She approached him cautiously, as if he were a skittish animal. The thought made her smile. Her little Loki, jumpy in his new surroundings like a pregnant stray cat brought in off the street.
“It’s not that bad,” she spoke in a low and even tone, “is it?”
“We can always re-decorate,” she offered.
“No,” his eyes trailed over the end table and tastefully arranged decorative clutter. The small grouping had a total retail value far in excess of anything they had owned. It, and the whole house, was a testament to how far they had come. “It’s gorgeous.”
He turned to face her, his smile almost genuine.
“Oh,” she sighed, coaxing him to her. “I know it’s a big move.”
“But it’s for the best.” She stroked his rounded stomach. “We need the space.”
“Yeah, but. . .”
“Dad, where’s Andre?,” Spencer didn’t wait for a reply. “Andre! Kitty!”
“Loki,” Circe pulled her husband close, carefully trapping his unborn fetus between them, “stop worrying.” She smiled at him and was relieved when he smiled back. “Everything will be fine.”
“THERE you are,” Spencer scooped Andre into his arms. “I was worried you got lost. Come on, we’ll go see our new room.” Andre relaxed himself over Spencer’s shoulder as the boy continued. “Mom, can Apollo come over and see our new room?”
“Well,” she looked at Loki as she addressed their son. “That’s going to be up to your father. I have to leave.”
Loki frowned at his wife before turning his attention to their son. From somewhere deeper in the house, a clock chimed. Circe moved past her family and ducked into the bathroom to trade her casual civilian wear for a well-tailored uniform.
Circe watched the military issue car, a sleek sedan, slow to a stop in front of her new house. Long gone were the days of riding in a dusty jeep. And if all continued to go to plan, it wouldn’t be long before the sedan would give way to a private helicopter, a mode of transport befitting her triumphant rise to the top.
“. . .and then we can go fishing and. . .”
At least Spencer was excited about the move. So excited he didn’t even reply to his mother’s ‘goodbye’.
With Circe gone, Loki set about planning a day around his son. It was rare to have him home on a school day and Loki found himself relieved not to be alone.
“So, do you like the new house?”
“I guess so.” Spencer used the pat of butter to trace his initials on his pancake as he thought about the question. “It’s a lot bigger than home.”
Loki’s stomach clenched at his son’s words.
“But that’s good,” Spencer quickly added. “That way the new baby can have its own room.” He prodded his food, as if debating whether to continue. “I know it’s not nice, but I didn’t really want to share my room,” he finally admitted.
“Dad?” Spencer stared at Loki, his expression very serious. Loki felt his hands grow cold.
“Yeah,” he croaked then cleared his throat.
“Is it just one alien that gives all the alien babies?”
“CHESTER! Oh, it’s so wonderful that you could make it.”
Faced with such enthusiasm, Chester Geike recoiled. Chester had received the neatly lettered invitation a few days before the family had even arrived. It certainly wasn’t the typical way neighbors got to know one another but he had to admit the originality had intrigued him.
“I’m Achates,” the man offered his hand and Chester, his shock slowly fading, accepted. “Let’s get inside so I can introduce you around.”
Achates seemed nice enough, if not a little over eager. Chester followed him inside the large house.
“Emmy has just been so eager to meet everyone,” Achates continued as they approached a woman in a long dress.
“This must be Chester,” she offered, smiling broadly and offering her hand. Chester took it and smiled. “Oh, you didn’t bring your daughter?”
“No,” Chester shook his head. It was odd how much this family seemed to know about the residents of their new neighborhood but Chester was relieved not to have to explain so much. “She’s with Terra.”
“Terra, the artist?” Emmy laughed. “Oh, she was just so sweet. I got to know her when we were first getting settled. So creative.”
“Yeah, that’s her,” Chester laughed, remembering how Terra had made a point to be outside when the new neighbors had arrived, eager to meet the sims who had moved into the largest house on the street.
“Please, make yourself at home,” Emmy looked past Chester to Achates. “I think Achates could use a bit of help getting lunch arranged.”
Chester smiled and nodded as the pair left him. He wasn’t alone long.
“Chester, right? Boy oh boy, this is so fun. I was just talking to Jodie and Jason.” Chester smiled at the young girl. “Did you like the invitations? They were dad’s idea but I helped write them. I wrote yours. Did you like the stickers?”
Chester opened his mouth to reply but didn’t get a chance.
“Terra said you were handsome. She was right.” Chester blushed again. “I bet your daughter is just THE cutest. I know that’s not how we’re supposed to pick them, but,” she leaned closer, as if telling a secret, “I always used to think about that when we did the practice selections.”
Chester suddenly felt more than a little awkward.
“I bet I’m not the only one. Mycroft used to just scowl and scowl when I’d say that but Basil thinks it’s funny. Is it any wonder everyone likes him more than Crofty?” She giggled furiously. “Teasing! I love Crofty. And Basil. But Basil is definitely more fun.”
“Are they your brothers?”
The girl laughed and snorted then laughed harder.
“Ew, NO. I don’t have any brothers or sisters. At least not YET.” She giggled furiously again. “Mycroft and Basil are Pollinators.” Chester’s eyes widened. “I could be one too, if I want. Maybe.”
“Pollinators?” Chester had heard the term before, while doing research after his own abduction.
“Yup.” Her high set pigtails bobbed as she nodded her head.
“They’re in the dining room,” she hooked her thumb in the direction. “So, how old is your daughter now. . .”
“. . .I think you would be a WONDERFUL candidate.”
The silence was palpable.
“This is why you’re NOT a Pollinator,” Mycroft scolded. “And why Glory is far from ready,” he added with a hiss.
“Mycroft. . .,” Basil tried to interject but was cut off.
“A candidate for what?” Jason addressed Emmy but his eyes were locked on Mycroft.
He heard an exhausted sigh from beside him and was suddenly worried what he and his sister had gotten themselves into by accepting the invitation they had found in their mailbox.
“No,” Mycroft warned as Emmy looked from him to Jason.
“Oh, don’t listen to him, Jason,” she arched her eyebrows and smiled. “I think you would be a wonderful candidate for gestating a baby.”
Jason’s eyes bulged as realization dawned. He looked around the table at his new neighbors and slowly placed his sandwich onto his plate.
“Jason,” Basil began.
“Basil,” Mycroft snipped. “This is NOT protocol. . .”
“Don’t lecture me about protocol,” Basil fired back. “I’m not Glory.”
“No,” Mycroft snorted, “there’s still HOPE for her. You. . .you are a lost cause.”
“Gentlemen,” Achates finally spoke. Mycroft snorted at the sound.
Jason finished his sandwich in record time and frantically excused himself. He ventured further into the house, drawn by the sound of the television and Jodie’s muffled laughter. He found her, along with Chester, in the living room. Still reeling from his lunchtime conversation, he flopped down next to her.
“What’s wrong with you?,” she asked.
“They want to do medical experiments on me,” he blinked.
“Didn’t I tell you something like this would happen?”
“Oh, don’t act that way,” she spat at him. “I’m not surprised they invited you. They probably want to check up on you, make sure. . .,” she fluttered her hand, “. . .whatever it is they did to you to get you knocked up is still working or whatever.”
“Jodie. . .”
“No,” she held up her finger to her brother.
“Jason,” Chester finally shook off his shock and spoke. “It’s not like that, I’m sure. They’re just. . .different. I’m sure anyone who would visit our little neck of Bluewater Village would say the same about me or you or. . .,” he shot what he hoped was a withering glance at Jodie, “. . .Jodie. But you know what? Some of my best friends are different and a few of them are downright weird, but they’re all great folks.”
Jodie huffed loudly.
“Well,” she rose from the couch, “I gave up that hippy dippy kumbaya shit when I left the Cunabula. I’m not going to just sit here and let these. . .,” she shook her head and sneered, “. . .SIMS, think they can go probing my little brother’s ass and making me an auntie.”
“Jodie,” Jason called after her.
“Oh, Jason. . .she’s not going to cause a scene. . .”
“So much for them being our new best friends.”
From the other side of the house, they could hear Jodie’s voice.
“What the hell is going on here, huh? You running some kind of cult or something? I’ll have you know, I’m WELL versed in how this cult shit works and I’m not having it. ANY of it. I moved here to get away from all that and if you think you’re going to come in here and. . .lord knows Jason’s impressionable and I’ll be GODdamned if you’re going to suck him into. . .”
“Madame. . .”
“Don’t you ‘madame’ me. He just told me how you were. . .I don’t know. . .propositioning him?. . .for some kind of kinky sex or medical procedure or. . .I’m not sure what. All I know is. . .”
“Jodie. . .”
Basil approached the distressed and very embarrassed Jason.
“I’m sorry,” Jason offered. “She’s always been really protective and we just got out of. . .”
“It’s ok,” Basil assured him. “We understand your situation.”
“How can you. . .what’s going on here? How do you know. . .”
“Jason,” Basil’s voice was low and calm. He waited for Jason to focus on him. In the pause, Jason could hear Mycroft also speaking in a low tone, could see Jodie appeared to be calming down, at least a little.
“We,” Basil continued, “this group you see as a classic familial unit is not quite like the familial units you are used to.”
Jason blinked, his attention now fully focused on Basil.
“We are a Hive consisting of our Mother,” he gestured to Emmy as she passed, “her Aide, and her Pollinators.” He gestured to himself as he said the last word.
Safely outside of the room, Chester caught bits and pieces of the conversation. The more he heard, the more he wanted to know. His eavesdropping abruptly ended as Jodie, her brows still stitched together in a vicious scowl, stomped past him. He avoided eye contact and stepped back to give her room. Jason, apologizing profusely, followed close behind. Chester, desperate to avoid confrontation, joined the exiting siblings.
He got to the porch before his curiosity, and the sound of Achates calling his name, stopped him.
“Chester, I apologize if you have been made to feel uncomfortable,” he offered.
“Uh. . .,” Chester stammered, unable to decide exactly how he should reply.
“So you’re her Aide?” The question out, he immediately regretted how abrupt it sounded. Achates smiled calmly.
“I was,” he nodded. “The Community, where we used to live, was very structured. Emmy and I never quite fit that structure. She was more than a Mother and I more than an Aide.” He spoke the terms as if Chester understood all the subtle nuances. “Our relocation has finally made it possible for us to live as we have always wanted. As spouses. . .as equals.”
“Oh. . .,” Chester blinked. “I didn’t mean to. . .”
“It’s quite all right,” he assured. “I’m quite comfortable answering any of your questions.”
“Uh. . .maybe another time. I should probably go check on. . .,” Chester flapped his hand in the direction of Terra’s house.
“Yes,” Achates smiled, “your daughter. Please, give her and Terra our best.”
Achates escorted Chester down the porch stairs and out to the curb. He waved and called another goodbye as Emmy joined him.
“My Achates,” she sighed, leaning into him. “I fear Mycroft and Basil may still be fighting.”
“My Emmy,” he crooned, stroking her face. “They’ll sort it out.”
Hand in hand, they returned to the house and the sound of Mycroft yelling.
“HAVE YOU GONE MAD?!”
“Oh, is that your retort? Silence?” Mycroft snorted.
“This passive aggressive turn does not suit you, Basil.”
Basil took a seat at the piano and began to pick out a gentle tune.
“Mycroft. . .Crofty. . .can’t we just enjoy one another’s company in these, our final days together?”
Mycroft was struck dumb, the arguments he had been forming withered in the light of the truth, a truth he still had not fully processed.
The music escorted Mycroft from the room.
He strode through the house, speaking to no one, and made his way out the back door.
“THAT’S,” Jules stabbed his finger at the screen, “THAT’S what I’m talking about.”
He leaned back in his chair, legs splayed, and arched an eyebrow at Julian.
“Ooof,” Jules taunted. “Hate to see you leave but I love to watch you go.”
“Jules,” JKL chided, drawing his attention back to the screen. “Focus.”
“So,” Jules chuckled to himself. “How much did you get for this little Pollinator merger?”
“You shouldn’t bother yourself with things that don’t concern you,” she replied.
Mother JKL and Jules weren’t the only sims focused on the impending merger.
On the third floor of their new home, Basil was, like Jules, reviewing footage of his new partner’s abductions.
“Have you seen this?”
Mycroft didn’t reply.
“No,” Mycroft huffed. “Why should I bother myself with things that no longer concern me?”
“Huh,” Basil mocked. “I seem to remember someone telling me. . .what was it?. . .,” he laughed. “Oh, that’s it. Once a Pollinator, always a Pollinator. Wonder who could have said that?”
Mycroft scowled at his screen.
“Crofty, you know. . .,” Basil was cut short by the sound of Mycroft’s chair scrapping back. “Mycroft. . .,” Basil called after him but didn’t pursue.
Peering through the eyepiece, Mycroft was reminded of their ship’s porthole. Mycroft had spent more time on the ship, with Basil, than not. Anytime they had fought, which was often, Mycroft would retreat to the quiet sanctuary of the porthole. The black expanse of space, freckled with stars, had a way of defusing his anger, of making his role seem less constricting. Now, faced with the prospect of not being on the ship, Mycroft felt more trapped than ever. Their roles were assigned long ago and no matter how many times Mother MNO introduced herself as ‘Emmy’ or referred to Achates as her ‘husband’ and Glory as ‘their daughter’, she would always be Mother. And while Mycroft’s new project appealed to a side of him he’d never been able to explore while confined to the ship, he was still a Pollinator.
Once a Pollinator, always a Pollinator.
Jules watched the screen, his eyelids growing heavy. It would be good to get back. Back to what he knew. Back to what he was good at. Living on the surface had been fun for a while, especially when cavorting with the lovely women at The Club, but the sprawl of Peculiar had taken its toll.
Jules was tired. Tired of walking around unseen, doing the silent bidding of Mother JKL. He longed to regain his status, to be the talk of all the Hives, to brag about his conquests to his fellow Pollinators. Pairing with Basil would give him all that and then some.
With the night air grown too cold to tolerate, Mycroft retreated inside. Basil had long since retired to bed, where Mycroft found him, snoring lightly and twitching in his sleep.
Taking his place beside Basil, Mycroft was once again reminded of their time spent on the ship, the cramped living conditions, the arguments, the long conversations, the laughter.
Mycroft shifted under the covers, each new position quickly turning uncomfortable. He startled when, muffled but still clear enough to be understood he heard Basil’s voice.
“Lay still, jackass.”
He smiled and shifted again out of spite.
Saturday morning arrived quietly, bringing with it a host of changes.
Circe kissed her husband aggressively, yet gently. Loki returned the affection in a similar fashion. It had been a long time since they had approached one another in this way. They groped like hormone drunk teenagers.
“I love you,” Circe purred, running her fingers quickly over her husband’s chest and down to the peak of his rounded belly. Loki shivered violently and they both laughed.
“I want you to be happy,” she announced, pulling him into her lap. “Loki, are you happy?”
He shifted his weight and she pulled him closer to her, gently cradling his stomach. She lovingly stroked his belly and he shivered again.
“Have you thought about what you want to do after the baby is born?”
Loki, during the long stretches he spent home alone, had indulged in an idea or two. He’d even gone so far as to share them with the kindred spirits he had found online, other sims abducted by aliens and parenting alien children.
Knowing as well as her husband did what he wanted Circe smiled at him, eager to give him just that.
“I have been looking into hiring a nanny,” she stated. Loki’s eyes widened. “You’ve been so patient,” her hand trailed over his stomach again, “with everything that’s gone on. . .” She took his chin in her fingers and stared at him intently. Loki felt the hairs on his arms dance to attention, his scalp get tight.
“That’s not necessary,” he offered.
“Yes,” she nodded his head up and down and smiled. “It’s your turn, Loki.”
Loki smiled. A full and genuine smile, a smile that Circe hadn’t seen in a very long time. She stroked his face as she continued.
“You said the school was very interested in having you back after the maternity leave. That was a very generous offer considering how briefly you had been on staff before. . .,” she stroked his belly again. “This baby took us all by surprise.”
Loki placed his hand over hers and gently squeezed.
“I did a bit of research and I think I found the perfect candidate.” Loki wasn’t surprised that Circe had, yet again, proceeded with a plan with little to no input from her family. “Now ultimately, it will be a family decision, but I have a good feeling this will be a good match.”
Loki feasted on every word his wife served him.
While Circe Sunseri carefully portioned out information about the changes soon to take place in her household, the household across the street was also preparing for changes of their own.
“Admit it, you’re going to miss me,” Jules smirked at Julian.
“Far from it,” Julian muttered. Jules laughed.
“Well, I’ll miss you,” Jules slowly poked a bit of toaster pastry into his pursed lips, lingering with his finger in his mouth. “I’ll miss that little girly, too. Lot of potential there. Little wildcat. . .”
“You disgust me. . .”
“Now, now,” JKL sing-songed. “Let’s not discuss such a sour topic over this, our last meal together.”
“What will you do with yourself now, huh?,” Jules addressed Julian without looking at him. Julian scowled and opened his mouth to reply but JLK was quicker.
“Don’t worry,” she smiled widely, clearly enjoying the tension at the table. “I have a new project all lined up for you. I think it will be to your liking. We can discuss it further once we see Jules and. . .,” she said the word as if it were a bit of spoiled food she was trying to evict from her mouth, “. . .the girl. . .off.”
They finished their breakfast in relative quiet, with Morrow never appearing until a horn sounded at the street.
She hugged no one and said not a word as she followed Jules from the house and down the walk.
“Oh, Julian,” JKL teased. “Don’t look so sad. Children grow up and move away. Thankfully this one did it sooner than later.”
Julian gave her an emotionless look and said nothing.
“Now, now. You did a fine job with what you had to work with. MNO’s so keen on children, let her take a crack at that bad egg.” JKL moved closer to Julian and gestured out the window. “Look there,” she pointed to the house across the street.
“I give you,” she gestured dramatically, “your next project.”
“Ohmygawd, ohmygawd, they’re here, here, HERE!”
Glory raced down the stairs, nearly sprawling ass over end in her eagerness to be the first to greet her new sister.
She’d eagerly devoured every detail she could get about Morrow Summerdream. And any gaps in the information were quickly filled in by her imagination.
Morrow had been told next to nothing, and her surprise at the quickly advancing Glory made Jules cough laughter.
“You’re here, you’re here, you’re here! Welcome to our house. It’s really big and I bet you’re going to like it a lot.” She looked from Jules to Morrow. “I mean you,” she pointed to Morrow, “not him. He’s totally not staying. I mean, I guess if he wanted to he could but it might be kind of not enough space. We’re just moving in and. . .”
Mother MNO appeared in the doorway behind Morrow and gently eased her way past.
“Welcome, Morrow.” She reached out and gently patted Morrow’s shoulder. Morrow smiled through her hesitation. “I’m Emmy. I see you’ve met Glory. She’s been anticipating your arrival.” She turned and gestured for Glory to approach.
“I’ll just leave you two to some girl talk.” She turned to Jules. “Jules, would you join me inside?”
Jules followed Emmy inside as Glory descended in full force on Morrow.
“You are SO pretty. And you don’t have on any makeup, do you? I don’t really like makeup so much. Well, except lipstick. . .well, lip GLOSS really, but I say lipstick for gloss and balm and all that, I just like that word better.”
Morrow didn’t reply and Glory didn’t seem to notice.
“I haven’t been to school yet, so you can tell me all about what it’s like. I did meet the neighbors though. Terra, she lives down the street there, she has a son who’s like our age. I didn’t meet him yet but she said his name’s Rascal.”
Morrow’s eyes widened.
“No way, do you know him? Your eyes got big when I said his name. You know him, right?”
“That’s SO cool. So now when I go to school I’ll know you and it’ll be like I kind of already know Rascal too. I already have two friends. That’s so cool-e-oh. I’m kind of nervous about going to school. I heard it’s no big deal but. . .”
While Glory launched into another stream of consciousness monologue, discussions inside were more even sided.
“. . .we have yet to hear from Her since. Rumor has it, She was killed.”
“I shouldn’t be so shocked, but I still am. To think, She was spared by The Clutch just to come here and meet with a fate every bit as, if not more, awful than. . .,” she trailed off. “Oh, poor Morrow. I did hear they were close. Does she know?”
“Oh, that poor girl.”
“Breakfast is ready,” Achates offered, smiling from Emmy to Jules. Jules flicked his eyes over Achates and grinned back.
“Oh, thank you.” Emmy gestured from Jules to Achates. “Jules, Achates. Achates, Jules.” They nodded. “My Achates, could you fetch the girls. I think they’re still outside.”
“. . .the best. I can’t believe you’ve never seen it. I’ve only seen it like a few times but I love it. I think you’ll like it to.”
“Breakfast is ready,” Achates offered, taking advantage of a brief break in Glory’s monologue.
“Come on, we can sit in the kitchen in the breakfast nook,” Glory reached for Morrow’s wrist but Morrow was too quick, stepping just out of reach and following Achates inside.
Morrow was relieved to learn Glory did not talk with her mouth full. She enjoyed the moment of silence, however brief it may be.
“Who’s your friend?,” Basil called. Glory jumped and giggled.
“I was JUST thinking about you, Bas. How cool is that? Look, Morrow’s here. Isn’t she really pretty? I knew she would be.”
Basil laughed as he prepared his own breakfast.
“I can’t believe you LIKE that,” Glory called over her shoulder. “It’s so nasty.”
“Good, more for me,” Basil teased.
“Ooh, talk about NASTY.”
Glory giggled hysterically.
“Oh, let me get that,” Achates smiled as Morrow added her plate to his stack. “Did you get enough to eat?”
“Yes,” Morrow watched him as he scrubbed the dishes. He was clearly the Aide. “Thank you,” she added as an after thought.
Glory, swallowing the last bite of her own meal, slid her plate into the dishwater.
“Yeah, thanks dad,” she added, turning her attention back to Morrow. “Come on, I’ll show you our room.”
Wordlessly, Morrow followed the still chattering Glory from the kitchen and up a flight of stairs to the second floor.
“. . .but there’s still a lot of space. Dad said he was going to get a sofa bed for upstairs. . .for Mycroft and then you can have their room.” Glory giggled. “They had to share a bed, too. And the bedspread has flowers on it. Ooh, I gotta pee.”
Glory darted from the room. Morrow, sighing into the quiet, eyed the décor.
She’d never seen such a ridiculous collection of tacky bric-a-brac.
“And aren’t you just UGLY,” she sneered, staring the plush giraffe in his button eyes.
“Basil gave that to me, isn’t he CUTE?” Clearly, Glory had not heard Morrow’s remark, for which Morrow was relieved. “The doll is just kind of silly. The antennas are so weird but I kind of think they’re cute, too, like silly cute not ‘aww’ cute, like babies and kittens. OOH,” Glory darted past Morrow and stabbed at the radio. “Have you heard this? It’s so cool.” Glory danced in place, bobbing her head to the nasally voiced pop singer.
“Cuz you’re outta this, outta this, outta this wo-o-orld. . .,” she sang along to the refrain. Glory grabbed Morrow’s hands, intent to get the girl to dance with her and, hopefully, sing along.
“STOP,” Morrow spat. Glory’s mouth hung open, leaving the singer without her out of tune backup.
“Sorry,” Glory offered. “You could have just said you didn’t like Rosie and the Jetsons. I have other stuff. . .do you like. . .”
“No,” Morrow shook her hand at Glory. “No more.” She stabbed at the radio, stopping Rosie and the Jetsons mid-song.
“Ok, we could play a game or go watch t.v. Maybe if we ask Mycroft can show us the greenhouse. He’s doing some new research and. . .”
“I’m tired,” Morrow replied, ignoring Glory’s prattle. Without giving Glory so much as a glance, she smoothed the bedclothes and sat. “I want to rest.”
“Oh. . .ok,” Glory stared. “I can get you some pajamas if. . .”
“No,” Morrow punched the pillows, no longer concerned with appearing polite. “Just go away.”
Glory did as she was told, her shock slowly morphing into disbelief tinged with anger. She stood in the hall, unsure what to do with herself until she heard sounds from the bathroom. Water running and, she listened closely, humming. She smiled and raced for the door.
“Basil. . .I don’t know what to do. . .it’s not like I thought, not really and. . .”
Basil took a deep breath and waited for his heart to return to its normal rhythm.
“Glory. . .”
“. . .because she’s new but then she yelled at me and. . .”
“. . .Glory, what am I doing?”
Glory blinked at him then started giggling.
“I’ve seen you naked before,” she teased.
“I know,” Basil smirked at her and she giggled harder, color rising in her cheeks. He shifted in the tub, scooping the suds into a pile over himself. “You’d better get out of here, you peeping tomasina. I’ll be out in just a second, okay?”
“Okay, but don’t be slow, it’s really important,” she called over her shoulder as she left.
Glory waited in the hall just outside her bedroom door. Inside, Morrow stretched out on the bed.
A Pollinator. An Aide. One of each. It was the minimum she’d need to become a proper Mother.
She scowled as laughter and squeals wafted in under the door.
“So what’s the story, morning Glory?” Basil smiled as she squirmed under his fingers.
“Eee. . .,” she giggled and danced, covering her chest with her arm. “You brushed my boobie!” She blushed and giggled harder.
“So what had you so worked up you had to bust in on my bubble bath?,” he continued, resisting the urge to acknowledge his brush with her breast.
Glory’s eyes rimmed with tears as she looked from her closed bedroom door to Basil.
“She doesn’t like me,” she whispered.
“Oh. . .,” Basil had never seen her so upset.
“I thought we would be friends,” she sniffed, blinking back the tears. “So then I wouldn’t miss you so much when you left. . .”
Basil opened his arms and she fell against him. She hugged him tight.
“She just needs some time.” He rubbed her back before reluctantly stepping away from her.
“You think so?”
“How could anyone not like you?,” he smiled. She smiled back and, rising to tiptoe, kissed him on the lips.
Basil swallowed hard and sighed.
“Now I have to go say goodbye to Crofty. . .you ok?”
“Mycroft’s gonna miss you even more than ME.”
Basil ascended the stairs to the third floor.
“Rise and shine and give me a goodbye hug,” Basil teased.
“I can see you’re going to be a slug without me to motivate you.”
“Hardly,” Mycroft chortled.
“Do me a favor?” Mycroft arched his eyebrows and Basil continued. “Keep an eye on Morrow. . .”
“Oh-ho-ho. . .” Mycroft’s eyes gleamed. “Have you found a new Dolores, Mr. Humbert?”
“Watch it. . .”
“Oh. . .no, you’re still smitten with. . .,” Mycroft laughed. Basil crossed his arms to keep from shoving Mycroft onto his ass. “I can see it.”
Basil scowled but offered nothing in the way of a denial. Mycroft’s smile slowly faded.
“She’s going to miss you,” he offered. Basil shrugged. “You’ll be in contact, right?”
“Yeah, I’ll send reports.”
“You’d better,” Mycroft smiled.
“Or what?,” Basil teased.
“Or I’ll come up there and remind you of the proper protocol,” Mycroft laughed, gently punching Basil’s arm. In one smooth motion, Basil caught Mycroft’s wrist and pulled him forward.
“All these changes are testing my sanity,” Mycroft muttered.
“You and me both.”