Chapter 12: Just Some Girl

New Camelot cannot run itself solely on Personae. It will have trusted people, likely strong Camelot types, on the inside. They will be loyal. But they will be bit players. They will have their own stories, not just Arthur’s. Find one whose story is sympathetic to your own, and you will find a partner.

If attempting to insert a new person into Camelot’s organization, expect that they will rigorously screen any newcomers, particularly while closing in on their objectives. By their nature, investigators ask questions, which arouses suspicion. New Camelot will have rigid, bureaucratic measures in place to ensure that there are no exceptions that compromise their security. There will be a test.


"Is this seat taken?"

I looked up from the cafeteria table I was sharing with a purple pansy, and my face turned a color that I'd recently told Vivian did not look good on me. Roger Stevens looked down on my animated conversation with a potted plant with a bemused expression.

"I... what? No! By a plant? Hah, no, because that would be completely ridiculous." I turned redder. "And mortifying. To be caught talking to a plant."

He shook his head lightly. "Some of my best friends are plants. May I join you?"

It was the conservative plaid shirt that he was wearing, I decided, that made things so awkward. It was just so definitively blue. And yellow. Who could have a conversation with a flower when sitting next to that?

Roger settled himself and propped his crutches against the back corner of his chair with practiced ease. He opened up a brown paper bag and pulled out a peanut butter sandwich and a thermos.

Oh my god he has a thermos. Do real people have thermoses? Is that the right plural for "thermos"? He wears plaid and has a paper bag lunch and a thermos and I am totally staring.

"It's for keeping drinks cold," he explained as I ogled him like a moron. I stiffened, and he laughed. "No, I'm sorry. It's what I get for interrupting. How were things going?"

"With Pansy here? Quite well. We were just getting our evening plans squared away." I thought I recovered rather gracefully, right there.

"Oh?" He cocked his head. "Going out for plant food and a nice bottle of water?"

"Steamier." I wiggled my eyebrows. "The greenhouse."

"But you've only just met!"

"And how do you know that, Mister Stevens? It could be that we've had a long and fertile relationship."

He shook his head with a grin. "A pretty purple pack of petals like that, and I'm positive I'd have perceived her previously."

I raised an eyebrow. He laughed. "Too much? It was 'perceived', wasn't it? Felt like a bit much in the moment."

"I'm sure that you and Peter Piper can go all day. Have mercy on me. English isn't my first language."

“Yours is excellent; I wouldn’t have guessed it.” He looked thoughtful. "Do you mind if we pick back up with me drawing a witty comparison between you and the flower? About me not having seen you around here before?"

"Are you asking me if I come here often, Mister Stevens?"

"I may be, Miss DeGrace."

I smiled, and absentmindedly tucked my hair behind my ear.

The purple pansy on the table between us rustled impatiently. Puck! I shouted silently. It hadn't really been the pansy I was talking to. The pansy was just a lure: in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Oberon tasked Puck with finding a pansy that had been struck by Cupid's arrow and now held mystical powers. It had turned purple. It was part of his story: Puck couldn't help but find purple pansies. When you absolutely needed to get in touch with a mischievous force for chaos...

And now the fairy who had been sitting invisibly at the table with me was getting bored. Just as Roger's eyes were widening, his crutches slipped and fell to the floor. He bent over reflexively.

"Ixnay on the... dammit," I whispered, as the flower vanished into thin air.

"No worries, mate," sounded the voice in my ear. "It wouldn'ta worked if anybody was lookin', now, would 't?"

Biologically, Puck was as human as the next guy. He’d been born of human woman and everything. But that was about where it ended. According to the rules that governed our kind, when he wasn’t being observed by anyone normal, he could do anything that the character Puck could do. Including turn invisible. If he could pick up the flowers and turn them invisible, then by that reasoning, no one mundane could have been watching, or he wouldn’t have been able to do it. Honestly, I was fuzzy on the details: Sherlock Holmes’ brand of magic violated people’s expectations in all sorts of ways, but it heeded the laws of physics, which had historically given me a free pass in a lot of ways.

I forced myself not to look around. "Magic's no good if normals are watching. And I thought you had an Irish--" Roger straightened back up, cutting me off.

"Eh, I like to trade it up every now and again, mate. Keep things fresh, y'know?" said Puck.

Roger's face was red. "That's so weird," he was saying. "There was no one around, and I'm sure I didn't bump--"

He looked at the empty table.

"Where'd the flower go?"

"Oooh, he's got the full quid, eh?" laughed the sprite. Roger obviously heard nothing, but having Puck cackling at me was more than slightly distracting.

Worse, my mind was wandering off from the both of them. I'd thought that I wasn't a Persona anymore. But I'd just seen an invisible Puck pick up the flower that Oberon had sent him to find, the one that would make Titania fall in love again. It was there one minute, gone the next. He shouldn't have been able to do that with a non-Persona watching, right?

So what did that mean for me? Holmes’ words came back to me from… whatever that had been, outside of Vic’s place:

After what happened at the club tonight, we are untethered. We need a champion to hold us here. To speak for us. To live our stories.

Roger was looking at me expectantly. "Flower?" I looked blank. "What flower?"

"Come on," he said. "The purple pansy."

I blinked. "Are you sure you didn't hit your head down there?"

"Oi! I've got a little bit o' shonky business for this bloke 'ere that'll see him straight..."

Roger still heard none of it. ”Okay, I don't get the gag. There was a flower, and you were talking to it, and I think we were flirting..."

Faintly, I heard a sound like three tiny droplets of a love potion brewed from a magical flower fall into Roger's thermos. He glanced down, and appeared to remember that he was thirsty.

"Don't!" I shouted, and half-threw myself across the table to stop him from developing a whole new thirst.

"... when I could buy you a coffee instead," I finished, lamely. “Because, um, flirting?”

He looked at me, amusement and confusion playing across his features. I was leaning across the table, fingers splayed between his mouth and the cap of the thermos that was filled with now-doctored... what was that, apple juice? Seriously, this guy?

"And she duin't even want to give 'im the mappa Tassie. Poor bloke. No fun to be had 'ere, it seems. I'm shootin' through, then. I'll take care o' yer little piker tonight, tho, mebbe make a changed man 'o him."

Puck. Ohhhh, Puck. I'd been certain that New Camelot would stand little chance of finding a shape-changing fairy while moving quickly through the carnage at the Diogenes Club last night. Seducing Lance hadn't been the plan going into ORG, but it had been the backup plan, and Puck had been the backup plan for the backup plan, which was really more like an idea that I mumbled to myself as yet another in a string of crazy ideas that I could fall back on if things went really haywire… as had happened at every turn of late.

I didn't really want to have sex with Lance - scratch that, I really didn’t want to have sex with Lance - but Puck was a shapeshifter who according to legend wasn't too picky about his sex partners. If it would help nail Moriarty to the wall, this Puck would do about anything. Skeevy or no, Lance was a cutie. Puck would show up tonight wearing my face, a perfect copy to all observers. He and Lance would have sex, Lance would be ensorcelled into being on Team Gwen, and everybody would go home happy.

It had seemed like such an adequate plan. Definitely worthy of being called a plan, by comparison to some of the crappy ideas I’d had lately. I’d tasked Doyle to bring me the purple pansy that Oberon had set Puck to retrieve in the stories, the one that made the love potion. Lance was already sweet on me, so a few drops should really get him going, and smooth over any weirdness when Puck turned out not to be quite the Guinevere he was expecting. Puck would look the part, to be sure, but something told me that he and Guinevere made distinctly different bedroom noises.

But I'd forgotten the part where nothing went according to plan as far as Puck was concerned, or for my life generally. Hopefully, the fickle fey was done amusing himself at my expense. Or Roger's.

I wasn't taking him at his word. I made my best doe eyes at Roger. "Pleeeease?"

"Well," he mused, "I don't get asked to coffee by beautiful women very often. Even if you might be the strangest one I've ever encountered."

He put the thermos down.

"You should probably just throw that out," I pointed to the cap. "It would taste terrible with coffee."

He laughed and shook his head. "Not to mention be more of a pain to get back into this thing than it's worth, for two ounces of juice. I'm just going to assume this has to do with disappearing plants, and enjoy your company."

"Good," I answered. "Because I have no idea what you are talking about. Can I get anything for you?"

He flushed, rising smoothly to his feet on his crutches. "No, I'm fine."

"I know," I said. "I'm really just trying to make sure that you throw out that juice. Here," I grabbed it and tossed its contents into a nearby potted plant, "I can be very helpful when I put my mind to it."

I sniffed the cup. Whatever a love potion smelled like, I didn't think there was anything left to worry about. "I was totally right. Apple juice? What are you, eight?"

He shot me a look. "I read at a ten-year-old level, thank you very much. Maybe later I can show you my comic book collection."

"Sounds great," I said. "Have you read Fables?"

He winced a little, and shook his head. “Being honest, I haven’t actually read a comic book since I was eleven.”

Roger moved quickly on his crutches, even carrying his lunch. There was no line at the Starbucks, and I ordered something sweet and caffeinated. Roger got a coffee.

“You can really get anything you want,” I protested.

He shook his head with a smile. “Can’t drink that sugary stuff. Coffee’s supposed to be black and unpleasant. That thing you ordered just tastes like a marshmallow to me.”

“Marshmallows are delicious,” I stuck my tongue out. “If I could get them added to my drink, I totally would. Wait - can I get marshmallows in this?”

We got our drinks, marshmallows included, and sat down. I watched him as he laid out the coffee, his thermos, and his lunch bag, and then arranged his crutches behind the chair.

“Spina bifida,” he shrugged, catching my gaze. “My spine didn’t quite fuse together properly before I was born. I’m actually really lucky by comparison to most. A lot of people have bowel issues, cognitive problems… happy to report that I haven’t pooped myself since… at least an hour ago,” he joked. “Though my sisters might tell you that I don’t know when to quit, if that counts as a cognitive problem.”

This was… nice. It was completely, totally, bizarrely nice. Part of me kept waiting for Moriarty to strike, and the rest did its best to relax.

I beamed at Roger. “How many sisters do you have?”

“Two,” he said. “Susie and baby Ellen. I’m the forgotten middle child.”

Laughing, I said, “I doubt you let anyone forget you. How old’s your baby sister?”

He made a face. “Just turned nineteen. Can’t even go out for a drink with us yet when she's home from Brown.”

“Ah,” I said.

“I mean, I’m not a huge drinker or anything,” he backpedaled, taken aback by my sudden shift in demeanor. “I like a nice craft beer every now and then. But you’re Muslim, aren’t you?”

I shook my head. “I’m Arab, but I haven’t practiced Islam in… ever, if we’re being honest. Not even for show since we came to America.”

“How long ago was that?” This seemed like a safe topic to Roger, but I wasn’t so sure.

“Eight years,” I said. Now, would I talk about my dead father who I was trying to reanimate, my personal experience with the drones Roger piloted, or about the time when I was six that I’d gone through my mother’s Qu’ran and crossed out all of the passages that I’d deduced to be contradictory with modern forensics?

“I’m eighteen,” I blurted instead.

"Beg pardon?" He blinked slowly.

"One-eight," I affirmed.

“But… are you some kind of super-genius or something? I thought you needed a college degree to be an analyst.”

“But not to be a linguist,” I explained. I switched languages. <<I speak fluent Arabic.>>

“I did not have any idea,” he said, flushed. “I mean, I had guessed you were younger, but…”

“You drink apple juice and eat peanut butter sandwiches,” I joked. “I figured we’d get along.”

“I am twenty-six,” he replied, shaking his head. “That is… sorry, I am just not sure if I should feel like a dirty old man or worry about your father coming after me.”

I stifled the wince at the mention of my father. I hadn’t dated in high school, which had suited him just fine. My mother had worried: in Yemen, girls were sometimes married women at age twelve. She hadn’t wanted that for me, but couldn’t I at least pretend to be interested in boys? Girls, even?

High school boys didn’t quite seem to know what to do with a girl who carried a fingerprint kit instead of a compact. Always knowing what was on their minds hadn’t really made me want to spend time with them, either. Even the so-called nice guys wound up figuring that since I was smart and didn’t like jocks, I must obviously be looking for someone like them to have sex with. Nobody could just relax and hang out.

Not that Roger was relaxing, but he at least wanted to.

“Do you realize that you stop using contractions when you’re flustered?” I asked. “We should totally play poker sometime. Because I would kick your ass and because I think that this, right here, might represent the longest conversation that I’ve ever had with a boy. Man. Whatever. What I mean is, I’m really enjoying talking to you. You don’t seem just to be trying to get into my pants. I… I think maybe you’re enjoying yourself too. That’s got nothing to do with how old we are.”

He pondered. “This is nice. And you haven’t seemed sorry for me once yet.” He emphasized the contraction with a smile, and then gave me another serious look. “I appreciate that.”

“So that’s something, right? We could try just… having a good cup of coffee together?”

He looked conflicted. “I… I’d like that. But it’s worth noting that I’m not completely disinterested in the contents of your pants.”

I laughed. “Good. Because I’ve thought about kissing you.”

“Oh. Um.”

“Well, it was going to be a nice, chaste peck on the cheek, but if you’re going to be that way about it…”

“No! No, not that way! The other way! What are we talking about? How are your marshmallows?”

I laughed again. “We were talking about you keeping your foot out of your mouth long enough to decide that we should keep talking… though I’m not sure asking about the condition of my ‘marshmallows’ necessarily qualifies.” He blushed again, and my inner Vivian high-fived my inner Gwen.

“Tell you what: I promise not to do anything ‘barely legal’ to you today. I can promise that tomorrow, if it helps. Would that make it easier?”

He actually did seem relieved that I’d just sworn off sex with him for the foreseeable future. I wasn’t sure whether or not to be offended, but it was very gentlemanly.

“Okay,” he nodded. “I can do hanging out. We’ll go from there.”

“Hypothetically speaking, would your sisters totally freak out if you told them you were dating an eighteen year old?” I needled.

“Do you know who Shaft is?” he asked.”

I did, actually, because I was bound to run into him sooner or later. But it was time to throw him a bone. I gave him a blank look.

“You have no idea,” he grinned. “Which is exactly the kind of idea you have about how hard my sisters would freak out if my sisters knew I’d so much as gotten coffee with an eighteen-year-old. Because, boy, it would be a lot of freaking, much of it at frequencies not audible to the human ear.”

“Then keep your eyes up here, mister. I only said I was thinking about kissing you.”

“Yes, ma'am.”

“That's more like it. Tell me something.”

He blinked. “Like what?”

I shrugged. “Does it bother you, needing crutches?”

He blew out a low whistle. “You don’t beat around the bush, do you?” I started to apologize, but he waved it away. “No, it’s really fine. It’s a part of me. And I’m actually grateful for them. I used to need a wheelchair when I was a kid. I had a lot of operations. My dad was Army, so they weren’t worried about medical costs. I… I used to daydream that they were going to make me into some kind of a cyborg superman, during one of those operations. Dad and I would talk about it before I’d go under. He’d squeeze my hand and tell me that I had to remember not to squeeze his too hard when I woke up, or I’d break it. I told one of the kids on base, once. The next day, everybody was calling me ‘Captain America’. You know, scrawny kid gets a special procedure that turns him into a super guy? Goes on to punch Hitler in the face? Only it never really worked out that way for me.”

“That’s awful of them.”

It was his turn to shrug. “That’s kids. I wish I could say I rose above it all, but… I just couldn’t. I burned my comic books. And when I say that, I mean I burned a lot of comics. I used to be so into them; I probably had a thousand. I’d been collecting them since forever. It was surprisingly hard to set them on fire; it took me three tries to get them going well enough. I… I remember that my mom cried, after she caught me. But it was too late.” He gazed off, and I could see the angry little kid behind his face.

He swallowed. “The funny thing is, even years later, that damn name still catches up with me. I haven’t read a comic book in over a decade, but some idiot at the office started calling me ‘Cap’ and it just stuck.”

I shivered. Maybe it wasn’t a coincidence. What would happen to a Persona who denied who he was? Would he wither away?

“You know,” he mused, “I never had any surgeries after that. I hadn’t ever thought about it before, but my parents never even brought it up again. I think they lost the stomach for giving me hope that things might change. When you’re a kid, you think your parents make all these choices in a vacuum, you know? But I think it hurt them, to see my dreams get crushed over and over. Maybe the next one would have been the one that did it, who knows?” He smiled. “Maybe I’m supposed to be six-two and covered in muscles. But hey, I’m doing okay. After all, I met you, right?”

“It probably wouldn’t have happened if you were busy punching Hitler in the face,” I agreed. I felt a pain in my chest, though. What was that? Was this sympathy? As Holmes, I’d never really had time for it. Was it supposed to hurt when your heart beat in time with someone else’s?

“So that’s my big old heap of emotional baggage. What about you? Any good personal horror stories? Let’s really test out whether this should go any farther than coffee.”

I puffed out my cheeks and slid down onto my elbows. “Where to begin?” I had to tell him something. Maybe it would make the tightness in my chest go away.

I looked up from the table and met his eyes. Nobody was close enough to us to overhear, and I just… “I’m from Yemen,” I said simply. “As-Sa’id. My birth father died when I was eight. He’d been putting together a bomb. My baby brother died in a drone strike.”

Roger held very still, but he didn’t look away. “Was that before or after your father died?”

“After.”

“So if you’re eighteen and it was sometime after you were eight but before eight years ago when you came here… that would be about nine years ago. Right around the same time of the strike you and Vivian were asking about earlier.” He said it very matter-of-factly.

I said nothing for a moment. I straightened up, looked down at the table. I fidgeted with my hands.

“I’m not sorry,” I whispered fiercely at the floor. “What would you have done?”

After a long moment, he reached over and put his own hands down to still my own. He slid his fingers down mine until just our fingertips were touching. I looked up, and his eyes were wet. So were mine.

“I hadn’t meant to tell you that,” I breathed.

“I know,” he said. “I’m glad you did.”

“Do you hate me now?”

He didn’t laugh. “Not sure that’s possible,” he said. “Does Vivian know?”

“Yeah.”

“I figured. Do I need to worry about you?”

I sighed. “Probably, but not for what you think. I’m not going to blow anything up, I swear.”

He nodded. “Did you find out what you needed to know?”

“I think so,” I answered.

“Then I’m not sorry, either. That’s horrible, what you’ve been through.”

“You have no idea.”

He slid back, sat back in his chair. “Will you tell me?”

I went through the story of Qadir’s death, minus any mention of Arthur or Morgan Le Fay. Roger listened quietly, letting me take my time. I had more trouble with it this time than I’d had earlier in the day. I was keeping too much bottled up, and it was starting to get to me.

Roger was quiet for a long time after I finished. He wasn’t avoiding my gaze, but wasn’t meeting it, either. He was inside himself, trying to reconcile what he saw every day through a full-motion video feed with the firsthand description he’d never heard before.

“I didn’t think they could hear us,” was the first thing he said. “I mean, you hear chatter like that all the time, SIGINT cuts of bad guys talking about the buzzing of spy planes, but it was one of the first things they told me when I started: ‘they can’t hear you until it’s too late.’ I… I believed it.”

“We could hear,” I whispered. “We could always hear. For a few days after the attack, I had this nonstop ringing in my ears. Later, I found out that was the last time I would ever hear that particular sound. My brain was overcompensating for the death of the neurons that could hear that frequency.”

“Who were they? The men who were with you. Al-Qaeda? Huthi rebels?”

I shook my head vigorously. “They were farmers. Just farmers. They had guns, but I knew them. I knew their kids. They had nothing to do with any of it. They were just…”

“… ‘collateral damage’,” he finished, mouth grim. I saw his hands, sitting on the table, squeeze into fists, and then release, and then squeeze again. He was trembling.

“We don’t… we don’t do the strikes ourselves up there. We don’t push the button. But… we may as well. We basically point to a guy on the screen and say, ‘him’. Then he goes away.” He swallowed. “I made a bad call a little while back. Found out later. Pattern of life was right. We had not one, but two intels that said that we had the meeting place for some very bad men. The target would be driving a Toyota Hilux, white with a red stripe. We marked one on the route to the meet, on the right day at the right time. I pointed to the screen.”

He shuddered. “Very next day, we had a first-hand report on the target. He’d gotten a stomach bug. Work of Allah. He wasn’t in the truck; he’d loaned it to his cousin. His eighteen-year-old cousin.” He looked very pointedly at me.

“I couldn’t stop myself from digging through the family tree. This kid was born in as-Sa’id. He’d been married a year. His son was a month old.” Now he looked away.

I took a slow breath. “You’re thinking that could have been me. The person sitting across the table from you. You’re thinking that it’s undoubtedly someone I know.”

He nodded and looked up, eyes sparkling. “You know what happened when I asked Lance if I was going to be in trouble? Nothing. He… he didn’t brush it off, exactly. It wasn’t like he thought this was totally nothing. He said something about it being real, what we did, really honestly life-and-death. But he told me that it was important, and that we had to get it right next time. That was it. No consequence other than a talking-to that I asked for. I killed somebody, somebody innocent, and I didn’t even get a black mark in my file!”

He gave a humorless laugh, then shook his head. “A month later, the guy we’d been targeting blew up a hospital. They’d treated some Europeans there for the same damn stomach bug that had saved that bastard’s life. The Europeans were long gone. And that son of a bitch knew it and said that anyone who would treat the enemy was an enemy of Allah and deserved no mercy. And he blew up forty-three people. Half of them were kids.”

He was breathing fast, nostrils flaring. He’d swung back from self-loathing to rage. He looked up at me, straight, hard.

“What are we supposed to do? I am seriously asking that question. What the hell do you do with a world like that? What do you tell the kid who grew up fatherless, eighteen years later, when you’re trying to explain why? That it was important, and you’d really tried to kill the right guy? That you’re sorry for the error?”

“I… I don’t know,” I stammered.

The fire went out of him, and his shoulders crumpled. His eyes looked sunken. “Because all of a sudden I’m looking at her. Jesus. I’m looking right at her. You still thinking about kissing me?”

I reached over with two hands, and pulled one of his across the table. I folded back all of his fingers except his index finger, leaving it pointed, and then I pushed it into the air, as if he were pointing at me. As if he were pointing to someone on a screen.

Very gently, I kissed his fingertip.

He shuddered, a tremor that ran from his finger all the way down to his toes. He held his finger out for another moment, and then tucked his hands under the table.

“Yeah,” he whispered, looking down. “I get it. I’ll think about that the next time I’m looking at one of those screens.”

“Roger, I… I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t know what you should say to that person across the table from you.”

I sighed. My inner voice was silent, and I wasn’t used to it. Holmes had always had something to say. A little bit ago, it had even seemed for a minute like Cleopatra herself was speaking through me. Now, I was just some girl.

I was confused, conflicted about this man across from me. What he did… someone like that had taken my brother away from me. If my life hadn’t been a crazy fluke of fate, he might have killed me a while back, or have left me to mourn my husband with a month-old baby.

And yet… he was the only one in that whole damn room up there who had shed a single tear for those like me. If there were people in this world who could blow up hospitals, shouldn’t there be people like Roger who tried to stop them? Who tried, with the very core of their being, to get it right? Who genuinely suffered when innocents were harmed by their hand?

Didn’t the world need people who were strong, but remembered being helpless?

“I think the fact that you’re thinking about the person on the other side of that screen - the person, not the target - means a lot. I think the fact that you think that I should hate you means that I don’t hate you,” I told him. “I think that maybe you’re the right person for the job. I think you’re just where you’re supposed to be.”

He looked up and met my eyes, hopeful. “Generally? Or right here, right now?”

“Roger Stevens, if you have any questions about whether you should be right here in this story that we are telling together, then I invite you to leave it and my company. I’ll find the damn pansy to talk to.”

He grinned. “I knew there was a pansy.”

He stretched his hand out to me. I slipped mind into it. We stayed that way for a while.

Eventually, it went the way of all good things. But when we parted, my fingers felt warm. So did something inside me.

As we were standing to leave, Doyle came huffing up at a fast walk. He gave Roger a puzzled look for a half-second, and then focused on me. "I've been looking everywhere for you. Whoever gets coffee at lunch time? Rhetorical question. We need to get you downstairs for your poly."

Ah. A polygraph. Holmes had expected this. I'd had one when I started at the Agency, and I hadn't enjoyed it. No one did. There was something about being made to feel like a criminal that made you feel like a criminal. Which would be rude but fine, if so much weren't riding on the outcome. The poly could make or break your security clearance, which was the difference between being a spy and being a well-informed civilian. In this case, it could seal the deal with regard to New Camelot... or seal my fate.

Roger cocked his head. "Another one? But she only just started here!"

Vivian might have been right about him and being a gentleman. I waved it away with feigned nonchalance. "No, it's fine. Just a requirement for another program I'm getting read into. By the way, this is Doyle. Doyle, Roger. He works in ORG. You don't know him." That last with a little extra edge that I was pretty sure Doyle picked up on.

I hesitated for a moment, then leaned over and gave Roger a kiss on the cheek. He blushed again, but smiled.

“I had a really nice time talking to you. I hope we can do it again sometime. Soon.”

"My sisters are going to freak out," he grinned. He nodded at Doyle, and turned to go. He was quick on those crutches. He moved with purpose. Like a man who knew he was where he was supposed to be.

"Who was that?" Doyle asked, eyebrow arched. "Not one of the Round Table, or I'd know him."

I bit my lip. "Just some guy."

I smiled.