Hidden 6 mos ago Post by SinfulSkills
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The fact that Cal didn’t make the situation uncomfortable let Axel relax quite a bit. His shoulders fell and he let out the breath he had been holding in. The last thing he wanted was for Lee to feel embarrassed or bothered by his aggressively friendly comrade. She danced gracefully and he was able to follow along as clear as day. Humans were so fascinating and she was no different. The two danced for a while before Lee passed him off to someone else. “Of course.” He said feeling a bit embarrassed that he assumed he’d have all of her time and attention.

Moving to the next partner he found that she wasn’t as fluid as Lee but she understood enough that they were able to do some more advanced moves with her. The curly haired young man continued on with his dancing and enjoyed his time with the new partner before they switched again. It was surprising to him how many people wanted to dance with him. Back in the heavens it was almost impossible for him to find someone to dance with him. It is nice to not feel so alone on the dance floor.

It wasn’t long before his partner was Cal. “We need to get her to the manor.”

“I know… I just… don’t know how to breach the subject…”

“I can invite her; she’ll being okay with it, no problem.” Cal said as casually as can be with a shrug and a grin.

“No.” Axel said shaking his head, a look of worry moved across his face. “We can’t be just, straight forward about it. She wouldn’t believe it.”

“Nah…” The casual manner of Cal received an annoyed look from Axel, “She seems like an understanding and calm person, I doubt her reaction would be a problem.”

“The problem is getting her to believe it…” Axel said with a sigh as he spun her under his arm. “How would anyone in their right minds believe what we need them to believe?”

“Maybe she’s not in her right mind; she did help a guy who fell out of nowhere. She didn’t call the cops and she let him in her house. Maybe she is what we need which is why she has stars in her eyes.” As the defeated sigh left Axel’s lips, she gave him a pat on the shoulder. “And I’ll leave you to convince her to come to the manor K? Bye.” At that Cal quickly changed partners leaving Axel confused and nervous about being the one to convince her. Crap…

The lessons soon ended and the two gods watched the students depart looking both tired and happy. The two gods exchanged looks with each other. Dancing wasn’t a form of happiness for them, it was typically just, well work related; so being in a situation where people were happy to dance and enjoying the activity.

Axel shifted his weight from one foot to the other. How was he going to get her to come to the manor? He didn’t want to make her uncomfortable by surrounding her by people she didn’t know and in an unfamiliar place. But it was honestly the only place they could have an open conversation that the whole group desperately needed her to believe. “Hey Lee…” He began meekly. “What are… the chances of you doing a house call? My friends work from a collective area and really need a refresher course before our next required dance. What is the possibility of that happened?”
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When Axel said her name, Lee turned to face him across the room. "A house call?" she echoed, expression thoughtful. "It depends, I guess. You're talking about what, general ballroom, nothing overly elaborate, right? If you have a clear room large enough it's not out of the question." She waved at him to follow and headed for her office. The decoration was spartan, with a handful of framed photos on the walls and a few certificates, including a notarized copy of her master's degree. Lee riffled through a drawer and pulled out a sheet of paper. How she identified it was clear once she handed it over: there was a line of braille at the top. "This is a list of my usual rates," she explained. "Private lessons cost a little more than the general classes, and I charge per person, but depending on how many of you there are I'd be willing to negotiate a group discount." Her system was straightforward, with fees determined based on length, frequency, and number of lessons.

"The real issue for me is getting to the place you'd prefer to use. Anywhere other than here, and time constraints can become a real issue. I'm not inflexible, but it's generally more convenient for everyone to just use the studio here. I wouldn't be able to say for /sure/ I can accommodate you until I've been there -- since my first time going somewhere can sometimes turn into an inadvertent adventure." The dancer smiled, a mix of apologetic and self-depreciating. "What's the nearest bus route, and how far from it are you?" Lee knew most of the bus routes pretty well, though she'd have to check times. "If it's more than a half-hour ride each way, I may need to charge a bit extra, since I'd be tied up longer. So I guess it comes down to how badly you want lessons there instead of here."
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A small chuckle left him at her surprise which seemed to be followed by her agreeing to give a discount. “I’m sure everyone would appreciate the discount but it wouldn’t be anything crazy. In fact it will just be the basics for work.” He said with a nod before he ran a hand through his curly hair. Crap… there was the issue of getting her to the mansion. Sure they could take the bus… as if he’d know what bus to take! There were always other options, they could walk, or fly, or… could they teleport? That would require magic… did their magic work here on earth?! None of them ever tried!

After a short chat, it was decided that the price would be discussed before the class and that Axel would come to get her. So it was no surprise that at 10am Axel was at the door of her studio waiting. However the night before played rather quickly through his mind.

“What do you mean you can’t use your powers?”
“I can’t use mine either!?”
“None in the Department of Punishments can!”
“And no one in the Department of Wishes!”
“Why would that trickster king put this on us??”
“Why do we have to rely on a filthy human to help us?”
“She may be the only way we can use our powers?!”
“We’re just lucky Axel found her.”
“And now we have to pretend like we can’t dance? That’s ridiculous! I can dance better than anyone here.”
“It was the only way to convince her to come over; this is a better option than trying to explain things to her in public.”

He wasn’t lying to her, per say. But he did have to convince her to come to the house. Now he was here, leaning up against the building waiting for her.

Human clothes felt weird compared to the clothing he wore in the heavens. They were heavier fabric and depending on the shirt they were itchy. Today a simple t-shirt and blue jeans covered his body which felt better compared to some of the other things Cal had him try on. A gentle sigh left him as he awaited Lee’s arrival.
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Lee took a few precautions. She did more or less trust Axel, but he was still a stranger, and she had difficulty telling where she was when she traveled by car, or anywhere she was unfamiliar with. The sun was warm on her face by the time she reached the street with her studio, and promised an afternoon that would be closer to hot.

"Good morning Axel." The dancer greeted him with a wave when she was close enough to make him out, a couple yards away. She carried a messenger bag over one shoulder, as well as a light jacket that she'd not bothered to put on, given the warm sun overhead. "I hope you weren't waiting long." She smiled and held out a hand to shake. "I look forward to meeting your coworkers. Did you manage to find a parking spot nearby? I know it can be hard, depending on the time of day."
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Axel shifted back and forth on his feet as he waited in front of the store. You shouldn’t go alone, What if something happened? and You have to be careful. were the phrase said to him as he left the manor this morning. His body twitched as he watched the humans walk by. His hands played with each other in nervousness. Was he okay being here by himself… without any of the other gods?

Before his panic could take advantage of him, Lee showed up to the shop. A relaxed left him as a smile moved across his face. Something about her presence made him feel at ease and he shook his head. “No, I didn’t park anywhere, I can’t drive. I have my own way of travel I enjoy.” With that he reached out and took her hand to shake it.

At that moment, the world around him pulsated for a second. A familiar feeling flushed through his body; no way! His magic was back, he could feel it. It was running through his body, through his bones, and to his very core; his magic was back. “No way…” He muttered softly to himself. Excitement shook him to his very core. Their guess was right! Axel felt like he was about to cry but before he did he brought up his hand and snapped his fingers.

Instantly they were teleported across town and the sounds of the cars on the streets were replaced by the sounds of birds and the scent of fresh air. He let go of her hand and stepped back throwing his hands up into the air. “YES!”

The door of the mansion opened and a tired looking man with an annoyed expression on his face. “Why are you so loud?”

“Oh Leon.” Axel said, his arms dropping to his side. “I brought the woman I was telling you about last night. Is everyone in the living room?” A simple grunt is what he got as a response as the annoyed Departments of Wishes leader turned around and went inside. A large hand ran across the back of his neck in embarrassment. “Sorry…” He said softly, his attention turning to the ground as he kicked a small rock with the toe of his shoe. “Shall we head inside?”
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Hidden 4 mos ago 5 days ago Post by shylarah
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Of all the bad things that were even remotely possible, Lee had not even thought of this one. Her surroundings slewed about into something totally different, and the entire symphony of background noises changed, everything changed. If he hadn't released her hand so quickly she would have yanked it away, but the woman was still completely disoriented. What?! To the side, she heard Axel cheering, and she briefly wondered why, but it was far more important to reorient herself.

The slack astonishment and bewilderment on her face transitioned briefly to fear, but Lee was too disciplined to let that rule her for very long. Lee lowered her head and took a deep breath to steady herself, taking several long strides away.. She heard another person besides Axel, but even two on one, she should be okay. She was fast, she was certain, and she wasn't about to let a stranger take her...wherever the hell this was. Trivial concerns like how he'd done it were beside the point, but Lee was all too aware that she had no idea where they were, and consequently no idea how to get back.

Shouldn't have trusted some random kid, Lee, she scolded herself as she considered her options. She jammed her hand into her pocket and looped the lanyard of her keys around her hand, settling the keys themselves in her fist. She wouldn't pull it out unless she needed it, but best to be ready. "What did you do." Her words were closer to a statement than a question, and she cast about for any clue as to her location. A building of some kind, the sounds of a park or forest preserve, the smell of cut grass mixed with flowers and mulch from landscaping, the warmth of the sun on her skin....At least the last let her figure out which way was north, but that was very little help. "Where is this? What the /hell/ is going on?!"
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by SinfulSkills
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Axel had spent so much time feeling so happy that his magic had returned that he didn’t take into account her surprise. To him, this should be something she’d just accept and be willing to help them but… he was wrong. Very wrong; confusion moved over her face and she seemed to be incredibly uncomfortable. Biting down on his lip he shoved his hands deep into his pockets as his whole body curled up on fear and nervousness.

“I… uh… teleported us here.” He said honestly forcing through his nervousness. “As… as you may have figured out I’m not… normal. I’m sure you sensed that when we first met.” His large right hand moved out of his pocket and ran through his curly hair. How was he going to explain this? Would she understand it? Could she understand it? Would she think he was crazy… would she actually listen?

The door to the manor opened and his surprior stood in the doorway. Scorpoin stared him down before barking, “Bring the woman inside!”

To wish Axel quickly retorted. “Not if she doesn’t want to.” With that an angry Goddess slammed the door shut leaving the two out in the yard.

A sigh left Axel’s full lips as he turned his green gaze to the frightened young woman. “Lee, I know you’re probably confused, scared and… pissed but please just, just hear me out. I won’t come near you, I won’t touch you and I won’t make you go anywhere unless you want to.” He said with a serious nod, to show his promise was real he took a large step back from her and placed his hand back into his pocket.

“Or… or I’ll take you back; I will have to touch you to do it but I can take you right to your studio. But please… I’m begging you, just… just hear me out…”
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Teleportation. Lee knew she was both unusual and incredibly lucky for the gift that allowed her to sense the location of things around her. Anyone missing one of the usual primary senses had the others honed to compensate, but hers went beyond that. There were stories now and then about others with strange skills -- she hesitated to call it magic because that was ridiculous -- but never anything like this. If anything could be called magic, moving instantly from one place to another definitely qualified.

But she couldn't deny that they'd moved somehow. This was not her studio, not even close. Was stuff that might be called magic in books actually possible, some sort of extreme form of the occasional unusual skill that cropped up?

Axel, at least, didn't intend her harm. He couldn't be faking that awkward fear, the way he'd collapsed in on himself, the flash of defiance when he yelled back at the woman in the house. "I've no intention of going inside," she told him after a long moment of silence. She was on high alert but no longer tensed for the immediate need to fight or flee. "You can be damn sure I'm not pleased. But you seem like a decent kid, so I'm listening. I hope your explanation is worth my time."
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Axel held his breath, sure that she was going to demand to be taken back to her studio and they were going to be out of luck. And luck was all they had right now. She has the ability to help them get their powers and without her they were in a lot of trouble. But… he would respect her wishes.

When she said she would listen he finally found himself being able to breathe and began his story.

“As I’m sure you could tell from when we first met… I’m, uh, not exactly normal. In fact my friends and I are most likely something you’ve only thought of as legends.” Rubbing his hands along his face he groaned to himself. “Ugh… I don’t know how to explain this without coming across as crazy to you…” His voice was filled with despair as he tried to put two and two together for an answer for her.

“Okay… Okay…” He seemed like he was just trying to talk himself into saying it. “We are in desperate need of your help. We are gods sent from the heavens and our powers have been sealed as a form of punishment. However when we touch you, even as simple as a touch of touching your hand; we can use our powers again. This is why I could teleport us here. We can do minimal things like flying and things that require little power like… Uh… food, and smaller objects; I could make you a chair if you want to sit.”

A said sigh left the young man. “After we were all punished because of our sins, we were sent to earth to find the human with stars in their eyes. Stars indicating that they were a former being of heaven in a past life. This is, extraordinarily rare and that rareness is… you.”

“This… this may seem like a lot to grasp but after seeing how humans have evolved over my least 200 years of watching them grow, I know that humans are incredible intelligent and have the ability to overcome many obstacles; so I know humans can come to understand everything and… and I hope you can too. Do… do you have any questions?”
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Lee had far too many questions to know where to begin. Assuming the tales of people with abilities approaching magic were true, Axel's story seemed to support one of the other aspects of those tales -- many of the extraordinarily gifted were also completely unhinged. It'd explain why he jumped off the roof, she thought, though not why he fell -- assuming flying wasn't also a delusion. It was hard to say. She'd always thought the stories where someone had multiple skills were just tall tales, but could there be some truth to them?

She rejected the entire idea of gods and past lives and the rest of his nonsense. She did believe in God, but her views on the literal truth of the Torah were undecided, and in truth that mattered less than her actions. If, perhaps, Axel was some sort of powerful...individual, perhaps he'd been cast out of his family? His community? Some sort of cult? It was possible such people might think of themselves as gods, that didn't seem unreasonable. And of course redemption would come from someone like them, another being superior to normal humans.

It made a weird sort of sense, if she thought about it that way. The decision that she was the one that would help was awkward at best, and potentially dangerous, but for the moment she needed to take things one step at a time.

"Assuming I did believe your story -- and I'm not saying I do -- but if I did, what sort of help do you need, exactly? I'm a dance instructor, not some sort of...miracle worker." Her voice came out clipped, far more brusque than she intended, but the young woman was entirely uneasy and she couldn't hide it. If they want me to do something weird instead of teach dance I should charge them extra. It was an inane thought, but sometimes humor was the best defense against things that would otherwise drive a sensible woman mad.
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Was it a delusion or did Lee seem like she was calming down a bit? Maybe not a lot but a bit, and that ‘bit’ was enough to attempt to move forward. Axel was practically holding his breath as she stood there and mulled everything over in her mind. This was a lot to take in, especially if it was someone who has never experienced his kind before but… she had stars in her eyes. It was proof, complete and total proof that she was a former goddess of the heavens. How she ended up in a human body was something he wasn’t sure about but… in the end, she was here and so was he, and that’s what was important.

Her question of what kind of help they would need left the young man scratching the back of his neck. “Well, apparently you’re supposed to know how to get us back into heaven. The only information we know is that if we touch you we can use our powers so… for now it’s been decided that we would need your assistance to preform our jobs while here on earth.” Green eyes expanding, he quickly clarified. “By touching I mean just basic contact. You could put your hand on someone shoulder. Stand far away as you and can poke them with your fingertip or just wrap your hands around their throat and try to choke them while they worked. I wouldn’t recommend doing that to Scorpio though… she doesn’t like humans.”

“The only thing we need your help with at this time is to be able to do our work. If we can do that we can use any spare time we have to figure out how to return the heavens. Apparently it involves your help in some form or another but… maybe if the king sees you helping us with our work maybe that’s what he wants all along.” Taking in a deep breathe he let out a sigh before taking a serious and professional tone. “My name is Axel and I am the god of the Gemini constellation and I am an employee for the Department of Punishments as granted to me by the wise king of the heavens. I am the first in my lineage to be granted Godhood of one of the Zodiac constellations and I am just under 200 years old.”

This time he walked to her as he spoke and once in front of her, he dropped down on one knee and bowed his head. “I kneel in front of you because I have no were else to turn, my friends and I have no one who can help us outside of you and we just want to go back home. Please…” His voice dropped, he lost his professional tone as he seemed to lose the confidence he had built up. “Just help us until we can find a way home. I assure you we will work around your schedule and will not interfere with your day to day living but… we cannot find a way to erase sins without your help. Please…”
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She took a deep breath, but before she could figure out how to reply Axel was kneeling before her. "Oh, stop that," Lee told him, holding out her hand so she could pull him back to his feet. Once he was up she took a step away, turning to face a cluster of shrubbery and flowers. "I'm sorry you were forced out of your home...and your job?" She was not sure how to fit all the information together in a way that made sense, but he'd certainly lost /something/, his manner made that much clear. "But this is a lot to process. And what's more, you deceived me. I can understand why you'd feel it necessary, but I still don't like it." A frown creased her forehead. "Before anything else, at least tell me where we are. Which direction is town?"

After a minute to get her bearings properly, Lee tried to listen to noise from inside the building. She didn't hear anything out of the ordinary. She could sense Axel's earnest expression without even trying. And...she figured he'd had a tough time, even if she didn't understand what was going on. "I suppose I'm willing to meet your...friends? Coworkers? ...The others, at least. But I meant it when I said I don't wish to go inside. If they want to introduce themselves, they come out here." And she didn't intend to let any of them get too close -- nor would she let them surround her, if she could help it. "I guess...I'll figure out what I'm willing to do from there."

It was ridiculous, and a part of her couldn't believe she wasn't just leaving. She didn't know these people. She didn't have any idea what they intended. My friends know what's up, Lee reminded herself. And Sparks can track my phone, if he has to. Just meeting them out here won't hurt...will it?
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Axel’s heart was in his throat the entire time she spoke and felt very, well ashamed that he had deceived her. But… would she even have been here had he came straight out and says ‘hey I’m a God and you’re the only one who could help me’. He’d be locked up in the human’s insane asylum for making such a claim. But… she was still here. Nodding softly he answered her, “We are at the old rundown manor to the north east of end town. If you walk the direction you’re currently facing about half a mile you’ll arrive at the edge of town at the bus stop labeled ‘Ellen’s Heights’ according to the sign, the bus stop runs every half an hour and is a 24 hour bus stop. The hill leading up to the manor isn’t very steep but it is surrounded by trees. The king of the heavens cloaked the manor so it looks like a place of ruin but inside it’s really nice… NOT that I’m trying to convince you to come inside it’s just… well we aren’t a group of weirdos…” Of course the more poor Axel spoke the further he realized he was digging himself into a hole. “I’m sorry…” He muttered softly as he started towards the door of the manor.

Stopping a couple feet away from the door he turned to her and called out, “I appreciate you meeting them but… if you want to leave we will not stop you.” With that he opened the door and called inside.

The first to run out was Calamity. “Lee!” She said hurrying out with excitement. That wasn’t until she was closer that Cal’s excitement dropped and she screeched to a halt. “Ooooohhhh you’re not… not happy huh?” The redhead said sadly as her small face dropped into a frown. “Well, I suppose I could start by properly introducing myself. My name is Calamity and I am the Goddess of Taurus. Oh and I work in the Department of Wishes!”

Soon the god filed out and introduced themselves to her before a few of them excused themselves to go back inside leaving Calamity, Alexander and Leon outside.

Axel stayed quiet standing near but not next to Lee as a sad attempted to be supportive as a lot of unbelievable information dropped on her. That’s when his voice echoed softly in her head, “I am sorry for deceiving you… I… I didn’t know how you’d take the information but I promise to never lie to you again. Alexander is my boss and the director of the Department of Punishments. He’s a bit harsh and rather direct but he’s actually very kind. And Leon’s the director of the Department of Wishes; he’s… well he’s a sadist in his personal life but he works harder than anyone else in the Department of Wishes just… just stay away from him.” There was a small pause in his voice before a small innocent chuckle could be heard. “I’m sorry if this frightened you. Every Holy being has their own natural abilities outside of their powers. Mine is one way telepathy; you can hear me in your mind but I cannot hear your thoughts so you don’t worry. Okay I’ll… I’ll leave you to that because I probably just reinforced how weird I actually am…” A small sigh could be heard as his voice faded away.
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Northeast of town. That was a start. And half an hour out from the bus wasn't terrible. She walked farther than that, and regularly. Lee could hear how Axel's nerves were making him ramble, and eventually he figured it out too, and went to find whoever it was that he felt it so important she meet. Relax, Lee. Just...get some information. I'm sure whatever he's got going on is a mess, and maybe you can help him.

She recognized the next voice -- of course Cal would be one of them. She'd been part of the negotiation for lessons, after all. And the young lady thought that she was some sort of goddess too. At least Lee hadn't stepped away this time. Twelve of them -- like the horoscope constellations. Two departments, wishes and punishments, whatever those were. If this was some sort of cult, they probably were the equivalent carrot and stick -- or perhaps recruitment and dealing with problems. She wasn't sure if it even mattered.

Eventually most of them returned to the house -- mansion? Who funds them? ...Do I even want to know? The two men that stayed, along with Axel and Cal, were very different. One was tall, wearing a suit and a tie, with a long face and heavy brows. He seemed serious, and Lee had the impression he was as wary of her as she was of them. The other was the one that had poked his head out when they first arrived. Younger, dressed casually -- bordering on rumpled, but he seemed to have been woken up for this. He had a conservatively modern haircut, and the sort of posture that she'd learned to recognize. He thought he was hot stuff, and he expected everyone else to agree. It was precisely the sort of attitude found in males in every American bar and club ever, and the reason why most women preferred to go in groups so they were harder to corner.

Axel's voice reached her, but somehow without her hearing it, and Lee jerked as if she'd been stung by a wasp. It took her a moment to regain her composure, and she did appreciate the information -- but not the intrusion. She frowned at him, but bit back the sharp words she wanted to say. Maybe that was something he normally did with the people he knew. No need to give him a hard time in front of the others, especially his boss and his friend.

"Right." She took a deep breath, still not sure what to do about the whole mess. "So...I'm guessing you don't actually need lessons, then. Axel told me about the...situation you are in. I thought we'd worked something out, but I forgot to mention that miracles are extra." Lee managed to give them an uncertain smile, but it faded quickly. "In all seriousness, I still don't understand what you want from me. My help with your jobs, yeah, but...what precisely is it I'm supposed to be helping you do? I can't afford to be way out here at the edge of town all the time. I've a busy schedule, and I've just started this season's classes."
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Axel noticed her flinching and flinched himself. Maybe that wasn’t the best idea but if she knew how to handle the people in front of her, it would make her life a lot easier. Her statement about them not needing lessons made his head drop, he didn’t like lying to people and he poked the toe of his boot against the ground in embarrassment and sadness. The last thing he wanted was to cause pain, worry or discomfort to people. Especially those who don’t deserve it like her.

“I thought Axel would have put that into his summery.” Alexander said with a tone of disappointment as he turned his attention to the curly haired boy who continued to look down at his feet. “From what we know Miss, we can use our powers if we are in contact with you. Meaning we can continue our duties that the king of the heavens wishes for us to do.”

“Outside of paperwork…” Cal grumbled from her spot as she crossed her arms under her chest only to receive a disapproving look from Alexander.

“Paperwork is important and so is the actual job. If you wish to be on paperwork duty for the rest of your life I’m sure that can be arranged.”

“Director Stick in the Mud, she is my responsibility not yours.” Leon corrected in a harsh tone before turning back to Lee. “Besides, she’d much rather work with the Department of Wishes then Punishments…”

“I highly doubt that, you don’t understand morals if you work with the Department of Wishes.” Alexander smarted back at him and it wasn’t long before both of them began bickering shots at each other.

At this point Axel stepped forward. “Um… guys…” he said timidly. “Guys… Guys…”

“DIRECTORS SHUT UP!” Cal’s voice rang through the yard as she finally got them silenced.

“Thanks Cal…” Axel said innocently to his nodding friend before turning his attention back to the directors. It took a lot for him to speak up to his bosses but here he went. Taking in a deep breath he began, “I know we all want to get back to the heavens but right now we need her help.

“You’re right.” Alexander stated rather simply putting behind the pity arguing with Leon for the time being. Stepping forward towards the girl he spoke. “We can work around your schedule and our jobs can be done in public and here at the manor. We can pick you up and return you home by a couple options including: flying, teleportation and through our front door at magically connects to anywhere. You can get here by placing your hand on any door and wish to come to the manor. The door with vibrate softly and once it’s done you can open it and you will be here. The easiest for us is to have you physically here as we can take care of a lot in a small amount of time.”

“But! If you’re not comfortable we can come to you. Plus we get to work in the field and that would be super cool. I want to see more of the human world! Eat some of their food… oh and ride on a train and---“

Axel nearly continued his rant of what he wanted to do in the human world until Cal slapped her hand over his mouth. “That’s all depending on if Lee agrees to help us.” Everyone’s gaze instantly turned to her and the question on all their minds was finally asked by the girl “Will you help us do our work until we figure out how to get back into the heavens?”
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shylarah the crazy one

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Lee observed the argument unfolding before her with increasing uncertainty. Her own job was rather informal, especially since she was her own boss, but she knew that letting other people see interdepartmental conflict was extremely unprofessional. And from the directors as well! Perhaps this was part of why they were on what sounded like enforced leave?

She stepped back automatically when Alexander turned her way again. At least Axel's awkward enthusiasm eased the tension, but what should she do? You're not exactly inspiring confidence, mister, she thought, the crease in her brow deepening. She didn't trust their powers, and no way was she comfortable with a form of travel where she couldn't tell where she ended up. Bad enough being on the bus, where if she didn't pay attention she sometimes lost track of where they were. At least there she could ask. With these people...

"No teleporting," she said firmly. "And no doors lead in places they shouldn't. Absolutely not." First things first. Lay down some boundaries. "Secondly, you still haven't answered my question. I've no intention of helping anyone until you tell me what, precisely, you want me helping /with/." She waved a hand as one of them started to object. "Yes, you told me. Your jobs." Were they really this dense? Lee was growing angry. "But what is it you do, exactly? I don't want some sort of fancy advertising pitch. I want to know in plain English what it is that my help is accomplishing. You can't tell me that, you don't get it. End of story."

She was addressing Alexande primarily, as he seemed to be the most responsible of the four, but she included Leon as well. She couldn't keep her voice from drifting away from her initial wary-but-curious tone, and towards something less generous. If they wanted her help so damn much she would have thought they'd be more forthcoming. The misleading song-and-dance routine put her in edge, and she could feel herself gearing up in case of a negative reaction. She was liking this less by the second.
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