We managed to get all the way to the warehouse before anyone had another breakdown, but I totally told Kase the abbreviated and mostly-made-up story of what Marlee had been upset about.
To be entirely honest, I don’t think she’s completely over it. She very well may never be.
“Was she really acting like that?” Kase asked incredulously after I finished.
I shrugged. “Don’t ask me why,” I replied, changing the subject just little enough that he probably wouldn’t notice.
“Wow,” he replied. That basically meant that he didn’t notice.
“So,” Marlee said, looking back, “we’re supposed to stop Kai from killing Calypso, right?”
“Yep,” Kase replied. When he spotted the entrance to the warehouse, he took off running.
“What did you tell him about me?” Marlee asked, standing by me as we watched him.
“A totally made-up story that held bits of truth about what actually happened,” I replied, glancing over at her. “Don’t tell him that, though.”
Marlee seemed surprised, but then smirked. “I won’t.” She glanced towards the door. “Uh… thanks.”
I smiled ruefully. “You can thank me by helping me not die,” I told her.
Marlee laughed. “Stick to me, girlie. We’ve got scratches that mighty become battle scars.”
“They’d better,” I muttered, “I worked hard for those.”
There was a pause, and then Marlee began laughing hysterically.
“I’m sorry,” she gasped after a moment, “but we really did work for those, didn’t we?”
I rolled my eyes, smiling slightly. “I mean, I did. I don’t know about you.”
Marlee gaped at me, totally joking. “I’m offended that you think that I wouldn’t try to fight you.”
I shrugged. “I don’t know, I’m pretty intimidating at times.”
“Nah,” Marlee waved her hand at me, brushing me off, “you’re short and harmless.”
I snorted. “Hypocrite.”
“I just state it how it is,” Marlee laughed.
“Sure,” I drawled.
“I do,” Marlee said confidently, “and I say that you won’t die today.”
There was a loud shriek inside and it caused me to seriously doubt that.
“Well,” I said, faking confidence, “I suppose we should just enter, then.”
“I’ll go first,” Marlee offered.
I cast her a grateful smile. “Thanks.”
She shrugged, “I hope that you’d do the same for me.”
I smirked at her teasingly. “Nah, I’d let you go first.”
She shot me a look that was both offended and exasperated.
“And I’d follow you with knives drawn,” I finished, chuckling.
Marlee rolled her eyes, a smile crossing her lips. “You little…”
I snickered. “We already noted that I’m short; I don’t think we need to rehash that conversation.”
This time, Marlee ignored me and walked into the warehouse.
As I slipped in behind her, I was hit by the slight change of temperature—it was slightly warmer inside, much to my dismay. I searched for the source of the shrieking and saw… Kase, with Kai.
“Is this what she said it is?” Kai grinned, poking Kase with his fingers.
“No!” Kase kept laughing. “She said it was this!” He began tickling Kai and I realized in one amused rush that he was explaining to him what tickling was.
“Hey, Kase,” I said, walking up to them and grinning, “you’re doing it wrong.”
Kase stopped and looked towards me. I ignored how Kai did the same.
“What did I do wrong?” Kase asked in confusion.
“Hmm…” I pretended to think for a moment. “Just… this.” I poked him in the stomach. “You have to test for their ticklish spots first and then you exploit them.” I demonstrated by focusing my attack on his sides.
Kase shrieked and squirmed. “Mercy!” he gasped.
I stopped, pulling back and laughing a bit. “I bet you forgot to tell him how to get someone to stop, too.”
Kase made a face. “I was trying to get him into a perpetual tickling cycle.”
I laughed even harder. “That’s so mean, but also brilliant. I am so sorry for ruining it.”
“I actually thank you for ruining it,” Kai chimed in, smirking at us.
I looked up at him. “And why would you do that? You haven’t had the full experience yet.”
Kai’s eyes sparkled as he glanced at Kase. “Oh, I think I have. I’m not sure I want to have it again.”
“Darn,” I said, shaking my head as I looked back at Kase. I covered my mouth with my hand and stage whispered to Kase. “You can attack him tonight when he’s asleep.”
Kai gasped. “No. Please no. I’ll never get any sleep again.”
I’ll also note that he seemed to bite back a few curses, which I figured were for Kase’s benefit.
“That’s the point,” Marlee said, joining the conversation. She raised an eyebrow at me and looked back at Kai. “We could just use you as a lookout forever.”
“It’s physically impossible to stay awake forever,” Kase chimed in.
We all looked at him, forgetting that he had a habit of bringing logic into everything.
“Thank you,” Kai said uncertainly. He looked at Marlee. “That saves me from being assigned lookout position for the rest of my life, right?”
Marlee shrugged. “I’m not the one in charge.” She cast him a devilish look. “But I could call for Russ and bring that up…”
“No!” Kai yelped. He turned slightly red as those nearest turned to look at us. “Please don’t,” he said, quieter this time.
“Well, this has been nice, but I have some stuff to drop off,” I cut in, smiling. Under my cloak I had pulled the leftover carrots out of my belt. I turned towards Kase and went in for a hug, managing to slip them into his bag before pulling back.
He frowned slightly as he stopped hugging me and adjusted his backpack, but he didn’t seem to notice that I had done anything.
“I have to drop off my stuff,” he said, glancing at Kai. “And you probably still have sticks in my bag.”
Oh yeah… he never did take those out, did he?
I rolled my eyes. “Why don’t you just show me where they go, then?”
“I’m offended,” Marlee cut in. “What happened to my leading skills?”
Kase giggled. “They are no longer needed,” he said formally, his eyes opening wide as he momentarily suppressed his laughter.
I snickered. “You have been replaced, Mar.”
Marlee raised an eyebrow at me, which made me think that she didn’t miss my use of her nickname. “That’s nice,” she said, “too bad I have to come with you two.” She gestured to her own bag.
I shrugged, “You just can’t lead. I never said that you couldn’t come.”
Kai was glancing between the three of us, who were all grinning like idiots. “I feel slightly cut off from this conversation,” he said.
Kase reached up to pat his arm as he walked past him. “It’s okay, the conversation is moving anyway.”
My eyes widened as I had to restrain a snicker. Marlee, however, had no such reservations.
“Burn,” she hissed through her teeth, laughing.
Kai shook his head, smiling slightly. “This is what I get for greeting my brother when he gets back from his big excursion.”
Kase paused. “You realize that one of the definitions of ‘excursion’ is a short trip and our trip was on the longer side, right?” He looked up at Kase. “You didn’t use the word very well.”
Kai shook his head. “Just go,” he groaned, looking up.
Kase began laughing and kept walking. “And that,” he said, turning to me before he disappeared into the group of people around us, “is how you get your brother to let you ditch him.”
“I’m not letting you ditch me. I want you to ditch me,” Kai clarified, “because you have a habit of making everything I say sound wrong.”
“Because it mostly is!” Kase replied, looking intently at Kai.
“And that,” I said, beginning to push Kase away, “is where I intervene and break up the brothers who are inches away from giving each other noogies.”
“What’s a noogie?” Kase asked me, not even helping me push him along.
I shook my head. “That one is a story for another day.”
Kase shrugged. “This day is technically only 6 hours away from being over, so I’ll come ask you in 7.”
I shot him a look. “If you wake me up, I’m not responsible for any harm that ends up being inflicted.”
Kase smirked. “I can just tell Kai that—”
I covered his mouth with my hand, turning his words into garbled grunts. I glared at him. “Don’t even,” I said, carefully enunciating the words.
“What?” Kase asked as an innocent look crossed his face.
I sighed. “Let’s just drop off the sticks and be done.”
“Okay,” Kase chirped. Suddenly, he was walking by himself and I wasn’t pushing him anymore. I ended up falling into his back, which he almost seemed to be expecting.
“You really need help today, Calypso,” he told me, smirking as he turned back.
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Keep going or I’m going to kick you into action. Very literally, actually.”
“You aren’t supposed to hurt me,” Kase reminded me.
“Oh,” I grinned at him, “I thought that was just while we were gone.”
Kase’s eyes widened. “Uh oh…”
I blinked at him innocently. “What do you think I’m going to do?”
“A lot of things,” Kase replied seriously, “and at least one of your ideas probably isn’t the greatest.”
I laughed, because honestly, that would never happen.