"She's a real Stacey, I'll give you that. So I guess I wouldn't blame you."

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Nothing much else happens for the rest of the evening. Eli cooks dinner with Aunt Addi, and sends some texts back and forth with Zoe, just to make sure Arthur's not doing anything . . . Lacroix-ish. He's not, judging from Zoe's enthusiastic replies (im corrupting a lacroix with my wicked witchy ways!), and that makes Eli feel a little better.

Addi isn't so enthusiastic about Val's wake, partly because of the whole murders thing, but mostly because of who extended the invitation.

"Arthur's . . . okay," Eli says, and almost can't believe he's saying it. "He apologized for being a jerk. Kinda."

Addi sighs, stabbing at her spaghetti with her fork, smashing apart the meatballs distractedly. "It's not Arthur I'm worried about," she says. "Yvonne Lacroix is . . . dangerous. More than you know."

"Okay, Aunt Addi," says Eli, who think he knows exactly how dangerous the woman is. More so than Addi does. "I promise I'll be careful."

In the end, Addi agrees to let him go, but only after he assures her Zoe will be there as well. This, as it turns out, isn't even a lie.

arthur wants to ward the rec centre, Zoe texts, as Eli is messing around with his computer, trying to turn "Waifu Perfect Class 2" into something appropriate for a wake ("Melancholy Perfect Class", Eli calls it, if only in his head). just in case

Prolly a good idea, Eli replies. Then he sends Zoe a rough cut of the track he's working on. Her only reply is to send back a list of her favorite depressing Vocaloid songs, so Eli figures he's still got some way to go.

#

Friday morning, Eli's tired and cranky after spending too long patrolling for peryton in the pouring rain, and not long enough sleeping in his warm, dry bed. He didn't find anything but, near as he can tell, no one got murdered either, which he supposes will have to do.

The rain hasn't let up by morning, so Eli pulls his hair back for once and buries himself inside the deepest darkest recesses of his ludicrously oversized Reaper hoodie. When Zoe finds him, half-asleep inside his own locker, she makes a noise of frustrated disappointment.

"Tsch, Ee! You should've told me! I would've worn my Mei!"

"Sorry," Eli mutters, mostly into his textbooks.

Zoe, who is wearing her Kalos trainer outfit and has watched more episodes of CW shows than Eli's taken rides on the subway, narrows her eyes and says, voice hushed, "Long night patrolling?"

Eli nods, making a vague affirmative sound as he drags himself upright. "Nothing," he adds, to answer Zoe's inevitable next question.

"Well . . . that's good, right?" Zoe tries. "At least that means no-one . . . y'know."

"'S what I told myself." A thought occurs and Eli starts patting down his front, eventually locating the little ziplock baggie shoved to the bottom of one of his pockets. "Here," he says, handing it to Zoe. "For the warding. Sorry it's kinda gross."

Zoe's eyebrows get very high first, Eli assumes, at the fact he's passing her suspicious baggies out in front of his locker and then, when she's processed the appearance of said baggies, over the contents. "Is this—?"

"Yeah." Eli runs a hand around the nape of his neck, where he's suddenly sporting about half an inch of short, rough-cut fuzz. Zoe wants to keep the peryton out of Val's wake, and that's something Eli can help with, if only as a supplier of raw materials for the magic.

"Thank you," Zoe blurts, voice unsteady. "I just— Thank you." She basically throws herself at Eli in an awkward, but heartfelt, hug. He returns it, enjoying the warm, soft feel of her beneath his hands for one moment, then two. Then Zoe is stepping away, sniffing, and Eli lets her go.

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