Brandon looked at the clock. Ten o’clock. Thirty minutes until they stop serving brunch. I love teacher in-service days. He rolled out of bed, pulled on the first clothes he found, and left his bedroom on autopilot. Down the hall, say good morning to the six morning birds, open the door, shut the door, head for the stairs… wait. Six morning birds?
He backtracked into the dorm suite. Connor sat at the table with a large glass of milk and an apple fritter. Emry sat across from him, reading and nibbling on a doughnut. Liam lounged on the living room floor, presumably because Ash pushed him off the couch so he could sit there and eat breakfast. A very cheerful Lila sat on the smaller couch, eating her chocolate bar and watching one of her anime. She shared the couch with none other than the prodigal student himself.
Danny looked over at Brandon. “Morning, Sleepy head.”
Brandon blinked. “Danny? What’re you doing here?”
Lila tapped Danny’s arm. “Onii-chan, pay attention! The best part’s coming up!”
“Sorry.” He turned back to the TV.
Brandon blinked again. Something seemed out of place. Lila acted confident and free. No matter. Where are the doughnuts?
“Rasengan!” the yellow-haired character yelled, shoving a ball of wind into the enemy ninja.
Ash shook his curls. “What’s the point of yelling out your move? Aren’t ninja supposed to be silent?” Two sets of hazel eyes turned to glare at him. “Just saying,” he grumbled, and shoved the last bit of his chocolate doughnut in his mouth.
The corner of his mouth lifted when he noticed Brandon in the kitchenette, trying to wake up enough to find the food. “Doughnuts to your right, fresh coffee right behind you,” Ash directed him.
Brandon ate one of the croissants while he doctored his coffee. He grabbed two doughnuts before he came and plopped down next to Ash. Half a coffee later, he squinted at Danny and then at Ash. “Did I miss something?”
Liam snorted from the ground. “Welcome to the land of the living. It took you long enough to ask.”
Brandon shoved him with his foot. “Well?”
“Danny came back last night,” Ash informed him, keeping his voice low so the two anime fans wouldn’t hear. “Lila had a nightmare, and Connor went to get him since he was back in the area.”
“Why him?” asked Brandon.
“Oh.” Nothing much fazed Brandon in the morning.
He’s back. After so long, he finally came back to her. Lila dared not ask if he would stay or for how long. She feared the answer. But for now, she curled up on the couch next to him, enjoying the moment.
She’d forgotten the confidence Danny rubbed off on her. She glared at Ash without thinking when he interrupted their show to comment about Naruto’s exclamation. She felt Danny do the same. She felt so free, so comfortable. She giggled at Naruto’s antics on the screen, aware that her soft giggles drew attention from a couple of the other boys. Of course, she realized, I haven’t laughed or made much noise at all since I got here.