Cinnamon peers at me from around the doorframe, blinking slowly. I blink back. I have no idea where Nutmeg went, but at least I can eat my salmon in peace – Cinnamon isn’t the type to try to beg food, just to lazily observe from the corner. I think Nutmeg is off napping somewhere, and won’t hear, but I try not to touch my fork to my plate, anyway. Just in case.

“Pris,” Perry says, softly, staring into her tablet.

This is not effective, because Priscilla isn’t even in the same room as us.

Perry looks up, blinking, and seems to realize this fact. “Pris!”

Still no answer. Huh. Okay, maybe she went out for groceries, or…?

“Priscilla,” Perry screams at the top of her lungs (not really, it’s just that I’m sitting right here woman let me get earplugs or something), and puts down her tablet.

I surreptitiously scoot farther away in case she yells again.

Which, a second later, she does. “Morgan!”

“For fuck’s sake, Perry, I am busy! Get it yourself!”

Okay, I guess she’s not out shopping, then.

“I don’t want anything,” Perry shouts back, “I found that video of the dog you were looking for! The LARPing one dressed like a wizard!”

Yay! More dogs.

Priscilla appears like three seconds earlier, suddenly standing between us, the tablet in her hands, whispering, “theonethatshootsfireballs?”

Okay, now I have to see this video.

Pris sets it up on the table and starts playing it, to awed silence from all three of us. A few seconds in, the dog does, indeed, spit out a fireball.

This would probably be more impressive if I hadn’t had a whole class full of them today.

Pris pumps her fist in the air. “This is it! This is the one! Watch.”

Ha! Like she could stop me.

The dog continues to bark fireballs at people – either they don’t really do much, or the people have some kind of protective gear or powers, because nobody catches fire when they hit – and brings down a fair number of opponents, culminating in what is actually an impressive feat of either cinematography or careful editing, because the dog leaps higher than any dog has a right to leap, and the camera manages to follow the entire arc with the dog centered perfectly in the frame, and without any camera wobbles either. The dog triumphantly pins…someone in a crown, I don’t know, I think the dog wins, even though its wizard hat fell right off.

“Amazing,” Priscilla says, then abruptly leaves the room.

“Wait, what the fuck, where are you going?” Perry asks.

“I told you,” Pris says, giving Cinnamon an ear scritch, “I’m busy, Perry, I was in the middle of doing something. Now I’m going back to doing it.”

“Doing what?” Perry says.

“I’m not explaining this again!” Pris calls from inside her office.

“Look, all you said was that – oh!” Perry says, turning to me, “speaking of explaining!”

“What?” I say, sharing a knowing look with Cinnamon, only she’s left, and I have no one to commiserate with in my confusion.

“We finally got an explanation for the Mesopotamian thing!” Perry says.

“I,” I say, “um, congratulations?”

Perry claps her hands, and finds something else on her tablet. “You know, the reference about those things, with the…you know, Mesopotamian superpowers.”

“The Lightning Plates?” I ask, because I can’t possibly think of anything else she could be referencing, and I don’t know why she’s suddenly interested in them.

“Yes! The,” she pouts at me. “You know about them already.”

“Perry, if you could’ve got through my major without learning about the Lightning Plates, you’d deserve to have a degree in whatever subject you wanted through sheer talent at cheating,” I say.

“Oh, right, I’ve suddenly remembered why I refused to talk to you all through college,” she tells me, “check out this video anyway.”

I watch it for a while. I mean, the information isn’t bad, “what is this in reference to?”

Perry sighs heavily. “Like three chapters ago, Copperbadge said something about Mesopotamia and we were all wondering if he was trying to introduce one of the museum villains –”

“Wait, is this the one where not-really-me is having graphic sex with the guy who attacked my kids on the roof a week ago, because I’m not really sure I want to hear about that,” I tell her.

“Okay, first, I’m not even sure this is technically set in our reality, and second, I thought you were happy that never made the news,” Perry says, “anyway, we haven’t gotten to the sex yet.”

“Well, that’s fine then,” I say.

“Is this,” Perry frowns, “sorry, I didn’t think that through. Here, let’s watch something else.”

“No, I mean,” I shake my head, “at least finish the story, will you?”

Perry grins. “So, no, it was not foreshadowing. Apparently, in looking up some things for the story, he got really into the Mesopotamian stuff?”

I stare blankly at her, wondering what exactly I’m missing.

Perry laughs. “So he decided to go full on Indiana Jones with Teke, and now he’s going to be a professor of this stuff, that’s amazing, right?”

“Eerie,” I say.

Perry cocks her head. “What, just because he’s studying something a little too close to your nerd interests? Come on, this is so much more fun than the standard narrative.”

I shrug. “Well, as long as he doesn’t end up getting a visit from the Men in Black.”

Perry grimaces at me. “Please tell me that’s not actually a worry.”

“I mean, hopefully he doesn’t accidentally write in other features of, you know, actual me, and I’m sure he’ll be fine,” I say, “he doesn’t happen to have reality warping powers, does he?”

“Not as far as I know,” Perry says, “but given the character crossover, I’m sure it’ll muddy the waters enough no one can actually find you, anyway.”

“Oh, no question,” I agree, “let’s just hope upstairs doesn’t get too antsy about it.”

“I hope he’ll still give you that puppy sidekick, anyway,” she adds.

“I,” I say, “what? Where did you hear about that?”

“We have our ways,” she says, mysteriously, and then hands me a press release with, wow, the mock-up looks even better now. Artists terrify me. “The dog’s named Chic, for the rhyme.”

“Okay,” I say, “not what I would’ve gone with, but fine.”

“I think it’s kind of cute,” she says. “Might end up a little embarrassing for everyone involved, but, damn, you’re going to get them to let you do the photoshoot personally, right?”

“Hell yes,” I say, “I saw maybe three dogs in costume today despite the fact that they had every excuse, come on, what is that? No way in fuck I’m passing up that chance.”

Perry grins at the picture. “I hope you get collector’s set action figures out of this.”



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