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and the walrus

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"I have writer's block," Sally's husband announced without preamble when she came into the kitchen that morning.

Stretching up onto her tiptoes to get a breakfast bowl from the top cabinet, Sally shot him a cursory glance over her shoulder, and realized she could have figured that one out for herself: Paul only wore her bathrobe when he was too distracted by something to find his own, as it was pink and had unicorns on it, courtesy of some girls from work for her birthday several years ago. She debated telling him he looked fetching, then decided against it. Let him figure it out on his own.

"What are you working on?" she asked instead, as diplomatically as possible.

"This piece for my Creative Writing class," was the reply, as she shook out a package of Quaker Oats into her bowl. "I have to work poetry, philosophy, and phobias into one piece. It's the most pretentious assignment I've ever been given."

"... don't you teach the class?" she offered after a second, because that was how they met: he came to her class to give a seminar on how to write a catchy opening lines. He later confessed to her that he only did that seminar because he liked the bit where he got to deliver five pick-up lines with a straight face and wanted to see if college students were any more mature than the high schoolers he taught.

They weren't.

His face brightened. "Why, so I do!" And then it fell again, comically. "But my class cornered me into doing one of our assignments so they could critique my work, since I've been lecturing them on how 'that was really good' was not a proper review. High schoolers are evil." The last was muttered into his keyboard. Sally hadn't been aware until this second that people actually headdesked.

She opened her mouth to reply, when there was a great bang coming from the living room. The next second, Percy sprinted into the kitchen, his pants missing and his sword uncapped and glowing in his hands.

He cast a quick look around and then demanded of them, "Has a walrus come through here?"

Paul lifted his head. "No, but your friend was here about fifteen minutes ago. Nick? Nicki?"


"Yeah, him. He was stealing orange juice out of our fridge."

"He was?" said Sally and Percy in the same breath; Percy indignant (he liked orange juice, thank you) and Sally bemused.

"Uh-huh. I walked in and caught him at it. He told me I hadn't seen a thing and disappeared. Are the two related?"

"I hope not," said Percy, shifting stance and letting the sword drop slightly. "The walrus stole Iris's rainbow wand. Without it, she can't connect messages to people. I chased him up this way and lost him on this landing, which kind of sucked, because he was purple and left rainbow trails behind him from the wand."

"Sounds serious," said Paul without missing a beat.

Sally had bigger concerns. "Where are your pants?" she demanded, because someone needed to say it.

Percy looked down. Frowned. "That's a very good question."

He looked up, and just then seemed to take note of what Paul was wearing, because he made that face that people do when they're trying to erase the last five seconds from their brain, realizing they can't and they're never going to get that image out of their heads. Sally was sure the feeling was mutual, although she did need to find whoever gave her son Hercules briefs and give them a high-five for creativity's sake.

She promised they'd keep a look-out. Percy nodded and said thanks, then sprinted out the back door and down the fire escape, still half-naked.

"What were we talking about?" Paul said after a beat.

Sally shook her head. "I haven't the faintest idea," she said, and went back to boiling water for her oatmeal.