Mary was still clinging to Brian's arm as they left the school. It was just a little annoying, because she was beginning to cut off his circulation.

Having gotten past the apologizing phase, she was now going on about what a great dodgeball player he was.

"And then you threw that ball right at his face! It totally should've hit him! And then he threw one at you, but you just ducked under it and-"

"Yes, Mary, we know. We were there," said Hugo, closing his eyes as if praying for patience. Brian smiled. At least he wasn't the only one getting exasperated.

"So, Hugo, what's your favorite musical? You never got a chance to tell us," said Brian.

"Mine? Oh, I… I haven't seen very many musicals."

"Come on, there's gotta be one!"

"Um… The Jungle Book? From Disney?"

Mary laughed. "A Disney movie? Those are for little kids!"

Brian looked at Hugo, amused. "That's cute," he said finally. The boy blushed. "Not in a bad way," Brian amended. "It's cool. I mean, that is a pretty good score."

"It's a great score!" put in Mary. "The songs are really awesome, too!"


Finally, they reached home. James had left a note on the kitchen table saying he'd been called to perform an exorcism. Mary volunteered to get snacks as Hugo and Brian got out their homework. They worked quietly for a while, the only sound being the mixture of choral music and Christian rock playing from Mary's CD collection. Finally at 5:30, Mary had to go to Girls' Youth Group. Hugo found it insane how many Youth Groups the town had. Aside from Sunday Youth Group, there were separate ones for girls and boys-on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, and Community Service Group for teens on Wednesdays, and Manger Play, the week-long evening childcare program.

Hugo walked over to Mary's boom box and turned off the music, then continued his homework. After a few minutes, Brian turned to him.

"Okay, so say I'm not the best person in the world at understanding symbolism in Something Wicked This Way Comes. And let's say, hypothetically, that I have no freaking idea what the Mirror Maze is supposed to symbolize. Would my wonderful new friend Hugo be willing, hypothetically, to help me out?"

Hugo wanted to laugh, but decided to play along instead. He put on a mock thinking face and rubbed his chin. "Well, that depends," he replied. "How nice would this friend of yours be?"

"Oh, he's very nice. And he loves to help out people who need help on their homework." Brian nodded enthusiastically.

"Well then," said Hugo, "I believe he'd be more than willing to give you a hand."

"Great!" said Brian. "Will you help me out, wonderful new best friend?"

As if he wouldn't do anything to help Brian. "Hm… ok, I guess," he said with an exaggerated sigh. He pulled Brian's worksheet closer to him. "The Mirror Maze, huh? Well, it's basically supposed to symbolize fear and other such negative emotions. It's portrayed differently in the movie than in the book because the book is more about Charles' fear of getting old, but the movie stresses his regrets about not being there for Will. Y'know, I'm surprised you're having trouble with this. You obviously got a lot out of Man of La Mancha."

"Yeah, well, Man of La Mancha is a musical. This is a book. Not a very good one, either, if you ask me." Hugo chuckled.

"If you can get past the overuse of description and figurative language, it's not that bad," he said.

"But there's no proof that the bad guys are bad! Ok, they turn people into carnival freaks, but isn't that how they survive? They're like the Borg or something!"

Hugo couldn't help raising an eyebrow at this reference. "The Borg?" he asked. "You're into Star Trek? You will never cease to surprise me, Brian."

Homework momentarily forgotten, they went on to exchange personal trivia-Hugo's love of the British Invasion, Brian's dream of seeing a Broadway show, their unexpected mutual passion for mythology, especially vampire lore, and Christian rock. It was a relief for Hugo to be able to tell Brian how much he hated it. After a while, Brian asked if he could use Mary's music player.

"Sure," said Hugo. "Why?"

Brian pulled a CD from his backpack. "The soundtrack to Singin' in the Rain," he explained. "I'm going to introduce you to real music."


It had been the best night Hugo had had in a long time. He'd made pasta for himself and Brian, while the latter put on soundtrack after soundtrack from countless musicals. Hugo had even supplied a few of his own CD's, mainly the Beatles. At 7:15, they had to turn off the music-Mary would be home soon. Hugo replaced Mary's copy of Upon This Rock by Larry Norman and the two got back to work. They were just finishing when Mary and James came in.

"Hi, Brian!" said Mary brightly. "Daddy was just telling me about his exorcism. It sounded really hard!"

"It was," said James. "There was a very nasty poltergeist over at the Cullens' house. You know Carlisle, their son, I'm sure. It wasn't easy to get out, but my holy water eventually prevailed. It's not often we see supernatural forces at work in this world, but when we do…"


"I'm telling you, Maggie, there're more supernatural forces at work in this town than in any other town I've seen, barring Sunnydale," said Aaron. He was giving an over-the-phone report to Maggie (alias "Professor Walsh," psychology teacher at U.C. Sunnydale). "At least twenty Hostile counts in thirty years. And there seems to be a vampire coven that comes around once every decade or so. This is serious, Maggie."

"All right, Agent Hannel," said Maggie. "It's a good thing you're there. Any sign of supernatural trouble, I want you to do a recon and then call me immediately. You're one of my best agents, but even you can't take on hordes of Hostiles, and we can't risk losing you."

"Thank you, Ma'am," said Aaron. "I have to get home now. Good night."

"Good night, Agent Hannel."


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