Neill looked up at the sound of a female shriek in the distance. Oh god no “Not again.”
“You can’t just eat the last one!”
“Did it have a name on it?”
“No - but I called dibs!”
He sighed, put down his pen and stood up from his desk.
“No, you didn’t!”
“I was the one who put it in the fridge!”
The scene that greeted him was a familiar one. They had this argument every week. The two girls were arguing, one was straddled onto the other ones back, trying to grab something out of her duplicate’s hand.
“That doesn’t mean calling dibs and you know it! You’re just pissed I grabbed it be-”
“Of course I am I love these -”
Laughter “Then you should’ve gotten to it sooner!”
“Hey!” Neill’s arms were crossed, a frown on his face. The twins froze. Their faces turned to his.
“What did I say about fighting over food?” He asked.
“Don’t.” The girls replied in unison.
“Exactly.” he sighed. ”Áinfean, get off your sister’s back.”
Áinfean jumped off of her sister like she had been electrocuted.
They stared at him intently, as if waiting for instructions.
He sighed. “Just - Just-- just stop fighting okay? There’s enough food. We can get more of that stuff later.”
“But Sister Nanael baked those.” Áinfean pouted.
“And we will be going back next week and we’ll get some more. You guys are sixteen. You need to grow up.”
Áinfean stared at him in confused shock. “Dude you are a worse adult than we are.”
“Not the point here.”
Mealla frowned “Not the point?”
“Sure” Sarcasm dripped off the word they said in unison.
“It’s not like I make sure the weapons are cleaned properly,” Áinfean said.
“Or as if I make all the food we buy.” Mealla continued.
“Or as if we take care of the places we stay in.”
“Jot down cases.”
“Look for cases.”
“Keep up to date with registered monster types.”
“Do the washing.”
“Alright alright stop I get it.” Neill held up his hands in defeat. “But for the record I buy food -”
“You buy takeouts.” Mealla corrected.
" - and I get our cases -”
“The last five, I got for us,” Áinfean responded.
“- and you took over the weapons cleaning. I didn’t say you had to do it -”
“That’s because the last time you cleaned the weapons you almost exploded in the next case we had.”
Neill stood, silently steaming. “That gun was faulty. it was old.”
“No, you didn’t clean it properly.”
He gave them an exasperated sigh. “Fine! Go about your business. Don’t complain when shit blows up in your faces one day.” He turned around and went back into his makeshift office.
“Hey! you’re an adult with children! You shouldn’t swear! It’s a bad example!” Áinfean mocked him.
He stuck out his tongue at them before closing his office doors.
Mealla and Áinfean grinned.
Áinfean didn’t turn her head as she spoke. “I still want some of that.”
Mealla sighed, broke off the bit she that had her teeth imprint on the sweet and held out the rest to her sister.
Áinfean scowled, but took it and popped it into her mouth. “You’re not off the hook.”
Mealla pouted, her eyes big. Áinfean was trying hard not to look at her, but it didn’t help.
“Fine!” She groaned and flung her arm around her sister’s shoulders. “You win! I forgive you.” She steered them to the door behind them, walking lazily as her sister leaned on her.
“Technically you don’t have to forgive me since I did nothing wrong. I was being nice, sharing it with you.”
“Dude... don’t push your luck.”
“Yes, miss grumpy pants.”
Áinfean gasped. “How dare you!”
On the other side, in Neill’s makeshift office, his landline rang.
After two rings he picked it up, not looking up from his work. “Detective Lee, when are you going to bring people to adopt these two?”
There was silence for a while, Neill absentmindedly realized he could hear the clock in the room tick.
Finally, Lee spoke “Neill. Its been 12 years. You’ve already adopted them. You’re a dad. Get over it.”
“Once you get over your ex-wife.”
Silence. “Shut up you prick.”
“You really should. You can get any other lady to fall for you. Your secretary has been giving you a few side glances. Why not ask her out for a nice dinner?”
“You mean not emotionally available.”
“I called for a reason.”
“Right yes, because you never call just to see how I’m doing.”
“That’s because you tell me whether I want to know or not.”
“You’re my friend, you’re supposed to listen to my problems.”
“Sometimes I want a break from your problems.”
“How rude.” Neill pouted. “So why did you call then?”
“Got a case for you.”
“Really?” he glanced at the old police scanner in the corner. The light wasn’t blinking. Goddamnit, he forgot to turn it back on.
“Yeah. 3 missing girls. All redheads. Greg thinks it’s werewolves.”
“Oh god really? Again? Le me guess, it's because of the old fairytale this time?”
“Girl with the red hood, yeah.”
“Fuck that man is a dumbass.”
“Yup.” His tone stood cold. “Anyway. He is going to muck this up, so I thought I’d call you.”
“What do I get if I solve it?”
Lee thought for a moment. “A shiny nickel?”
“A shiny nickel!” Neill gasped in mock excitement. “That’s exactly what I wanted! Thanks, buddy.”
“No but seriously, I’ll be there. What’s the commission?”
“Not much. Like, maybe a month’s income. You sure you wanna do it?”
Neill scoffed.“Are you kidding? I have the chance to make Greg look bad. Of course, I’m taking it.” He grabbed his notebook and pen. “Where am I headed?”
“The first girl is Mori Shi, second; Joanne Hill, and then the last girl is Tori Milne.” Neill dotted the names down as Lee spoke. “Come by for a late lunch and I’ll give you their files.”
“Cool. Usual place?”
“Alright. I’ll drop the girls off at Sister Nanael and meet you there at -” he looked at his watch “Oh wow it’s already 12.30. Is 1.30 good?”
“Yeah, sounds good.”
“Great, see then.”
Neill put down the phone and looked at the names he had written down. He laughed to himself. “Mori and Tori. Tori and Mori. Haha, it rhymes.” His smile vanished and he cleared his throat. “Stop it, Neill. 3 girls are missing.”
He grabbed his bag, buried his notebook and pen inside and left, calling the girls.
He found them in their makeshift room, on the giant blue mattress they blew up in the corner of the room.
“Buckle up. We got a case.” He grinned.
Áinfean looked up from her book, and Mealla from the puzzle box she was playing with.
He frowned. “Is that one of my puzzle boxes?”
“No” Mealla hid it under her pillow. “What case do we have?”
He was skeptical but continued. “Three girls are missing. I’m gonna go meet up with Detective Lee, you guys are gonna stay at Sister Nanael. I wanna know all the details first before we continue together.”
“Cool.” Áinfean stood up.
Mealla followed with a grin.“Awesome, when?”
“Right now. Get your stuff.”
It took them 15 minutes to grab all they needed and leave the old rickety house they were ‘borrowing’. It took Neill 30 to get to the old science lab at the edge of town, to drop off the twins.
He still had another 20 minutes to get to Lee. Definitely enough time to get there. more than enough. Yet he contemplated just throwing the girls out of the car and driving away.
But he really liked being alive.
He sighed heavily, patted the car and thanked it as the girls chatted at the back and opened their doors to get out. The silent hum of the car changed pitch for a few minutes. A strange occurrence that would make any car fanatic worry. But this was Neill’s car. He knew this car inside out. It was also too old to actually still be working. A fact that makes everyone uncomfortable for some odd reason.
Neill got out of the car and walked after the girls on the stone steps surrounded by the grassy lands, that led to the giant white building that held the oldest telescope in existence. Neill pressed the buzzer next to the door.
Áinfean turned around and frowned at his expression. “What’s wrong with you?”
The door opened before he could answer. A tall woman in a black, nun-like dress opened the door. Her pretty dark eyes landed on the twins, and her entire demeanor changed. Her eyes widened, a grin stretched across her long face, and Neill could swear he saw her stretch a few inches.
“My favorite girls!” She practically squealed, she pulled them both into a tight hug and pulled them up until they were standing on their toes.
“It’s nice to see you too Sister Nanael,” Mealla choked out, while Áinfean patted the woman delicately on the back.
When Nanael opened her eyes again, they were looking right at Neill. Her smile softened and she let go of the girls.
“Come on in, all three of you.” She held the door open.
“Thanks, Sister Nanael!” Mealla and Áinfean said in unison, walking into the building. Neill followed but stopped in the doorway.
He looked at Nanael. she was watching the girls with a smile on her face. He didn’t see her roll up the pile of papers in her hands, but he definitely felt them as she raised them and whacked him six times.
“Why.” Whack! “Do you” Whack! “Never ” Whack! “Call” Whack! “Beforehand??!” Wack! Wack! Her voice was low, but the venom in them reverberated through him, just as the paper did.
He held up his arms in defense, and they were still up when she stopped, staring at him with anticipation.
“Aw come on, you love the girls. You never mind looking after them.”
“Yeah, but I have a life you prick. I have shit to do. Today especially.” She put the papers on the drawers behind her. Somehow finding space on the already fully packed surface
“What stuff?” His mind started working.
She didn’t look at him s she spoke “Stuff. Science things. I am the angel of it after all.”
“You’re a nun!” Neill scoffed.
She gave him an icy glare. “Because I had to.”
He leaned on the doorframe and gave her a wicked grin. “Yeah and what a mistake that was.”
She grinned and leaned on the desk, a far off look in her eyes. “Yeah... Etos and I had some fun times back then.”
Neill chuckled. “Can’t believe they thought all angels would want to work as nuns. God.”
“Yeah” She was still grinning and it took her a moment to shake off the old memories. She cleared her throat, becoming serious. “Next time, call. I might not be here.” She wagged her finger at him as she spoke.
“Alright, alright, I’ll do so.” He held up his hands in surrender.
“Good, now, how long are they staying?”
“Um, not sure. I have a late lunch with Detective Lee and then.. yeah. That’s it. Depending on the case I might just take them along.” He was inspecting the wood of the doorway as he spoke.
“I’m actually surprised you’re not taking them along already.” She tried to capture his eyes.
“Yeah well,” He looked up into the distance, where the girls were. “It involves three girls...and I thought...I don’t want them to have to be exposed to that.”
“You don’t want them exposed to that? After everything else you’ve exposed them to??” She said with a surprised guffaw. “Are you kidding me?”
“What?” He gave her his most innocent look.
“No sir, that might work on those assholes at the station, but here. Nuh-uhh” She shook her head at the last word. “You’re keeping them away from this case because you don’t want them taken. Since, you know, teenage girls seem to be the guy’s forte.”
He looked away and sniffed. “Not true.”
“Totally un -”
“Not true my arse - ”
“-true I just want -”
" - You love those -”
" - to see my old friend whom -”
“- girls don’t come to me with that -”
" - I haven’t seen in ages -”
" - Bullshit.”
Neill froze at the word and found her frowning at him.
“And you speak to Lee on a daily basis.” She hissed.
"Totally different from seeing him.” He stood up straighter.
“Just admit it! You love those girls.”
“Listen I don’t know what you had in your tea this morning, but I suggest you find something else.”
“Excuse me?” She gasped, her hands balled into fists at her side.
“I have to go.” He walked out the door.
“Neill! Don’t you walk away, you ass!”
“I’m going to be late! I have to go!”
“No, you wont! Get back here!”
“Can’t hear you!” His voice was barely a whisper when it reached her.
Nanael too a deep breath, before she shouted out the door.“Just admit it!! You’re going to have to at some point!”
The car’s engine roared to life and went off into the distance. She sighed.
It took Neill another 20 minutes to get to the cafe, and another 10 to find a parking space.
It might have just been his imagination, but his car seemed to hum the same way he was clenching his teeth when they were stuck behind a very annoying lady and her obsessive need to turn every 2 minutes while backward parking.
He patted the dashboard. “You and me both, kid.”
When he finally found a decent parking space, he took a moment outside, leaning against the car, to just... smoke.
He doesn’t do it often. less now than before the girls. Though every time he sees Nanael, the urge just heightens.
The drive into the city didn’t help either.
With his eyes closed, breathing out smoke, he patted the car. “We did good man, we did good.”
He felt the cigerrete snatched out of his hand, and grumpily opened his eyes to see who it was.
“I thought we agreed you’d kicked the habit.” Lee said, grinding the cigeretted into the ground with the tip of his boot.
“And I thought we agreed you’d smile more, I guess we’re both disappointed.” Neill straightened himself, mentally cursing the sharpness of the sun. “Hello to you too.”
Lee gave a curt nod “Coome on, I need a sandwich” he turned around and started walking.
Neill fell into step next to him “So what’s been going on with you?”
“Same as always.”
Neill stared at him.” Its been two years. There has to be something.”
Lee shrugged. “I don’t know what to tell you. Everything’s the same.”
He was silen’t for a moment, deciphering his friend. “Greg got promoted ahead of you didn’t he?”
Lee took a deep breath, still not looking at Neill. “Yeah”
“Fuck!” Neill looked away angerily.
“Language. there are families with kids.”
“Sorry,” He uttered, as Lee opened the door of the shop for him “But seriously? Greg? Really?”
“You know they won’t pormote me.”
“Yeah but I was sure they’d atleast do it before promoting Greg of all people.” The walked up to the reception desk, waiting for someone to come and seat them.
“He’s not that bad.”
Neill strained his neck to look at his friend incredilously. “Not that ba - Not that bad??!” Neill leaned closer “The man thought a werewolf made a blood sacrifice to the and I quote ‘werewolf god’ with the body of a small child.”
“I remember. It was a horrible case.”
“There was no signs of it being a sacrifice. No signs of a wereworlf. Kid was cut up -” Niell’s words dried yp in his mouth as he looked behind him to see a mother and her two boys staring at him wide eyed.
He smiled awkwardly and waved at them. “Hi.”
Lee looked behind him just as the woman pulled her boys out of the restaurant, while giving Neill an angry and disgusted look.
“Oh dear god” Lee held his face in his hand. “We’ve been here a full minute and you’ve already offended someone.”
“My bad.” Neill grimaced.
“Yeah isn’t it always.” He sighed.
A small girl apporached the desk. Her smile and fox ears were bright and energetic”Hi how can I help you today?”
“Hi, Keishima Lee, can you, possibly, find me a new best friend?” He smiled.
Her smile faltered. “What?”
Neill gasped, grasping his chest. “Lee how could you??”
The girl looked between the two of them, her nose twitching. “What? I’m.. I’m not sure...”
“It’s okay, anything other than this idiot will do.”
“Uhh ” She blinked. “I don’t think I have what your looking for -”
He sighed, looking upwards “Maybe I should call Dorinda. She has been a bit lonely since Greg’s been promoted.”
Neill let out an anguished gasp, both hands on his chest. “No, how could you. Lee...this is to much.” he gasped, slowly galling to the floor.
Lee’s lips twitched.
“People! Know! I die this day of a broken heart!” Neill cried, on his knees. “This man, has torn the strings of our friendship. Leaving me stranded and alone.” He gave ananguished yelp and turned to Lee. “Tell me what will the girls think? You with Dorinda! of all people?! Oh my heart can't take it!”
Lee’s shoulders shook with quiet laughter. "Get up you idiot!" The grin was still on his face. He adressed the girl "I apologise, can two idiots still find a table here?"
Neill Shot up from the floor with a huff "Yes please, miss."
"Eh.. hehe, sure" The girl's sholders sagged exponensially, a smile on her snout. She took two menus "Come with me please."
"Thank you!" Neill bowed. before following her and Lee.
They found a seat in th corner of the restaurant, a view of the city nnext to them.
Neill took out a cigarette and popped it into his mouth " So tell me about this case."
Lee grabbed the cigarette just as Neill was lighting it up. "No smoking indoors."
"We're by a window."
Lee gave him a look.
"Kidding." He put away the lighter as Lee dropped case files infront of him.
"3 girls, red heads."
"Age?" Neill straightened, taking the files, opening and pouring over the first one.
"between 14 and 18"
Neill looked up. "Those are the years when most find out what magic they have."
"If they don't have any exterior indications."
"Right. yeah." he nodded and went back to the file.
"Excuse me." A chirpy voice popped up.
Leep looed up to see a tall, feathery girl smile at them." Hi, my name's Laura, I'll be your server."
When Lee looked back at Neill he saw his friend look at the girl confused. " Did we scare away the girl who seated us."
She looked down, biting her bottom beak. "We apologise, Gilda is new and very shy. She's not used to being teased."
"We did not mean to tease her, please apologise to her for us." Lee leaned closer.
"Will do sir." Her smile brightened. "Are you ready to order?" She held up her pen and notepad.
"Tea and the Curry please." Lee replied.
"Coffee, thank you." Neill was already deep into the files again when Lee turned to him.
"He'll have the Rhoti" Lee frowned, not looking away.
Neill looked up, surprised. his head still a bit in the file.
"You haven't eaten all day."
"Will that be all?" Laura asked.
"Yes, Thank you."
The listened to hwe walk away.
"The girls," Neill looked back down. "Where were they taken?"
"Not sure. Since they were all underage they were supposed to be home."
"But they weren't taken from there?"
"No, no indications." Lee leaned back onto the cushoned seat.
"So they snuck out somewhere?"
"Yeah, all of them say they don't have a clue."
Neill scoffed."Like thats true."
"Yeah." Leee frowned. "No that I can ask them, Greg won't let me anywhere near them."
"Is he still pissed about the Shapeshfter case you solved under his nose?" neill eyed his friend, a mischievious grin on his lips.
"That and the one actual werewolf case." Lee grinned.
Neill's smile spead. "No!"
"When?" He closed the file, his attention on Lee "How? What happened? Tell me everything."