This is how it works
There was a knock on the door. Or, more properly, on the doorframe since the door was already open.
“Dr. Segeara?” A blonde head appeared around the doorframe, taking a moment longer than most would have to find her where she sat in the dim room. “It’s Vicky Nelson. Henry’s friend?”
“Ms. Nelson, of course I remember you.” Megan Segeara greeted the PI with a warmth she knew wouldn’t be returned. Victoria Nelson was a difficult woman but Henry obviously saw something worthwhile in her and that was a good enough recommendation for the professor. “Can I help you with something?”
“Not-not me,” Vicky denied. She did so quickly enough to make Megan certain this had something to do with the private investigator. The young man who followed her into the room notwithstanding. “It’s for him.”
“Xander Harris,” the young man introduced himself with a disarming grin and an offered hand. He wore jeans and a plaid shirt, had an eyepatch over his left eye, and generally looked out-of-place in the academic setting of her office. Say rather, he should have looked out of place. But, overall, he seemed strangely at ease in the space. Still, if he hadn’t come in with Vicky Nelson she’d have asked him if he was lost.
She smiled and took his hand. “Are you a friend of Henry’s as well, Mr. Harris?”
He grimaced. “It’s Xander, please. Mister Harris lives in Los Angeles. And I wouldn’t say friend, exactly.”
It had the virtue of being refreshingly honest, as an answer. “What would you say?” Megan asked, wondering if this answer would be as truthful.
He hummed as he gave it some thought. “More like...allies. We’re kinda – working in the same direction right now.”
Vicky made a noise in her throat, impatient and annoyed.
“You’re a remarkably honest young man,” the professor commented.
“What can I help you with?” Megan asked.
He shrugged, looking almost embarrassed. “I’m looking for Minor Deities of Ancient Sumeria
? Volume four?”
“Which edition?” It was part test, part genuine question. The edition made a real difference to the information contained in the volume.
“First.” He said it as though it should be obvious. As though there was only the one. It was the correct answer. Someone not already acquainted with its contents, or with books of its type, would more likely have asked for the latest edition. The modern world held those to be the most accurate, after all.
“That’s not easy to find,” she tested him further.
“Do you have the book or don’t you?” Vicky interrupted, her short-leashed patience at an end.
Megan closed her eyes, asking for serenity from above in dealing with short-tempered former police detectives.
Xander sighed and rolled his eyes before turning to Vicky. “Look, I’ve gotten books out of a lot of people in the last few years. Academic people who didn’t want to give them up. Not to someone who dresses like me. This is how it works. First there’s the quiz, then there’s some mind games, then we get down to business. That’s how it always works. If you can’t be patient, can you at least be gone?”
Vicky bit back the response she wanted to make, that it was her life under threat and she had every right to be impatient. Harris seemed to understand that and Segeara didn’t know the whole story; very few people did and Vicky wanted to keep it that way. He seemed to understand that as well.
“You know what?” she gritted out. “I’m gonna go get a coffee. I’ll be back in half an hour.” She wanted to say be done by then but she was fairly sure he understood that it was implied. Whether or not he cared she decided not to contemplate.
Once Vicky was safely on her way down the hall, Xander blew out a sigh. “I was never that bad. Swear to God.”
Megan’s considerable composure finally broke and she began to chuckle. That progressed to laughter more hearty than she’d experienced in years. Xander smiled along with her.
“I think I’ll introduce her Giles if we don’t have this solved by Christmas,” he mused. “That’d be fun.”
“Giles?” Megan asked, starting to get control of herself again.
“He’s like...our dad. Almost. Not quite. But, the point was that he used to be a librarian, and a museum guy, and she’d drive him up the wall.” He chuckled. There was a pause. “So. Do you have the book?”
Megan raised an eyebrow.
“Well,” he shrugged, “we’d kinda gotten there. She did
“She did,” Megan agreed. “But for a friend of Henry’s – even for an ally – I think we can skip the mind games and, uh, get down to business.”
A/N: Everybody thank Methos for this chapter. I would probably have ignored this in favour of other stuff if hadn't for the lovely artwork found here:http://www.tthfanfic.org/story.php?no=11355&chapter=67