Magicademy: Summer Break, Part 3

". . . Riding off into the sunset and all that."

Jacob stood on the balcony of the huge nekati house, staring off toward the beach to the west. Sure, he could have looked just about any direction and seen the beach. But looking west, he could watch the sun go down.

The days seemed to last forever here; he figured part of that was just that it was summer vacation and so forth. Or maybe he wanted things to last longer, considering where they were. As soon as they got back - okay, maybe not as soon as they got back, but less than two months after that, he'd have to go back to school.

That wasn't such a bad thing, Jacob thought. He still had three years at AMU to look forward to. And living with Aidis and Liz should be a kick, if he didn't get kicked first. Some of Liz's comments about Dhaiiski might start that.

The screen door opened and closed behind him, bringing Jacob out of his thoughts. He looked over his shoulder to see Aidis walking up to him, holding two dark bottles.

"Dude," Aidis said by way of greeting. "I bring beer."

"Thanks," Jacob said, taking one of the bottles. He looked at the label. There wasn't one.

"Some kind of nekati brew, Caiili said her husband makes it," Aidis said. Neither of them tried to pronounce Caiili's husband's name; they'd both butchered it the first time and he'd laughed too hard for them to try again.

Jacob cranked the top off his bottle, and Aidis used a few of his braids to open his own. They stood there for a while, watching the sunset, not saying anything. The beer was mellow and good, reminding Jacob a little of the dwarven ale from spring break.

It seemed like a lot of this trip was reminding him of that vacation. Jacob chuckled. It was a good way to be.

"So," Aidis said after a while. "Two more days of this?"

"Two more days in paradise," Jacob said, smiling. "You that eager to get back home?"

"Um, no," Aidis said, chuckling. "Just thinking too much. This seems like one of those really contemplative moments, y'know?"

"Yeah," Jacob said, nodding. He took another drink. "I was just thinking about the next three years," he said. "I know you're only around for another two, but. . . ." He trailed off, then shrugged.

"Nah, you're not getting rid of me that easy," Aidis said. "I'm gonna be busting my ass these next two years, but I've been thinking about that too. I might stick around for another year afterward, depends on what I've got going on."

"Really?" Jacob looked over at his once-and-future-roommate. "When did you come up with this?"

"Eh, living with elves gets you thinking about the future," Aidis said. He sounded a lot more serious than usual. "I mean, I'm twenty. Sure, I've only been twenty for a month - thanks again for the crystals, man."

"Welcome." Jacob had sent Aidis a new set of focus crystals for his birthday, as Aidis had burnt out his old ones during his travel magik class.

"But anyway," Aidis continued, "I'm twenty. Yeah, it's not that old, especially when you think of people like Tim and my elf-mom. But we humans? We've got a hundred years, tops. I don't really feel like a fifth of my life's gone by."

"That's probably not the best way to think about it," Jacob said. He paused, then sighed. "You remember about my parents, right?"


"I was thirteen when they died. They were hardly in their forties." Jacob drank more of his beer, wondering if it really was made for contemplation and all that. "If you want to talk about how long you've got to live, think about that."

"I'd rather not," Aidis said, laughing a little. "C'mon. Feeling like I'm a fifth done with my life's bad enough, I don't want to think I'm halfway there."

"Okay," Jacob said, gesturing with his bottle. "You got me there. But still. You gotta plan for the future some, but you can't ignore what's going on now."

"Thanks, Confucius," Aidis cracked. "Can you catch a fly with chopsticks next?" He dodged as Jacob halfheartedly tried to hit him. "I'm only talking, like, three years, not the rest of my life." He swigged his beer. "Besides, you're the one who was talking about marrying your girl."

Jacob glared at him. "We've been over this. I was drunk."

"In vino veritas," Aidis said, shaking his mostly-empty bottle at him. "In wine, there is truth. And I don't even like wine."

Jacob chuckled. "I wondered how long it was going to be before you started quoting Shakespeare again."

"I don't know if that's Shakespeare or just Latin for common sense," Aidis said, then shrugged. "Same thing, though. You were drunk, you meant what you said. Uael?"

"Maybe a little," Jacob said. Responding in elven when talking about his future with Dhaiiski felt kind of weird. "I really don't know. I want to finish college first, before I do something like that."

"Yeah, if she can deal with you for four years, you've probably got something good going on," Aidis said.

Jacob looked over at Aidis. To his surprise, the other man looked serious, like he truly meant what he'd said. Jacob nodded. "You're probably right," he said, then finished his beer. "I'll figure it out after I graduate, we'll see what happens. What about you and Cassida?"

"A wiser man than me," Aidis said, "once said 'I get down on my knees every mornin' and give eternal thanks for the existence of girls in a otherwise pointless universe.' It's from this old comic my dad has. I think it's kind of like that with Cass."

"So how come I'm the one getting shit for talking about getting married?" Jacob asked, grinning.

"'Cause you were stupid enough to say it where I could hear you," Aidis said, grinning right back.

Jacob rolled his purple eyes. "So if you're thinking about the future so much, how come you're not making plans?"

"I dunno."

"You don't know if you want to marry her, you don't know if you want to start making plans, you don't know if she'd say yes. . . ?" Jacob gave Aidis a questioning look, but all it got him was a raised eyebrow.

"Just what I said, dude," Aidis said, then downed the rest of his beer. "I dunno."

"Do you think she'd say yes?"

"I really dunno," Aidis said, then shook his head. His braids flew back and forth, then hung in front of his face. "We haven't talked about it at all. But it's only been eight months, that's too soon."

"Only been a little over ten months for me and Dhaiiski," Jacob said.

"Yeah, but you guys are all lovey and stuff," Aidis said. "I mean, she's probably already making wedding plans, knowing her."

"Wouldn't surprise me too much," Jacob said, shrugging. "But like you were saying, you gotta plan for the future. Sort of." He blinked, and looked down at the bottle he held. "This stuff's stronger than I thought."

"Figures." Aidis cackled. "But you're the one who's definitely got a future. Somewhere. With or without your furry female."

Jacob frowned. "What do you mean?"

"Eh, I don't even know what I really want to do," Aidis said, then leaned back and stretched. "You're a natural-born, dude, you're one in a thousand, maybe less. Anyplace that deals with magik would want you around."

"Maybe," Jacob said, his frown growing deeper. "But you're the one who actually knows what you're doing. The stuff I do, I couldn't teach anyone how to do it, or even explain how I do it. It's just there."

"Which is why you've got a better shot," Aidis said. "Anyone could read a book and figure how to do what I do."

"Yeah, but you've got something they don't," Jacob said, then smirked when Aidis looked at him. "Style."

Aidis paused, then started to smile. "Damn right." He clapped a hand on Jacob's shoulder. "Thank you for reminding me that I do in fact kick ass."

"Anytime," Jacob said, wondering how soon this was going to come back to haunt him.

"Now, if you'll excuse me," Aidis said, "I gotta get Cass some of this beer. She's a lot more fun drunk than you."

Jacob decided not to ask.

Later that night, when most of the house had gone to sleep, Jacob waited for Dhaiiski to do her usual routine of sneaking into his room. Caiili knew she had two couples staying under her roof, so it wasn't like she was going to keep them separate all the time. But she'd told them she didn't want to have to answer too many questions from the twins, so they'd agreed to some simple arrangements and some simple invisibility spells. Sure enough, when Jacob's door opened and closed all by itself, Dhaiiski appeared a moment later.

Dhaiiski was dressed only in a calf-length, brightly-colored nightshirt, something she'd picked up sometime between the end of the school year and the vacation. Jacob sat up in bed and raised the covers, and Dhaiiski snuggled in with him.

Jacob was glad he'd looked into the air-conditioning spell that each room was enchanted with and triggered it to go down a few degrees at night. Snuggling was difficult in the tropics, but there wasn't a chance he'd go a whole week without it.

They lay there quietly for a while, just glad for the time alone, until Dhaiiski broke the silence. "You and Aidis were talking on the balcony for a long time."

Jacob paused. How much had she heard? Well, the damage, if there was any, was already done. Probably. "Yeah, that beer your uncle made got us both in a thinking mood," he said, chucking a little. "We were talking about the next few years."

Dhaiiski turned over onto her stomach, leaning up on her elbows. "Oh? What about them?"

Some part of Jacob's mind wondered what would happen if he asked her to marry him right then. He squashed that thought as soon as it showed up. As much as he loved her, they still hadn't been together long enough.

"Aidis was talking about staying around AMU for another year or so after he graduates," Jacob said. "I think he just wants to make college last longer without really making it last longer."

"Can't argue with him there," Dhaiiski said, her ears tilting back. "Hey, d'you think you're going to graduate in four years? Total, I mean?"

"Probably," Jacob said. "The money my parents left me won't last forever, and once I pick a major, I think I can make it in four years. Why?"

"Something I've been thinking about," Dhaiiski said. "I'm really not sure about the teacher thing anymore."

"Really?" Jacob ran a hand over her hair, skritching gently. "Why's that?"

Dhaiiski purred a bit, then shrugged. "It's something that's kind of been going away in my mind," she said. "I don't really know a better way to put it. But one of my uncles, back home, he was talking about some education work he was doing, and it sounded really interesting. Still working with kids, but not really as a teacher, more as kind of an overseer for schools and such."

Jacob nodded. "That seems like something you'd be good at," he said. She had enough siblings and cousins, dealing with an entire school full of kids wouldn't be that much of a stretch. "Would you have to change your major?"

"Yeah, AMU's got some education-based major programs, I'd just have to get into one and get through it." She chuckled. "It'd take me longer to graduate, though."

Jacob grinned. "So you're saying it'd take you . . . another three years?"

"Maybe," Dhaiiski said, drawing the word out. Her whiskers drooped. "Was it that obvious?"

"Hey, I was hoping for it," Jacob said. Dhaiiski threw herself at him, as well as she could for being so close, and he held her tight.

"I really didn't know what you'd think," Dhaiiski said. "I was worried that you'd think I was being too clingy, or that I was changing my major just to stay in school as long as you."

Jacob shook his head. "Not at all," he said, then kissed her on the top of her head, right between her ears. She squealed. "I'm really, really glad you'll still be around. I'd kind of been wondering about that."

Dhaiiski pulled back. "What, you think I'd leave you behind just because I graduated first?" She growled a little. "I knew I'd graduate before you when we first started dating. Or at least, I thought I would."

"Wait." Jacob blinked. "You were thinking about that back then?"

Dhaiiski blushed, and turned away. "Kind of before," she said, more quiet now. "I'm sorry, I get like that when I like someone! I start thinking about how everything would or wouldn't work out. I planned all the way up to weddings and stuff in high school."

Jacob just laughed, and hugged her again. It was good to know that he wasn't the only one thinking far, far too much about things far, far too much into the future.

Of course, just because she might have already planned their wedding didn't mean he had to talk to her about getting married. Not yet, at least. They had plenty of time for that. And there wasn't a chance he was bringing it up when they were even in the same house as Aidis. . . .

Dhaiiski cuddled close, and they arranged themselves as well as they could on the narrow mattress Caiili had provided. It wasn't long before they were asleep.

Aidis took a deep breath and plunged into the ocean, diving down as deep as he could. It wasn't that difficult; they were only in the shallows near the beach. But getting used to the water-breathing spell when he wasn't going to be coming up anytime soon was a bitch.

You done yet? Cassida thought to him. She'd used one of her mental-connection spells on all of them, because talking underwater wasn't that easy. She swore it wasn't going to send all their thoughts to each other, just what they focused on broadcasting. Aidis had tested that; Jacob and Dhai hadn't seemed to notice but Cassida had given him a look.

He still wasn't sure if that look had been approval or anger. Eh, either was good.

Give me a sec, Aidis thought back to Cassida, then to everyone: This is so weird. And we don't even have gills to make up for it.

No kidding, Jacob thought. I swear, I'd feel safer with an air bubble over my head or something.

You did fine when the twins were surfing on you, Cassida thought. Give it a minute, it's no big deal.

How long do you want to stay down here? Dhaiiski asked. This is going to make my hair into one giant knot, I can tell.

Aidis chuckled, blowing out the last of his air. Leave it to the furry one to get all upset about salt water. Then again, she was the one who had to spend an hour brushing herself out after going to the beach, from the sand and salt stuck in her fur. But she'd been having Jacob help during this trip, so he didn't think either of them minded too much.

Aidis looked around, trying to get his bearings. It was hard to tell which way was up, underwater; it could be just about any way he wanted. And everything was blue, or mostly bluish, but that was pretty much to be expected.

Then a school of multicolored fish swam right around Aidis like he wasn't even there, and he froze. Now, that was something.

Oh, that's right, Caiili told me something that's part of the water-breathing spell, Dhaiiski thought. Most fish and other things will leave you alone, it's like you're not even there. It's like that to keep anything that might hurt you from going after you.

Sweet, we're shark-proof! Aidis thought.

Yeah, but they'll notice if you try surfing on one, Jacob thought, grinning at Aidis as he joined the rest of them.

Hey, I only had to try that once, Aidis thought, then laughed at the look on the girls' faces. Kidding . . . jeez. D'you really think I'd try that?

Yes, Cassida thought. Come on, there's a reef over there.

It seemed the spells made a complete package - water breathing, ignorant fish, and faster swimming. Aidis knew he wasn't that fast underwater normally. Sure, he lived on a beach, but that didn't mean he'd grown fins between his fingers. But the spell made it seem like he had.

They all swam over to the reef, weaving between kelp fronds that waved back and forth in the current like some kind of animate jungle. As Dhai'd said, the fish ignored them, so they got a close-up look at a lot of them. One even swam right into Jacob's face.

There was, Aidis thought, something amazing about being down here. It might as well have been another world. There was very little sound, and the light filtering down from above got dimmer and dimmer the deeper they went. Cass warned them not to go too deep, as the spell wouldn't protect them from pressure, but seeing as how there wasn't more than twenty or thirty feet down to go, Aidis wasn't worried. He swam down toward a cluster of sea anemones, then reached out and ran his finger over them.

Yep, same familiar sting. Aidis chuckled, flashing back to going to one aquarium or another on a field trip when he was a kid.

Then something grabbed his ankle.

Aidis's entire body jerked, and he yelled, despite not really having to breathe. He whipped around, ready to dart away, and saw Cassida giving him the most catlike smirk he'd ever seen on anyone who wasn't nekati. Not too far behind her, Dhaiiski and Jacob were laughing.

And for that, I kill you all in your sleep, Aidis thought, giving them all a dirty look.

Oh, c'mon, Dhai thought. You were so focused! We had to do it!

Why'd you go after the anemones, anyway? Jacob asked.

Aidis shrugged. It's just at thing with me, he thought. I like the sting, I don't know why. I went back to the touch tank, like, seven times when I was a kid, and I always looked for them at tidepools.

None of them thought anything at that, and Aidis rolled his eyes, then swam off elsewhere.

After a while, Cassida swam up next to him. She was wearing her black swimsuit again, one that he definitely liked - it was just barely darker than her skin, so it was almost like she was swimming naked. From a distance. When the light wasn't good. Okay, so it wasn't really like she was swimming naked. He just liked the thought of her naked. Among other things.

You're getting distracted, Cassida thought at him, half-smiling.

Aidis paused. Had she been reading his mind? She usually didn't without his permission, but with this spell going. . . . Was not.

You almost crashed into that rock.

Aidis blinked, turned, then spun himself around and kicked off of the offending rock, sending himself into Cassida's path. You swim next to me in that, and you think I'm not distracted?

I didn't say that. Cassida smirked again, then kicked and swam down, toward a small passage between two rocks. Aidis paused, grinned, and swam after her. Just like her to figure on getting away from the others. . . .

The passage turned out to be longer than he'd thought, to say nothing of more cramped. There were a few very tight moments, and Aidis really had to squeeze to get all the way through. Cass? he thought. Where're we going?

Come on, she thought back to him.

Aidis squeezed around a tight turn, then came out in a round bowl about the size of a small car. He paused, looking around. Cassida was nowhere in sight. Cass?

There was a sudden rush of water, and Aidis found himself flung upward by the current, throwing him out of the water and into the air. He caught sight of the others for a moment as he spun, and barely had time to get out a few dwarven curses before he hit the water again.

When he'd recovered from his sudden and very unplanned flight, Aidis pulled himself out of the bowl, glaring as well as he could at the others. Two of his braids pulled the rest of them out of his face, then they all squeezed themselves out.

"How many times," he said, "do I have to threaten your lives today?" That was all he got out before they started laughing. It took a long time for them to stop. Aidis sighed, then wondered if either of the twins knew any good spells to leave in their beds.

They spread out on the rocks to dry, and Dhaiiski summoned in the picnic lunch Caiili had made for them. Aidis found himself, again, really grateful for both a fast metabolism and spells that made it so he could eat as much as he wanted and not pay for it. Sure, he couldn't use those spells very often; some of the side effects were nasty. But for a week, no worries.

"I wish we could have done this sooner," Dhaiiski said. She was leaning against Jacob, who was running a special comb through her mane. From the looks of it, all the salt and sand would be out of it by tonight. Maybe. "If it hadn't been for those storms, we could have gone to Moloka'i."

"It happens," Aidis said, shrugging. He turned and leaned against Cassida, who shifted, sending his head falling into her lap. He didn't move, just grinned up at her.

Cassida started running her fingers through his braids, quiet for a moment. "I wish we didn't have to leave tomorrow," she said.

"Yeah, I know," Jacob said. "It doesn't feel like we've been here for a week."

"Hawaii's like that. You could spend all year here, and wonder why it was suddenly summer or Christmas again, something like that." Dhaiiski somehow managed to do a full-body stretch without getting in the way of Jacob's combing. Aidis tried for a moment to figure out how she managed that, then gave it up as a lost cause.

"Do you guys even remember what you have next quarter?" Cassida asked.

Aidis groaned. "I've been trying to forget," he said. "Two history classes, one science class--" He made a gagging sound, ignoring the look Jacob gave him. "-and only one magik class. Next quarter's gonna suck like a black hole."

"Could be worse," Jacob said. "You'll be too busy to complain."

"No such thing," Aidis cackled.

"I've got . . . let's see," Dhaiiski said. "I spent a lot of time on my major last year, so I think I've just got GE classes next quarter. The sociology one should be interesting."

"Which one?" Cassida asked.

"Inter- and Intra-Species Sexuality," Dhaiiski said, her whiskers twitching up as she smiled. "It's a new one, I think this is the first time they're offering it. I tried to get Jacob to take it with me," she said, scritching at his knee, "but he had some chemistry class at the same time."

"That doesn't count as a chemistry class?" Aidis asked. Cassida thumped him on the chest.

"I wish," Jacob said, finishing with a section of Dhaiiski's mane. "But no. There's this professor who does this really odd variant on Organic Chemistry, I kept hearing great things about it. But he only teaches it in the fall, so I grabbed it when I could."

"Instead of other things you could be grabbing," Aidis said, then braced himself for another thump. It didn't come.

"Look at it this way, Dhai," Cassida said. Aidis recognized that sly smile and grinned in preparation. "That means you can teach Jacob what you learn."

There was nothing but silence for about ten seconds.

"Any chance you can lend me the book when you're done with that class?" Aidis asked.

"I think I might have to duplicate it. A lot," Dhaiiski said, more quietly than normal. Aidis had a feeling she was really considering it.

They stayed out on the rocks through the hottest part of the day, then dove back in. The spells Caiili had given them were supposed to last the whole day, with a built-in warning when they were about to expire. They reached the beach where they'd left - a popular one on Maui - and flew home. Aidis looked out to the west as they floated off in a giant purple bubble. One more night, one more feast, then they had to head back to California.

There really was no such thing as a vacation that was too long.

Jacob walked out of his room, still wondering what the hell he'd drank last night, and looked up when he heard someone walking toward him. It was Aidis, though Jacob did wonder about it for a moment. There were dozens of brightly colored feathers stuck into Aidis's braids.

Jacob blinked at him a few times. "Morning?"

"Dude," Aidis said. "It's the hair, right?"

"Yeah." He chuckled. "Not what I expected, but it works for you."

Aidis turned and struck a pose, framing himself in a closed doorway. "Hey, I make anything look good."

The door behind Aidis opened. Cassida was standing there. She looked down at the still-posing Aidis, who didn't seem to have noticed her. Jacob didn't say anything, just stood there and watched.

"Hmm," Cassida said. "Looks like I owe Dhaiiski ten bucks."

Aidis tilted his head backward, looking at Cassida upside-down. "Dude?"

"She said the twins wanted to put those in your hair," Cassida said, starting to smirk. "I didn't think you'd actually let them do it. You just lost me ten bucks."

"I'll make it up to you," Aidis said, not missing a beat. Jacob just laughed. "I'm actually starting to like the little rugcats," Aidis said.

"Rugcats?" Jacob asked.

"Well, yeah, you can't really call 'em rats," Aidis said, turning around in the doorway to look at Jacob upside-down. "I mean, that's kinda rude."

The three of them headed downstairs to the kitchen and dining room. Like most nekati houses, both were well-equipped and looked well-used. Jacob remembered Dhaiiski's parents' home, with the truly gigantic kitchen and the refrigerator that held more than some grocery stores. And then there was the sink that was probably big enough for the twins to bathe in. . . .

He wondered, not for the first time, just how Dhaiiski had grown up so mellow and unpretentious with such a rich family. He shrugged. Some things just weren't worth worrying about, and he was glad for her the way she was.

She was also, at that moment, scrambling out of her chair and just short of flying toward him, arms open wide. Jacob braced himself. The high-impact hug not only knocked him off his feet, but into Aidis, who fell into Cassida, who fell to the floor.

". . .my spleen. . . ." Aidis muttered beneath him.

Jacob heard one of the twins from somewhere nearby. "Strike!"

"Ten points!" There was the other one.

"Morning . . . Dhaiiski," Jacob gasped, trying to catch his breath.

"Good morning!" She nuzzled his neck, then kissed him on the cheek. "You hungry?"

"I'm bleeding," Aidis groaned.

"Sorta," Jacob said, ignoring Aidis. "But I think we should, um, tend to the wounded first."

Dhaiiski giggled. "Love hurts."

They managed to untangle themselves, though it did involve pulling Aidis up by his shoulders despite his repeated insistence that he couldn't walk and needed to be carried around by a harem of cute elf chicks for the rest of his days. Jacob was a little surprised Cassida didn't just leave him on the floor after that one. Naturally, there was plenty to find for breakfast, so they served themselves.

"Hey, Jacob," Aidis said, holding up an entire pineapple. "Remember the orange trick?"

Jacob paused. "Yeah, I remember that one," he said. "Hold on. Let me put a shield around you."

"Quiet, pest," Aidis said, snorting. "You think I don't have enough control for something like this?"

"I know you don't," Jacob said plainly.

"Ignore him," Cassida said. "I want to see if this works."

Dhaiiski leaned on Jacob, who had his inherent magik flickering around his fingers, just in case. "And if it doesn't work," she said, "we get crushed pineapple, so it's still good. Just so long as we don't get peeled Aidis."

"Nah, worst it'd do if it backfired was tear my clothes up," Aidis said.

"So that's why you wanted him to try this," Dhaiiski said, looking over at Cassida. The twilight elf just smiled.

Aidis stared hard at the pineapple. Jacob felt the spell being worked - a very simple one, it didn't even need a word or gesture. He remembered Aidis saying that he'd taught himself the spell, and how amazing that had been at the time.

A moment later, the spiky top shot straight up from the pineapple, and embedded itself in the ceiling. The pineapple itself didn't even twitch. There was silence for a long moment.

"Well, that's sorta peeled," Dhaiiski said. "Maybe."

Aidis looked at her and smirked. "Get me a plate, o furry one," he said, "and witness my mad magikal skills."

Jacob whipped out a stream of magik, and snagged a plate from a nearby cupboard. "Okay," he said, "this I gotta see."

"Set it on the table, dude," Aidis said, "and be amazed."

Aidis set the pineapple on the plate, then took hold of one of the spiny things near the top, where the green part had flown off. "Behold!" He yanked on the skin, and it started coming off in a spiral as the pineapple spun on the plate, a pool of pineapple juice forming beneath it. Jacob popped up a small shield so the entire room didn't get spattered as Aidis spun the fruit around. When he was done, Aidis held a long spiral of pineapple skin, and there on the plate was a large stack of pineapple rings with the core already cut out.

Aidis bowed. "And for my next trick. . . ."

"Oh, thank you, Aidis," Caiili said as she walked into the kitchen. "I didn't know you knew that spell."

"He didn't," Cassida said, then smirked when Aidis gave her a dark look.

"There's a small problem, though," Jacob said, looking up.

Caiili gave him a questioning look. "Oh?"

The green spiky pineapple top fell from the ceiling and landed on her head. Aidis said "Oh, shit," and took off running, and all Jacob could do was laugh.

Later that afternoon, the four of them gathered their luggage and themselves on the front lawn, to say their goodbyes and head back to Modesto. Jacob made very sure that Aidis knew his apartment building's address, so they wouldn't accidentally land somewhere they didn't want to. Like on top of another volcano. Not that there was a volcano anywhere near his apartment, but still.

Dhaiiski and Caiili hugged for what seemed like half an hour. "Come and visit us again sometime soon, okay?" Caiili said.

"Of course!" Dhaiiski said. "I'm gonna be really busy for the next few years at school, but there's always breaks and weekends. Are you coming over for Thanksgiving?"

"Probably," Caiili said. "Jeaiirhaaeil's family, they're in New York, they don't get to see him that often, so we might head that way, but that could also happen at Christmas. We'll see."

"Sounds good," Dhaiiski said, her ears twitching forward. She came back to the group, and leaned against Jacob.

"Thanks for everything," Jacob said, trying to remember manners and stuff he'd been taught when he was a kid.

"You sure I can't come live in one of the guest rooms?" Aidis asked, but he was grinning.

"Oh, I'd put you to work," Caiili said, laughing a little. "Vacation is fine, but no one stays forever without working."

"I dunno, living here's vacation enough," Aidis said, then grinned at her. He flipped on his sunglasses. "Ready when you all are, dudes." He still had feathers all through his hair, and Cassida was toying with them.

"Say bye to the twins for us," Cassida said, then frowned. "Are they even around? I haven't seen them since this morning."

"Oh, they're down at the beach," Caiili said, then tapped her temple. "I have a mother's spell going, I always know where they are."

"Cute," Aidis muttered.

"You haven't seen the extended family," Jacob said, giving Aidis a look that suggested it was kind of a scary thought. Which, for an only child, it was. "I don't think they could keep track of each other any other way."

"We really can't," Dhaiiski said. "Though there was this one time two of my brothers found out a way to get away from it - they were twelve and fourteen, so they really were that age when they didn't want Mom always knowing where they were. Anyway, she freaked out, almost called the police before we tracked 'em down."

"Don't ever teach the twins that," Caiili said, suddenly looking serious.

"Don't worry," Dhaiiski said, "I wouldn't."

"I might," Jacob heard Aidis mutter. He then heard Cassida thump him again. "I don't think I deserved that. . . ."

"Be glad you're not a parent," Cassida said quietly.

Aidis turned and raised an eyebrow at her. "Duh?"

"Anyway," Aidis said, louder this time, "we gotta take off. We've got a three-hour jump and all that."

Jacob chuckled at that. Time zones were often the worst enemy of anyone using travel magik. Nothing quite like jumping halfway across the world to see someone only to realize that you forgot that you didn't tell them you'd be showing up in their living room at 3:14 in the morning.

"See you soon, Caiili!" Dhaiiski said.

"Come back anytime," Caiili said, waving.

Aidis started murmuring under his breath, and Jacob looked back to see him holding one of his focus crystals against his forehead. A moment later, bright yellow rings started forming around all of them, and then there was the familiar slight lurching sensation, and then they were gone.

He already missed Hawaii.

Next: Magicademy - Senior Year


"Casa de Coo-Coo," home of Aidis, Jacob, Dhaiiski, Liz, and a quasi-sentient couch. Aidis the Teacher's Aide, teaching what he calls "Magik For Morons." Answers to questions no one's bothered asking. Naomi, the living-in-triplicate natural-born in search of chaos magik. An elven marriage ceremony. Cecil and his magikally-altered-for-speech car, Tony. The joys of living next door to a dwarven frat house. Alchemy and other experiments in the kitchen. And, of course, nothing even remotely resembling an over-arching plot.

"Hello, Casa de Coo-Coo, home of slacker, two freaks, and a cat. . . ."

Coming (sometime) in 2007