The Weather Man hated visiting the office. The place always reeked of burritos and he couldn't see farther than the building next door from the tiny windows and nothing of the sky. The Weather Man preferred being out in the elements, in the parks and associating in the real world. The office was Aderyn's domain.
He strode the perimeter of the library, unbolting locks and opening windows as he went, letting the summer breeze of the early afternoon cool his dark skin.
"Opening windows when the air conditioner is on? I'll send you the bill in the mail."
Aderyn's voice was crisp but amused. She stood in the door of the Lighthouse's makeshift office and kitchen, watching him with her sharp gray eyes. She could be pretty if she wasn't so severe, the old man reflected. She had a full mouth and high cheekbones and deathly pale skin that burned without sunscreen even in winter. She was a little plump, had settled a little into her late thirties, but he liked that kind of shape. Everything about her from her close-cropped dark hair, her Roman nose, and her tailored pantsuit was orderly, sparse and elegant. He wondered if she was married. In three years of working together he'd never felt comfortable enough to ask, nor she inclined to speak of anything but work.
"There's nobody at the front desk," The Weather Man complained. "Who was supposed to check my credentials?"
"Maybe if you did your job and found us some actual Artifacts we'd have enough clout to hire a secretary. Leigh Anne and Varij are on a scouting trip, and your pet incompetents are following up your amber suggestion."
The Weather Man followed her into the office and made a beeline for the mini fridge. He was in luck: Varij, their overweight but fierce South African specialist, had left a bottle of cream soda labeled with his name. The Weather Man peeled off the label and cracked open the bottle.
"Maxine is far from incompetent, and we're lucky to have a Seer in our group," he remarked. He shut the fridge door and drained half the bottle in one gulp, patting his round belly in satisfaction and straightening his tie. He was as impeccably dressed as she, wearing a three-piece suit in severe black. "I think we're the first to have an actual Seer and not some fool throwing Tarot cards to the wind. I hoped you'd get over your dislike of him."
Aderyn settled behind her desk. "Varij will be furious. That's the third time you've taken his food. He'll snap and beat you into a bloody pulp with one punch."
The Weather Man barked a laugh. "That'll be a fun day."
She looked at him quizzically. "I still don't understand why I had to assign it to them. Why give them the credit for your scoop? You could've looked into it on your own or even assigned it to them yourself."
"I'm not the director of the Lighthouse." He grinned at her, tossing the open bottle from hand to hand without spilling a drop. "Better this way. I don't have to waste my time if it's fake. If it's real they get a good lead and you get the drop on Harvard."
"We," she corrected. "We get the drop on Harvard."
"I was never as big on competing as you," he mused.
The Weather Man paced around the long glass table, slowly drinking the last of his cream soda. Aderyn watched him from her desk, fingers steepled against her cheek in thought.
"Those kids," she said. "They've been through hell. It's not over in the least, is it?"
The Weather Man tipped his head back to catch the last drops of soda. Bottle empty, he pulled a silk handkerchief from his jacket pocket and dabbed his mouth delicately. "It depends."
He tucked the handkerchief back in his pocket. "It depends on what they want."