Diane Sawyer live at Mutant High by josette grover
Summary:

Problems with the university leads Josette  to her family


Categories: Non Buffy/Angel Crossovers, Non Buffy/Angel Crossovers > Eureka Characters: None
Genres: AU, Humor, Original
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: Live from Mutant High, It's Bookworm
Chapters: 7 Completed: Yes Word count: 60923 Read: 89059 Published: 2014.05.30 Updated: 2014.05.30

1. Chapter 1 by josette grover

2. Chapter 2 by josette grover

3. Chapter 3 by josette grover

4. Chapter 4 by josette grover

5. Chapter 5 by josette grover

6. Chapter 6 by josette grover

7. Chapter 7 by josette grover

Chapter 1 by josette grover

 

Diane follows her crew to the auditorium, looking around the building where Principal Madison has agreed to allow her to interview his students involved in the scandal at the university in Boston. She walks to the stage and looks around, instucting her crew on how to lay down cables and put lights without damaging the floor before she follows Principal Madison on the tour of the school he'd offered her after agreeing to a single interview.

 

"The school's administration building is between the old girls dorm and the auditorium, with the dining hall behind the auditorium and administration building. On the other side of the auditorium is the current boys dorm. The laundry is past that."

 

"Old girls dorm?"

 

"We just built a new dorm for the girls this year since we were going to be out of room within the next two years. The old dorm was three floors and the third floor was just under half full."

 

"How many students do you have?" Diane pulls a notebook from her pocket, instantly falling into reporter mode.

 

"We currently have nearly five hundred students, two thirds are day students from town or Boston while the others board. But we get more boarding students every year from around the country."

 

"How many rooms do you have?"

 

"The old dorm had twenty rooms on a floor, three floors total. There were two dorm monitor rooms on the back of the first floor, the new dorms are five floors with twenty-four rooms on a floor with a floor monitor room at the end of each floor."

 

"Would it be possible to see a dorm?"

 

"The old girls dorm is currently turned upside down with the boys moving into it after the fire at the teachers apartment building, but I can show you the boys dorm and take you to inspect a room at the girls dorm." Walking over to the boys dorm, he leads her inside. Most of the boys are quietly studying or absent, but Diane smiles as she hears music just a little too loud until somebody else bellows to turn it down from another room. A door opens and a boy drags a large duffel bag out of his room, stuffed to the gills with obviously dirty clothes. He stops and stares at Principal Madison.

 

"Aww come on," he yells. "I'm doing my laundry, you didn't have to call in Principal Madison."

 

Principal Madison wrinkles his nose. "Use two machines and wash them twice if you have to, the student at the laundry will tell you what to use." he watches as the boy grumbles and drags the bag outside, tossing it over his shoulder when he's outside.

 

"Sorry about that, our students are still teenagers and we always have one who's new and still expects Mama to pick up after him and do his laundry. The dorm monitors usually don't get on them until somebody complains about the smell." he says as they walk back outside.

 

Diane chuckles. Walking past the old girls dorm, they follow the sidewalk to the new girls dorm. "Oh this is nice, is the new boys dorm going to follow the same floorplan?" She asks after they go up to the fifth floor, the only floor currently without an occupant.

 

Principal Madison nods.

 

"You have a separate building for the teachers?" Diane asks as they walk out of the building.

 

"Yes, many of our single teachers choose to live on campus, while many of our married teachers, those who have started families, live in town. An electrical fire broke out last Monday, there were only minor damages, mostly smoke but the fire department didn't let anybody back in until the wiring could be inspected. Luckily there was enough room in the dorms for all the displaced teachers. Two of the apartments that sustained the heaviest damage belonged to the teachers who were going to take over monitor duties in the boys dorm at the end of the semester we chose to have them move in early. Unfortunately to move them in we had to move the boys out of their rooms, most of the teachers were busy moving furniture that night. The kids had already made plans to turn the old dorm into a private home for them, this threw a wrench into their timeline."

 

"Monitor duties?"

 

"At the back of the old dorms, there were two larger rooms, in the city they would be called studio apartments. Dorm monitors live in those rooms, their duties are to make sure the students are in the dorm by nine o'clock when they lock the outside doors for the night, they make sure students are in their rooms by eleven, eleven-thirty friday and saturday nights. When the school is in lockdown, usually because a winter storm has knocked out power and cancelled classes, they bring the students to the cafeteria and back to the dorms."

 

"Sounds like a lot of work."

 

"Yes, the girls and the boys have had the duties for over four years now. The girls turned over their duties as dorm monitors when their charges moved into the new dorm earlier this semester, the boys turned their duties over last week when the teachers took over their rooms."

 

"Can I see one of these rooms?"

 

"My teachers should still be in their offices, but I know Josette and the others are in their dorm."

 

They walk back to the old girls dorm, Diane taking in the shabbiness of the building before they walk through the doors at the front of the building and down a hall. Most of the doors don't have knobs and are held shut with garbage cans.

 

"Susan?" Principal Madison knocks on one of the doors and waves at one of the other rooms when a dark haired young woman comes to the door. Diane sneaks a peek into the room, finding two twin beds, one neatly made up while the other is bare, two dressers on either side of the door, and two desks against the side walls. A door is in the wall by the unmade bed, Diane decides that it must lead to a bathroom, from the space between doors in the hallway she guesses that two dorm rooms share a bathroom.

 

"We didn't need locking doors after we took over the building, David's got a contact that might buy them." She says. "We keep the outside doors locked when we're not in the building, we usually have our doors open so we can talk after we get back from classes."

 

"Looking forward to finals being over?" Principal Madison teases.

 

"That and I hope they get this hacking situation finished soon. I'm worried about him trying to alter grades since he seems determined to cause as much trouble as possible for the school."

 

Principal Madison moans. "I hadn't even thought of that."

 

Susan snorts. "That's because our school actually has some sense and made sure that the servers here are protected. The university hasn't seemed to have gotten that far yet, even after all this had happened."

 

Banging sounds from the basement and a call of 'electricity going off in five minutes' has Susan sighing and saving what had been on her computer before shutting it down.

 

Principal Madison looks at her. "We have an electrical engineer from David's company inspecting the wiring, he told us that he would have to shut off the power to inspect the circuit panel."

 

He nods and they head further down the hallway. Before he knocks on one of the doors, he turns to Diane.

 

"Are you allergic to cats?"

 

"No."

 

"Then we'll talk to Josette, normally she'd be at dinner now and heading to her shift at the school laundry after dinner. When she's not working, the kids eat later."

 

Josette opens the door and blinks at them. "Can we come in, Ms. Sawyer asked to see one of the dorm monitor rooms."

 

"Sure," Josette opens the door and they walk in. Diane looks around, like Principal Madison had said it was essentially a studio apartment with an open floorplan. On the left as they walk into the room is a twin bed neatly made up with three cats lying on it. Two doors in the wall past the bed reveal a bathroom and closet, a partial wall separating a galley kitchen from the rest of the room. Diane can see a sink under the windows, while there's a door leading to the outside next to the refrigerator, shut against the late November weather. On the opposite side of the door is a desk, shelves over it for Josette's textbooks. A table sits behind the desk, turning around she sees a recliner in front of a gas fireplace, a reading lamp and bookcase stuffed full of books sit beside it. Through the open door of the closet, she can see a row of totes. She can't make out the labels neatly taped to the containers from where she is standing.

 

The electricity goes off and Josette opens the door to get a little more light into the room.

 

Diane thanks Josette for allowing her to see her room, gives her a few hints about what the kids should wear for their interview, and they leave the dorm. Principal Madison takes her on a tour of the other buildings before inviting her to dinner. The students have already eaten and gone back to their dorms so the cafeterial is mostly empty. The head of her crew had told Diane they were finished with the preparations for the interview as the kids come into the room, filling their trays and sitting down to eat.

 

At eight o'clock, they walk into the auditorium, finding two rows of seats on one side of the stage, two more chairs in the back out of the way of the cameras, and another chair on the other side for Ms. Sawyer. A woman quickly checks her makeup as the crew gets the kids decked out with microphones and makeup so the lights don't wash them out.

 

"I'm sitting here with some of the students who have received letters from the school due to a hacker attacking the school. Can you please tell me how you first became aware of the situation."

 

The others look at Josette, she rolls her eyes at them and starts to speak.

 

"We'd been gone for the weekend and hadn't checked the mail until Sunday night after dinner. That's when I found a letter in my mailbox," she opens a folder where they'd all put the letters they'd received so far from the school and hands it over to Diane, who holds it up so the camera can see it. "Stating that I was on academic probation for failing three tests in a class I'd never signed up for. As you can imagine, I was freaking a little until David said there was another letter in my box. That's when we found out that the school servers had been attacked. The others opened their mail and both Anna and Alan found they had letters of their own. Anna was being asked to leave the dorm because of multiple noise complaints and her brother Alan was supposed to have tested positive for drugs and was losing his football scholarship." Josette hands the letters over Diane, the camera zooming in to view the letters over Diane's shoulder.

 

A slight choking sound, too silent for anybody to hear over the cameras has Susan looking over to see Druid with her hand in her mouth to keep from cackling like a hyena at the thought of Alan playing football. Jolt is patting her back, visibly trying to keep back his own laughter.

 

"The school doesn't have a football program, do they?"

 

"No, and none of us live on the university grounds either. The only complaints about Anna making noise at night is when she's had chili and wakes Abby up with her snoring."

 

"And then I just get up and poke her until she rolls over." the other identical twin on the stage snorts.

 

"The letter we received from the school," Again Josette passes over a letter and Diane. . .and the camera, look at it. "Saying that if we received letters that we thought were errors to bring them to the office."

 

"This is dated over a week ago, the school claims that they didn't realize that somebody had hacked the servers until this weekend." she says.

 

"The school has a serious case of CYA syndrome," Susan says. "It wasn't until another student had gotten a letter supposedly from a teacher that they admitted they had a problem."

 

"Another student received a letter supposedly from a teacher." Diane pounces on that statement. "There were more letters then?"

 

"Oh yes, Abby received a letter the next day saying she was being suspended for nudity in her dorm room." Josette hands over the letter. "Michael got a letter stating that his student loan was in default and that until he was current in his payments he couldn't attend class."

 

"I don't have a student loan," the young man that Diane knows from research is an award winning artist says. "That same day I got a letter supposedly from my teacher saying that I have no talent in art, I'm just wasting his and the other students time, and I should find another major." Josette hands over that letter also. "Funny, I thought my multiple awards, numerous show openings, and millions of dollars I've made this year alone would have said otherwise.

 

"Can I ask what you your school plans are?"

 

"Josette's majoring in Library Science, she's going to be coming back to the school to take over the Library after graduation. Alan is pre-med, Anna and I are majoring in education, Susan is pre-law, David is going for a business degree, his family has a construction company, and Michael and Alexander are going for a dual major of business and art."

 

"Is that why you decided to stay at the school instead of moving to Boston?"

 

Josette looks at Diane. "This is our home. I work four nights a week in the school laundry and until this semester most of us were dorm monitors."

 

"This is your first semester at the university, isn't it?"

 

"Yes, but because we all took so many AP classes while we were in school, all of us but Josette came in as second year students." David says, patting Josette's shoulder. "While the giant brain that is Josette struck again, she's a third year student and plans on applying for early admittance to graduate school next fall."

 

The interview is wrapped up about ten minutes later and the kids head back to the dorm, finding the engineer waiting for them on the first floor with the electricity back on. David talks quietly with him as the others head to their rooms.

 

"What do you mean I can't take my finals next week?" Josette growls when she's asked to go to the office after her classes the next day.

 

"I'm sorry Miss Takahawa, but our records show your student loan is in default."

 

"One, aren't student loans supposed to be deferred until six months after graduation? This is my first semester at school. And two, I don't have a student loan."

 

"Miss Takahawa, the school and the state has paperwork that says otherwise." the school's treasurer says.

 

"Then I want to see that paperwork, NOW!" Josette says. "Because I am seventeen years old, too young to have a student loan, even with a cosigner. I paid for my tuition and school books with a debit card, I can have the proof within an hour. I want to see your proof before I call the police and my lawyer." She pulls out her drivers license and the man who'd been so smug starts to get worried when he looks at the date of birth. Pulling her phone from her purse, she finds the number for the bank's vice-president that is over the scholarship loans and starts dialing. The number goes instantly to voice mail so she calls the main number for the bank, getting a teller who pulls up her card for that date and promises to fax the records to the number the school secretary gives her.

 

"Now while we're waiting, I want to see your proof that I have a student loan."

 

"Miss Takahawa, I umm . . .I mean to say we. . .umm."

 

"There's no we involved in this, Smithers." the school president says, scowling as he reads the paperwork the school secretary had given him, both the receipts from the bank showing the purchases on those date at the school and the paperwork from the school itself. "The dates match and the amounts match, Miss Takahawa indeed paid by bank card for her tuition and textbooks. Now show us the paperwork for Miss Takahawa's supposed student loan and remove the hold on her file so she can take her finals next week."

 

"I . . .I don't actually have the paperwork here, it's sent to a secure holding facility after it's put on the school's servers."

 

"And we all know how secure the school's servers are, don't we?" Josette growls. "This is that damn fool hacker's doing, isn't it?"

 

"I believe so, Miss Takahawa. Smithers, you got until nine tomorrow morning to either have proof that Miss Takahawa has a student loan, a valid student loan, or that this is the hacker's doing. Meanwhile, you can remove the flag from her file. And after you've done that, you can check all your records to make sure they're valid."

 

"That. . .that will take weeks." he whimpers.

 

"We owe it to our students to make sure nothing like this ever happens again. Miss Takahawa, please give me your phone number, I'll call tomorrow morning when I have either the proof that there is a student loan in your name so we can investigate further to see if it is a case of mistaken identity, that it is identity theft, or that this is in fact another of the hacker's sick jokes. Either way we will be removing that flag from your file so you can take your finals next week."

 

"Thank your President Mathers, it's a pleasure to do business with a real professional." Josette exits the office, finding the others waiting for her.

 

"What's going on?" Anna asks, giving her a quick hug as they walk outside. They'd gone off campus running an errand when Josette said she had to go to the office.

 

"That idiot hacker stepping up his games. I got a note in class to go to the office, where I was told I couldn't take my finals next week because I was supposed to be in default on my student loan. When I told the treasurer that I was seventeen, too young to have a student loan. . .even with a cosigner he started getting nervous. I then said I wanted to see proof of that student loan before I called the police and my lawyer in case it was identity theft. I called the bank and had the paperwork for that day sent to the office, the President agreed with me that I had paid by bank card and demanded to see the paperwork for my student loan. He finally admitted that he didn't have it, after it's put on the server it's sent to a secure facility'."

 

"And we all know how secure the school's servers are, don't we?" David smirks. "Yup." she grins. "The school treasurer has until nine tomorrow morning to determine if I have a valid student loan or if this is just another of the asshat hacker's hijinks." Josette grins as they arrive back at the dorm, hearing the electrical engineer up on the third floor. "I wonder if the news crews are still here, I'm sure they'd love another excuse to storm the university again."

 

"I wonder if we chose the right school after all." David sighs, rubbing a hand over his face. "Boston University didn't have med or law schools and we couldn't have afforded Harvard even if everybody got in," Josette says. "Any other school we'd have to pay higher tuition rates and this way we can easily 'commute.'"

 

"Grammy Allie can get us in better schools and get us help in paying for it. . .if not full scholarships."

 

"We'll keep it in mind in case this idiot keeps targeting the school." Josette says. Looking at the clock, they all drop their bags on beds or tables and head to the cafeteria.

 

"Miss Takahawa, can we please talk after the meal?" Diane Sawyer asks when she sees Josette and her friends enter the room.

 

Josette nods, running her meal card through the scanner and filling her tray before putting it down and going over to where Diane is sitting at the head table with the teachers.

 

"I was hoping you'd still be here." She grins and Jolt moans, after dealing with Josette for nearly seven years he knows that look. "Who pissed you off this time?"

 

"That . . .," the string of gutteral Japanese isn't understandable but everybody gets the idea she's not calling him an officer and a gentleman. "Hacker. I got a note in class that I had to go to the office, it seems the school is under the impression that I'm delinquint on a student loan and told me unless I paid it up, I couldn't take my finals."

 

"You're only seventeen." Diane nearly chokes on her meal, she hadn't realized Josette was that young. "You're too young to get a student loan, even with a cosigner."

 

"So I told them. I got hold of the bank and had them fax the paperwork that showed I paid for my tuition on my scholarship loan, and told them that I wanted proof of the student loan for a possible identity theft charge. After some hemming and hawing, the school treasurer finally admitted that he didn't actually have the original paperwork, that it was sent to secure storage after being put on the schools' servers."

 

"And we all know how secure those are." Druid snorts.

 

"He's got until nine tomorrow morning to get proof that there is a student loan in my name or that this was just another of that bleeping brat's sick jokes." Josette looks at Diane who is quickly grabbing for her smart phone. "If I got the note, I'm sure other students were targeted as well. This close to our finals, it's an obvious attack."

 

Diane says a few quick things to whoever picks up on the other end. "Thank you Miss Takahawa."

 

"Oh, it was my pleasure. Josette says before walking back to her table. "Anna, when you get back to the dorm, check my mail will you? You know where my key is."

 

Anna nods. "You're looking for another one of those letters like Michael got?"

 

"Yes like I told Ms. Sawyer, if I was a target I'm sure there are others who got the same note I did."

 

"Evil wench." David waggles a finger in her direction as she picks up her silverware. Josette grins. "Betcher ass I am."

 

"Josette, we'll see you in the laundry." Jolt calls after Josette's finished her third meal and puts her tray on the conveyer after checking the time. Josette nods and heads outside. Punching in, she checks the first room before heading into the back room, finding one cart of laundry and a number of large garbage bags filled with sheets and towels waiting for her.

 

Josette starts on the first bag, dumping each bag out on the floor before starting on the next bag. She starts shaking out sheets, leaving the towels on the floor for the time being. "Miss Takahawa?" Diane Sawyer asks as they come into the room. Josette looks back at her. "Do you mind if I keep working while we talk?"

 

"No, I don't mind."

 

"Is this all the boys laundry?" Jolt asks, looking at the piles on the floor and overflowing cart. They can't possibly have any sheets or towels left in the storerooms.

 

"I think so, they only got the one cart, the other laundry was in big garbage bags." Josette continues to shake out sheets and fills two commercial washers, adding soap and liquid bleach before starting them running. The towels fill another two washers and again detergent and bleach is added before the machines start running.

 

"Do you do this every night?"

 

"Not usually, this is two nights worth of laundry since I didn't work last night."

 

"Each floor has a day to send down their sheets and towels every week. Josette washes these items and returns them to the dorm. The girls send their laundry down Mondays and Tuesdays, the boys send theirs down Wednesday and Thursdays."

 

"Isn't it lonely working here alone at night?"

 

"No, I usually bring my school bag to work, I have a few hours while the machines are running for studying or to work on assignments. This close to my finals though I find doing laundry soothing."

 

"Do you have your classes selected for next semester?"

 

"Yeah, I'm taking twenty credit hours next semester, we've just got to find the time to sit down and decide if we're keeping the same schedule we have now or if we're going nights now that we don't have the dorms to watch. Like David said, I can work days just as easily as I do nights, at least until graduation." She snorts. "Of course if the university doesn't get its act together, we may be asking David's godmother to find us another school."

 

"What are the others planning for the summer?"

 

"Wellllll," Josette drawls out the word as she checks the machines. "The others are enjoying having their summers off after being in school year round for nearly four years, but I'd planned on going to the library in town to see if I could do my internship there this summer. But David's godmother wants me to come to where she is instead, she says I can do my internship there and get some additional training. If I do go, the girls are going to be taking over the laundry while I'm gone."

 

"Have you worked here long?"

 

"Nearly four years." She grins at Principal Madison. "So if I'm still working here after I take over the library, does that mean I get two paychecks?"

 

"No, you'll still only get one check, but you'll have two different pay rates on it." Principal Madison sighs.

 

Meanwhile Diane is doing the math. "That means you've been working here since you were thirteen?" Both Principal Madison and Josette nod. "We don't normally allow boarding students to take part time jobs until their sophomore years but Josette was a special exception. Since the student who had been doing the job before her was going to graduate, Josette started early so she could work with him and learn everything that needed to be done before he left. Her freshman year, the job was only two nights a week, when she turned a sophomore we had more students and the job went to four nights a week. Until her senior year, it was only twenty hours a week, at that time we allow students to pick up more hours. Josette works six pm to midnight four nights a week now and picked up a shift Sundays during the day in the other room."

 

"What do your parents think about this?"

 

"I'm an orphan, my mother 'died' when I was in sixth grade, she just didn't know it yet. I never knew my father." The machines beep and Josette brings over a cart, emptying the first machine and taking it to the dryer as Principal Madison quietly tells Diane Josette's story.

 

"I have to thank you for alerting me to this next aspect of the hackers attack, it seems that nearly a hundred students besides yourself have come up to us and told us that they were told they couldn't take their finals because of suddenly defaulting student loans. The school has of course been trying to cover it up."

 

"Like Susan said, CYA syndrome." Josette says as she empties the second machine of its load.

 

"CYA syndrome?"

 

"Cover your ass." Principal Madison says dryly.

 

"Ahhh of course." Diane chuckles. "I wanted to ask you if you and your friends would be interested in some other interviews. We will of course be reimbursing you for your time. Specifically, we'd like you to appear on Good Morning America tomorrow morning and 20/20 tomorrow night. I believe NBC would like to interview you for Dateline and the Today show."

 

"Is Kathie Lee really as full of herself as she appears on tv?" Josette asks as she empties the third machine and throws it in the dryer.

 

Diane chuckles, "You'll have to ask some of her coworkers that question, I don't work with her."

 

Emptying the last machine, she checks the time and walks over to the phone, dialing Abby's number.

 

"Abby Covington."

 

"Me, get over to the laundry with the others, Ms. Sawyer wants to know if we want to do some more interviews, including the today show and Dateline on NBC, Good Morning America and 20/20 on ABC."

 

Josette holds the phone at arms length, even across the room Diane and Principal Madison can hear excited squealing, then the sound of running feet.

 

"They'll be right over," Josette hangs up. "Thankfully we don't have classes tomorrow." She starts sorting out the second load of laundry, grinning as the others come rushing into the room just as Josette starts the machines.

 

"Is that your first batch of laundry?" David asks.

 

"Second," she points to the dryers.

 

"The morning shows and the evening shows?" Susan asks.

 

"The morning shows would be live, but we'd be taping your interviews in the afternoon for the evening shows." Diane says calmly. "You'd have to fly in to New York for the day, your principal has already said he'd be your chaperone for the trip. You'd be going to be on Good Morning America during the eight o'clock hour then going in a car to the NBC studios for your interview on the Today show during the nine o'clock hour. After that you'd have a couple of hours to yourselves before you're interviewed for Dateline and 20/20 and you'd be flying back to the school in the late afternoon."

 

"This way I don't get a call from the police that some of my students are at the police station and I need to send somebody to come get them." Jolt says dryly.

 

"Well if cheerleader barbie had actually fucking shown up where she told us to meet her, when she told us to meet her instead of being nearly three hours late, somebody wouldn't have called the police about us loitering." Josette snorts as she checks the sheets in the first machine.

 

"Cheerleader Barbie?"

 

"Our former social studies teacher, she always talked in a perky voice and annoyed everybody around her. the students called her cheerleader barbie behind her back because she always acted like she was leading a cheer at a pep rally. One month she decided that she wanted to take her class to New York to see the sights, assigning them papers on each place that would be due after they returned. Since 'not all of you can afford a hotel room in New York for a week'" he says in a sarcastic sweet little girl voice, "All the students commuted for the week. Unfortunately she forgot. . ."

 

"Or didn't fucking care." its Susan's turn to snort this time as she and Josette start pulling the now dry sheets from the machine and rolling the cart to the folding machine as the twins get on the other side.

 

"that her students also had other classes that week, and if they were gone from four in the morning till nine at night, they'd miss their other classes. So the teachers were angry at having to alter their class plans, either not giving assignments that week or assigning them earlier or later, the students were angry because they'd be getting up early and being crammed on a bus for a couple of hours coming and going, I was upset because my teachers and students were upset *and* she'd rented two busses for the week without my approval that I had find money in the budget for. . ." At Diane's quiet question he takes her over to there the kids are working, she sees Josette and Susan attach sheets to clips at the front of the machine and hit a button, the sheets and pillowcases go through the machine where they're folded and the twins put the sheets in piles at the other end. David takes a set and wraps it in plastic before putting it in one of the bags.

 

"Does Josette do this every night?"

 

"Yes, after the sheets and towels are washed and dried, they're run through this machine where they're pressed and folded. Then they're wrapped in plastic. When a student arrives at the dorms, they get two sets of sheets and two sets of towels, that way they can send one set down the laundry chute and use the other set. After their floor has sent down their laundry, they go to the storerooms in the dorms to get a new set of sheets and towels for the next week. If the others weren't here, Josette would be doing this all on her own."

 

"How?" At Josette's look the others back away, Josette puts in a sheet in the machine and walks around to the other side, putting it on a pile then walking back and sending a pillowcase through. "Just that like, once I had everything through I'd wrap everything and put it in the cart to send back to the dorm."

 

Diane shakes her head, looking at the carts of sheets and towels, working alone would mean hours of walking every night.

 

"Anyway it was the . . .second?"

 

"Third, third day in New York. We went to the museum of Natural History the first day because 'while most of you probably know it only from the night at the museum movie, it is a real museum.'" Josette says sarcastically. "We went to the Empire State building the second day, we had been at the United Nations that day, she told us to go look around the rest of the day because she had things she needed to do and we would meet up at a street cafe nearby before we drove back to the school."

 

"And she never showed up?"

 

"Nope, and the cafe owner finally called the police because she didn't bother to arrange anything with them to allow us to sit here waiting for her, she thought we were a street gang waiting to rob her. The first thing we know three police cars pull up in front of the cafe, followed by a SUV. A nice detective came over and asked us what was going on, we explained, he brought us to the local precinct for safekeeping while he called Principal Madison who backed up our story and arranged for another teacher to fly in, pick us up, and take us to where the busses were. The drivers weren't anywhere around, but the patrol officers had found the busses exactly where we said they were parked. Since the teacher still hadn't shown up, Principal Madison cancelled the rest of the trip. A local bus company heard about our plight and two of their men volunteered to drive the busses back to the school."

 

"Yes, and I spent a couple of hours complaining to the company that had furnished the busses and drivers, asking them what kind of employees they had that would strand nearly a hundred teenagers in New York."

 

"Did she ever show up?"

 

"Yes, she was arrested for public intoxication in times square the next day. The other teachers covered her class the rest of the semester while I looked for a replacement after I fired her. That's when we found out her teaching was a little 'erratic', she didn't teach from the book and none of the students would have been able to pass the standardized tests at the end of the semester. The teachers held extra classes at night and on the weekends to get everybody up to where they should be by finals. When she actually tried to get me to give her a recommendation, I laughed in her face and told her to get out of my school. I then talked to the school that was interested in hiring her, telling their principal and superintendent exactly what kind of teacher she was. As you can imagine, they didn't hire her. She then sued saying that I was telling horror stories about her and because of that she wasn't hired. I had the police report from when she left my students alone in New York City for hours, I had her police report saying she was arrested in times square the next morning drunk out of her mind, she was so drunk they had to take her to the hospital before they took her to jail. I had the contract with the coach company that she expected me to pay for, I had copies of tapes from her classroom showing her insulting the students in her sugary voice, and finally I had copies of all her assignments, nothing she taught was on the state's tests. I then countersued her for a partial return of the advance I'd given her when I hired her, reimbursement of the cost of the ticket I had to purchase to get a teacher to New York to get my students, and the cost of the coaches she hired without my authority to take a hundred students to New York for the week." Jolt smirks.

 

"I take it you won the court case?"

 

"Oh yes, she didn't get a dime and I got everything I'd asked for. The judge found her behavior reprehensible and ordered her to seek counseling."

 

"I never did get a chance to see the Statue of Liberty, that was supposed to be the next morning." Josette grumbles as the first machine beeps the second load is washed. Grabbing an empty cart, she starts emptying the machine and tossing everything in the dryer.

 

"Is there any other places you'd like to see in New York?" Diane asks.

 

"MOMA." Abby calls. "And the library with the lions in front of it."

 

"Hey, I'd just heard before you called. The right Reverend Al Sharpton is going to be holding a protest rally on the grounds of the university this weekend, calling for people to boycott the school." Anna calls around the back of the machine.

 

"Really?" Josette snorts. "I guess some poor unfortunate black student is being targeted by racists now, that's his usual m.o. isn't it? As long as a few hundred white students got screwed over by the school and the hacker it was okay, but one black student gets messed with and suddenly it's a plot against colored people."

 

"Josette," Principal Madison sighs.

 

"Tell me I'm wrong," she snorts. "He only shows up when a poor black child, usually its a girl, is attacked by the Man! That case when that girl was supposedly raped and racist slurs were written in marker on her skin, it turned out she'd just had sex with a bunch of boys and her own family had written on her for publicity, the prostitute at Duke University who was supposedly gang raped by the lacrosse team, then oh no it was only a few boys when one of the boys she accused proved he hadn't been at the party, then it was oh just three of them in the bathroom, her story changed so many times. But old Al Sharpton was there big as life blaming the entire lacrosse team of raping that girl even though there was no proof there had even been any consensual sex because it wasn't until later that she cried rape and by then it was a rape test was inconclusive. It was their fault that she was a prostitute, it was their fault she was only in it for the money, they were rich white boys who looked down on that poor innocent colored child of god. Those boys had their school lives ruined by her lies, the community turning against them, and the prosecutor hiding evidence that they were innocent for the publicity. It wasn't only until somebody else took over the case that first the rape charges were dismissed and then a day or so later all the charges were dismissed because they were innocent of everything. But here's old Al Sharpton proclaiming he's going to pay for all of her schooling so she doesn't ever have to do this ever again, not one damn thing to say for those poor boys who were persecuted for a year, not even a simple sorry. That is why I think he's the world's biggest hypocrite."

 

"Duke shares some of the blame there." Principal Madison says.

 

"Yeah, the entire school turned against them, and when the girl lacrosse team stood by them they were yelled at for daring to think their friends innocent until proven guilty. Those 88 teachers who wrote that letter about the lacrosse team, calling them all names and that they should be removed from the school, none of them would be welcome in any of their classes. . ."

 

"That was extremely unprofessional." Principal Madison sighs. "No matter how much you dislike a student, unless it's proved they've done something, you should never deny them the right to attend any class they want to attend."

 

"Yes, and only one of those teachers stood up and apologized when it was finally proved the three lacrosse players were innocent, saying they were sorry and welcoming them in any of their classes. Not one of those other teachers did, hell, none of the lacrosse players were in any of their programs to begin with so it was basically a case of nanny nanny boo boo, you're not one of my students but I don't want you anyway. Then Duke oh so graciously told the students they could return to the school, I'm glad they all told them to kiss their asses and went to other schools. That one boy would have graduated during all that drama if Duke hadn't bowed to pressure and suspended them."

 

"That's standard operating procedures in cases like that." Principal Madison says.

 

"And making the whole team ineligible for the year? Firing the coach?"

 

"That was petty politics." Principal Madison agrees.

 

"I called my godmother, she's as disgusted as all the drama going on at the university as we are and is looking into other schools that we can attend, we might have to take a lot of classes by computer but she's sure we can easily transfer if the university doesn't get its act together and get this shit straightened out." David says. "She'll send us a package with school catalogs once she gets a short list of schools together."

 

"You're thinking of transferring schools?" Diane asks.

 

"The university is playing 'stick our head in the sand and hope this goes away'." David snorts. "Josette had to prove she doesn't have a student loan before they took action."

 

"The bank checked my credit report for me when the teller gave the message I left to the vice president over the scholarship loans, there's no records of a student loan or any other unusual transactions, he's willing to verify that in case the school comes up with paperwork trying to claim I have one. In that case, he's personally going to call in the police for me." Josette says. "Something the university has so far refused to do."

 

"The police are involved," Diane says. "Yes, but that's only because the news of the hacking and that nasty letter were leaked to the media. The school didn't call them in, the committee that took over the investigation from the school did." Susan snorts. "The school is busy going on like business as usual and hoping this will all disappear."

 

Diane thinks what she's been seeing over. . . and finally nods.

 

Chapter 2 by josette grover

 

 

"The hacker seems to have a real hatred for the students, the school itself, or both." Alan says, opening the first washing machine when it beeps its done and pulling out sheets. Michael grabs the second machine when it beeps its completion less than a minute later and they toss the sheets in a dryer.

 

"Why do you think that?" Diane asks, reporter instincts at the front.

 

"Everything that has happened so far has been aimed directly at the students. Letters supposedly from the school suspending students for false reasons, it's almost like the hacker wants the students to leave. The school is a target because they've obviously never bothered to protect their servers, the hacker seems to know this. All the school is doing is looking at the records and saying 'yes, this is false.' Then it started to turn nasty with letters supposedly from teachers attacking students, that finally got the attention of the media. The school claimed they only found out this last weekend about the attack but the letter is dated over a week before that, how long have they known before the students were involved?"

 

Diane grabs her I-Pad and starts scribbling an e-mail to somebody. On a second screen she makes notes of what the kids are talking about.

 

"Can you consider the attack letters round one or round two?" she asks.

 

"Michael got a letter from the school that his non-existent student loan was delinquint and he wouldn't be able to attend classes unless he got caught up in his payments. Anybody with half a brain, which doesn't seem to be that moron in charge of the office over student loans would have thought 'hey, this doesn't seem right why would their student loan be delinquint if they're still in school, I need to check something out'. The exact same day he got that letter supposedly from the teacher telling him that he had no talent, he was wasting their time, and they should find a new major? Why would you send two letters out at the same time, one saying that you can't continue classes because you owe money, the next basically 'oh, we don't want you here' unless the first letter didn't work? How many other students got letters before the school finally had to send out that letter, it's dated almost a week before it was sent so why was it so long getting to students? When I got my letter, this was the first I'd heard about it but another student in my class said that they'd sent out notices the week before that. I checked my e-mail when I got back to the dorm, the e-mail is dated a full week before the date on the letter, and nearly two weeks before the letter was mailed." Josette turns to the washing machines when the towels beep they're finished, emptying the machines and throwing them in the dryers.

 

"I checked your mail, there was another letter from the school, I put it on your dresser." Anna calls.

 

"Do you have any proof of any of this?" Diane asks.

 

"Oh yes, I still have the e-mail on my computer, and we saved all the letters and the envelopes when we got suspiscous and saw the different dates on the letter and the envelope. It usually doesn't take that long to get mail from Boston to the school."

 

"And the notes saying that because you owe money you can't take your finals?"

 

"Round three. The attacks seem to be getting more desperate. Or he's just getting nastier."

 

"What do you think round four would be?" Diane asks.

 

"Our grades being tampered with." Susan says, "The school has already proved security for their servers is shit. What's to keep whoever is doing this from messing with them. The teachers would have backups, and hopefully they have the brains to keep their backups somewhere this asshat can't get at them, but unless you check your grades on the lists they have on their office doors, you won't know your grades until the school mails them."

 

"And if all the students suddenly have their grades tampered with. . ." Diane says slowly. Reaching into her shoulder bag, she grabs her phone and quickly begins calling people as she sends the e-mail.

 

"Thousands of students having their grades tampered with? The fallout would be massive. After everything that has already happened, the government would be forced to step in. The university might very well be shut down." Principal Madison says.

 

"Which seems to be what the hacker has in mind." Diane says before her phone rings and she starts talking quietly. A quick word in her ear has Susan heading out the door turning towards the tunnel leading to the dorm. She returns ten minutes later with the folder and the new letter Josette had gotten today. Josette slits it open with Principal Madison's pocket knife, taking out the letter and beginning to read. She blinks at the letter, reading it twice before blindly handing it over to Principal Madison, sliding down the side of the counter where she usually sits and cackling like a hyena.

 

"Josette received a letter saying that her school records were determined to be false and she's being expelled from the university because there was no records of a Josette Takahawa attending school in Boston or receiving a GED." Jolt tells the others.

 

"Funny, I have the copy of the letter saying I was accepted for early admittance and it clearly states that I went here, not a school in Boston." she says, finally wiping the tears of laughter from her eyes. "And I have copies of all my grades and diploma stating I graduated with honors here."

 

"They're just getting desperate now." David shakes his head. "But they're succeeding in turning the students against the school, this late in the semester students should be studying instead of having to deal with all this nonsense." Susan hands over the folder Josette had been keeping everything in and Diane finds the first letter, looking at the date on the letter and the date on the envelope, seeing what Josette had stated, the letter is dated nearly a week before the letter was mailed.

 

"I also printed out the e-mail that Josette went looking for after we got back from school the first day," Susan touches the paper on the other side. "As you can see, it's identical to the letter, but dated the week before it."

 

"Do you have a copier I can use?" Diane asks Principal Madison. "I'd like to get my people on this before we head to New York."

 

"I'll take you to the office so we can copy these, there's also a fax machine there. Kids, finish the laundry and put it in the tunnel outside the boys dorm, then head to your rooms and pack a bag for a couple of days. I'll ask Druid to keep an eye on your pets while we're gone." The dryers beep they're done and Josette and Susan start emptying the machines. An hour later Josette has cleaned the machines in there, the girls went to the other room to clean that, and checks out, helping the boys push the stuffed cart through the tunnels to the boys dorm before walking to their dorm.

 

Josette drops heavily into the recliner in her room, closing her eyes for a minute before pushing herself back to her feet. Walking over to the desk, she opens the drawer where she keeps her school records, pulling out the letter of early acceptance from the university, her grades from the school, and her diploma. Opening her closet she pulls out a duffel bag and packs a couple changes of clothes and some toiletries. Settling back down in her chair she drifts off to sleep, planning on getting a few hours sleep before they have to head to the airport.

 

Principal Madison chuckles as he comes into Josette's room, finding her asleep in her chair with the cats giving her exasperated looks from the bed for leaving the light on. "Josette?" he pats her gently on the shoulder and quickly stepping back with Diane. She looks startled for a second. . .until Josette rears to her feet in a fighting stance.

 

"Are you ready?" Josette nods, taking the folder Principal Madison hands her and slides it in her bag before shutting it again. "You have your grades with you?"

 

"Yup, my grades, my diploma, the copy of the application I filled out and the letter of acceptance, they all show this as my school." She rubs the heads of the cats, checks their food, water, and kitty litter and shuts off the light before leaving her room. The others are waiting in the hallway and Josette chuckles as she sees Anne slipping a small book in her pocket, they'd went to a stationary store in Boston to get an autograph book, the girls mother is a huge fan of news shows and Josette knows the girls are going to try to get autographs while they're in New York.

 

They get in a news van, the girls sitting on the boys laps in the back since there's only a few free seats up front and travel to the airport, arriving at a private terminal and being driven out to the plane. It's the first plane trip for some of them, the twins and Alan had driven to school with their parents because there wasn't money enough for plane tickets for them. David had flown in by private plane with his family when he'd arrived at school, and Josette had flown in from California with Jolt and Druid after she'd recovered while Alex and Michael frequently fly to galleries for show openings in their manager's plane. Susan still refuses to say anything about her family, so who knows if she's flown before.

 

Once the plane levels off the twins and Alan look at each other then at Diane who's looking at her I-Pad, checking on information ABC employees are working on. Finally Abby gets up and comes over to Diane.

 

"Can I . ..uh?" Abby asks when Diane looks up at her.

 

"Abby wants an autograph for her mom, she's a huge fan of news tv shows." Josette chuckles. "They ran into Boston to a mall and got an autograph book for her after you interviewed us, hoping to get an autograph for her."

 

"Of course, who do I make it out to?" Diane smiles as she takes the book and digs into her bag for a pen. "And I'll talk to some of my colleagues, see if we can fill this book for your mom." After putting her name in the book for their mom, she turns her attention to Josette. "Principal Madison asked you if you had your grades with you?"

 

Josette stands up and opens an overhead bin, Abby steadying her as she reaches into her bag and pulls out the folder, pulling out her grades and handing them over before closing her bag, shutting the bin, and sitting down again. "You took all these classes?" Diane asks stunned, even going year round, there must be twenty-five classes a year.

 

"Students are allowed up to eight classes a semester, six required classes and two electives. Like colleges and universities, students don't have the same classes every day unless the teacher has it scheduled that way. You're only allowed to sign up for six classes, a student has to have permission from the school for more classes and they have to keep up their grades. Josette has always signed up for the maximum number of classes a semester and her grades have never dropped below an A. Many of our teachers offer classes after dinner and on weekends, after Josette started working she arranged her schedule to take most of her classes the three days she's not working. Students have to have sixty credits of required classes to graduate and can graduate at the end of the winter semester their senior year, Josette chose to graduate at the end of the summer semester and had 96 credits. You remember seeing all those totes in Josette's closet?"

 

Diane nods. "Those were probably filled with all her books from high school." Josette nods. "I cleared out the books for my first three years my senior year, then after I graduated I put the rest up so I'd have room for my university textbooks.

 

"How many classes do you need to graduate?" Principal Madison asks.

 

"Twenty-one classes, that includes my internship. With the classes I'm taking next semester, I'll be nine down. I couldn't take online classes until after my second semester, even with transferring in with over half my classes already credited they wouldn't waive that requirement. I'd hoped to pick up a few this summer along with my internship. . . of course that was before the hacker decided to start causing trouble. After this, I wouldn't trust any of the online classes."

 

Principal Madison nods. "I wouldn't either."

 

Josette puts the folder back in her bag when Diane hands her grades back over.

 

The flight seems to take forever, the twins puppy pile on their brother for a nap while Michael and Alexander quietly go over the final details of a show opening they're going to be having after finals. The boys exchange grins and Josette snorts. "Don't even think it," she tells them.

 

"Think what?"

 

"No, you're not getting me dressed up to attend your latest opening, I'm not listening to a bunch of stuffed shirts who pretend they know art spouting off nonsense while their wives or girlfriends cattily insult their 'friends' about what they're wearing behind their backs and acting of so nice and loving when they meet face to face." Josette snorts. Diane chuckles, "That happens everywhere Josette, not just art shows."

 

"You could get a new dress. . ." David says in a sing-song voice, getting into the fun of teasing Josette.

 

"I have a dress remember? You all, Principal Madison and Professor Druid shoved me into the shuttle and took me to Boston to shop for it when you nagged me into attending graduation with you all even though I wasn't graduating until the next semester."

 

"You already had all the credits you needed for graduation, Josette." Principal Madison sighs. "I know you didn't feel like standing up because you wouldn't have anybody there, but the whole school wanted to celebrate it with you."

 

And the applause had been almost deafening when Josette's name had been announced, Josette had stared as every school employee had given her a standing ovation. And she'd been stunned to see Remy, Mr. and Mrs. Summers, Storm, Wolverine, and Dr. Essex had attended as well.

 

"And like you said, you have a dress." Susan snorts. "You're going to need to dress for success when you take over the library."

 

Josette snorts. "If I'm five feet tall it's because I'm wearing them damn heels you talked me into, I weigh barely a hundred pounds, I can't keep my hair out of my eyes to save my life. . .you can dress a pig in a poke, but its still going to be a pig in a poke. As long as I'm clean and presentable, there's nothing in the dress code to say I need to dress like one of those old biddies you see on tv shows and movies, who always go 'shh shh shh' whenever anybody speaks above a whisper in her precious library."

 

Principal Madison snickers. "You'd need to stand on a box so you could lean over the desk and shush somebody."

 

"Exactly, I'm not going to stand around in a corner pretending to be anything but bored out of my mind by whatever everybody else is talking about. And with an opening, anything else that I might be interested in seeing would be closed for the night."

 

Alexander nods.

 

"You don't have a problem with art?" Diane asks.

 

"No, I have a problem with people pretending to be something they're not and looking down at others who don't share their need to put on airs. I can lose myself for hours in a museum and you have to drag me out of a library, but shows at art galleries." Josette shudders. "No, just no. Because I know some of those damn shows bore you to tears, the only one who likes them is your agent because she's a big a publicity hound as Kim Kardashian, they've both got to have their face in front of a camera. That's why she was so damn desperate to get hold of you, without you and Michael, she's nothing. She's lost how many other big clients lately?"

 

"Yeah, I know. I've been thinking of finding somebody else."

 

"Talk to Grammy Allison, she's got a lot of contacts. Your contract is due to expire, isn't it?" David says.

 

"Yeah, that's why she's so frantic to get hold of us." Michael snorts. "She knows she's pissed us off so often she's in danger of losing us. She needs us, we don't need her."

 

"You think she can help?"

 

"Oh yeah, like I said she's got a lot of contacts, and she can't stand your agent." David looks up from his Padd. "She gave you her e-mail didn't she?"

 

"Yeah, but. . ."

 

"Send her an e-mail when we land, she's an early riser and always checks her e-mail first thing in the morning. That's why she gave you her e-mail, in case we needed something. Don't be surprised to find she's already sent you an e-mail with a short list of schools with our majors that will accept our credits, starting with best to worst with personal notes about each school. There's probably another e-mail about finances and the promise not to worry about a thing, she'll arrange everything, just say the word. The company she runs with her ex, my godfather is the biggest employer in town and has a lot of contacts with universities around the country since every student who attends school in town is guaranteed a full ride four year scholarship, the school is that good."

 

"Yeah, but. . ."

 

"Our grades are just as good, and Global Dynamics employees are offered the opportunity to go on for degrees at the company's expense. If she has to, Grammy Allie will put us on the payroll in some capacity so we're eligible. Not that I expect we're going to need it, Josette's grades alone should have gotten her a full scholarship. She applied for it, I don't know why she didn't get it."

 

"I do." Principal Madison says sadly. Diane looks at him, she suspects another juicy story. "Later." he mouths over the heads of the kids. She nods, she can wait. Then she remembers something David had said.

 

"Global Dynamics, Grammy Allie? You don't mean Dr. Allison Blake, do you?" Oh she knows the woman is older than she looks, but to have a grandson who's nearly twenty?

 

"You know my godmother?" David asks.

 

Ahhh godmother, that makes more sense. David snickers at her look. "I call her Grammy Allie because it makes her feel old. She growled the first few times, now she just sighs and calls me an annoying brat."

 

Diane chuckles. "Global Dynamics has the contract for ABC equipment, they came in a couple of weeks ago for a scheduled maintenance project. I met your godmother and her. . ."

 

"on again off again, 'get the hell away from me Nathan' partner?" David chuckles. "My 'Grandpa' Dr. Nathan Stark."

 

"That is almost exactly what she told him while they were in New York." Diane chuckles.

 

The pilot announces they'd be landing in a few minutes and Josette ruffles Anna's hair, waking her. Anna moving wakes Alan, Alan moving wakes Abby. "We're landing?"

 

"Yep."

 

Michael composes a quick e-mail while they're driving from the airport to the studio, sending it before they walk inside. David had spent the trip composing and sending an e-mail with the latest developments about the university. Josette, Michael, and David hand Principal Madison their phones or Padds when they are settled in chairs in makeup, their clothes are given a dirty look by an older woman but she doesn't have anything small enough for Josette to wear so a quick brush down to hide the wrinkles will have to do. Josette's hair is tut tut tutted over by the hairdresser.

 

"My dear why did you add these highlights to your hair?" she asks.

 

"I didn't, these came from being trapped in a car when the Pasadena freeway collapsed during that huge earthquake nearly seven years ago." Josette says. "I consider them proof I survived."

 

The hairdresser nods. "Yes dearie, you did." She ignores the head of the makeup crew's look, nobody's going to say anything about the lights shining on her hair at that bit of news. Well, the head of the crew looks like she's still going to grumble but everybody ignores her. Her hair is combed out of her eyes and a spritz of hair spray holds it in place as makeup is applied and microphones attached to their clothes.

 

"You were saying something about why Josette didn't get a full scholarship that she applied for? Having looked at her school records, I know it wasn't because of her grades." Diane asks Principal Madison.

 

"No, it was because of her last name." Principal Madison says sadly.

 

"Her last name?"

 

"Yes, I got a letter back from the scholarship fund, they weren't going to give a full scholarship to no stinking Jap bitch, not when all these young men died at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked. As far as he was concerned, the only good Jap was a dead Jap so she could do the world a favor and take her own fucking life if she couldn't go to school in good old Nippon. I went to the board with the letter and the person who sent it to me was fired but they wouldn't look at her records or give her a scholarship pending a legal case against the board by the employee for being fired without provocation."

 

"Do you have any proof of this?"

 

"Yes, I have all the letters back and forth and recordings of the phone calls. By the time I got the letter, it was too late to go looking for other private scholarships. The school wasn't going to give her a full scholarship, that's only for geniuses or athletes, not a future librarian. So Josette is working her way through university just like she worked her way through high school. . .and she's got more money to pay off on her scholarship loan."

 

"Scholarship loan? This is the second time I've heard it mentioned."

 

"A bank in town has an agreement with our school. Those students who need the money sign up for loans to pay for the school expenses, at graduation they have twenty years to pay the balance off without interest, after that any remaining interest is charged ten percent monthly until its paid off. Since Josette and the others got letters of early acceptance at the university, the bank is allowing her to continue using her loan until she graduates from university, later if she gets her early acceptance to graduate school. It's not ideal, I'd rather she had gotten the full scholarship that her grades had qualified her for, but she's attending university and if the hacker doesn't mess up her grades this semester, she'll be getting on the presidents list."

 

"Can you get me this information?"

 

Principal Madison gets on his phone, looking at the clock he sees Joyce should be at the office. The letters are scanned into the computer and sent to Diane by e-mail, along with the recordings of the phone calls and she shakes her head when she reads the first letter stating Josette was eligible for a full scholarship, then the hateful letter from an employee saying that no stinking Jap deserved a full scholarship to an American school, the hatred pouring off the letter is almost making her ill.

 

"Did Josette see this garbage?" she asks stunned.

 

"No thank god, the school was handling all the details on applying for scholarships. All Josette knows is that she was eligible for a scholarship but didn't receive one."

 

"I can't believe any self-respecting board would deny anybody a scholarship on such a flimsy pretense." Diane shakes her head.

 

"CYA syndrome strikes again."

 

"Indeed, do you mind if I copy these and give them to research. This is one hell of a story."

 

"Look at the last page for an even bigger story." Principal Madison says sourly.

 

"They refused to accept any requests for scholarships from your school?" Diane is stunned.

 

"Because I complained about how my student had been treated by them, yes. Real professionals there."

 

"Oh yes, I am definitely showing my colleagues these letters, let me make some calls." Diane picks up her phone and I-Pad, printing out copies of all the letters and sending attachments of the letters and phone calls to her colleagues. Josette and the others are brought out of the makeup room and shown down the hall to a waiting area, Principal Madison going inside the room with them to wait until they're interviewed, while Diane takes the twins autograph book and begins getting some autographs for the girls mother.

 

After they're interviewed, Diane gets in the van again to take them to the NBC studios. Turning them over to Hoda Kotb, who takes the precious autograph book with a grin from Diane before she shows them to makeup and wardrobe. The second interview passes as quickly as the first and they're walking down the hall towards the commissary for a late breakfast when Josette's phone rings. Checking the number, Principal Madison answers the call and talks quietly with whoever's on the other end of the line before shutting the phone down. "That was the President of the University, there's definitely not a student loan in Josette's name, it's the work of the hacker. He'll be sending you a letter of apology for the distress this has caused, you should be getting it Monday and you're cleared for taking your finals next week."

 

"Hopefully the idiot hacker doesn't mess with the grades." Susan mumbles.

 

"Your mouth to his ears." Josette says, looking up at the ceiling. Michael's phone beeps and Principal Madison answers it, handing it over with a smile when Dr. Blake introduces herself, obviously having recognized his voice. "It's David's godmother?"

 

"Yes Dr. Blake?" Michael asks quietly. "I've sent your e-mail a list of agents who will get into knock-down drag out fights to have you and Alexander as clients. I've also been watching your interviews on the morning shows and I've got a list of schools that will accept your grades,"

 

"Assuming that damn hacker doesn't mess with them." Michael says sourly.

 

"I'd say don't borrow trouble but with all the problems that have been happening lately I'd be surprised if that doesn't happen." Allison says sourly. "I've got the report back from the electrical engineer, and your dorm wiring can definitely handle a dedicated generator since you already have propane. You'll have to be without power for a couple of days while it's being installed, but that can be worked around."

 

"Yes, yes it can." Michael looks at the others. "The wiring will handle a generator, we'll be without power for a couple of days while its being installed." He listens to Doctor Blake on the other end. "Do you want GD to look at the wiring in some other buildings for you to see if they can handle generators?" he asks Principal Madison.

 

"Yes please, is she going to be coming back out?"

 

Michael listens, "Yes, we're all going to be finished with our finals by Wednesday. Yes, we've got room on for you and any guests you're bringing on the first or third floor, if David's family can send out some more doorknobs." He says at David's opening mouth. He grins at him. "Yes, there's a quiet place where we can go over the information you and the school representatives will be bringing out with you." Principal Madison starts to say something and Michael grins. "He was already starting to ask, yes they're going to be talking with you too and leaving information for the other students, Principal Madison. The universities are quite taken with the classes you offer students. Oh and Dr. Blake wonders if the school would be interested in a fine arts building, she'll bring the information with her when they arrive Wednesday afternoon. Yes, there is a private place where we can talk," all the kids lips start twitching. "No, no, no I promise it will be on campus. The library has a meeting room in the basement we can use. If not, there's meeting rooms in the administration building we can use."

 

~~Take her to the Bermuda Triangle once, and she never lets you forget it~~ David smirks over their mental link.

 

"From your godmother for being a brat." Michael says when he swats him on the back of the head. The others snigger and David rubs the back of his head, pouting. A worker comes for them after the finish eating for the first interview to air tonight, the girls and boys heading to different rooms to change into clothes that one of the interns had ran off and purchased for them. Josette shakes her head at the clothes but calmly gets down to her underwear and bra as wardrobe personnel go around the girls adjusting clothes.

 

"I feel like a dress up doll." Josette complains.

 

"All these outfits cost more than my mother makes in a week." Anna says. "These aren't from the local superstore, Josette."

 

"At least the slacks from the superstores don't make my underwear crawl up my ass." Josette complains. She shimmiess them back down where they belong. "I feel like I'm on one of those stupid hanes her way no ride up underwear commercials." the other girls snigger and even the wardrobe women chuckle. They go through makeup again, the women shaking their heads as Josette's hair refuses to stay put and she ends up having her hair pulled back in a french braid and hair spray holds it in place.

 

"My dear, your hair just doesn't want to stay in place." The head of the unit works on her.

 

"I know," Josette sighs. "I end up redoing my pony tail seven or eight times a day and it still keeps coming loose."

 

They end up being interviewed for over an hour and Diane chauffers them back to ABC where they're interviewed again. Josette is grateful to get back in her own clothes and Principal Madison tells them that they're going to be heading to the Museum of Modern Art before flying back to the school. The girls grin and even the boys look excited as they grab their bags and go out to the van Diane arranged for their use for the day as an intern hands them an envelope of tickets.

 

They check the map when they arrive and decide to start at the top and work their way down to the first floor. Four hours later after a late dinner they arrive back at the airfield and settle back in the plane. Anna and Abby are busy composing an e-mail to their mom about all they saw at MOMA while Josette relaxes for the trip back to the school. Their precious autograph book had been handed back to Principal Madison filled with autographs and two hours later they land in Boston, settling in the back of the news van to head back to the school as the girls send the e-mail to their mom and check the news on their Padds for the latest of what's happening at the university with the hacker.

 

They finally get back to the dorm and Josette immediately heads for her room, taking a hot bath and washing the hairspray from her hair before crawling into bed, all three of the cats cuddling around her as she falls instantly asleep. The others aren't that far behind her in going to bed and they wake up early the next morning. Josette nearly trips over a bag at her door when she opens the inside door to check her mail, she sees similar, though not identical, bags in front of the others doors. Carefully pulling the handles on the bag apart with a pencil, she sees a familiar outfit in the bag and sighs before picking up the bag and taking it inside her room, then heading to the front of the dorm and the mailboxes.

 

The box is empty and she sighs in relief, checking her mail has been annoying lately. Walking back to her room, she looks at the clock and opens the refrigerator, making an omelet as the door opens and Anna comes into the room.

 

"Josette, did you? Oh, you did." she says, seeing the bag on the table. "Have you looked in it yet?"

 

"Only enough to see that it's at least the clothes they put us in yesterday for our interviews." Josette says. "why, is there anything else in there?"

 

"Oh yes," Anna snickers. She pulls out the clothes, carefully shaking them out and hanging them in Josette's closet. A handful of makeup and hair care products comes out of the bag next, Anna cackling at the look on Josette's face as she sits at the bar and eats the omelet. An envelope is next and Josette wipes her hands on a kitchen towel before Anna hands it to her.

 

"What is it?"

 

"If it's the same thing that was in mine and Abby's bag, checks from the companies that own ABC and NBC for our appearances on the morning shows, our interviews on nightly news shows, and our interview Wednesday night." Josette takes a paring knife from the drawer and slits the envelope, blinking at the size of the checks. "Yep, it's the same as our checks, we're going to make copies of them and deposit them in a couple of days."

 

The next thing is a dvd in a plastic case, a note inside saying it's copies of the raw material and interviews as they aired on television, she puts it in a drawer of her desk. Another envelope is in the bottom of the bag and she opens it, finding information on attractions in New York, a card that will cover admittance to a lot of attractions, a week long pass for the subway, and a gift certificate for a week's stay in New York at a hotel.

 

A note from Diane Sawyer is in the envelope, thanking Josette for all the help she's given her on the story while she was at the school and she was interested in seeing what grades Josette got when she took her finals. The bag is finally empty after she pulls out a third envelope, with a number of gift cards enclosed.

 

"I'm . . .stunned." Josette says, staring at everything. the door across the room opens and the others come into the room. They've got their own stunned looks on their faces as Josette locks the envelopes in the locking drawer with her purse before they walk to the dining hall for breakfast. Josette fills her tray three times even though she'd just had an omelet in her room and everybody shakes their heads at her before they walk back to the dorm.

 

"So what do we want to do?"

 

"We should study for our finals, or start clearing out rooms for our guests Wednesday." Susan says. "But after the last week or so, I'm too used to waiting for the other shoe to drop."

 

"Do we all have our classes decided for next semester?"

 

"Yeah, but if we change schools do we really need them?"

 

"Yes, This way if we have to stay in Boston for another semester we know what we're signing up for. And if we do switch, they'll want to see what we have planned for our schooling." David says. The others head to their rooms and they go into the lounge on the first floor with their class choices for next semester.

 

"Okay, is there anybody who has to take a class either during the day or at night, assuming we stay at the university? Josette?"

 

"I can take my classes either time, either way I'd be going five days a week, either day classes or night classes. Anna?"

 

"Same here, except I'm only taking another sixteen hours, not twenty." She grins at Josette. "Geek."

 

"Yeah, but I'm trying to graduate a year before you guys, that's why I'm going this summer too, if we stay with the university, that is. Abby?"

 

"Same classes as Anna, again either way."

 

The others chime in and Josette goes to the library to make copies of their schedules for next semester for everybody and brings them back as the student leaves after delivering the mail.

 

"Aww christ on a crutch." Josette says, seeing a familiar address on the letter as she looks into her box. Checking the other boxes, she feels like pounding her head into the wall. "We got letters from the university . . .AGAIN!" she calls down the hallway. "Somebody wanna grab my key?"

 

"I wonder what they're up to now?" Anna complains as she comes down the hall with the others. She hands Josette her mailbox key and opens hers and Abby's box.

 

"Oh gee, after talking to their lawyers, our actions have been proven to be disruptive to the school and they're allowing us to take our finals but we're being asked not to come back to school next semester."

 

"Does anybody have a scanner set up on their computers?"

 

"My printer's a scanner and fax machine." Josette says.

 

"Good, I'm sending a copy of this to the school lawyers, Principal Madison, my godmother, and Global Dynamics lawyers. This is the last straw." David storms down the hall Abby gathers up everybody's mail and keys, before following them down the hall to Josette's room. "Josette, what's the program you use to scan stuff?"

 

Josette gets in front of her computer and boots it up, running the letter through the scanner before turning her e-mail program on and lets David at the computer. "Kids?" Principal Madison calls from the front of the building, Josette grabs the letter and heads that way. "They struck again." Josette calls as she hands the letter off to Principal Madison. "Josette, do you have the e-mail for Ms. Sawyer?" David calls down the hall. "Anna said there was a note in your bag from her."

 

"No need, she's in the library." Principal Madison says dryly. "Did you all get this?"

 

"Yes, and check the date and time on the letter, after our interviews on the morning shows." Josette says. "David, Principal Madison says Ms. Sawyer is in the library, give me your letters and we'll run make copies." Abby comes out with the other seven letters, Principal Madison reading them as they walk to the library and shakes his head. "What the hell do they think they're doing?"

 

"They aren't thinking, if they can stop people talking about it, it will all go away and they can stick their heads back into the sand." Diane hears a familiar voice saying from the doorway. Principal Madison shakes his head as the men with her stare at the gesturing young woman swearing fluently. "The school just shot themselves in the foot, if it was the school." he says dryly as Josette starts copying letters and envelopes before grabbing folders from the desk and putting everything inside them. He'd had Josette run off three copies of everything and silently hands one of the folders off to Diane and the men beside her as he pulls Josette into a seat by the back of her slacks.

 

"What the hell are they doing?" Diane asks as she picks up her phone and starts sending off messages on her I-Pad as she waits for the person on the other end to pick up their phone. "Brian, it's me Diane. Pick up the phone, I have the leading story for both our shows. The students at that university in Boston that were interviewed on the morning shows? They just got a letter saying they'd be allowed to take their finals next week but they'd no longer be welcome at the school because their actions were disruptive to the school. Since the letter arrived after the interviews, its obviously retaliation against their speaking out to the media." Somebody picks up on the other end and they talk for a while, then she looks over at Principal Madison, he takes her over to the fax machine and sends copies of the letters to somebody on the other end. She makes two more calls,faxes them again to somebody at her own office and CBS before they sit down at the table again.

 

"We'll get to the bottom of this, the school will realize that the bad publicity from this is going to blow up in their faces. You haven't been expelled, just asked not to return."

 

"After all the shit they've put me through, I'm not sure I want to return to the school." Josette says. "Dr. Blake is coming next week with representatives from other universities, we just might end up telling the university to kiss our asses and transferring to another school." She takes a deep breath and lets it out noisily.

 

"I'd asked Principal Madison to go get you because we had a story for you, I didn't realize you were bringing us a story instead." Diane tells Josette. "Josette, do you remember yesterday when David was talking about how you had applied for a full scholarship, but didn't receive it?"

 

Josette nods. "I just figured somebody else had gotten it instead."

 

"Actually no, you were on the very short list for a full four year scholarship. . .then I received this letter." He hands over a copy of the letter he'd received from a member of the committee overseeing the scholarship fund, she reads it in stunned disbelief and pushes away from the table. "I. . .I need to be alone for a minute." she walks out the door. Anna, who'd come into the library quickly turns and follows her.

 

"I am both disheartened and disgusted that such attitudes exist in this day and age." the tall man with glasses and a light smattering of grey in his hair says. "And truly disturbed that the members, or should I say soon to be former members of the committee overseeing our fund treated you so poorly for merely standing up for your student, Principal Madison. Thank you Ms. Sawyer, for bringing this to our attention." Johnny looks over at the even taller man sitting motionless at the table, if it wasn't for his breathing you'd think you were looking at a statue.

 

/Clark?/ he 'asks' quietly.

 

/I swear I know that young woman, Johnny./

 

/We have her information, we can look into her background./ Johnny says as Josette and Anna comes into the library. Anna stands behind Josette's chair and puts her hand on her shoulder for support. "When I complained," Principal Madison says, taking up the story. "I was told that they were sorry for the attack on you and that the person who had wrote that. . . "

 

"Vitriolic venomous article." Johnny says quietly.

 

"Had been fired, but he was filing a case against the board for false dismissal. Since the letter against you was the reason he had been fired, the board unfortunately chose the cowardly act of denying you the full scholarship that you had been promised." Diane continues the story.

 

"I of course complained again but all that happened was that nobody from the school would no longer be awarded a scholarship because I stood up for you."

 

"Which was unwarranted and nothing more than an attack against you personally for standing up for your student." The other man's voice is low but powerful and Josette shudders inwardly, wanting nothing more than to throw herself in his arms and let him protect her from the world. She shoves that thought away and shakes her head.

 

"Principal Madison told me what had happened and I immediately sensed a story, putting my research crew on it. I gave the board a chance to talk to me before we aired the story Friday night after your interview, the board didn't get back to me but the fund offering the scholarships immediately contacted me. After I showed them copies of the letters, they wanted to come apologize to you in person."

 

"And I am sorry that you were treated in such a disgusting manner." Clark Savage, the man of Bronze, says. "Principal Madison told us that you were working your way through school. If you do choose to attend another school, consider yourself a full ride student of our fund." He hands over one of the folders he had prepared with the information Principal Madison had given them. A second folder with duplicates is in Johnny's briefcase, as he had said they have the information they need to investigate her further.

 

"Thank you for coming out Dr. Savage, Mr. Littlejohn."

 

"Littlejohn?" Anna asks. "You wouldn't happen to be an anthropologist, would you?"

 

"Why yes, yes I am." Johnny looks at her. "William Harper Littlejohn?"

 

"Why, yes, yes I am." Now both Johnny and Clark stiffen a little.

 

"The author of the books you had the library request?" Principal Madison asks Josette.

 

"Yeah, I found some rocks with a strange markings. I took pictures of them and I was trying to translate them into english. After looking online at some language sites, I found what I thought they were and requested a couple of your books through the library to translate them." Josette tells Johnny. Both men relax, though only anybody who knows them would have realized they'd stiffened.

 

"Did you?" Principal Madison sighs.

 

"Yes and no, I have to have got them wrong, because I don't think anybody would actually go around scrawling rude sayings on rocks." Josette rolls her eyes.

 

/Monk would./ Johnny sighs.

 

/Monk most definitely would./ Clark agrees with a mental chuckle. "Do you still have the pictures?"

 

"Digital photos on a hard drive yes, and my translation attempts. They're put away in my closet." Josette says. "Would you like to see them, maybe tell me where I went wrong?"

 

"Please," Johnny says. "We don't have to fly back until later tonight, do we Clark?"

 

"No, there's no reason to rush back to New York."

 

Everybody follows Josette and Anna from the library, down the sidewalk to the old girls dorm. They go in through the back door and the first thing Clark sees is three cats staring at him from the bed. His eyes immediately start traveling the room, stopping in stunned disbelief as he sees a familiar face staring at him from a picture frame.

 

/Clark?/ Johnny asks, /isn't that. . ./

 

/Clarinda./ Doc says just as quietly. Clarinda had been dating his son before he died, she'd vanished after the funeral. Then he remembers that call from Logan that he thought they had a grandchild out there. He'd thought nothing of it before, there's been a lot of people claiming to be his child or grandchild, but with his senses Logan would know.

 

A loud yowl brings their attention back to the cats on the bed, now Doc can see they're all familiars. And bonded to the young woman who's pulling a tote out of her closet. Rummaging through the contents she pulls out a folder and checks the first paper inside, reaching into another tote for a hard drive in a box. She pushes everything back into the closet and gets to her feet, scowling down when two cats start twisting around her feet as the kitten climbs her pants leg and crawls onto her shoulder.

 

"Guys, I'm trying to walk here." Josette tries moving around them but they keep wrapping themselves around her feet, she ends up slowly moving across the floor as Principal Madison hides a chuckle. "Are they hungry?"

 

"No, just reminding me they're upset because I was gone all day yesterday and when I finally got back I went right to bed instead of paying attention to them like a good little cat slave." Josette finally makes her way back to her computer and sits down, plugging in the external hard drive and bringing up the pictures before she hands over the folder, picks up the two adult cats in either arm and walks over to the bed. Pulling back the blankets she shakes her head and heads for the door. "I'm doing sheets, blankets, and towels later on, anybody else need them washed?" She yells around the open door.

 

A chorus of voices say yes. "Somebody grab the cart from the basement and start filling it." she calls as she starts stripping her own bed. "And somebody else grab clean sheets, towels, and bedding from the storeroom."

 

A knock on the door has everybody looking that way until it opens and Josette takes the plastic wrapped bundles of sheets and towels, tossing them on the bare mattress before dumping her dirty stuff in the cart. "Is that everything?"

 

"Yep." the boy says in the doorway. "You got your eye on the cats?"

 

Josette looks around. "Yep," she says and David shuts the door. "I'll put the cart up front."

 

"I'll grab it after lunch."

 

"Josette, do you mind if I make copies of your translations and the pictures?" Johnny asks.

 

"Go ahead, we have high-speed in all the school buildings and my printer doubles as a scanner and fax. Johnny attaches copies of the photos to a gmail message, sending it from one of his e-mail addresses to another of his e-mail addresses, then scans the translation attempts and attaches it to another e-mail before they leave the room with Principal Madison. Josette looks at the clock, shuts down her computer, and makes her bed and puts the clean washcloths and towels in her bathroom before heading to lunch.

 

Chapter 3 by josette grover

 

 

Principal Madison invites Doctor Savage and Johnny to lunch and they settle at the head table as the students begin straggling in.

 

"Thank you for coming out to apologize to Josette for the debacle about her scholarship, I have a soft spot for her since she came to the school when she was ten after the earthquake."

 

"Can you tell me a little about her, does she have any family?"

 

"No, she never knew her father and her mother died from her . ..condition when she was twelve. She's been working here at the school in the laundry since she was thirteen to help pay down the costs of her scholarship loan before graduation."

 

After lunch Josette starts pushing the cart down the sidewalk to the laundry, tossing everything in the commercial washers and starting them running. She'd brought a book with her and settles at the table waiting for them to finish washing before taking them into the other room to wrap in plastic before taking the tunnels back to the dorm when it starts raining. carrying the bundles up to the storeroom she's surprised by a large crash of thunder and lightning that has her sighing and flipping the nearest light switch. As she'd expected there's no electricity and she walks across the hall to the other storeroom for one of the candles David had purchased for these occurances. Taking it back to her room she puts it on the table and checks the contents of her refrigerator, deciding she can wait on groceries until after the new generator is installed.

 

A tap on the door has Josette looking over at Susan as she comes into the room. "Too damn dark in my room without any power." Her kitten is dropped onto the bed beside Josette's cats and she drops into another chair at the table.

 

"How are we handling groceries?"

 

"I'd thought about getting groceries after our finals but then we're going to be without power for a couple of days while they install the generator and do whatever else they need to do. Better to just wait until after they're done and get a load of groceries in then."

 

Susan nods. "We can get a couple of coolers for whatever we don't eat up down in the basement and up here."

 

The door opens again and the others come in with their animals. "What do you have that needs to stay cold?" David asks, opening her refrigerator and freezer doors.

 

"Not much, I was just thinking about getting groceries after our finals but realized we'd be without power a couple of days while they installed the generator. I used up the last of the eggs, ham, and other stuff that was getting old this morning in an omelet."

 

"I'd wondered why you were eating breakfast then eating breakfast again." Anna says, shaking her head. "But yeah, we gotta check our refrigerator too. We were just checking the refrigerator downstairs when the power went out."

 

Anna has a notebook in her hands and David starts calling off the contents of Josette's refrigerator and freezer, mostly half-filled bottles of condiments, stuff for sandwiches, a package of hamburger she'd taken from the freezer, and one lonely onion in the crisper drawer. The freezer is just as bare, with a few frozen dinners, bags of frozen vegetables, a half-full box of ice cream sandwiches from this summer, and a couple of frozen pizzas.

 

"Is that hamburger thawed yet?" Josette asks.

 

David pokes the package and nods. Josette gets up and lights the burner with a match, putting a pan on the stove and starts breaking up the hamburger with a spoon.

 

"What are you making?"

 

"Tacos, I got part of a package of tortillas, one onion, part of a head of lettuce, and a tomato to get eaten up. With the power out, they won't offer dinner until six p.m." Everybody nods. "We've got another package of hamburger, hard taco shells, and part of a bottle of taco sauce. Do you have enough seasoning if we bring it over?"

 

"Yeah, I got part of a container of taco seasoning yet." Josette opens a cupboard and brings it out. A tapping from the back door makes everybody look, Susan opening it to find one of the maintenance personnel with a cart filled with bottled water. Between him and Abby they get eight cases in Josette's room before he thanks them and leaves.

 

Anna comes back with a bag full of food and takes over the job of frying the hamburger as Josette checks the cats water and food dishes. The others bring their pets food and water dishes to the room, opening water bottles for the critters. Pulling on ponchos, Alan and the twins click leashes onto their puppies collars and walk them outside, coming inside and drying them off with towels from the storage room, hanging the wet towels over the curtain rod in Josette's bathroom.

 

A wide variety of dishes is placed on the table and counter and they settle down to eat. The dishes end up in the sink to be washed after everything is polished off and David and Anna make a list of what's in the twins refrigerator that will need to be kept cold. The superstore has dry ice they can put in coolers, that they can also get there, and they can put the food in a corner to use as needed.

 

Josette puts the originals of the letters in the folder with the others before putting it, the folder with the copies, and the folder she'd gotten from Dr. Savage and Mr. Littlejohn in her desk.

 

"Is anybody taking their textbooks with them to class for finals?" Josette asks, turning to look at the others. Everybody shakes their heads. "Why don't we start cleaning up the first and second floor lounges then, boxing the books up and put them in a room out of the way?"

 

Everybody nods and walk down the hallway, seeing the rain is letting up through the large doors in front of the building. Blocking open the door, Josette pulls out the first box out and they start going through it, taping it up after marking who it belongs to and taking it upstairs. An hour's work has the first floor lounge cleaned up and they check their watches before grabbing a flashlight from the storeroom and walking through the tunnels to the dining hall, Anna putting the flashlight in her pocket before they fill their trays and settle at their table in the crowded dining hall.

 

"Good evening everybody, as you already know we're currently without electricity. According to the news, there was a lightning strike at a power station and everything is currently being rerouted. The latest restoration update is Tuesday afternoon."

 

"Thankfully we're not in the middle of a blizzard this time." one of the teachers snorts. "Yes, as usual school is canceled until the power is restored. At least for our high school students, our university students have phone numbers to call Monday to see if your finals are still on?"

 

"That really would be the cherry on the top of the crap sundae they've been dishing out." Josette grumbles. "Two more days." Abby claps her on the shoulder as everybody around them starts eating. "Josette, will you and the others see me after dinner, we need to talk."

 

"That is not a good sign." Abby moans.

 

"Hey, I'm the pessimist in the group, quit stealing my lines." Josette grins at her and they start eating. "I wonder what Principal Madison wants with us?"

 

"Probably either telling us that he's sicced the school lawyers on the university, information from Ms. Sawyer about the news we're being 'asked' to leave school made the national news, or letting us know we can use the gym's showers to shower before we head to the university Monday and Tuesday."

 

They finish their meals and go to the buffet line again for seconds, settling back at the table. They eat their second and third helpings before waiting at their table as the teachers start taking their students back to the dorms.

 

Once the room is cleared, Principal Madison comes over to the table and pulls a chair from a nearby table over. "Okay, the good news is that we've turned the letters you received over to the news media and our lawyers, both of whom are howling for blood. The bad news is, it was definitely the university and not the hacker who wrote the letters."

 

"Already knew that." Josette snorts.

 

"I don't know what the hell they thought they were doing by asking you to leave the school."

 

"If we're not their students, they can stick their heads back in the sand and hope all this goes away." Susan snorts. "They don't seem to realize all they're doing is making the situation worse. . .and they're still no closer to finding the hacker than they were before."

 

"Your teachers already suspect that the hacker is going to try messing with the grades so they're going to be grading the finals as they've been turned in and you should be getting a handwritten note with your final grade for that class before you leave if you finish soon enough. If not, by the end of that day."

 

Everybody nods.

 

"You already know you can use the gym to shower before your classes Monday and Tuesday morning if the power isn't restored sooner."

 

Again everybody nods.

 

"Off with you lot then and remember, it's only a couple more days and you'll be free of this insanity. Once you get your grades, and if the mailed copy does get tampered with, the lawyers will be dealing with them."

 

Again everybody nods, hug Principal Madison for taking care of them, and head back down through the tunnels to the dorm. Everybody gets flashlights, candles, or kerosene lamps from the storeroom and head to their rooms to walk the dogs one last time before the outside door in Josette and the twins rooms are closed and locked for the night. Nobody's ready for bed and they end up in Josette's room, taking turns winding the radio to listen to the news at the top of the hour. Since they already know the reason the power is off, they turn the radio to a music station and listen for a half hour or so until everybody starts yawning and they take their candles or flashlights off to bed. Blowing out the candle and putting it on top of the refrigerator so the cats can't knock it over during the night, Josette crawls under the covers and falls asleep to the sounds of the cats purring.

 

The next morning after they've fed the cats and walked the dogs David says he's heading to the island and grins as he asks the others if he should take Principal Madison and Professor Druid with him.

 

"They will beat your ass." Susan says, shaking her head. She looks out the door and shakes her head. "But yeah, we might as well for a couple of hours anyway. Not like they can do anything here until electricity comes back on." Coming into the dining hall, Josette grins at the others before she walks over to the teachers table. "Can we see you for a while after breakfast, if you don't have any school business that you need to handle?"

 

"No we don't have any plans." Druid looks over at Jolt for a minute and they watch Josette walk back to the table. After the meal they wait until the dining hall clears out before David opens a tesseract and taking Druid and Principal Madison's arms, they walk through.

 

They're obviously not in Massachusetts anymore James thinks as he looks up at the warm sun. Looking around he sees a cliff angling over a lagoon and a beach further down.

 

"Principal Madison, Professor Druid, welcome to the Bermuda Triangle." Josette smirks. "David's going to check the garden if you want to follow him Professor."

 

Jolt looks around, "Tell me why I shouldn't beat you all?"

 

"You have to wait in line behind David's Grammy Allie and his father?" Abby chuckles.

 

Druid looks around the neat garden patch, David and Alan putting down mulch around the plants just coming up. She closes her eyes and slides her fingers into the garden soil, 'feeling' the new plants growing and those still under the surface. A small compost pile is nearby and she 'feels' it before walking back to the beach, taking off her shoes, and wriggling her toes in the warm sand. Jolt settles down beside her and the others form a semi-circle behind them.

 

"Thank you, I needed this." Druid says when they finally get ready to leave a couple of hours later. This time David opens the tesseract in their dorm and they walk down the stairs to the basement and through the tunnels to the dining hall. After lunch they work on the second floor lounge, clearing out the textbooks and putting them in a room before putting their school bags and a change of clothes out for the morning before settling in their rooms for an hour before dinner. David had gone into town for the paper when he realized that some places had power and came back with a handful of papers, the news that the university was asking the students who had been affected by the hacker attacking the school to leave had made the front page and the school's refusal to respond to inquiries makes them look like fools.

 

The coupons are sorted through, Josette clipping a few for her grocery list while the others end up in a basket in the dining hall for students and teachers to go through. After dinner they once again come to Josette's room to listen to music by candlelight before going to bed.

 

Before breakfast the next morning they walk to the gym and get hot showers and dress for the day, before walking to the dining hall and eating, then returning to the dorm and gathering their bags. Arriving at the school they sigh as they see more news crews in the commons interviewing students. Heading to their classes, they settle in their seats as the other students settle in seats. The teacher comes in and Josette starts answering the first question, double checking her mental book before standing up and handing over the exam. Nodding the teacher begins checking it and marks it, filling out a paper and signing it before smiling at Josette and wishing her well in her future classes. Looking at her grade, Josette smiles when she sees she's got an 4.0 on the final and in the class and slides it in her bag before walking to the library until her afternoon class. Reading a couple magazines passes the time and she heads for her second class, nodding at the teacher as she comes into the room.

 

Taking the final, she starts filling it out and double checks her answers before handing it up. Again, she waits for the teacher to check her exam and takes the paper handed to her, looking at her grades and smiling, then nodding as the teacher says she'll miss having her for a student before walking out of the building and finding herself being tracked by a news crew, obviously she'd been recognized.

 

"Miss Takahawa, may we have a few words?"

 

Josette nods. "I understand that you received a letter from the school asking you and your friends not to return next semester because they disagreed with you speaking out against the actions of the hacker currently plaguing the school?"

 

"Yes, it seems the school would rather punish their students by forcing them to contine being victims instead of finding the hacker who's been targeting them and dealing with them."

 

"Are you sorry to be leaving the school?"

 

"I'm sorry that I won't be able to take any more classes from the teachers who have never been anything but kind to me, but the school? Leaving a place that seems to be under almost daily attack that the administration seems determined to ignore, no matter how many students are inconvenienced? No, I'll miss the people here, but I won't miss the school."

 

"Do you plan on continuing your education elsewhere?"

 

"Oh yes, I already have interviews with a number of other schools scheduled and hope my education won't be interrupted too long."

 

The others start arriving and they walk to a quiet area to head back to the school, sighing in relief as they arrive at the dorm. Josette and Anna open their back doors for some air before walking out to the mailboxes. Josette opens her box and blinks at the number of letters as David takes off to get the daily newspapers. One is from the school and she carefully opens it, sighing when she sees its only the promised apology from the president over the student loan debacle.

 

"Neat," Abby says, reading over her shoulder. "Please, if I wasn't seventeen and underage for having a student loan, this," she nods at the letter, "never would have happened. The administration would have ignored it like they ignored all the other students who magically had student loans in default." she puts the letter in her bag and turns to the others. "My monthly statement from the bank." She opens it and blinks as she reads the letter about how her scholarship loan had been paid in full and now the account had been turned into a credit card, with an initial credit limit of twenty-five hundred dollars.

 

"Did anybody else?" Josette holds out her letter.

 

"Get a letter saying our scholarship loans had been paid off and the account was now a credit card?" Anna asks slowly. "Yup." Abby says, holding out her letter. "Uh-huh." Alan says a minute later. "Do you think this is real?"

 

"I. . .don't want to think about it right now," Josette says, turning to the rest of her mail. "We can take the letters to the bank Wednesday."

 

Everybody else nods. They head to their rooms, the twins and Alan taking their puppies for a walk while Josette takes a couple of aspirin and looks at her watch, flipping a switch to see if the power had magically returned yet. It hadn't yet and she sighs before walking to the dining hall and into the smaller hallway where the snacks are usually kept, making herself a salad and pita pocket before dinner in a couple of hours. Putting the covered bowl and some granola bars and cookies in the bag she'd brought with her, she walks back to the dorm, passing the others doing the same thing.

 

Dinner is at six and she fills her tray three times before she's finally full. "One more day," Abby says as Josette sighs. "Yes, but then we have to wait for the other shoe to drop as to whether the idiot hacker messed with the grades mailed out." Dinner ends and detouring to the snack area again she gets some more food for later that night before joining the others walking to the dorm.

 

The puppies are walked again and Josette changes the kitty litter and takes out the trash before everybody heads inside for the night. Josette changes into her nightgown, the others heading to their room for the night. Nobody seems interested in talking or listening to music that night and she lies on the bed staring into the darkness until finally falling asleep.

 

The next day dawns much the same, everybody walking to the gym after the puppies are walked and the pets fed, then having breakfast before coming back to the dorm with their cases of bottled water and getting their school bags. The sound of a refrigerator running makes everybody sigh in relief that the power is back on. Things are looking up and they head to the university for the last time, taking their finals and getting their grades before heading back home. Everybody is quiet until Josette lets out a whoop and everybody starts laughing. "Take that, University of Massachusetts, Boston. We beat you."

 

Everybody heads for their rooms, getting animal kisses before they check their mail and head to the dining hall for a snack before dinner. Of course their snacks would easily be meals elsewhere and they head back to the dorm, eating at the picnic table outside since the sun is shining nice and warm after letting the puppies out.

 

"You kids feeling better?" Druid asks as she comes up to them after they're finished eating. "You seemed upset the last couple of days."

 

"All the shit that the school's been throwing at us, got us down for a while." Josette admits. "Let them do their worst now, we survived our finals and we beat them."

 

"Yes you did." Druid smiles. "Do you have your grades?"

 

"What the teachers gave us when we handed in our finals." Susan says. "Now that the power's back we can get online to check our grades."

 

"I'm glad to see you're enjoying yourselves again." Druid scratches the puppies ears as they all head back inside. "Josette, you got two large bunches of laundry to wash tonight."

 

Josette lets out another whoop and Druid sighs in relief, yes the kids are all right.

 

"Only you would be excited to do dishes and wash laundry." Alexander teases her as she enters her room. Their doors are left open and everybody gets into the teachers section of the University site, wincing at all the attacks on the front page from the hacker. Thankfully the teachers section is a different server and encrypted against attacks, they download the grades that would be found on their office doors, printing them out as additional proof against tampered grades. Josette looks at the clock and starts running a sink full of hot water to wash the dishes and looks around the room before heading for dinner.

 

"Life is finally back to normal." Josette says as she swipes her card through the card reader and starts filling her tray with food. Principal Madison is sitting at the front table with one of the visitors from last weekend and a pair of women and Josette grins and comes up to the head table after putting her tray on the table.

 

"Well?" Principal Madison asks.

 

"Four 4.0s, I have the papers the teachers signed themselves and printouts of what would have been on their office doors, lets see the hacker mess with our grades now."

 

"Don't forget to e-mail Ms. Sawyer with your grades, she said she'd be interested in them." Jolt says calmly. She nods and says a quiet hello to the others at the table then heads back to her table.

 

"It's good to see her back in good spirits, they've been so quiet the last couple of days waiting for the other shoe to drop thanks to the university." Druid says calmly as she takes a seat at the front table. Patricia and Bethany watch the young woman Doc thinks is their granddaughter as she interacts with her friends, arms waving in midair in the nearly empty dining room as the others just give her indulgent looks.

 

Doc nods, contrasting the young woman in front of him now to the young woman he'd been introduced to the previous weekend. He can see the difference now.

 

/Patricia?/ he 'says', looking at his first wife.

 

/She looks and sounds just like Charles at that age./ she 'says'. /I'm not up on the medical end, but is there a way to know for sure if we're her grandparents?/

 

/Yes, a variation on the standard paternity test should tell us if she was related to me and what the degree of relationship is, it's primarily used in legal circles to deal with inheritances when illegitimate children come forward after the father is deceased./

 

Josette gets up for her second meal as other students begin trickle in. "Charity, congrats on your latest youtube video." Susan says as the other girl comes in. She grins and gets hugs from everybody before settling at a table. Pat shakes her head in disbelief when Josette fills her third tray of the night, eating quickly and looking at the clock. She's got just enough time to run back to the dorm and get the letter with Ms. Sawyer's e-mail address before she has to punch into work. "We'll meet you at the laundry after we finish eating. Josette nods, ducks into the side hall and gets snacks to eat later at the laundry and heads to the dorm, running into her room, grabbing the letters and sticking them in her bag, and heads for the laundry.

 

Punching in she takes a deep breath and smiles as she walks into the back room, shaking out bags of sheets and towels and starting to sort everything into machines. A black bag is in the bag and she opens it for a moment and shakes her head, somebody's makeup case must have been accidentally mixed up with the sheets. It's not the first time that something has been found in the laundry, both the boys and girls have accidentally dropped stuff down the laundry chute in the past. Shaking her head and putting it on the counter with her bag she fills the machines and starts them running before walking down the hall and checking out the other room. With the power being out most of the weekend, not very many people had been doing laundry and she quickly cleans the machines, checks the dispenser and emergency closet for supplies, and heads back to the second room. Josette settles on the stool and turns on the computer, opening an e-mail program and starting an e-mail to Ms Sawyer with her grades as the others come into the room. She slides off the stool, letting the others take her place as she opens the supply closet to get a new bottle of detergent and box of dry bleach out, shaking her head as she sees the closet is nearly empty. Grabbing the pencil and notepad on the door, she starts making lists of what she needs to have ordered, walking to the other closet and marking down some more items.

 

The others are finished with writing down their grades in the e-mail and she finishes it up before sending it, then opening the IM program and sending a list of supplies needed in the laundry to the office. She knows Joyce will get the message when she arrives at the office in the morning and will have it ordered by noon. Usually she orders enough to last the whole term but with the extra laundry thanks to the apartment fire and the students washing their clothes more often because of teachers in the building, they're running low early. Knowing Joyce, the emergency order and regular order will go out at the same time and they should have everything by early December.

 

Abby takes the makeup kit to put in the lost and found in the new girls dorm as the others start emptying the washers, Principal Madison smiles as he sees Josette and her friends moving around the room when he enters. "David, your godmother just called me since your phone went to voicemail. She's going to be flying into Boston early tomorrow, meanwhile your new generator is being driven to the school by truck and should be arriving the same time she and her guests do. We'll be picking them up with the shuttle at the airport in the morning, there's going to be eight guests total. Your godmother, the electrical engineer who was here earlier, he's driving in with the generator, and six representatives from various universities across the country."

 

David nods. "My phone's charging since the power went out this weekend."

 

Principal Madison nods then remembers something one of his teachers had said. "Josette, did you find something in the sheets you've already done?"

 

"A makeup kit? Abby just ran it over to the lost and found in the girls dorm before you arrived."

 

"Ahh, thank you. One of the new girls is in hysterics because it's missing." He shakes his head. "I can't understand it."

 

Josette snorts. "Neither can I."

 

"Dr. Savage and their friends would like to talk to you if you have the time also." Principal Madison says as he turns to go. The boys start the first set of sheets and towels drying as Josette pulls the cart over and starts shaking out the second set of sheets and towels. Abby returns from the run to the girls dorm before Principal Madison leaves and he thanks them before taking his leave. The sheets and towels are dry before the second set finishes washing and they start pressing and folding the sheets and towels, wrapping them in plastic and putting them in the bags before throwing the second set of laundry into the dryers. Settling against the counter, Josette leans against David's chest as they talk about what they have to do in the morning before their guests arrive.

 

"We can get the coolers and dry ice as the superstore." David says.

 

"And get the papers, the superstore is usually closed Thanksgiving, but that other megastore in town is always open and the last few years they've been involved in those shop thanksgiving day sales. And they'll have have the ad for the superstore's sale when they open again at midnight." Josette says.

 

"Don't tell me you intend to go to Black Friday sales." Alan snorts.

 

"Oh hell no, but we'll need groceries and if they're anything like last year they'll be opening at eleven for the early shoppers. We can go in at midnight or so if they have something we want, otherwise unless we go to the megastore tomorrow we won't be grocery shopping until the weekend. And I'd like to go into Boston to the warehouse store this weekend."

 

David slowly nods. "And there's a few things I need to look at at Lowes now that we have the time to concentrate on working on the dorm for a couple of weeks."

 

The second load of laundry is finished drying and they get up and start pressing and folding sheets and towels, wrapping them in plastic and fill the cart. It's after midnight by the time everything is cleaned up and they push the cart and bags through the tunnels to the new girls dorm, leaving it outside the door before they walk back to the entrance to their dorm and head for their beds.

 

The next morning finds everybody waking late and getting hot showers before they walk back to the dorm. After the twins and Josette run to the library to copy their checks, they borrow David's car and drive into town to the bank. Alan came with them and they knock quietly on the bank's vice-president's door and hand over the letters they received. They learn that yes, their loans have been paid off and they deposit their checks before leaving the building, stunned.

 

"Who would have paid off our loans?" Anna asks as they get back in the car. "Anywhere else we need to stop? Besides the library and superstore for Susan's cat supplies and feminine stuff?" she says at Josette's opening mouth. Josette grins and they emerge from the library with thick bags of books and DVDS before heading back to the school, pulling into the parking lot behind the girls dorm monitor rooms just as two of the school's shuttle vans pulls into the parking lot next to them.

 

Dr. Blake gets out of the first van and hugs the girls and Alan as the driver opens the back doors of the second van and starts pulling out suitcases and boxes, between all of them they get everything in the dorm and the drivers grin at them and take the vans back to the regular parking lot. They'll be needed after classes today.

 

"I know it's only been a couple of weeks but it's good to see you again." She says as she introduces everybody. "I know I said we were only going to have eight guests but one of my friends got back to me unexpectedly and said he'd take a later flight and meet us here. He's from a speciality university out in California, Charlie is bringing information to the school for CalSci."

 

Josette blinks and chuckles. "Charlie, from CalSci? Professor Eppes?" The others grin.

 

It's Allison's turn to blink. "You know Charlie?"

 

"Yeah, he was our math teacher our freshman year." Anna grins. "He was working on his latest book and took the position as a favor for a friend. I know Principal Madison and Professor Druid will be glad to see him again, everybody wanted him to stay on."

 

"Do you have a place where we can put these boxes? Some of them are going to be taken to the library for the other students, but some of these are your personal copies."

 

"Yeah, we cleaned out the lounges this past weekend since nobody was going to be taking their textbooks to our finals and we didn't have any electricity."

 

"Then you're getting the generator just in time." Allison sighs. "What happened and how long was it out?"

 

"Lightning strike took out a station, it went out Saturday afternoon and we got it back sometime Tuesday morning."

 

"And we're going to be shutting your electricity off again in a few hours." Allison sighs.

 

"Yeah, but if we need to do anything we can just run to one of the other buildings on campus. It's a bitch when the power is out everywhere." Susan snorts as she comes out of her room. "Did you?"

 

"Yeah, we need to get our stuff out of the trunk." Alan cuts through the twins room and opens the trunk of David's car, pulling out bags with Josette's help. Susan takes one of the bags and cat supplies from Alan and goes back into her room.

 

"When you're done putting everything away, can you come back out here please?" Allison asks. "Where are the others?"

 

"The superstore in town getting coolers and dry ice for the food in our refrigerators. If they didn't have them, they were heading into Boston to a sporting good store." Abby says as Josette puts her library bag on the kitchen table.

 

"Oh good, I had hoped somebody had thought about that." Allison sighs. "Do you have much?"

 

"No, we'd been so distracted with all the shit going on with the university we hadn't had a chance to go grocery shopping for a while." Anna says. "Even the refrigerator in the basement was getting bare. Since we knew you'd be coming out, we decided to go shopping after the generator is installed."

 

A beeping from the back tells everybody that the boys have arrived, rolling coolers being placed in their rooms and down in the basement before David hands Josette the papers and they turn their attention to Dr. Blake and their guests. Allison starts going through the boxes from GD and nods as she finds what she's looking for. "I know you all have computers but they're not powerful enough for all the programs we use for off location learning. So we have new laptops for all of you, plus the programs you're going to need for your classes." She grins as everybody but her godson blinks at her. He just starts grabbing boxes at her direction, putting them in their rooms.

 

"Josette, is there a place where we can put the school's copies of school material?" Allison asks.

 

"Yes, the library has a meeting room we can use and storage for what you brought." Alan is nudged until he starts putting boxes into subspace and the school representatives walk to the library, going down the outside stairs and looking around in satisfaction at the large room with seating for everybody as Principal Madison comes into the room. He unlocks the storage room next door and some of the boxes are placed in there while others are left in the room.

 

"Yes, this is perfect for our talks with you eight, and I understand you have an auditorium where we can talk to your other students?"

 

Jolt nods. "School will be over today for the holiday, I can set up a schedule for you to use the auditorium Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to talk to the students."

 

"Thank you Principal Madison."

 

Meanwhile Susan, Anna, and Abby are making beds in the rooms on the first floor, Alan had moved box springs and mattresses down from the third floor earlier that morning. David starts putting knobs on the doors as the others come back from the library. The representatives start putting their bags away in their rooms as a large vehicle pulls into the parking lot behind the building, Allison going out with Principal Madison to show the driver where to park the vehicle so they can bring the generator in parts through the tunnels since there's no outside entrance to the basement. The kids start emptying their refrigerators and putting everything in the coolers before heading down to the basement to take care of that refrigerator, Anna and Abby drawing pails of hot soapy water to clean the refrigerators when the engineer announces he'd be shutting the power off in ten minutes. Josette walks to her room and starts cleaning her own refrigerator and freezer, drying everything before putting the racks back in the refrigeror and shutting the door. Once all the refrigerators are cleaned Allison tells them to get their school records, including the grades from this last semester at the university before taking them back to the library where one of the school representatives are waiting for them. Folders are placed in front of them when they settle at the table and they listen to the introduction about the school and what courses are offered. They hand over their course lists they'd received when they'd enrolled with their classes already marked off from high school and what classes they'd taken this last semester, he makes out a new list for each of them and shows them what classes he'd have them taking in January if they enroll in his university. After going over everything with them, he hands over goodie bags and Allison follows them up the outside stairs of the library with a box of course catalogs to put in the first floor lounge when a pair of familiar figures coming down the sidewalk catch her eyes.

 

"Patricia, Clark?"

 

"Allison, what are you doing here. . .You're the one who's helping Josette and her friends find a new university after University of Massachusetts Boston told them they weren't welcome back?" Clark asks, hugging her. When he's finished, Patricia hugs her and they both kiss her on the lips. "Yes, my godson David is one of her friends. What are you doing here though?"

 

Clark looks around to make sure that nobody is within earshot and quietly says. "Josette. . .might be our granddaughter."

 

Allison is stunned. "You're joking?"

 

"No, James. . .or Logan as he's going by now told us that he'd come across somebody he thought was our grandchild. We didn't think anything of it at first since we've had others come forward looking for money, but with James' senses he'd know."

 

"Yes," Allison says slowly. "I came to the school this last weekend to apologize for the actions of the committee that's overseeing the fund we created to give deserving students full scholarships. Josette said at that time that she'd found some rocks with drawings on them and had requested a couple of Johnny's books to try to translate them. Johnny asked if she still had the photos and her translation attempts, when we went to her room I recognized the picture by her bed as one of my former associates, Clarinda had been dating our son before he died."

 

"So you think that she's your granddaughter?"

 

"I haven't been able to get hold of James yet to ask him if she's who he met, but I 'knew' her Allison."

 

Allison nods as they walk into the dorm, putting the box of course catalogs in the lounge before they walk down the hallway as Anna, Abby, and Alan go past them with their puppies tugging at the leash. "Mail's been delivered. No, there's nothing from the university in today's mail but we all got mail." Alan calls down the hallway. Josette starts cussing and comes out to the boxes, reaching for her mail like it's a snake about to bite before she sighs and relaxes, seeing it's her check from the school and one of the trade journals her teachers had told her to sign up for when they learned she'd be taking over the library.

 

"Dr. Savage?" Josette smiles as she takes his hand.

 

"Yes, I'd just come to congratulate you on your grades from the university. This is my cousin Patricia." The older woman takes her hand and Allison nods at the letter in her hand. "Good news?"

 

"Well, there was no insane letter from the university so it's not bad news. Just a trade journal for librarians one of my teachers suggested I sign up for and my check from the school's laundry. There should be a little extra in it this time, which will make up for being short the last couple of weeks."

 

Allison smiles slightly and Clark and Patricia look at her in interest as Josette heads back for her bedroom, sighing and putting her mail on the desk when she finds the kitten trying to reach something under the refrigerator.

 

"You're going to have to wait until Abby comes back." she tells him. "I can't reach it either." She settles at the desk and opens her paycheck, blinking at the amount. "That's the check where all of you were up those two nights, isn't it?" Allison asks.

 

"Yeah." Josette says, putting the check in the locking drawer of her desk. Footsteps coming up the hall and the other door opening has Josette getting to her feet. "Abby, the pest knocked his mousie under the refrigerator again." she calls around the door.

 

Abby chuckles and takes the flashlight, laying down on the floor and the mouse flies out from under the refrigerator, she 'tosses' it in the direction of the kitten who jumps on it. "Now I know why you call him the pest."

 

"No, I call him the pest because of his habit of climbing my legs and sitting on my chest while I sleep." She sighs and looks at the cat. "I really need to come up with a name for you." Patricia is looking around the room, the bathroom and closet doors are open but the first and only thing she's looking at is sitting on the nightstand, like Clark had said there's the picture of Clarinda. A loud grumbling from next door has everybody grinning, "Was that the puppies or your brother's stomach?"

 

"Alan." She chuckles. Looking at her watch she sees it's nearly one. "Guys, lets go eat, the dining hall is only going to be open for another hour and fifteen or twenty minutes." Allison goes down to get the engineer working on the generator, the truck driver had left as soon as the truck was unloaded, and everybody heads for the dining hall.

 

"So do you need Global Dynamics to run the test?" she asks Pat and Clark as they settle at a table.

 

"Please." Pat looks at Josette as she leans against the dark haired young man that Allison had introduced to them as her godson. "The group seems close, are they. . ."

 

"Together? Yes. Actually I have the perfect excuse for drawing the blood, Josette didn't know she was magical until a couple of weeks ago." Doc and Pat stare at her, stunned. "I swear to the goddess, she didn't realize it. She knew the cats were of familiar stock because James told her that your family bred them and that Samhein had chosen her, but didn't realize they were active familiars. When Shadow arrived, she thought that she was an unbonded familiar who had sought Samhein out to breed with him. She'd just got the kitten the day before I arrived, I truly didn't realize she was magical until after I'd seen the cats, then I could feel the magic rolling off her."

 

"Is she. . ."

 

"Sexually active, yes for a little over a year now." Allison says quietly. "She's been on hormonal birth control, I want to see what the level is in her bloodstream before I start her on something else that won't affect her magic. They've been concentrating on their studies for the last couple of months but now that school's out I expect them to be 'celebrating' surviving the university."

 

Pat and Doc nod. "We have to head back to New York in a few hours, I'll give you a blood sample before we leave."

 

After lunch is a interview with a second representative from a university, they emerge two hours later and Allison grabs onto Josette when she comes back to the dorm, pushing her into a chair. She looks at the small container of medical supplies and rolls up her sleeve at Allison's quiet words. The needle slips into her arm and Allison takes a couple of vials of blood before taping gauze over her arm and asking her Godson to open a tesseract to Global Dynamics, walking through and hissing something in Nathan's ear before kissing, him, Jack Carter, and the babies and walking back to the dorm before David shuts the opening. They all head off to a third interview for a university and Allison smiles as she sees Charlie Eppes coming up the sidewalk with Principal Madison and Professor Druid.

 

"So, can I do anything to get you thinking of coming back to school to teach?" Jolt asks as he puts Charlie's duffel bag down on the bed. They'd already put the school information from Calsci in the library storage room with the other boxes and Charlie had been tag team hugged by the eight university students. "I'm going to be without a math teacher next fall."

 

Charlie takes a deep breath. "Make me an offer, I've had a couple of rough patches in LA lately and I need a break. I love my family and friends, I love them, I really do love them." his fists clench.

 

"But you don't exactly *like* them right now." Druid says.

 

"Exactly." Charlie nods. "I'll have a job proposal worked up for you before you leave Monday morning."

 

"Thanks."

 

The kids arrive back at the dorm a couple hours later, putting their bags away so they don't trip over them when it gets dark out and go down to the storeroom to bring out candles, flashlights, and a couple of oil lamps for the rooms. Jolt had already said that she could do the boys laundry Friday night, getting enrolled in a new school came first. The next interview is set for after dinner and Josette picks up the paper, finding the ad for the megastore and starts looking at the stuff on sale there tomorrow and later Friday and Saturday. The twins come in to look at the ad as she turns to the 'Save Big, Shop Here' ads for Black Friday.

 

"Nope," she finally says.

 

"Not a damn thing that I'd be interested in either." the others say, bundling up the papers and putting them in the recycling bin down the hall. "What time is our next interview?"

 

"Tonight at seven, it will be ending after the time they close the library to students. Make sure we all have flashlights for the trip back to the dorm."

 

They nod. Making sure everything is ready for her when its time to come back to the dorm she watches the sun begins to go down before opening a water bottle to fill the cats dish as she makes sure their food dish is full. The puppies head out back for their last walk of the day and Josette shuts the door when it starts turning chilly. The outside door next door opens and shuts and then the inner door opens and shuts as Alan walks down the hall to his room.

 

"Five thirty, wanna hit the dining hall?" David asks, leaning in the door. "Grammy Allie just corralled everybody else for dinner and a meeting in the library before our interview at seven."

 

Josette nods and he bends down to kiss her as she slips her bag over her arm and a flashlight into the bag. "Any word on when the power comes back on?"

 

"Around noon tomorrow, there's about four more hours work before the power comes back on, then we're putting a closet around the generator."

 

"And we need to figure out what school we're going to be attending by Sunday."

 

David nods. "Once the power is back on we can start looking through all the information and make our choices."

 

"What if Screw U doesn't release our grades?" Alan asks.

 

"We've got copies of our grades, they're good enough for all the schools." David soothes the others as they walk to the dining hall, fill their trays, and start eating. A half hour before they're ready to leave Allison and the others enter the dining hall and Charlie is pulled over to the teachers table by grinning colleagues who heard the news that he might be coming back. The haunted look that had been in his eyes is easing at the enthusiastic greetings he'd been receiving since arriving back at the school. Allison takes the last seat at the table and says something, everybody looks at her and starts asking questions. She has a folder in her hand and starts handing out papers.

 

"Attention students," Jolt stands up and everybody turns to look in his direction. "We have guests from a number of universities who will be giving talks about their schools in the auditorium this weekend. Your dorm monitors will be handing out sheets with more information tomorrow night when the dorms are locked down for the night. The dining hall will be on a holiday food schedule tomorrow, for our new students this means there will not be a separate breakfast and lunch serving tomorrow. Brunch will be from ten to noon to give our cooks time to work on thanksgiving dinner. Dinner will be held at the usual time of five to eight pm." He sits back down and the students begin talking among themselves as Josette gets up for her second helping of dinner.

 

Washing her face and hands after dinner in the bathroom at the library, she walks back outside and down the stairs into the meeting room with the others, settling in a comfortable seat and leaning back in the chair as the others settle around her. The door opens and the school representative comes in and starts talking about her school and each program they're interested in, showing them how their classes will transfer over and talking about what options are available to them for law school, medical school, and graduate school. The representative winds up her talk about quarter after nine, handing out the goodie bags and David hands his to Josette to carry as he grabs the box of supplies as they walk out of the building, the student on duty shutting off the last of the lights and locking the outside door as they walk down the sidewalk to the dorm, stunned when they find it blazing with lights.

 

"We'll shut the electricity off again at eight tomorrow when we finish connecting the generator and test it, but this way everybody can get hot showers, check e-mails, and do everything else that needs to be done tonight." Allison says as she grins at them. Josette locks the doors for the night and heads for her room, putting David's bag in front of his door before dropping the bags on the bed before stripping off her clothes and standing under a hot shower. After her shower Josette settles at her desk chair, making a note to get a new one since this one is getting old and uncomfortable and starts opening the first bag of information from the school as David puts the last box of school catalogs into the first floor lounge before shutting the door and heading to his room for his own hot shower before it's all gone. Now that they have a generator, the next thing they're going to be looking at is a larger hot water system.

 

Sitting at the kitchen table, Josette looks at the first comparison between Screw U, she sniggers at Alan's nickname for their old school and the first school they'd been introduced to, checking the course catalog for the next semester to see if she can still sign up for the classes she'd already been planning to sign up for and then checking the list of classes she needs to see if she needs to change the order of classes she'd need. She'd need more classes than their old school to graduate, two that she should have had this last semester and she scowls but opens a notepad page on her laptop and starts a list of the schools from first to last by way of classes before pulling other items out of the 'goodie' bag, finding a t-shirt in her size, Allison must have told them their sizes since her name is on the bag, information on their graduate school, she nods as she realizes that she'd need more classes now but less classes in graduate school and makes a check next to the name before putting everything back in the bag, finding samples of the schools magazines and a dvd tour of the school before blinking as she sees the computer programs included in the package. They're student versions of programs, but they're full versions of the programs and not trials that she'd have to end up paying for later.

 

The second bag is opened and Josette compares the list of classes she'd need to Screw U and the school she'd just looked at, again she'd need more classes but remembers that the representatives had said that these degrees were geared towards working adults who were going for degrees and there'd be more classes in the beginning but less classes when she got to the masters level. She makes a note to ask the representatives about a possible information technology bachelor sometime in the future and checks the course catalog and the list of classes she'd been planning on taking. All are available and she nods as she starts looking at other information, putting the school at the top of the list for now.

 

The other two schools are looked at similarly, she puts up the boxes that Dr. Blake had brought them on the desk before shutting off the lights and settling under the covers. Sleep doesn't come easily and she scowls, getting up and turning on the light to start reading the school catalogs again. A second list of schools is started in another computer file based on school location, number of students and whether they're primarily geared toward new students just out of high school or returning students who have been in the workplace for a while. She remembers what Dr. Blake had said, they'd be able to take most of their classes online but they'd have to either go to the school or a lab at Global Dynamics for speciality classes, tests, and their finals. Finally she begins to feel tired and marks her place in the catalog she'd been reading and returns to bed.

 

Chapter 4 by josette grover

 

It's eight thirty when she gets up and she pulls on old clothes before grabbing a set of clean clothes and walking to the gym for a hot shower. Returning to her room, she finds everybody waiting on her and they talk about the pros and cons of the schools they'd been introduced to yesterday before going to brunch and the first of the remaining two interviews afterwards. The second one is at two thirty and they come back to the dorm to find the engineer coming up from the basement.

 

"Your generator is ready to go, it will come on automatically when the power fails and shut itself off when the power returns. The only thing you need to keep an eye on is the oil, it takes 10-40, we left a case down there but you can get it at any store when you start running out." They go downstairs and see the new generator, listening to how it operates and what they need to keep an eye on when it's been running during a major power outage before going back upstairs. The electrical engineer will be staying on for an extra two weeks to check out the other buildings for Principal Madison.

 

Dr. Blake calls them into the first floor lounge to talk about the schools they'd learned about and reminds them that they don't all have to settle on the same school when nobody can settle on one school, since they'd be taking their classes online, they could all be attending different schools. And they actually wouldn't be limited to a single school, the forms she was handing them to fill out made them Global Dynamics employees and employees could take their classes from any school in the GD system. They fill out the paperwork and Dr. Blake takes it with a smile, scanning everything on her portable scanner and sending it somewhere. An e-mail notification pops up on her computer screen, opening the message she tells them to go to their rooms, take the computers she'd brought them out of their boxes and follow the instructions on the screen to sign up for the degrees and schools they wanted, this way they could sign up for their classes and have their books and supplies before Christmas.

 

Josette opens the large carton she'd put on the floor this morning, opening the box on top and plugging in the laptop inside, blinking as a screen asking for her name and id number appears on the screen.

 

"Your id numbers are your social security numbers," Allison calls from the hallway, expecting the first question. Josette silently types hers in and the screen changes.

 

Welcome to the Global Dynamics Continuing Education Section Ms. Takahawa, the screen says. Please select your first degree and school you wish to attend from the drop down menus.

 

"First degree?" Anna asks.

 

"Most of your planned on going for more than one degree, right? Global Dynamics offers you the chance to go on and get as many as you want. The limit you can get at one time is three, but you can get one, then go on and start a second."

 

Do you wish to go for a dual degree in another major right now? y/n

 

Josette thinks a long moment, looks at the classes she would need for an information technology degree, reminds herself that she'd be taking all her classes online so she doesn't have to commute and clicks yes.

 

Please select the second course you wish to sign up for at this time. the screen says and she selects information technology. When the screen says are you sure she clicks yes again.

 

Please wait while we check your school records and compute what classes you will need for your degrees. the computer says.

 

"Is everybody at the computing classes screen?" Allison calls.

 

"Yes," everybody says.

 

"That's going to be at least an hour, lets go to dinner and by the time we get back they should be finished. Then you can print out the classes they suggest you sign up for and I'll fax them to the schools. You should have your receipt for your next semester's classes and your supplies in a week." Allison says as she starts shooing everybody out of the dorm and down the sidewalk to the dining hall.

 

"Did you get them signed up?" Principal Madison asks as the kids settle at their usual table.

 

"Yes, after I reminded them they didn't all have to decide on the same school since everything was going to be online except for tests, finals, and any special classes they need."

 

"Is the generator ready for use?"

 

"Yes, the electrical engineer will be talking to you in the morning about what buildings you want him to look at while he's here, he'll be here for two weeks."

 

"I'd suggest one for the boys dorm since the girls and now the other dorm has one, but since we're going to be building a new one next year it wouldn't be worth it. The administration building I'd like to see with a generator and the school buildings."

 

"The students will be heartbroken about not getting a day off of class because of a power outage anymore." Druid chuckles.

 

"I know, but we must think of their education." Jolt says pompously before he starts grinning.

 

"Are you sure that David's family can erect two buildings at the same time?" Druid asks.

 

"Yes, they usually have a number of sites under construction at the same time. This will actually be easier on them since it's in the same area and they don't have to commute from one site to another to check on the construction."

 

An hour or so later after everybody heads back to the dorm, Josette checks the computer and sees it's still blinking computing and then looks at the time. "Anybody want to go grocery shopping when the superstore opens back up at eleven or wait?" She starts putting the few remaining groceries back in the refrigerator and freezer.

 

"I need to e-mail the company and get the plans for putting up a space around the generator and get a set of shelves to put supplies on. Anybody else need anything that we have to run into Boston for?" David asks.

 

"Yes, sitting in that nice chair in the meeting room made me realize what a piece of crap mine is, I need to get a new one." Josette says.

 

"Yes, especially if we're going to be sitting at them for hours." David agrees.

 

"Is everybody on the next screen?" Allison asks.

 

"No," Josette says. Allison comes in and looks at her, then at the screen.

 

"The megastore's open, isn't it?" Alan asks.

 

"Yeah, but they're more expensive, even with the coupons we clipped or got from the basket in the dining hall." Josette complains.

 

"Yeah but. . ."

 

"I know, I know, I'm a cheapskate." Josette grabs her wallet and David kisses his godmother before he opens a tesseract to the megastore, he's found all the blind areas at the local stores where the cameras don't quite meet in the years since he's arrived at school and they walk in, getting carts and baskets and filling them with fruit, vegetables, meat, and a few other items that weren't on the list but the store had on sale before pushing the carts outside and opening a tesseract, carrying through bags before Alan and Abby put the carts in a nearby corral.

 

"Josette, is your computer on the next screen yet?" Allison asks as they head to their rooms with bags of groceries.

 

Josette looks over at her desk from where she's putting bags on the counter. "Yes."

 

"Good, I was beginning to worry. Everybody check the classes you have listed, there should be eight listed, more if you've gone for a second degree. You don't have to sign up for all of them, just click on the ones that are the most important for you, if they're classes you should have already have had, they'll be listed at the top of the page, as I said you can take as many as you want but this first semester, I'd limit myself to six, that's still considered a full load. You can always take classes that aren't part of your degree but interest you later, right now I'd just stick to the classes for your degree." She walks into the rooms, looking over shoulders as the kids look at the descriptions of classes needed and select the classes they wish to take this semester. Josette is scrolling up and down the page, finally selecting eight classes, then clicking on a ninth before going back to her grocery bags. Allison just shakes her head.

 

"If you've all selected your classes, click next. That will take you to the next page. Does anybody have a printer that isn't wireless?"

 

"Yes." Susan and Alan chorus.

 

"Bring your computers in here and use ours to print," Josette and the twins call. They enter their rooms and take seats at the tables.

 

"On the next page, after making sure you have the classes you'd selected click the send button to finalize your classes. On the next page it will ask you if you want to print a copy for your records. Select two copies, one for you and one for me, then hit print." Papers start coming out of the printers. Susan takes them and sorting out the copies while Josette puts groceries and her other purchases away, folding the bags inside each other to return to the store. Allison comes around and collects her copies, telling everyone they can shut the computers down for now, they can install the programs they'll need before classes begin next semester then goes to her room to scan and fax the papers before going up to the third floor lounge the school representatives took over while they're at the school and waves the papers, Charlie grinning as he reads them and hands them around.

 

"Susan, Alan, and David were the only ones who didn't go for a double degree right away?" one of them asks. "I thought I'd snagged Josette for my school." He smiles.

 

"Yep, you all got at least one of them. I'm not sure if David is going to go for a second degree, but Alan and Susan are pre-med and -law."

 

"Yes, with those degrees I wouldn't go for a second degree right away either." one of the other representatives says.

 

"I can't believe Josette signed up for nine classes." One of the representatives shakes her head.

 

"I can," Charlie chuckles. "You all know now that I taught here a couple of years. I was Josette's math teacher her freshman year. Students are allowed to take up to eight classes in a semester, six required and two electives. You have to keep your grades up and prove you can handle the responsiblity of those two other classes, Josette was taking eight classes from the beginning her freshman year and I doubt that she stopped after that."

 

"No, according to her school records she graduated with 96 class credits."

 

Charlie nods. "That would have been 8 classes a semester, for all four years. Including the summer semester after the rest of her year would have chosen to graduate."

 

"And she was working four nights a week in the laundry most of that time." Allison shakes her head.

 

"How many classes did she take at Screw U?" The others look at him and he shakes his head. "Alan's nickname for University of Massachusetts, Boston. He used it once and it seems to have stuck with the group. With how the university has been acting, the name seems apt."

 

"Four classes, even though she came in as a third year student because of all the AP classes they took, the school suggested they only take that many their first semester."

 

"Only four classes? Josette must have been bored to tears." Charlie shakes his head.

 

Josette shuts down the computer and finds a computer bag in the carton with other boxes, putting it in the bag she puts everything in the closet and starts looking through the contents of the two goodie bags from that day, finding other computer programs, clothing, some books, and other items meant to entice them into applying to their school.

 

David taps on the open doorway, coming in and leaving the door cracked open behind him. "I've got the plans for the enclosure around the generator, I need to plug the dimensions in for the finished size, materials, and equipment needed lists. But I wanted to check out your computer chair first." he sits down and immediately shifts, it creaks alarmingly. "Yeah, this thing has got to go, Jennifer offered to take care of it for me when she was here before." He pulls her onto his lap and Josette can feel his hard cock under her as they start kissing.

 

"If the dorm wasn't filled with our guests right now, I'd have you howling for my cock." he promises her.

 

"Only if you had a condom on it." Josette grins. "Your godmother wants me to switch to a different birth control formula since this one has a history of interfering with magic. I'm on my spacer right now, so I'm not protected."

 

"Not if I was fucking your pretty little ass." David whispers in her ear.

 

"Wait until everybody is gone." Josette says as somebody knocks on the slightly open door.

 

"Come in," Josette calls and Allison comes in, grinning at the pair.

 

"Am I interrupting anything?" She says.

 

"We were just talking." David grins, goosing Josette as she gets to her feet.

 

"Just talking?" She snorts.

 

"We aren't going to have sex with everybody in the dorm. . ." David rolls his eyes.

 

"And you're waiting on the results of the blood work before you put me on a different form of birth control."

 

"Yes, and I just got them back." Allison pulls up a chair at the table and sits down. "I know from the school that your medical will cover birth control, but your benefits won't start for a few months yet."

 

Josette nods. "They start the end of the semester after you apply for them, in my case the end of April, early May."

 

"From the levels in your blood, I'd say you're on your spacing row of pills right now?"

 

Josette nods. "I should be starting my three days of hell day after tomorrow."

 

"Are your cycles bad?"

 

"If you consider bleeding like a stuck pig and cramps most over the counter stuff doesn't even touch bad, yes. At least mine are normal, Anna's are so damn erratic."

 

"Have you had a gynecological exam?"

 

"Yeah, three years ago?" Josette thinks back. She gets up and walks next door, tapping on the door and sticking her head inside. "The school scheduled our gynecological exams during our sophomore year, right?"

 

"Yeah, the same time they started us on birth control." Allison hears one of the twins say.

 

Allison brings up her phone and starts typing. "You're still planning on going into Boston tomorrow?"

 

"Yeah, I need to run the dimensions for the generator enclosure through the computer and Josette needs a new computer chair. I figured we'd go to Lowe's, the mall, and the warehouse store. Alan can put the building materials in subspace so we have room in the cars for the rest of our purchases.

 

"David, you know where the Sheriff's office is in town. You might not have met Sheriff Carter yet, but Deputy Lupo knows you. Can you open a tesseract there next Wednesday morning and bring everybody to Eureka, we'll get you temporary id badges and take you up to Global Dynamics for physicals and gynecological exams for the girls. You should all be about out of birth control pills."

 

The twins nod in the doorway as they come in with the others. "We got a six month supply before our school insurance ran out in April, we're on the last box right now. Screw U's insurance they forced us to get didn't cover them."

 

"Most universities health plans don't." Allison agrees.

 

"Do you need us to skip breakfast for blood tests?" Alan asks.

 

Allison nods. "Yes, that way we can do a complete physical. Michael, Alexander, I'll set up a meeting with the agents I told you about, that way you can get to know all of them and decide who you want to represent you. I'll tell everbody who you are after you sign with somebody." She starts typing in her phone again after giving everybody hugs and walking from the room.

 

"Does anybody know if the dorm's artificial tree is still down in the storage unit?" Alan asks.

 

"It must be, I can't see them taking that and leaving everything else." Josette shrugs. "We can look for it and the boxes of ornaments in a few days. Do we want to put it up on the table out of the puppies reach? Or move the table out of there for the time being and put gates up around the tree to keep them out?"

 

"Move the table out of the way for the time being. I've been meaning to check the wall there for studs and putting up racks to hang up hats, coats, and scarves when we come in the front door."

 

"Susan, how are you doing on money?"

 

"I've got to go to the track for a day or so and win a few races." She says. "Maybe we'd better dig the tree out sooner, I noticed it was getting pretty bad last year, we might want to get a new one." Josette thinks a moment and nods. "Yeah." They head downstairs into the dorm's storage room, turning on the lights and hunting for the cartons marked christmas decorations and the tree. Pulling everything out they shut off the lights and get everything upstairs into a spare room, shaking their head when they open the box. "Yep, definitely need a new artificial tree." David puts that down on his list and they start picking off the set of lights, plugging it in to see if it still works before putting the tree back in the box. Since he's going home in a couple of days, he'll set it aside so Jennifer can get a little energy from it, he'll have Alan put it and Josette's desk chair in subspace before they leave. They look at the decorations next, each of them making a mental note to look at some newer ones in the stores.

 

David heads to his room, opening the computer program his family's company uses for building and pulling up the file for the generator enclosure they'd e-mailed him, inserting the dimensions and what kind of door he wants in the opening before printing out the resulting pages of instructions, materials needed, and tools needed. He has to get up and get a new ream of paper from the storeroom, putting paper in the printer for the last page before he shuts off the lights and lays on the bed, slowly stroking himself as he imagines Josette writhing under him as he pounds into her willing body.

 

After breakfast, and most of the insanity of doors opening for black friday sales should have worn off, the group settles in Alexander and Michael's van and David's car for the drive into Boston, turning off the radios at the first christmas song. Josette just chuckles at the disgusted looks on everybody's face, "You were expecting something else?"

 

"Couldn't they have at least waited until November was over?"

 

"How many stores had Christmas stuff out before Thanksgiving? Hell, with the Halloween decorations in some places."

 

"True." Susan says. They pull into the parking lot by Lowe's and the warehouse store, locking up the vehicles before heading inside. While David heads to the contractors section to get what he needs, Josette and the others start wandering the aisles, ending up at the display of artificial trees and looking them over before they all decide on one, then look over at David comes up. "That one?" he asks, pointing to the one they'd all been looking at and they nod, he takes the slip and heads to the front of the store, a worker coming up with the things he needs for the generator enclosure and the tree. Once they're on the side of the van, Alan starts putting everything into subspace before taking the flatbed carts back to the store and they walk down to the warehouse store, grabbing carts and splitting up.

 

Susan is looking at the printers when David finds her, he grins and points to one that will do everything she needs and puts two on the cart before she can argue. She shakes her head and rolls her eyes when he leers at her and says she and Alan can pay him back with sex but follows him down the aisles to find the others, looking at a selection of Christmas decorations. A desk chair is next and Josette sits in each chair for a few minutes, leaning back and relaxing and also hunched over like she was working at her desk before settling on one. David just looks at her and takes the slip for the desk chair she'd really wanted and whispers something in her ear, she just gives him a 'damn sex maniac' look and Susan gives her a knowing grin.

 

The grocery section is the last stop they make and they fill two carts with groceries before checking out, shunting everything into subspace after they arrive back at the vehicles. Just looking at the mall makes everybody shudder and decide to wait, so they head back to the school, pulling into the parking lot and walking inside before Alan starts pulling items out of subspace when they walk down to the basement. The food goes in the chest freezer or split between the three refrigerators while the materials for the generator enclosure and the set of shelves is put in the other room. Heading back upstairs they put the christmas tree box and ornaments on the table across from the mailbox, while the few remaining purchases are shuffled between their rooms.

 

The mail had arrived and they grab their keys when they see their boxes are full, opening the boxes and pulling out individual envelopes until they can fit their hands in and get all the remaining envelopes at once.

 

"Our grades." Josette says, finding one of those tear and pull envelopes in the mail with the university's address on it. Josette starts sorting out letter and finds two other envelopes with the school's return address on it, one rather thick.

 

"Do you think we should have Principal Madison or the school's lawyers here when we open them?" Abby asks.

 

"With all the shit Screw U has pulled already, I wouldn't put it past them to say we did this ourselves." Josette snorts. "Lock everything from the university in your desk and we'll talk to Principal Madison at. . ." she looks at the clock prominently over the hallway, positioned so that students could see the time from the outside, "at lunch. He'll want to be here when we open them."

 

David nods. "So will Grammy Allison and possibly at least one lawyer. Is there anything else in our mail that needs attention?"

 

Josette sorts out the letters from the university, holding up a letter from a lawyer in Boston. "I think so, did anybody else get letters from some law firm in Boston?"

 

Everybody looks through their letters and nods. Those letters go on the pile of mail to open with Principal Madison.

 

"A letter about student loans?"

 

"Open with Principal Madison and have proof from the bank and credit reports that we don't have one?" David says, shaking his head. "This sounds like the hacker's work there."

 

"Would the bank still have the proof we paid our tuition with our scholarship loans even if they've been paid off and converted to credit cards?" Anna asks.

 

"Yes, if not still on the computer then in storage." Michael says. "Anything else we need to worry about?"

 

"Hell, why not just open everything with Principal Madison there?" Alan says. "With a video camera running as proof we didn't tamper with the envelopes?"

 

"Sounds good me me actually." David says. "Somebody grab a school bag for all the mail and our real grades. . .Josette, grab your laptop and Ms. Sawyer's e-mail address, will you? If our grades have been tampered with and we do suddenly have student loans, she'll have another breaking story to open her news broadcast with." He grins. "We might even be interviewed again."

 

"I'm going to put my foot up somebody's ass sideway if this doesn't get taken care of soon." Josette grumbles. She moves around the box in the middle of the room, grunting as she shoves it until it's out of the way under her table and grabs her laptop and the envelope with Ms. Sawyer's e-mail address, runs into the bathroom to pee and change the pad in her underwear, feed the cats as the twins and Alan take their puppies for a walk out back past the parking lot and they all head to lunch after everybody's back at the dorm."

 

"Is there a meeting room that we can use that has a camera in it so we can tape everything?" Josette asks as she comes up to the head table. Principal Madison, Druid, Dr. Blake, and a visitor who Josette finally recognizes as one of the school's lawyers look at her. "We got our grades today, two other letters from the school, a letter from a lawyer's office in Boston, and at least a dozen other letters. . .each. Including something that looks to be about student loans."

 

Principal Madison closes his eyes, everybody who knows him knows he's counting to ten in every language he knows. "We can use the meeting room in the administration building, we use it when we have to deal with school matters that involve students. You didn't open any of them did you?"

 

"Hell no, I may have been born in the dark but it wasn't last night."

 

"Did you bring them with you?"

 

"In the bag by Anna's feet, along with my laptop and Ms. Sawyer's e-mail address. If it's as bad as I think it is, she's going to have a new breaking story for the lead on her nightly news tonight."

 

"I'll call the vice-president of the bank and have him bring proof that you paid for this year's tuition and books with your scholarship loans. He can also run credit checks for all of you to make sure nobody opened one in your name."

 

"Did you bring the proof of your real grades?" the school lawyer asks.

 

"Yep, grabbed them too."

 

Josette turns to go back to her seat after Principal Madison tells her that he'll come get them when the bank's vice-president arrives with the proof that they don't have student loans. He excuses himself to make the call and comes back to the table, shaking his head.

 

"Can't they ever get a break?"

 

"Well if the university's administration had just dealt with the hacker in the first place instead of letting him or her keep bothering the students like he has been, it never would have gotten this far. Now that everybody knows what's going on at the university, the school is trying to punish those students who have spoken out instead of acknowledging their shortcoming. Which makes them look incompetent at best and unsympathetic evil bastards at worst."

 

Druid looks at the lawyer. "You know, the school seems to be more interested in protecting the hacker than the students, I wonder if they don't already know who it is."

 

"Why would they. . .you think it's part of the administration, don't you?" the lawyer asks.

 

"Or somebody who used to be part of the administration." Druid says slowly.

 

"That's. .. horrible." Dr. Blake says.

 

"But it makes perfect sense." Principal Madison says. "Do the kids have a good case against the university?"

 

"Oh yes, they have an excellent case against the university. I'll be having them begging the students for their forgiveness by the time I'm finished with them. They'll be nearly crying, of course that might be from the large settlement I'm going to be asking for when this comes to court."

 

Josette eats four servings at lunch, everybody chuckling when she says she's girding her loins for the battle and head back to their dorm after lunch, David opening the box for the new desk chair and starts putting it together, Josette leaning back in the chair when Principal Madison taps at the back door.

 

"About time you got a new chair." he says as Josette gets up and slides it against her desk as David cleans up the debris, putting it in the recycling bins in the hallway before calling out that Principal Madison is there. The old chair is shoved out in the hallway for now as the others come into Josette's room and out through the back door, the bag with its precious contents over Anna's arm.

 

The others are waiting in the room and everybody introduces themselves when Principal Madison starts the camera rolling. Three long hours later after all the mail has been opened and as everybody had feared the hacker had messed with their grades, the school had sent them a letter claiming that they had been within their rights to ask them to leave, this time claiming they had failed their classes, and the letter from the lawyers office had been a standard cease and desist letter trying to keep them from speaking out against good old Screw U, the lawyer had laughed and said they must be getting desperate because they were no longer students there and there was nothing to keep private citizens from speaking out against any institution. Even as students the university had no right to keep them from talking against the school. The thick letters had been copies of their transcripts, altered to try to show classes they hadn't taken and grades they hadn't received. The papers about the student loans had said they'd have six months deferrence before they had to start payments and the bank's vice-president had said there was no record of any student loans on their credit reports. After copying all the letters and proof of their real grades, Josette sends everything to Ms. Sawyer with the subject line of 'they struck again' and sends the camera footage and all the letters by attachments with her e-mail, saying that they had the originals, the school had a copy, now she had a copy, and their lawyers had a copy. She receives a quick e-mail back a few minutes later, a simple 'thank you'.

 

After dinner she heads back to the laundry, turning on the six o'clock national news and grinning evilly as Diane starts out the news with the information she'd given her. "Piss me off, will you." Josette grumbles as she cleans the outer room and checks the dispenser and emergency closet. By the time the news switches to other stories she's finished in there and shuts off the television before going into the other room. She dumps the bags on the floor and starts shaking out sheets and towels, starting the machines before she turns to her laptop and finds a longer e-mail from Ms. Sawyer both apologizing for all they've been going through and thanking her for the story of the year. She ends her letter with hoping they'd find a new school to attend soon and Josette looks up from reading the rest of her e-mail when the machines finish their cycle. Pushing a cart in front of the machine she starts pulling out sheets and transfers it to the dryer before she starts emptying the cart, shaking out sheets and starting the second load washing. Sitting back down while the machines work she checks the latest news and finds out that the news crews are back at the university, demanding interviews with the administration as students protested their false grades in the school commons. Just as the police cars started to arrive the dryers signal they're finished. She starts emptying the first dryer into a cart, rolling it over to the folding machine and starts the first sheet through, walking around the machine to grab the sheet and set it aside before she runs the second sheet. The first cart is empty and she empties the second dryer of sheets into it when the washers beep they're finished. Grabbing another cart she tosses the sheets into the empty dryers, starting them drying as she empties the towels into a third cart.

 

The second cart of sheets is soon run through the folding machine and she sorts out sets of sheets and wraps them in plastic and puts them in the dorm's cart before turning to the towels and starts running them through. The towels are wrapped in plastic and set in the cart before the second load of sheets is run through , being put in the bags she precariously balances on the full cart and starts on the towels. It's two in the morning when she finishes and she unplugs her laptop and slides her school bag over her arm as she shuts off the lights in the room. Punching out, she starts rolling the cart through the tunnels to the boys dorm, then walks home, coming up through the basement and finding everybody still awake, gathered around the television in the first floor or third floor lounge.

 

"Josette, have you been keeping up with what's happening at the university?" Susan asks as Josette opens the door.

 

"The news crews were filming the students demonstrating against their fake grades and the police cars were rolling up when I had to turn away from the computer and start folding sheets and towels." Josette says as she settles on the floor in front of Susan's legs. "What did I miss?"

 

"The university insisted that the students demonstrating be arrested for trespassing when they wouldn't leave peacefully."

 

"They've paid their tuition, wouldn't that mean that they're allowed to be there?" Josette looks up at Susan.

 

"When school is in session yes, but technically the semester is over when the last of the finals are over. Now if they're in dorms or fraternities, they're not trespassing because they've paid money to live there while they're in school. But when the police started arresting the students, the news crews were filming it and the school insisted they be arrested too."

 

"The news crews weren't on the school grounds, were they?"

 

"No, that's why they couldn't have them removed before now. When the police refused because they weren't committing any crimes, the university turned their campus police on the news crews. It was one hell of a fight. They're showing it again now." Josette watches the initial scuffle with the students, the demand that the reporters be arrested, and then the campus police attacking the news crews.

 

"That is . . .insane." Josette says slowly. The door opens and Allison pokes her head around the door, sighing in relief when she sees Josette there. "When did you get here?"

 

"Ten minutes ago?" she looks up at the clock. "Yeah, that sounds about right."

 

"Try to get some sleep tonight. " She tells them before heading back upstairs to the third floor lounge.

 

"Ten bucks says this brings the big guns back to the university." Anna smirks.

 

"Sucker bet." David snorts. "The only question is will Ms. Sawyer be alone or will there be any other national news anchors reporting from the university. Of course she'll stay here while she's in Boston, no use getting a hotel room when she's welcome here."

 

Footsteps go past the shut door as the others come down from the third floor. "I'm all but in, I'm heading to bed." Josette says.

 

"Yeah, they're not talking about anything new." Alan says, shutting off the flatscreen mounted to the wall. They shut off the lights and after shutting off the hallway lights, head to their rooms.

 

David is up early and both the local and Boston newspapers are dropped onto the kitchen tables after everybody comes back from breakfast. They take turns reading sections and shake their heads at the news. "The state's going to have to come in and take the school over now."

 

"Yeah, Boston's branch is really giving the University of Massachusetts a black eye." Josette shakes her head at the news that those students arrested for trespassing had been released on their own recognizance pending trial and were talking with lawyers about suing the school for having them arrested. The news crews attacked by the school's security had brought in the station's lawyers and the only people still in custody were the school's campus police. . . for assault.

 

Josette walks down the hall, tossing the towels that they'd used to dry the puppies last weekend down the laundry chute as David goes down to the basement to start putting up the first of the stud walls around the generator. Alan and the twins are taking the puppies for a walk and the school representatives are either in the auditorium talking about their schools, talking to students interested in their schools, in their rooms on the first floor working at their computers or upstairs in the third floor lounge watching the latest news about University of Massachusetts, Boston.

 

Deciding she needs to get out of the dorm for a few hours she walks to the library, settling in a comfortable table in the sitting area and opens the library trade journal she hadn't had a chance to look at yet, spending a couple of hours quietly reading until her growling stomach and look at the clock tells her that she needs to eat. Lunch is over but she walks to the snack bar area, making a salad and filling a pita pocket with meat and veggies and puts both items and enough other items to make a full meal in her bag and heads to the dorm.

 

"Where were you?" Anna asks as she sees her coming around the back of the dorm. She opens her back door and Josette goes through their room into her own.

 

"Reading my trade journal in the library, I lost track of time." She empties the bag onto the table, tossing the journal onto the recliner, and bites into the pita. "What's up?" she asks after chewing and swallowing.

 

"Ms. Sawyer is at the school, she and Lester Holt from NBC news?" Josette nods. "We're being interviewed in the auditorium again after dinner. Your mail's on your desk."

 

"More hate mail from Screw U?"

 

"No thank goodness. There's been more requests for interviews though, Ms. Sawyer and Principal Madison are handling the requests. Wear something nice, maybe the outfit they had you wearing in New York."

 

"Can't, having my period."

 

Anna sighs. "Let me find you something you can wear that won't make you look like you're wearing a diaper. We brought a couple boxes of pads and tampons at the warehouse store, maybe you can put in a tampon and wear a panty liner in case it leaks before the interview." She walks over to Josette's closet and begins to sort through her clothes, pulling out a few changes of clothes and hanging them on the shower curtain. Normally she's lay them out on the bed but she knows they'd be covered with cat hair in seconds if she did that so the shower rod will have to do.

 

A pair of black slacks and white shirt are finally decided on and hung on the hook on the door, the dark color will hide any blood and she hangs the rest back in the closet before Josette finishes her meal, looks at the time, and hops into the shower, pouring bath gel onto the sponge and beginning to wash herself. The curtain opens and Anna gets in with her and they start kissing as Anna presses her against the wall of the shower, pushing a leg between hers. A soapy washcloth moves between her legs cleaning her for the dildo that pushes into her body.

 

"Let us make you feel better." She says as the curtain opens again and David settles into what little space there is left. He turns the girls around so Anna is leaning against the shower wall and Josette moans as a slick finger pushes into her ass. Anna begins pinching one nipple while taking the other into her teeth as David moves quickly from one to two to three fingers in her ass before slicking up his cock with lube and pushing into her ass. Josette leans against Anna and she can feel him moving in Josette's ass through her body, after a few false starts she begins moving the dildo in Josette's cunt in counterpoint to David's thrusts.

 

Josette shudders under the assault, reduced to mewling sounds that could have come from her cats as David slams into her ass one last time and his cum gushes up her ass. He leans against the girls as he turns the water off, Josette's body finally forcing him from her ass. She moans as the dildo that had been in her cunt pushes into her ass. David wipes his cock off with a cloth before sliding his leg between Anna's, pushing into her vagina as Susan helps Josette out of the tub, leaning her against the sink as she fucks Josette's ass with the dildo. The second orgasm leaves her nearly boneless and she helps her dry herself off before opening the box of tampons and inserting the applicator into her body. She helps her dress in the clothes Anna had put out, Josette waking enough to put a panty liner in her underwear before Susan takes her by the hand and leads her out to the other room, grabbing her makeup before she leaves the bathroom. Abby settles her at the table and puts on a light application of makeup on her before she starts combing out her hair, putting it in a french braid before holding it in place with hair spray.

 

When Josette's brain finally starts working, she looks at the clock and then at Susan and Abby. "Can I ask what the hell that was all about?"

 

"Your period always makes you uptight, and we wanted you to relax." Susan grins. "You don't like tampons and complain they hurt because you always tensed up when you inserted them. Of course that was before Alan popped you so you're used to have something a lot bigger than a plasic applicator in you vajajay now. You can't even feel it now, can you?"

 

"No, no I can't."

 

"That's how it's supposed to feel." Susan says. "Now we're going to the mall, the last of the insane Black Friday shoppers should be gone and we're going to walk around the mall, look at a few things that David wants we couldn't find at Lowe's or the warehouse store. We'll 'commute'," their shorthand for traveling by tesseract, usually without letting anybody know they're gone, "and relax for a couple of hours until dinner. I'll have an extra tampon in my purse in case we need to change it out before the interview."

 

Anna and David come out of the bathroom, Anna wobbling and David smirking as they look at the group gathered at the table. "Hand me my mail while we wait for the others." Josette sighs. "And unlock my dresser for my purse, these slacks don't have a pocket for my wallet."

 

"You poor thing." Abby chuckles, "We abuse you horribly." She opens the locked drawer of Josette's dresser, pulling out the small purse Josette hardly ever carries and hands her the mail. One of them is from Josette's new school and she opens it, nodding as she sees that she's been accepted as a student. "Ha, take that Screw U, tell me I'm worthless and no other school would have me." She puts it in the top drawer of her desk, she'll have to take it with her to the interview.

 

"Yeah, we got letters from our new universities too, they must have sent them out as soon as we chose our schools and degrees." Susan says, looking over her shoulder. The remaining letters are read and chucked in the garbage can next to her desk, she'll dump it in the recycling bin later.

 

"Jeez, suddenly have one credit card and you get a dozen applications."

 

"Yeah, that's usually how it goes." David says as he and Anna come into the room with the others. He opens a tesseract and they walk through the opening, stepping out in the mall's blind spot where the cameras don't quite meet and walk into the mall. There's a large christmas tree with a large fence around it and David snaps his fingers. "Baby gates or something else to keep the puppies from the tree."

 

"There's a sears in the mall, we can look or we can ask our parents how they kept us from the tree when we were younger." Anna pats him on the shoulder.

 

"Who's keeping track of the time?"

 

"I am, I set my watch to beep us at six o'clock." Alexander says. "That should give us nearly three hours at the mall."

 

They take the escalator up to the top floor and start down. One of the vendors in the mall hallway is piercing ears and the twins frogmarch Josette up and sit her in the chair. Two quick pinches and a neat set of posts are in her ears, she takes the instructions on how to clean her ears and is reminded to turn them once a day for a couple of weeks until the holes heal and pretends not to see the small bag that is quickly put in subspace when she joins the others.

 

An electronics store is next and Josette is pulled over to the wall of tvs. "Look at all the new tvs."

 

"Yes, and look at the nice big prices on them." Josette snorts. "Mine might be old but it still works."

 

"What about a new dvd player?"

 

Josette sighs. "Yes, mine did go up but I can get them cheaper at the superstore. And if I ever need a new tv, I can get one there too."

 

The others shake their heads and Josette smirks, she won one round. One of those stores that have dvds and cds is entered next, everybody splitting up to look at items and Josette looks at a couple of cds and one season set of dvds but puts them back, Alan putting all their purchases in subspace so they have their hands free. A bookstore is looked at but Josette keeps walking, that store never have anything she's interested in and there's a larger one on the second floor. After the third floor is looked over, they walk take the escalator down to the next floor and look around some more. This time Josette does enter the bookstore but doesn't make any purchases, even with the store's discount card she could get everything cheaper at Amazon.

 

One of those trendy t-shirt stores is looked at next and Josette jerks her head in Anna's direction, she pulls out a couple of t-shirts. "Abby?"

 

"Definitely." Josette pays for the t-shirts and Alan takes the bag before they go down to the first floor, walking into sears and heading for the baby section.

 

"Can I help you?" One of the associates asks as the obvious teenagers start pulling out and looking at different baby gates.

 

"Can these stack and link together? We're looking for something to keep the puppies away from the Christmas tree when we put it up." David asks.

 

The woman smiles. "No, but I can show you something that should work better." She leads them over to another section of the store and they leave with five accordian gates that can be linked together and a few sets of wicker storage baskets that can be put under a bench or table. Again everything is put in subspace as Alexander's watch starts beeping.

 

Chapter 5 by josette grover

 

Allison is in Josette's room looking for everybody when a tesseract opens and they walk through, bags being pulled out and one is stuffed in the closet and it firmly shut while another bag is hurried into the other room.

 

"Christmas shopping?" Allison grins.

 

"Abby and Josette." her godson agrees. "and some gates to put up around the tree and some storage baskets for the front."

 

"Principal Madison was looking for you to remind you of your interview after dinner."

 

"I had my watch set to remind us to leave at six." Alexander says.

 

Principal Madison sighs as the group walk into the dining hall with Dr. Blake. "The girls must have took Josette in hand."

 

Druid nods. "Yes, she's looking good." she agrees. "Josette pierced her ears?" she asks as Josette comes up to the head table. Diane greets her warmly and introduces her to Lester Holt, then tells her it would be two interviews, not one before she heads back to the table.

 

After dinner, Josette eating four helpings to make up for missing lunch, she and Susan detour to the bathroom, checking her underwear and changing out the tampon just in case since they don't know how long the interviews will last. Everybody heads to the auditorium after they wash their hands and Susan helps Josette touch up her lipstick and detour to the dorm for the bag of letters from Screw U and the letters from their new schools.

 

"I don't suppose we can just stay here." Josette moans even as she walks back down the hall to the front doors.

 

"Nu-uh, Ms. Sawyer is a friend and Mr. Holt seems nice." Abby says as they walk down the sidewalk to the auditorium. The stage is set up again for the interviews, there'd be one with Diane and one with Mr. Holt and they're showed to make-up.

 

The interviews last until nearly two in the morning and are going to be aired tomorrow night. Josette tiredly washes her face and gets ready for bed, changing out the tampon for a pad and crawling under the covers. It had been nice that the news stations had talked to their teachers and gotten sound bites about them. And she's been doing too many interviews lately because she never would have known what that meant a couple of months ago.

 

Josette wakes up early the next morning for her job, turning on the coffeemaker before washing her face, turning the posts in her ears and cleaning the lobes with alcohol, pulling her hair back in a loose pony tail and drinking a cup of coffee before heading for the dining hall when it opens.

 

"Josette can you come up here?" Principal Madison asks as Josette puts her tray on the table, drinking her juice in one gulp.

 

"Yes?"

 

"I. . .need a favor. Not this week but . . ."

 

"You need me to take over the library during finals so the teachers can grade their tests?"

 

"Yes please, we'll give you a couple of shifts with one of the teachers next week so you're prepared to handle it by yourself."

 

"If I'm going to be taking over the library when I graduate, I better get used to working in it now, shouldn't I? Am I going to be. . ."

 

"Paid for your shifts in the library as well as working in the laundry? Yes. I'll work up a schedule and have it ready for you with an information packet later today."

 

Josette nods and heads back to the table as the others straggle into the room. "I'm going for the papers after breakfast, does anybody need anything from town? What did Principal Madison want?"

 

"For me to take over the library during finals week so the teachers can concentrate on grading tests."

 

Everybody just shakes their heads. Josette finishes her first tray, idly wonders how many heart attacks she'd cause if she put her tray up now, grins, and fills the tray with her second breakfast. After her third breakfast she checks the time and heads for the laundry, punching in and settling behind the counter after filling the supplies dispenser and emergency closet. The others come in with the papers, they settle around the table since nobody else is there yet.

 

Once again the Boston papers are filled with the trouble at the university and Josette shakes her head as she starts going through the ads before clipping coupons. Some of them are for stuff that she normally doesn't clip but some of the items in the storeroom are running low. Just as if she'd heard her thought, Anna says that Joyce had come to the dorm to see what they were running low on in the storeroom and supply closets and if they needed anything before the rooms would be restocked during the Christmas break.

 

"That's nice of the school." Susan had said when Joyce left.

 

The others head back to the dorm after they read the papers, dropping them on the table in case anybody else wants to read them, Anna dropping the clipped coupons on Josette's desk. She looks longingly at her bed but instead pulls out the vacuum and starts cleaning while Abby cleans the tub and sink.

 

"Is anybody else feeling human now?" Susan asks as she comes into the hall.

 

A chorus of yesses from those still in the building.

 

"I didn't realize that just sitting there and talking was so damn tiring." Alan says.

 

"Hey look, it's snowing." Susan yells.

 

Anna opens the back door, "Yeah, it's really coming down."

 

"Low pressure system, no wonder everybody's been tired all morning." Michael says coming up behind her. "And the first snowfall of the season that looks like it's going to stick around."

 

Abby nods. "Hope the airports don't close."

 

"Nah, it's only going to dump a couple of inches." Anna says, winding the emergency radio and listening to the weather station. "They're not expecting any difficulties."

 

"Where've you been?" Abby asks him.

 

"Dr. Blake had a load of steel and wood delivered today, we had to accept delivery and get it in our workshop before it got ruined."

 

"Yeah, I remember her talking about that the last time she was here.

 

"Did you get it?" Anna asks David as he comes into the room to gather everybody for lunch.

 

"Yep, it's in my closet, I also stopped at the dollar store and got some wrapping paper. I'll wrap it up and put it under the tree when we decorate it. You know Josette, she doesn't get anything for herself unless she absolutely needs it."

 

They shake their heads at the stubbornness of their youngest lover.

 

There's some grumbling as everybody has to hunt for boots and gloves, but soon everybody is walking to the cafeteria, going across the grass where maintenance hasn't got to the sidewalks yet. Shaking out their coats and knocking the snow off the boots, they head inside, finding the room packed since the dorm monitors brought their charges in as well. Josette comes into the dining hall a few minutes later with Professor Druid, who'd obviously been sent to get her.

 

Principal Madison stands up and makes the announcement that the storm will be moving out by later tonight, from the moans the monitors had told the students that already but they'd hoped for different news.

 

"Must have tests." Susan chuckles.

 

"And new, they haven't figured out yet that the dorms get damn cold and boring without power during the winter." Alan snorts.

 

"Nope, the electrical engineer is getting the boys dorm one of them portable generators that hook into the a second panel in the circuit box. It's gas powered and the teachers will have to remember to turn the circuits off when the power goes out before they turn on the generator, shut off the generator and flip the breakers again when the power comes back on but the boys dorm will have power and heat now even if the electricity does go off. And it can be removed when the boys move into a new dorm. It's going to be delivered in a couple of days, only takes a few hours to install but again, he needs to shut off the electricity to install it. Maintenance has one of those smaller generators you can plug a couple extension cords in?" Everybody nods. "He'll use that for lights and powering his tools while he's installing the other generator."

 

"It has been dead in the laundry." Josette shakes her head. "Anybody else have to run into town tomorrow? I got my check Wednesday after we returned from town and I want to cash it. Professor Druid says the school paid you all for helping wash everybody's laundry that night and we got a bonus for picking up that stuff for the school?"

 

Everybody nods.

 

"Josette," Professor Druid says, coming to the table. "We've all agreed that nobody's coming to the laundry in this weather. Head back to your dorm after you finish eating. We shut the lights off before we left, right?"

 

Josette nods.

 

"I'll have maintenance check the building and lock it up for the day."

 

Josette nods again and they eat their fill before heading back to the dorm, Josette cleaning her room before finally looking at that envelope of gift cards. They're to various stores around New York and she shakes her head before locking the envelope back in the drawer, turning the gas fireplace on before pulling on a long sleeved shirt.

 

Picking up one of the library books she'd got earlier, she turns on the lamp next to her chair and settles down in her recliner. Three cats end up settled on and around her and she pets them while she reads, finally putting the book up on the table as Susan knocks on the door and tells her its time for dinner.

 

Checking to make sure the cats have food and water, she stomps into her boots and bundles in her coat and gloves before being pulled out the door to follow the others. Maintenance has cleared the sidewalks and parking lots, shoveling around cars when the plows and snowblowers couldn't get close enough and they walk to the dining hall without getting their feet wet.

 

"Is anybody else going to watch the specials on tv tonight?"

 

"Why?" Josette asks when everybody else said they would.

 

"Because we're going to be on tv?" Anna says, looking at her. "Don't tell me, you haven't even looked at the footage from the interviews we had earlier."

 

Josette smirks at her, and nods. "You told me not to tell you."

 

"Evil brat." David rolls his eyes. "We're all watching the interview with Ms. Sawyer tonight and then we'll switch over and watch the NBC special with Mr. Holt in the lounge. Everybody grab bags of snacks after we finish dinner."

 

"You guys are weird." Josette rolls her eyes. Seriously, what's the big deal about watching yourself on tv, they were already there when the interview happened.

 

"Yes, but you love us anyway." Alan smirks. Josette turns her attention back to the food on her tray. Druid comes over to the table with a set of keys and a folder that she hands Josette. "The time clock is in the office behind the checkout counter. Everything else should be covered by the information in the folder. We've set up a user account for you in the system, the information is in the folder also. It's set at a teacher level rather than a student worker level since you'll be taking over the library eventually."

 

Josette nods and puts the keys in her coat pocket, putting the folder by her chair with her hat and gloves. "I'll look it over tomorrow."

 

"Thank you for agreeing to take it over for finals week. We always have a hard time finding teachers to cover it, even with the reduced hours." Druid pats Josette on the shoulder and walks back to the head table as the students start coming into the room from the auditorium and their last talk with the university representatives.

 

After everybody's third meal, the group fills their bags at the snack area before heading back to their dorm and walks the puppies one last time for the night. Josette puts her folder from the library on the desk, her library keys going in the same locked drawer where she keeps the keys for the laundry before looking at the clock and taking a hot bath before pulling on a pair of flannel sleep pants and a t-shirt and grabbing her bag of snacks from the table and heading to the first floor lounge, finding the others heading that way as well as David turns the television on and turns it to the local ABC station as they start putting food out on the table.

 

"Alan, are you and the twins still planning on visiting your family next week?" David asks.

 

"Yeah, we planned on leaving Sunday morning and returning the following Saturday afternoon if you don't mind opening a tesseract for us."

 

"I offered, didn't I? Any news on whether your younger brothers are going to be attending school?"

 

"That's what we're going to be talking about with our parents next week. Adam is definitely a mutant, but we're not sure about Aaron yet. The bloodwork wasn't conclusive, he might end up staying in school back home."

 

"He wouldn't be the first student who's came through that didn't have an active mutation." David says. Josette nods. The special comes on and they start to watch it. Most of what is talked about Josette already knew, though she was glad to see the teachers were as disgusted as the students about what was going on. "How am I supposed to grade my students fairly when the administration will NOT secure their servers so some damn hacker changes their classes and grades on them? I don't blame the students for being angry, they've been putting up with this shit for nearly a month and the administration has done nothing to stop the attacks on our students."

 

The special had shown the grades for nearly two dozen students, a couple of them included, showing the fake grades next to the slips the students had gotten from the teachers after their finals and the class postings from their servers. "We can make sure our servers are protected, why can't they?" More than one teacher asks as when one of the administrators glares at her she snaps. "What are you going to do, tell me to leave to because I'm speaking out against you? Go right ahead, I'm more than ready to join the lawsuits against the university."

 

The demonstration by the students is shown, along with the arrests by the police when the university demands them. The police refuse to arrest the news crews filming the scene though and the attack by the university's police is in all its glory. They cut to a commercial and Josette grabs a paper plate full of snacks from the table, setting back down when the special comes back on. A statement from the city prosecutor denouncing the students arrests is shown next, by taking money from both the city and the state, the university is considered a public place and the right to peaceful protests are covered under the law. He ends the statement with saying no charges would be filed against the students. A spokesman from the arrested students is next stating that they intended to sue the university for false arrest. The stations had already announced that they'd be suing the university for the attack on the news crews and there wasn't any reaction from the university to the statements.

 

"Of course they're not reacting to it, they're still pretending it never happened, they've got their hands over their ears and are going 'la la, I can't hear you' like two year olds." Josette snorts.

 

Their interview is next and Diane is visibly glad to hear that everybody has been accepted at new universities. Everybody chuckles at the look on Josette's face when Diane asked if they had anything to say to the university, Principal Madison had given Josette his best 'don't you fucking dare look.

 

"What would you have done if the Principal hadn't been there?" David asks.

 

She turns around in her seat and slaps her right ass cheek. "To quote Aaron Tippin, Kiss This!"

 

Everybody laughs.

 

"Anybody heard anything from Ms. Sawyer about interview requests?"

 

"She and Principal Madison are going to talk to us tomorrow morning after breakfast."

 

Josette nods, settling back in the chair as David turns the channel to MSNBC when the report is over. The news the special would be repeated in a couple of minutes allows Josette to get up and refill her plate and glass of caffeine free pop before sitting back down.

 

"When are we going to put up the new tree?" Susan asks.

 

"How about the end of the week? By then we should be done with any interviews, we should have our books for next semester and we'll have had our physicals and you ladies should be back on birth control so we can turn down the lights and 'unwrap' our gifts under the tree."

 

The girls roll their eyes as the special starts airing. There's some new information on this channel and they all head to bed after the special goes off, stuffing the leftovers back in their bags and putting them in the twins and Josette's room.

 

The next morning finds Diane sitting back at the front table with Lester Holt again and Principal Madison nods at the group when they come in. After breakfast the two news anchors and Principal Madison come over to the table, they spend the day hammering out shows and interviews for Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for the group. Josette gets into her car and drives into town, cashing her check at the bank. Stopping at the local superstore, she checks out christmas decorations and gets some wrapping supplies, getting some more at the dollar store before heading back to the school. Putting them on her table, she walks down the hall to check the mail.

 

"Oh lookie, another love letter from Screw U." Josette says as she opens her mailbox.

 

"What do they want now?" Anna asks from the doorway.

 

"For us to drop our suit and they'll oh so 'graciously' allow us to return to the university."

 

"Really, and the fact that we've already been accepted to other schools?"

 

"Can't possibly be the truth." Susan snorts. "After all, they're so special who wouldn't want to come crawling back over broken glass to beg for the opportunity to attend their school. Jackasses." She comes out of her room and opens her mailbox. "Might as well see what I got in the mail."

 

"Same thing?" Josette asks.

 

"Nope," she waves the letter in her hand. "I have to drop the suit or else they won't release my transcripts if I ever, oh gasp the horror, wish to attend a different university." Checking to see if anybody else has any letters, Josette pulls her new library keys from the dresser and goes to the library to copy them for their records. Pocketing the keys after she's made copies, she heads for the administration building. Joyce rolls her eyes when Josette walks into the office caroling 'they're ba-aaa-aacckk' and waves her into Principal Madison's office, saying that the newscasters and the school's lawyers were already in there.

 

Knocking on the door Josette opens it and waves the letters in her hand. A chorus of groans greet her and she grins. "Just Susan and I today, I was told to drop the suit or I wouldn't be allowed to come back to the university." She hands out the copies of the letters. "While Susan got a letter saying that unless she dropped the suit, the university wouldn't release her transcripts if she ever decided to go somewhere else."

 

"Which is illegal, the university doesn't have the right to refuse to release transcripts. Not that I'd trust anything they say anyway." the school lawyer sighs.

 

"Not when they already supposedly 'released our transcripts' to us and they were nothing but a bunch of lies. Is there some way we can get them to leave us alone?" Josette asks.

 

"Turn the letters over to my office when they arrive. I'll see if the court will consider this harrassment and issue a temporary restraining order. You keeping the originals in one place and handing out copies is a good practice."

 

"Called Cover your ass, the university isn't the only one who can do it." Josette snorts.

 

"Josette, you might think about finding a safer place to put the originals." Principal Madison says. "You can put them in my safe if you want."

 

"David brought a firesafe when we were to the warehouse store this weekend. I'll put them in as soon as I get back to the dorm."

 

"Good." They turn their attention back to the discussion after Josette leaves. "Are they insane?" Principal Madison asks. "Or just assholes so in love with their own power they can't believe anybody would dare to stand up to them?"

 

"Your guess is as good as mine." the lawyer sighs. "I'll talk to a judge but I'm afraid he'll just say that the letters are annoying, not threatening."

 

"Isn't that the same line they use when abusive husbands drive past the homes and workplaces of their wives when they've finally had enough and left them, refusing their requests for protective orders and pretend to be shocked when the husband breaks in and kills his wife?"

 

"Unfortunately yes." the school lawyer scowls. "As part of my suit, I'll insist the university's administration, or former administration if the rumors of the state investigating the situation and coming in to take the school over are correct, have no further contact with the kids and introduce copies of the letters as evidence if the school balks.

 

"Is there any problems about the kids not being available for interviews Wednesday?"

 

"No any of the programs that air Wednesdays can show interviews taped earlier in the studios. Only a few shows tape live, mainly the View, the Talk, and the morning shows." Diane grins. "The twins are going to have to get a second autograph book for their mother." Lester looks at her. "When I was here earlier the twins had purchased an autograph book, Hoda Kotb and I took it around the offices while we were at ABC and NBC and got autographs for their mother."

 

They walk over to the dorm, Lester looking around the school grounds before they walk inside. "Can I have everybody in the first floor lounge?" he calls as Josette comes down the hallway with an armful of sheets, towels, and blankets, opening the hatch and dropping them down the laundry chute. The others come out of their rooms or the basement and gather in the room as Principal Madison goes over their schedule for interviews this week. "Girls, if you need a second autograph book for your mother I'd get it now because we're flying out as soon as Josette finishes the laundry tonight for the morning shows."

 

"We brought two more this weekend at the mall, we thought we'd need them." Abby grins. Anna nudges her and Abby hands over the first book, Lester smiling as he autographs it for the twins mother. They head back to the administration building to finish making arrangements for the interviews while Josette finishes stripping the guest beds and bathrooms while Anna comes in behind her with the vacuum and Susan cleans the bathrooms. Checking the clock, they all head to lunch, Josette grabs her school bag, stuffs her laptop into it, and pushes the cart through the tunnels into the laundry when they get back.

 

Unlocking the commercial washers, she starts everything washing, sitting at the table and checking up on the latest news of the university drama while the machines run. The beep from the machines makes her look up and she throws everything into the dryers, locks the washers back down and sits back down at the table. Forty-five minutes later, the wool blankets always take longer to dry than the sheets and towels, she bundles everything into the cart before locking the dryers back down, shutting down her laptop and putting it back in her bag, and heading down the hall to the other room, folding everything and wrapping the sheets and towels. The blankets are laid in the bottom and the towels that had been used to dry the puppies are laid on top to be reunited with the rest of the package still in Josette's bathroom before she starts pushing the cart through the tunnels. David opens the door from the inside and helps carries everything up.

 

Looking at the clock, she starts putting everything away, putting the loose towels in her bathroom with the others and putting her laptop on the desk before heading to the dining hall for dinner. The group comes into the dining hall and fill their trays, Principal Madison nodding at them as they sit down. After eating, and filling their bags with snacks that Josette has Anna take back to the dorm for her, Josette heads back to the laundry and checks in, shaking out sheets and towels and starting them running. Putting her arms over her head, she starts a series of stretching exercise designed to relax her and walks to the other room. The machines are cleaned and the supply dispenser and emergency closet is checked before she sweeps the floor and shuts the lights back off before walking down the hallway again.

 

The dryers are nearly finished running and she moves the dorm's cart around to the folding and wrapping machines so she can wrap and put them in the cart before pulling the smaller cart to the dryer as it beeps its completion.

 

The sheets nearly tumble from the machine when she opens it and she pulls everything into the cart, checking to make sure the machine is empty before pushing the cart to the machine and puts a sheet in the machine, walking around to grab it when it comes from the other end and walking back to run a second sheet. The second cart of sheets is run through and she starts wrapping them and putting them in the cart before doing the towels. Clocking out, the pushes the cart through the tunnels to the girls dorm and walks back to her own, coming up to find Ms. Sawyer, Mr. Holt and Principal Madison waiting for her.

 

Anna pushes a duffel bag and her purse towards her. "We already packed a couple days worth of clothes for you, even though we should be coming back tomorrow night. We're leaving now that you're here."

 

Josette sighs but walks outside to the school shuttle van that's parked behind their dorm, settling in the back as the adults go over the interview schedule as they drive into Boston.

 

Josette curls up against David's side and does a series of deep breathing exercises that send her into a nap even before they take off. She's not the only one and Principal Madison chuckles as he shakes blankets out over the sleeping youngsters before taking his seat.

 

"Josette, time to wake up." Josette makes a complaining sound and burrows against David's side some more. "Josette." Principal Madison says.

 

"I can't pretend this is just a bad dream, can I?" Josette complains.

 

"'Fraid not."

 

Josette opens her eyes, releasing her seat belt before standing up and stretching. Following everybody into a shuttle bus, they drive through the streets of New York, looking up at the tall buildings. "I put the envelope of gift cards in your bag," Anna tells her. "Just in case we get to do some shopping while we're in New York."

 

Josette shakes her head as they get in an elevator and go up to the makeup and wardrobe rooms. "My dear, you look like you slept in those clothes."

 

"Uhh yeah, I did. We left Massachusetts around one and I slept on the plane." Josette snorts. The woman tuts and comes back with a covered bag, unzipping it.

 

"Not even to bury me, and then I'd come back to haunt you." she says at the outfit. A voice that sounds familiar laughs behind her and she turns around, getting a complaint from the woman next to her.

 

"Ms. Savage?"

 

"Yes Josette," Pat comes up behind her. "You sound like Bethany here when I first got her to wear something special." She shakes her head and helps the women get a protesting Josette into the outfit. "Not what I would have chosen for you but it suits you."

 

"Principal Madison?"

 

"Dr. Savage, what are you doing here?" Jolt turns around at the familiar voice and finds not one but two men he knows looking at him. "Mr. . . Wolverine."

 

"That will do Bub," Logan says, wishing he had a cigar to chew on. "What are you doing here?"

 

"The kids are being interviewed again about the nonsense University of Massachusetts, Boston is pulling."

 

Doc looks at him. "Josette is here?" he asks hushed. Principal Madison looks first at him then at Logan and does a face palm. "Josette's father?"

 

"Grandfather." he says.

 

"The girls are in there, the boys are across the hall."

 

"Patricia is in there." The door opens and Josette comes storming down the hall towards the bathroom, a chuckling Patricia following her. "They have a point, the tennis shoes don't really match the dress."

 

"I don't see why I need to wear high heels, nobody's going to be looking at my feet." Josette complains as she's led back into the fitting room. Principal Madison waits until the door is firmly shut before he starts laughing.

 

"Pat dealt with Bethany's refusal to dress up, she can deal with Josette." Doc smiles. "I've got to head to makeup for my own interview. Thank you for getting back to me so soon about Josette, James."

 

"No problem Bub, I'm glad to see you're not denying her. she may seem tough, but she's been through a lot. Break it to her gently."

 

Josette and the others head to makeup, Josette's hair pulled back into a french braid and hair spray liberally sprayed over it to hold it in place before she's made up and heads to the green room to wait for their interview time. Pat sits next to her and they talk quietly.

 

"Kids, where do you want to go after we get done with today's interviews for a couple of hours, the library with the lions or central Park? We'll be back Thursday so you can decide where to go then."

 

Josette looks at Anna. "Yes, I packed your camera so we can take pictures of you on the lions."

 

"The Library." Josette says excitedly. The others nod.

 

"Okay, Thursday we'll go the statue of liberty and Friday we'll go to Times square."

 

"What about Wednesday?" Doc asks.

 

"The kids are going to visit Dr. Blake and take their physicals." Principal Madison says.

 

Dr. Savage is called onto the set first, the others watching his interview on the tv in the green room before they're shown to an area just offstage, the hosts announcing who was coming on next and the camera panning over them.

 

After what seems to be an hour of hell but is only fifteen minutes when they look at the clock later the interview is finished and Josette's allowed to get her own clothes back on. Patricia walks the girls out to where the boys and Principal Madison are waiting to go to a late breakfast, running a hand lightly over her hair as they get into the elevator.

 

After they eat they're put in a shuttle and head to another studio where once again Josette is dressed up and waits in a green room. Diane had came with them and she returns with the blank autograph book Abby had given her, the girls smiling as they look at the names in it before handing it to Principal Madison and walking on stage to be interviewed by the women of the view.

 

Patricia and Dr. Savage are waiting for them when they emerge, distracting the teens about this great restaurant a few blocks away as Principal Madison and Diane put bags and boxes in the back of the van. They get in Josette sitting by Dr. Savage and his cousin and drive down to the restaurant, an older woman coming out of the back and talking excitedly with Dr. Savage and his cousin while Bethany walks everybody into the back room and the boys push tables together. Nobody is allowed to order but a few minutes later thick platters of food come out of the kitchen and are put on the tables.

 

"Eat, eat, plenty more in the kitchen." She says in accented English.

 

Thank you goddess of the kitchen. Josette says in Italian. The woman wraps her arms around her, hugs and kisses her. "The bambino knows Italiano."

 

"I learned it in high school." she admits and the woman babbles something, Josette smiles and says something back before she goes back to the kitchen.

 

"So you know two languages?" Patricia smiles.

 

"I know five actually." Patricia and even Clark look at her stunned. "I grew up in California and my mom spent a lot of time in martial arts dojos. I grew up speaking English and Japanese. When I arrived in school I signed up for French as my freshman language class, then I took Italian my sophomore year and finally Spanish my junior year."

 

After even Josette is stuffed and the leftovers put in styrofoam and put in a bag in the back of the van they head to the library, Anna twisting around in her seat, finding Josette's bag and unzipping it to pull out Josette's camera and the envelope of gift cards, putting the envelope in Josette's purse and the camera in Josette's pocket as they park in a garage a couple of blocks away.

 

They walk up to the library, David boosting Josette up on the statue after she's handed Anna the camera and Josette mugs for the camera before Doc lifts her down. He helps the others up and Josette snaps pictures of them all playing around on the lions. The others had expected to be bored but everybody finds something to look at and they leave a few hours later.

 

They head back to the NBC studios for the evening interview to air as part of Rock Center tomorrow night after Clark, Patricia, and Bethany have to leave and finally drag themselves back out to the airport around nine p.m., Josette nodding when Principal Madison says she can do both loads of laundry tomorrow night. Arriving at the Boston airport at midnight, there's a school shuttle and and a newsvan waiting for them, they get back to the school around one in the morning, everybody is greeted by animal kisses and crawl into bed.

 

In Eureka later that morning Jack Carter pulls his gun and backs away from the opening that just appeared in the middle of the Sheriff's office. Deputy Lupo looks over and just snorts. "Dr. Stark, Dr. Blake, your visitors are arriving." She yells towards the other room. "It's okay Carter, that's just their godson. He went to a boarding school in Massachusetts for high school now he's in his first year of university out there, Dr. Blake's gone out a couple times to spend a couple days with him and his friends. Carter holsters his gun but still doesn't look convinced as Nathan and Allison come up on either side of Carter, Stark grabbing his ass and making him squeak. Lupo pretends not to see the little jump as eight young adults step through the shimmering opening and it vanishes.

 

Allison hugs and kisses everybody on the cheek as she introduces Jack to the youngest son of the Sanders family, he nods he knows the family well thanks to the multiple lab accidents at Global Dynamics they've been hired to fix. The identical twins are Anna and Abby Covington, and the blond that looks like them is introduced to him as their older brother Alan. A tiny little thing that plops into the chair by his desk and starts swearing is introduced as Josette Takahawa. A dark haired young woman who is introduced as Susan James pats her shoulder, while the other two young men are introduced as Alexander Jackson and Michael Addison.

 

"I hope you guys aren't too hungry, I forgot about the time difference when I told you not to eat this morning."

 

"We all just got out of bed." Josette yawns. "I slept over eight hours and I'm still tired. I'm not this tired when I've worked overnight at the laundry and stayed up the next day."

 

"Three interviews in one day will do that." Michael says. "When we started getting popular we went on a lot of press junkets and we were ready to literally drop when we were done."

 

"Everybody roll your sleeves up, we'll draw blood and then we can take you over to Vincent's for breakfast while we work on getting a lab here in town ready for you." Two other men come into the room with medical equipment, Allison introduces them as Pieter Cross and Charles McNider and they soon have the bloodwork drawn and all eight youngsters are ushered across the street to a cafe and shown into the back. Before their meals come, two older people come into the room and hug David, Allison introduces David's parents to the others when they let him go.

 

The food starts arriving soon afterwards and Josette sets down to eating, a new plate put down in front of her as soon as her old one is empty. Nathan, Pieter, and Charles blink but everybody else just chuckle as she eats four large platefuls of food and Vincent smiles at her as she wipes her mouth and sighs.

 

"Feeling better now." David asks.

 

"Yeah." Josette takes off her glasses and rubs her eyes.

 

"How is the fight against the university coming."

 

"We haven't checked our mail from yesterday, but Monday Susan and I got letters from the university after you left. I was told to drop my lawsuit or they wouldn't allow me to return to school."

 

"You don't plan on going back to that. . ." Allison growls.

 

"Ah but you have to realize, they think they're god's gift to humanity and can do whatever they want and we're just supposed to put up with their shit for the privilege of attending their school. They don't realize that this keeps up and nobody's going to want to attend their school." Anna snorts.

 

"And I got a letter saying that I had to drop the lawsuit or they wouldn't release my transcripts if I ever wanted to attend a different school."

 

"That's illegal." David's mother scowls. "they can't hold your transcripts hostage."

 

"That and they already released our transcripts after our finals because we were leaving the school, and they were nothing but lies, filled with classes we didn't sign up for, grades we didn't get, and not worth the paper they're written on." she snorts.

 

David's phone beeps. "It's Principal Madison." he says as he accepts the call. "Yes Principal Madison?" He listens to the phone and nods.

 

"We need to head back to school, Fed Ex just arrived with boxes for us that we need to sign for." He kisses his Mom and Dr. Blake on their cheeks. "Be right back." he says as he opens a tesseract.

 

"Come back to the Sheriff's office, we should have your badges ready by then." Allison tells him. He nods and they walk through the opening. "You and Nathan need to beat David." she tells David's father.

 

David's mother blinks. "What happened?"

 

"When I first went out to their school, I asked David if he knew anywhere where we could talk privately. He and the others took me to a island hideaway they made. . .in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle."

 

"Please tell me you're joking." Nathan sighs.

 

"I wish." Allison moans.

 

At the school they walk out of the dorm and down the sidewalk to the administration building, seeing the large truck parked outside. Walking in, Joyce points them out to the driver. Everybody signs forms and get receipts, looking at the large pile of boxes as the driver pulls away. Alan puts the whole pile into subspace and they walk back to the dorm, Alan dumping the boxes in the front of the dorm as they check the mail, tossing it in their rooms before they head back to the Sheriff's office. This time Carter is expecting them and drives them to the lab in town. They pass a construction site and David asks him to stop a minute, seeing his cousin in the distance.

 

"Alan?"

 

Carter squeaks suddenly as a large cardboard box appears on a beat up desk chair next to David.

 

"Be right back." David grins. "Oh Jenn-Jenn, present for you." he says in a sing-song voice as he comes up to her.

 

"You shouldn't have. . . really." Jennifer says when he comes up. "Isn't that Josette's desk chair?"

 

"Yes, I know you wanted to take care of it when you were there earlier. And the dorm's old Christmas tree."

 

"You give me the best presents." Jenn rolls her eyes and disintegrates them. "I'm expecting a good Christmas present."

 

David kisses her on the cheek. "You're the best." He gets back into the car.

 

Four long hours later after everybody has been poked and prodded, Josette even had an eye exam, and Michael and Alexander introduced to a group of agents and signed with one, who is stunned when Allison calmly tells him who he just signed, David hugs his Mom, backs slowly away from his Father and Godfather when they look at him and start flexing their hands, and they leave Eureka after promising the others they'd be back in a few weeks.

 

Arriving back at the dorm, Josette looks at the clock and then at the boxes still piled by the door. "Let's get these in our rooms and go to dinner."

 

"I . . .don't remember there being that many boxes before." Alan says slowly.

 

"There's a note." Josette reaches for it, then nods. "UPS arrived with a second set of boxes after we left. These didn't have to be signed for so Joyce had maintenance bring them to the dorm."

 

"What were you talking to Grammy Allison and one of GD's lawyers about?" David asks.

 

"Dr. Blake seems to think that I should have been receiving social security payments since my mom died when I was twelve. They're looking into the records."

 

David nods as Josette picks up the first box on the pile. "Abby."

 

Soon all the boxes are sorted out, all have at least five, Josette has a whopping eight and they're carried to their rooms and put against a wall as the girls put away the bags they'd received from the pharmacy in Eureka and stare at those oh so innocent looking envelopes before picking them up. Carefully opening the envelopes, Josette reads her mail, tossing most of it in the wastebasket by her desk as trash. A private letter is the last and she carefully opens it, sighing as she sees it's from Logan.

 

/Hey kid, you looked good at the studio today. I'm mailing this in New York so you should be getting it tomorrow.

 

You know I told you that I told your father's family about you. You probably think that they don't want anything to do with you, but oh baby, that's not true.

 

Your friend Doc and his cousin, Patricia. . . Yeah kid, they're your grandparents. I know you know about Vampires, Doc's one. A couple centuries old. He and Pat have been together forever, but Doc's got a vampires sex drive and he's had some of the women he's rescued over the years. He's usually had their boyfriends or husbands too, but that's another story.

 

Doc's had a few children over the years from them, he gave their folks money until they were eighteen and they never knew anybody other than their 'dad' was their father. So when I told him I thought that he had a grandchild, he thought I meant one of those kids kids.

 

When he met you a couple weekends ago and you brought him to your room? He recognized your Mom's picture, just like I did. He's been trying to get hold of me ever since that day to see if it was you I was talking about.

 

Doc and Pat love you kid, don't ever think any different.

 

Logan/

 

Chapter 6 by josette grover

 

Josette reads the letter again then carefully takes off her glasses.

 

"My.Life.Is.So.Fucking.Weird!" Josette yells and starts pounding her head against the outside door in her room. The others come in and she holds the letter over her shoulder, somebody taking it from her hand as Alan and Michael pull her away from the door.

 

"Somebody please pinch me and wake me from the damn nightmare this last month has been?" She whines. Alan pinches her ass with a grin and she moans. "Nope, not a dream caused by eating too much pepperoni pizza before bed. Damn it!"

 

She ends up sitting on the bed, all three of the cats purring in her lap or on her shoulder as David reads the letter out loud for the others. Susan wraps an arm around her. "Josette, how do you feel about this?"

 

"It actually makes sense." Josette sighs. "When I first met him in the library, I felt like throwing myself in his arms and letting him take care of me. And nobody's done that since my mom died."

 

"You think this is the truth?"

 

"Yeah, remember how Pat said the dress they put me in wasn't 'what she would have picked out for me'? Why would she be picking out clothes for me?"

 

"And Dr. and Ms. Savage were paying a lot of attention to you when we were in New York." David says.

 

Josette nods. "Well, this is . . .interesting. I'm going to have to get used to having family besides you guys again." Everybody hugs her again and she looks at the clock. "Let's go to dinner." David hands her her glasses and she puts them back on, walking down the hall with the others, everybody hugging her again.

 

Principal Madison looks over as the group enters the dining hall and he motions Josette over when she puts her tray down on the table. He says something quietly and she nods, smiling and throwing her arms around him.

 

"The judge gave us a restraining order against the university, any letters from the university must be sent to the school's lawyer. If they send us anything, we're supposed to take them and the copies of the restraining order to the police department to deal with. Normally just letters aren't considered enough to get a restraining order, but the sheer number of letters, along with the school's actions over the weekend, tipped the balance in our favor."

 

"Thank god," Susan sighs. "I was afraid to open my own mailbox anymore."

 

"So was I."

 

"So when are we supposed to fly into New York?" Abby asks.

 

"Six tomorrow morning since we don't have a morning interview." David says, looking at the notes on his I-Pad. "We're going to visit the statue of liberty early in the morning when the lines should be short and then head to CBS for the live interview on the Talk and taping an interview for the 48 hours show that will be airing Saturday. We'll be staying over at a motel, Friday we're going to be interviewed again on the morning shows and then we're finished."

 

"Thank you Lord." Josette looks up at the ceiling. "Josette, do you need any help in the laundry tonight?" Anna asks.

 

"I'll be fine, it will give me a chance to think about what's been going on. When I get home I'll open the boxes we got today and deal with those damn bags sitting on my table."

 

The others chuckle. They'd seen the disgruntled look Josette had given the bags when they'd helped carry her boxes into her room.

 

"If you're sure."

 

"I did two loads by myself alone the other night, I can do it again tonight. I brought the folder about the library job I haven't had a chance to look at yet." she nods at the bag on the chair, "I'll look at it while the machines are running."

 

Everybody eats ravenously and Josette heads to the laundry, punching in and heading for the back room. Two carts of laundry greets her and she starts on the boys first, shaking out sheets and towels and filling four machines, adding detergent and bleach before sitting behind the counter and opening the folder. Her schedule is first and she sees she's got two morning shifts and two afternoon shifts in the library next week before taking it over completely the week after that. Moving that page finds information on how to use the computer to check out books, including her sign-in information on the system, a section on how to add books and dvds to the system, a list of books that the teachers had requested be added to the library, there's a handwritten note on the page from Principal Madison that he'll give Josette the school credit card so she can order these and new dvds for the winter semester, she can even get some fiction books for the library if she wants because there aren't that many, and she puts the folder away in the bag as the washing machines are finished. Tossing the sheets and towels in the dryer she walks down the hall and cleans the other room, filling the supply dispenser and checking the emergency closet before shutting off the lights and coming back, tossing the girls sheets and towels into the washers and starts them running.

 

The dryers are finished and Josette dumps the first load of sheets into a cart and starts folding them, wrapping them in plastic when the second dryer is finished and puts them in the boys cart, folding towels next. The towels are folded and wrapped and Josette switches the girls laundry from washers to the dryers before walking the boys cart to their dorm through the tunnels before walking back to the laundry, starting folding the girls sheets when the dryers shut off. Cleaning the machines when she's done folding everything, she grabs her bag, punches out and turns off the lights before walking the sheets to the girls dorm and walking to their dorm, finding the building quiet as she walks down the hallway to her room.

 

Turning on her lights, she turns the coffeemaker on and sits at the table for it to brew the first pot as she looks first at the boxes piled near her desk and the bags sitting on her table. Grabbing a paring knife, she slits the tape on the first box, opening it and checking the paper on top. It's a copy of the classes she signed up for with the books listed for each class. Moving her textbooks from last semester to the top shelf of the bookcase she starts filling the shelves with her new books. The cardboard is flattened and put on her table for recycling and she drinks her first cup of coffee as she looks at the clock and opens the next box. She had five boxes of texts for her classes and the other three boxes are full of supplies that go in the drawers before she finally opens the first bag on the table, shaking her head as she sees the clothes she'd wore at the morning show including those damn high heels, a clip of the interview footage, from both the previous Saturday and that morning according to the notes on the dvds jewel cases, a check for her appearances on NBC and ABC Saturday night, another envelope of gift cards, she shakes her head in disbelief, and turns to the other bag, finding the other set of clothes she'd been wearing, a selection of makeup and hair care supplies, a selection of what had been talked about on the View that day, and she carefully hangs up the outfits and puts the shoes away in her closet, putting the envelopes of gift cards in her purse and shoving that in the bottom of the small backpack she pulls from the closet, it's not big enough to carry much but she can put her purse and camera in it, before she looks at the clock and decides to take a bath before Principal Madison comes to pick them up for the flight into New York in about ninety minutes.

 

Her checks are locked in her desk drawer as she strips off her clothes, shaking some bath salts into the water before she gets in and relaxes against the back of the tub. When the water turns cold she empties the tub and gets out, drying herself and walking out to the bedroom, shaking her head when she sees she's running low on clean clothes, all this running back and forth is making it hard to find time to do her laundry and she reminds herself to take them in to the laundry to run tonight.

 

Please god, let this shit be over soon. she thinks as she gets dressed and brushes her hair. A tap on the door makes her look over as Anna sticks her head into the room. "Did you get any sleep?"

 

"Nope, figured it was easier to stay up than get up." Josette says, looking at the clock. "Is it time to leave already?"

 

"Nope, but we're going to eat before we head into New York." Josette gets up and pulls the backpack over her arm. "Where's your purse."

 

"In the bag, along with a heavier jacket, we're going to be on the water after all and it is December even if we don't have much snow yet, plus a couple changes of clothes."

 

"Yeah, I hadn't thought of that." Anna says as they walk down the basement stairs. Michael is frying bacon while Alexander scrambles eggs and David pours glasses of juice. Abby is putting bread in the toaster and Anna opens the refrigerator and gets out the milk. Josette sees the styrofoam containers from Tuesday before the door shuts and everybody sits down and starts to eat as they talk. The door opens across the room and Principal Madison looks at them as they finish eating.

 

"Two more days." he says at their tired looks.

 

"Only if the idiots at Screw U don't do anything stupid. . .again." Josette mutters.

 

Getting into the news van, Josette settles against Michael's side as he checks his e-mail on the I-Pad before sliding it into his own backpack. Arriving at the airport, David runs over to the newstand to get the papers and they read them during the flight. The news that the state is trying to take over the university makes them nod, but the adminstration is fighting them makes Principal Madison shake his head.

 

"They're not doing themselves any favors." David says.

 

Principal Madison sighs. "No they're not, they're still convinced that this will all blow over if they just keep ignoring everybody."

 

The flight doesn't seem as long as the others, or maybe Josette is just getting used to flying back and forth and they find a van waiting for them for their use. Driving to the ferry, they get their tickets and float over to the island, Josette looking up at the statue as they get off and just smiling. Pictures are taken with everybody pretending to hold the torch and they check out the gift shop before heading back to the ferry. The lines are a lot longer to go to the island than it had been when they'd arrived and they smile as they head for the van to have beat all the congestion by arriving early.

 

Going to the studio they are shown to wardrobe, Josette just sighing and shaking her head when her clothes are deemed not good enough to go in front of a camera.

 

"I swear, these women must not have had enough dolls growing up, they have to play dress up with human beings instead." Josette thinks as she joins the others in makeup.

 

"Ms. Takahawa, how long have your ears been pierced."

 

"Less than a week."

 

"We can't replace the posts with different earrings then." The woman shakes her head as she fixes Josette's hair and they're shown to a green room, listening to the women of the Talk well. . .talk before the commercial and they're introduced.

 

"Ms. Takahawa, have you heard the news that the state of Massachusetts is trying to take over the university?" Julie Chen asks.

 

"Yes, we read that this morning in the paper. I wish the state well in their efforts to cut through the mess that the current administration has let grow with their seeming disregard for their students well-being by allowing the hacker to continue to mess with their records. . .and now their grades."

 

"Miss Covington?" Sharon Osborne asks.

 

"Yes?" both Anna and Abby ask. Sharon smiles and indicates Anna. "Is it true that you have been granted a restraining order against the university?"

 

"Yes, the sheer number of letters we've been receiving from the school has made us uneasy about opening our own mailboxes because we fear what the next demand from the school will be. Earlier this week Josette received a letter demanding she drop her suit against the school or she wouldn't be allowed to return."

 

"But hadn't you been asked to leave the school?" Sharon asks.

 

Josette nods. "I don't know if the left hand is truly unaware of what the right hand is doing but they seemingly cannot make up their minds about the students. Susan got a letter saying that if she didn't drop her suit, they wouldn't release her records if she ever wanted to attend a different school."

 

"You've all been accepted at other schools, haven't you?" Sara Gilbert asks.

 

Susan nods. "And they'd already released our 'transcripts' when they asked us to leave, or rather they'd released a list of classes we didn't take and grades we didn't receive. Josette was supposed to have been on the president's list this semester, instead she 'supposedly' failed all her classes and so the university had the right to ask her to leave."

 

Julie shakes her head. "And the lawsuit filed by those students who were arrested for protesting the false grades they'd received?"

 

"We're not part of that suit, though I wish them well in their efforts to get their grades straightened out. Especially those who would have graduated next semester."

 

"Very good girls." Principal Madison says as they leave the set. "Nothing said against the university and it's all the truth."

 

Susan grins. After the second interview they change back into their clothes and eat in the commissary before driving to a nearby motel where the studios put up guests.

 

"Go.To.Bed." Principal Madison orders his students. "We've still got to be at the studios early for makeup and whatever else we need to do, but after that we can go to Times Square, you all brought your gift cards, didn't you?"

 

The girls nod before they all quickly take showers and settle in the two queen sized beds, falling instantly asleep as Principal Madison settles in his room, calling the school and getting an update on what had been going on there by Druid.

 

The next set of interviews pass quickly and Josette puts her backpack on as they walk through times square, checking out the stores and going inside some of them. Josette uses some of her gift cards that day and they arrive at the airport around five that night.

 

"Thank you god that is over." Josette moans as they lift off.

 

"Yes," Anna moans. "Oh god yes. No more running back and forth, we can actually sleep at night and look forward to not going anywhere in the morning unless we want to."

 

Principal Madison nods. "Josette, you can do the last load of the boys sheets tomorrow, then you can get back to your regular schedules."

 

"Grammy Allie is going to e-mail us instructions for installing the rest of the programs on our new computers tomorrow." David says as he leans back in his seat. "Then we just start taking our classes the fifth of January."

 

"Does she still want your father and godfather to beat you for us going to the Bermuda Triangle for our vacations?" Josette asks with a smirk.

 

"Yes, yes she does. Which is why she's e-mailing us instead of me opening a tesseract, because if I did I'd be running for the safety of my ass across the campus. Shut up." he rolls his eyes as the boys snigger. "You know what I mean."

 

"It will be nice to get back to a regular schedule." Susan moans. "I don't know how anybody could do this for a living."

 

"They want their faces in front of a camera, we don't. We're in it because something happened to us, they're in it because it was their choice. There's the difference."

 

They arrive back in Boston at seven at night, Principal Madison calling for a school schuttle while Alan starts putting the items the pilot pulls out of the cargo hold into subspace before he walks the kids to a nearby restaurant for dinner. They all thank the pilot for flying them back and forth all week, he grins and says it was his pleasure. David grabs a paper and stuffs it in Josette's backpack as they go into the restaurant, emerging an hour later to find the shuttle waiting for them.

 

Josette whoops and does a dance in the middle of the front of the dorm when they lock the door behind them, checking their mail and walking down the hall to their rooms to check on the pets before coming back out when Alan starts taking bags and boxes out of subspace. Like he'd thought, there were more than the ones they'd purchased and the extras are marked with their names.

 

"And this is done too." Josette crows. She sighs at the new bags and a large box are carried into her room but just puts them on the table as she starts pulling off her clothes and drawing a hot bath. After soaking for a while and wrapping a ratty old bathrobe around her, she walks into the twins room. "so did you get both the autograph books filled for your mom?"

 

The grins on the twins faces make her laugh as she walks back to her room. Pulling on a nightgown and hugging the cats until they squirm away, she starts opening the bags she knows are her purchases, putting the books on the top of the bookcase to read and the cds and dvds on the desk for later. Then she turns to the bags that are from the studios. The outfits she'd wore for the interviews are shook out and put away in her closet, the makeup,facial and hair care products put in a box and pushed into the corner of the bathroom, she knows the others will nag her into using them but for now she's not interested in them. The checks for their appearances are put in the desk to deposit sometime next week. There's a note on the large box, the women on the Talk had been demonstrating some products and they'd gotten them since everybody in the studio audience had as well.

 

Soon everything is put away and Josette shuts off the lights and crawls under the covers, her cats waiting until they know the hugging monster is asleep before cuddling up next to her. They're cats, they want affection on their terms, not hers.

 

"Are you back for good now?" Druid asks as Josette comes into the dining hall for breakfast.

 

"Yes, thank you God." Josette says fervently. "I'll start the boys laundry after breakfast, since we've been running here and there all week, I haven't had a chance to do my own yet."

 

Druid smiles and nods as the others sit down at the table.

 

"You okay?"

 

"I've hugged the cats so much since we got back they're hiding from me." Josette grins. The others laugh and start eating. "The kids are in high spirits." Druid says as Principal Madison comes up to the table.

 

"They're glad all the interviews are over. So am I, even though I didn't really do anything. I was tired just watching them, so I know they're tired."

 

Druid nods. "Hopefully the state taking over the university will help things settle down."

 

"Have they done it yet? The last I heard was they were trying but the adminstration was fighting them."

 

"Not yet, but they have a court date Monday to get an order forcing them to turn the university over to them."

 

After eating three meals, Josette heads back to the dorm, grabbing her laundry and petting the cats when they come over. Throwing the bag over her shoulder, she heads to the laundry, punching in and throwing her laundry in an empty washing machine before she starts shaking out sheets and towels in the other room. Once everything's running, she goes to check on her laundry, transferring it to the dryer when the machine stops running and heading back to the other room. Tossing the sheets and towels in the dryer, she goes over to the other room, folds her laundry and puts it in the bag before going back. The morning flew by she thinks as she punches out, pushing the filled cart through the tunnnel to the boys dorm before checking her watch and heading for the dining hall and filling her bag with a makeshift meal from the snack bar before heading back to the dorm. The cats food and water dishes are filled and she puts her clothes away before checking her mail and walking back to her room. The twins, their brother, and the puppies come into the next room and Anna sticks her head around the door. "Get the laundry finished?"

 

"Yeah, I'm free until my regular shift tomorrow."

 

"Check your e-mail, we got the instructions to install the rest of the programs on the computer."

 

Josette nods since her mouth is full. Once she's finished eating she washes her hands and turns on her laptop, finding the instructions and printing them out before pulling the box from the closet and turning on the computer. The programs are installed and checked to see they're working perfectly, Josette getting an e-mail back that everything is fine, and she puts it away until classes start the sixth.

 

After dinner they open the boxes of decorations, Abby taping lights up around the glass of the front door and around the bank of mailboxes as the boys put up the tree. The puppies and cats are wandering around the room, being petted by everybody as they start decorating the tree. Looking at it, they nod in satisfaction as they start putting the gates up around the tree.

 

Turning off the overhead lights, they plug in the lights on the tree and around the door and mailbox before going outside, smiling at the sight before they go inside, turn the lights back on, and take pictures to take with the twins and Alan.

 

"Somebody remind me to get a tin of brass polish from maintenance, okay? I want to shine up the mailboxes."

 

"Sounds good." David says. "Susan, you want me to take you to Vegas for a couple of days? I know some of the casinos have betting rooms."

 

"Yeah, I can place some bets and win enough money to live on for a few months. And I still need to do some more Christmas shopping."

 

"Josette?"

 

"I'll go shopping this weekend since I'm off Friday and Saturday." Josette says.

 

"Michael, Alexander?"

 

"We've got to go over the last few details about the show opening with our soon to be former agent, who's still complaining because we didn't sign with her again. We'll go shopping after we're done."

 

Alan, Anna, and Abby head to their rooms to pack bags for the trip home, Alan getting the christmas tree photos off Josette's camera to show their family. It's about one when everybody settles in, David opening a tesseract after breakfast while Josette heads to her job at the laundry. Punching in, she checks the supply dispenser and emergency closet before pulling her laptop from her bag and beginning to check her e-mail. She grins as the first of the students comes in, the older ones know that they're going to be busy handing in projects, studying, and with finals so they need to get their laundry in now if they want clean clothes before they get their grades. Nodding, Josette continues deleting spam e-mails and answering a few from people she actually knows.

 

A few hours later Josette rolls her head on her shoulders and puts her computer in the bag under the counter as more students begin coming in. A teacher takes over so she can go to lunch and she takes her bag back to the dorm, finding the sunday papers on her kitchen table. The table seems mighty empty without the others at the table and she eats before heading back to the laundry.

 

Settling back behind the counter, she smiles as the machines fill up with students and there's a group waiting for the machines as they empty. Professor Druid comes in and she says something quietly in Josette's ear, she chuckles and Druid giggles before she leaves. Turning the computer on, she sends an e-mail to everybody, her phone is in her pocket and she sends everybody a text to check their e-mails.

 

Alexander looks at his phone and takes his I-Pad from his bag, opening his e-mail and sniggering when he reads Josette's message.

 

"Is this really necessary?" the woman sitting across the table from them asks snidely.

 

"Yes, otherwise Alexander wouldn't be on the computer right now. Your attitude is one of the reasons we didn't sign with you again, so rein in the bitchiness." Michael says, scowling.

 

She takes a deep breath to complain but slowly lets her breath out. "What's up?"

 

"E-mail from Josette, Ms. Sawyer is coming back with a crew this week, she's going to be filming a series about the school since there's been so many requests for information about it thanks to our interviews. A story is going to air on the news every night next week, with links to the full story and tour on the NBC website and the school's website.

 

"Ha, This time Principal Madison gets interviewed." Michael grins. Alexander sends Josette an e-mail back and puts up his computer. "Okay, where were we?"

 

"Tell me boys, aside from my. . . bitchiness, what's the other reasons you chose to sign with another agent?"

 

"Your insistence on big flashy shows where you can have your face in the spotlight as often as possible. We're your clients but it seems that sometimes you put us second because you're too busy talking about yourself and trying to get new clients. And then there's your complaints about having to work around our school schedules, we're artists, not robots. Unless you're one of those hermits who do nothing but paint or something else, we're all going to have outside interests, but you would rather us drop out of school so you can parade us around at your pleasure. One thing about our infrequent shows, we always have a large crowd and make a lot of sales."

 

The woman starts to say something but again takes a deep breath and slowly lets it out. "You're right, I've been talking to a counselor and he's been telling me I'm too pushy. I *am* sorry for complaining about you going to school boys, he really lit into me about that when I called you two a pair of ungrateful brats when you signed with somebody else. He finally convinced me that my clients leaving might be because there's a problem with me, not you."

 

She gets a 'out of service' message when she texts David's phone, he must be on the island checking the garden she thinks. Probably dropped Susan off at a casino and went to check on the island since they'd been so busy.

 

Josette tells one student to use a commercial washer instead of two toploaders for his colored wash when it looks like he will need more than one washer, that way another student can use those machines. He nods, starts the machine filled with his whites, and moves to the commercial washers, filling one, adding detergent and keeping an eye on the two machines. She keeps the students cycling through, a teacher coming in and nodding in satisfaction as students empty one dryer and start folding their wash only to have another student take it over.

 

"The week before finals is always busy." Josette says.

 

"For students as well as teachers."

 

Josette nods. This week the students would be meeting with their advisor and deciding what classes they want to take, getting a provisional acceptance that becomes finalized after their finals. Finals would be Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays the tests would be graded, and Friday the students would learn if they were able to take the classes they'd picked for next semester, they'd sign up in the office, and then take their receipt to the bookstore for their next semester's books if they weren't first years students. Saturday and Sunday students who were returning home would be picked up or take shuttles to Boston to the airport,train station, or bus terminal while those who were staying at the school would start decorating their dorms for the holidays. The school made sure that students who were staying always had at least one present under the christmas tree.

 

Until Alice and Andrew Covington insisted their children invite first Josette and then the others home for Christmas, Josette . . .and later Susan, Michael, and Alexander had always stayed at the school over Christmas.

 

"Josette, the supply dispenser is empty."

 

"Sign out what you need from the emergency closet while I get in the supply closet. What's out?

 

Josette brings back the partial carton of detergent, filling the dispenser and putting the box in the bottom of the closet for now. Walking back to the closet, she gets a couple more boxes and fills other slots running low, shutting it and letting the students get into it.

 

At five-thirty she shuts the laundry to new students, thankfully the mad rush had already passed and she cleans the washers when the last load is taken out, the dryers are cleaned when the last load is finished and she punches out and shuts the door behind the last student, heading to the dining hall and finding David and Susan listening to Alexander and Michael tell them about Principal Madison getting tapped for interviews this time. They chuckle and Josette laughs as she sits at the table.

 

"Josette, you're going to the bank tomorrow, right?" Susan asks.

 

"Yeah, after breakfast. I don't work in the library until the afternoon. Need me to deposit something for you?"

 

"Yeah, I'll have an envelope ready for you in the morning."

 

"What are your hours tomorrow?"

 

"One to five Monday and Wednesday, nine to one Tuesday and Thursday. Then next week is nine to five all week since the library has shorter hours."

 

The others shake their heads. "Oh come on, you two work just as many hours when you've got a commission or are working on stuff for a show. And I work just as long Sundays at the laundry."

 

"True."

 

They all eat their fills, Josette getting snacks for later that night and they head back to the dorm. A police car is parked in front of the administration office and Principal Madison is talking with an officer.

 

"Thank you, I wasn't sure where I could take them. There's no room at the shelter. The back door of the car opens and two large st. bernards and a box full of puppies are revealed. Josette takes a picture and sends it to the others. "Should we?" is the only text sent. Less than a minute later her phone rings and she answers it. Anna is on the other end and Josette gives the others the story the police officer just told her.

 

"We'll take them." Josette announces, letting the male dog, then the female sniff her. The puppies are babies and she strokes a hand over their bodies, they wriggle and whine.

 

"Are you sure?"

 

"We have the entire dorm, the cats can be locked up until we figure out if they'll get along. We can put them in a room for the time being."

 

David carries the box of puppies into the dorm as Josette attaches leashes to the collars of the adults and walks them to the dorm, putting a couple of blankets on the beds for them for the time being.

 

"Petco is still open, isn't it?" Josette asks.

 

David looks at the clock. "Yeah, for another two hours." he opens a tesseract and they walk into the store, a clerk immediately helping them get everything they need for their new pets. Two hundred dollars in food and supplies later they leave the store, opening a tesseract and handing off everything to Michael and Alexander before taking the cart back to the store. David and Josette walk through and they lock the dorm down for the night before opening bags of food and putting them down for the dogs in the front by the mailboxes, talking to the dogs all the time. After they've eaten Josette and Michael take them for a walk before brushing them, the dogs leaning against them. Josette's cats come out of her room, the dogs sniff them but don't do anything, Susan's kitten is brought out and they seem to grin at it, everybody laughs. The door to their room is left open a crack so the mom and dad can check on their puppies during the night and Josette settles in a tub of steaming water in the bathroom after locking her back door for the night.

 

The next morning Josette crouches down and talks to the two dogs out in the front. "Guys, we have people who come into this room out here, they'll be going into this room or these two rooms. They're friends, if they try to come any further into the building then you can bark at them. There's three other humans who live her and three puppies, they're off visiting their family for a week but we'll introduce them and any other people who are allowed in our private areas."

 

The dogs seem to nod. "Good boy, good girl," she ruffles their fur and gets a sloppy kiss. She grabs her purse, and the envelope Susan handed her and heads to the bank after breakfast. Two deposits later, she drops off her library books and dvds, heading back to the school, pulling into her usual parking lot and putting the receipt on Susan's desk before looking at the clock and taking on the dogs before checking her e-mail. A wet nose pushes the door open and the male St. Bernard sits next to her desk. She reaches out and pets him as she cleans up her inbox.

 

"Sorry big guy, I'm going to have to leave in about an hour." She says as she shuts off the computer and looks at the clock. "We're all university students so in a couple of weeks we're going to be in front of these things for hours." She walks down the hall to check on the mail before looking at the clock, slides her library and laundry keys in her jacket pockets, takes the dogs for a walk, and lets them back in the dorm before walking to the dining hall after telling them to be good and that Michael and Alexander will be back in a couple of hours.

 

Punching into the library at one, and resisting the urge to rub her hands and cackle something about it being hers, all hers, she follows one of the teachers around learning where everything is before settling behind the checkout counter and looking at the list of books that are due today, learning that the school sends out reminder notices a couple of days before they're due, Josette never received any while she was in school because she always made sure to have books returned well before they were due.

 

Checking in books takes a few minutes and the teacher shows her where they belong before she has to head to her afternoon class and Josette is alone until a teacher comes in fifteen minutes later after her lunch is finished. Josette heads upstairs with a notepad, making a list of books and dvds she wants to order for the library, making a note to see if maintenance can get some new racks up there for paperbacks.

 

A strangled "Josette?" from downstairs has Josette coming down the stairs, grinning as she sees Ms. Sawyer and a camera crew in the library. The teacher gratefully goes into the office as Josette smiles.

 

"We're here in first floor of the school's library. With us is Ms. Takahawa, who's been involved in the controversy currently befalling University of Massachusetts, Boston where a hacker has been altering files and grades. Ms. Takahawa, it's good to see you again. Can I ask what you're doing here?"

 

"I'm going for a degree in Library Science, the school wants me to take over the library when I graduate since we currently have teachers covering it during their free time and student employees. Principal Madison asked me to take the library over next week since the teachers will be busy with finals. I agreed, since I'm going to be running it eventually, I should get used to working here."

 

"That's nice, does the library take up all three floors?"

 

"No, the school's computer lab and computer classrooms are currently on the third floor, I've been talking with our builder about plans for a new computer building as well as a new library. This will probably not be for a year or so, next year we plan on building a new boys dorm and a fine arts building."

 

The film crew, Ms. Sawyer, and Principal Madison leave after a few minutes and the teacher sighs in relief when they're gone, coming out of the office as Josette starts shelving the books that were returned this morning.

 

Principal Madison had given Josette the school's credit card and she gets online, ordering first the books the teachers had been requesting, then the books and DVDS she'd written down upstairs, sending an IM to maintenance about getting some new racks on the second floor for the books and her request for a tin of brass polish for the mailboxes in their dorm before she looks up as a student comes into the room. Looking at the clock she sees its already four and students should be getting out of classes. He's returning some books and she checks them back in, removing the note on the list of books that are due that day. At five Professor Druid comes in to get her and she clocks out, putting on her jacket and walking with her to the dining hall.

 

Sliding into her usual seat after filling her tray, she tells Susan her receipt is on the desk and then turns to David.

 

"So what's the poop on there possibly being a new computer lab and Library buildings?" she asks him.

 

David blinks at her. "Where did you hear that?"

 

"Principal Madison, he said it wouldn't be for a couple of years yet, since next year is the new boys dorm and fine arts building."

 

"News to me, I'll ask around when we get home. How far are the plans?"

 

"No idea, all he said on camera was he was in talks with the school's builder about plans. We need the room though, and so does the computer classes."

 

The others nod.

 

"Any news on when the school is going to be changing out blankets?"

 

"Next Friday probably, they seem to schedule it approximately halfway through the semester and at the very end of the semester. We'll probably be told the night before."

 

Josette eats four meals that night and heads for the laundry, punching in and starts shaking out sheets and towels, throwing them in the machines, adding detergent and dry bleach before turning them on then walking down the hall to the other room, checking the supply dispenser and emergency closet, checking and cleaning the machines, then sweeping the floor and heading back to the other room. Tossing the sheets and towels in the dryers, she looks at the clock and then at the door as Principal Madison, Dr., and Ms. Savage come in.

 

"What's up?" Josette asks. Pat just walks over and pulls her into her arms.

 

~ ~ ~

 

"Clark Savage." Doc had put down the paper he'd been reading and picked up his private line.

 

"Clark, it's Allison Blake. Did you hear from James?"

 

"Yes, last Tuesday. Josette is who he'd been talking about."

 

"Well then I guess that my news is confirmation. I have the DNA tests in my hands. Congratulations Grandpa, it's a seventeen year old."

 

"Thank you Allison." Doc ends the call abruptly and Allison smiles as she puts the test results down.

 

"Clark?" Pat asks when he comes into her office at Headquarters.

 

"Allison just gave me the results from the DNA test. Josette's our granddaughter."

 

Doc and Pat had flown out to Massachusetts, renting a car and driving out to the school. They'd parked behind the dorm the kids had taken over, walking around the front with Principal Madison. They find two large dogs coming down the hallway and Susan pets them, touching each of them on the arm and calling them friends. The dogs let them pass and they walk down the hall to Josette's room.

 

"Josette's at her job in the laundry of course, but you can look around her room if you want." Principal Madison says. The cats look at them from their spots on the bed as they come into the room. Pat immediately heads for the dresser and closet, looking over her clothes, mostly jeans, slacks, t-shirts and blouses. In one section of the closet are the clothes that she received from the interviews and she grins when she sees they're far away from the others, as if to keep from infecting her other clothes.

 

Looking further up, Pat sees the urn with Josette's mother ashes and touches it gently. "We've got her now Clarinda, you can rest easy."

 

//Thank you.// A voice says and a mist enters the room, rapidly forming into a figure familiar to all of them from the picture on Josette's nightstand. //Please, tell Josette she didn't kill me, my father's family finally found me. It was the ray that stole the people's minds that left me the way I was, if Josette *had* taken all of my memories she would have realized this. She just absorbed the cover identity I had created when I found myself pregnant, tell her the truth about me?//

 

"Yes Clarinda, we will." Doc says solemnly. She smiles and a white light surrounds her.

 

"Please tell Josette she didn't kill me?" Pat asks.

 

"Josette first came to the school after the Pasadena earthquake, she and her mother were trapped in their car for a couple of days until they were rescued. Josette's mutation to absorb knowledge became active due to the trauma. During the accident, she absorbed all her mother's memories and skills, leaving her mother in a persistent vegetative state, she died approximately eighteen months later in a nursing home in California, she never recovered. Josette was convinced that she stole her mother's life because of this. Her mother's memories seem to have faded over time, though her mixed martial arts training seems to be as fresh as ever. It took Josette months before she was comfortable touching anybody, she was convinced the same thing would happen again. There was an accident the summer after Josette arrived at the school, I have the ability to absorb and throw electricity but I'm not immune to it. I received a hell of a jolt and it stopped my heart, the school doctor was knocked unconscious, Josette had to absorb his knowledge of how to operate the defibrillator to shock my heart back into beating. He recovered with nothing more than a fancy new hairdo to hide the ten stitches in his head, a concussion, and one hell of a headache. Since then, she started to realize that she could let others touch her without problems." He looks at the spot where the ghost of Josette's mother had been.

 

"Does Josette remember anything of what she absorbed from your school's doctor?"

 

Principal Madison shakes his head. "They faded just like her mother's memories faded."

 

"Did you have any lasting effects from the electrical shock?" Doc asks.

 

"A pacemaker that will shock my heart back into beating if it happens again."

 

"Aside from being convinced that she had anything to do with her mother's condition, did Josette have any lasting effects from the earthquake?"

 

"Claustrophobia, that's why she has a dorm monitor room, living in a smaller room would have been . . .difficult for her."

 

Doc nods. He's seen one of the other dorm rooms and they do seem somewhat crowded.

 

"Good Lord, are those all the books for Josette's next semester of classes?"

 

"Can't be," Doc says, looking the direction Pat is at the full shelf of textbooks over Josette's desk.

 

"Yes it is, Josette always moves her books from the previous semester to the top shelf to make room for the books she's using that semester. The books on the top would have been from last semester."

 

"How many classes is she taking?"

 

"Nine," David says, leaning against the doorway. "When we were on the computer signing up for classes we had at least eight to choose from, more if we were going for more than one degree. Grammy Allie suggested we choose six classes from the list because it would still be considered a full load. Josette chose eight classes, then went back and picked up a ninth just because she could."

 

Doc and Pat shake their heads. Principal Madison just counts to ten. "Oh please," David snorts. "This is the same girl who was taking the full eight classes students are allowed from her freshman year on? When other students aren't allowed to sign up for electives until their sophomore year?"

 

Doc and Pat look at him. "Students normally take six classes a semester, all required. You have to prove you can keep your grades up before the teachers allow you to pick up two electives. With Josette's mutation to touch books and instantly recall everything in them, the teachers were comfortable allowing her to take eight classes a semester from the beginning."

 

"And all but her first semester, she was working in the laundry too." David snorts. He sniggers. "Professor Eppes asked how many classes Josette was taking last semster at the university, when he found out the university was only letting us take four classes, he said she must have been bored."

 

Principal Madison's lips twitch. "Did we get him back?" David asks him.

 

"Yes, he's packing right now, he's going to be arriving with a u-haul after the first of the year, he'll be covering some of the classes winter and summer semester so the students get used to him before taking over next fall. And thank you all for making him welcome back at the school."

 

"He was one of our favorite teachers, the least we could do was hug him when he arrived." David says. "Momma, Poppa, who wants to go for a walk first?" The female St. Bernard puts her head under his hand and he clicks the leash to her collar.

 

"New animals?" Pat asks.

 

"Yes, there was a fire outside of town yesterday, the homeowner got their dogs to safety and went back in for something when the roof collapsed. The police brought the dogs and their puppies out here because there wasn't any room at the town shelter. David, can I ask how you plan on. . . "

 

"Global Dynamics created an additive to pet food that chemically fixes them, there was a press release about it mentioned on the news last year. It's perfectly safe, it's been used in Eureka for years and if you want babies you just have to stop adding it to their food. It's being tested now and should be on the market in a couple of years. Grammy is sending out a supply of it out this weekend." David pats Momma's head. "We try to walk the dogs separately so there's one watching the puppies unless we're right by the building."

 

Patricia nods and pets the dog. "We should go see Josette and. . .figure out a way to tell her. . ."

 

"You're her grandparents?" Everybody stares at him. "She already knows, Logan wrote her a letter Tuesday morning after the interview, she got it the next day."

 

"How. . .How did she react?" Patricia asks, worried.

 

David sniggers. "After we pulled her away from where she pounding her head against the door screaming that her life was just fucking weird? And she asked if this last month hadn't just been a bad dream caused by eating too much pepperoni pizza before bed? She said it actually made sense. When she first met you Dr. Savage, she felt like throwing herself in your arms and letting you take care of everything. And she hasn't let anybody take care of her like that since her mother died." Principal Madison nods. "And why else would Ms. Savage have said the dress she wore Tuesday wouldn't have been what she picked out for her? Josette said she's going to have to get used to having a family besides us again. One word of warning though, if there's something that you want Josette to have or do that she'll argue about? Just do it. That's how we got her to attend Graduation when she planned on just picking up her diploma in the office the next semester."

 

Principal Madison nods. "Students are allowed to graduate at the end of winter Semester their senior year, you are allowed to go on and attend the summer semester afterwards if you want." He smirks. "So far Josette has been our only student to do so. Josette hadn't planned on attending graduation feeling that since nobody would be there for her, it was just a waste of time. Susan, Michael, and Alexander also planned on just picking up their diplomas in the office. I had other plans, Katrina and I ordered her cap and gown, almost literally picked her up by the elbows, pushed her into my car, and took her shopping for a dress and sandals to wear, took her to get her hair done, and the kids walked her onto the stage."

 

"D. . .did she have nobody in the audience?" Patricia asks. God, if only they had looked into James story earlier and found out about Josette before now.

 

"Noooo, all the employees stood up and clapped when Josette's name was announced and. . ." Principal Madison looks at David. "You sent out invitations to your friends, didn't you?" David nods and heads for the front of the building with Momma. "Your friend Mr. Wolverine and some of his friends also attended the ceremony."

 

"Take me to go see my grandbaby?" Patricia asks. Principal Madison nods. "Afterwards, I'll show you the dvd of graduation." he says. They leave the building, watching David and Momma walk down the sidewalk, students and teachers coming up and petting her. Principal Madison leads them to the laundry, walking into the back room to find Josette putting the sheets and towels in the dryer.

 

~ ~ ~

 

"David told us you know." Principal Madison says as Doc wraps his arms around them from the other side.

 

"I'm going to knock him down one day and let Dr. Stark and his father beat him." Josette grumbles. Doc's lips twitch.

 

"Not his godmother?"

 

"Dr. Blake wouldn't leave anything for the rest of us." Josette snorts.

 

Chapter 7 by josette grover

 

All three chuckle.

 

Principal Madison gives her a look. "Nine classes?"

 

"Five for my Library Degree and four for my information systems degree. When the fine arts building is built and the pottery kilns are up and running, I'm going to take a couple classes in art they offer."

 

They just look at her again, "It's all online, I can use the fine arts building for the art classes I want to take eventually, and two or three a day, it's not that hard. And I've already shown I can handle eight classes without any problems. And they're all split into two hour blocks so I can get up, walk around, do whatever I need and then sit down and pick up another class."

 

"You have thought about this."

 

Josette nods. "Two of them are classes I should have already taken for my Library degree, otherwise I wouldn't have chose so many."

 

"More of University of Massachusetts, Boston's handiwork?" Principal Madison sighs.

 

Josette shakes her head. "Difference in the programs, We're 'returning students' and most of us are going for degrees meant for working adults who are getting degrees for their jobs, we're taking more now but we'll have less classes when we start Graduate school. The degrees we were working for at Screw U are meant for kids just out of high school and going for a typical four year degree."

 

Doc and Principal Madison nod. "Bethany is attending Graduate school, she would have started just after graduating from her university, her grades were good enough to get a spot but petty politics got the last spot in class given to another student who didn't qualify but his father had given money to a politician for his campaign, so. . ." Doc's voice trails off and Josette and Principal Madison nod.

 

"We've had our share of money being used to get students into school. One of the girls settled in from the start, got excellent grades, and graduated in Josette's year. The other. . .still had problems and left the school without graduating."

 

"Since Bethany had the year off, we. . ."

 

"Talked about having a child. She gave birth to a little girl last summer and the rest of our family is watching the baby and our three year old while she's in classes."

 

"How old is Bethany?" Principal Madison asks.

 

"Twenty-three now, she skipped two years of school and started university at sixteen, we met her when she started an internship with us at seventeen."

 

"Ha, I'm not that far off then, I have a late summer birthday and won my cutoff to attend school since I'd just barely turned five instead of having to wait with the rest of the kids my age because I was already reading and writing at a first grade level. I only skipped one grade though, kindergarten."

 

"You were still sixteen when you graduated." Principal Madison chuckles.

 

"Yeah, but I was seventeen when I started University."

 

"You'd turned seventeen barely three weeks before you started classes, I'd say its close enough to count."

 

"Bethany graduated with two majors and three minors at twenty-one, having made the presidents list every semester."

 

"I'm going for a dual major too. . .now. I'd have been starting my senior year and applied for early admittance to graduate school next fall if the university hadn't started its nonsense though."

 

"Josette would have made the presidents list this last semester if the school hadn't had a nuclear meltdown thanks to the hacker and the adminstration ignoring everything." Principal Madison says.

 

"Was there anything in the paper or on the news about the state taking over the school?"

 

"They've filed a case and the court filed a temporary order barring the adminstration from the buildings, they were shown being denied entrance to the university. There was . . .a disturbance."

 

"Huff, puff, stomp their feet, and threaten to hold their breath until they turn blue like the two year olds they seem to be acting like?" Josette snorts. "Or did they act like bullies again and order the remaining campus police to attack the real police or whoever had been brought in to lock down the buildings?"

 

"Basically yes."

 

Josette rolls her eyes. "Idiots." The dryer beeps and she grabs a cart, walking over and emptying the machine. Pat shakes her head as she watches Josette start putting sheets in the machine and walking around to the other side to grab them and put them in piles. "No wonder you stay so slim if you do this every night."

 

"The school buys Josette a good pair of shoes every year because she does so much walking on the job." Principal Madison says. "After they're folded, Josette will wrap each set of sheets in plastic and then the towels will get the same treatment. The only things that get folded but not wrapped in plastic are the schools blankets. And speaking of blankets. . . Josette?"

 

"Next Friday right?" Principal Madison nods. "I'll wash them and put the carts in the tunnels outside the dorms as usual."

 

"Thank you." Principal Madison sighs. "I'll make sure the supply dispenser and emergency closet are filled for the students staying over before I check out, we'll be leaving the next day, splitting our time between the Covington home, David's parents place, New York?" Doc and Pat nod vigorously. "Let us know when you arrive and we'll bring you to headquarters. It takes up the entire block and is ten stories tall, we have plenty of room for all of you and your pets."

 

"New York, and the island." Josette finishes. "We'll be arriving back at school after New Years in time for our classes starting the fifth."

 

"Are you driving or flying?"

 

Josette smiles. "We have an alternate means of transportation. David," she yells and a tesseract opens in the middle of the room. David walks through and it vanishes.

 

"How?" Pat asks.

 

"David's mutation, it's called a tesseract." Principal Madison sighs. "The kids routinely use it to travel between here, town, Boston, the Covington home in Tennessee, David's home town in Oregon, and their island getaway, which is why Dr. Blake wants to beat David."

 

David wraps his arm around Josette and chuckles.

 

"Island Getaway?" Doc asks.

 

"In the middle of the Bermuda Triangle."

 

"Please tell me you're joking?" Doc moans.

 

"No, the children used to take off after shutting down the dorm for the night and would go during the weeks students were off classes." Principal Madison moans. "Katrina and I knew they had a little getaway spot but since it never interfered with classes or their duties as dorm monitors we didn't say anything."

 

"We were talking about our plans for the holidays, how we'd leave after I got out of work Friday night and split the two weeks we're off between the Covington house, Eureka, New York," she nods at her grandparents, "and the island."

 

"Are you sure its safe?" Doc asks again.

 

"Are you going to be here for a while?"

 

"Principal Madison has invited us to stay a couple of days." Doc says as Josette turns her attention back to the sheets.

 

"I'll take you to the island tomorrow after breakfast so you can see it for yourself. Principal Madison, do you and Professor Druid want to stay on the island a couple of days? It will be after Christmas, maybe between Christmas and New Years."

 

"I'll ask Katrina David, thank you for offering."

 

"We'll even wear clothes. . .most of the time." David sniggers.

 

Josette takes the second dryer of sheets out as Doc and David talk quietly for a few minutes before he and Pat leave the building with Principal Madison. David walks over and wraps his arms around Josette, bending to nibble her ear.

 

"What is it?" Josette sighs.

 

"What's what?" David asks innocently.

 

"Whatever you're trying to butter me up about."

 

"Not buttering you up, but I am breaking something to you gently. When the twins and Alan come back Saturday, I'm going to be heading home for a few days, I should be returning Wednesday night."

 

"Try to make it back in one piece." Josette kisses him and he walks out of the building. Turning back to the sheets, she starts folding and wrapping them when they're finished. Putting them in the cart, she turns to the towels and punches out a half-hour later than she normally would, putting the cart outside the girls dorm before heading to her room and bed. Waking up at six-thirty, she hops into the shower and dresses for the day, feeding her cats and the dogs before heading to breakfast.

 

"Are you finished with your preparations for your show?" she asks as Michael and Alexander sit down across from her.

 

"Yes, thank you God." Michael moans. "And our former agent has apologized for being such a bitch, if she was this understanding from the beginning, we might have stayed with her."

 

Susan sits down at the table. "Are you done running to Vegas?"

 

She nods. "I made enough money for the next couple of semesters, maybe even longer." Josette gets up for another breakfast.

 

"Did you hear that Dr. and Ms. Savage are at the school?" Alexander asks, lowering his voice when she comes back to the table.

 

"Yeah, they came to talk to me for a few minutes at the laundry last night."

 

"Are you going to. . ."

 

"David told them I know, we've talked about adding a few days in New York before we come back to the dorm after New years. You two are going to have to get some more pet food to take with us when we start travelling." They nod. "We invited Principal Madison and Professor Druid to go to the island with us." They nod again. "David's taking Dr. Savage to the island after breakfast to make sure its safe."

 

Looking at the time Josette finishes her third breakfast and runs back to the dorm to get ready for her second shift at the library. There's no teacher present when she punches in and remembering what she'd learned yesterday she starts checking books back into the system. One that's overdue she puts aside to ask what to do when a teacher comes into the building.

 

"Oh thank you Josette, I'm running late. . .as usual." Professor Fletcher says, hanging up her coat and running her fingers through her hair. "How are you doing?"

 

"Professor, what do I do about this overdue book? It was in the box when I got here."

 

"Students are supposed to hand books that are overdue directly to us." Jessica Fletcher complains. She checks the book and sighs. "They've done this before, I'll send an IM to Principal Madison to talk to him, he's been here long enough to know better."

 

There's no further surprises and Josette takes the cart of books to start shelving them again as Principal Madison comes into the room. He talks quietly to Professor Fletcher for a minute before he leaves again. "How are you doing Josette?"

 

"I've got nearly all the books shelved if that's you're asking Professor. If you're talking about how I'm handling working at the library, I had the urge yesterday to rub my hands and cackle something about how it's mine, all mine. I realized I'd look stupid though, and didn't."

 

Jessica laughs. "Oh I've known that feeling myself. How are you handling the situation with the university?"

 

"What do they think they're doing?" She shakes her head as she puts the cart back and gets on the computer to check the status of the orders she'd placed yesterday. She'd printed out the order forms yesterday and Principal Madison told her to keep the card and run into the mall that weekend to look at books, cds, and DVDS for the library.

 

"They aren't thinking." Professor Fletcher snorts. "They've . . ."

 

"Got their heads in the sand like ostriches, thinking if they don't see what's going on it will just go away? That's what gets ostriches killed." Josette snorts. "I had the same thought, that and they're acting like two years olds with their fingers in their ears chanting 'I can't hear you' in a sing-song voice hoping we'll go away. When it doesn't go the way they want, they attack."

 

Professor Fletcher nods. "That is exactly how they are acting."

 

"I'm glad to hear that all of you were accepted at other school and plan to continue your educations uninterrupted."

 

"Well you know what they always say: Living well. . ."

 

"Is the Best Revenge. Yes I know, I had an encounter with a rather nasty young woman when I first started writing. She did not want to work with me,thought I would never go anywhere, she wanted established writers. . .you name it. I was placed with another agent and went quickly on with my writing career, she went absolutely nowhere."

 

"Josette?"

 

"Yes?" She looks over as Principal Madison and another man come into the room.

 

"This is Dr. Charles Alexander, he works with the State of Massachusetts and is part of the team that's looking into what's going on with the University."

 

"I was watching the interview you had on the Talk last Thursday and when your companion said that you would have made the President's List this last semester if the hacker hadn't altered your grades I started investigating your case. The records from the university are . . ."

 

"Not worth the paper they're written on?" Josette says.

 

"Indeed, but your lawyer had all your records, we had the list of classes you signed up for last fall and your teachers backed up your story. Please accept this new record of your grades from the University of Massachusetts, a certificate showing you made the President's List, a pin that you would have received at a dinner the school would have given in your honor with the other students who also made the President's list, and a certificate for a free dinner at the restaurant where you would have eaten. And I wish you well at your new school, you would have been a wonderful addition to the list of University of Massachusetts graduates if the Boston campus hadn't. . ."

 

"imploded on itself."

 

"Indeed." The man hands over the large manila envelope in his hands, shakes her hand and leaves with Principal Madison, leaving Josette staring at the envelope in her hands. Professor Fletcher pats her on the shoulder. "Open it dear." Josette opens the tabs and starts slides everything out.

 

"That is what you should have seen when you first opened your grades." Professor Fletcher says, nodding at the list of 4.0s and the words President's list under them. "The first of many I hope you have in your university classes. A small box is next and she looks at the pin inside before putting it down. The certificate is held up showing she made the President's list and then the gift certificate is looked at before Josette puts everything back in the envelope.

 

"Thank you for doing this, Dr. Alexander." Principal Madison says.

 

"It needed to be done, Principal Madison. We're going to be going through the grades to make sure all the students got the grades they truly deserved."

 

"I wish you well, this has to be a nightmare for the University of Massachusetts."

 

The man nods and gets in his car. He could have mailed the envelope or given it to the students lawyer to deliver, but he'd wanted to meet the young woman in question for himself.

 

Putting the precious envelope next to her jacket, Josette picks up a cleaning cloth and begins cleaning shelves, looking down when a student comes in at lunch and shamefacedly pays his fine, then coming off the rolling ladder when Professor Druid tells her that its time to punch out. Punching out and putting on her jacket, she heads to the dorm, dropping the envelope on her desk, grabbing her key and walking out to the mailbox, finding it full. Dropping everything into her pocket to look at later, she walks to the dining hall and settles at the table.

 

"Principal Madison told us what the representative from the University of Massachusetts did, congratulations." Susan hugs her. "Thank you, this is all your doing. Dr. Alexander said that he'd watched our interview on the Talk, when you said that I was supposed to have been on the President's List, he started investigating my case."

 

They settle down to eat, idly wondering if David is still on the island. Almost as if they'd heard them, David comes through with a large tray, drops into a seat, and starts inhaling food.

 

"Were you on the island the whole morning?"

 

David nods. "We walked the entire island, he took samples of everything. Then we went to the hot springs and he took samples there too. Then we went to the island where you found those rocks. . ." Josette sniggers. "Shut up." he rolls his eyes. "I would have sacked out for a few hours while he was investigating everything but I was afraid I'd wake up to find him checking me out, he's concerned that I'm overextending myself by going to the island."

 

"Well, it is a bit of a trip." Susan snorts. "He asked me if we'd been investigating the water around the islands, I think he was looking for something in particular. I told him we'd found what looked to be a plane in the water when we were out fishing, that's how you found the rocks in the first place, he nodded and asked if we'd investigated it. I told him we didn't have the gear to dive that deep, we'd just took pictures and marked the site on our charts. He nodded, I think he knows what the wreck is and it might be dangerous. I brought him back to the school, he's holed up in the science building checking the samples he brought back. And that was my day so far. I still have to do my laundry this afternoon and all I want to do is lay down and sleep when we get back to the dorm. Somebody give me some good news?"

 

"I'll do your laundry." Josette sighs.

 

"Josette got a visitor today, somebody from the University of Massachusetts, not the Boston campus but one of the team that was brought in to take over the school, was watching our interview on the Talk Thursday. He started investigating Josette's case and came to the school today."

 

"What did he want?"

 

"To give me my real grades, which showed I made the President's list. A certificate to show I made the President's List, a gift certificate to the restaurant where those students who made the list would have been honored, and the pin I would have received at that dinner."

 

"Congratulations, hopefully you'll have many more starting next semester." David gives her a one armed hug, looking down at his empty tray and blinking. Josette takes both their trays and fills them, walking back to the table and putting one in front of David. He smiles up at her and starts eating again. "You're a good little wifey."

 

"If you ever want sex again, I'd shut up." Josette smirks, not meaning a word of it.

 

After their third meal, they head back to the dorm, David petting the dogs who are giving him worried looks before he hands Josette his laundry and card and would have dropped, fully dressed, onto the bed. Susan gets him undressed and under the covers before heading to her room. Josette grabs her mailbox key and her mail on the way out of the dorm.

 

With students in classes the laundry is empty and Josette sorts out David's laundry, adding detergent and dry bleach and starts them running before sitting at the table and opening her mail. Most of its junk and she'll throw them in the recycling bin when she gets to the dorm, one is her car insurance that is due in January, she'll get a money order and pay it next week, and one is a letter from social security saying they're looking into her mother's case.

 

Sliding her mail into her pockets, she gets up and empties the machines into dryers when they shut off, folding everything and putting it in the bag before getting her coat back on and leaving. The bag is put in David's room and his laundry card on the dresser before Josette heads back to her room, emptying her pockets. Her mailbox key goes back into a drawer and the letter from Social Security and her insurance goes on the desk and the junk mail is tossed in the wastebasket, which then is dumped into the recycling bin in the hallway. Looking at it, Josette takes it down to the basement as Alexander comes in from walking Momma. She pushes into the room where her babies are, settling around them.

 

Lying down on her bed, she sets her alarm for a quick nap, waking up ten minutes before the alarm would have went off. Everybody walks to the dining hall, finding Doc and Pat sitting at the head table with Principal Madison and Professor Druid. Filling her tray Josette sits at the table as Susan says that the twins had sent them an e-mail, they'd been asked to speak to the high school students at their old school.

 

Josette listens to her family talking around her as she eats, automatically getting up and filling her tray again even though she really doesn't care for what the kitchen staff had cooked tonight, one of the few times this has happened. Putting up her tray after her third meal, she taught herself how to eat without tasting it if its something she doesn't want years ago, she looks at the time fills a bag with a salad, pita pocket filled with meat and veggies, putting napkins in her pockets, and other snacks before heading to the laundry.

 

Punching in she sits the bag of snacks on the counter and starts sorting out sheets and towels, filling the machines and starting them running eating the pita and then walking down the hall to check out the other room. The machines are cleaned and the floor swept before she walks back, nibbling on the salad as she waits for the machines to finish running. Washing her hands, she moves the wash from the washer to the dryer and settles back on the stool.

 

Back at the dorm later that night she puts the garbage away and crawls under the covers. The next morning she sits at the desk after breakfast, getting her car insurance ready to mail next week. Putting it in the 'to be done later' pigeonhole in the desk, she watches as maintenance starts cleaning the parking lot after the snowfall of the night before. David is out there with Daddy, tossing lightly packed snowballs for the dog to try to catch. They go around the side of the building and looking through the open door she sees them come into the front of the building.

 

"Mail's here, we got thick envelopes from New York." David calls. Josette walks next door to get the twins key while David goes to get Alan's putting their mail on the table or dresser while they're gone.

 

Josette settles back at the desk with her mail, opening the thick envelope from New York, finding the last check from their interviews and the final footage that hadn't been in their bags. "Good, I need to pay my car insurance." Josette says, signing her name to the back of the check and putting it in her purse for Friday.

 

"That's considerably more than your car insurance." David snorts as Doc and Pat come down the hall.

 

"Yeah, but with all the damn flying back and forth we were doing last week, plus the power outage the week before, I was looking at having to dig into my savings to pay it if I wanted to mail it out before we leave."

 

"Yeah," David says. "Write down what you're going to need from Petco for Eureka, New York, the Covington house, and the island, I'm heading into Boston in a few minutes."

 

Josette takes the list from him and starts writing down scratching post, kitty litter, disposable litter pans, cat food and kitten food for two to three weeks. "Susan will need this stuff too, ask her if she wants a different brand than I'm getting."

 

"She's my next stop, she was in the bathroom when I knocked on her door."

 

Susan comes into the room and adds some things to the list, David walks through Josette's back door and thanks maintenance for shoveling him out before getting in his car.

 

"You have a car?" Pat asks.

 

"Yeah, the purple VW bug parked out back, the school gets in three or five cars every year, the auto body kids work on them all year and students can buy them after they're fixed up."

 

"Josette, we have something to tell you about your mother." Doc says as he and Pat pull chairs around from the table and sit down.

 

An hour later Josette wipes her eyes and nose on a kleenex while Doc and Pat hold her. "T. . thank you, I'd always blamed myself for what happened but it wasn't my fault."

 

"No, it wasn't your fault. . .and Clarinda never would have blamed you for what happened." Doc tells her firmly. "Now, Pat and I have to head back to New York, something's happening and we need to be there, but we wanted you to know the truth before we left. It's what your mother asked us to do before she went into the light."

 

"Thank you." Josette wipes her eyes with a cool washcloth from the bathroom and looks at the clock. "Cream crapsicle." Pat grins at the expression. "I need to head to lunch if I want to eat before my shift at the library."

 

"It's not too much for you, working at the library and in the laundry?" Doc asks.

 

"Working? The Library? I'm being paid to do something I love." Josette snorts, rubbing her eyes again and getting to her feet. Pat shakes her head at the old coat she pulls on. They walk out into the hallway with her and watch as she heads outside.

 

"She's serious about not considering the library work, you know." Susan says.

 

"I noticed that Josette has an old tv but no dvd player." Pat says.

 

"It went up a couple months ago, Josette hasn't got around to replacing it since we have a dvd player and flat screen tv in the lounges if we want to watch dvds. We tried talking her into getting a new tv earlier but she said they were too expensive, stubborn little shit. David brought her a new dvd player, he'll put it under the tree when we get back."

 

"Do you know if Josette had an eye exam recently?" Doc asks.

 

"Last Wednesday during our physicals." Susan says. "Dr. Blake said she should be getting her new glasses by the end of the week."

 

"Good, I'd noticed her squinting."

 

"So did Dr. Blake," Susan says as they walk down the hallway. They split up outside the dorm, Susan going to join the others at lunch while Doc and Pat walk to their rental car.

 

Heading to the library after lunch, Josette punches in and settles behind the checkout desk. The bin for returned books is empty and there's no books to put away so she grabs the cleaning cloth and starts wiping down shelves.

 

"Josette?"

 

"Up here." she looks down when Principal Madison comes into the building.

 

"Oh good, Professor Morris couldn't make her shift, do you mind holding down the library alone until four?"

 

"Yeah, nobody will be coming in until then anyway." Principal Madison leaves and Josette gets back to what she's been doing, checking the clock every so often before coming down and putting the stairs in the back room. Checking the list of books, she sees all the books have been returned before checking on the status of the orders she'd placed earlier this week. Punching out at five she heads to the dining hall and digs into her meal.

 

Friday rolls around and she settles behind the wheel of her car after breakfast, her purse next to her with the check she needs to deposit, her car insurance she needs to mail, and the school's credit card with a letter from Principal Madison authorizing her to use it before she drives into town. It takes a few minutes to get everything done and she's on the way to Boston, parking at the mall and walking inside.

 

She's got an idea of what she wants for everybody, taking the warnings she hears about thieves targeting shoppers at the mall to heart, it's a little extra work but she locks everything in the trunk of the car after making purchases and is eating at the food court while marking off items on her list for the others. Looking at the clock, she decides to have dinner in town and drives into the parking lot around nine o'clock that night. Getting everything in her room and locking the back door, she leaves everything until the morning and goes to bed.

 

Waking up early the next morning, she stretches, yawns, grabs the mailbox key and walks down the hallway to find her box full. Shaking her head, she starts back to her room and tosses the mail on the desk, petting Momma and Daddy as they poke their heads out of their room to see what's going on. Stepping in the shower, she gets ready for the day.

 

At least until somebody turns off the water and David steps into the tub with her, kissing her on the lips as he pinchs first one, then the other nipple.

 

"Did you miss me yesterday?"

 

"Horribly, I needed a big strong man. . . to carry my bags." Josette sniggers. David chuckles and begins tickling her, his hard cock bobbing between them. Wrapping his arms around her, he lifts her onto his cock, sliding into her vagina and pressing her against the wall of the tub as he begins to fuck her.

 

His cum gushes into her body and they kiss as David lowers her back into the tub.

 

"Now that's what I call an eye opener." Josette chuckles.

 

"I wanted to make sure you had something to look forward to when I get back Wednesday afternoon."

 

"I have to work Wednesday." Josette chuckles.

 

"Well then I guess we're just going to have round two." He lifts her into his arms and carries her into the bedroom, laying her down on her bed then lying down on top of her. His cock pushes into her vagina again and they start kissing. With one orgasm under his belt, David is able to fuck her for a while before he comes again. Walking into the bathroom, he brings a warm washcloth to clean them both and then 'helps' her get dressed.

 

Walking her to breakfast, she goes immediately to the head table and gives Principal Madison back the card. He chuckles and hands it back over to her.

 

"You're a school employee, keep it. How much did you buy."

 

"A little over six hundred but I signed up for the discount plan at the bookstore. And the music and video stores gave me a discount too since I was buying for the school. I've got five bags. . .and two boxes of books, cds, and dvds to add to the system next week, plus what should be arriving next week."

 

"That's good, you've got the job permanently of buying books and dvds for the library. Do you have any suggestions about how to get students involved in choosing books."

 

"I do." David says, coming up to them to see what was keeping Josette. Principal Madison looks at him.

 

"Have a sign up area on the Library's server where students can write down the names of books, movies, cds that they'd like to see available. Every day or so you could go in and transfer the names to a spreadsheet so we don't list something twice. We'd have to have some guidelines, no stuff like romances," Principal Madison nods. "Or stuff like Japanese Hentai." He nods again.

 

Principal Madison looks over at the computer teacher who nods. "I can easily do that. How'd you announce it?"

 

"Send a note to the students e-mails, and have a piece of paper at the checkout desk to remind students?" Another teacher suggests down the table and Josette and David duck away as they all start talking among themselves. Grinning at David, Josette slides her card and starts filling her tray as the others come into the dining hall, just looking at them.

 

"You look too damn cheerful this morning, wha . .. ohh!" Susan chuckles.

 

"Need help carrying your stuff over to the library?" David asks.

 

"I'll do that Monday after I've sorted out my purchases and wrapped Christmas presents. I need to run into town for a few last things after breakfast."

 

"Can I ride in with you?"

 

"Sure, what time are the twins and Alan due back?"

 

"After lunch, they're texting me when they want me to open the tessact." Everybody nods.

 

Walking back to the dorm after dinner, Josette locks the school's credit card in the drawer before she starts sorting out bags, moving presents into the closet for the time being before looking at the mail on the desk.

 

"junk, junk, junk, junk, junk, phone bill, junk, ad from the computer store in town about sales on hard drives next week, and junk." The phone bill goes in Josette's purse to mail today at the store as Susan taps on her door.

 

Two hours later they're back with bags they put in their rooms. Josette looks at the clock and then down the hallway as Alexander calls their names.

 

"Josette, Susan, turn on the tv. Breaking news, the former administration has been arrested!"

 

Susan turns on the tv. "What channel?"

 

"All of them!" David calls. The tv comes on and they watch a repeat of the former administration being led off in handcuffs, Josette shaking her head.

 

"Josette, your mail's on your table. Joyce had the student delivering it give the package to us instead of making you pick it up Monday because she thought it might be your new glasses." Michael says from the doorway as Susan turns off the tv and starts taking her bags to her room.

 

"They are," Josette says, looking at the box. Michael hands her his pocket knife and she cuts the tape, opening the box and pulling out a soft glasses case in a plastic box with assorted supplies in cardboard tucked around it. Taking off her old glasses, Josette puts on her new ones and blinks. She knew the doctors had said her prescription had changed but. . .

 

"This is going to take getting used to." Josette says.

 

After lunch, Josette and Susan hold Momma and Daddy's leashes as David opens the tesseract in the front of the dorm, Alan, Abby, and Anna coming through and being introduced to the dogs, the puppies are sniffed as they walk down the hallway.

 

"Alan, I need to take the electrical engineer back home and face the music from my parents and godparents, can you come put his stuff in subspace for me and take it out from somewhere else like you did with the furniture for the girls dorm?"

 

"Yeah, show me where it is and send me a picture when you arrive." Alan says as he drops his bag on the bed. "Nobody get in my bag okay? I've got Christmas presents in there I need to wrap up yet." He kisses everybody and follows David out of the dorm, returning fifteen minutes later.

 

"David's gone and everything's delivered in Eureka." He moves the bag carefully and drops onto his bed. "Did we miss anything?"

 

"Josette was on tv Monday when Ms. Sawyer came into the library?"

 

"Saw it," Alan says.

 

"Josette went to the mall yesterday, went Christmas shopping, and brought bags and boxes of new stuff for the library."

 

"Hmmm, I'll check them out and see if there's anything I want to look at." Alan says.

 

"Josette got her new glasses today."

 

"and they look good." Anna says. "I'm glad Dr. Blake talked you into different frames."

 

"We got our last check for our interviews earlier this week."

 

"Mmm-hmm," Alan says.

 

"My grandfather had David take him to the island and make sure we weren't in any danger when we go there. David says he took samples of everything, then they went to the hot springs, and that other island."

 

"Your grandfather? They told you that they're your grandparents?" Alan sits up on the bed.

 

"They were going to, but David spilled the beans about us already knowing. They came to the laundry and hugged me. We're going to be spending a couple days with them in New York after I get out of the laundry Friday night."

 

"Blankets?" There's only one reason why Josette would be working on a Friday.

 

"Yeah. We invited Principal Madison and Professor Druid to the island with us, sometime between Christmas and New Year. Everybody else can decide how to split up the remaining vacation evenly between the families."

 

"Shoo, I need to empty my bag and put away presents before I do my laundry."

 

"I need to do laundry too, David and I had wake up sex this morning and round two moved from the shower to my bed."

 

"OOhhhh," Anna chuckles.

 

"Round one was to give me something to look forward to when he got home Wednesday afternoon, I said I had to work that day so we had round two instead."

 

Josette goes into her room, snickering as the cats glare at the bed. The flash of the camera makes them glare at her instead and she strips the sheets and blanket, tossing it all in the laundry bag to wash too, spritzes the mattress with a bottle of febreeze from the supply closet before flipping the mattress throws the bag over her back and walks down to the basement and through the tunnels to the laundry. It's empty with everybody meeting with their advisors about the upcoming semester and so Josette doesn't have to explain why she's rinsing her sheets before she throws them in the machine. The laundry bag and blanket go in the machine next to her and she sits down at the table, reading a magazine as everything washes.

 

The weekend passes, once Josette gets her bed made up again she starts wrapping presents and putting them under the tree to open when they return to the dorm after Christmas. The next morning she has maintenance bring a hand cart to the dorm and she starts putting the bags and boxes on it before taking them to the library before breakfast.

 

"Josette," Principal Madison waves his hand and she walks to the head table. "Can we get some volunteers to help at the bookstore Friday. It will mainly be taking the receipts and getting books from the shelves for the students. We'll pay them for helping out of course."

 

"Let me ask them." Josette goes back to the table and looks at her lovers. "Principal Madison would like some of you to help out at the bookstore Friday, taking receipts and getting the books for students. You'll be paid to help out."

 

The twins and Alan agree to help, she catches his eye and points at the twins and Alan. He nods then holds up his hands one thumb down, makes a slashing motion in midair, then holds up one hand.

 

"Nine to five."

 

Josette nods again. Principal Madison sighs and turns to Druid. "Thank god the kids are willing to help out."

 

"They're good kids." Professor Druid agrees.

 

Josette punches in and starts opening the first bag of books, mentally going over the steps of adding them to the system. Finding the website for the company that supplies the locking cases for the dvds and the clear plastic containers for those DVD packages that don't have clamshells, she orders a case of both and starts printing a sheet of labels saying property of the school. Ordering two cases of the plastic covers for the hard cover books after she measures a hardcover book to get the right size, she starts printing out bar codes to attach to the back of the books.

 

By noon, she's most of the paperbacks are ready to put into the system when she locks the library for lunch, sitting at the table, the others arriving at the table a few minutes later. "Think all the newbies survived their first finals?"

 

Josette chuckles. "Wait until the end of the summer semester and they have two sets of finals." All the graduates chuckle and start eating. After lunch, Josette heads back to the library and starts opening the dvds to 'make sure they're all there and in working order' and watching a couple disks on the computer before she punches out at five. Since she'll be the only one there all week, she leaves everything where she'd put it and heads to dinner.

 

After dinner she heads to the laundry and punches in, shaking out sheets and towels and putting them in the washing machines. Anna had given her her mail at dinner, now she takes it out of her coat pocket and begins to open them. Among the usual junk mail is a christmas card from Diane Sawyer, she slides it into her pocket to put up when she gets home as she transfers loads from the washers to the dryers. Punching out a little past midnight, she takes the cart of sheets through the tunnels, leaving it outside the girls dorm before heading to their dorm.

 

Putting the card up, she gets ready for bed. Waking up at seven the next morning, she gets ready for another day at the library. The rest of the week passes incredibly fast and soon it's Friday night. Instead of sheets and towels it's blankets she's washing and she shakes out the first cart of blankets into the machines. Luckily these don't have to be wrapped in plastic, just folded and she folds the last blanket and puts it in the cart when the washing machines are finished with the second load. Tossing them in the dryer, she takes the cart through the tunnels to the girls dorm and heads back. Since they're so heavy she has to dry them longer than her usual laundry and she has time to run into the other room, check to see if the supply dispenser is out and fill the emergency closet.

 

The second load of blankets is folded and she punches out, pulling on her coat and walking it to the boys dorm before heading home, crawling under the covers after putting on her nightgown. She'd already packed clothes for the next two weeks Sunday night so she is ready to go after breakfast.

 

Alan puts the cat and dog supplies into subspace along with their bags, two week supply of groceries, and christmas presents for their families before David looks at the picture on his phone and they head to New York.

 

"I didn't know we were coming here first." Doc hears Josette say as he walks into the room.

 

"This way we can do some last minute shopping with our gift cards." Anna says.

 

"Oh dear, I'm afraid I didn't bring mine." Josette says in the most fake sounding upset voice he's heard in a while. Next to him Pat puts her hand over her mouth to keep from laughing.

 

"I know," Abby says. "I put them in your purse yesterday while you were at work." She pats her on the shoulder in a just as fake there, there gesture.

 

"Damn it." Josette mutters. Everybody, including her grandparents and Bethany, laughs at her.

 

"You didn't bring anything with you?" Bethany asks.

 

"Alan put it in subspace before we left. We'll take it out when you show us where we'll be staying." Josette grins as she hugs first her grandparents, then Bethany. Doc takes them up a flight of stairs and down a couple of hallways before showing them a series of suites. The twins take one room and everybody blinks as two bags are put on the bed, a couple of pet beds are put on the floor, food and water dishes, and a large bag of pet food appears. The puppy food is immediately put in the closet as the puppies are given toys to gnaw on.

 

Josette and Susan take the other, by this time nobody is surprised when bags and cats supplies appear in the room. "There's a kitchen down the hall," Bethany says. "I know you asked about one. . . ." More bags appear on the counters and the kids start putting things away. "You didn't need to do that." Pat says.

 

"Trust me, the way Josette eats? Oh yes, we did." David sniggers. Josette absently flips him the bird, her head in the refrigerator as she puts away the food that needs refrigeration. "We do this at the Covington house too when we visit, Mrs. Covington complains but it saves her from having to buy a second batch of groceries when she has eight extra mouths to feed."

 

"Josette, are those new glasses?" Bethany asks.

 

"Yes, Dr. Blake talked me into getting new frames. They arrived last Saturday."

 

"They look nice dear," Pat says. "Now, did I hear the word shopping?"

 

"Yes, after our first interview, we had an envelope of gift cards in the bags we found outside our doors the next morning. We got another envelope of gift cards when we went to New York again, we used some of them when we went to times square but we still have some left."

 

Pat grins. "How long are you going to be in New York?"

 

"Through Wednesday at the latest, Michael and Alexander have to check on arrangements for their show next weekend, and Anna says her mother was talking to one of the gossips in town and she'd told her they had invitations to all their shows. They do of course as our guests. That will be Sunday night. With Tuesday being Christmas Day, everything is kerfuzzled and the school will have a third week off because of the holiday. That means the first semester had to be adjusted so school starts at the same time next year. They have to adjust it every few years when Christmas is early in the week."

 

"What are you doing for the holiday itself?"

 

"Trying to find a few hours with every family. We'll hit Eureka last since they're four hours later than us. After staying in Eureka through Wednesday probably, we're going to head back to the school to pick up Principal Madison and Professor Druid to take them to the island until after New Years. We'll be starting classes the following Monday." David looks at Doc, Pat, and Bethany. "Do you want to join us? I'm going to be inviting my godparents, Sheriff Carter, and my parents too so they can see its perfectly safe. We're going to be picking up the food we're taking with us in Eureka before we leave."

 

Pat looks at Doc. "Is it safe?"

 

"Perfectly safe." Doc looks at Alan. "How much can you put in subspace without hurting yourself?"

 

"Easily the contents of this entire room." Alan waves a hand. "I've had larger loads, Susan had a precog moment and realized a scientist who was looking into mutations was going to have his lab burned after his death because they didn't approve. We got there first, got everything to safety and set up cameras to catch them in the act as they burned the empty building."

 

"I remember when that happened." Doc nods.

 

"I had the stuff from his lab in subspace for a couple of days before we could contact our friend and see if he wanted it. We ended up traveling to his lab and taking everything out. I was a little tired, and he asked if I wanted a nap but one of the idiot new kids at school had been caught with drugs so we had to hurry back for dorm inspections."

 

"Was it the amount of items you had in subspace or the length of time you had it in?" Doc asks.

 

"Maybe a combination of both, and moving everything out to where Dr. Essex wanted it. A couple months ago I helped move the new furniture for the girls dorm. I got all the new beds, including mattresses and boxed springs, placed that first day, the next day was the other larger furniture, then the last day was the smallest items. It was finicky stuff, putting everything exactly where it was supposed to go. After that I helped the girls move from the old dorm to the new one by putting their boxed belongings in subspace and putting them in their new room, that was just a matter of grabbing things from one room and piling in another."

 

"What show are you going to next weekend dear?" Pat asks Michael then blinks as everybody laughs. "Oh take me out and shoot me now, I can't believe I forgot you and Alex are artists. I didn't recognize you and we always have invitations to your shows here in New York."

 

Josette sniggers. "That's because their old agent usually had them dressed up in monkey suits and parading them around so she'd have her face in the camera."

 

"Josette, that's not nice." Pat says.

 

"No, but it is the truth." Michael says. "That's one of the reasons we went to another agent, that and we were tired of her complaining about having to schedule shows around our classes. She once told she didn't know why we couldn't just get GEDs, our being in school inconvenienced her."

 

"What a bitch." Pat says.

 

"When she asked us why we'd signed with somebody else, that's one of the reasons we gave her."

 

"And no, you're still not getting me to dress up and attend that show with you, I don't want to stand in a corner bored to tears listening to men pretending they know what they're talking about when they talk about art while their wives or girlfriends are cattily insulting their 'friends' behind their backs about what they're wearing and then gushing about how much they love that dress when they talk to them."

 

Bethany cackles. "Oh god yes."

 

"And I didn't bring anything your agent would think is suitable." Josette grins.

 

"Your grandmother is a designer, I'm sure she can get you a dress." Alexander grins.

 

"No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. And in case I forgot to mention it, no." Josette says firmly.

 

A couple of days later.

 

"How did I manage to get myself talked into this?" Josette complains to Bethany.

 

"Same way I did? The sex was fantastic?" the other woman says.

 

"Oh yeah." she says. "So, talk to me about your classes at Columbia's Graduate school? I was going to apply for to Boston's next fall before the school imploded on itself. Now that I'm going for a dual degree, I'm waiting for a while. As long as I'm still working towards it, Principal Madison doesn't seem to mind if I work in the library without one."

 

"It's good, last semester I took a political science class that was hard, but interesting. It's not part of my major but I really wanted to take a class with Professor Ziegler while he's teaching here."

 

"Professor Toby Ziegler, who used to work with former President Bartlett?" Josette grins.

 

"Yes, have you . . . Ohh, he showed us his first year high school students syllabus when somebody complained his class was hard. Was that your school?"

 

"Yes, he has a list of graduate schools where he will take a guest professor spot every four or five years. He's one hell of a teacher."

 

"Yes, he is. Did you really have three books for your class?"

 

"Yes, and they were thick books too. And we had stacks of handouts about a foot tall every semester. The first day the students ran from his class and he just laughed. Everybody swore they wouldn't sign up for his class their sophomore years, but we did."

 

"You did what?" A familiar voice asks as Doc comes up behind them, David a couple of steps behind him.

 

"Bethany had Professor Ziegler for a government class last semester." Josette grins.

 

"Is he still showing off his first year syllabus when somebody complains that his class is hard?" David grins.

 

"Yes, and it always turns out that he's using the syllabus the teacher whose class he took over prepared." Josette sniggers. "I was telling Bethany about how thick our books were. . " David holds his hands out about yay wide, and grins "Three of them, for our freshman year alone."

 

"How many handouts we had every semester?" This time the yay wide is a lot higher. "And how the students ran when the bell rung the first day of classes."

 

"I know I did, I think Josette was the only student who didn't."

 

"I was at the school from the age of ten, after finishing the sixth grade, the school in town felt they didn't have classes to draw me out of my shell. I was still withdrawn after the accident and I was tutored by the teachers for two years before I started high school. I already knew Professor Ziegler and had taken social studies with him the first year. He took a guest professor spot when I would have been in eighth grade, and came back for our Freshman year."

 

"And no matter how much we swore we'd never sign up for another one of his classes, he never had any lack of students."

 

"And the school always shut down when he had former President Bartlett as a guest speaker. They took over the auditorium for those talks, and everybody attended."

 

"Really? I didn't realize he gave guest lectures." Doc says.

 

"Yeah, its a give and take. Former President Bartlett talks him into doing a guest professorship, he talks him into giving a lecture at the school. Mrs. Bartlett comes along and goes shopping in Boston for the day. Since the school is associated with the government, their secret service agents don't have to worry about the security while they're there. They usually stay a couple of days, former President Bartlett sits in on some of his classes, he gives a lecture the next day, and they tour the school and Principal Madison tries to interest them in a job."

 

"You know, with the school growing like it has been, and all the interest caused by our troubles with the University, I think Principal Madison might actually have a chance at snagging him as a teacher."

 

"You may be right." David says.

 

Josette grins as she sees a familiar set of figures across the room. Excusing herself, she walks over and knows she's being watched before she even gets within three feet of the group.

 

"Josette," Professor Ziegler says as she wraps her arms around his waist, then nods at former President Bartlett, Mrs. Bartlett, and Diane Sawyer.

 

"I thought you weren't going to attend this party." Ms. Sawyer chuckles.

 

Josette grumbles and says something uncomplimentary under her breath about her lovers. "They cheated."

 

Former President Bartlett and Ms. Sawyer don't understand, but Professor Ziegler grins and Mrs. Bartlett looks smug after a minute. "The same way that your wife talks you into doing something you don't want to do, Jed."

 

"Ohhhh!" the light finally dawns.

 

"How are things at the school?"

 

"Good, thanks to the kerfuffle with Boston's branch of U of Mass, we had a number of representatives from universities at the school giving a talk. One of which was Professor Eppes."

 

"How is Charlie doing?"

 

"He looked a little sad when he was on campus, something about some troubles at home. But we got him back, he's going to be arriving back on campus after New Years and taking over some of the classes so the students know him when he takes over for good next fall. The new girls dorm is completed and the girls are moved over. The school plans on starting the new boys dorm and a fine arts building next spring when the ground thaws. It's going to be nice, since we've already got glassmakers, metal workers, and woodworkers on the grounds, we're adding working with clay and a commercial kiln for pottery. There's that flea market in town during the summer, I think the school plans on getting a booth and selling what the students make with part of the proceeds going to charity."

 

"That is nice," Mrs. Bartlett says. Josette grins, remembering Mrs. Bartlett always liked working with her hands. "If we had somebody who'd be willing to teach, I think Principal Madison would add a jewelry making class." Professor Ziegler covers his mouth to hide the wide grin on his face.

 

"Then next on the building agenda is the new computer lab and library buildings."

 

"How big do you think the new library is going to be?"

 

"If I had a say in the designs, and since I'm going to be taking it over in a couple of years, I hope to be at least asked I'd like it to be twice as big as it is now and a couple stories taller. I'm adding more fiction and dvds to the library's selection, Principal Madison gave me that job when I covered the library during finals week," Professor Ziegler grins. "I'd like to add a couple private rooms students can book for study sessions, add a larger area for students to just sit and read when they're not studying."

 

"Josette, I've been looking everywhere for you." Susan complains. "Excuse us, Professor Ziegler, President Bartlett, Mrs. Bartlett, Ms. Sawyer." They can hear Susan complaining as the girls walk away. "I thought we told you to mingle."

 

"I was." Josette says innocently.

 

"Talking to Ms. Sawyer, President and Mrs. Bartlett, and Professor Ziegler is not mingling. Mingling is when you talk to people you don't know." Susan complains.

 

"Were we just played . . ."

 

"Like a stradavarius by a seventeen year old?" Professor Ziegler grins. "Oh yes. James better watch out, Josette's going to end up running the school one day."

 

"You were playing with President and Mrs. Bartlett like a fish on a line trying to get them to join the school's teachers." Susan giggles as they join the others.

 

Josette just chuckles. "Professor Ziegler is going to be back next fall, he'll lament about the quality of higher education and talk to President Bartlett about coming out and giving a guest lecture so he can get some of the first year students he missed interested in signing up for a class the following semester. President Bartlett will hem and haw and drive Mrs Bartlett insane until she tells him to go give the damn lecture, he knows he enjoys them, they'll come out to the school. He'll sit in on a class or two, then give a lecture everybody attends. She does some shopping, they both relax for a day and go home happy."

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