It’s strange how fast people form habits: within weeks of her coming to this world there began an unspoken truce between the four of them to congregate at Saphira and Gabriel’s — it was as though she was the excuse that Canopus needed to hide his fondness of his brother and his sister-in-law — and ramble about life after a fruitless attempt at figuring out what they should do about her mission.
“Mr. Adler seems like a nice guy,” Saphira assumed her usual spot curled up against her husband on the couch on one such meeting. “He has an impeccable taste for coffee beans.”
“…And he was born and raised in NorCal, studied anthropology, got married to another relatively normal person at 30, taught at a community college, did a lot of hiking and nature-related volunteering with his wife, went to a lot of classical music concerts, retired when his wife passed to travel around the world, settled here and there to build schools and libraries, barely had any problems with the law, have no children but kept in touch with a lot of his students…just your typical modern saint,” Canopus recited uncited research to the ceiling, stretching himself across a couch opposite to the couple.
“I’m not even going to ask you where you found that information,” Gabriel muttered and rolled his eyes.
“Contrary to your erroneous assumptions, I have friends, Gabby dear.”
“I said, I wasn’t even going to ask.”
Vega attempted to contribute to the conversation, “I think Ellie likes me.”
No one was sure if the “Good job” from Canopus was genuine, but the confusion from Gabriel was.
“Who is that?”
“It’s Mr. Adler’s cat! She loves snappers.”
The enlightened twin straightened up from his seat, “Wait, so I wasn’t imagining things: my snappers didn’t just melt into thin air.”
The girl colored, “I was…planning on informing you of that…earlier. Apologies.”
“No worries, I’m glad you made a new friend.”
Despite the restoration of Vega’s bubbly disposition, Canopus remained skeptical, “I still don’t trust that old man.”
Saphira smiled, “When do you trust anyone, anyway?”
“Never, but especially here. This old man and his weird, child-luring cat are definitely up to no good.”
Vega grew defensive, “Ellie is not weird.”
Gabriel started. “If he is indeed an agent after us, he probably would have already acted considering how much Vega seem to visit. It’s been a good while.”
“Plus, I think I trust a good coffee aficionado,” Saphira jested before the song of her voice lowered. “And an agent shouldn’t be so eager to introduce himself to the neighborhood and have such a regular, daily schedule.”
She waved a small note she fished out of her pockets, and the flimsy paper glided across the room to Canopus.
“Caffeine is a drug, Saph,” He grumbled before studying the note, gave a slight “hrmm.”
Seeing that silence was growing, Vega volunteered again, “He showed me how humans tell if a rose is sick.”
“Just how many times have you went over? Every day you walk your dumb owl?!”
“I mean, he is right next door…and also, stop belittling my owl!”
“I mean, your owl requires someone to walk him. I would like to quote you and remind you that ‘owls fly’, Vega.”
She scoffed while the said owl scuttled from the arm of the sofa to her head, its little amber eyes transfixed upon Canopus with determined judgement throughout its little trek. The target of their scorn merely burst into laughter.
“You have no idea how ridiculous you look right now.”
“You have no idea how ridiculous you are, always,” The girl crossed her arms and pouted, the bird shuffled and settled into a fearsome, feather ball.
“Anyway, I still advise everyone to stay away from the old man,” Canopus settled back into the couch. “Who knows, maybe he more powerful than all of us combined and we just don’t know.”
“Still, I don’t think he bear ill intentions,” Saphira grumbled. “We don’t have to live every second of our lives in fear. Why don’t we start practicing that by talking about literally anything else? Oh yeah, how is Angelica, Canopus?”
“…Hrmm…” He wasn’t paying his sister-in-law much attention as he stared at the humble schedule that just seemed too regular and turned it over his mind to make sure there are no stains, no dots to connect.