order any more food.

 

"Oh!" She exclaimed, " I had forgotten to tell you, Ms. Lauren told us to tell her how much you owed. She insists on paying for whatever you guys might need." She was then called over by the only other customer in the whole place.

 

They decided to ignore any unusual thing they'd see. Though they did still gawk at plenty of things.

 

Knox's house was somehow even bigger than Aeron's. It was not as pretty though. The garden was not filled with pretty flowers and fairy lights. It had a big dry tree in the front garden.

 

"It looks haunted," whispered Cole.

 

"Well, yeah. The grouch collects eyes." Lee whispered back," Why are we whispering, anyways?"

 

A car was brought from the garage as they spoke. The driver got out to wait for Knox. He was a tall pale man. His hair was the color of the midnight sky.

 

"The bastard doesn't have a face," Lee stated dumbfounded.

 

Any reply Cole could have responded with was quietened by Mr. Knox leaving his house. This is the first time they laid eyes on him, yet they already disliked him. The grouch had thing snow-white hair and wore a tall, black hat on top of his head.

 

"He dresses like a clown," Cole said looking at his clothes. He wore a neon orange vest with lime green pants. "Even the Riddler has a better sense of style than he does."

 

"His shoes are brown," said Lee," He is also wearing mismatched socks."

 

They watched from their hiding spot in the bushes as he got into the car and left. "Think about it, these are some conveniently placed bushes."

 

"You know what? Yes, they are." Lee said as they tried to get some leaves and branches out of their hair." Since he's gone we should head back to my aunt's place. Her fiance is coming over anyways and we should get ready."

 

"You say 'get ready' like we're going to some formal event."

 

Once in the manor, Edward appeared out of the shadows to tell them the dress code. "You should wear semi-formal clothes. After all, Mr. Collins is quite old fashioned."

 

They went up to Lee's room to pick out what to wear. For Cole, it was easy, since he had packed a button-down shirt and some navy slacks, but for Lee, it was much more difficult.

 

"You should wear this." Cole handed them a pile of clothes, all folded except for a black blazer that reached to their upper thighs.

 

"Seems perfect." They smiled gratefully.

 

"Well, I should go get ready," he walked out the door," See ya."

 

Dinner was quite an event. Mathew Collins was a pale man in his late 30s. He wore a white button-down shirt, a black tie and pants, and shiny shoes. His blond hair was slicked back.

 

With but one look from him, anyone could tell he did not approve of them. At all. With one look, they could feel his anger toward them existing. Cole and Lee hated him too.

 

Dinner was a tense affair. Anytime Aeron tried to defuse the tension, she'd be shushed by Collins. He'd also make comments about what she ate.

 

"Aeron, do you think you should be eating that?" he'd ask. The worst part was that she'd only press her lips together.

 

Lee was furious. The only thing keeping them from lunging to the other side of the table was their aunt's sharp gaze boring into her. Whenever the damn man opened his mouth, they felt as if years were taken from their lifespan. Judging by his curled underneath the table, Cole wasn't faring any better.

 

Luckily, as tense as dinner was, it was short.

 

"He's a very busy man, " Aeron apologized as they were excused to prepare for bed.

 

"He is nothing but a–"

 

"Lee, please, " Aeron begged.

 

"You deserve so much better."

 

"Maybe, " Aeron started, just by hearing her voice you could tell she was trying not to cry, "I do deserve better. But I don't have a choice. The only person I ever loved, I drove away."

 

"Not that my parents would have approved, anyway. " She gave a mirthless laugh, before sobering up, "I shouldn't be dumping this on you. I apologize."

 

Lee hugged her. They didn't know what else to do. But as they held their aunt's shaking frame, they knew she was family. However distant, she was family. And she had suffered so much on accounts of her so-called family. Lee had been blessed with accepting parents.

 

***

 

Aeron didn't sleep that night. Not that she ever got much sleep. Edward, being the first and last person she saw, would normally leave her room at around 2 am. She'd stare at the ceiling wondering where her life went wrong.

 

She was woken by the violent vibration of her phone at nearly 4 am. Mathew had texted her saying he'll be leaving town for a couple of days, a business trip, seemingly. She did find it peculiar that he was to be accompanied by Mr. Knox.

 

"Whatever, " she mumbled into her pillow, "It's not like it matters, anyway."

 

Right as she the words came out of her mouth, Edward walked into her suite. His violet eyes were glowing so vibrantly.

 

"Mistress, " he greeted, " I see you're awake."

 

He was answered with hardened eyes and silence.

 

"Ms. Greene's answer came a couple of minutes ago, " he said as he handed her the envelope.

 

She read Haylie's neat calligraphy. She always wrote in royal purple. Her handwriting so delicate. She had always treated everything with care.

 

"Arrange for her to join us for afternoon tea today, " she ordered, " Make sure Lee and Cole know about it."

 

He licked his lips. White fang-like teeth glistened in dawn's rays. He bowed before leaving. "As you wish, Mistress."

 

***

 

The next day was calm, too calm. Aeron decided to take it slow by working from home. Lee and Cole kept to the house that day, the strangeness of the town only being explored in small bouts.

 

When they arrived at the parlor for tea, they saw a petite woman seating next to Aeron. She had luxuriant Auburn hair and was dressed in a deep purple dress.

 

"This is Haylie Greene, " introduced Aeron, " My closest and most treasured friend."

 

Haylie blushed at that. She bowed her head in greeting. " It's a pleasure to meet you."

 

"I'm Lee, " Lee introduced themself, " This is Cole." He winked at her.

 

Tea was the best meal– per-say– that they've had here. Aeron seemed more relaxed, often positioning herself closer to Haylie. Most liking unconsciously, judging by her body language, thought Lee. Haylie was just as relaxed. Whenever Aeron spoke she'd look at her with great admiration.

 

Cole hoped they'd get to see more of Haylie, she was interesting. She'd even offered to teach hi, a simple spell or two. Lee, on the other hand, was amused at Cole's reactions.

 

His mother had had an acquaintance that was a witch. He was happy to debate with her whether a certain spell or other was better for protecting your home. He, obviously lost, but he was happy to gain insight from someone with more experience and knowledge than him.

 

Haylie ended up staying for supper, as well. Edward kept throwing dirty looks at her. Whatever she did, he seemed to find a flaw at it. That's why she excused herself early, me so Cole thought.

 

"At least today was a good day, " Lee told him as they walk to their rooms.

 

"Even if we didn't get anything done? Oh, my! The Great Lee Stevens is not making a fuss over not working."

 

"Oh shut it!" They said as they shoved him. "It's not like I'm a workaholic."

 

"If that's what helps you sleep at night."

 

"I don't sleep, " they said in a serious tone, " The wicked don't rest."

 

"What Tumblr post did you get that from?" That earned him another shove.

 

A week passed by before Knox and Collins returned. Once back in the small town, Collins's first mission was seeing Aeron. He came uninvited and sat on her couch as if he owned the place.

 

Aeron walked slowly into the room with a blank expression. Her black dress dragged behind her. She was taken aback, by the way, Mathew's face lit up as his eyes met her. Still, she was not going to wear her emotions on her sleeve, that was a fool's game.

 

As she passed him, he grabbed her hand gently –too gently– and pulled her into his lap. Her body tensed and she tried her best not to push him away. Edward, who was bringing the tea, looked ready to intervene. Yet Collins didn't do anything but hold her.

 

"What's the matter, love?" He whispered, his breath tingling in her ear. His hands were traveling downward. To her waist. Then her hips. Then, growing bolder, her inner thighs.

 

Aeron leaped off before he could molest her any more. "Leave."

 

"Darling." He tried to use an innocent tone.

 

"Leave, " she commanded, " Or else you will be escorted out." With that, she left the room.

 

She hurried to her room before collapsing on her bed. Her hands were shaking and her vision was blurry. She could barely make out someone calling her name.

 

When she came back she felt numb. She could see the sun setting from her bed. I've been out for quite a while, huh? She thought. Might as well sleep for a little longer.

 

***

 

"I haven't seen her since supper yesterday, " Lee was passing the room, " Do you think she's hurt or something?"

 

"I don't know, " Cole answered, " This town is just bizarre."

 

"There's something you aren't telling me, isn't there?" Lee looked at him with a serious expression.

 

"Ever since we got here, " Cole started, " I've felt a kinda weird aura in the back of my mind. I didn't think much about it at the time. It sometimes happens when I go to a new place."

 

” And you didn’t feel like it was important for me to know?”

 

”I am not the sharpest tool in the shed.”

 

”Did the person who told you that looked kinda dumb with their finger and thumb in the shape of an L?”

 

They were interrupted by Edwards chiming in to tell them that tea would be served in the garden. They quietly walked through the too big manor. Once outside they were greeted by an unexpected but welcomed sight. Haylie was sitting on a picnic mat raking her fingers through Aeron’s hair. Aeron laid with her head on Haylie’s lap and her eyes closed.

 

Once she saw them she waved them over while trying not to disturb Aeron. She failed to do so. She looked tired but happy. Bags were beginning to form under her eyes and her hair was in a messy bun. Aeron wasn't looking much better. She looked like she could pass out at any moment.

 

Yet even in their tired state, they were keeping the conversation alive. They'd ask about their day or about what they'd like the most about the town. Through the whole meal, they were basically cuddling. It made Lee angry about the fact that she'd be forced to marry some awful guy who was way older than her.

 

“What class does that professor give you?” Lee was roused from their thoughts by Haylie, ” You know, the one you claim everyone loves?”

 

”You mean professor Yamamoto? She's cool, pretty laidback too.” Cole intervened.

 

”She gives us business maths.” Lee answered the actual question, ” She's really attentive. Best math teacher I've ever had.”

 

”She had mentioned having met you once before, ” Cole tried to touch on casually. The keyword being tried.

 

“Hm.” Aeron hummed,” I think I have met her, the name sounds quite familiar. It was a long time ago, though. Most likely back when Mathew would force me to accompany him on his business trips.”

 

”She is the sister of the individual he was trying to make a deal with, I think.” Aeron leaned into Haylie’s hand as she raked through her hair. She looked much like a cat with her eyes closed and a pleased smile painted on her face.

 

Soon Edward came to pick up the fine china. He left quickly enough as if he did not wish to spend more time than needed in Haylie’s presence. He’d leave without throwing Haylie a nasty scowl, not that she minded. She was too busy braiding Aeron’s hair to look at him. Aeron had fallen asleep at some point.

 

This time, Haylie left before supper claiming she still had errands to run. She bid Aeron farewell with a kiss on the cheek and was on her way. Lee could see a little pep in her step.

 

Supper was quieter than the previous meal. All the topics had already been explored vastly. And Aeron looked like she could fall asleep on her soup. It truly was something to see the normally composed and sophisticated lady put her elbows on the table and slur a little when she spoke.

 

***

 

Lee was woken at four a.m. by their phone ringing. They slowly lifted their head from the expensive pillow to blink at the device. The damned device that was disturbing their sleep.

 

“What do you want?” They gritted out.

 

“Wow,” Lee recognized that voice. It was the one and only Danny Williams. “Here I am, checking up on my bestie, yet I am greeted so rudely. Had Cole not texted me nearly every night, I would think you two were dead.”

 

“Danny, look. I love you, you know that. You and Cole are my besties.” they muttered into the pillow,” But it is four in the morning. I wanna sleep.”

 

“Oh. Really?” She sounded sheepish,” I didn’t know. I’m not the best with time zones or time in general, you know that.”

 

“Even if I didn’t I now do.” Danny spent the rest of the conversation blabbering on about her internship. Her voice was lulling Lee back to sleep. They were roused back into awakeness when Danny started to ask about her summer. After giving her a short answer, Lee bid her goodbye to go get ready for the day.

 

They decided to dress more presentable-- in a way-- than other days. They opted for a colorful button-up shirt and black skinny jeans. Studying themself in the mirror, they decided to apply some eyeliner on the bottom lid and only on that one. “This is for you, Ryan Ross.”

 

Checking the time, they realized they might just be able to have breakfast with their aunt. Stealthily, they walked towards the stairs when they saw a figure near them. It was a young-looking woman wearing a black Victorian-style dress, or at least Lee thought it was. As they got closer, they saw that her lips were sewn shut and that her dress seemed to be wet in some spots, most notably her sleeves.

 

Lee was a couple of steps away from her when the smell of blood hit their nose. The woman turned to them, her eyes were a violet so soft one would think they were white. She started vibrating violently before disappearing. Aeron found her staring at the space where the woman had once been.

 

“She appears at random,” she told her over breakfast,” I’m quite certain she’s harmless so please don’t worry.”

 

“On the other hand,” Aeron uncertainly started,” I have some news neither you nor Cole will be happy about.”

 

“Is something wrong?” Lee asked cautiously.

 

“Mathew and Mr. Knox announced their partnership last evening.”

 

“So your asshole of a fiance is working with the senile, old man who wants your great grandfather’s eye,” Awesome. Amazing. Fantastic.”

 

“I know neither you nor Cole like either of them,” Aeron sighed,” But it can’t be helped.”

 

“What would happen if body parts were found in Mr. Knox's house?” Lee asked, trying to pass it as a joke.

 

“Are you planning to cut off people’s body parts to put them in his mansion?”

 

Lee hummed,” No, but if he wants your great grandfather’s eyes, then he must have some other body parts in there.”

 

“Now that’s a thought.”

 

The next day, Lee found themself in front of the buzzer on Mr. Knox’s manor. They pressed it and were quickly greeted by a woman's voice. They then took a deep breath and said, ” Hello. Are you interested in buying this amazing book?”

 

”If you don't have any business, I'm going to have to ask you to—”

 

”It’s a book various stories about the Zeppeli family through the generations”

 

”Step away from—”

 

Hopefully, Cole was already finishing snooping around. They decided to continue, ” It has so many wonderful parts and a lot of loveable characters.”

 

The light on the buzzer cut off, signaling that the call had been hung up. They didn't mind as they untucked the white button-up shirt while making their way to the meeting place. Their hands were shaking violently and they couldn't breathe. Best time for a panic attack, Lee thought.

 

After who knows how long, they managed to calm down. They stared into nothing until Cole came back. His grin dropped when he saw the state Lee was in. Their hair was messy and their eyes were red.

 

Once they were back at the Lauren Estate, they took a quick shower, well, at least Cole did. He had to inform the police of his findings, after all. Lee, on the other hand, took a long and relaxing bath. After changing into their pajamas and raiding the kitchen for snacks, they settled into a Kuroshitsuji marathon. It was the only anime the three of them – Cole, Lee, and Danny – liked.

 

"Ronald is underappreciated," Lee mumbled sleepily into the pillow.

 

"Yeah, he is," smiled Cole. Neither knew what tomorrow would bring, but together they are unstoppable.

 

***

 

Early the next day, Aeron was sitting at the lounge alongside the police.

 

"Are you sure?"

 

"Yes. We worked all night. The dental records match."

 

"What were the odds," she mused out loud," That you'd Astre's skull among it all." She took a sip of her coffee as she thought about what to do next.

 

"I supposed he'll get what he deserves."

 

"Of course, Ms. Lauren." They stood up," If you'll excuse us, there's still plenty to do."

 

"He deserves a special place in hell," Aeron whispered to no one as they left," No one should mess with my dear brother."

 

***

 

“Were either of you going to tell me you broke into Knox’s manor or was I supposed to just never mention it?” Aeron questioned nonchalantly over lunch. Cole choked on his cranberry juice. She just raised her eyebrow unimpressed as she continued to eat her fruit salad.

 

“What do you mean?” Lee asked after recovering from the shock.

 

“The police paid me a visit in the early morning”

 

Lee tried to keep their cool. Don't fidget. Don't avoid direct eye contact, but don't stare either. Don't straighten your posture. Lee reminded themselves.

 

Sadly, Cole couldn't lie to save his life. His fang was poking out and he kept fidgeting with his choker. Aeron's cold stare caused him to squirm in his seat.

 

"Do you kids know what kind of-" Aeron was interrupted by the opening of the dining room's door.

 

There stood Haylie. She was wearing a dark purple lapelless dress held together by laces. She strutted into the room with barely concealed anger.

 

"There are a million things you kids could have done." She started, taking a seat next to Lee, " But breaking and entering is far from the best."

 

"We now have to think of an alibi. But that'd be difficult seeing as one, " Aeron turned to look at Lee, " Was spotted."

 

***

 

After nearly an hour of discussing their next move, they were interrupted by Edward. As he leaned to whisper something in Aeron's ear, Lee caught sight of his tray. It held a letter with a sea-blue seal.

 

After dismissing Edward, she took the letter and opened it. Her carefully crafted mask fell as she read the contents.

 

Putting it down, and clearing her throat she stated, " Charles Knox was found dead two hours ago in his manor's basement."

 

The room was deadly quiet. You could probably hear a pin drop. Haylie's face remained blank in opposition to the youngers'. Cole's eyes were wide and his mouth slightly open. Lee froze completely as if they were slowly processing the information.

 

"Thankfully, if they were to suspect either of you of being the murdered we have not only Haylie and my alibis, but also of the staff."

 

"What about-"

 

"Do not worry about anything, " Haylie interrupted." They'll probably forget about the breaking and entering. Just don't bring it up and don't ask about Knox to anyone."

 

"What should we do now?" Cole quietly asked.

 

"Carry on as if nothing happened," Aeron answered.

 

"Is that really all we can do?"

 

"I'm afraid so."

 

Haylie exchanged a look with Aeron. "I could take you on as an apprentice for the rest of the summer. I need some help anyways."

 

***

 

While Cole learned magic, Aeron decided to involve Lee in her family's business.

 

"I'm afraid I don't have plans of having children," she confessed one afternoon over tea. "It'd be a shame for my business to go into the hands of someone subpar."

 

"Truly." Lee agreed." I'm afraid I have no plans on studying business or whatever one needs to study to run a company."

 

"You don't need to. I certainly didn't." Aeron reassured them. "You'll get an advisor or two. Plus, you'll only have to go to meetings and do paperwork. You'll have plenty of time to be a detective."

 

***

 

The goodbye was bittersweet at best. Especially after all that happened. The police had found evidence that Mathew Collins was the perpetrator. Aeron took the opportunity to break the engagement, claiming to not want anything to do with a murderer. Collins got away without spending a day in jail.

 

"There's nothing money can't accomplish," Haylie muttered bitterly.

 

Neither Lee nor Cole expected to have changed so much during the summer. Cole liked to joke that if anything it helped them build character. Lee didn't know whether they agreed or not.

 

The one thing they both could agree on was that neither expected to see Danny at the airport. Well, at least not like that.

 

"What happened to you?"

 

"Do you like it?" She did a little twirl showing off her neon yellow pixie haircut and her new tattoo.

 

"Well, at least she's still in one piece." Lee shrugged it off. It wasn't the weirdest thing they could come back to.

 

"What's that supposed to mean?" Danny asked doing a sassy mom pose." I'll have you know I defeated an evil monster during my summer break. I even have his sword to prove it."

 

"Yeah, right, " Cole rolled his eyes." And we went to Hogwarts."

 

They continued bantering the whole drive back. Lee found that they couldn't get angry at them. After all, it's good to be home.


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