Reynie surveyed the small room. It would more than suffice for his purposes, there was good light, and two walls were lined with bookshelves, allowing for ample storage of the many books that were currently in stacks around his bedroom. Even though Sticky’s office was just down the hall, he would miss doing all the work in the same room as his friend. The boys would remind each other to do things like eat, drink water, and leave their fortresses of books every once in a while.
For years they’d been tracking the movements of Curtain’s remaining followers, alerting officials when they were able to be caught. However, now that there seemed to be more movement, each of them had been given their own office to best keep track of their focus of the investigation. Sticky was in charge of data analysis and Reynie was in charge of data analysis. The two made an amazing team, as their childhood talents had only grown after years of refinement and use. Sighing, he opened one of the multiple cardboard tubes scattered about the room, revealing a large map of Stonetown and the surrounding area, which he proceeded to pin to the wall next to his desk. A desk that was somehow already cluttered with books and papers despite being his first day in the new space.
The next tube contained a large poster created by Reynie and Sticky themselves detailing the bios of each of Curtain’s remaining high profile followers. This poster was pinned next to the map. Just as he was about to begin unpacking the first of many of the boxes of books, there was a knock on the door jam.
He looked up to see Kate Weatherall leaning against the entrance to the, his, office. She was still Kate, tall, athletic, hair tied up in a high ponytail to be up out of her face. The only major change was the switch from a bucket to a tactical tool belt, which was able to hold much more than her trusty bucket while being much less conspicuous. However, her bucket was still kept under her bed for safekeeping and emotional connection. Reynie smiled. “You don’t have to knock you know, the door’s open for a reason.” Kate smiled back, and Reynie swore the already bright little room got even more so with her smile.
“You have your own official office now, feels like I should.” She walks over to him and envelops him in a hug. He now as tall as she was, much to Kate’s annoyance. Whenever Number 2 mentioned the fact that the boys would soon pass her she would roll her eyes and get a look of annoyance that would put Constance to shame.
“Come on, I would never expect you to knock, you’ll be in here enough.” Kate pulled back and looked around the room. Reynie could tell she was sizing up the dimensions.
“I have my own office that I can spend time in thank you very much.” Kate grinned as she spoke.
“I’ve seen your office, it’s more of a storage room for spy equipment with a desk in it.”
“Hey, that desk makes it an office.” She places a finger to his chest and Reynie can feel his cheeks begin to flush.
“Well, if you’re in here you can help me unpack,” Reynie said, gesturing to a box across the room. “That box should be regional histories and collections of local legal doctrines if you could shelf them next to the map near the top of the shelf I can start on the collection of books about the history of cults of oppressive political movements.” Kate rolled her eyes, but the smile that was still on her face showed that she was still happy to help.
“No fair, yours is way more fun then,” she glanced at the title on the top of the stack in the box, “A History of Stonetown Harbor and Surrounding Areas During the Era of Prohibition.” Reynie looked back at her. She was looking skeptically at him, holding the book out for his inspection.
“Actually I think you’d like that one, it’s filled with information about all kinds of hideaways and secret passages that were used to smuggle alcohol into the city.” At this, Kate’s eyes lit up and she began going about her task with increased interest. Reynie chuckled and made a mental note to flag the pages she would enjoy and leave the book in her office for her day’s off exploration.
They worked comfortably for a while, chattering on as old friends do until Kate came across something that made her stop talking. Reynie didn’t notice until she didn’t answer a question he asked about her thoughts on the opinion upcoming lunar eclipse.
“Kate?” She turned and held up a framed newspaper article form their first defeat of Curtain. It featured the four children, with a smaller photograph of Mr. Benedict off to the side. The four of them looked so young, granted they were so young when they first met each other. Sticky looked even ganglier then he remembered (luckily he had grown into himself slightly over the years), and looking back he didn’t know how they didn’t realize that Constance was so young.
“God, we were so young.” He finally said aloud, crossing the small room to take a closer look at the framed article.
“Look at Sticky’s glasses, thank god he replaced them.” She grinned again.
“Sticky! Look at you! Every inch of you is battered and bruised!” Reynie said, pointing specifically at her black eye and arm in a sling.
“Excuse me I had just saved your butts and fought several trained assassins as a 12-year-old, I’d say I did pretty well for myself.” Kate crinkled her nose and leaned forward. Reynie flicked her nose.
“And you’d do it again.”
“What do you mean would, I tackled an ex-executive last week if you recall Mr. Muldoon-Parumal,” Kate said, one had on her hips as she handed Reynie the newspaper to hang up on the wall. The next item in the box was a faded t-shirt from Constance that had “I saved the world from a tyrannical overlord and all I got was this dumb t-shirt”. Kate chucked to herself, folded the shirt, and left it in the box, reaching instead for a photograph of the four of them from Stonetown’s annual New Years Gala.
“How could I forget Ms. Weatherall.” Reynie looked over his shoulder playfully, begging Kate to play along. Instead of her usual snappy remark, she responded with an equally playful wink and blown kiss, which caused butterflies to form in his stomach.
“No witty remark?” He asked, taking the photograph from her and placing it on his desk with care. He was greeted only with a grin and another air kiss. He playfully rolled his eyes and went back to digging in a box of books.
They worked until every box was emptied and the shelves were overflowing with books, maps, journals, and framed photographs. While the everpresent tension of Curtain’s remaining followers remained hanging in the air, they worked comfortably trading stories and throwing quips back and forth across the room. While they didn’t know what would come next, for now, there was plenty to be happy about, and so much life to look forward to.